Thursday, December 31, 2009

This Right Here...

There was a time when I automatically thought the police were the good guys.

I guess it was probably back in elementary school. You know, sitting in D.A.R.E. class, singing the cool anti-drug song, competing for cheap prizes; the police seemed cool back then. Cool guns, cool uniforms, just all around cool.

It's funny how things change as you get older.

The police went from protectors to predators as I aged. Maybe that's not the case for everybody, but it's true for me and far too many other people. Our fantasies of Officer Friendly tend to fade into the ether shortly after we realize that no fat white man delivers gifts in the 'hood.

I was thinking about the police and their role in our society recently after I read this article about some truly heinous police behavior in Pennsylvania. The story talks about the corruption and abuse that reigned in one small town police department, and how it ultimately may have cost one man his life. It's a chilling story.

Chilling, but, sadly, not surprising.

Protect and serve is a lie that sounds true. Seriously, how many of us truly believe that the police are here to protect and serve our interests? I'm not saying they don't protect and serve somebody, but I don't think it's me and you. At least not most of us. I think the police were created to protect the interests of the wealthy, and while they may at times protect the poor, working and middle classes, their ultimate job remains the same. Protect those with the most to lose.

When you examine things from that angle, it all makes sense. It makes sense why the police so frequently profile certain communities, it makes sense that they selectively enforce certain laws. It's not about service or true protection. It's about establishing a protection racket where all of us pay for pseudo-protection from an armed group that closely resembles the thugs they are supposed to be battling. A group given the right to make split second decisions about life and death by the same people who they may kill.

The entire system is built on trust and ignorance. I guess you could call it ignorant trust. Most of us are ignorant about how police departments do their jobs, and thus we are operating on blind trust that they will do what's best for all of us. And this is despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

What happened in that small Pennsylvania town may sound heinous and somewhat unbelievable, but really it's not that different from what happens all over this country everyday. Too often police officers are rapists, murderers, liars, thieves and worse.

Even those that are "honest" still have serious issues. Many of them have warped and twisted the law all while justifying their behavior by telling us it's what keeps us safe. And like sheep, we allow ourselves to be herded towards a future where the group with the guns will rule completely over those of us who are unarmed.

That right there pisses me off, and it worries me. The whole operation troubles me, just as any situation with an obvious imbalance of power concerns me. I can see which direction this enterprise is tilting towards, and it's not pretty.

It's not pretty for any of us.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

back soon

short break back soon

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Y'all

A baby was born, only God knows when

His purpose was clear, to eradicate sin

He hung, bled and died, upon a wooden cross

While His mother and friends cried, the world trembled with loss

The story doesn't change, neither does the gift

For in three days He rose, and healed an ancient rift

There is no Christmas without His sacrifice

Though the world has made Him a vice

Family and peace are great to cherish

But without embracing His love, they all will perish

When you stand among the wrappers, this year's gifts exposed

Remember the love, remember the pain, remember the holes

The ones in His hands that match those in your life

Don't embrace Christmas, without finding Christ.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Everywhere Y'all


Monday, December 21, 2009

Going Out and Coming In

Strange what we don't learn.

Recently, I was shocked to learn how many adults didn't know how to create and manage a budget. As an official graduate of CBU, or Cheap Bastard University, I've been keeping some sort of budget since I was a little kid. My pops recently told me I've been tight with a dollar since I first learned what dollars were.

But, like many married folks, I've learned that different folks have different strokes. I've had to teach my wife about budgets and budgeting, about comparison shopping and many other financial matters. Honestly, it's still a work in progress. From what I can tell, this is a common battle in marriages across the country, since financial strife is one of the main causes of divorce in this country.

I thought about this on two occasions recently. The first was while sitting in a pew at church and listening to my pastor beg young couples to come to him for counseling on money matters and other issues before they considered divorce. He noted that he was no financial guru, but he understood how to put together a simple budget showing revenues and expenditures. Seems this a lost art.

