Dr. King Reflecting on the Journey

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

Sunday, December 28, 2008


© gjc, 12/29/08
After Xmas and Hanukkah, During Kwanzaa, and Before New Year’s Eve

After Xmas When I Was Full of Comfort & Joy (and a Cornish Hen)

Although I boycotted CNN for a year after the news channel helped sell the Iraq War to the American people and was in the tank for George Bush in 2004, I recently have become a fan of two of the networks shows: Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull and Lou Dobbs Tonight.

Actually, I was a previous fan of “Mr. Independent” until he became obsessed with illegal immigration (guess I was an independent even before I quit the Democratic party after their failure to put a woman on the ticket at this year’s convention).

Now, when Lou starts his “protect our borders” rants, I justvswitch channels. However, I do listen to his unbiased and balanced discussions with various media pundits about the economic crisis and the incoming administration; same thing with Campbell Brown. Her show is the real deal: no bias, no bull.

Along with Morning Joe on MSNBC, these are the only news shows I watch daily. I also watch The Newshour with Jim Lehrer on PBS at least two or three times a week and the network’s Friday night lineup, as well as the Sunday morning news shows on the three major networks (I can’t stand their morning shows with all the “infotainment” drivel that passes for "news" their biased evening “news” broadcasts!)

I’m channeling my father, who was a newshound and could never watch enough news (I don’t share his love for television sportscasts, however). Watching all these news casts inspires me to write my own opinions in this column. My post-Xmas gift to you is these little “stocking stuffers” of tidbits about various news items. I know it’s not much, but…

First Larry Summers, Now Rick Warren – What is Our President-Elect Thinking?

I wasn’t surprised that our President-Elect appointed a misogynist to his cabinet. After all, he did call a woman “Sweetie” during the campaign and remember his remark about Senator’s Hillary Clinton’s experience?

"It wasn't too long ago that Barack Obama and his advisers were tripping over one another to tear down Hillary Rodham Clinton's foreign policy credentials. She was dismissed as a commander in chief wanna-be who did little more than sip tea and make small talk with foreign leaders during her days as first lady. 'What exactly is this foreign policy experience?' Obama said mockingly of the New York senator. 'Was she negotiating treaties? Was she handling crises? The answer is no'" (NANCY BENAC, Associated Press Writer Nancy Benac, Associated Press Writer – Sun Nov 30).

I'm also not surprised that he asked Pastor Rick Warren to participate in his inauguration. He did previously attend Rick Warren’s church, stirring up controversy for Warren among Evangelicals, when he and the mega-church pastor joined forces in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Besides, the President-Elect, who supports gay rights, has made it very clear that he does not support gay marriage. And it is Warren’s support of California’s recently-passed Proposition 8, reversing the state’s Constitutional Amendment legalizing same sex marriages that has the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community up in arms.

Does the GLBT electorate have the right to be upset that Warren is giving the invocation at the Inauguration next month, given their overwhelming support of our new President? What if, to foster diversity and inclusion, the President-Elect had asked Thomas Kroenke, the so-called "hastus primus" or spearhead of the World Church of the Creator (a white supremacist church) to give the invocation?

Would his African-American supporters have been offended? Of course they would have! So, we should not begrudge the GBLT community for taking offense to having a man who not only opposes same sex marriages, but compares their lifestyle to bestiality, incest, and pediophilia present at the event. While Warren’s beliefs reflects those of many in our society, including most likely many of the African-Americans and Hispanics who voted for Prop 8 in California, aren’t they biased?

And for those African-Americans who don’t get it, Warren’s statements about the GLBT lifestyle are equivalent to calling black women nappy-headed ho’s (which got Don Imus fired from MSNBC), saying blacks were bred to be strong (the comment that got Jimmy the Greek fired from his job as a commentator on CBS), or stereotypes such as the one that we eat a lot of fried chicken (when Fuzzy Zoeller said this, he lost a lot of money in endorsements).

It’s no longer o.k. to publicly express bias toward blacks (remember all the furor around the nooses hung in the tree on the school campus in Jena, Louisiana, as well as subsequent “nooses” found in various places around the country?), but it’s still perfectly all right to gay-bash using religion as the basis for writing off a whole segment of our citizenry.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, it’s not all right to publicly state that gay people are pedophiles. This is the kind of erroneous thinking that put my brother, James, in jail for 18 months and will put more gay people behind bars if we don’t stop promoting this nonsense! Remember how many black men were falsely accused of raping or intending to rape white women and were lynched in this country? Don’t we learn anything from history?

Personally, I like Rick Warren (he did write "A Purpose Driven Life") and feel that the President-Elect has the right to have anyone he wants involved in his administration and his inauguration. However, Obama was elected by a very diverse group of people and every single one of those groups wants him to remember its part in helping him get into office. I don’t believe African-Americans would stop supporting him if he included a white supremacist in the inaugural celebration and gay people probably won’t withdraw their support because of Rick Warren.

