Dr. King Reflecting on the Journey

Dr. King Reflecting on the Journey
"Infamous, this day in Memphis, city of my demise."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Post-Obama Apocalypse


My grandfather died today. He didn’t live to see the end of the play. I’d hoped it would all end in time for him to know that he and all the others who brought this about had been forgiven, their sins expunged, their penitence served. I know I should burn his collection of Obama memorabilia, but it’s all I have left of him. He could never bring himself to get rid of it, even when it was banned and anyone found possessing such materials could be arrested and imprisoned. Luckily, his cache of buttons, coins, posters, T-shirts, and books were well hidden – not in an attic or basement where they’d be easily found. These things have been buried under a tree for forty years. I dug them up a few days ago at his request. He wanted to tell me the story. I’ve heard it all before, but he wanted me to understand how he and his contemporaries let it happen.

“He was hope,” Grandpa said, looking at a photo of the deposed President on a campaign poster. “He made us proud to be American, to be black, to be men. Every word he said, everything he did was seen as divinely inspired by many of us. We thought God sent him to save our country and our people. Even after all the expansive programs he created started to fail, many of us believed in him. Some still believed in him when he left office in disgrace.” Grandpa paused not wanting to talk about the tawdry scandal that ended the first black presidency and that made Clinton’s dalliance with an intern look tame by comparison. In his former profession as a journalist, Grandpa said he and his colleagues joked that Clinton’s mistake was having sex with a woman. However, in early twenty-first century America where the religious African-American community that voted down same-sex marriages in California, Ohio, and several other states, there was little tolerance for “alternative” lifestyles, regardless of who lived them. Skipping the scandal, Grandpa talked about what happened just before and right after Obama left office.

“We accepted martial law as necessary because of the crime that ensued when
police officers were laid off as city after city was decimated by debt and the failed
economy, particularly in the President's hometown, Chicago. People had stopped
fearing terrorist attacks following the annihilation of Pakistan and Afghanistan by
Obama-ordered nuclear attacks. Although those attacks pushed Iran and Korea to
arm themselves with nukes and inflamed other Muslim nations, as well as China
and Russia, Al Qaeda, radical jihadists, and terrorist cells were disabled.” I
remembered reading in my history books that Obama was heralded a hero when
Ben Laden’s body was found among the radioactive rubble, causing even
uncertain European allies to approve of the destruction of the two countries where
the terrorists lived and trained for their attacks against the West. “Everyone was
prepared for retaliation from Iran, China, Russia, or North Korea, but it didn’t come
for decades," Grandpa said, continuing his historical account.

“Instead, due to budget cuts in cities all over the country, America was overrun by
criminals who were often jobless, hungry young people who had no hope and
robbed people on the street in broad daylight, using clubs, knives, and illegally
purchased guns. Gun bans didn’t help and only disarmed law-abiding citizens. We
demanded protection as more and more people were gunned down for a few
dollars. We didn’t blink when the cameras were installed to monitor every street
and alley or when the curfews were imposed. We felt it was necessary. Even
when the military was sent into police the streets after being brought home from
Iraq and Afghanistan, we thought it was for our protection. When they started
searching our homes to see if we had guns, we still felt secure because most law-
abiding citizens had turned theirs in as ordered by law. Then the protests started,
at first just on the internet. Later, I found out anyone who sent or received any of the anti-Obama emails was put on a list of ‘subversives’ by the FBI.

"My name was on that list because your great aunt sent an email to my dad who
sent it to me. But it was my editorial that disagreed with but supported anti-Obama
forces’ right to dissent that moved me up to the top rung of the list. I was just
defending free speech, but it wasn’t long before people were being arrested for
speaking out. My website was one of the first taken down as freedom of the press
was completely eroded. Online newspapers and magazines that even questioned
the President’s policies disappeared suddenly and those that openly opposed him,
not only disappeared but their creators were tracked down and arrested. Yet, as
soon as one website was destroyed, another one was created and the online
protests continued, despite efforts to either control or even destroy the internet.
Years after Obama’s exile, it was revealed that he’d ordered the destruction of the
medium used to spread his message of hope during his Presidential campaign.
Public protests, meanwhile, were outlawed and all unauthorized assemblies were
stopped by the military that arrested those who organized these events, spoke at
them, attended them, wrote about them, or even observed them.

