WHAT (ON EARTH) IS SHE WAITING FOR?

“Just one day after (Baltimore Ravens football star) Ray Rice was indicted by a grand jury in Atlantic County, N.J., for third-degree aggravated assault against Janay Palmer, the couple reportedly tied the knot.”-NY Daily News

 

      BG is right (again), we wait in vain for the “unnatural” to emerge. What we see and (sadly in this case) feel is the truth speaking to our spirit. And so what are we waiting for, a change that will never come? These are foolish thoughts of fantasy, not acts of  faith. People are more likely to be captives rather than captains of their own histories, and so how do we change history, and in particular a personal-history other than our own?  Hope for the best, yes but……There is a type of “unearned” hope, that is really a form of “necro-worship”; hoping that something that is dead can give birth to something that is alive. People meet us at our “point of acceptance”; the level of disrespect and diminished capacity for which we accept as a “normal”, comfortable and emotionally compromised existence. “Could we do better?”; this whispering doubt-question is planted firmly in our confused feelings generated by low selfesteem. This is not what we boldly boast to the world; but rather how we, when alone, really feel about ourselves. For so long I have been fascinated by an earlier scientifically linked  social-hypothesis I heard often, that suggested that: “opposites attract”. My skepticism (back then) was based on my incomplete understanding of how  physical science concepts translate in the world of social science. But there is some sense making  here. It would make sense if only for reasons of efficiency, for  a “taker” to find, and “hook-up” with a “giver”; for the “cold hearted” to find the “warm-hearted”; for the simple-minded to find the wise; and in this particular case for the physical abuser to find a willing and accepting recipient of physical abuse. But all of these scenarios  seem beneficially one-sided. This could suggest that the: “taker”, cold-hearted person, the simpleton and the physical abuser are correctly seeking their ideal mate and match. They would correctly and honestly state: “I see nothing wrong with this relationship”. And in a sense, they would be right, for how would it benefit a “taker”  to link up with another “taker”; they would never find a moments rest as they constantly engaged in strategies, to “get-over” on each other, to make sure that they take more than they give to each other. And as strange as it may sound (after reading the biographies of people like Hitler, Stalin and Mao);  I have learned that even the  most “publicly cold-hearted” person wants very much to be the recipient of warm-hearted personal attention.  The simpleton joined to another simpleton would find it impossible, even if you combine their two simple brains together (two  simple brains together don’t follow the additive rules in mathematics); to successfully solve the difficult and complex problems they may encounter. And the “bruising abuser” definitely is not interested in someone who will go: blow for violent blow with them (the video of Ms. Palmer after she was literally knocked out by Mr. Rice was  disturbingly painful  to watch); they are alas, not looking for a capable opponent to meet them in the middle of the ring, they are instead looking for a victim incapable of putting up a good fight. And so, if one side of  these  twisted relationship equations is ok with the situation; it then falls on the one who is on the losing side of the relationship-equation to exit, in mathematical terms to create an inequality by their absence! If your weakened presence is strength to another…. Run. If your shame degradation, and dismissal is uplifting to a partner…Run. If your sadness, disappointment and discomfort is a form of uplifting comfort and happiness for another…Run.  If there is a disrespect and disregard for those things that lift and strengthen your self- esteem….Run.  This life is short, and believe that you have choices. You can choose life;  and if you choose life, your choice should be for the primary and sustaining nurturer of life… love. Develop a “self-love”, not  a “selfish love”; an ability to give and receive that which is good, inspiring, encouraging and empowering to yourself, and to another. It is not a love as it  may be defined by the silly participants in some “reality TV show”; but rather it is the “real-reality”, as it is expressed and defined by God: That  someone  sees what is inherently wonderful  and beautiful in you; and then makes every effort to bring that wonderful beauty inside of you, into full spiritual maturation and fruition…What then on earth, are you waiting for?

NO CHARACTER WITNESSES FOR THE POOR…..