However, please try to understand why they’re upset. Even though African-Americans wouldn’t withdraw their support of Obama, they’d complain loud and long if he included someone in this celebration that many African-Americans will attend who makes them feel uncomfortable. That’s all the GBLT community is saying. They’ll be there in large numbers, too, and having Rick Warren there will make them feel uncomfortable. Get it?

Years ago, televangelist Frederick Kc Price did a 37-week long study of “Race, Racism, & Religion” on his weekly hour-long broadcast. It was comprehensive in researching the ways religion was used a century ago to justify the treatment of blacks in this country at the time. Dr. Price quoted books written by theologians of the time.

Some of the statements made by religious scholars were astounding and, although they seem ludicrous now, they were accepted as fact a hundred years ago. (Similar research has been compiled about how religion is being used against gays presently and I’m sure some day statements made by ministers about gays now will seem just as ludicrous!)

Meanwhile, a liberal minister summed it all up this way, for all who are offended by Rick Warren’s presence: “It’s two minutes. Get over it!” He has a good point. Why let a few moments of unpleasantness ruin the whole party? I’m sure there will be loud protests during Warren’s prayer and some present will view it as sacrilege and blasphemy.

So is comparing sex between two consenting adults to sex with animals, relatives, and children AND the numerous hate crimes against blacks, Jews, Hispanics, and gays that have taken place in this country. So, if you’re at the party and you see GBTL folks “acting up” while Warren is speaking, be tolerant. You’d “act up” too if someone who expressed similar views toward you showed up at the party and spoke, no matter how briefly!

After Hanukkah: My Jewish Bi-Racial Nephew, Who Has Converted to Mormonism, Supported McCain, His Father Supported Obama and The Two of Them Had a Great Time Campaigning and Arguing About Politics Election Day!

Is it me or does our new President seem to like conflict? His national defense team (which I like, of course, since it’s headed by a woman) is in opposition on his views on the war (remember, he kept reminding us that Senator Clinton voted for the war - along with the majority of the Senate and the support of most Americans, I might add). His treasury department (which I don’t like) includes one controversial figure and one of the participants in the economic crisis.

He also has people on opposite sides of the free-trade issue in his trade department and, as previously discussed, Evangelical minister Rick Warren is giving the invocation at his inauguration. Some in the media speculate that Obama is inviting healthy debate and fostering diversity with his choices, while others think he may be crating a contentious climate in the White House at a time when unity is desperately needed in this country.

At the risk of sounding like Nancy Reagan, I was born on the cusp between the zodiac signs Virgo and Libra, but I must be more Libra than Virgo because I crave balance (I really don't believe in astrology, however; I think it's a parlor game and prefer numerology which is odd since I'm mathematically challenged!). Therefore, healthy debate and diversity are my middle name (actually it’s ‘Joyce,’ hence the pen name ‘Geoyce,’ a blending of ‘Geneva’ & ‘Joyce’).

My favorite period of history is the 1960s through the 1970s when diversity was abundant and people were engaged in conflict, not because I like conflict (I hate war with a passion!), but because I think in a democracy, people should be able to disagree and discuss their differences with respect and tolerance.

Not that much of that happened “back in the day.” There was little tolerance for the views of dissenters then and there is little tolerance for dissent now. However, I applaud President-Elect Obama for bringing conflicting opinions to the White House so that, perhaps, his administration can show the rest of us how to enage amicable disagreement and dissent without being accused of being "godless" or unpatriotic".

Hopefully, that’s what will happen. Otherwise, as Bette Davis’ character said in one of my favorite movies, All About Eve, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!” for the next four to eight years!

DuringKwanzaa I’m Compiling Research for a New Study on ‘Race’

I’m compiling my columns from the past three years into book form in 2009 and plan to lead off with a column I am currently researching that shows how the pro-Obama media manipulated African-Americans into giving up all grounds for racial grievance when they convinced the majority of them that a President they venerated and that some even crowned “America’s first black President” and his wife, who opposed the first viable African-American candidate for President were both racists and played the dreaded “race card” during the primary elections.

My study of how we lost the battle against racism this year won’t be as long as Dr. Price’s, but I hope it will be as comprehensive. It was inspired by assertions from several folks that "racism is over." First, an African-American member of the House made this statement after the election on a television news program.

Then, recently, a young African-American woman in her thirties made the same statment. Well, racism is not over, but these two people from different generations may be right about one thing: our protestations about race may fall of deaf ears after African-Americans lost credability this year denouncing as racists the Clintons, who many once revered in much the same way they now revere Obama.

Before the New Year: “Should Old Acquaintances Be Forgot & Never Brought to Mind,” a Euphemism for Cutting Old Ties, Starting Anew

I had a very eventful year in 2008. I retired from working for nearly seventeen years at an agency doing work I loved and that was becoming more stressful than I realized until I stopped doing it. I’ve also had to come to terms with my mortality and frailty as arthritis seems to take over my joints and change the way I do things and well as the amount of things I do.

Although retirement has not brought me less activity (I’m actually busier now!), it has definitely brought me less stress. The greatest thing it brought me was the opportunity to do the things that I had been waiting until retirement to do: write plays, novels, & books, and start my own business. Well, I’ve re-written a play (I’m still working on it!), a short novel, and a curriculum guide for day habs for people with developmental disabilities, and am about to start that business.

