Pardon me, but I just want the Black citizens of this nation to think about something, for a moment…

I know everyone is focused right now (and rightfully so) on the discriminatory and excessive behaviors of many of our nations police forces; as well as the ability of any white American citizen to deputize themselves and call for a ‘death sentence’ to be inflicted on any Black person they encounter; Black people who could be doing anything from mowing their own lawn, bird watching or delivering (in uniform) a UPS package. With those very pressing day-to-day: “Don’t know if I or my child will live to see the end of the day!” thoughts weighing on our individual and collective minds. And, on top of that having a proto-fascist, unhinged, mocker of Christianity US president; who quite frankly large numbers of our fellow white citizens think is doing a good job or is ok except for perhaps the way he expresses his racism and bigotry, but not how he practices it. I get it, you Black America have a lot of things on your mind. But please indulge this Black senior citizen educator to engage in my 40 year-long rant (as a form of self-healing Covid-19 quarantine psychotherapy.)

I want you to just take a moment to think about something. With the full racist character of our nation being explicitly exposed, not created by Trump (he is a conductor, not an inventor); and how that culture of racism permeates every aspect of our national life including deadly discriminatory treatment during a health crisis. Please, think about this.
Now I know from experience that this is not a ‘politically-sexy’ topic. But if you could think for a moment, as to how racism defines how Black children are received, perceived, and treated in our US public school systems… And who (if not us) is going to protect, defend and save them? I’m just asking you to think about it. (But then, at some point of course, I really want you to do something about it!) Granted, many of the destroyers of Black children’s gifts, talents, and dreams, look like the children they pretend to serve; well we need to do something about them also!

I think I am developing Covid-19 quarantine ‘grouchiness syndrome’…

Symptoms: shortness of patience, low-tolerance for Bulls&%$, a propensity to just call things what they are, the inability to suffer quietly; and don’t give a D#&@ what people think! I am going to check-in with my former students in the medical profession to get a proper diagnosis!

34.5 Million, I’m sorry I really can’t…

“Shaun King Keeps Raising Money, and Questions About Where It Goes..”*—The Daily Beast

Note: The Daily Beast is not a right-wing rag; and in fact, I found the article well-researched, fair, and balanced; and offered Mr. King more than (the usual) ample opportunity to provide counter and clarifying narratives and explanations for the many charges leveled against him.

I don’t know if it’s the result of a quarantined life-style or just some naturally age-time acquired “crankiness” (or a combination of the two); but I find that I am losing what little mental-space-patience I had for foolishness. I am so sick of the black traffickers in Black pain and misery industry. Who I believe secretly want a Trump reelection because they have turned Black suffering into a marketable commodity. The other reason is that they are personally financially capable and secure (also having good health insurance) to make it through 4 more years of Trump; meanwhile, a large number of Black folks (especially children) and many of Trump’s targeted for destruction ‘others’ won’t survive or will survive irreversibly broken after 4 more years of his and the GOP’s rule.

I know, I have been told on many occasions throughout my life that I can’t say many of the things I say because: “White people will hear/see it!” (Like ‘white people’ don’t know that public education systems are tragically not meeting the needs of the majority of Black children!) And further, count it as either a strength or weakness, to be honest, my work efforts (no disrespect) don’t take into account what ‘white people’ see, think, or feel about the efficacy or direction of my work. But if I am to step further into honesty, much of the best support I have received over the years (up to today) has come from ‘white people’. I will never stop praising the courage and vision of the late Dr. Donald Scherl (Former President; SUNY Downstate Medical Center), who in the face of a lot of opposition, allowed people like Dr. Gerald Deas, George Leonard, Tiffany Harrison and myself to essentially turn a medical school into a dynamic summer medical science learning program for middle and high school Black and Latino students.

34.5 million!

I am thinking of all of the wonderful public school teachers and administrators who annually ‘donate’ to an unofficial ‘school supplies, materials, and helping students and their families support tax’ out of their own pockets; monies that will never end up as donations on anybody’s IRS tax forms.

