Saturday, June 30, 2007

My worthlessness

I was in Detroit yesterday for a concert at Chene Park. It would've been a great night, had it not been for something that happened (I'll get into that in a moment). The location by the Detroit River provided an incredible ambiance. The weather was just right. It was the perfect formula for a great event.

As I waited in line for the ticket collector, I took a look around at all the faces that had gathered. Though I admit that some of the ladies were bangin' that night, there wasn't really anybody in attendance who captured my attention.

Except for one person.

No more than twenty yards from me was an old man in a wheelchair. This man was obviously homeless; evidenced by his dirty and tattered appearance. Clearly, he hadn't showered or had a change of clean clothes in a while. I noticed that the man was unusually dirty; almost as if he had a mud bath just that morning. He was about as dirty as anybody I'd ever seen. But oddly, even that wasn't the real attention-getter. Above all else, what jumped out at me were his eyes. They were a deep hazel green; very similar to mine. It's not very often that I see blacks with hazel eyes that aren't store-bought. So when I do, it jumps out at me. Most of the other people around me oppositely were completely oblivious to this man; most likely ignoring him on purpose. But while he passed through, I could not take my eyes off him. Though I've been taught that it's impolite to stare, I stared. I stared hard. I watched him closely as he made his way through the traffic. He didn't stop to beg for anything. He didn't talk to anyone. He was just as oblivious to the crowd as they were to him. But I noticed him.

For the moment, I was frozen dead in my tracks. Interestingly, I didn't feel sorrow for the man. I wasn't bitter at the system that allowed for this man to wheel himself through poverty. Nor was I particularly filled with the Spirit at this point. Truthfully, I didn't feel anything at that particular moment. I just stood there watching this man motionlessly. I can't exactly explain it.

Well, that's it. That's all that happened. I guess this whole thing would've been far more profound if I did something noteworthy for him; offered him assistance, had a great conversation with him, etc. But I didn't. I just stood there watching him -- while people in line behind me were motioning for me to keep moving.

Once I snapped out of my trance, all that was left from the experience was an old man who left me feeling miserable and worthless. Usually it takes an exceptional person or thing to humble me to the point of absolute meekness, humility and reticence; like when Malik is off somewhere being righteous or when my big sister is doing something amazing. But on this occassion, it wasn't a person's high distinction that humbled me. It was a person who was drudging deep in bowel recesses of poverty, dispair, and social worthlessness that caused me to feel pathetically self-consious. Suddenly, the Kenneth Cole jacket I was rockin' wasn't as fashionable as I once thought. The floor-level seats we had didn't seem as valuable. Any success I've obtained over the years didn't seem important.

Just to clear up any confusion: I am by no means implying that being successful and enjoying the good things in life is wrong. It's just that I was amazed at how much my outlook can be affected in different situations; particularly in this case, when I'm confronted by man with no social value whatsoever. In essence, this impoverished man made me feel...well...worthless.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A sordid relationship

I don’t know if you’ve been following the story of Bobby Cutts Jr., but this thing is starting to get ugly. I tell you: it's stories like this make me happy to be single and childless.

Anyway, Cutts; an Ohio police officer, has been charged with the killing his girlfriend and the couple’s second baby which was due to be born next week. The story was first aired during a statewide search of the pregnant woman, Jessie Marie Davis of Ohio. What started out as being another example of America’s missing white women syndrome; turned into something much more nefarious.

I’m confident that this story will stay in the news for a long, long time. I mean, the key elements in this case are (1) an violent black police officer, (2) a white girlfriend with children (3) an interracial relationship, (4) attempted cover up and (5) domestic abuse and -- ultimately -- murder. I can just see Nancy Grace drooling over this story as we speak.

I remember when men who didn’t want to assume parental roles just left and accepted their label as a deadbeat dad. Now they just plain deadly dads. What in the heck is going on in this world?!


Thursday, June 21, 2007

In the news

I've been so busy lately ranting about...well...everything, that I haven't taken time out to go over some of what's been in the news. Well, here's a recap of some interesting stories:

GOP = Gettin' Outta the Party
The 2008 race for President just got a little more interesting. Long time Republican and billionaire New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced this week that he's ditching the Republican party and going Independent. Though he claims he's not seeking the Presidency, I'm still left to wonder if he can become a legitimate New York candidate in '08, especially considering that Gulliani can't even seem to beat out Fred Thompson. If he does decide to run, how will thisl impact the elections? Specifically, from which party will the most votes be taken?