Next year, I’ll be assisting someone else to write a novel, writing another curriculum guide, finish re-writing that play, write a book of short stories which will end with the novella (short novel) I wrote this year, compile my one-act plays into a book, and complete the research for the title piece for a compilation of my columns into book form. I may even finish that historical novel I started eighteen years ago and actually type the rest of the MOSES AT GETHSEMANE Trilogy that blended together form a 90-minute drama.

I am also going to publish my short mystical exercise, “The Nine Cards,” for those of you who like spiritual works and try to get my children’s story “The Slave Princess,” illustrated and published. I have big plans for 2009, and because I’m retired, only working 20 hours or less per week, I have time to do it all!

I enjoyed a moment of pure bliss this past week, sitting alone in my hotel room, when I realized I’m doing exactly what I want to do and just how blessed I am to have the life I want to have, to be at peace, and to have time to do the things I’ve waited over thirty years to do. I knew more joy in that moment than I have ever experienced from being “in love,” getting a job I wanted and doing it well, receiving honors and accolades, or even from my many friendships.

All of the above come and go, but the joy I experienced and which is coming over me as I write this, like the family that I love more and more each day, is mine to keep. I thank God for my family, for joy, for peace, and for giving me the time to embrace all three.

Monday, December 15, 2008

CHIT-CHAT by Geoyce Chatman ©12/15/08, gjc


Jesse Jackson, Jr., in my opinion, gave the best speech at the 2008 Democratic Convention. It was even more moving than Barack Obama’s “keynote” address at the 2004 convention, which in affect, introduced America to its first black President (and as if we weren’t already thinking it, reporters at the scene made sure they told us). I thought at the time that Jackson should have been the keynote speaker at the 2008 convention, but was not surprised that someone was picked who had no chance of overshadowing Obama’s tepid acceptance speech. Jackson’s support of Obama throughout the campaign was unquestioning. He dissed his own father when the senior Jackson made disparaging remarks near an open mic about the candidate!

So why didn’t the President-Elect who magnanimously buried the hatchet and selected Joe Biden as his running mate and Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State not have Jesse Jackson Jr. on his list of people he’d like to see take his Senate seat?
Does he perhaps feel threatened by this vibrant, electrifying young African-American (descendant of slaves) whose oratorical skills surpass every politician on the scene, outshine his father’s by far, and are approaching MLK’s? Many want us to believe that Barack Obama is the “dream” of the Civil Rights movement (and he is, on the “descendants of slave owners” side of the table), but Jesse Jackson, Jr. and a small cadre of up and coming young African-American politicians that includes Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Newark Mayor Corey Booker, and former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., really are the dream on the “descendants of slaves” side of the table.

While many in the media feel that Jackson’s chances to take Obama’s place in the Senate have been dashed due to the taped remarks by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich that “candidate 5’s” emissaries offered him a million bucks, the young Congressman’s candor and immediate statement declaring that he made no attempts to “pay to play” may garner him respect from his constituents in the long run. The same media pundits who’ve doomed Jackson’s Senate chances seem reluctant to comment on the President-Elect’s slowness to make any statements regarding any contacts between his people and Rod Blagojevich. Unless you’re watching Morning Joe on MSNBC, or, God forbid, Fox News Channel, you probably won’t hear any calls for our future President to straighten out this matter once and for all. (Did anyone see our President-Elect walk off the stage when he finally consented to call on a Fox reporter at one of his many recent press conferences? Since he can’t get by with answering “present” any more, I guess President-Elect Obama decided the best course of action was to not be present!)

As was pointed out by columnist Eugene Robinson from The Washington Post, it is perfectly natural for the President-Elect’s staff to submit a list of people he’d like to see take his place in the Senate. Which brings us back to my original question: Why wasn’t Jesse Jackson on Obama’s list of people he’d like to be considered to replace in him the Senate? (Wonder what part of Obama’s body Jesse Sr. wants to cut off now!) I see a pattern by President-Elect Obama regarding African-American men. First he talks about African-American men, not men in general, taking more responsibility for their families, despite a glowing example of an African-American man who did just that in his own wife’s father, as well as countless others if he just looked past his own personal experience. Now, despite having appointed several African-American males to his cabinet, he has failed to recommend a qualified African-American male to take his Senate seat.

On the one hand, he is willing to accept the support of African-American males, but he is not willing to give those who are especially capable and may actually be his equal or better as a politician his support. Sounds like a narcissist to me! Look at this definition of narcissistic personality disorder from the Mayo Clinic:
“Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. They believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” The italics are mine and would explain, if our President-Elect does have this psychological disorder (as I suspect), why he would not want Jesse Jackson to advance. (I bolded the part about the narcissist’s reaction to criticism because it was evident, to me at least, during the campaign that Obama could not abide any criticism whatsoever – remember how he kept talking about Sarah Palin for two whole weeks after the Republican Convention when she did her job as veep and attacked him?)

