Friday, August 31, 2007

Yep. MORE news

Hello all. Just when I was starting to think I can take a much deserved break from the news, it seems more and more mess has made its way into the headlines. Well, here's a roundup of some of the news shaping our world (some old, some not so old):

Craig likely to resigns
According to sources, Senator Larry "I'm not gay, but I somehow wound up in a pretty compromising gay position" Craig (R-ID) will likely has resigned after his involvement in one of the GOP's latest sex scandals. Just in case you haven't been following this story, pull up a chair. It's pretty amusing.

OK. Sen. Craig recently pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct stemming from his solicitation of sex from an undercover police officer. What makes the story even funnier is that it was done in a public restroom at an airport in Minnesota. If you think story is freakin' hilarious, you're not alone. This is further evidence that the GOP continues to implode from within because of how their self-righteousness is being pushed to the limits by their hypocrisy.

Gonzo splits
Speaking of resignations, US Attorney General Alberto "I don't recall" Gonzales has exited stage left (or would it be "stage right?"). Embattled by a barage of hearings about his questionable (albeit, legal) judicial and political tactics, Gonzales has thrown in the proverbial towel. I don't think that his resignation will spell the end of the Congressional investigations any time soon. But his time in the White House is over; so he says. As I've always maintained; in his defense, he didn't do anything illegal or nothing that the long fraternity of previous AG's haven't done themselves. But he's been misleading Congress time after time (some would say outright lying and I wouldn't be too far pressed to disagree) and finally got called on it.

Funny how everybody's "resigning" in this Administration. Wouldn't you agree?

Bush's Brain vandalized
That doesn't mean exactly what it says. That would be too easy of a shot against our dear feeble-minded Commander in Chief. Instead what I mean is that Karl Rove, Bush's mastermind and former Deputy Chief of Staff has been punked. Apparently while parked by the West Wing, Rove's Jaguar was wrapped in some sort of plastic by unknown pranksters. There was also a pro-Obama sticker on the vehicle.

On the one hand, I admit this is sorta funny. But overally, I'm a little concerned. I think that the vandals weren't pro-Obama. I think they are trying to sabotage his platform by making him guilty by association. Hello? Anybody remember Obama girl?

Nugent's killer music
As I just mentioned the possibility of conspiratorial moves made by anti-Obama activists, musician Ted Nugent publicly issued what I would consider a death threat to Senators Obama and Barbara Boxer (D-CA). During one of his concerts, he "jokingly" suggested sticking guns in their while brandishing what appeared to be assault rifles.

Fox News pundit Sean Hannity was quick to come to his defense. But I can assure you: if that had been a rapper saying those things about President Bush, all hell would've broken loose. I mean, you saw how much backlash Kanye West received after his "George Bush doesn't care about black people" comment, right?! I don't like Kanye West; and most of the right-winged nation hated him even more after his Bush comments. Can you imagine what would've happened if he told George Bush to suck on his rifle?

Companies comply with warrantless surveillance
According to reports and from testimony from National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, companies in the private sector have been aiding the government in carrying out warrantless domestic spying. I was disappointed to hear that but in a way, I'm not suprised. Big business and the government have always been strolling through the park together; each with their hands in the other one's back pockets. I guess this is another reason why you should consider making your blog work-friendly, right?

"The Iraqi report"
Some time around the second week of September (if I estimate correctly, I'd say Sept. 11), General Patraues is slated to share his official report to Congress about the state of the Iraq conflict. Frankly, I don't see the point. Why not just let the White House do the reporting? I mean, it's not like they haven't already entertained the idea. Why get Petraues involved? Oh...that's right. Because it seems that he's now going to side with the Bush Administration.

I'm forever amazed at how people will play political games where the lives of innocent people are at stake. No wonder many of the troops we're supposed to be supporting are being killed; both by our enemies and by their own hands.

In a somewhat related note, am I the only person on the planet tired of Hillary Clinton lying about her support of/opposition to the war? If she and others like her would just come out and say they made a mistake, I think I'd be more likely to give them a pass.