Perhaps the biggest question is: Since he's not married, will he get a call from Obamagirl?

The scandal involving the missing emails is starting to get pretty ugly for the White House. According to this report from the House Oversight Committee, electronic messages from 51 of the 88 accounts used by a Republican mailing system are missing. Among those missing emails are those from White House Political Director Ken Mehlman. Of the accounts that are still intact, emails from those accounts are nevertheless still missing; especially from key players like Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales. Though the Bush Administration contends that neither the Presidential Records Act or the Hatch Act have been violated, this scandal can't bode well with them.

The Cold War, part II
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has indicated that our missile defense efforts are still in effect; even after several European nations have expressed their opposition to the plans. NATO (who I've always viewed as being toadies for the U.S.) have actually co-signed on these plans, which doesn't surprise me one bit.

This story is a clear demonstration of the hypocrisy of America and the European Union. All this jazz about spreading democracy around the world; yet the citizens of these countries are not allowed to have any say on what's being done on their own soil. But the Russians have drawn their line in the sand. The question is: will the U.S. heed their warning?

"Illegal" casualities of war
I'm not at all fan of the immigtration plans currently laid out by the Democrats. But something has to be done to address the following:

The wife of a missing American solider is facing the possibility of being deported because of her illegal alien status. So essentially, a man's family will get kicked out of the very country for which he is fighting and will likely die. Amazing.

More horrible news from Iraq
The military has reported that another 14 American soliders have been killed in isolated incidents in the past two days. These killings bring the death toll to 3,545. I'm reporting this now because -- chances are -- most people aren't paying attention anymore.

I'm left to wonder if that's the going rate these days for 'democray and stability'.

Bush vetoes stem-cell bill
It seems to me that Bush is more and more intent on leaving a legacy of stubborness and opposition to progress that could be good for the country after he recently vetoed another bill supporting stem-cell research. Though the president urged Congress to adopt policies that are "ethically responsible", he successfully thwarted a reasonable and scientific way of doing just that. Will this guy ever get it?

Satellites getting "too costly"
According to reports, the U.S. will be pulling back on aerospace funding used to measure global warming. Though the White House has been warned of the impacts of not being able to track global warming patterns from space, the Bush Administration is getting dangerously close to pulling some major plugs on the project. All of this while Bush claims to be committed to leading the world's efforts in addressing these concerns. What better way to silence the reports coming from global satellites than by cutting the funding?

Church sponsored racism
This story just made me sick. Apparently, a school in Riverdale, CA (about 20 miles from Fresno) sponsored a Civil War themed senior prom and graduation service; which included whites dressed as mammies, field workers, and runaway slaves. Worst yet, this event was sanctioned by a Christian school.

Remember all this when you hear someone say that racism is a thing of the past.

I guess that about does it for now. My thesis work is going OK, I'm just about finished with my grad program (three classes to go! Woo hoo!), and life is generally good. Please keep the victims of the Kansas storms, the Gulf Coast, and the all-around disenfranchised in your prayers. Peace!


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Double standards?

Joslyn and I just had a pretty interesting conversation about Jennifer Hudson and race relations in this country. Once I put some coherent thoughts together, I'll revisit this topic at a later time. I'm curious to know what y'all think. But in the meantime, get a taste of this:

A friend of mine just sent me this link with comedian D.L. Hughley during an interview on Jay Leno's late-night talk show.

In this clip, he's responding to the recent controversy involving what Don Imus said about the Rutgers women's basketball team. The comments Hughley made are nothing short of offensive and downright ignorant. What's worst is that there hasn't been ANY outcrying made by the Black community.

This is a prime example of the double standard practices that make it more and more difficult for black folks to socially legitimize themselves. When Imus made the "nappy-headed hoes" reference, people were out in droves to get his head on a silver platter. DL says it and it's comedy.

Where's the outrage? How long will we let this new-aged minstrel bull**** go on?

Monday, June 18, 2007

More political "WTFs"

As passionate as I am about understanding politics and as much as I love the ladies, I can't put into words just how @#$*ing weird this is. Maybe somebody can figure this out for me.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Social malpractice

I hope that you don't think my using this image was done in bad taste or in disrespect to the Rodriguez family. It's just that I think it's perfectly symbolic of the effects of poor social reform.