Another trait of narcissistic personality disorder is envy and/or jealousy of others. Whether or not Obama has this disorder or not, he has some personality or character flaw that forbade him from giving a nod to a loyal supporter and I think we need to ask why. I also think somebody (not the media that’s been in the tank for him from the beginning!) should be investigating just what went on in Chicago that allowed our “change we can believe in” President-Elect to endorse a governor who was already being accused of corruption two years ago. Like they said on Morning Joe this morning, maybe if the networks had sent as many reporters to Chicago during the campaign as they sent to Wasilla, Alaska, we’d know more about Obama’s relationship with
Rod Blagojevich and why he’s not following Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s lead and denying any part of the “pay to play” debacle. I think when it’s all said and done, Jackson will be the one who will be lauded for his immediate respond while our Commander in Chief to be will be criticized (not by the mainstream media!) for doing what he did when he was in the Illinois Senate: just being “present.”

Sunday, December 14, 2008



Have you heard anything yet? I really think you have a good chance of getting the job as Program Director at NODC. I’m attaching my curriculum guide for you and I’m sending it to Betsy, also, to share with the folks at Holland since they are mentioned (not by name) in it. It’s a chronicle of my year helping to supervise “change” at Holland Road and a record of our successes.

Sorry I haven’t called. I got back to Toledo December 2, and I’ve been swamped with work and projects. I just created programs for an arts initiative, a volunteer effort, and certification in adult transition habilitation for young adults, all with accompanying curricula. Plus I’m the ghost writer for a fictionalized version of the story of a man who spent nineteen years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

I’m also trying to finish a novel about vampires (yes, vampires!) before February so I can enter it in a writing contest, shopping around for producers and drama publications for my FINALLY re-written play, and marketing my curriculum guide. And I still have a business to get off the ground on top of all that. We got the Medicare waiver, but it’s going to take about a year to get certified.

I knew I was busy last night when I sat at the desk in my hotel room eating my dinner while I created an ad for the program for this year’s Kwanzaa celebration. Don’t forget – December 26-January 1 is Kwanzaa! I’ll be teaching a behavior class ten hours a day during the holiday for three of those days and observing a quiet, reflective observance of Jesus’ coming into this world Christmas week somewhere other than my house – probably at my favorite retreat: the Secor Comfort Inn.

I’m in “retreat” now, typing 35 pages of email addresses so I can send out promotional materials to all of the day hab programs in the state. I finished 17 pages yesterday and have another 18 to go. There are about 12 listings on each page, so I’m inputting over 400 entries! Hey, it’s cheaper and actually less time consuming than sending out printed pages through snail mail. I’m also offering those who want to order the book the opportunity to have it emailed for a discounted price to save money on printing copies.

I’m missing all my favorite holiday events, like a concert I’d love to go today, but I still have all that typing to do and while I’m here, I’m also reading a stack of material about the incarceration and ultimate release of Danny Brown, the gentleman I’m assisting with writing his story. I’m making a timeline of the events as they occurred to keep everything in perspective. His story is a very compelling one and I’m honored to be involved with helping him to tell it.

I was at Holland Road with our young adult group Thursday for their holiday celebration. We went to Golden Corral first and ran into half of the Lott Industries Hill Plant – the community employees and staff. Our young adults had a great time and want to go back to the Holland plant again. Julie (my former hab tech) and I are going to start a pen pal program between the employees at Holland and our young adults and arrange to have participants socialize at both sites next year.

I saw Mary Katherine and was told by some of my staff that she’s “a white Geneva,” meaning they like her! I knew she was the right person to take my place. She wants the three of us to get together. Of course, everybody told me how much they miss me. I got to see almost everybody, except for Kathy who was at a meeting. Betty offered me money to come back and even jokingly attempted to solicit donations. I told them there’s not enough money in the world to get me back at the county board.

I’m working harder now than I did when I worked seven days a week because I have so many projects, but I don’t have any of the stress of working for the county board or the expense for working for the paper, trying to get to and from assignments and get to the office to get them typed with only fifty dollars to pay for it all. I never made any money, even though I loved the work. I just can’t afford it any more.

I’m going on a very strict budget next year while we get the home health business off the ground and my New Year's resolution is to save ten percent of my salary (Susie Orman's recommendation). I'm paying off all of my credit cards and accounts by the end of the year. That will make it a lot easier to stay within my budget. However, my budget will have to include a monthly visit to my “retreat.” Some things I just can’t do without!

By the way, Lee was at Holland, too, and so was Rick. I heard Gary was there before I got there. Everyone was glad to see so many of their former supervisors show up to visit. It was like a “management reunion.” Lee had two more stories for me to read and they were very good. I told her she should compile her short stories into a book. (That’s another of my projects- writing a book of short stories about the rural community where I grow up, along with compiling a book of autobiographical one act plays).

Oh, I saw products from Holland’s art studio while I was there Thursday and was duly impressed. You’d love the art program we started last week at the young adult center. We actually started our “arts program” last summer with music therapy, having my friend Kewape come in and play African drums to teach the concept of rhythm, connecting percussion sounds with movement and vocalization. Now, I’m teaching art history/appreciation using a hands-on method.