If these woken and much spoken on radio, print and cable TV people, who make a career out of Black people’s suffering taught some Black children (other than their own) how to read, bought them a microscope or a computer and then taught them how to use it, and then helped those same young people to master algebra, and thereby unlocking and opening wide the ‘gate’ to a future STEM career; I could half-way respect them, but all of this only ‘telling white folks off’ mess, I find tiring. I was so proud to see Brooklyn’s Concord Baptist Church actually ‘do something’ substantially significant (Paying off $4 Million dollars of Medical Bills Amid the Coronavirus crisis) to relieve the Covid-19 suffering of our people; but if they wanted more ‘news-media-time’ for their wonderful efforts they probably would have done better to have a press conference and call Joe Biden names!

And this is why in my view, that great supporter of education, scholarship awarder, and a builder of schools LeBron James, is statistics and ‘GOAT’ documentaries notwithstanding, one of the greatest celebrities of all time!

*https://www.thedailybeast.com/shaun-king-keeps-raising-money-and-questions-about-where-it-goes-3?fbclid=IwAR3ovD3Du2abtEX-JKZPa7L3uD8emKDBEkgbZjVRrqzU0ZJdCr-mdsFsXgA

The Ahmaud Arbery story: I am so tired of American racism hiding behind Donald Trump.

I am so tired of Donald Trump being portrayed as an aberration, a ‘deviation from the norm’, not-Republican, not-a-true-conservative, not-Mitch McConnell, not Susan Collins (aka “adults in the room”). That he is not the pre-trump era: attempts to dismantle and limit the expansion of healthcare to the poor, of blocking Obama judges, GOP “southern strategy”, Black voter suppression, convincing and manipulating poor/working-class whites to act in their racially-bigoted and not best economic interest, GOP gerrymandering to politically disenfranchise Black citizens; that he is not what America is truly about. His “style” is a little different, but he is in essence every bit of the above pre-trump GOP behaviors and he is very much American…

I am so tired of the news media, professional political thinkers and the cable news ‘talkers’ not recognizing that even a 40+% (plus those large numbers who for a lot of reasons won’t publicly declare) endorsement, support, encouragement, ‘likability’ rating, for someone like a Trump signals a defeat for what people pretend America stands for. Accounting for a 1% standard racist-nutcase cohort in any society; his favorability count is 39% too many people for a nation that wraps itself in the “Liberty And Justice For All” slogan…

I am so tired of a gutless and rudderless Democratic Party, who couldn’t find their way to becoming a ‘real’ opposition party if they were standing in the middle of it (and Yes we must ‘hold-our-collective-noses’ and vote for Joe Biden in the same way we try to save as many children as possible in public school systems that are designed and operating to destroy them; until we gather the collective courage and political will to make a real and meaningful change of those systems)…

I am so tired of talking and listening to white liberals/progressives/independents/conservative “never-trumpers”; who want to lay all of America’s ugly national commitment to the sins of bigotry and discrimination, on the shoulders of Donald Trump. Their political-operational slogan should be “Defeat all Versions of Trump and all American Expressions of Racism & Bigotry!”…

I am so tired of the unbelievable multiple ways (violence, poverty, housing, healthcare, public education, another young black person, law enforcement, ……..) that a young Black life and body can be destroyed alive or dead…

I am so tired of the pre-COVID-19, during Covid-19, (and most likely) post-COVID-19 horrible racial mistreatment of Black people in every area of the pandemic, from healthcare to the policing of the safe-distancing regulations…

I am so tired of professional educators (many who are black) pretending on both the social and news media platforms that this school-closure “distance-learning” thing is actually working well; when there are so many reports from all over the nation that a large number of all-ready underperforming students in the most educationally underserved (read: Black, Latino, poor white kids) zip codes are essentially and totally “missing in distance-learning action”…

I am so tired of professional educators (especially the phenotypically Black ones and the ethically/culturally identifiable Latino ones), who incredulously behave as if “back to normal” Public Education in any form, was in any way working effectively for the overwhelming majority of Black and Latino students…