"People started disappearing and there were rumors that some were imprisoned
and tortured and others executed. All were called ‘enemy combatants.’ The Patriot
Act, which many had hoped Obama would repeal, was strengthened so that every
constitutional right Americans had vehemently fought for, including the right to
vote, was revoked.” Grandpa paused, his face contorted in pain as he
remembered the nightmare he’d lived and that was now our nation’s history.
“America had turned into a fascist government and Obama was its ruler. Just
when he sat posed to pass a law that would make him ‘ruler for life,’ after
outlawing elections due to ‘potentially unruly mobs’ gathering at polling places, the
scandal was leaked by his most loyal press sycophants who didn’t have the
restrictions that had been placed on the ‘less friendly’ media. Despite those
restrictions and heavy monitoring of the internet, the story got out, although it was
never reported on the broadcast news, which continued to spew Gibbs’
propaganda showing Obama with his children and his dog, despite having leaked
the story in the first place.

"Once the scandal broke, black people took to the streets in numbers so large, the
protests couldn’t be ignored. Even after the water hosing and tazzing started,
others joined these anti-Obama protests. Finally, after months of using military
tactics to attack his own citizens and creating anti-American sentiment throughout Europe, Obama was forced to step down by his own military leaders. However,
once Biden was sworn in to finish out Obama’s term, the military stepped down as
the law enforcers in the country. Obama’s final speech to the nation was so bitter
and unremorseful, people booed their TVs.” I recalled having to learn that speech
in school as an example of the result of the corruption of power. “His wife had
already left him and returned to Chicago with his children. She was given a speedy
divorce and by the time he boarded that plan with Oprah Winfrey, he was no
longer married to Michelle. No one was surprised when he married Winfrey and
her billions, safely in a Swiss bank account, or when he used her power and
money to take over the African nation that became their home in exile.

"Most Americans weren’t even surprised when the Obamas joined the anti-
American nations once called the axis of evil by George Bush, the President
before Obama whose approval rating was the second lowest in history when he
left office. We were surprised, however, that the fascism Obama put in place
continued after he was gone. We supported the clean sweep of the Obama
administration and the indictment of those who helped put him in office. Biden selected Hillary Clinton as his Vice, and they started dismantling the military
control of federal government and returning control to the three branches of
government. Once the Obama political team was imprisoned, Congress went after
the journalists that were in the tank for Obama during and after the election,
dismantling the news organizations of all three major networks and CNN. Fox had
long been demolished by the Obama administration following a long feud that
began when they refused to air his speech to a joint session of Congress in the
summer of 2009. The only broadcast news network allowed to continue was
CNBC. Americans demanded the heads of those who’d supported Obama:
Matthews, Olberman, and Maddow from MSNBC and Martin, Braziel, Borgia,
Cooper, and Blitzer from CNN, in much the same way they went after Congress
members who voted for the Iraq War they supported.” Grandpa’s voice was a little
bitter as he paused reflecting the demise of his chosen profession.

“Journalism and journalists were outlawed with the people’s approval because it
was believed that we put Obama in office by convincing people that he was the
man they believed him to be. They were right, of course. It was the media that
overlooked his faults, never reporting his rants against anyone that criticized or
opposed him, even though we all knew about them and sometimes even
witnessed them. I saw him at the 2008 Democratic Convention making up to his
wife onstage after his acceptance speech and wondered about it, then later found
out from a fellow journalist that he lit into her earlier because their youngest
daughter had talked over his scripted dialog when he was shown watching
Michelle’s speech with a family in another location. Of course no one blamed
Michelle for supporting her husband. Many even suggested she suffered from
battered wife syndrome and women all over the world applauded her when she left
him after finding out about his clandestine double life. When she ran as Hillary’s
vice, it was a sure thing. No media hype was needed to elect the two spouses of
the Presidents who’d put the country through the biggest two scandals since Nixon
and Watergate.