I found these “adult” coloring books at www.amazon.com that have black and white versions of classical artworks. Individuals are given a chart showing slides of the originals and choose which one they’d like to duplicate using their own coloring ideas. Then while they color with color pencils and markers, I tell them about each of the paintings, the artist, and the art form and medium. This is an introduction to art that I hope will include learning to actually create original works when we get the money to hire real artists to work with them.

You’ll also love the volunteer program we’re developing. It’s to provide assistance for seniors and others on fixed incomes who have pets. We’re soliciting donations of pet food to distribute to those who can’t afford to buy it. I came up with the idea of starting a pet food pantry when my neighbors told me they had to feed half their Thanksgiving dinner to their two dogs and cat because they didn’t have money to buy food for them.

I talked to the young adults to see if this is something they’d like to do and almost all of them said yes. I’ve written the curriculum and made up flyers for donations and distribution. We'll be opening the pantry next year when, according to the economists, things are going to get a whole lot worse. Many people may have a hard time buying food for themselves, so I'm sure buying pet food will be a real burden.

I also want to do some improvisational drama, eventually, and I plan to start teaching a writing program using journaling and other fun kinds of writing to assess writing skills and then focus in on those that need honing. I found some “anti-coloring” books that are meant for kids, but are great vehicles for allowing self-expression either through art or writing. I only work at the center fifteen to twenty hours a week, depending on what needs to be done, but I’ve been spending more of my time interacting with the young adults.

Of course, I love teaching, so I’m in my element. My goal, however, is to get the staff to take over some of the therapeutic activities I’ve started. They’re really good and I know once they have the training, they’ll be able to do all of it themselves. They already do great things. However, with such a diverse and highly functioning group, we have to provide a wide variety of choices to keep them engaged.

I did take two hours off last night after typing and reading all day to watch Will Smith in “I Am Legend.” It was worth it. The movie is really good – scary, but very good! I went to one movie while I was in Columbus with my brother James and my brother Joseph’s significant other Leslie. James made us a gourmet dinner at his house, then we went to see “Happy Go Lucky,” a British comedy.

I love British movies. They are usually so well scripted and lack the pretentiousness of American films. My only other outings in Columbus were to James’ church and lunch afterwards, and shopping at the J.C. Penny outlet with my mother and sister. But I don't go "home" to do anything except hang out with my mom and any other family members who happen to come by. Mostly, that's my niece and nephew, Kiki and Joe. They are really growing up; every time I see them, they're two inches taller!

Oh, I fell in love while I was in Columbus. He’s blonde, muscular, and has brown, soulful eyes. He was hostile to me at first, but he was soon licking my face (and feet) and biting my knuckles playfully. His name is “Bear” and he’s a Chow-Golden Retriever mix. He’s only eight months old, but he’s already huge. Bear is Mom’s companion and “grand-dog.” My sister Debbie is his owner. That dog barked at me for three whole days until he decided I wasn’t going to leave.

When I told Mom on the phone that I was going to say I fell in love with a blonde named “Bear” who licked my face and bit my knuckles, she said, “Some guy is going to show up at your door saying he loves women who like being licked!” I also met a couple of toddlers whose mother is my mom’s home health care aide. They are one and a half and two and a half. I wanted to kidnap the two and a half year old and bring him back to Toledo! His mother thought I was kidding. Well, I was, but he is just the cutest child.

I had a great time with my family. I really do love them. I spent a lot of time with my mom and Debbie and some quality time with James and Joseph, as well as Leslie and Joseph’s ex-wife Valerie and their two children. They are all avid Obama supporters and they know I’m not. However, there was never any attempt to ambush me or “gang up” on me, even though they’ve read my columns criticizing him and calling him a narcissist and a megalomaniac. (By the way, Illionis governor Rod Blagojevish is the perfect example of a narcissistic megalomaniac:
I've attached a detailed definition of narcissism from the Mayo Clinic.)

Not that I didn’t have a few heated debates with family members about our opposing views, but there was no concerted effort to “check me” or “straighten” out my opinions about The Chose One. I did get some Obama-themed Christmas gifts, but not the lectures or “interventions” I might have gotten had a spent time during the holidays with Obama supporters other than my own beloveds. My real friends have also been very kind, considering I don’t share their love of Obama.

Some other folks are waiting for the opportunity to “beat up” on me for my dissenting views. I suspect one or two folks of plotting to lure me into settings where I can be “set straight” about my political views. Of course, I won’t be falling for such an obvious trap. Anyone who attempts this really doesn't want to "corner" me; they may think they do, but they really don't. It would be kind of like cornering a wild animal. Have you ever seen anyone corner a raccoon?

They usually come out fighting, clawing and biting! Believe me, no one really wants to see that side of me. Not even me! That's why I resigned rather than "fighting" to keep my job. I hate my evil side and I try to keep it at bay. I have been very successful at not "going off" for quite a while now and I know had I stayed at Holland, even without having to "fight," the stress would have made me show the side of me I've only shown at work once - when I was at Larc Lane School years ago and a teacher (we won't name names) took out her frustrations on me.

