a thousand words

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


There is something in the Trayvon Martin case bigger than the death of an innocent boy, bigger than even the conspiracy that let his killer go free for 47 days.

The light is on again.  That mental radiance that illuminates the un-forgiven sin of our nation, the nuclear bomb of perceived racial inferiority, the subjugation of hearts and minds to the casual affliction of bias that permeates our culture.  For this, we all suffer without regard to race or color, culture or creed. 

I do not call for action, or prayers, nor do I ask for donations or pledges that are forgotten as soon as Facebook is clicked off.  I don't need to.  We all have skin in this game and no one can walk away from this after it becomes last week's "news-tainment" or a hyperlink at the bottom of an internet page.

I just ask for a moment to consider your place in the vastness of humaniy and know that we all make a difference-- if only we dare.  

Human beings have the greatest conviction of any species on the planet.  And Americans live in the nation with the most freedom and yet we abdicate that gift for the complacency of sheepish behavior.  Well, all I can say is, men eat sheep and make clothes of their skin.  We must stand against the cultural lies that give fuel to the Norman Wolfingers, Chris Lees and Judge Robert Zimmermans who in turn enable and protect the George Zimmermans to commit murder motivated by those same cultural lies.

I will not let the dead become a footnote to my humanity or the “snooze button” on the clock of my righteous indignation.

Trayvon is dead.

Zimmerman is arrested.

And I dare to challenge all the reasons why it happened.

I dare.

Copyright 2012


In The Aftermath Of The Controversial Case, We Find That The Dangerous Notion Which Killed A Boy And Holds Us All Captive Still Lives. 

 I tried. I really did. I wanted to let George Zimmerman's arrest be the end of it for me, but in the wake of the case, a very disturbing thing has happened. Pundits have been discussing the case and many journalists, including Piers Morgan and the great Bob Schieffer have shown a remarkable ignorance when it comes to understanding why people are so upset about the death of this boy. 

And then Acura, making a car commercial with Jerry Seinfeld, calls for a black man but "not too dark." Then I realized that I couldn't do it-- Because of the idea. A notion has been planted in the brain of America, just like they did in the film Inception. It's an old idea, one that has been nurtured and supported by everything from ancient writings to Twitter. This idea that black people are inferior is at the heart of every other bigoted notion about us. 

 This lie was created to justify sin and fortified over the years. It is ingrained within the basic imagery of color, that anything dark is bad and everything light is good, which is sadly one of the basic building blocks of our mind's perception. In children's stories, no black knight ever wins and no white knight ever loses. 

The Trayvon Martin and O.J. Simpson cases show what a deep divide still remains in our culture and how under all of our civilized behavior, the inception lives and flourishes as we push ever forward to our future.

O.J. Simpson was a black man who was famous and was exalted by all races. Then he was charged with killing two white people. And the notion was that this violent tendency was always in him, dormant and born of natural causes.

George Zimmerman is a man with violence, recklessness and insecurity in his past. But when he killed a black man, the perception by many is he did this not because of his natural tendencies but because of his perception of the victim's natural tendencies. And his perception comes from the inception of the idea that black men are inherently inferior, violent and dangerous. In both cases, you have black men, one accused of murder, the other dead by murder but both held in contempt based on preconceived notions that have been supported by all of society (and yes, that includes us black folk). And just as dangerous as "the black man is always guilty" inception is the one that says all black men are somewhow or in some way, wrongly accused. 

In the end, we are left to our morality for these judgments and I must say we are sorely lacking in this area. To me at least, the field is in clear vision: Zimmerman is as guilty as O.J. and Trayvon was as innocent as Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. 

So to all the people out there who don't understand why people are upset, think just a moment before you embarrass yourself like Piers Morgan and Bob Schieffer did. Think about the fact that no man has a right to feel so threatened by the mere presence of another that murder is justified. And understand also that the racism and mistreatment of our people is never an excuse for criminal behavior. 

I don't know if we can ever undo this inception, even as you read this, people are fortifying it in the media and pop culture and feeding it to their children. But we are the governor's of our hearts and minds and in this, we can do anything. In closing, let me plant the only idea that really matters: 

We are all just human. 

Copyright 2012


People have been stonily silent since the midterm elections. So I will say what everyone is thinking. The President has missed the mark. And here's why he missed it.

The idea.

In the film Inception, a mind-bending movie about the subconscious, a man says that a simple idea is the most powerful thing in the world. Then they set about implanting an idea in the mind of a powerful man.
Two years ago, something else powerful was implanted in the minds of America, especially Black America.
A symbol.
Symbol (symb’l) n 1. Something that stands for or represents something else, especially an object representing an abstraction. 2. An object or act that represents an impulse or wish in the unconscious mind that has been repressed.
Dig the definition, “representing an abstraction” or “a repressed wish.” So a symbol is a vessel, which is filled with whatever an individual wants.
It is important to remember this definition, as I am about to talk badly about some revered symbols.
The Emancipation Proclamation was a symbol, a law that “freed slaves.” Of course it didn’t. Faith, determination, courage, politics, a war with 620,000 deaths did.
Jackie Robinson’s symbolic integration killed the Negro Leagues, ending the threat that the black teams; some partially owned by blacks would merge with the MLB.
The MLK Holiday became the symbol for the promise of continued equality and progress. It became law in 1983 and then the 1990’s saw the most devastating reversal of fortune in the history of Black America.
And then in the new millennium, we were given the greatest symbol in perhaps a century: the first Black President.
And now after two short years, the President has been hobbled and even labeled a failure by some. His party has lost political control by historic margins and he has been called out by such progressive stalwarts as Michael Moore, Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, John Stewart, Bill Maher and George Soros. Even zen master Deepak Chopra has called him out. (I am waiting for Bambi and Papa Smurf to slam him next)
There have been a lot of theories about why this has happened. I of course, have the real answer and it has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with symbolism.
Obama was the symbol for all the things that Blacks and young progressive whites had been waiting for. He came with black skin and a "white" brain, a black wife and a white history. But he meant something different to each group.
To Blacks he was a warrior, the ultimate proof of equality, acceptance and an end to the theories of black inferiority. To whites, he was the essence of their subconscious presumption of black nobility, likened to the imagery of the Magic Negro, the man who carries virtue in his right hand and forgiveness in the other and who will break his back fixing your mess.
Obama was the perfect symbol: the abstraction of hope and the repressed wish of change.
But he did not deliver on either promise to either group by doing what every President before him did, playing the same D.C. game and not giving anyone the only thing that ever matters: to call bullshit on it all.
The President went on to accomplish many things but none of them resonated with young voters and Blacks who felt left out.
So what could he have done? Well, anything that guts the D.C. game would probably not pass in congress but in failure he would have won the hearts of Americans who want to stop spendthrift government and greedy, selfish corporate politics.
How about if you ship a job overseas, you have to create two here or we hit you with a penalty that goes to job creation? What about if a soldier dies in a war, we send his kids to college for free? Or maybe an actual, real discussion about race?
So maybe none of these ideas are good but that’s one of the hundreds of reasons I could never be President. But I do know this, all the people wanted was a sign, a gesture to hold on to.
Ironically, we needed a symbol.

Copyright 2010