The idea of a making a budget also came up on a news program about some elementary and middle school kids being taught financial life skills. The kids were given pretend money and then asked to run a computer program that showed them how to make a household budget and pay bills. Seemed like a useful class in my opinion.

What is puzzling, at least to me, is the fact that so many people are having to turn to folks other than their parents to get basic financial advice. I learned about checking accounts and interest from my parents, who learned from their parents and their mistakes.

I wonder what it says about our country that this basic information is not being passed along by every parent to every child. Does that mean most people have no idea how to manage money? Does that mean they don't think this is valuable information to pass along to their children? Or, does it mean that kids just don't listen?

Actually, it's a little of all three.

As a parent, I know that children don't listen and it starts young. As a former child, I know I often thought my parents had no idea what they were talking about when it came to lots of issues. So yes, I'm sure there are some parents who try to give their kids financial advice and find themselves rebuffed.

Yet, I've got to believe the real problem is parental ignorance about finances or wariness about sharing financial information with their children. I grew up in a family where we talked about money. How it was earned, how it was spent and how it was saved. My parents weren't financial wizards, but they understood that man who doesn't have a decent understanding of the basics of money management is headed for disaster. But, I've learned that some parents are leery about sharing their finances with their kids, or they themselves have developed poor financial patterns.

For those with poor financial patterns, it's an uphill battle with little shortcuts. But, for those folks who just don't want their kids all up in their business, you need to get over yourself. You are your children's model. If they don't learn about negotiating interest rates or balancing a checkbook from you, where will they learn it?

Like my pastor, I'm shocked that people don't realize you can't spend more money than you make. I mean, where the hell do folks think money comes from; a tree in the backyard? (I sound like my parents with that one...) When did paying your bills on time and not overspending become so difficult? Maybe it's always been difficult and I just never noticed.

I'm not saying I'm perfect when it comes to money management, but I think I'm prudent. Plus, it seems like most of the marital arguments over money should be easily resolved, but can't be fixed because people have such different ideas about what is an acceptable lifestyle.

Some folks believe that life is unbearable if they aren't able to do most of what they want to do whenever they want to do it. Others believe that life is about sacrifices and choices. When these two people meet, there will be problems.

Problems going out and problems coming in.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Questions, Come On, The Questions...

1. Why do white racist have so many black friends?"

Because the black people don't know about it?

2. If America is post-racial, why do I still see so much racism?

Are you wearing your colorblind contacts? Now, isn't that better?.

3. Honestly, why do all the black kids sit together in the cafeteria?"

I don't know. Why dont't you ask all the white kids at their tables?

4. Why are you so focused on race anyway? We're all humans.

Cool, can you tell that to this loan officer and the cop waiting by my car?

5. Are all black people as angry as you?

Do you talk to all black people

6. Say, can I touch your hair?

I don't know, are we in a zoo?

7. Why are black people always blaming everything on whitey?

You got a better suspect?


Friday, December 18, 2009

Mic Check

Skip the lights and cameras, I stay on

Got y’all queueing up to get your minds blown

Christmas time so I'm dropping jewels

Pity the fools that miss these tools

The rest of y'all, “Take that, Take that”

Like I was Diddy

Enjoy the lyrical "Massacre"

But, don’t call me Fiddy

My mental “Magic Stick” is a billy club

Intellect “So Fresh and So Clean”

This Big Boi don’t need dubs

But, I’ll take a little love

Always gonna need that

Clinging to my lioness and cubs

Eff a Tiger chasing cat

Oh Big Man, why you go there?

Why not? Let’s be clear

That cheetah gets no pity

Inkspot, fishing for love

In an ocean of pale titties

Just like Moby Dick got slain

Golf’s pet Tiger found pain

Next time he’ll remember, the power of names

Guess he Cablinigga now,

Matter of fact, always was…

What up cuz?


Monday, December 14, 2009

You Should Know Better

Take some time and check out this story.

Bunch of interesting things to discuss there, so let's get cracking. I'll tell those of you who are link averse that the story is about a North Carolina city councilman who is having to fight for his job because he doesn't believe in God. Now, go read the article so you understand what I'm about to talk about.