I lost it and it took a psychologist, another behavior specialist, and three hours for me to calm down. Afterwards, half the staff was scared of me and the other half left me alone. A gym teacher and a communication specialist I had been having lunch with every day until then started avoiding me, and one of the secretary's who is a friend told me I was completely out of control. I know I was. That's why I don't like losing control because when I do, I lose it completely. It runs in the family.

My mother cannot allow herself to worry or grieve because when she did after her father died, she had a breakdown and has been taking antedepressants for the past fifty years. The reason I know so much about psychological disorders is because I've witnessed them in my own family. By the way, my schizophrenic sister contacted all of us during the holidays, asking for money. She hit pay dirt finally when she called Mom and got money from her and Joseph and Debbie.

She left messages for me on my home phone, but I just had her number blocked because she still hasn't apologized for sending everyone on my email list one of her maniacal rants last year. She's living in a shelter in San Francisco now and she did send a thank-you card to Mom, Joseph, and Debbie and ten dollars for Mom. However, a week later, she was back to ranting and raving. Every time she's lucid, my mother hopes she'll stay that way this time. I used to be on that merry-go-round, too, until I realized she's never going to change.

I understand her psychological condition, but handling it is another matter altogether. That's why when I see symptoms of psychological problems in public officials, I tend to react. People have no idea how dangerous it is to give a psychologically impaired person unlimited power, particularly one who lusts for power and feels superior to everyone and that he's "chosen." I fear our President-Elect may have some issues that really need to be addressed and monitored. I hope his "handlers" can keep him from stepping over the line.

I do wish the next administration well trying to bail us out of this economic crisis, however, (and hope it doesn’t end up a “fail-out” like the efforts to help the auto industry) and I applaud the selection of so many women to fill cabinet positions. I don’t dislike Obama (like I used to dislike George Bush- I don’t even dislike him any more); I just don’t worship at the altar of Barack and I probably never will, even if he turns out to be a great President. I wasn’t a fan of Bill Clinton either as well liked as he was. I always admired his wife; him, not so much.

By the way, I think Hillary’s chances of running for President have been circumvented by Caroline Kennedy’s interest in politics. I’m sure if Caroline takes Hillary’s Senate seat, she will follow in Obama’s footsteps and in two years we’ll see her mounting a Presidential campaign, which, of course, he will endorse, returning the favor she did him; and she will be nominated and elected as America’s first female President. I may live to see a female President of this country after all, in eight years!

The only way it will be Hillary is if Obama melts down (as I fear he will – that’s what narcissists do!) and Biden becomes President, then chooses Hillary as his vice. I doubt that Biden would run in 2012, but Hillary might if she’s the vice. Just musings, not wishful thinking, believe it or not. I’m not really invested in who runs or wins any more. I stopped caring after the Democratic Convention when women were looked over for the Democratic ticket. Now it’s all theatre to me. I just watch the drama and pray we don’t elect an idiot who’ll start a nuclear war.

Enough about politics. I’m just rambling because I don’t have time to write my column or do my blogs because I’M SO BUSY! I’ll call when I have a minute to breathe. I haven’t been returning calls or seeing anyone I don’t work with or see in the course of working since I got back. I mostly communicate with people through email because I really don’t have time to talk on the telephone. I spend all my time at home writing (I’ve got less than two months to write that novel and type it) and away from home, I’m always working on something.

Let me know when you hear about the job!


Monday, November 10, 2008

And The Winner Is...

© gjc, 11/8/08

It was a long, tough battle! But when it was finally over this week, my man won! The two contestants faced off in the final stretch of the competition and everyone knew the young, classy, thoughtful one was the projected winner. But my money was on the guy with the experience who’d been described by his critics as sometimes “erratic” (they also used that term to describe the only woman in the final match!).

When it was all over, the winner said of his chief opponent, “I think he's a really great guy. I think he's young and doesn't have a lot of life experience yet but he's a great guy and he has a great future ahead of him.” I agree. Experience trumped youth as it should and the youngster will be around to try again while the seasoned professional now has the opportunity to realize his dreams and do what he’s been waiting to do all his life. All because of a contest that seemed to go on forever and that was full of drama with back-stabbing, negative attacks, and seemingly unfair criticism my guy received at times.

However, in the end my guy, Nathan Thomas won TopDesign, Wednesday, November 5th, beating out “Pristine Preston,” the twenty-something with impeccable taste, an incredible sense of design, and rooms that looked like they should be in a magazine. However, Nathan, the “erratic” one, has that edginess and artistic flare that I love in design. His designs were always a surprise, even when they fell short of being great. When they were great, they presented new ideas or old ones in novel and unexpected ways. Congratulations, Nathan! As for the other contest that ended this week, I’ll write about that later…

Post-Election Reflections

© gjc, 11/10/08


Last week, two days after the election, I met with students who are taking my behavior support class as a correspondence course to give them their last assignment at Toledo’s Main Library. It took about an hour to go through the fifty or so pages of reading assignments, questions, and quizzes that they have to have completed by December. When we were done, I decided to check my email on one of the library’s computers while waiting for my ride. A young African-American male sat on either side of me using computers. The one on the right leaned over and said, “I have a secret to tell you.” I took the bait and said, “What is it?” He grinned and said, “We have a black President!”

