My favorite “suit” is a pair of rumpled up bib overalls. The $199.00, “buy one, get one free” corporate “suits” I’ve accumulated over the years were dropped off in Goodwill boxes, or retired into the deepest recesses of my closet to be retrieved only on rare occasions, say a formal dinner or funeral. Continue reading Are you the president? – by Terry Howard & Bernard Strong
Even after forty years, I still remember the most important lecture I heard at college. It was delivered to me by a friend, standing in the dormitory hallway. I had once again done something thoughtless and self-centered. She had had it with me. She delivered a lecture on all of my failings, all of the ways I had let people down and acted in selfish self-interest. Defensively, I pushed back. But I also absorbed what she said.
There I was pecking away on my keyboard. Part Two of “Hey, Speak English,” was coming along nicely when last week, “the racial week that was,” kicked the legs out from beneath my comfort zone. In a dreadful span of 72 hours, seven lives were senselessly snuffed out in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas. Of course, many more lives ended that week, but thanks to the combustible mix of race, firearms and mobile devices, these are the ones that owned the headlines.
I insert here my worry, folks!
Although a bit of a stretch, a force fit, some may view the killing of those five white police officers in Dallas as payback in the same way that some jurors in the O. J. Simpson criminal trial delivered a not guilty verdict as payback for the beating of Rodney King and the atrocities heaped upon African Americans over the years. They may not have said it publicly, but the bet here is that the thought probably raced through some minds and showed up in private conversations. “The chickens have come home to roost,” as the saying goes and as some likely thought.
Although I can understand the sentiments, the simmering frustrations resulting from black lives constantly being snuffed out, payback utterings make me uncomfortable, very uncomfortable.
Turning now to why we need to careful.
You see, the problem with “paybacks” is paybacks begat a paybacks in turn. So before we realize it, the circular cycle spirals totally out of control. (Think about the revenge killings by gangs). And along the way widows and orphans are made, careers, relationships and reputations – and sometimes, bodies – are left in the wake. And at the end of the day, who really wins? None of us.
So what do we do? Or maybe the better question is what do we not do?
Well, if the thought of payback crosses the mind, Dr. King’s advice should put that idea firmly to rest:
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
-begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
So here we are – you, me, all of us – sitting back in the comforts of our living rooms, eyes glued to TV sets, or in our places of worship trying to figure out what all this means, where on Earth are we going and what can we do personally to make a difference. A conundrum that’s indeed a daunting one.
But here’s hoping that any thought of engaging in payback is one option that’s kept off the table.
Words are powerful. And the emotional reactions to certain words can be especially so. Case in point are the likely reactions to the words in the title above, light-skinned, negro. My hunch is that reactions probably ranged from shock, mild surprise to “what’s the big deal,” depending to a large extent on who you are and your experiences along the color line. Which takes us to Senate majority leader Harry Reid. Although the furor simmered down not long after, Reid found himself at the center of a firestorm years back for suggesting that then-presidential candidate Barack Obama had a political advantage over other African-American candidates because he was “light-skinned” and had “no negro” dialect, unless he wanted to have one. Remember that incident folks?
The debate over Black History Month is not new, but it intensified when this year’s Oscar nominees were all Caucasian. For the second year in a row, the Oscars earned the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. The Los Angeles Times noted that, “It’s another embarrassing Hollywood sequel … the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nominated an all-white group of acting nominees…The news again provoked an outcry and raised fresh questions over a familiar issue: whether an industry that prides itself on its progressiveness remains stubbornly stuck in the past.”
I went 12 rounds with Donna, a “bout” that started eleven months ago when I settled into Douglasville, Georgia. You see, Donna, a full-size middle age white woman, and me, a full-bellied middle age black man, first came into contact with each other in the convenient store a mile from my house, a tiny place reminiscent of the bucolic town of Mayberry in the old Andy Griffith Show. This is the place I stop by early mornings for coffee and a newspaper. Donna works there.
Ardena Garth Hicks was the first African American female public defender in Tennessee’s Hamilton County. When the State of Tennessee created the office of public defenders 18 years ago, it was an appointed position by the Governor. Ardena was the only applicant with both defense and prosecutorial experience. Of the 27 initially appointed public defenders, only two were black females.
Morris Dees, Founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), was the featured speaker at the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga annual First Amendment dinner. Mr. Dees was introduced by Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. Mayor Berke, a member of Chattanooga’s Jewish community was comfortable in the Federation setting and shared that he was not wearing a tie due to the well-known perils of ketchup. Picking up on the informality, Dees removed his own tie and listened, along with a packed house, to the mayor’s remarks.
When regional Native Americans convene in Chattanooga’s First Tennessee Pavilion, you’ll find me there, too. This year, the gathering seemed larger and more energetic than ever. I come to admire the colorful dress, hear the drum circle, and watch the dancing. The booths full of Native American arts and crafts are irresistible and my drawers are full of jewelry purchased there. I also come for the honor guard, a promenade of Native American veterans, police, firemen, and war mothers.
I am Lakweshia Ewing, a co-owner of Biz Boom Apps, LLC. I was born in Memphis into a life of poverty and all of the negative symptoms that it can bring along with it. It was always a dream to become a game-changing businesswoman and philanthropist so this early curiosity and an already successful family member willing to educate me on how to change the world through technology I dove in head first into the realm of technology known as the “Mobile Market” as a co-owner of Biz Boom Apps, LLC. It was the desire of Biz Boom Apps to provide the small business world with a mobile solution that is a one-stop-shop for all of its marketing and communication needs.