I am so tired of people with good steady incomes, stock and investment options, nice places to live, plenty of good food to eat and first-rate health insurance, who then demand that Joe Biden basically becomes Bernie Sanders or that he pick a black vice-presidential running mate, or they will join the ‘never-Biden’ club. First, there is nothing Biden can be or do to make them happy; because (full-disclosure like me) 4 more years of Trump won’t hurt them personally; even as those additional 4 years will inflict a great deal of pain and suffering on people who don’t share their (our) privileged lifestyle of having a choice of living well and comfortable under Trump…

I am so tired that once again Black so-called Americans find themselves pleading for the fundamental right of not being killed by any random white citizen or law enforcement agent while: picnicking, walking, jogging, driving, standing, breathing…

I am so tired of fake-progressive white elected officials who automatically feel obligated to apologize to one group for inconveniencing their right to ignore the social-distancing statutes, while they ignore the pain of other groups who are violently over-policed for minor violations of those same safe-distancing violation…

I am so tired of the coward and cowered (with a few exceptions) black elected, religious, and civic leaders who allow the mistreatment and denial of Black people and Black business in the governmental response to this Covid-19 pandemic. Why won’t they do something beyond simply asking for “Black casualty reports”…

I am so tired of living 69 years of perpetual and unrelenting tiredness…

The Overtly Subtle Plague of Racism

OK, so let me understand this:

Denzel Washington does an interview (that left the interviewer, in her words: “shaken”) and attempts to do something very human; which is to not act in actor mode, and actually present himself as himself. This causes a response assessment from the interviewer that he is “overreacting”. What I saw was that he was desperately trying to say that “I am more than acting, more than what you see on the screen”—I am a person, I am human.
I recently watched a very good interview with Joaquin Phoenix who was essentially saying the same thing. He constantly pushed back against these standard ‘celebrity’ questions; seeming to say repeatedly: don’t totally define me through the lens of acting or so-called “celebrity”. Many, including myself, hailed the Phoenix interview as brilliantly honest. And so, my question is: why can’t Denzel express those same views without being defined as ‘hostile’ and “misunderstanding the questions”?

And then there is this:

Armed men and women enter the Michigan Statehouse and threaten the governor and state lawmakers; based on the photos they appear to all be white; and besides I can’t imagine a Black person deciding to arm themselves, even legally, and then walk into a public building, thus committing suicide to get more coronavirus exposure.
Then, these white rioters are referred to as “protesters” by the news media; which suggests they would have fit in well with the peaceful civil rights marches led by people like Dr. Martin Luther King; except for the guns, threats, and aggressive actions! The riot is also referred to as a “rally”; which sounds like something nice that colleges do before a major varsity sports event. Everyone including the Trump rioters knew that they were safe because their whiteness insured that safety; and further, every act of indulgence, reserve, and patience would be granted to them as bonified US citizens. Many white Americans are for the first time experiencing via COVID-19, a small piece of a painful plague that the unwelcomed, disinherented and despised ones must live through every waking moment of our lives.

The invisible—visible people…

When…

“…When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me…”–Invisible Man; Ralph Ellison

When I heard that a “bat-wielding” suspect was shot dead by police in a Walmart outlet; my mind immediately said: “The alleged bat-wielder must be Black!” (I was right)

When I read that “dozens were arrested” by NYPD at an event that violated the social-distancing ordinates instituted by the governor; I somehow suspected that the arrested violators were Black. (I was right)

When I heard that in multiple states armed men and women gathered on and in public state properties (advocating for more coronavirus exposure); my first thought: “They can’t be Black citizens gathering and armed on public property!” (I was right)

When I read that one of the largest school districts in our nation had not heard one contact ‘peep’ (as in nothing), or any type of response to the district’s ‘online-digital-instructional’ school-closure program from thousands of its students; I knew (before the writer told me) the zip codes and the Black and Brown profiles of those educationally ‘missing’ children. (I was right)

When I read that the governor of Georgia essentially handed the largest metropolitan cities in the state like Atlanta, a group death sentence; I immediately surmise that those large cities must be heavily populated with Black citizens. (I was right)

When I read the Emancipation Proclamation it says to me: “Black folks, you are on your own!” (I think I am still right!)

