"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Losing the RACE: My Trayvon Martin Take (3.28.12)

I wrote this piece on March 28, 2012. After last night's verdict my opinion hasn't changed concerning the case and the issue of race. The only thing that I would add is that the "special" prosecution should be embarrassed and held accountable for falling prey to a politically motivated agenda that was centered around race baiting and racial fears, and not the facts. The facts supported manslaughter not 2nd degree murder. They, the special prosecution, should've known better and if they didn't know better they were over their collective heads in the positions they held. Nobody won yesterday. I would also like to say for our President, a man I deeply admire and respect, to comment about that case at the time he did showed a high level of irresponsibility on his part. His words indirectly and directly raised the level of concern in the case and aided the prosecution in becoming dizzy and drunk with the visions of a politically favorable and unrealistic verdict without the evidence to support such an outcome. Sad day in America for everyone involved.

Senseless: destitute or deprived of sensation; unconscious. Lacking mental perception, appreciation, or comprehension. Stupid or foolish, as a persons or actions.

Trayvon Martin
2.5.95 - 2.26.12

Track is a beautiful sport. 

Many times as I watch my son run track I'm amazed at the graceful athletic ability, mental toughness and unbelievable physical stamina one must have to compete in this sport at a high level. The true essence of the sport is embodied in the fact that countless hours are spent in training only to have fractions of a second separate first from last; winning versus losing. 

I believe the same to be true when analyzing the differences we have with our fellow man concerning most of the issues that hold our country hostage, depriving maximum growth; individually and collectively. 

We often have more in common than we care to realize or objectively recognize.

The tragic death of Trayvon Martin is no different.

Many of the people reading this right now are parents of a young boy, have a teenage brother or were a young teenager at one time. Some reading these words are grandparents to a high school aged boy, are the neighbor of a young boy or have had young teenage boys in their house.

In every instance - or at least it would be my hope - the goal is not to harm, but to love those children. Every parent is different, but we are all the same when it comes to our children; we want to insure their safety, provide them with the best opportunities to succeed and we never want to see them harmed or hurt.

I believe those qualities to be universal when it comes to being a parent.

We all want the best for our child. 
So as I reflect upon the tragedy that took place on February 26th of this year I'm saddened, perplexed and disappointed with the aftermath and the fallout from this senseless calamity.

In the end, I believe that there is very little that separates us as Americans concerning this issue no matter the reporting by the media stating otherwise or the agenda that is not so indirectly, or sublimely, peddled by those who would much rather divide us than unite us. 

I will say it again, "We have more in common than we realize"

Many, if not all of us, hold onto the same beliefs and entertain the same desires. The only difference is how we go about achieving them.

Much like the piece I wrote on Caylee and Casey Anthony last August my purpose and desire is not to spend time on the guilt or innocence of the gunman, the culpability of said gunman or victim, nor is it my intent to state my opinion as fact or as the final say, or provide a self-righteous judgment in the matter. 

I don't have all the answers and I'm pretty sure I don't have all the questions either.
My main goal is to share my perspective in a reasonable and rational manner, eliminating emotion as the only mental and logical faculty that I chose to entertain. In the end, if it's at all possible, I want to look at this horrible circumstance in a much larger context, not demeaning or brushing aside the death of the young boy, but gaining a greater understanding by evaluating if we really do have more in common when it comes to this tragic happening and in the larger subject matter; the issue of race in America.

When I look at the fallout from the Trayvon Martin death a few things come immediately to mind. 

Allow me to share.

The first thing that came to my mind when the story was first reported was the first thing that often comes to my mind when someone arrives at his/her final resting place and destination via avoidable violence; SENSELESS.
Whether it be Caylee Anthony, the 17 Afghans that were helplessly slaughtered by Robert Bales or Trayvon Martin, in each instance the violence was unwarranted and senseless; void of reason or any logic. Jeremiah 17:9 states; "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Matthew 15:19 goes on to say; "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." Both of these pieces of scripture give me a tremendous amount of perspective and considerable pause during times of seemingly senseless violence. The human heart is evil. Does this mean we all will go out kill someone tonight? Absolutely not. But what I believe is important to note is that the human heart has the ability to commit heinous acts, and cause great pain and distress for its fellowman. 

The incident concerning Trayvon Martin is a sad example of this fact.

In many instances in America when an unfortunate circumstance falls upon an individual or a community of people there is often a passionate voice that will be heard above the roar and disappointment. Often a figure will appear that stands upon the foundation that is called courage and emerges as a strong personality that will lead with vigilance and focus. The unfortunate thing is that in the area of race relations, and issues concerning race, the exploitation, and political agenda, is as important, if not more, than the troubling issue or circumstance at hand. Too many times an unfortunate situation that occurs with racial overtones will often become the new rhetorical staring point to refine and define speaking points that promote an agenda of division and create an opportunity for a specific segment of society to embrace the victimhood rhetoric over a potential victorious outcome.

The "Misery Merchants", as Tammy Bruce refers to them in her book; "The New Thought Police", are people like Jesse Jackson, Julian Bond, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan and Congresswomen Maxine Waters who's constant message and theme is based upon "perpetual victimhood, the myth of rampant racism, the myth of hate crimes and the myth of a conspiracy among whites to keep blacks down."

I agree. 

Do I believe all of the accomplishments of the people I mentioned above have been self serving, void of any merit, and without any good and positive transformation? Absolutely not. Jessie Jackson, Julian Bond and Al Sharpton have been part of many positive movements that our country has benefited from. So with that being said, it is not my desire or intent to slander their character. At the end of the day, I don't know them personally and to cast stones of hatred and venom would be irresponsible, counter-productive and clumsy. Again, with that being said, I have also seen them operate in situations like Trayvon Martin before and I'm more than disturbed and disappointed by their actions, behavior and rhetoric once again.