Two case studies of a leadership gift that keeps on taking; and the mislead who just keep on taking it… “…About three dozen friends and supporters of Cunningham attended today’s hearing. The judge heard from several current or former officials at various child advocacy agencies inside and outside Alabama who asked for mercy or leniency….” (1)  And no one (save the prosecutors) was there to ask for Mercy, Leniency  and Justice for the poor people who were permanently harmed by her actions. (2) And, having “lived” in public housing, it should have given the mayor a view and an incentive to help those in the greatness need; once he moved into a powerful and influential public housing home as an elected official.

 

“Patrick Cannon, who rose from public housing to become mayor of North Carolina’s largest city, was arrested Wednesday by the FBI and accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes – including $20,000 in cash delivered in a briefcase last month to the mayor’s office”—Charlotte Observer 3/27/14

 

“Gayle Cunningham, the former executive director of the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity, was sentenced this afternoon to two years in prison for her guilty plea to charges related to the theft of nearly $500,000 from the agency…”—Birmingham News 3/27/14

  

        The end of an era, is in many ways the beginning of the end of so many believing in the meaning of this life being wholly (and unholy) captured in the gathering of material wealth. Perhaps, the time has come for all good persons to recognize that we have passed into a new era of extreme Black self-centeredness. This new Black leadership reality suggest that one should not just simply ignore your struggling brothers and sisters; that is, to fail, in a biblical sense, to  become their keepers and protectors. Rather, this new movement  would suggest that in fact, one should steal from those who can least afford to be stolen from; and who suffer the most from a derelict leadership style. And here we encounter the primary problem; those Americans who are poor, disenfranchised and in the greatest need of principle leadership, find their greatest needs abandoned at the worst possible moments. It’s a time that you: Get what you can, as much as you can, and hurt any who can’t get out of your way! In one of the articles  the main  perpetrator was earning $150,000/year plus benefits.  Why I wonder, could she not live comfortably on a  150K salary in the state of Alabama? The great Bob Marley once sung that: “A hungry man is an angry man”; meaning that the desperately hungry poor are angry enough to act outside of the “legal” parameters erected and supervised by those who exploit them; and who because of that exploitation, are themselves “well-fed”. But none of the bad players in these two sad stories seem chronically impoverished or hungry; and so the question is, why?. If the last 30 years has taught me anything it is that the era of the African-American  servant leader, the era where leadership meant that you gave much more than you received, the era where you sacrificed your personal wealth and wellbeing on behalf of the despised, the oppressed and the downtrodden, is over. Where are the Fannie Lou Hamer, The Medgar Evers of our world; the too numerous to name or count millions, who saw the “cause” as a reason to make hard  sacrifices, not as a way to make hard cash. It is so difficult for me to recognize this age, or to even recognize how I could even fit into its ethos. Sometimes I feel like I have been awakened in some distant frightful future for which I am strangely unaware, estranged and a stranger to everyone around me. Where is the historical-philosophical continuum from the Civil Rights/Black Power era?  Are we at the place where it is every individual for themselves, and their biological families and friends? There seems to be  no honor, no commitment to values that transcend the crude acquisition of the base “creature comforts”. It seems (my thinking lately) that what is missing is so fundamentally easy; and so independent of the ability of “White America” to influence or blame; it is  our thinking on those things having to do with morality and ethics. I recently had a discussion with a friend concerning what I think is one of the most fraudulent and misapplied ideas of the modern era. The idea that these types of “thefts” constitute a conspiracy by “White Folks” to “set  Black leadership up”. Beyond the fact that I believe that this view grants White America too much strategic planning power. For how in this age of highly decentralized and instant electronic information flow can this “conspiracy” be accomplished? How in the era where the NSA can’t even stop a midlevel bureaucrat  like Edward Snowden from releasing major classified document concerning the high level spying methods by the National Security Agency(NSA) toward US citizens and our international friends; be capable of keeping quiet a “conspiracy” of the magnitude that  could stretch from NYC, DC, Louisiana, to North Carolina  and also make its rounds in Birmingham Alabama? No, these criminals (who happen to be Black) are no more being “set-up”, then a bank is setting up a bank robber simply because it exist as a bank. These folks are no modern-day version of “Robin Hood”; they are not out to funnel money from “the man” to the suffering masses; no, they are nothing but flat-out thieves caught stuffing their pockets; colorless in their immorality, and shameless in their ability to only see “color” as an opportunity to exploit those whose interest they claim to represent. Their behavior is worthy of a social-psychological study; for these criminals are not the hopelessly undereducated, unemployed young Black man selling weed on the corner; these folks actually have an education, jobs with a more than adequate income; is this the greatest expression of: “Black on Black Crime”? The Republican-Tea-Party-Right-Wing leadership crowd make their intentions clear; they don’t care about poor people, the health or any other type of care for the poor. They want to return Black people in this nation back to an era when the rights and aspirations of Black America (Called: knowing and being in their place) were ignored at best, and destroyed and brutally trampled at worst. The mere presence of a President Obama is an affront to their philosophy of White American exceptionalism, entitlement and exemption from the rules of fairness. Understandably, they see their leadership (elected or otherwise) as an instrument of denial, denigration and disenfranchisement. But, I wonder; what on earth are these “Black (phenotypically speaking) Leaders thoughts on the role and purpose of leadership?  Do the plight of the suffering poor ever cross their twisted  minds? Just what were they thinking; and, what are they thinking now?