A Plague Can Bring a Lot of Clarity…

A plague clears up the myth of: “A land of equal educational opportunity and prosperity”. Valiant public educators efforts notwithstanding; the technology divide many of us have been talking about for years; definitely will not be closed during this national emergency. Also, the stark differences in COVID-19 educational responses and capabilities when you go from school district to school district, and in many cases the dramatic differences between schools inside of the same district, are tragically stunning. When we return to some level of ‘school-opening- sanity’ after these massive closures have ended, we will have learning winners and losers.

On another front I am deeply worried about something...

I am 100% all on board for Joe Biden (as I would have been for any of the Democratic nominees). But the Trumpsters are holding large demonstrations in some states demanding that they receive greater exposure to the coronavirus is scary; these people are suicidally committed to him. On the other hand, we have the ‘woke-privileged’ folks (they have good ‘options’ that allow them to remain ‘politically pure’; they have stable incomes, a place to live, plenty of food, health insurance, and a home library of ‘radical books’) who don’t have a problem having Trump serve another term. Not to get too theoretically complicated here; their theory is based on two false concepts put forward by Marx. (1) That workers of all races will see their common interest and unite; well we know how the white working-class feel about that in America (This is why the focus of one campaign was on ‘billionaires’ and the ‘oligarchy’, and not on the everyday people’s racism and bigotry that elected and sustains Trump). (2) Further, they (cynically) believe that as the suffering and dying of “the masses” under Trump increases ‘the people’ will be pushed to some ‘critical tipping point’, where they will become ‘radicalized’. Nope, another term of Trump will mean that a lot of Black, Brown, White, etc. poor and working poor people will suffer and die without becoming ‘radicalized’; as they are dying now because Trump mismanaged the COVID-19 crisis.
One historical thought from liberation movements the world over is that if the people are facing an existential threat(e.g. Fascism), perhaps some temporary uncomfortable alliances may be necessary. A movement that calls for the masses to face greater suffering and dying is problematic for me; and further, you definitely can’t raise the consciousness of a dead person!

And speaking of working and ‘class’…

A plague separates those who have the “power” to work from home; and those who must overexpose themselves daily to the virus.

More to the personal…

If you live alone, how much of yourself do you like (or can you take) alone? And if you live with another person, well…

A person who loves reading and has access to books; and someone who can engage in some kind of creative art activity at home, will have a ‘maintaining-sanity-advantage’ during a home quarantine situation.

And…
You don’t need to be a “great and famous” person during a plague; just being a regular good humanitarian person is a wonderfully great thing to be.

I’ll never take hugging, closeness or compassionate touching for granted again! … Part 10

A Plague will bring out the best, the beasts, and the not so brilliant…

Notes from In-house exile: Taking Notes on the Plagues Teachable Moments.

April 11, 2020

“…Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone…” — W. H. Auden

There are just too many unbelievably unhelpful stories… The NYPD had to enforce distancing regulation at a beauty supply store yesterday! Can we all agree to give ourselves a ‘Covid-19 Beauty Pass’ for the duration of the stay-home-stay-safe quarantine period? And Gov. Cuomo could you please issue an executive order declaring every New Yorker as Beautiful for the duration of the crises(and then we can go back to that: “In the eyes of the beholder” thing)! My goodness…

Yesterday, because I am a chronic learner (or a glutton for intellectual punishment), I painfully watched the entire 2-hour White House Covid-19 briefing/update yesterday. Trump spent the majority of those two-hours bashing an assortment of ‘enemies’ (including past presidents) along with a long, rambling and sometimes incoherent hour blaming the Chinese for everything except the war of 1812. I kept saying to myself, who (what kind of person) would think that this type of behavior and presentation is appropriate from a national leader during a moment of national crisis? Which leads me to my next point…

