Poem: The Speech


Common ground

must abound

for this country

to unite

and to set

founding notions right

Not you

against me

She vs. he

White is better

than Black

or pretend

global warming

is not a fact

Walls must fall

while we help

all who call

No matter tint

of skin

where preference

is no mortal sin

And believing

means freedom

the wisdom of truth

found in our

words

Not blurred

by hatred or fear

but once again

self-evident

we the people

are equal

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Poem: Speak Sweet


His words then

ring ring

true today

the voice that

speaks sweet

only time can solve race injustice

some said to him

It has not

Black ghost

talking before us

still

unheard

in winters of delay

When will The Dream come true?

destinies of Negro and White man tied together

Rip the bonds of inequality

and weave nets strong enough

to catch us all

as we come together

through time

 

Note: I am spending today listening to Martin Luther King Jr speeches, especially some I have never heard before. The words in italics are his.

Speak


As this Martin Luther King day approaches, I am compelled to contemplate (and write) about racism and bigotry in this country. With a president that feels he has the right to boast his hatred and utter his disregard for equality it is quite evident that some people still carry these sentiments most obviously.

But a book that I recently read: Tears We Cannot Stop, A Sermon to White America, By Michael Eric Dyson, made me look more deeply into the question of implicit racism. By definition found on the computer it means:  implicit racism includes unconscious biases, expectations, or tendencies that exist within an individual, regardless of ill-will or any self-aware prejudices.

He speaks to ‘whiteness’ in general, not in a way that is scolding, but in a way that most definitely made me look at my privileged life in this country as a white person. Of that there is NO doubt.

It is easy to notice things like what the president did and said: that this is racism/bigotry. But there are other signs that are less clear. The lines become blurred when looking at crime and how media portrays who commits them. Who do we feel as white folk are the criminals? Really, answer that question, then check the statistics. Or how do you feel when you walk down a dark street and people of color are near?

There are tests to see if you have implicit bias (or racism). The results may be surprising to you. I was scared when I took one, afraid that I might not be the person I thought I was or wanted to be. The result was fascinating actually. I guess it may depend on life experience and how much you really believe what you read and see on the news.

Dyson challenges white people in order to make this a world as Martin Luther King envisioned (and many others like him), then we must engage those who say racist things when we hear them. Sitting silent is as good as saying it ourselves. Let people know you won’t tolerate this kind of talk. Use it as a teaching moment if you hear folks spouting incorrect information about black people; let them know you know the truth.

This president is trying to worm his way out of the disgusting words he spoke recently and so will others. It is not being tolerated.

So in the words of MLK, speak up!

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

 

Ironic??


Is it ironic that I saw this Mockingbird perched upon the American flag  today: July 4th, 2017 given the state of our nation?

Maybe this bird understands something many folks seem to be missing these days….

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Meaning


It has been a week of contemplation and ultimately deciding to let go–surrender.

For months now I’ve been preparing (with the online course) and then trying to get a job here. For any of you out there  who have tried in recent years, you may know it’s no fun task. Online job searching and applying has become, it seems, like all our communication now: a distant and computerized grind. It takes anything remotely human out of the chore. There is no more going into a place (like a store for instance) and asking for an application, where maybe you might have a real person see you. Everything is handled by some invisible robot now.

So I have been reduced to my statistics, and sadly they aren’t good. And don’t believe the lies they tell you. This America we live in now (or maybe even before), isn’t the equitable place everyone may believe. No, it’s really about the bottom line. It’s not about knowledge or experience: age does not bring wisdom folks, it brings the fact that you may just cost too darn much. Or in their minds you might anyway.

It doesn’t seem to matter that younger folks may not have the savvy for a particular job, or the personal presence shall we say (at least in some instances). I’ve noticed that many of the ‘kids’ seem too busy checking their phones to really know how to talk to a real person. But bosses and companies don’t seem to mind this flaw as long as they can keep hiring these kids cheaply.

And I’m not even asking for a lot of money! I just wanted a job. So does my neighbor. But try as we might, we just keep getting rejections, no matter how stellar our resumes may look. So it was time for me to just take a breath, because honestly, my breathing was getting too rapid about the whole situation. I was getting Indeed.com anxiety. It was nuts!

Enough already.

During a meditation it came to me that it was time to give in. My arms were heavy from swimming against this current. Fair enough. So time to take another tactic.

I applied to volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Within 10 minutes they called me. I start tomorrow at 7 am. No, I’m not a good person. This totally isn’t about being generous. It’s about me. I won’t lie: this is doing something for me. I need to feel like I have meaning.

And it didn’t hurt to apply somewhere and have someone say yes.

Good Americans


I had a discussion at work today with someone about what makes a good American. Well actually, I’m not so sure it was a ‘discussion’, but rather me defending the fact that I was a good American in a different way than this person.

This ‘talk’ started around the lowering of the flag for Mandela which this person didn’t believe we should do because he wasn’t from this country. He feels that only dignitaries and important people from America should be honored by such a gesture. He was a marine and feels the flag has special meaning, but implied had particular meaning especially to him.

I took offense to this honestly. And it raised questions in my mind, just what does make a good American? While I certainly understand why he feels such pride having served our country, and I would by no means diminish that–I feel there are other ways in which people do honor to this country.

He made the point, and strongly, that many men and women die for our country overseas, and the flag doesn’t go up and down for them. Yes, I do understand that for sure. But they are honored with flags of their own and in other ways. I tried to explain to him how Mandela stood out as a human being and how he saved a whole country from war. I am not saying an individual life isn’t any less important, but when one person particularly shines, then an allied country can pay tribute.

Maybe I did not enlist in the service, but I do service every day.  I have been a vegetarian for 37 years and therefore cut my carbon footprint considerably. That means I don’t tax the resources as much in this country. I’ve also been an athlete so I stay healthy and thereby don’t put a burden on the healthcare system like most Americans. I recycle and have way before it was fashionable and compost too.

More importantly I try to be kind to my fellow human, no matter what race, socio-economic background or religion. Would I die for my country and freedom? If push came to shove, I would.  I personally believe in trying to work things out peacefully, but I don’t think that makes me less of an American.

Some people choose to be soldiers that carry guns. Others of us are soldiers that use words to change things one person at a time. Our way is much less noticeable at times, can be frustrating and certainly isn’t always as immediately as convincing as pointing a gun at someone. But people do die for their words or go to jail for many, many years. And for their beliefs.

So no, I don’t carry a gun and I didn’t enlist to fight for my country, but I do always fight for what’s right! Equality, peace, justice, freedom for everyone, ending hunger and poverty, and spreading love. Sometimes the people with the biggest guns don’t even remember why they were carrying them.