Kid suspended for gun drawing
Sorry for the reference to Faux News, but this story was too good to pass up. Apparently, a 13-year-old kid was suspended from school because of his drawing of a gun. Though the picture didn't include any blood, bullets, or people; school officials considered the drawing threatening enough to take action against the student.

I guess that in light of Columbine, Virginia Tech, and the laundry list of other worldwide shootings school officials have been prompted to turn the schools into another police state. Better safe than sorry, right? I just hope that one day the schools will be as vigilant toward the dismal state of the educational system as a whole as they are about violence control.

Louisiana school bans racially-charged shirts
I found this article on BET of all places. The sky must be falling. At any rate, school officials in Louisiana are banning the student body from wearing "Free the Jena Six" t-shirts; worn in protest of the racist charges faced by six black youth in connection with assaulting on a white student. Citing "disruption"as the justification for the schools ban, students were prohibited from wearing the shirts on campus grounds.

I don't know about you; but I think it's ironic that the school district is far more vehement about banning t-shirts than they are about addressing the racially-charged issues that gave birth to the shirts in the first place. Where are the priorities?

I double dog dare anybody to say that racism is over and done with.

Well, that's it for now. As more news develops I'll try to keep you posted. Or not.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Instant fame

Alright. Here's the deal: I'm sick of being broke. While I'm extremely thankful for my position at the University and for having a steady income, this whole 8-5 thing is for the birds. So after doing some brainstorming with my friends Greg and Joslyn, I've decided to write my own play.

Before you ask, no I don't have any experience in the theatre. I didn't study fine arts in college and I've only been to handful of plays in my life. But as I've learned from examining Tyler Perry's ridiculously popular plays or the nonsense that B.E.T. airs everyday, I'm convinced that I don't need a shred of talent in order to appeal (and profit off of) a certain segment of consuming Black Americans. While Perry's work in the arts is pretty insipid, stereotypical, bland, and mind-numbing; let's face facts: one thing it is not is a bad business. His plays are cash cows that are able to generate mad loot in an undersaturated theatre market that is all but extinct. On one hand, many criticis are quick to indicate that Perry's plays have turned back the progress black folks have made during great artistic movements like the Harlem Renaissance; and I tend to agree. Tyler Perry is no James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, or August Wilson. But, damn it to hell if this dude isn't still making a fortune. I mean, you've got people dropping good money (sometimes as much as 40-50 bucks a pop) to see one of his plays. I won't even start with how much his play-converted movies make at the box office. Like him or not, the dude has tapped into a money-making market.

So in the interest of making a bunch of money without having to be too innovative, I've decided to write a Black Gospel play. Here are the roles I plan on casting for my first production of "Momma, Put That Cornbread Down and Sing!":

  1. The Momma: What would a black Gospel play be without your hymn-singing, soul food cookin' momma? She has to be the matriach of the family; since these plays will have you thinking that the father is never around. A devout church-goer with a heart as large as her girth, the Momma can always be relied on to impart knowledge, sing the right Gospel song at any moment, and throw down in the kitchen.
  2. The Daughter/wife: The daughter has to be a dedicated and faithful wife who somehow lands with the wrong man. Though she's beautiful and loving, she must be a doormat who is frequently and gutlessly subjected to the antics of her successful, yet abusive and cheating husband. She finds comfort and strength in the closeness of family and the blue-collar brotha with whom she will eventually fall in love.
  3. The trifflin' husband: No Black Gospel play would be complete without the antagonist husband. The husband must be insanely successful (i.e. the number one trial lawyer in a major city or a hotshot Wall Street banker). His success has blinded him to the true richness that he has in the shape of his wife's love. He has to be evil, callous, and controlling. To make his character even less appealing (if that's even possible) he has to be involved in an affair with a money-grubbing white woman (GASP!)
  4. The blue-collared love: This brotha is usually about defying the odds of lower-class black men finding true love. Though he isn't rich, powerful, or affluent like the daughter/wife's husband, he has the passion and love that seems to be missing from the wife's marriage. People will question the financially unreasonable decisions the wife makes to be with him. But at the end, true love prevails.
  5. The gay hairdresser: Since the daughter/wife has to be 'beautiful', we should expect to see her in the beauty salon pretty often. So cue the gay hairdresser. His homosexuality is as blatant as George Bush's stupidity. Donning a pink scarf, hazel brown contact lenses, and lip gloss; the gay hairdresser is quick to offer his two cents into the discussion. While his gay antics and mannerisms usually provide comic relief, they may also set the stage for some of the actions the daughter/wife will take.
  6. The church congregation: With this being a black gospel play, you have to include a segment at church. After all, the church is the center of any spiritual development that takes place in the play/movie. This is where the daughter/wife makes the ultimate decision to leave her marriage. This is where the daughter/wife and the husband reconcile their differences. This is where the estranged and rebellious teen opens up to his/her concerned and praying grandmother. Among the cast of characters at the church are the deacons, the elders (often wearing dresses with flower print and ridiculously large hats), the 10 member choir whose "A and B selections" stirs up the emotions in the scene, and -- of course -- the pimped-out preacher.
  7. The sage grandmother: If the mother is not strong enough to be the stand-alone beacon of hope, you can expect a cameo appearance from the ever-so-wise grandmother. This role will have to played by someone who has a long and storied legacy in black history; someone who will validate the play by being involved -- if only for a few scenes. People like Maya Angelou, Della Reese, Cicely Tyson, and Ruby Dee all come to mind.
Man, I tell you! Once I get to work on this, I'm gonna blow up (see definition #2). I can hardly wait. Yeaaah buddy!