"They were sympathetic figures, matching the mood and temperament of the
nation and they were a shoe-in for election. Each served her eight years
gracefully, repealing any of the laws remaining that took away our rights and
restoring our democracy. Clinton commuted the sentences of the imprisoned
journalists, the very ones who’d brought her down when she ran against Obama.
However, neither President was able to restore America’s faith in the media, and
journalists are still regarded with disdain and distrust. Anyone and anything
associated with Obama is still loathed in this country. I think the Obama
memorabilia is outlawed in deference to former President Michelle Robinson. But I
want you to keep this so you can remember that it wasn’t a scam. We really
believed in him. I know it was wrong of us not to tell the public the truth about him.
We knew about his trysts and the rumors about the men from Rev. Wright’s
church who knew about his secret life that turned up dead. We just wanted to
keep his image pure. We just wanted to believe.”

I listened to my grandfather, trying to hide my own shame of being related to one
of the journalists who helped elect Obama. I didn’t succeed because my
grandfather looked at me pleading for understanding and absolution. He didn’t get
either from me. How can I forgive him? I’ve been drafted to fight in the war against
Obama and his allies, a war being waged on American soil. I will be going to boot
camp in less than a week, then on to California to try to keep the enemies from
advancing. That state is completely occupied by the enemy. Seismologists say the
heavy mortar fire has created conditions for a massive earthquake. Luckily, my
relatives in Northern California got out before the attacks from China and North
Korea. They say they wanted to put America out of the movie business after that
documentary about the downfall of Obama was released last year and distributed
worldwide, making over a quadrillion dollars. That say it’s just propaganda. Obama
should know. It was propaganda that elected him and allowed him to almost
become a dictator. Now, he and several Muslim nations, along with Russia are
said to be preparing to invade the East Coast, which will divide our troops between
the two coasts in defense of our nation.

I will bury my grandfather tomorrow and all of his Obama relics with him.
Hopefully, some day someone will find those pieces of history and understand
what I cannot.

July 4, 2048

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Isn't African-American History Just American History?

The pages of history though printed in black ink have few black faces. Our American story is not only black and white, but red and yellow and brown, olive, and tan. It is a story of people who always came here looking for more. More space. More freedom. More opportunity. While some Africans came here free men and women, my African ancestors came here, not of their own free will, but as slaves. They did the hard labor, alongside redskinned captives and white indentured servants and; later as share croppers, they labored alongside yellow and brown migrants and white immigrants.

Our story is a story of commonfolk who worked hard and made fortunes or just had ordinary lives rearing children and leaving a legacy of independence and
defiance in the face of many obstacles. African-American History Month
celebrates the achievements of those edited out of history or who're listed as a
footnote. While it includes the accomplishments of a few celebrated people of
darker hue, e.g., Dr. Martin Luther, Jr., King, Rosa Parks, President Obama; it is
the story of the inventors, educators, scientists, musicians, athletes, soldiers,
ministers, statesmen and common men and women who did uncommon things
and are only recognized once a year during this month. Their names should be in
the history books along with the names of Native Americans, Asian Americans,
Hispanic Americans, Jewish Americans,  Polish Americans, Italian Americans,
Greek Americans, Irish Americans, ALL Americans who've made a contribution to
this nation. Not to be identified by ethnicity, these Americans should be noted for
their achievements and recognized as Americans with their ethnic origins only
mentioned as part of their biography.

Only then will American History tell the complete story of this great nation and the
people who made it so. When every American knows the name of the African-American who was the first American killed in the American Revolution, then African-American History will just be American History. ©gjc, 2/20/2011,  http//: www.gjchitchat.blogspot.com. All rights reserved. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Don't Underestimate Palin's Power of Persuasion

My fear is not Sarah Palin, but voter apathy. While we mock and disregard this woman whose very political existence threatens and lessens our democracy, the failure of voters to exercise that right could land this demagogue into a position of power so great we'll all be victims of her wrath for ever having criticized her.

It's going to take more than bad press, low approval rates, and her sheer stupidity to keep Governor Palin from becoming President Palin. While the idea sounds ludicrous, remember George Bush lost the popular vote. It's not Palin's popularity we need to worry about; it's her machinations that have served her well thus far despite all of her many shortcomings.

In the abscense of voter excitement, Palin's vitriol could excite and inflame a public that thrives on revved up, in your face rhetoric. Jared Loughner may not have been influenced by her graphics singling out Representstive Giffords as a political target, but millions of Americans are capable of being rallied by this type of violent imagery during an election campaign.