Folks preparing themselves for a terrible “Hair-After”!

 How Far (have we fallen?)……Too  Far!

“HOUSTON –  Police say four women captured on camera stealing hair extensions were identified after they reportedly tried to use social media to sell the products…”

 

Everything is unnaturally wrong with this story; the thieves, as well as the products they stole… The bright and redeeming moment are those people of conscience who turned them in…What a journey from Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou hammer, Rosa Parks and Dorothy Height to this…. Just sad….How far we have fallen…..Thanks for sharing Kyna..This is my (sad but hopeful) inspiration for the day…We have a lot of work to do!

 

http://www.khou.com/news/crime/4-women-accused-of-stealing-15K-worth-of-hair-extensions-from-south-Houston-shop–227746401.html?fb_action_ids=10202108861138173&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=feed_opengraph&action_object_map=%7B%2210202108861138173%22%3A487850001312835%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210202108861138173%22%3A%22og.recommends%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

Yawn…..Just Another Black and Latino Children lose Educationally Study….

    “Racial minorities are more likely than white students to be suspended from school, to have less access to rigorous math and science classes, and to be taught by lower-paid teachers with less experience, according to comprehensive data released Friday by the data released Friday by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil RightsDepartment of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.”—NY Times 3/21/14

Really?

     We need an educational version of: “Come on Man!”. I just wonder how every year these types of studies are presented as: “new information”; as the conclusions/results are so reflective of the: “facts on the ground”, that have so obviously been present for so many years. This is the equivalent of the weather person telling us it is raining, in the middle of a rain storm! I used this type of data in the first proposal written for the Science Skills Center, Inc. in the 1970’s. I was successful in making the case that the U.S. could not depend on the then present and steady flow of skilled foreign workers, or the “birth-rate” (trending down) of US White males to meet the scientific technical realities of what was beginning back then to be a very intense Sci-Tech driven society and workforce. “Black and Latino (minority) students”, I preached, “Would at some  point grow to be the majority of our student population; and could a  nation survive and/or thrive socially, politically and economically, if it so poorly educated, and rendered “workforce unprepared” a  majority of its students.”  A brief study of world economic development history would suggest that the answer is no. But beyond the national interest problem, there is the individual disappointments of so many children in our nation; the huge collection of career “Dreams Deferred”*;  the frustrated and angry unused talent. And the creation of a class of Americans, who while living in a modern and highly industrialized America, were in every way living in the “marginal dead spots” of the nation, in some form of a “developing country”, dependent on outside aid for survival, lifestyle.  The continued Black and Latino student inaccessibility to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses will create a life-long  disconnection from  a very STEM focused future economy.  Most Black and Latino children are attending K-12 schools to essentially major in disenfranchisement and  obsolescence. We have in many ways squandered the efforts of those who marched for equality; by continuing to subject our children to a second class, separate and inferior education. We have terribly failed to continue to carry the freedom torch for those who passed it on, in the hope that we the recipients of their sacrifice, suffering and struggle; would offer at the very least, half of their efforts. Folks died, were brutalized and went to jail so that we could act freely; and now we are enslaved by the most powerful of confinements, the  mis/uneducated imprisoned mind. The “suspend them” from school and/or class early and often philosophy, prepares Black and Latino young people (particularly males) for a career path to the criminal justice system; they are learning early to think, act, feel and respond like inmates. Unfortunately we don’t have the services of a snarling  segregationist sheriff or the half-wit opportunistic politician standing and blocking the school-house door. For sure the “villains” are a diverse group of deniers: A not serious appointment to the leadership of the US department of education, the shenanigans and buffoonery of clueless Black dominated school boards; and in many school districts, the “minstrelosity” of mediocre and inexperienced Black (phenotypically speaking) school building and school district leaders, stumbling aimlessly over the future hopes and aspirations of children who look like them. The “solution”: Parents are offered “half-a loaf” of something that looks like a good education, if only they turn their children into commodities, and offer (sacrifice?) them to the profit-making charter industry. Black and Latino children (particularly when they fail academically) live only to feed one “corrective” industry or another. I wonder what nation in the world would accept this level of educational war against their children, and just “move on” to the next celebrity/unreality TV show, sporting event, movie or record release? How we have allowed our children to be treated is perhaps the worst Scandal of all!