I laughed and said, “Yes, we do don’t we? Only in America! No European country has ever elected a minority for the top job. That’s what I love about this country!” He and the young man to my left both smiled. Like many of the African-American men I saw that day and the day before, they seemed to walk a little taller and hold their heads up a little higher. I was happy for them and thankful to President-Elect Obama and the nation that elected him its first black President for making African-American men, who may have never felt their value, understand it, possibly for the first time.

The night of the election, my three younger siblings did a wonderful thing. They spent the evening with a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement: our mother. Realizing early on that Obama was winning the election, they retired early to get up and go to work the next day, leaving Mom alone. So, I was the first person to talk to her when the results of the election became official after the polls closed in California at eleven o’clock. I called her and she was exuberant. I congratulated her on all the work she and my now deceased father did to help make the election of a black President possible. We talked about how Daddy would have rejoiced had he lived to see Obama elected and I hung and called my brother, John, in California to congratulate his state for putting Obama over the top, but didn’t get an answer.

Then, just before one o’clock, when I was finally drifting off to sleep, my telephone rang and my talking caller ID said, “Chapman, John.” I immediately woke up and picked up the phone to find out that my brother, who along with me and James comprised the half of our family who supported Hilary Clinton in the primaries, had just returned from Nevada where he and his son, Shane, who lives there, had been canvassing for votes, knocking on doors and handing out flyers. John canvassed for Obama and Shane, a Mormon and Republican who supported Mitt Romney in the primaries, canvassed for McCain.

John said Shane was very upset when Obama won and said, “He’s going to take all our guns!” John, who loves a good argument (you should have heard the two of us growing up!) said he and Shane bantered back and forth about politics while he was there; and John, being a parent, was delighted to see his son so involved in the political process. I think it’s also possible that he has learned what I’ve learned: that people on the opposite side of your political opinion aren’t necessarily evil. He loves his son and knows Shane is a good man, who takes care of his family (he’s married with two kids), and who just happens to disagree with his dad about politics.

I really hope we all learn this lesson during a time when we as a nation really need to unite to solve our problems. Our President-Elect seems to be interested in uniting the country and reached out to those who didn’t support him or vote for him in his acceptance speech. His opponent also showed his willingness to work with the man he described as “my opponent who is now my President” in his concession speech. The rest of the nation should follow the lead of these two men as our new President prepares to assume the mantle of leadership of this nation.

I know most of us are just thinking about the Inaugural Ball and all the after parties right now, but we need to get out of party mode for a minute and think of the daunting tasks that our new President faces. Somehow, because they believe in him, most people think everything is just going to fall into place and the formidable problems with the economy, the job market, and the housing market, not to mention health care and national security, will be solved easily and with little effort by a man far more intelligent and focused than anyone who’s been in the White House in eight years. I think some people are looking at the Obama Presidency like an episode of “The Cosby Show” when no matter what problem faced the Huxtables, it was all resolved at the end of the half hour sitcom. Instead of half hour, we’re giving President Obama four years, but the economic crisis which began even before President Bush became President cannot be completely solved in one term. Neither can health care, the housing crisis, and our national security issues.

Most of us just assume that President Obama will be in office eight years anyway, so we think he’ll have plenty of time to solve all the nation’s problems. I only ask that you remember Toledo’s first strong black mayor, Jack Ford. He had a huge mess to clean up after two terms of Carty Finkbeiner and when he couldn’t get it all cleaned up in one term, Toledoans threw him out and re-elected Carty! Now, the nation can’t and wouldn’t re-elect George Bush, but it will put a Republican back in office if they don’t think President Obama solved all the nation’s problems during his first term. Of course that’s not fair, but Americans are used to quick fixes and instant oatmeal. We want everything right now and when we don’t get it, we move on to the next quick fix promise.

There’s also the issue of race, which may not have been a big issue in Obama’s first Presidential campaign, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be an issue in the second one. Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said on “Morning Joe” that the election of Barack Obama as President puts racism “behind us.” I think not. While I think Obama is not viewed primarily as a black man by most Americans, the rest of us are still black and if you don’t think so, look at our justice system that has given harsher treatment to blacks and Hispanics historically. There are some signs that this is changing, but the changes are slow to come. My recent experience on the job tells me that racism is still very much ahead of many of us.

At my previous job, a director, who was a white female who happened to have been a Civil Rights activist, was committed to hiring qualified African-Americans for management positions and she did so. The building where I worked lost all five of its managers to retirement and African-Americans were hired by the director for four of the five management positions, including the top position which was given to an African-American male. Unfortunately, the director retired and I became the first casualty of her efforts to bring equality to an agency that has as one of its core values “cultural competence” when I did not get enrolled in a class I needed for certification until the week my certification expired. Having taught people in my behavior support classes after they’d been terminated when they did not get their certification in time and needed to take a class to get certified and re-hired, I really didn’t think there would be a problem since I was actually taking the class I needed to get my certification. However, it was a big problem for the HR department and I would have had to take legal action in order to keep my job, so I resigned.