Monday, August 27, 2007

To kill a child

For one, thanks to you all for the birthday wishes. But now that all the birthday jazz is over and done with, back to the matters at hand.

This will be one of the more difficult questions I've ever asked. Look at the child in the center of this photo. Take a close look at him. If you had the opportunity, would you kill him? Better yet, imagine the following scenario:

You're a time traveler. You travel back to 1910 Austria. As you enter a local bar, you find yourself seated directly across from a young man who we'll call Adolf. This Adolf character is a relatively quiet young man, but at the time he seems friendly enough. Raised as a Catholic alter boy, he is now an aspiring artist. This guy has never even picked a fight with anybody before; much less started a world war that killed millions of people. He buys you a drink but then excuses himself to go the restroom. While he's away, you pull out the vile of poison you intended on using. The question is: do you? Do you kill a man for something he hasn't even done yet if it means saving the lives of millions of innocent people?

What do you do?


Friday, August 24, 2007

My take on the Vick case

Michael Vick is in for a dog fight.


I'm sure by now you've all heard about the legal problems of the Atlanta Falcons star quarterback stemming from his involvement in illegal dog fighting. So I won't go into the details. I also won't provide any commentary on the fair/unfair treatment Vick is getting when compared to other animal/human killings in the world. Joslyn already did.

The point of this post is to see what good -- if any -- can come out of this case.

I hate to think that we can find good out of somebody else's misery, but we can. Really, we can. This story is loaded with important lessons that we can extract about how to conduct ourselves. This case may very well be the impetus that we -- especially black folks -- need in order to open our eyes to the consequences of our decisions. Yes, racism exists. Yes, judicial inequality occurs far more than it should. But somewhere down the road, personal responsibility must play a significant role in what we should and shouldn't be doing. This is especially true for people who are in the spotlight anyway. When you're making as much dough as some of these athletes and entertainers, you have to know that the public's eye will always be on you. As unfair as it might be, even your private life is fair game. There are no two ways about it: public images are moving targets. On top of that, being rich and famous doesn't somehow magically absolve race. Black people in America, no matter how prominent will always be at a disadvantage. If you think that another black athlete will be able to pull off an OJ Simpson or a Ray Lewis in court any time soon, think again.

Regardless of this case's outcome, this is a perfect opportunity to teach young people a few important lessons. As I said before, I don't like using bad things as a motivation piece. But you have to admit, bad circumstances often convey some of the best messages.