 

*What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
                                                                                                        -Langston Hughes

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/21/us/school-data-finds-pattern-of-inequality-along-racial-lines.html?ref=education

 

 

 

 

THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR CORRUPTED AND LOW STANDARDS FOR LEADERSHIP; OR YOU GET WHAT YOU DEMAND!

“Marion Barry endorses Vincent Gray, calls him ‘a man of integrity’ who deserves second term”Washington Post 2/20/14

Don’t laugh; sadly this is going to work!

     Ironically, yesterday a parent from DC sent me an article about the parents at a specialized DC high school, with a sizable White student population, fighting for a quality education for their children; why was I not surprised and how many times in my career have I seen that movie? But I have also seen the ‘’comedic” version of the same film captured and summarized in the comments made by the late/great Colombia University professor Eli Ginzberg: “Black people get the short end of the stick”, he would in succinct honesty say often. But, sadly it is those same Black people who very often select (Or “choose”, as in a Carter G. Woodson context) the “short-end of the stick”; particularly when the short-end of the stick is painted black!

        I know what you are thinking about this endorsement; but you should throw common sense and logic out of the window; this endorsement will actually work in D.C.!  A lot of people have asked me about this Washington DC acceptable level of corruption phenomena. And, I must admit that it at first baffled me, that is until I lived there for a few years. Like most Americans my view of Marion Barry was captured and fixed in that hotel-crack video.  I watched that video and thought: “this is definitely the end of a political career”. And I and many Americans who had similar thoughts were terribly wrong. Living in DC I learned over time to keep my mouth (and my “logical” questions about moral and ethical leadership shut down), In part  because I just ran into too many people in DC, people who I mistakenly thought should “know better”; essentially, not know better. And what did I hear someone once say: “when you know better you do better”. Do not make the mistake (that I once made) by thinking that this endorsement is directed to the uneducated and informationally challenged of DC. Know that a sizeable number of Black professionals and Black folks with college degrees love Marion Barry and will follow his lead. During my 5 years in DC I have seen multiple Investigations/indictments of Black elected city officials, with two actually being carted off to jail. A public school system, under Black governmental leadership (modeling NYC’s failed effort in the Bloomberg era) that makes a practice of denying Black and Latino children the fundamental right to a quality education. DC is a town that comes very close to the neo-colonial model found in too many countries in Africa and the Caribbean. In short: A Black Face in charge; while Black people face the greatest amount of suffering and exploitation. There is also the neo-colonial principle that says: “public service” means private, friends and family enrichment. And like all corrupt neo-colonial leaders the “race card” is an essential part of their playbook to stay in power. “The (White) Man” can conveniently serve in the role of allegedly “setting up” these leaders up for failure, even if it is clear that these black leaders set themselves up by their greed, immoral and unethical behavior. It will be interesting to see how the present mayor makes the case for: “The man made you think I did it”; when the lead prosecutor is an African-American, as is the Attorney General and the president of the United States. I would however, not count him out. We have learned to accept so little from those who are so well unprepared and unworthy to lead us. Ironically, one of the persons running for mayor, who happens to be White (Tommy Wells), was one of the few elected officials I spoke to about the philosophy, methodology and leadership of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics- Career Technical Education program (STEM-CTE); who I felt was at least able to intellectually follow the conversation. I lost the Black elected officials I spoke to somewhere around the beginning of my explanation (educators you know: “the look” on the faces of students that says: “I am physically present, but mentally absent”). If intellectual capacity, ethical/moral behavior and a vision is not on our “check-off” list when selecting a leader, then we (and more importantly our children) indeed get what we least deserve and need. I know some will say that all politicians are “no good”. But is that the standard? And is simply “no good” what those who are the most (highest concentration per population) disenfranchised, the most un/under employed, the most impoverished, the most harmed by the social service, education and criminal justice systems, really need? If anything our leaders should seek and be held to the highest ethical and moral standards in the nation; for the many barriers to survival and success that we face are for sure, the highest in the nation.