The same mentality that brings crowds to demolition derbies and wrestling matches could bring them to the polls to vote for Palin while those who don't take
her seriously might very well stay away if Obama's tarnished charisma wears off
by 2012, or can't be duplicated in 2016.

Anyone who doesn't view Palin as a real threat politically probably Aldo believes the anti-christ has to be a man.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Obama's thunder stolen - again!

It happened at the Democratic Convention in 2008, first when then candidate Obama's moment of manufactured interaction with a real American family was upstaged on stage by his youngest daughter as a live broacast of the encounter was shown to conventioneers while the rest of the Obama family stood onstage next to the big screen, following Michelle Obama's speech. Barack Obama watched the speech in the home of the typical family and his daughters hadn't seen him until he appeared on the video. His prepared spontaneity was completely spoiled by a small child whose excited outbursts upon seeing her absent father kept interrupting his attempt to appear warm and caring.

Well, it happened again. Only this time, instead of everyone's attention being focused on an adorable little girl, the country and the media focused on an amazing woman whose rushed firing by the Obama administration overshadowed the passage of a financial reform bill and Senate approval of Obama's second pick for the Supreme Court, as well as Congress finally extending unemployment benefits.

Given Shirley Sherrod's courageous overcoming of her own father's murder by a white man who was likely a member of the Klan to help save the farm of a white man acting superior while asking for her help, she should be offered more than just reinstatement in the USDA. She should be offered a position in the Obama administration as Minister of Racial Reconciliation. Her story is so human and so like that of many caught up in the hurtful memories and complexities of race relations in this country, she's a natural ambassador for the cause of actually moving past the pain toward healing.

I'm sure she will find a means of spreading her message of forgiveness and I'm equally sure it won't be as a representative of the Obama administration. Why not? She stole his thunder during a week when he made major accomplishments that became "in other news" afterthoughts in the wake of the recrimination against Sherrod, hastily followed by her firing and just as hastily followed by revelation that this woman deserves our respect, not our contempt. Despite Sherrod being told that her firing was ordered from the White House, the President absolved himself
from all responsibility and blamed the director of the USDA for acting hastily.

I believe the order to fire Sherrod came from a White House in panic mode ready to destroy an African-American woman's reputation and life without any further investigation or thought. I also believe the response would have been different had Sherrod been white. Although the anniversary of the President's calling the action of police arresting an African-American professor stupid was also this week, the Sherrod matter was one this administration wanted dispensed of ASAP. It was a
gnat that needed to be swatted out of the way, but that gnat turned out to be a wasp whose sting was sharper than anyone could have anticipated.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cashing in Obama: A Dream Come True for the Colorstruck

Have you noticed the Obama lookalikes popping up on television lately? And I don’t mean on “Saturday Night Live.”

Among those cashing in on the Obama mystique are advertisers and producers. Examples of ads with Obama lookalikes are a couple of ads for insurance in which an agent comforts a blonde woman who’s just been in a car accident and a postal employee answers a question about shipping packages internationally, both of whom have ears like the President. Plus a new character on cable’s biggest hit, “Burn Notice,” is a younger, hipper, more coordinated, James Bond-like version of Obama.

Pre-Obama, the most famous black men tended to be dark. The bar was set by the fame of black performers Nat King Cole and Sidney Poitier who, for years, were the only major men of color players on television and film, respectively. Their popularity made the success of darker skinned performers like James Earl Jones, Bill Cosby, Richard Roundtree, Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, Eddie Murphy, Taye Diggs, and a host of others possible. Both movie and television audiences were used to seeing black men performing on both the big and small screens, as well as live on stage singing and dancing in large musical venues, in small clubs, and off and on Broadway.

The colorstruck in the African-American community should be happy. This is what they wanted all along. The earliest movies made by and for African-Americans were almost mirror images of white films that cast dark skinned blacks in stereotypical roles: Hattie McDaniel’s Oscar-winning role in Gone With the Wind and a host of roles by Stepinfetchit and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Only instead of whites, in films by Oscar Micheaux, the most famous of black filmmakers in the 1920s-1940s, light-skinned, high yellow, or “redbone” African-Americans played the roles normally played by whites.