In this case, the moral of this story is simple: people need to be mindful about the consequences of their actions. We can use the snitches co-defendants who spilled the beans on Vick as an example of carefully choosing your friends (Although I have to admit that since I don't believe in merits of the Stop Snitchin' campaign, it was probably best that they came clean). I mean, even Vick's old man aired some of his dirty laundry. This story can also teach us that a person's fame and fortune does not make them above the law. That only happens when you become President. Further, this story shows us that we should reexamine how we assign role model status to people. Just because someone has talent and they're extremely well paid doesn't mean they have an image that should be followed. At the end of the day, these are just people who are good at what they do; and we get to see it everyday. But a person being good at something doesn't necessarily make them good. Case in point: Charles "I'm not a role model" Barkley. Maybe we should listen to him a little more and stop putting these folks on platforms.

In an unrelated note, Happy Birthday Sylvia!


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

An inaudible voice

One of my favorite songs; "God is speaking" from Mandisa's debut album "True Beauty". You best believe I will be coppin’ this album pretty soon.

Have you ever heard a love song that set your spirit free?
Have you ever watched a sunrise and felt you could not breathe?
What if it's Him? What if it's God speaking?

Have you ever cried a tear that you could not explain?
Have you ever met a stranger who already knew your name?
What if it's Him? What if it's God speaking?

Who knows how He'll get a hold of us?
Get our attention to prove He is enough.
He'll do and He'll use whatever He wants to.
To tell us “I love you.”

Have you ever lost a loved one who you thought should still be here?
Do you know what it feels like to be tangled up in fear?
What if He's somehow involved?
What if He's speaking through it all?

Who knows how He'll get a hold of us?
Get our attention to prove He is enough.
He'll do and He'll use whatever He wants to.
To tell us “I love you.”

His ways are higher, His ways are better.
Though sometimes strange;
What could be stranger than God in a manger?

Who knows how He'll get a hold of us?
Get our attention to prove He is enough.
He'll do and He'll use whatever He wants to.
To tell us “I love you.”

God is speaking “I love you.”

Clearly, she's also able to find God in unusual places.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Wearing masks

I was just over at the Hippie Conservative's site; where he wrote an interesting post about -- what he calls -- the "philosophy of hypocrisy". In this post, he basically calls into question exactly what hypocrisy is. As I read his post and my subsequent response, it got me to thinking about how the extent to which hypocrisy resonates in the church.

As I mentioned on HC's site, the term hypocrite is taken from Greek word hypokrites, which means a person who plays a part. Essentially, a hypocrite is an actor. Though that particular definition sounds innocent enough, I can't think of too many words in the English language that so negatively describe a Christian. It makes perfect sense. If you look beneath the surface, being accused of playing the role of a Christian can be pretty insulting. As insulting, perhaps, as laying down a series of relentless "Yo Momma" jokes.

Invariably, whenever I hear the words "hypocrite" and church used together in the same sentence my mind immediately shifts to people whom I consider hypocritical. Whether it's Henry Lyons and his scandals with the NBC, Jesse Jackson and his girlfriend, or even some of the actions at Mt Calvary MBC, I'm often quick to pull out all the punches to go after them. I think we all do at one point or another. But what I -- and most people who judge harshly -- fail to do is to ask God to scan our own hearts to find the things that make us vile. It becomes too easy and too convenient to be critical of others without first looking at ourselves. Not good for followers of Christ. Not good at all.

If you think about it, it was when Jesus was attacking the hypocrisy of the Pharisees that He was usually the most aggressive. He rebuked hypocrites even more than prostitutes, tax collectors and thieves. I suspect that it has to do with the fact that at least the "sinful" folks could admit it. Oppositely, Pharisees enjoyed basking in their self-professed virtue, being the center of attention and being widely recognized for their intelligence, their giving and their good works. They were the oily-haired 'ministers' on the TBN who make it a point to show how well off they were. In today's circles, the church has followed many of the same practices for which the Pharisees were rebuked. You have 'pious', self-righteous folks in church who are quick to call out somebody else's shortcomings and their 'immoral' lifestyles, while they actively engage in gossip, backbiting, selfishness and bigotry. All the while, the unchurched among us sit back and look at our hypocrisy in amazement and cynicism; asking themselves why in the world they would want to join that. Our message gets lost in the role we play.