I tried to imagine really hard, as to what is in the minds and hearts of the 40, 60 or whatever percent of Americans who are approving of his behavior. The present historical situation is only helpful in this sense. After reading the biographies of people like Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot; one essential question that insist on being heard: “In each case the leader is in every clinical sense of the word obviously dangerously insane; and so, why are so many people willing to follow his evil and destructive leadership?
Normally, I would default to my favorite: ‘lack of education’ as the reason position; but in the case of Hitler, Germany (like America today) was an intellectual center of learning, STEM, theology, and the creative arts. And further, Trump’s 40-60% of ‘approving’ Americans can’t all be be people whose education ended after the first grade.

No I think Trump has figured “it” out; “It” being the social-psychopathology of ‘bad-acting’ social movements.
It’s the ugly bullying of various groups and individuals; the bigoted attacks on people of color like the Chinese, that endears him to people who are somehow disconnected from our evolved ability to make intellectual, moral and empathetic decisions.

I’ll never take hugging, closeness or compassionate touching for granted again! … Part 9

Notes from In-house exile: Taking Notes on the Plagues Teachable Moments.

April 7, 2020

Aloneness is wealth, loneliness is poverty…

“The cure for loneliness is solitude”— Marianne Moore

A dear sister-friend sent this: “…Social distancing and sheltering in place…of all the people I know this is probably easiest for you…” Oh if only I had the emotional-superpowers people often attribute to me.

I think that bonafied extroverts (who rule the world in part because they are better at communicative-social-networking), get to define the world of bonafied introverts; after all, when you rule the world, that’s what you do. The truth is, ‘social-distancing’ (for which I am in complete compliance), is in fact very difficult for me. An isolation that is forced is never good or pleasant; it’s an imposition on the self, not an act of self-affirmation.

The “Extros” interpret the world in the quantity and frequency of social-contacts; The “Intros” on the other hand only seek the qualitative-deepness of a few social-contacts; they also enjoy investing time and effort into their #1 friend—themselves! But, the secret meaning of Introversion (what Extros define in their worldview as ‘fear’ or ‘pathology’), is that Intros love and care so deeply for others, that they are unwilling to waste that energy by sharing it casually with the undeserving or prematurely with the unready…

Black folks please be careful of both the Covid-19 virus and the viral disease of racism…

OK, I have now been made aware of three situations (I know the individuals personally) where three highly educated, smart and articulate African-American men (one a PhD. who reviewed my book) who have entered a commercial establishment correctly wearing a Covid-19 facial protection mask, only to have the store employees and/or a fellow white customer assume that these individuals were there for the purposes of committing a crime. Fortunately, none of these scenarios ended tragically. I suspect that there are other instances in the nation of which I am unaware.

Look, I know that many of you have received, and in some cases adopted the US ‘post(Obama)racial’ story-line. But I am going to give you the same old-fashion Black elders advice I received as a youngster. This is the cautionary instructional lesson that I ‘upgraded’, rephrased; and then gave to all of my Black (and Latino) students over the years; even when they did not want to hear it.

To be honest, I hated as a child every time a family member, neighborhood or a church elder told me that: “Because you are a Negro (or Black), you must work twice as hard as a white person, because of prejudice!” I felt that those conditions were extremely unfair; and since I spent most of my childhood school days at the top of my classes, and ended up being placed in gifted and talented programs; I felt that I was already, “smarter” then most of my white student peers, without having to work too much harder. In fact, I spent many countless days/hours in the Brooklyn Public Library, The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and The Brooklyn Museum, reading books at home; essentially competing against myself (not white kids) in acquiring vast amounts of knowledge. But back then (1950’s) you had to actually listen to adults and could not argue back. But, over the years I have come to be less critical of and more appreciative of the elders of my youth.
Their approach probably did not meet my pedagogical standards for teaching a lesson. But they were doing the best they knew how in trying to protect us from the horrible reality of the societal and US cultural wide practices of discrimination, low expectations (still very much in play in our public schools today) and biased negative perceptions.
The elders of my young days did the best that they knew how to do; and their wise observation and assessment of the true identity of America was correct then, and it is with some small modifications, for the most part still true today.