1. If you read the article, you'll notice that Councilman Atheist is quoted as saying he's really not that interested in contemplating the existence or non-existence of God, and definitely doens't think that is relavent to his job as a politician. While I agree with the latter sentiment, I have some problems with the former.

Let's be clear. It's impossible to be an atheist and not contemplate the existence of God. If you're an atheist, which this guy is quoted as identifying as, then that means you've thought about whether God existed and decided you are on Team No God. That's fine, it's your life. But, don't insult my intelligence by telling me you don't even think it's worth considering. That means you think I can't think logically or read for comprehension.

I don't know if this was a mistake made by the reporter, or Councilman Atheist, but somebody plainly thought it would be cool to minimize the importance of God, while at the same time taking a stance that God doesn't even exist. Agnostics can claim they don't really think about whether God exists, atheists cannot. Atheists have made a choice. Man up and stand by your choice.

2. The article notes that many states have crazy laws on the books that conflict with the Constitution, and that people have to go to court to see them abolished. Am I the only one bothered by that?

I mean, isn't it possible that someone could decided to re-institute the institution of slavery based on some obscure state law, and force a lengthy court battle before they would be required to free their slaves? Sure, that's unlikely, but 30 years ago the Internet was unlikely.

Maybe I'm tripping, but I find it ridiculous that there are scores of stupid laws lingering on the books that permit people to do mischief. The article says state legislatures don't have time to work on removing those laws. That's bogus. If they have time to pass proclamations recognizing random rappers and sports teams, they have time get rid of laws outlawing fellatio. Seems like a much better use of time to me.

3. Final point here. What type of black person is pushing for people to be barred from public office over something like their belief in God? Seriously, wouldn't that seem like a red flag to a black person whose ancestors previously could't hold office because of their skin color?

I know, I know, skin color is not the same as atheism. That's true. But, at its core, this law basically punishes those folks who are minorities and prevents them from fully participating in society. And not because their actions have a real affect on people's lives because atheism ultimately is going to be a problem for you, not me. I mean, you could make the flawed argument that atheists make the world a worse place, but really, there are a LOT of people who make the world a worse place, and I don't see them being barred from public office.

This just seems like an attempt to punish folks who think differently. Matter of fact, I wonder how these Christians would feel if the tables were turned and there were laws barring Christians from holding public office. Actually, I don't have to wonder how most Christians would feel since these same people already complain that they can't pray in school. (Although, that must be a white thing because every public black school I have attended included prayers in every ceremony. Every, single, one.)

Seems like a black person would intuitively grasp the problem with taking a stance punishing a vulenerable minority, but I guess some folks are just oblivious like that. Strangley, the dude leading the charge was a former director for the NAACP, so you would think he would be more sensitive. Then again, I've heard people say that the NAACP is one of the most conservative black organizations in the country.

I guess folks just don't know better.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

About That Stroke

This cat whose website I visit said something interesting the other day.

Preaching is masturbatory.

Made me take a step back and consider. We were talking about whether it's important to craft a message that most people can understand and use. I'm of the mindset that it is, he's of the mindset that it's more important to craft a message the feels good to you. He said he's about message creation, not preaching, so he's not really concerned with sparking action or changing minds.

Then he dropped that quote.

I've listened to many sermons in my lifetime. Both in church and out. I've seen folks frothing at the mouth about all sorts of issues from the deeply religious to the deeply secular. Preaching is more than just talking about God, it's talking about anything with an amazing zeal and a desire to change minds and hearts.

But, is it masturbatory?

I had my own internal idea of what masturbatory meant, but I decided to check out the dictionary definition to get something as well. Here's how the folks at Merriam Webster defined the word:

1 : of, relating to, or involving masturbation
2 : excessively self-absorbed or self-indulgent

No doubt, that describes certain preaching by certain preachers, but I don't think it encompasses the whole genre. Sure, there are cats who might as well whip out Mr. Willy and stroke him up in full view of the congregation when they are giving their sermon, but I've also seen many other preachers who can touch you with their sincerity and desire to reach people.