As I've mentioned before, I believe that we are, in fact, entitled to be critical of other people's actions. But too often, there's a gross misinterpretation of Matthew 7:1; which states "Judge not, lest ye be judged." People read that verse and run a marathon with it; neglecting to read all of the subsequent passages. Many folks are quick to point out other people's shortcomings while; by pretense; put themselves above sin. That's where our acts of judgment become problematic. What people always seem to miss is that before we can judge other people we must first judge ourselves by acknowledging our sins and God's ability to expose us to His Truth. When we fail to do that, Jesus is quick to call us out on our hypocrisy (Matt 7:5).

I can imagine how cool it would be to win an Academy Award. I just wouldn't want to win one for playing the role of a loving Christian.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

How not to creep around

Every now and then, I'll read an article or hear about a story so funny that I can't come up with anything critical to say about it. I think this is one of those times:

A married man is suing 1-800-Flowers for $1 million for revealing that he was cheating on his wife. Leroy Greer, a married man going through a divorce, claims in a federal lawsuit filed in Texas that he bought flowers through 1-800-Flowers for his girlfriend and asked the company to keep his purchase private. Leroy Greer said in a lawsuit filed this week in a federal court in Texas that he bought flowers for his girlfriend through 1-800-Flowers. He asked to keep his purchase private. Greer said he was referred to the company's privacy policy, which states that customers can ask 1-800-Flowers not to share personal information with "third parties." But, the lawsuit says, 1-800-Flowers sent a thank-you note to his house and his wife saw it. When she called the company, 1-800-Flowers faxed her a copy of the receipt from Greer's secret purchase. The receipt revealed that Greer had sent another woman a dozen long-stemmed red roses, along with a note that read, "Just wanted to say that I love you and you mean the world to me!" according to court documents. Source

Perhaps this dude has a legitimate case. Maybe he doesn't. That's for the court to decide. All I know is that with the charge of lacking common sense, this brotha is guilty on all counts.

People, look. If you've never listened to any advice I've had to offer, please at least listen to this: If you're gonna mess around and cheat on your mate -- and I'm certainly not advocating that you do -- USE CASH! The last thing you need to worry about is leaving a paper trail.

I'm starting to see why many women think that we're idiots. Maybe there's a hint of truth to it.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Misc. news

Here's a roundup of some of the events making the news. Pull up a chair:

Scientists: The new magicians
According to this article, British scientists have figured out how to leviate small objects. I wish the article did a better job of explaining the process to those of us who suck at science and physics. But all the same, this is pretty amazing to me.
More over David Blaine. Get outta the way Criss Angel. It seems that science has got your number.

Intel, racism inside?
After heated opposition from protesters, Intel has removed what has been considered a racially offensive ad. Many folks in the media, the blogosphere, and the general public have been in an uproar over the now infamous Intel ad which features a white man in the center of multiple black track athletes. The caption in the ad states that Intel can “Multiply computing performance and maximize the power of your employees”.

I guess on the one hand, I can clearly see the racist undertone. Picturing black men as some sort of symbol of labor (it didn’t help that these men, though clearly track runners in their starting position, appear to be bowing). And, yes, Intel should’ve put a little more thought into the ad. But is this really cause for uprising? You be the judge.

Guilty until proven innocent
As it turns out, our trusty government also needs a little oversight themselves every now and then. Not only have they been known to botch many cases that destroy the lives of innocent people, they even occasionally set them up outright.

According to sources four men were exonerated after secret F.B.I. memos were uncovered proving that the Feds deliberately withheld critical information during a trial in 1968. The memos indicated that mob hitmen Joseph “The Animal” Barboza; also the government’s key witness, had lied when he said the four men had killed another, low-level mobster. $100 million is reportedly being used as compensation for the men's false imprisonments.

Cases like this remind me that not only is our form of “justice” not blind, but it can be downright evil.

A break from the action. Well, sort of...
While American soldiers and Iraqi civilians continue to lose their lives the Iraqi Parliament is on a month-long vacation. This coming right before Congress also took their leave. In a somewhat related story, a significant Sunni bloc has withdrawn itself from the Iraqi Parliament. All of this provides further evidence that any so-called political reconciliation will not be accomplished any time soon. Indeed, this is the “stable” government for whom over 3500 soldiers and tens of thousands civilians have died.