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/marion-barry-endorses-vincent-gray-calls-him-man-of-integrity-who-deserves-second-term/2014/03/19/132cdac0-af6d-11e3-a49e-76adc9210f19_story.html

Thanks T.H.

Follow-up 3/19/14: Divorce Court: Black Woman Divorcing Black Man For Being TOO GOOD

You know Hardy Hardy.. I am a little worried after discussing this video with someone yesterday. I am wondering if women have really “dug deep”, psychologically, historically and philosophically into this scenario as you have; and really understand that yes, this particular woman is an extreme case; but is she reflective of a larger and more dangerously accepted subtle belief system?

 

3/18/14

Thanks for this video… I just don’t know what to say….except to quote the Judge’s question to the lady: “Have you lost your mind?”… For sure she has lost something she needs very badly….But the sad truth I feel is that this may or may not be a “made for TV” event ; but I have actually heard this phrase uttered by women in real life.

Divorce Court: Black Woman Divorcing Black Man For Being TOO GOOD 1 OF 2 ….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcNHCa8BgUM

Seeing and Believing….

The disappearance (orchestrated by republicans) of the most basic of human values: Providing  food to the hungry-poor ; disappearing Planes; Russia trying to make a country disappear: Can we truly believe in what we see in this world; and can we truly believe beyond what we see in this world?

Mark 15:30-32

“Come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.”

 

    We should hope for that wonderful moment when the crowd feels the greatest sense that you don’t have anything to give them; in fact when it most appears that you can’t even save yourself. Only a few true believers (those who believe in a resurrection before they see it) will gather at the foot of your Cross. And our thoughts are: How can we (propose to) save others and not be able to save ourselves? When it appears that we are defeated by the evil forces of life, how do we generate a belief in the goodness and righteousness of our work? The people (both those who profess a religiosity and those who don’t) “see” winning in the context of this world as the real power. The “true religion” is wealth, power, fame and a selfish false form of “happiness”. It is Dostoevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor” turned “Grand Bargainer”, where the goodness of the individual’s calling is exchanged for a few shiny trinkets; worthless currency beyond the moment of your lifetime. The final justification for “acting badly” is the objective power (power people can see and feel) to reign over the institutions of this world. Are not the wealthy and socially successful justified in their victory comprised of the material and not moral? The choice Augustine poses in the: City of God; assumes that the chooser is acting in a faith that is essentially, not of this world; or not by the rules of this world. But if you can’t accomplish the simple act of saving yourself, why should the people believe? If you cannot give them a job, money, access to political and social power; all of the important currency for living well in this world; then of what use are you? The necessity of the Cross (and in each of our personal Cross-bearing) is found in its ability to strip us of all salvation that could be offered by and in the “city of man”. We are literally striped of any possibility of being justified by a victory on human terms. The will look at us and understandably ask: “Where is your God, now; and if He did indeed exist, why won’t He save you now?” Parallel to the necessity of the Cross, is the power of the Cross. And that power can’t be realized if we (at least pretend) “save ourselves” without God. All of the silver, gold, palaces and power of this world are like dry empty dust not even worthy of being the ground underfoot in the great city of God. This is a victory wrapped in faith; wonderful and blessed are those who believe when the seeing is not to be seen. When it most appears that defeat is about to proclaim the victory; their belief will give them sight, to see you not as you are, but as you shall be.

