Native Omaha Weekend…and I’m coming home. I’m coming home.
I’m going to write a lot about coming home. For me homecoming is about family….and this year it will be about closure.
One year ago, my I lost my father.
This week I will get to see the last thing I could do for him….His headstone.
As I go home, I see a North Omaha reeling, bleeding.
A rash of violence on the streets, and violence and turmoil in suites and office of City Hall.
I’m thinking about my people right now.
I’m thinking about Eric Garner, Michael Brown…about a young boy with a water gun…and a woman just driving her car in Texas.
I’m thinking about how their Black Lives were taken.
But I’m also thinking of…Islan Nettles, Mercedes Williamson, and India Clarke.
And I thinking of a woman who was held in a jail in Iowa, and how she could have ended up if it wasn’t for a committed blogger sounding an alarm and people giving a damn about her Black Life.
But it also got me to thinking about this Black Lives Matter movement. And while I support it strongly. I have some questions about it.
Questions we all need to answer.
Does that include a black life that just got out of the joint and trying to get their mind and life right?
Does that include the family down the way who’s trying to keep their head above water with two jobs and a sick child? Does that include the single mom who got a letter from her church saying her offering was “insufficient”.
Does that include a single dad trying to fight a tide of indifference and stereotypes?
Does that include my gay brother? My lesbian sister? My trans neighbor who got accosted in a public bathroom?
Does that include my Buddhist homeboy? My rasta neighbor? The dude in the next cubicle who believes that worship is the denial of reason and common sense?
Does that include my mentor, who is a staunch right-wing Republican?
Does that include my cousin who sings “The Red Flag Song.”
Does that include black nerds?
Does that include a young person going down the wrong path?
Does that include that same someone who
went the wrong way trying to make things right?
Does it include that brother still rocking an 8-ball jacket?
Does it include my sister on the pole?
Does it include the “buppy” who seems to not have time for those “other colored folks”?
Does it include the recovering “Uncle Tom” who realizes that he or she is because we are?
Does it include the outliers who look with disdain at “those negroes buying into the Man and his system.”
Does it include the bomb-throwers, the nationalists, the brother selling the Final Call on the corner?
Does it include the cat who hasn’t freed his mind so that his ass will follow?
Does it include a sex worker? The unemployed? “Those people on assistance?”
In your lexicon, does this include me?
I ask myself these things every day. I pray to my Creator that He leads me to the right answers.
I’m back on the corner after too long an absence. I’ll admit it, I was in a funk for awhile.
Frustrated by life. Frustrated by words that seemed to be unread. For some time I had forgotten the one thing I always told myself.
“Keep writing, keep speaking out, keep on…Even if it seems nobody’s receiving it.”
So here I am again, inspired to continue…In the middle of my favorite month. Another birthday coming. Another year granted by the Creator to be better than I was the year before, and the day before.
I’m inspired today by pushing myself in another race over the weekend. I have goals this year. I want to do my first triathlon and my first marathon, and I’m on the way to doing it.
I’m also inspired by a story told from a dear friend of mine from my college days at Northwestern. She’s mother and a professor and she has an 11-year old boy, who recently met America’s spiritual carcinogen face-to-face.
His mom says the young lad was playing football with some neighborhood kids. He his friends, all black, playing with another group of kid who were all white. I guess the teams were divided along racial lines, and the white kids were calling blacks the “n-word”. (Personally, I think we all need to quit dancing around that word. ALL OF US. We need to hear the harshness, the hateful behind it. There’s no reclamation or redemption in it. In my view the euphemism of that term “n-word” is an example of our national cowardice when it comes to actually dealing with the ugly past of violent, institutional systems of racism in this country — But that’s another post for another day.)
Hearing that children spat this venom, showed this cancer make my heart cry in anger. I like young people. Children a gift from God in my mind. Yeah, they can bratty, moody, work your last nerve, etc.. But, the joy they bring outlast the chore they can be. And when I hear or see children being infected with this cancer, to me its child abuse. It is taking pure, innocent, gentle hearts and destroying them. It devalues the things that makes us human, and humane.