See, when I think of preaching, I think of spreading a message. Spreading a message so fervently that others find themselves compelled to learn more about what you're discussing. The best preachers are not trying to make themselves feel good, they're trying to direct you towards something they are convinced will make your life better.

Of course, that doesn't mean that preaching doesn't make you feel good. I don't know exactly what preachers feel since I'm not a preacher, but, I have an idea. I know how I feel when I've discussed certain issues with folks and I can see them finally "getting it."

Watching that light bulb go off feels good because you realize you've succeeded, and also because you know now there's one more ally in the fight. I remember breaking down the racist way ESPN handles sports news to a couple of homies, and watching them go from laughing off my concerns to slowly nodding their heads was a big moment. Sure, it makes me feel good, but just because something feels good doesn't make it "excessively self-indulgent." That's a whole different ball game.

Masturbation is an event solely designed to please one individual. Preaching is a different kind of stroke.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Just a Little Self Love

Hat tip to the homie Denmark Vesey, with a secondary shout out to poster Crystal Was Chosen.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

And The Beat Goes On

Sitting in the pew Sunday a little surprised.

Pastor is really agitated. Seems like there is some trouble brewing in God's House and, like most preachers, he's addressing it directly from the pulpit. Calling folks out for being divisive, for being gossips, for being close-minded. Then he's apologizing if he offended anyone without knowing it. Looks like some real mess popped off the week my wife and I were away from church visiting family.

So, I'm sitting there wondering why church people love mess, when my pastor really lets loose. He's talking about men leaving their families. He's calling on young couple to come to him for counseling before their marriages implode. He's begging the church to rally around each other and be the support we all need.

Now, I'm listening for real.

My married folks know what's up. It's not until you join the fraternity that you realize what really goes into remaining a member of MFL (Married For Life.) The fights discussions, the yelling loud discussions and the illogical debates talks about feelings. That's just the tip of the iceberg. I firmly believe that while you can prepare for marriage before you exchange the rings, you really are not going to understand what it's about until you're knee deep in your first argument with your wife. As you're standing there trying to decide if a jury of your peers would really convict you, then you'll realize the truth.

This thing ain't for the faint-hearted.

Tiger Woods and his marriage are in the news. Before him, Michael Jordan, and Bill Clinton and Kobe Bryant all took their turn in the infidelity and marriage limelight. (Look how I through Bill in with the brothers. At least he's still the first black something...)

I'm not here to justify Tiger's adultery. Nor am I here to pile on more insults. It's not that I don't see something wrong with Tiger's behavior, I do. Nor am I overwhelmed with sympathy for his public flogging. Homeboy should be able to handle it. Yet, I also can't work up too much anger for what he did mainly because I'm always sad when I see a marriage flame out. Whether it's the marriage of a billionaire golfer, or the marriage of a young church member, the pain still exists.

Life is hard for married couples. Sometimes, when I'm particularly down, I wonder if Paul had it right when he said it was better to stay single and celibate than tie yourself down to the ball and chain forever. Then again, I would be a lying fool if I thought I was going to stay single and celibate. I ain't built like that.

I'm always astounded at the folks who maintain thriving marriages without the use of God. I know for me, my faith and my commitment to God is one of the main reasons I'm willing to stay married when it seems like it would be easier to let things fall apart. For folks to handle the trials and tribulations without the massive rock I depend upon is admirable.

Often, it seems like the idea of melding two individuals into one married working unit is idiocy. Two people, often with very different worldviews, are going to join forces to do battle against the wiles of the enemy, all while trying to figure out how to stay enamored with each other? And raise children? We might as well jump the Grand Canyon on a mini-bike since we're shooting for the moon.

Yet, despite the grim news about marriage statistics, folks still make it. Couples grow old together. They grow old and HAPPY together. Even if they can't learn to love each other's faults, they manage to learn learn that the benefits they get from their union far outweigh the costs. They learn that there is beauty in marriage, there is strength in preserving a union. Eventually, they learn that it was all worth it.