SOME OF MY BROTHER-FRIENDS (AND MAYBE SOME OF MY SISTER- FRIENDS TOO!) ARE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO LIKE THIS, HOWEVER……

Yesterday’s Notes on 3 conversations/observations with 3 women on Sunday…

 

From this morning’s readings for my Bible in a Year Project. And, I am thinking that a people (based on their spiritual behavior) can pronounce a curse upon themselves; a curse that can be passed on to the next generation:

 

Deuteronomy 28: 36-42 (NIV)

“The Lord will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your ancestors. There you will worship other gods, gods of wood and stone. 37 You will become a thing of horror, a byword and an object of ridicule among all the peoples where the Lord will drive you. 38 You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little, because locusts will devour it. 39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them. 40 You will have olive trees throughout your country but you will not use the oil, because the olives will drop off. 41 You will have sons and daughters but you will not keep them, because they will go into captivity. 42 Swarms of locusts will take over all your trees and the crops of your land.”

And,

Deuteronomy 31: 9-13 (NIV)

“So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the Levitical priests, who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. 10 Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Festival of Tabernacles, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. 13 Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”

 

            My concern whenever I approach this topic publically (although I often discuss this issue with friends privately), is the danger of encouraging and creating some: “Blame the victim” ammunition for some right-wing/conservative thinker who is motivated by ill-will toward communities of color. It helped that last night I watched a sermon by Rev. Thomas L. Wilder of Bethel Baptist Church of Birmingham Al. (http://www.bethelcollegeville.org/); where he talked honestly (as honest as one can be in public) about the “things” holding Black folks back; interestingly he focused on those things for which we could control without the “involvement” or the referencing of “White People”.  We must all be honest; there are so many important developmental and enriching things in our lives, for which we have total control. For example one of my “financial vices” is that I purchase books for the young people in my church; to date no one (White or Black) in any of the bookstores I visit has tried to stop me! And so, sometimes I think we need to talk honestly and (no offense) ignore how people of bad intentions will interpret our discussion. It is not that I am maliciously excluding any group of folks; I am simply, at least for the moment, and for the purposes of this writing, ignoring them.  I am convinced that the “curse” that is hurting, hindering and holding our people back from reaching true greatness, is not racism; no matter how denying, destructive and diminishing an institution it is structured to be. It is not our economic or employment situation (or the economic-employment status of the nation). It is not our schools, even though they are in serious need of revolutionary revamping. It is not our Churches, as most of them would collapse financially and structurally without the dedicated hard work and commitment of our women (who gracefully allow us men to “think” we are in charge). It is not our homes, as too many women are doing an excellent job (the best job that could be done under the present conditions) of holding them, and the families in them together. I am thoroughly convinced that the “curse” that afflicts us is that a critical mass (too many for our communities to overcome its deleterious effects) of our men are simply not stepping up to the spiritual and moral plate. I painfully saw this in my church yesterday: “Where”, I asked, “are the men who can set a positive role model for the young men and women in this church?” “Where”, I wondered, “are the men who are following the role model of Jesus Christ?” I am chairing a major fundraising project at the church (the team had to stay late after church to work. I may be the chair, but the truth is that without the women on my committee the effort would collapse.) “Why”, I thought, “am I the only man working in this room?” “Where”, I thought is the spiritual and moral leadership we so desperately need in our community?” All of these young men (and women) running wild and out of control in our neighborhoods; acting out and underperforming in schools; with their behinds, and improper behavior on full display to the public. If my biology serves me right, all of these young people had to have a mother and father; some male, biologically linked to them or not, ought to take some interest and concern in their well-being and development. One of my first acts upon returning to my home church was to check on the school performance of some of the young people. I checked on one high school young lady’s progress on a reading assignment I gave her before I left; (I know Shelia Jackson, an educator never truly retires :-). I gave her a copy of: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers; she (to my surprise), hugged me and patted me on the back after giving me her report. I was quite shocked as she is usually very quiet and very much to herself. I felt that  she was expressing with that hug what another young lady put into words on that same day: “I am so glad you are back Brother Johnson, your presence was missed.” We men are very much missing and in a state of in-action. I learned a very important principle as a principal: Young people may push back and against authority (for teenagers, that’s actually part of their developmental psychological job description); but the truth is, they actually want to live in a very orderly, organized, safe and predictable environment. They also, as those two young ladies let me know on Sunday, appreciate and respect a man that has high expectations, high life-standards, and high spiritual standards, and will stand firm in them. Our young people desperately need our guidance, and to see a blueprint of model-behavior from which they can design their own behavior. Our young people want so much for us to be men to their childhood.