Since I left, the African-American male who ran my facility has been moved to a smaller facility by HR and an African-American staff who I asked to teach a health education class and who turned that class into a health education program, winning the agency’s highest award last spring, has been targeted by HR and is shutting down her program. Now, none of this may have anything to do with racism, but since all three incidents involve African-Americans being targeted by the same department after the director who supported all three of us wholeheartedly retired, one has to wonder. This is just one example of the kind of subtle, but real dilemmas African-Americans face every day in America and I don’t think this will stop because we have a black President. Perversely, some of these insidious tactics may increase as a kind of backlash to President Obama’s election and may even become more blatantly racist.

My point is that there remains an undercurrent of racism in our culture and although it seems to not have touched our newly elected President before now, if he does not perform up to the expectations of the majority of Americans, racism could rear its ugly head the next time he runs and, like Jack Ford, everybody will be blaming “the black guy” in the White House for everything that’s wrong with the country. There’s little we can do about that. What we can do is get our heads out of the clouds and between celebrations, parties, and throw downs, take a sobering look at the state of affairs in this country and do everything – not a couple of things – everything we can to help bring about the changes the President has promised.

This means we can’t sit back and wait for him to “save us.” Instead, we have to be active participants in our rescue and the country’s rescue from the economic crisis, the health care crisis, the housing crisis, and the war in Iraq. It means if you voted for Barack Obama and you want his Presidency to succeed, you have to do some things to help and that means changing your lifestyle and making some sacrifices while we work our way out of this economic crisis. First, we all need to get out of debt, if we can. Next, everyone needs to have a savings account in case of job loss or other unforeseen economic problems. Then, we need to cut back on our spending. Stop buying everything you think you want! Keep that old klunker you’ve been driving and put off buying clothes one more year. Don’t spend thousands of dollars buying your kids Christmas present this year – buy them one nice gift and some socks and underwear like parents did when I was a child.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, folks! We’re not going to get out of the economic crisis buying the latest Jordans and Baby Phat leather jackets. Treat your money as if it is the last you’ll ever have and hold on to it. Believe me, this is hard for me to do, too. Money has never meant anything to me, so I’ve spent every cent I’ve ever had until now. Now, I have a savings account and although I’ve spent a lot of money giving to others and helping family and friends, I am paying off my credit cards and not buying expensive clothes now that I can finally afford to buy new ones. I’m also not buying the new furniture I need – yet! I’m waiting until my business starts to make a profit. I’ve also invested in real estate with my brother, Joseph, and continue to get real estate tips from my brother John, a realtor in California who is always calling me up telling me about houses he sees for sale in Toledo online.

Supporting the new President will take a lot more than celebrating January 20th and just being happy that a black man is in the White House. Although I didn’t support him in the primaries and did not vote for him November 4th (despite a robo-call from Michelle Obama that almost convinced me, when I got to the voting booth, I had to vote for Cynthia McKinney – the only woman running for President this year!), like John McCain, I accept Barack Obama as my President and I will support him. (I accepted George Bush as my President for eight years despite my intense dislike of him due to the mess he made of my home state and his invasion of Iraq, so, believe me, accepting Barack Obama as my President is a piece of cake compared to swallowing that pill!) Supporting the President means I will make the sacrifices he asks me to make. It also means I will question his policies when I have questions about them. No, he won’t get a pass because he’s black.

Neither will we. Those of you who wanted reparations for slavery can forget about that now. All those folks tired of us talking about slavery and what we’re owed because the slaves were freed and never given anything for their two centuries of labor that helped to build this county (not even the 40 acres and a single mule that was proposed as just payment to each slave family, but was never approved by the U.S. government) feel they paid up when they elected a black President. James said a speaker at his UCC church in Columbus brought the house down yesterday when she said, “We may not have gotten our 40 acres and our mule, but we did get 50 states and a White House!” In other words, you wanted a black President and you got him. So, that settles it – no more talk about reparations, racism, or affirmative action, black folks. You have seen the Promised Land! If only all our problems could be solved just by putting a black man in the White House – that’s a lovely dream, but I don’t think it’s the one Dr. King had.

Part of Dr. King’s dream did come true this year when a man was judged by his character and not the color of his skin as Americans went to the polls and elected the person they thought could best lead the nation. That alone is reason to celebrate! So, let’s party January 20th like it’s 1999! Then, a week later, when your hangover and/or euphoria of seeing a black man sworn in as President of the United States wears off and you can think straight again, let’s get down to the business of helping our new President by stepping up to the plate and doing our part as he prepares to govern this nation. Can you spell s-a-c-r-i-f-i-c-e? Even more importantly, can you do it? Can you sacrifice your needs and put the needs of the nation first for just a little while? Our forefathers did it when they sacrificed to put children through college, build businesses, and saved to buy a house. They didn’t have sub-prime loans that allowed them to buy houses they couldn’t afford with no down payment. No, they had to have money to put down on their little modest homes and they saved that money and bought those homes. That’s the mindset we’re going to have to have for at least the next few years.

Can you we do it? As President Obama told us over and over during his campaign -