Seeing the words of this mom, the disgust and some despair that a next generation feels the abrasive sting of racism, brought back things from my childhood that still anger me some.
When I turned 8 year old, my mother gave my the best birthday present I ever received.
Now at the time all I could think about the serious set of wheels I was gonna get. I was getting my first bicycle for my birthday. But the bike was back-ordered, it wouldn’t be ready in time for my birthday. So I was disappointed. I want that cool bike.
But she said, “Cheer up, son. I’m going to get you an even better gift than a bike.”
My response? “Yeah, right.”
We got in the car and drove to the public library. I got my first library card.
The bike gave me wheels, but that library card gave me wings.
Signed up for the contest the same day. And I spent a summer immersed in books. I took them on road trips. Read before breakfast in the morning. Read at night. Every chance to read, and learn.
I found my love of science-fiction and myself that summer! I picked up books about science and art and music, and….I read about people who look like us. I met our kinfolk that summer, EJ. I met OUR heroes, named and unnamed. All the bedtime stories about relatives I’d never meet, yet put me in the place I am…and…and…all those stories came to life.
And when I looked back, I read 34 books that summer. I finished third in that contest…In the entire city!
My mom got a phone call one day a few weeks before school started and the contest was over. Someone at our neighborhood branch of the library said, “Ma’am we need to talk to you and you son.”
So we went to the library along with my aunt. And when we got there, the librarian of our branch was there, along with another lady. She was from the city’s library department downtown. Now she’s explaining to my mom..”Well we are checking things out because, we’ve never had someone from this branch read as many books and finish this high in contest before. So we are investigating to see if this child can actually read and that he actually read the books.”
I saw the librarian, she looks like us. She is silent, polite but seething. My mom is puzzled. My aunt is furious.
Me, I don’t know how to feel? Inside I SCREAMED!!!!!
I read those books. I read them. I read them on long car rides to summer track meets. I feel asleep with them in my hand. I was in the line with Madeline all in a row, and went to Where The Wild Things Are, and I was sleuthing with Encyclopaedia Brown. I read about how Thurgood Marshall fought the fight that put me a in classroom with all kinds of kids, and read about a group of brave people marching across a bridge and were hurt just so they could vote!
I READ THOSE BOOKS! I HAVE WINGS! I FLEW THROUGH THOSE PAGES AND PROSE!
And that woman…That WHITE woman said. “Young man…read to me.”
And she pulled out a book…It wasn an Encylopaedia Brown mystery.
I read that story. I read it with passion. I acted out the characters with voices from my imagination. I was Encylopaedia…and I was Bugs Meany, and I was person he caught red-handed.
I READ EVEN WHEN THE LIBRARIAN SAID, “YOU CAN STOP NOW!”
I didn’t listen I read and read…and read!
And when I was done, my mom smiled. My aunt said.. “SEE?!”
The woman seemed unimpressed. I looked up at her and I said politely, but with a small hint of hunt, anger and bitterness.
“Ma’am, are you going to make sure the white kids can read , too?”
That day was the first day that I was introduced to being a black child. It hurt.
As we drove home. My mom and aunt angry and me bitter. I thought about it the whole day,
That night my mom tucked me in and read to me, and I asked her “Mom? Why do they hate us?”
And my mom said, “Not all of them do, son. But some do, but you don’t let their hate change you.”
I remember saying, “Why even read. They don’t even think that can read.”
And she said, “DON’T EVER SAY THAT, SON.”
And she told me about long ago, when our kinfolk lived in chains..and how they were killed for teaching and learning how to read. I heard every word she said..and she left me with one sentence.
“My son, we have come too far to go back to those days.”
Since then, my hunger to read grew..and it never gone away since.
That feeling of hurt, turned into a strength, and strength to rise above and shine the same way that those people on the bridge did. The same way Thurgood Marshall did.
I send you this story young man to let you know that the shock and anger you may feel is normal…but it shouldn’t be!
Do not let that feeling become normal. Fight against it with pride, knowledge, love and forgiveness.
Yes, EJ, forgiveness.