Personally I think we should leave it up to the members of the Executive and Legislative Branches to go to each family who has lost a solider and personally tell them that while their sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers are getting killed, they’re going on vacation.

Iraq's gone Gonzo
I couldn't make this one up if I tried. Apparently, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has visited Iraq to offer his assessment on the state of the nation's justice system. Um. Let me repeat that, just in case you didn't hear me correctly the first time. Alberto "I don't recall" Gonzales is offering his assessment on Iraq's justice system. Seriously folks; using Gonzales as a spokesperson for a good justice system is like using Michael Vick as a spokesperson for PETA. It's like using B.ET. as an outlet to combat negative images about black people (Never mind. They already tried. And failed).

Then again, perhaps this move is being done to reinforce the ever-so incredible contributions we've made to Iraq thus far. Yeah. I'm glad you got the joke too.

House passes wiretapping bill
Despite being controlled by Democrats, the House of Representatives recently passed a bill allowing the government to eavesdrop on foreign suspects whose communications pass through the United States. This bill, an extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows the government to warrantlessly intercept and listen in on any conversations transmitted to the U.S.; even if the suspect is not directly tied to any terrorist organizations.

To the House Democrats: thank you for allowing this bill to pass. For a minute there, I almost forget why I don't respect you.

The Romney sacrifice
I've always tried to give Mitt Romney a chance. Though I tend not to like the filthy-rich CEO, GOP types, I was willing to overlook that for him. But after an off-the-wall statement he recently made, I'm done with him for good. When asked why none of his age-appropriate sons were serving in Iraq, good ole Mitt said:

"It's remarkable how we can show our support for our nation, and one of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping to get me elected, because they think I'd be a great president. My son, Josh, bought the family Winnebago and has visited 99 counties, most of them with his three kids and his wife. And I respect that and respect all of those in the way they serve this great country"

Yep. That's what he said. Helping their wealthy dad get elected and traveling around in a Winnebago does just as much service to this country as dying, losing a limb, or watching a similar fate befall one of your friends. OK.

He later tried to cover his tracks by saying:

"I didn't mean in any way to compare service in the country with my boys in any way. Service in this country is an extraordinary sacrifice being made by individuals and their families."

I guess his lame apology was enough to at least secure Iowa's Republican Straw Vote. Congrats for dodging a bullet Mitt. Or was it the money that saved you?

More Congressional corruption
Though rumors and accusations of corruption have been building up against Republican Senator Ted Stevens and his son for years, there has finally been some action taken against them. According to reports:

FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents searched the Alaska home of veteran Sen. Ted Stevens Monday amid a corruption probe that has already snared two oil-company executives and a state lobbyist. Source

Frankly, nothing about this party surprises me any more. For that matter, nothing about this entire Congressional body surprises me any more. I’ve given up on them a long time ago. I’d like to see them all go; not least of all Sen. Stevens. I’ve all but given up believing that politicians are honest and that they don’t – nor have they ever – worked in the interest of the people who elected them.

The end of an error
Deputy Chief of Staff and sinister mastermind Karl Rove has submitted his resignation. Rove, chief political strategist and the proclaimed "architect" for President Bush is giving it all up as of August 31st.

More than likely, with Rove distancing himself from Washington, any attempts to bring him or the White House down will be moot at this point. I highly doubt that most people will look past their own jubiliation over his leaving to remember that this is the infamous Karl Rove; the very guy who put this moron of a president in office. I'll continue to be amazed at how people can come in; lie, cheat, and steal their way into office, then make a clean getaway without so much as a peep of opposition. Stupid Democrats...

Our government makes people sick. Literally.
This story is a little old, but still worth mentioning. According to reports, many Hurricane Katrina evacuees have testified to getting sick because of levels of formaldeyhyde toxins found in their government sponsored trailers. This looks like a job for...FEMA!

Murderous pastor's wife may go goes free
According to CNN, Mary Winkler the 33-year-old who admittedly killed her minister husband will likely has walked. According to lawyers Winkler will be has been released after she served five months in jail before her trial and another two months in a mental institute.

This story proves two contentions that I have: (1) Murder is apparently OK if your husband is abusive. Simply leaving him is overrated, (2) White, middle-aged women who claim insanity have a much better chance of beating the system than anyone else.