 

WHAT THE NYC CHARTER COMPANIES COMMERCIALS DO NOT SAY…

 

What became of “truth in advertisement”; and where is the Better Business Bureau when you need them? 

      I just spent a week in NYC watching a huge number of misleading TV commercial’s (where did they get that prime-time commercial buying money?) attacking the mayor’s decision on charter schools. Now, there is a pending court case. First,what is not clear (or being purposely lost) in this media conversation is: How does a cooperate (profit-making private company) acquire “occupation rights” to a public (built by tax money) building?  What would a ruling in the charter owner’s favor mean? Can any private company make a claim to a publicly owned building based on the logic that they are “serving the public”? Based on a favorable ruling for the charter company owners; Internet companies, book stores, private hospitals and universities should also be able to make a claim for rent and utilities free space in a publicly financed building; after all they serve a public good.  The commercials also (purposely) failed to reveal that charter companies are first, private profit-making companies. This industry exists only because of the terrible strangle hold that recalcitrant and cynical labor unions have placed on NYC public schools. Charter companies have sadly become the only alternative to “work-rules” that place the interest of adults first, and children last. The lasting shame of the Public schools system that has led to this invasion of these pedagogical profiteers (if they are so great for children, why don’t we see them in affluent communities? Goodness, these communities would never pass-up on something that was truly good for their children!) Is our inability to create an environment where the majority (made up of mostly of Black and Brown) students can receive a quality life-lifting educational experience.  In a system where money “talks” (and rules) the only alternative offered to these students and parents, is that their children be transformed into commodities for the benefit of those who don’t look like them. It is again an example of Black and Latino children being offered the “lesser of two educational evils”; or “we will eliminate damaging/anti-learning work rules; if you allow us to make a profit off of your children; a great money-making enterprise/opportunity for a slow-moving economy. I can’t honestly blame the charter school parents for trying to at the very least give their children a fighting chance at receiving an education that comes close to being quality. But by offering a small token of a “good education” (which is really creating an experience with no struggling or learning environment distracting students) to a very small number of “active and aware” parents places these communities of color in a permanent state of underdevelopment, as most children of color are still held captive under harsh anti-learning work rules and low expectations conditions.  This manufactured “choice” of connected and aware parents of color fighting to get their children on a “raggedy bus”; while the majority of children of color are thrown under that same bus, is as false and insulting, as it is educationally debilitating for all of the children in that community. Why should there be a “cap” on the number of children in a community who could possibly receive something that approximates a “good” education? Why are communities of color continuing to fight for educational crumbs in 2014, so many years after 1954, so many years after the Emancipation Proclamation? A real choice is what exists for the children of privilege and entitlement: the choice between good, better and best! Real public schools (where most of the children of color still languish and suffer) should be forced by the communities in which these children live to provide these students with an authentic, qualitatively rich educational experience. Now that would be a bold, radical and courageous effort; and, it would offer parents and students of color a real educational choice. Now put that in a prime-time commercial!