The young boys who left that field were taught the things that they said to you. The knew no better. It is sad and hurtful, and there were always be those people as you go through this life a young black boy, who will become a black man.
But I also tell you to take this moment and this lesson and be determined to be a part of the change, and that change will come, EJ. Our history as a people have shown time and time again that change for the better comes as long as we continue rise above the cancer those young boys have. The cancer that people older than them passed to them. The cancer that you will find some of those who like you have as well, many out of despair and bitterness.
Stay strong, blessed, black and beautiful, EJ!
I’m back on the corner, in the middle of an election. I saw that first Presidential debate, and Mitt Romney sounded good, looked good. You could say he beat up a very bored Barack Obama. This election will get tighter.
But I’m of a mind to sit this vote out, because of what I heard in that debate. NOTHING.
Presidential debates are rather worthless. Its too rehearsed voices saying the same things.
Recently, I ran into a member of a Presidential ticket that actually had some thing to say.
His name is Yari Osorio, and he’s half of the youngest ticket on the campaign trail, and probably the most to the left.
Meet Yari Osorio, vice-presidential candidate of the Party of Socialism and Liberation.[youtube http://youtu.be/MLURPVCuEJo%5D
Gabby Douglas WON AN OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL. The first African-American woman to win one of the glamour titles at the Olympics no less. Women’s Gymnastics ALL-AROUND.
But some of you wannabe Trinis and Susannahs could only see the young woman’s hair.
I award you all a NORTHSIDE CHIP “YOU IGNANT” AWARD…and I leave you with this.
The Corner is liking the Summer Olympics so far. Today, a 17-year old high schooler becomes American’s latest Golden Girl. The basketball teams are kicking some butt. The volleyball teams are firing on all cylinders. The Opening Ceremony was really good. Better than Beijing in my view. I’m in the minority but what the heck, I’m always in the minority.
Hope Solo opened her mouth….Oh dear. I’m good with Hope on this one. She was backing her teammate and I respect that. At the same time was Brandi Chastain wrong in her critique? No she wasn’t. Ms. Solo, the press writes their own story anyway, deal with it!
From The Games, to The Game. 99 days untilwe have to make a choice in the Billion-Dollar Battle of the SuperPACs. I’m not sold on the reelection of the President, but I know I’m not pulling the lever for Mitt Romney, and his foreign misadventure has confirmed it. Starting with his busted dismount in London and continuing with his policy speech in Tel Aviv. It was very surreal seeing Mitt Romney showing he could slap leather with the legendary Israeli gunslinger Benjamin Netan-YAHOO.
Back home, we have a nominee for underreported story of the year.Chick Fil-A. We’re here. We’re Anti-Queer. Get Used To Us.[/caption]
I loves me some Chick-fil-A. Whenever I’m in a town that has a Chick-fil-A, I’m eating some Chick-fil-A. I like the chicken sandwich, the chicken nuggets and those waffle fries. Yeah, its “bad” for you…But its just tastes so good.
That is what makes giving it up so darn hard.
You see, it all began with this guy.
The man above is Chick-fil-A Dan Cathy. A very successful businessman and a devout Christian. The man talks the talk and walks his walk, right down to not opening on a Sunday. Recently, he spoke out on the issue of the gay marriage. Fearlessly and forcefully he said, “Well, guilty as charged… “We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives,”
He’s put Chick-fil-A’s financial wherewithal in line with his maxillary orifice. According to the group Equality Matters, Chick-fil-A has put some serious profits behind a number of organizations that could be taken to be “anti-gay”. They made over $2 million in donations to such groups in 2010 alone. Their donations include some very interesting cadres, including one cited by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group”.
I don’t have a problem with what Dan Cathy’s views are. They are his. I don’t have a problem with Chick-fil-A throwing some money to a lot of groups like Focus of the Family or the Family Research Council. My personal view on both groups is that their “Focus of the Family” too often does not include mine for some glaring and obvious reasons. Nonetheless, a private business has a right to do as they see fit in the causes they choose to support. For this reason I am opposed to the sudden cry of city chief executives in Boston and Chicago to “ban” Chick-fil-A from there respective cities. Now, Boston Mayor Tom Menino (affectionately referred to by Bostonians as “Mumbles”) backpedaled citing the simple fact that he can’t infringe in the right of a business to set up shop where they legally can.