The Jena Six
As far as I can tell, there haven't been any new developments on the story of the Jena six. For those of you who haven't been following the story, six black youth in Jena, Louisiana face the possibility of 100 years in prison for assaulting a white youth in a school fight. They're being charged with attempted murder and conspiracy of all things.

The city of Jena has been in the spotlight lately because of all the racial tension that has emerged. Including in this racial tension are the two recent incidents: (1) where three nooses were found under a "whites only" shadetree after a black student sat under it and (2): When black students at a convenience store were threatened by a young white man with a shotgun. They wrestled the gun from him and ran away. While no charges were filed against the white man, the black students were arrested for the theft of the gun.

All I know is that I'm ashamed to live in a country where this type of racial conflict can so easily go against one group, while many of the real culprits are walking free. Remember what I just said about being a middle-aged white woman?

Bad parenting of the tragic type
File this one under "Things we can't blame on racism". Semetta Heyward, a 27 year old single mother in South Carolina is being charged with homocide after she left her two children (1 and 4 years old) in a sweltering vehicle while she was at work. Her babysitter flaked on her and her employer wouldn't give her the day off. Since the children's father wasn't around to take care of them (I'm not sure where he was), Heyward took them with her to work; leaving them in the car. After she found them dead, she took them home, bathed and clothed them, and stuff their bodies in garbage bags hidden under her kitchen sink. WTF?!

Even more bad parenting
Here's another installment of "Things we can't blame on racism." Ramona Coleman has been charged with child endangerment after giving her 3-year-old son cocaine and marijuana, thinking that it was "funny". Though Child Protection Services have been attempted to reunite Coleman with her son (why, I don't know...), it's not likely it will happen. According to reports, when she arrived in court for her hearing, she did so while she was high. Again, WTF?!

Newark kids executed
I was sick to my stomach when I heard this story. Three students in Newark were murdered execution style, and another was critically wounded in an apparent robbery attempt. The three students were forced to kneel against the wall of a local high school and were all shot in the head from point blank range. The surviving victim was found close the scene with a gunshot wound to the head. Two of the students were currently enrolled at Delaware State University, and the other two were scheduled to attend in the fall. Interestingly, one of the suspects is an illegal immigrant. Also, in a related story, another murder took place in Newark last week.

I was able to locate the Myspace page of one of the victims, Dashon Harvey. But CNN provided more information about each of the victims.

A brutal attack in Florida
In another sickening story, a Haitian immigrant and her son were brutalized, tortured, robbed, and raped by 10 men in a run-down housing project in Florida. The suspects (two of whom were as young as 14 and 16) raped the woman, beat her 12 year old, and forced to mother to have oral sex with her own son. After the assault, they attempted to cleanse away any evidence using an assortment of cleaners. One solution they used burned the boy's eyes. This story has brought to light (1) the horrific things black folks don't mind doing to one another and (2) what types of things happen in housing projects.

After hearing about most of these stories, I think I'm gonna hold off following the news for a while. I'm not sure if my heart can take much more of this right now. Please continue to pray for this world. God knows we need it.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Standing through the storm

I was just over to Joslyn's site (there's my cheap pop for the day). She's dealing with some pretty difficult things in her life; as I'm sure we all are. I don't think that any one of us can say that we haven't experienced our own storms; whether as small as a drizzle or as destructive as Katrina. We've all gone through something in our lives at one point of another. Lost loves. Sickness. Broken hearts. Lonliness. The list goes on forever. The storms are about as unique as the people who go through them. But perhaps one thing; one thought is prevalent as we all go through: Is there any good that can come out of our struggles?

When I looked in my concordance for the word "struggle", several passages were found. But one passage that particularly stuck out was Paul's letter to the church at Philipi. In the first chapter of that book (you should read the whole chapter, though my concordance only cited a few verses), Paul writes about dealing with his struggles. More notably, he emphasized how we should not always try to find our own personal benefit from being in a storm, but rather to look at how our experience can benefit others.

In the verse 12 of his letter Paul writes:

"Now I would have you know, brothers, that the things which happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel."