FOR MANY, THE DESERT IS THEIR DESTINY…..

Journal/Meditation Reflection Excerpts

 FOR MANY, THE DESERT IS THEIR DESTINY…..

 

Deuteronomy 2:14-15 (NIV)

 

“Thirty-eight years passed from the time we left Kadesh Barnea until we crossed the Zered Valley. By then, that entire generation of fighting men had perished from the camp, as the Lord had sworn to them. 15 The Lord’s hand was against them until he had completely eliminated them from the camp.”

       Until a “generation” of the past bad habits, fears, doubts, insecurities and faithlessness have passed away; we cannot cross the valley of/into a new promise. We cannot bring our “old-selves” into a period, and time when the presence a “new-self” is required. The challenges and work of the future necessitate that our minds, hearts and hands are free from the burdens of the past. Regret and remorse are among the least useful of our many emotions; with revenge leading the list. The “desert” period we experienced in the past was the necessary classroom for our “promise period”. But also the message from God: “All who are with you (now), cannot go with you, into the future.” I can imagine that many in Israel did not take family and friends into the land of promise. There were many for whom their “best” destiny was to leave the bondage and suffering of Egypt, and live free wandering in the desert; and then there were those for whom the desert was an educational pause on their way to a promised land of greatness. Who in your circle of friends and family will only go as far as a “freedom” in the desert? Who will/can go further? And what is your final destination (which is the same as saying: who are you)? Perhaps much that hinders our personal development is our “clinging” to situations and people that keep us (with them) in the desert of unrealized dreams. It could be that we are people who are designated as “promise people”, but have found comfort, and camaraderie with the company of desert people. And why not, (the good news) desert people are so much more fun to be around. (And, the bad news) “desert people” won’t ever challenge you to be your best you, to go forward; because they are incapable of comprehending the concept of “challenge”. I understand why a friend once remarked: “If I ever decide to become an alcoholic, I am staying away from you, because you are the worst “enabler” in the world!” I have a wonderful “pact” with my very few friends; we don’t allow each other to “soak” in grief and despair; but we also challenge each other when one of us attempts to engage in “foolishness” and self-deception. If people are avoiding or rejecting your friendship, perhaps it is for a very good and useful (to you) reason; they don’t share your values or destination to greatness. I am presently reminded of how much my sister; brother and I are so much alike. I know “Stoicism” as a philosophy has fallen on hard times; but watching my sister behave so powerfully and inspiring in the face of what must be tremendous suffering (the death of a second child) is just amazing. When someone visits her she is ever so gracious and kind (as is our style) to not put on a “mourning” show for the guest; she is careful not to impose her suffering on the visitor; she even seems to take on the role of consoling them. It is just not our “style” to engage in “public grieving”; or to ask others to take responsibility for our sadness and misfortune. It is only when the two of us are alone that she will share her deep sad feelings of positive reflections, grateful memories; always, the good, the wonderful, the beautiful moments. This time reminds me of when my brother was dying in the hospital, and one day when I visited him the nurses mentioned to me at the desk that he is one of very few people who in his state was so positive and upbeat; I remember him telling me jokes and trying to cheer me up; when I came with the purpose of cheering him up. In serous adversity the “who” we really are, is revealed; our true character is revealed. What is impossible to escape is our true nature; what comes easy and natural to us. Who are we, really; is the primary question that should occupy the thoughts of all of us; less we act in a way that is counter to our calling, and misdirected efforts that leave us short of our own personal promised land. And knowing who we are will allow us to know who is a fellow traveler on our journey, and who is a detour and obstacle.  The “who” we are, is the best and final revelation as to whether our final destination is the desert or the Promised Land.  No promise land can be entered without passing through a “cleansing” desert land. Remove (perhaps a difficult and painful experience) everything, and everyone from the camp of your spirit that will prevent you from moving forward to your called promise; stop it, end it, eliminate all of it, right now.