It’s no secret that our health care system is one of the more inferior ones in the entire industrialized world. Presciption drug costs are off the charts (where else but in American can crack and weed be less expensive than heart medicine?). Pharmaceutical companies have hijacked the industry. Emergency rooms have hour long waiting lines. Poor communities are not being adequately served. Hospitals are overpopulated and understaffed. The list goes on and on. But the case of Edith Rodriguez (in the picture above) is - to me – is a comprehensive summary of all problematic issues that exist in the medical system. Here's how it all went down:

Last month, Mrs. Rodriguez was admitted into the Martin Luther King Hospital after complaining of serious stomach symptoms; which were later identified as a perforated bowel. Incidentally, she was released, readmitted for the same problems and re-released though there was no evidence that the problem was even identified; much less remedied. As her symptoms grew increasingly worse, she went to the emergency room yet again; this time being ignored by the hospital staff. Despite being in obvious and needing immediate attention after vomiting blood, she was left to collapse right in the middle of the floor (interestingly though, witnesses reported seeing janitors mopping the floor up around her. Yet no one came to her aid, even when medical analysts indicated that her alignment was treatable). Apparently, Mrs. Rodriguez's status as a drug addict impacted their decision to help.

The situation got so bad that one of her family members called a 911 dispatcher to request an ambulance to take her to another location. Tape recordings show that the dispatcher responded to the caller with rudeness and apathy. After that, another person called a 911 dispatcher and was treated to the same apathy. This time around, the dispatcher was frankly downright mean and condescending to the caller. So while Mrs. Rodriquez was lying on a hospital floor for almost an hour, bleeding from the mouth, and crying out in pain, the hospital staff on hand ignored her, people cleaned up around her, and 911 dispatchers rudely dismissed the calls they received to aid her. Oh, this gets better…

Seeing the complete ineptitude of the medical workers at the hospital, the family made a judgement call to involve the LAPD. Once the police arrived, instead of trying to resolve the situation and to get the medical workers to do their job, these ass-munches arrested the fatally-ill Rodriguez because of a warrant out on her. She died as they were carting her from the emergency room.

When it comes to gut-wrenching stories, I've heard just about everything. I’ve followed stories about rigged elections, police framings, corporate and/or political scandals, and racism so blatant you’d think we were still going through Jim Crowism. But I have never, ever heard a story like this.

This story brings to light the feastering and deep-seated problems in the underbelly of this country; things that seem to get lost when we try to claim “greatness”. There are some serious issues that need to be addressed. If this hospital was as horrible as its reputation suggested, why was it still operational? Was does this say about the service provided to poor people? Who (if anyone) will be held accountable for this death? The medical workers? The 911 staff? The police? What will stories like this do for an ever-declining health care system?

I’m interested to see if any of the Presidential candidates will address the Rodriguez stories or other countless tales of medical mishaps. Mrs. Rodriguez didn’t simply die. She was murdered. Murdered by a system of apathy, indifference, substandard emergency preparedness, and narrow-scoped conviction by the criminal justice apparatus. Perhaps she’s died for a cause that will open this country’s eyes and led to social change. But more than likely, this will get filed away just as the death of one less minority problem. That’s the most harrowing thing about this story.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lil Bush

I don't really watch TV that much any more, but I caught the season premier of Lil Bush last night on Comedy Central. This cartoon is frickin' hilarious. I haven't laughed this hard since Family Guy.

Of course -- as with anything that attacks the Bush Administration -- this cartoon is already drawing controversy. But this one's well worth it.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Not enough " Sí " votes on immigration

Thankfully, any momentum gained for the Immigration Bill was brought to a halt this week when the Senate was unable to capture all the votes needed to break the filibuster presently before them. This ridiculous bill, if passed, would allow amnesty (let's keep it real: that's what it is) for over 12 million illegal immigrant workers without offering legimate plans for providing security along the border.

Don't get me wrong: I've got nothing against hard working immigrants who come to this country seeking opportunities not available to them elsewhere. But as I pointed out on the Hippie Conservative's compelling post about immigration's effect on Black Americans, this bill does nothing but make the piece of pie for margainalized groups (small as it already is) even smaller. This bill would've affected racial minorities, economically disadvataged people, and American workers. Frankly, I say good riddance to it. But I'm not holding my breath for this thing to die off completely considering that Congressional Democrats promise to continue the fight on. Why black folks continue to support Democrats is beyond me.

Once Congress finally gets their act together and looks into how legalized immigration will impact America, its social structure, its economy, its borders, and its people; maybe -- just maybe -- I'll start trusting them to come up with a truly "comprehensive" immigration bill. The junk they just tried to produce wouldn't be good enough to use in a bird cage.


