I failed to heed this advice from a friend: “Don’t mess with political discussions in the family,” and learned the hard way what can happen when wise counsel collides with actual experience. Without doubt, you’ve probably read your share of articles telling you to stay away from talking politics in the workplace and around the dinner table.
You see, what should have been an uneventful ride to the airport turned out to be anything but. The culprit? Politics or, more to the point, disagreement between the two of us on our firm political positions.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been in the news recently, for all the wrong reasons.
You see he was outed for having received millions of dollars’ worth of gifts over the last 20 years from billionaire Harlan Crow. With wife Ginny, globetrotting Thomas has been living the high life aboard a million-dollar yacht and on a private jet while puffing away on cigars, munching on caviar and sipping expensive wines.
Now what’s interesting is that once he got caught with his pants down and forced into the limelight, like a deer caught in the headlights Thomas pulled out his Sergeant Schultz defense, “I see nothing! I hear nothing! I know nothing!”
Some psychologists, linguists, feel-gooders, and progressive reframers want us right thinking people to seriously listen to those on the extreme right, consider their thoughts and feelings, and show empathy and compassion. This is supposed to be a route to mutual understanding, reconciliation, agreement on some issues, and a reduction in discord and violence. But is this really possible? I think it might be in a few isolated cases, if the practitioners on the left are skilled enough and the rightists open-minded enough. But the greater reality seems to be that many of those on the extreme right are white evangelical Christians who have strayed far from any real Christian beliefs. Some core Christian beliefs include feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, welcoming the stranger, and turning the other cheek. Continue reading The Devil, You Know – by Marc Brenman→
Well folks, darn, he’s back in the limelight. Ben Carson that is. Can’t say that we missed him. Last we heard was when he left his gig as a failure as Housing and Urban Director under the previous administration.
Now maybe I missed the memo but for the life of me I cannot recall any grandiose retirement parties on “doc’s” behalf at the White House – or while he threw down on caviar and grilled mushrooms at Mar-a-Lago – before he slipped off to who knows where. What I do recall were high fives, fist bumps, “good riddance” and other sighs of relief.
Vernon Jones and I are both African American. The only other thing we have in common that I’m aware of is that we are both graduates of HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) colleges 80 miles apart in North Carolina. But it is on those two facts that our similarities end. Period, I must add!
The truth is that I’ve observedJones over the past few years more out of curiosity turned mild amusement, turned comedic relief, than anything else. As with many politicians, when it comes to party affiliation and loyalty it is often political opportunism more than anything that explains their behavior. “Political chameleons” is one way to define them. So, it comes as no surprise to me that Jones, once a democrat is now a republican. Blind ambition can do that to a person.
“Hold up! Did Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell say what I thought he said?” rhetorically asked columnist Jonathan Capehart.
Well, yes, Jonathan, your ears didn’t lie. You heard what you heard. And if you are any person of color, neither did it come as a surprise.
Now as much as I’d like to cut McConnell some slack because of his “caught with his pants down” moment, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. In case you missed it, here is what he said when asked about concerns about voter participation by African Americans:
Some have called our “Me & Us First” politics as nationalism but I prefer to apply the label ‘tribalism’. In this COVID-19 environment, racial lines, regional preferences, current events and heavy political advertising, are not shaping public opinion as much as the identity of a specific community and the resonance of a leader to that community. Communities are built on religious and ethnic values, family preferences, housing patterns, and health habits. Their political choices have always been shaped by those cultural traits. With the economic fallout and the growing disparities in jobs and education, politics will become a complex mix of leadership styles that symbolize communities along with the body language, word choice, and facial expressions that resonate specific communities. Policy positions and biographical details will be less relevant as they are filtered through the lens of each group.
Many of us begin new jobs with hope, enthusiasm, commitment and drive. And then something happens. We come up across obstacles we struggle to navigate. Bosses we thought were champions go silent and become unavailable. Colleagues who should be supportive thought partners seem to be hoarding information and have no time for us.
It’s easy to blame ourselves, and even easier to blame someone else. But the truth is, it’s bigger than that. When people are brought together, they inevitably compete for limited resources. The problem is that resources are always limited whether it’s additional headcount, a promotion, a manager’s attention, or a runway for your new idea. And that competition is the definition of office politics.
What should I write about in these incredibly tumultuous times? It’s impossible to keep up with the Ukraine details. Then there’s asking China to investigate the Bidens when Donald Trump Jr. developed luxury condos in Indonesia with millions in cash from a China-owned construction business. And Reuters reports that Ivanka Trump’s Chinese trademarks include voting machines. How do we handle the just-joking defense, not to mention the bullying, denials, distractions, and denunciations? Despite everything, the reality will emerge. It will become a question of severity. Is this an impeachable offense or inappropriate behavior? My answer is yes to both. So now what?
When they first came to America, my parents, now Asian Americans, lived in a cramped apartment, first in New York, and then in Boston. My father likes to recount stories of how he would have to make multiple treks in the middle of New England snowstorms to buy diapers because they didn’t have enough money for bus fare.