Chick-fil-A has a right to their views and a right to their advocacy for their views.
I have a right as consumer to buy or not to buy. I choose not to buy, mainly because of the issue behind the curtain.
I’ve said it before the whole idea of the pushing of the “defense of marriage” issue is really a trojan horse to me. What I saw in my hometown, Omaha, Nebraska in the last few months confirms this. Like many cities, Omaha had a hole in their anti-discrimination laws, and a city councilman decided it was time to close that hole. The upgraded ordinance would include protections for GLBT citizens in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, etc. None of the laws even touch the subject of marriage. Yet the opposition immediately go to “Them goldarn homo-sex-y’alls want to violate marriage!” when marriage isn’t even a part of the issue at hand.
That word “marriage” to many people, myself included, is a very serious, solemn, and loaded term. To many it is very sacred to the core. It should be.
HOWEVER, I do not believe that the state should regulate this. No one should receive any benefit or debit from the state based on what is largely a religious designation, and marriage is a religious designation. Yet, if we are going to give official state-sanctioned benefits based on this designation then it should be open to all.
Look behind the curtain, and you find that “marriage” is a poison pill, a ruse, and that is why I have the stand I have. I believe, perhaps naively, that most people want to be fair. Most people have a sense of fair play. If you present something discriminatory towards them, they would say…”You know, I may not understand or agree with their ‘lifestyle’ or who they are…But I’m not going to be unfair to them either. Live and let live.”
BUT, inject something is volatile and polarizing as “marriage” into the fray, and you can get people who normally wouldn’t agree with discrimination, to agree with it, even when marriage is not the topic of contention. In the cases I saw in Omaha and now is happening down I-80 in Lincoln and a number of similar debates across our nation, that is what you are seeing.
Chick-fil-A will continuing to do brisk business. There’s plenty of people in this country who agree. There’s a “Chick Fil-A Appreciation Day” in the rumor mill to be planned by some prominent conservative groups. I’m hearing quite a few people who say they’re going buy, buy, buy because Chick-fil-A is defending us from the Gay Agenda(TM), whatever the heck that is.
I give a lot of respect to Dan Cathy for being open about his beliefs. That’s a good thing, because for people who believe in humanity and fairness for all, we know where we stand.
But for me? I will put my financial wherewithall in line with my maxillary orifice. Chick-fil-A isn’t the only game in town.
Yep, back again. Back to writing, and I’ve got stuff to say.
Twelve reasons why I not missing a second what’s about to happen in London. The Summer Olympics
1. Athletes wearing the best uniform in sports. National Team Colors! You can talk about Yankee pinstripes, Man United Red, The star on a Dallas Cowboys helmet or the Ghosts of Celtics Past. There is not a single uniform in any sport that compares with the name of your nation across your chest.
2. Stars are born here. Yeah, the TV Networks and those shoe companies try to manufacture them, but the game’s the thing and the stars are born.
3. The Decathlon — World’s Greatest Athlete…There’s a young American kid named Ashton Eaton. I say keep an eye on him.
4. Michael Phelps. How many more medals can he win?
5. The Little Team That Could — USA Basketball doesn’t have size, but they do have LeBron and Kobe, but I think this will be the Kevin Durant Show.
6. Another WR at 100 meters? With the potential field and plot twist it could be.
7. Seeing somebody from a country that is never won a gold medal, win gold medal? It could happen!
8. Opening Ceremonies. I’d give anything to be in that track just to take part in that
9. The reactions. Win or Lose, they are most honest facial expressions, cries and cheers ever.
10. Learning sports you know nothing about.
11. The possibility of seeing Bradley Wiggins pulling off an incredible double. An Olympic Gold Medal, a week after winning a Tour de France
12. To admire those who worked, sweat, bleed and toiled to wear a title only a select few ever will, “Olympian”.