We should not get it twisted, or confused; whether you like it or not; living in a nation that is built on, thrives in, and is powered by racism and bigotry, your Blackness is your ultimate existential reality. For over forty years I have pushed and supported young people by way of education, to realize their highest aspirational career dreams. There is no record of me ever encouraging a young person to work below their potential; and in fact taking that position has caused me a great deal of personal, financial and professional pain. But let’s be clear, it does not matter if you are a MD, PhD, Ed.D., JD, DD or no D; rest assure at some point, in small or large aggressive ways, you will over and over again encounter the ‘black group treatment’ of prejudice and discrimination. And please note, that many of the pathological racially damaged black persons in our nation, could also be the very individuals who will inflict this racial prejudice mistreatment on you.

I am proud to have served as a public school principal and superintendent; but I can also say that not one day ended without someone, a parent, public or district official, one of my peers or even the people I supervised; failing to remind me that they saw me as no different from any Black person who was at the bottom of the school or district staffing chart.

Two of my best friends are highly accomplished Black physicians; and they both have numerous stories of being on the receiving end of racial aggressive actions, including from white doctors they were training! One, a trauma surgeon was told by a white patient arriving to the trauma center after a car accident: “Can I get a real doctor?” (I told him that he was a better person then I, because I would have said: “Sure, in fact he stared in a James Bond movie and his name is Dr. No-doctor!”)

Every prominent Black American thinker, artist and educator (W.E.B. DuBois, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Lorraine Monroe, Ralph Ellison, Asa Hilliard, to name a few) has made this point: That against our will, and not requiring our consent, awareness or agreement, we Black people are forced, by virtue of our US residency to live in two separate and unequal political world realities. And any misunderstanding or misinterpretation of this edict, will always lead to loss, pain, suffering and perhaps even death.

Remember, that the poor national government response to the coronavirus is very much in part due to the large numbers of white Americans who wanted (and still want according to polls) a president who is clearly unfit and incompetent; but who would work hard to make bigotry and prejudice great again.

Referees warn boxers before a fight: “Protect yourself at all times!” And so, despite the bad ‘medical advice’ being provided by “science experts” on social media platforms, Black people are not immune to coronavirus.
We must at all times, in the best ways that we can (e.g. staying home!) protect ourselves and others from this dreaded disease. But at the same time we must be of ‘two-minds’ and be proactively and protectively aware of that other American chronic and untreated deadly viral disease of racism, for which no vaccine has ever been employed.

I’ll never take hugging, closeness or compassionate touching for granted again! … Part 8

Notes from In-house exile: Taking Notes on the Plagues Teachable Moments.

April 5, 2020

When I Think Of Home (WITOH) I…

(My sincere apologies to ‘The Wiz’ fans!)

WITOH: I don’t think of a place of quarantined-isolation. Where I’m reduced to dialoguing with an air-fryer!

Me: “OK, how are we doing?

(After another month of a solo-quarantined existence and the air-fryer will start answering me back).

Air-Fryer: “It’s almost done sir, give me 7 more minutes.

WITOH: I think of a NYC where I was born and raised, and served as a superintendent during “9/11”. I learned then about a city that was overflowing with love, patience, perseverance and the determination to come back better and stronger…

WITOH: And living in a nation that would (with all of Hillary Clinton’s very human flaws), select one of the most unqualified, amoral, unimaginative, uninspiring, unethical (did I miss anything–Just fill in the blank), and ___________ person to run this country. And tragically, for all Americans (including his supporters), to lead a nation that is presently facing one of its gravest challenges.

WITOH: I think of a present world-wide place and time, where the plague’s pain will reveal the best people, as well as revealing the best in people; including the emergence of extra-ordinary people, who in this moment of collective suffering, will reveal their best extraordinary gifts of human-kindness service.