Because the beat goes on.


Monday, December 7, 2009

And All The Trappings...

My little brother sent me a news article the other day.

It was about this cat who ran a Ponzi scheme, and was spending his last few months of freedom stuck in his $10 million Manhattan apartment. The guy'sscheme was similar to all the Ponzi schemes that are being exposed these days; he took people's money and promised them a lot more.

See, Bernie Madoff may be most recognizable thief in the financial world, kind of like Jayson Blair in journalism, but he's far from the only scam artist operating. Every week I get a report about large and small Ponzi schemes being operated by smooth talking, suit-wearing, older white men.

Clearly the 00s were a con man's paradise.

Anyway, the story my brother sent me ran in Vanity Fair and kind of profiled this guy, who was a lawyer and who managed to steal several hundred million dollars. The old guy, Mark Drier was his name, used Vanity Fair's national platform to explain how he got caught up in trying live the lifestyle he and everybody else wanted him to live, but that he couldn't afford on his regular salary. Basically, he stole because other people expected him to be a baller, and he wanted to meet expectations.

The trappings of success.

The Bible says that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life are the Devil's three main ways of tripping up all mankind. I think if all of us take a few seconds to ponder those three categories, we can see that almost all sin is related to them in some way. Better yet, if we scan the daily headlines, we can see real life examples of how they work.

What's surprising is that despite our knowledge of how we will be attacked, so many of us still fall victim to Satan's schemes. I imagine him laughing at how the same old tricks manage to confound every new generation of mankind. He's like a wily old pitcher throwing a knuckleball. You know it's coming, you have some idea about how it works, but yet you still can't handle it. Swing and a miss sucker.

The dude in the Vanity Fair article admitted that he knew what he was doing was wrong, but said he just felt like he needed all those things to be successful. The house in the Hamptons, the foreign cars, the property, and all the other trappings of wealth. He needed those things like junkies need smack.

I wrote a blog a few months back about the plague of materialism in our world. It doesn't appear that things are getting any better, despite the recent recession that should have made us all reevaluate our lifestyles. Instead of people changing their lifestyles, they're just finding more and more creative, and often illegal, ways to get more things. Everybody is so caught up in what they have, they aren't paying attention to what it takes to get it.

It seems like the trappings of success often are really just a trap.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Word Is Born

“But if I feel powerless in society, if I feel like I can’t get a fair shake from my government, and feel cut off from my neighbors, it affects how I live my life. Small disagreements and indignities that you may otherwise brush off as insignificant can enrage you, and can in some cases lead to violence and murder.”

Sometimes Truth just smacks you in the face.


"Wake your stupid butt up and recognize, son. This right here is Truth, and if you wanna get your mind right, it's time to recognize."

Damn, don't you knock Truth?

"Dawg, what I look like knocking? This is my house, you just a renter.

Straighten up sucker, it's about to be hectic. You think cats been dying, you ain't seen nothing yet. Obama can't save you and even Jesus might let you rot. They told you that if you the poverty and healthcare things would be cool. They claimed that if you just built more prisons and hired more cops, everything would be perfect.

Guess what? They a damn lie. And that's coming from the Truth"

I don't get it Truth, what are you talking about? You come in here slapping folks, and spouting gibberish... What's really good?

"Do I have to spell it out for you dummy? Check the hyperlink again, read the words of the egghead. All that jive lames been spitting about why cats keep killing is bogus. The conservatives are wrong, and the liberals ain't right.

According to this world class egghead from Ohio, all of y'all are missing the point and falling short. As an O.G. from Baltimore once said 'You want it to be one way, but it's the other way...' Ya'll want it to be simple and specific, but it's bigger than that. "

How big Truth?

"Bigger than you can handle Chump...

It's about belonging, it's about trust and it's about confidence. Even Ray Charles and Helen Keller's baby could see that all three of those things are in short supply these days.