Here, I think Paul is pointing out that even in the midst of some of our most difficult times, there is always an opportunity for ministry. I think that how we hold up in a storm can be the very catalyst that other people might need to come closer to Christ. Simply stated, other people can benefit from our hardships.

I went to see Kem in concert last night. This dude is absolutely amazing! If you haven't had a chance to see him perform or listen to his sounds, you're missing out. Anyway, during his performance, he made a break from the music to offer his thanks and praise to God. Apparently, this is something that he does during every one of his performances. He indicated that his life was marked by a long period of drug addiction, alcoholism, and homelessness. But as he gleefully stated, it was by God's grace that he was able to overcome his difficulties. Though he's been clean and sober from 17 years, he shares this story with people even to this day. That to me is a perfect example of using your shame, your hurt, and your trials to market the goodness of God. Though he overcame those problems (even when many of us don't always overcome ours), he was still able to bless others through his struggle; almost two decades removed.

When the world sees us being strong and resolute during our storms, we are able to speak volumes to our character and to God. That will then allow us the opportunity to use our testimony to further the Gospel. We've been given a charge to be living witnesses. But the Bible doesn't factor in whether or not we're "doin' good" as we do so. This leads me to believe that we are live for God whether things are going great in our lives or if they suck.

In verse 13, Paul states:

"As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ."

I think in this verse, Paul is stating that the visible stuff we're going through becomes the impetus for other people to rely on God for their own problems. Watching people emerge from their own storms empowers others to rely on God and His promises as they go through theirs. When you align yourself with God and allow Him to work through your life; people will see it and take notice. Even when people can't visible see God, they'll be able to see him through us.

In verse 14, Paul states:

"Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly."

This verse speaks tons to the importance of empowering others. Interestingly, it's not just the unbelievers who stand to benefit from our hardships. Instead, many of our brothers and sisters in Christ can also be encouraged by what we go through. For example: though I'm not a huge fan of stories of heroism in sports, some important lessons can be drawn from those types of circumstances. When you have a person who overcomes obstacles and defies odds, they become a true source of contagious inspiration for others. They take a beating and come back for more. Like a good Rolex, they take a lickin' and keep on tickin'. Through all of that, they empower those around them to stand strong themselves and to depend on God as their source for strength.

So I guess my advice to you is simple: when faced with hard times, we should do our very best to keep a smile on our face and to keep ourselves encouraged. People's eyes are always on us (for both good and bad reasons); and they always look to see how we respond to various situations. You never know: how you respond to these trials may very well be the thing that encourages somebody else as they face their problems. Their delieverance may be come after seeing how we stand through the storm.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Newest Arrival

My work here is soooo done.

My homegirl Joslyn just started her own blog.

Visit soon. Visit often.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A perfect "10" or a really good "8"?

Hey all,

For starters, thanks to you all for your comments in the last post. It left me with tons of thoughts and expressions to consider. I'm working on some more serious topics to discuss, and I'll post them pretty soon. But for now, I've got a quick question. This one is especially for the ladies, but fellas feel free to join in if you wanna get down. Here goes:

I've got a female friend (in fact, a few of my lady friends fall in this category) who is about as close to being complete as anybody. She's beautiful, brilliant, successful, nice, talented...the whole nine. She's good at virtually everything she does and the character flaws she has (limited as they are with her) are pretty minor. For lack of a better word, the girl is about as perfect as they come. On top of it all, she's incredible humble and grounded in the Word. I mean, if I even think about complimenting this girl, she will most assuredly (1) blush profusely and/or (2) give credit to God. She's amazing.

Her great qualities comes at a price however. During our conversation, she mentioned that men are frequently intimidated by her. Truthfully, when I first met her, I was intimidated by her my damn self. But once you get to know her, you get to experience the less intimidating side of her. That is, of course, if you're not scared off before then.

So my question to you is the same one she posed to me: How do you tone down your positive qualities so you don't come across as intimidating to others? Perhaps the better question would be: Should you even bother doing so? Initially, I thought the answer was obvious: that she should never compromise herself and who she is for others. But that leaves too much faith in the idea that intimidated people can and will get over themselves and their own insecurities. But we all know that's hardly the case. I'm curious to know what you think.