A common theme was light-skinned African-American men, who were the only ones sought out by women in those movies, being supported and adored by large, dark-skinned women who’d work hard usually as maids. These women would give all their money and love to these “hunks” that eventually left them for a thin, light-skinned African-American women, but only after telling the dark-skinned, hefty women how ignorant, low-class, disgusting, and ugly they were.

Yellow Man, a play written by an African-American woman gives a modern take on this old theme. But in Yellow Man, the light-skinned African-American man who has everything that should make him successful is a miserable failure; while the dark-skinned, fat girl he grew up with and fell in love with but could never marry, is the one who ends up having a successful life. I played the female role in the two-skinned play, actually using make up to darken my face slightly since I’m almost, not quite in the light-skinned category.

Light-skin has been so valued in the African-American community, especially in women, that some strange traditions have been created. In New Orleans, people have to pass the paper bag test to be accepted in certain groups. Held next to a paper bag, the individual’s skin color has to be the same shade or lighter. Families of light-skinned African-Americans stay that way by not marrying dark-skinned people. This is a long tradition in many African-American families, common among doctors, lawyers, and other professionals.

An example is a family in my home city. The father is a doctor and his wife works in the justice system. One of their children is mayor of the state capitol and is also married to a light-skinned African-American. I knew the family of another doctor like that in Lawton, Oklahoma, where I got my undergraduate degree at Cameron University. There are numerous examples in Historic Black Colleges, including the one I attended in Texas. You always knew who the doctors and lawyers children were there.

A frivolous tradition at the school was to pictorially display the “Ten Most Beautiful Girls on Campus” in the annual yearbook. My freshman year, I was appalled to see that all ten were light-skinned, except one, who was Hispanic and not the darker, brown-skinned Hispanic either. When I became editor-in-chief of the college paper the next year, I also became president of the press club and the automatic selector of the ten girls to be pictured as the campus’ most beautiful my sophomore year.

I relished the task and immediately set about finding girls of every hue and hair texture to grace that page in the annual publication. Oh, speaking of hair texture, that’s part of the requirement, as well. Light-skinned with “good hair,” meaning hair that is naturally curly, wavy, or straight – not nappy. The photo that I created for the yearbook that year had the entire range of “blackness.” I did get a copy of the yearbook, but let another fellow PV student from Oklahoma, where I went to live with my parents “borrow” it and it was never returned.

The love of light-skin and “good hair” has resulted in some tragic situations. I have a dark-skinned, large friend who would have done anything to get her light-skinned boyfriend with naturally wavy hair to marry her. Despite being over forty, she decided to get pregnant, thinking erroneously that being a Christian, he’d do the “right thing” and marry her. He didn’t and she had two strokes during labor. She’s presently resides in a nursing home due to paralysis of her legs and her “baby daddy” is married to a light-skinned woman and has custody of their beautiful little boy who is developmentally delayed.

Father and son came to visit me out of the clear blue one day and I just happened to be waiting for a food delivery (otherwise, I’d never have answered the door) and the little boy, who was five at the time, immediately fell in love with me and I with him. I got a feeling that his father thought that since I work in the field I might be more capable of being a mother to his child than the woman he married. However, there’s a code among some women about dating their friends’ exes. I couldn’t conceive of being anything more to father and son than a good friend.

Besides, I’m not attracted to light-skinned men, no matter how wavy, curly, or straight their hair – actually, I prefer men with no hair (or if they must have hair, I find dredlocks quite attractive). I think dark-skinned men are drop dead gorgeous. Oddly, I’ve only had one semi-serious with a dark-skinned man and it ended with me swearing never to see him again because I detected that he was a possible abuser, the biggest turn-off of all for me. I’ve probably dated more white guys than dark-skinned black guys.

However, skin color is not a determiner of who I date. Neither are things like height, weight, education, or income. I’ve dated men of all races (except Asians because none have ever asked me out), nationalities, skin colors, hair textures, heights, weights (I once dated a 600 lb semi-pro bowler who was the most flexible man I’ve ever known), educational and income levels (high school dropouts to advanced degrees), occupations (from doctors to roofers), and political persuasions – yes, I’ve dated right-wing conservatives.