Friday, June 08, 2007

"Don't go sell this on eBay..." what President Bush said to a mother to whom he gave a presidential coin after she lost her son in Iraq. Source

Sometimes this asshole makes me wanna throw up.


The indictment of Dollar Bill

I’ve been having a lot of fun with the epic saga involving William Jefferson. So much fun, in fact, that it should be illegal.

Just in case you haven’t been following the story, Congressmen William Jefferson has recently been indicted for 16 counts of bribery and, if convicted, can be sentenced to up to 235 years in prison. Just yesterday, as the House Ethics committee moved to continue in Jefferson's investigation, a Virginia judge also froze Jefferson's assets.

Some black folks are angered by this whole story; largely because the case involves (1) a black man (2) a Democrat (we all know how much black folks love them some Democrats, and (3) He’s a congressmen from the deep south. But I assure you: corruption is not exclusive to white politicians.

Let me just point out the simple facts of the case. Essentially, the feds did a sting operation catching Jefferson using $90,000; set aside for that sting (the bills were tracked using serial numbers). Jefferson (who was concealing the cash at home in his freezer; making the story about the judge freezing his assets pretty even funnier to me), was recorded discussing the bribe (which he planned to use as an earmark) with a Nigerian politician. All this, and Jefferson still pleads innocent. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

Before you start feeling sorry for this guy or start arousing conspiracy stories about how he's been set up (besides, that’s my job), let me remind you that this is the same guy who blantantly and selfishly used public resources for personal reasons during one of America’s most devastating tragedies. During Hurricane Katrina (you remember that right? Most of the country seems to have forgotten about it), Jefferson had the audacity to take over a National Guard truck so that he could retrieve personal items from his home in an affluent part of New Orleans. After the truck got stuck in mud (while waiting for Jefferson to get his crap), he demanded helicopter support; helicopters that were being used to evacuate people to safety. After spending close to an hour waiting around for Jefferson, the helicopter crew had to cut their efforts short as they ran out of fuel.

It was later revealed that Jefferson delayed things because he declined several times to climb into the basket used by the helicopter to secure evacuees. Source

As the Jefferson scandal has been unfolding, one of my classmates asked me if I felt any remorse for him. Before I answer your question, let me stir up some images of his legacy: using his race to woo voters; choosing to devote scarce resources in his own selfish pursuits while his constituents drowned; and betraying them and his colleagues by getting caught up in some boneheaded scandal.

Now ask me that question again.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Gospel singing. Or somethin' like that...

I've seen this video before, but I don't think I ever noticed just how frickin' hilarious it is. The sad thing is: I think he's seriously tryin' to throw down. But at least some people in the congregation got the hell out before it starting getting too ridiculous.

Gotta love black churches. The entertainment value is worth its weight in gold.


A little black lie

As if it was even possible, your boys at Fox News have hit an all-time low.

While doing ‘coverage’ of the latest drama behind the indictment of Representative William Jefferson (D-LA); your boys at Fox ‘accidentally’ displayed images of Senior Congressmen John Conyers (D-MI) all throughout their segment. Essentially, they used visual juxtaposition with one man who is being charged with about six million counts of bribery (OK. I’m exaggerating a bit), and a completely different man who will leave a longlasting and virtually untainted Congressional legacy. Hmm. I guess all black folks do look alike, huh?

Though I’m pretty disappointed with Fox, I’m not at all surprised by this crap. These jerks have a long and storied history of using sneaky and underhanded tactics as leverage to bamboozle and mislead its viewers; many of whom are pretty uninformed in the first place. Anybody remember the time where they mislabeled scandal-ruined Mark Foley as a Democrat? A perfect move for exposing a sex-criminal without associating him with the Republican party.

The reality is, Fox News gets their kicks out of going after Black Americans with their smearing campaigns any chance they get. This has become one of their signature moves. That being the case, why the Congressional Black Caucus would ever want to work with Fox News is a mystery. A sad and sickening mystery. I’m officially done with them.

In a response to Fox’s apology, Conyers blasted the network by stating:

"Fox News has a history of inappropriate on-air mistakes that are neither fair, nor balanced. This type of disrespect for people of color should no longer be tolerated. I am personally offended by the network’s complete disregard for accuracy in reporting and lackluster on-air apology."