Truth be told, for black folks they've been in short supply since forever, but that's another story. The point is, if folks ain't trusting and believing, they gonna be killing. Get it?"

I think so. But, why take the word of this egghead? Every egghead got a new theory, why you so sure about this one?

"Cause I got eyes. My eyes work well. Truth been feeling this way for a minute, but didn't have the words to express it. I didn't have the facts to back up my feelings.

But my guts been bubbling, and it ain't because of those collard greens my momma cooked for Thanksgiving. I could see the other explanations were too small, but I couldn't see why. Now I see it.

If folks don't buy in, they gonna start feeling like their life and the life of everybody else means nothing. Poverty can make you opt out. Drugs can make you opt out. Racism, anger and depression can make you opt out. But the real problem is opting out. Cats are opting out every day, and that's why they dying."

So, what do we do Truth? How do we create that belonging?

"Boy, my name is Truth, not The Answer. That little dude is back in Philly, and I doubt he even cares about what we talking about since it's time for him to start balling again. Cross 'em over for me Bubba Chuck!

My bad. Bottom line, I ain't got the answers, but I do recognize the truth. Once the truth is exposed, it ain't but a matter of time. I gave you the truth, now you do your job. Got it?"



Tinseltown's Tyranny

Y'all see the clips for this new movie starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon? I believe it's called "Invictus."

I haven't read anything about it, just saw the trailer a few times, but I've already made up my mind about its gist. Yep, I was able to glean the entire point of the movie from a few 30-second trailers.

White people save the world, again.

I don't know anything about South Africa's rugby (thanks Darth) team, but from what I do know about South African history and the movie business, I think I can make some accurate guesses. The movie will focus on the period right after Nelson Mandela took office as South Africa's president following the decades of horrible apartheid. It will show how he struggles to move his country past its brutal history in the face of resistance from a small minority of evil whites and black folks bent on revenge. He will also combat corruption and incompetence by black folks.

To move forward, he will lean on a white rugby player and his teammates who will serve as symbols of virtue and perseverance for the country. The players will initially be concerned about playing for what is now a "black country" but will overcome their prejudices, learn to love their fellow man, and possibly get some nookie. (Not black nookie though, that would be too much.)

Morgan Freeman will provide us with some great, if general, Mandela quotes designed to inspire without challenging the status quo and we will all go home happy about the world.

The End.

How can I be so sure about the way this movie will play out? Well, let's just say I've see it all happen before.

I'm what you might call a connoisseur of "White People Save The World" cinema. It doesn't matter that "Invictus" was partially masked as a movie about a black hero and a black country. I could tell immediately from the incredible amount of time Matt Damon spends on screen during the trailer that this was going to be another movie about the glory of white folks. I have a special sense about these things.

Not to mention that Morgan Freeman, the Magical Negro to rule all Magical Negroes, is one of the co-stars of the movie. When was the last time you saw a Morgan Freeman movie where he wasn't a Magical Negro? I think you would have to go all the way back to "Brubaker" and then he was the Crazy Negro, which is basically the Magical Negro on steroids. Freeman has driven Miss Daisy, he played a milkmanesque God to Jim Carrey's Bruce Everyman, and he was the HNIC when the world ended thanks to a meteor. If you need a Magical Negro, Morgan Freeman is who you call as long as you don't have any fertile, young granddaughters hanging around.

It was really smart of them to market this movie as a way of giving us the story we didn't know. I mean, don't most Americans already know all there is to know about Nelson Mandela and what he went through? I'm sure Mandela'sstory has been the focus of dozens of movies. Who needs that rehash when there is a better story about white people saving the world. That's the real story no matter what the circumstances may be.

Isn't it amazing how you can find examples of white people saving the world in every situation in world history? I wonder how the rest of us managed without them. And God forbid they should die out one of these days, or go off into space, the entire social structure would collapse. Good thing we have Hollywood to remind us of exactly how wonderful white people are, or we might get restless and take them for granted.

It's good to know who is the master of our fates and the captain of our souls.


Raving Black Lunatic