The last man I fell in love with (the second in my lifetime) is dark and quite small in stature, while the first love of my life is tall and light-skinned. The man of my dreams is another man who’s presently unavailable – not married, just unavailable. He’s one of the darkest men I’ve ever known (what’s called “blue black”) and he’s perfect. He lives in my home state, was the last pastor of the church my great-grandfather founded, and wears a cowboy hat and boots better than any man I know.

There is absolutely no romantic connection between this man and me. We met and talked briefly a couple of times as intellectual equals on opposite sides of the political coin – he’s a conservative. However, his present obligations preclude him from any involvement with someone other than the mother of his two children. Of course, he’s a rascal in central Texas, a preacher with two children out of wedlock – oh, my! But I respect his not marrying a woman and then cheating on her, not to mention the respect I have for him because he’s a responsible father, taking care of his children.

While this cowboy preacher is my version of the ideal man, I don’t limit my choices to replicas of him. I recently told both my sister and my bff, both of whom are divorced and want to get re-married, to stop restricting their choices to African-American men. They’re both Christian women and there is a recent trend in interracial marriages among many Christians, including many conservatives. A white conservative man I worked with whose wife died has dated and intends to marry an African-American woman.

Although he and I are friends, he’s way too conservative to ever accept ANY of my liberal views and has convinced himself (and tried to convince me by locking me in a room with him and a Republican male co-worker for a political ideology intervention) that I am also conservative and just masquerading as a liberal. I admit, I am not always on the liberal side of things, but I’m far more likely to be liberal than conservative on most issues. This brings me back to the most popular African-American man on the planet.

I was never a supporter of Obama’s candidacy for President, not because he’s not dark-skinned and my ideal, but because I felt he should have waited until he completed at least one term in the Senate before running for President and, most importantly, because I supported Hillary Clinton. However, the support of the first black President of this nation was unbelievable and, therefore, I am not surprised that the marketability of the Obama image is occurring.

I just hope that Michelle Obama will make darker skinned African-American women just as acceptable and marketable.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Whose Ass Does Obama Really Want to Kick? Rhymes With Stress

The President's testy response to Today Show host Matt Lowry's suggestion that he start "kicking some butt" seemed aimed more at the press, who he referred to as "talking heads," than at BP. Maybe he's right to be miffed. Many of the pundits that cheered him on during the campaign seem to be turning on him.

A prime example is Chris Matthews. The highly paid MSNBC political talk show host who said candidate Obama made him have a tingling feeling down his leg, said that President Obama's use of the word "ass" was "unpresidential." Other lesser knowns who once rallied behind Obama now critcize his leadership or, in their words, lack thereof in dealing with the Gulf Coast oil spill.

Even when he met their demands to show more passion when he Lowry's impertinent question, they criticzed his choice of words, not because, I believe, he went all 'homeboy' and started talking about kicking some ass; but because these turncoats know the only asses he wants to kick are theirs.

Won't You Come Home, Bill Clinton, Won't You Come Home

First, let me make it clear. I'm not a fan of Bill Clinton and never was. I have a personal, visceral, negative reaction to men who cheat on their wives which culminated in my writing a play about a female serial killer whose targets are adulterous black Baptist ministers (symbolically, my father).

However, I voted for Clinton twice because I thought he was qualified for the job of President. Given the criticisms of the present President's seeming lack of passion about the Gulf Coast oil spill (the kick ass comment notwithstanding) and failure to show compassion for its victims, one can't help draw comparisons between President Obama and President Clinton when it comes to handling a crisis. While not as inept as President Bush was in his handling of the Katrina crisis, President Obama sure could use some of that Clinton Charm right now.

I say the administration make the former president its emissary in the Gulf Coast region and watch Bill work his magic. He's a loyal Democrat, so I'm sure President Clinton would be glad to help. And while they're at it, why not get President Carter involved, as well, along with both Presidents Bush to show some of that bi-partisanship we'd all like too see in Washington. Well, if we can't get it there, why not in the Gulf Coast?

Whoever else is involved, Clinton should be the point man. No one does better in front of a camera than President Clinton convincing people that he feels their pain and will do whatever it takes to ease it. Slick, Willie.