I found Conyers’ comments interesting; especially when you compare them to the steps the CBC have been taking to push for Fox to provide a forum for Presidential candidates to debate. While Conyers came out and aggressively labeled Fox as a network with a disdainful “disrespect for people of color” with a “complete disregard for accuracy in reporting”, the CDC is still trying to woo them. You have to ask yourself what the motivation is behind this. What were the terms and conditions of this deal these parties cut?

A little bribery worthy of Congressmen Jefferson perhaps?


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Another ridiculous display of "church"


I suppose that after you get passed the whole "So you think you can dance" thing they've got goin' on here, some actual preaching and spiritual uplifting might take place.

Or not.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Worship? You tell me...

I didn't go to church again this week. Though I've tried to use my weekend time pretty positively by giving myself a much needed break from my day-to-day hustle, I still find that not taking the time to worship at church is leaving a gaping hole in my life. Imagine following a weekly routine for years and then cutting it out of your life abruptly. If you can picture that, then you've got my life figured out.

Essentially, I'm facing cold turkey with the church; small "C".

In my defense (if I can even do such a thing at this point), I've tried to keep my mind spiritually connected to God and to the world around me. Even when I consistently miss the mark (who hasn't?), I still try to maintain my daily walk with God by keeping myself immersed in the Word and by building, maintaining, and strengthening relationships with others; both critical things when it comes to our connectivity with God.

Interestingly, I haven't experienced things like that at the church for a long time. In truth, I don't think I've experienced that at my old church...well...ever. My old church was filled to the brim with cliques, the pastor's "favorites" (of whom, I admit I was a part), and members who do everything they can not only to keep up with the Joneses, but to become the Joneses. "Worship" service is limited to how well the choir sings, how much money is raised, how many new additions we can make to the infrastructure, and praising one another on individual acheivements. As far as I can tell, 'worship' was never really apart of the equation.

For example, last week was one of my church's 'annual days'. For those of you not familiar with the Black Baptist Church (from this point, I'll refer to it as the BBC. Don't confuse it with this BBC.), annual days are those days where the emphasis is shifted to one group or auxillary of the church; ostensibly to 'lead' the worship. Women's Day (where the women are in charge), Men's Day (where the men are in charge), Youth Day (where the young people are in charge), Law Day (where the city/county's law enforcement is in charge), the Pastor and wife's anniversary, and the Church Anniversary are but a few of those days. (*Note: I can take the same argument I'm making about these 'annual days' and apply them to any church week.*) One of the trends I've noticed in my extended tenure with the church is that these efforts had very little (if anything) to do with truly worshipping God and more to do with what we; as the church; get out of these events. The time, energy, and resources devoted to these things does absolutely nothing to fight poverty in the world (hell, not even for the surround community), to combat social injustice, to aid the sick and needy, or to mend those who have been broken. Instead, we commit to these things -- these rehearsed, planned, and scripted things -- to make the few hours we spend at church "successful". When its all over, the choirs gets praised for sounding good, the Joneses get praised for giving X amount of money. The pastors (holy pimps. I'll get to that some other time) get praised for their 'work'. But at the end of the day, our efforts have done very little to truly advance God's kingdom. That, to me, is the worst kind of worship. But sadly, it's the most prevalent kind also. the I suppose, then, that's the overwhelming reason why I don't plan on going back.

Now, I'll admit: my thoughts are only the product of attending and visiting BBC's in the surrounding area. I certainly can't make a generalization about BBC's all over the country. But I can speak to ones I've visited around where I live. I don't really care about what a church in Some Town, California is doing if I'm currently residing in Grand Blanc, Michigan. When I say "I don't care", that's not to say that I'm dismissing the kingdom building work in which they may very well be engaged. I'm simply pointing out that it doesn't do much to cultivate me if I'm living across the country. I think I'm getting off point a bit. Let me get back...

My ultimate point is: the stuff that we call "worship" is nothing more than crowd-pleasing, pre-packaged, self-centeredness that we do out of obligation and not from the heart. Very seldomly does God truly get the praise and the worship; likely because our heart is not fixed on Him when we do the things we do.

I hate myself right now for posting this, largely because I feel like I'm judging people, being hypocritical, and trying to play the role of a clairvoyant by stating how authentic or fake I think people's worship is. But at the end of day, I can still look at the broken, deteriorating conditions of the 'the least of these' all around us (both physically and socially) and say -- with absolution -- that worship is the LAST thing we're doing.

...especially if we worship God by how we respond to our fellow man.