Disappointed and disturbed, but not shocked. 
Do I believe there are people that have an agenda that is fueled by racism and have a desire to thwart the progress and success for people of color and for all minorities? Yes. Do I believe that there are hate crimes committed against minorities and people that are gay? Yes. The only difference is that I believe the people that think that way are a small portion of our society and represent what is wrong with America, and are in no way reflective of the majority of Americans today. The race demagogues of the 21st century would have you believe otherwise. Their agenda is based on a narrative that was produced during the 40's and 50's and the civil rights movements of the 60's. A narrative that was in pursuit of equal rights and a more color-blind society; a pursuit that was pure, noble and one that was greatly needed. The Civil Rights movement was I believe the greatest movement in our country's history, second only to the American Revolution. Both were movements; both were revolutions.

The problem today with the Misery Merchant version of a once noble narrative is that it is out dated.

There are no Jim Crow Laws, segregated bathrooms or schools. There are no wholesale "back of the bus" scenarios or illegal statutes concerning interracial dating or marriage. Are there still places in America that are unsafe for black person to go? You bet. Are there places that blacks are not wanted? Yes. But one must remember there are also places that are unsafe for whites to go and there are places other minority groups aren't welcome either.

Often we have more in common than we want to admit or recognize.

Today the rhythmic and rhyme laden divisive rhetoric that trumpets victimization is a dangerous model that is built upon division, hopelessness and helplessness; paranoia, and peddled by the Misery Merchants with the single goal being to hold onto the money, power and prestige that comes along with leading the supposedly downtrodden. Today's narrative doesn't work without a victim, sadly a black victim. 

Victimization has become an industry unto itself in Black America. 

I've always wondered where Reverend Jackson, Mr. Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan are when the little Casey Anthony's of the world and other white children of the country are senselessly murdered. You never see them taking up their cause? Why was it when the Duke Lacrosse team was unjustly and wrongly accused by a black female for rape the Misery Merchants didn't take up the young white male's cause when everyone found out the alleged victim was lying? In the end, not only did Reverend Jackson and his cohorts not speak out against the injustice, Jackson, to my knowledge, didn't offer a public apology for the tragic character assassination the young men at Duke endured in the media that was, part and parcel, of his doing. 

Chris Rock explained the reason we don't have a cure for the common cold is because there is no money in the cure. Our country spends $4.2 billion annually on over-the-counter products and that is 4.2 billion reasons why we don't have a cure for this annoying little health distraction. We can send an email to Australia in 5 seconds, but we can't figure out how to eliminate the common cold? The reason we don't have a cure is because it doesn't aid the pharmaceutical companies to create a cure; it harms them financially. 

Again, there is no money in the cure. 

The same can be said about the "Misery Merchants". They only come out when the (race) cards are stacked in their favor. They will always need a victim to create more victims and to divide everyone involved. When a white child dies senselessly the Misery Merchants don't see a victim they can use politically. Do I believe they are saddened by such a tragedy? Yes I do. Can taking a stand and a lead in the march against such atrocity(s) benefit Jackson and his partners? The answer is no. The reason being is because it has no ability to further their divisive agenda. This is also why little is done, very few opportunities are created for a photo-op and little grandstanding takes place when a black young male kills another black male (which occurs at the rate of 91% of the time in the African American community. I think it's important to note that white on white homicidal crime occurs 89%. The point being that people who live in close proximity to one another have a higher potential to act violently towards one another than people not living in the same neighborhoods. Violent crimes shows us how, still today, America is segregated when it comes to where black and white Americans chose to live. For the most part they live separately. Also, FBI numbers show that of ‘single offender victimization figures’ from the FBI for 2007 finds blacks committed 433,934 crimes against whites, eight times the 55,685 whites committed against blacks. By those 2007 numbers, a black male was 40 times as likely to assault a white person as the reverse.) because there is no money, power or political brokering that can be obtained, and because the agenda that is based upon racial victimization is canceled because the race card can't be dealt.

I will finish my beliefs of exploitation with this.

In order for the victimization agenda to be perpetuated there must be a victim and there must be a myth that is believed to be a reality. Case in point. Any media outlet that has a purely liberal agenda, and the Misery Merchants, will have you believe that most black people are poor, uneducated and in fear of racism. George Will, in his article "The Ultimate Emancipation", shared with the reader that only one in four black families is poor, and only one in five black people live in an inner city. It has also been reported in the past that there is an epidemic concerning the racist arson against black churches. The truth is there were seven times as many white churches burned as there were black churches burned during the time period of 1990 through 1997, the height of church burning in the last twenty years. Both instances are awful and unthinkable, but the only churches we heard about were the ones that ex-NFL great, Reggie White, rightfully spoke about.

Unfortunately, when we don't understand a situation or issue, and there is no search for the truth based on fact with the elimination of emotion, we often turn to our assumptions and ill-conceived perceptions when forming an opinion. And when we do that our opinion will ultimately lack credibility and validity right from the beginning.

In the end, it is a very dangerous platform to stand upon.

One last thing, in a 2000 National Opinion Poll, black American's, when polled about the issues that concern them the most, overwhelmingly stated that they were most concerned over poor schools, unaffordable housing and health care, crime, gun control and the economy. 

Racism came in at number 11 out 12 issues.

Racism is an important issue to tackle, but in no way should it define who we are as race or define every agenda we decide to pursue as a people. 

Agendas that are centered around the family breakdown in the African American community and a narrative that speaks adequately to the disturbing, and alarming, rate of black on black crime would be good areas to begin with. In order for this to take place accountability must be the clarion call of the day and it seems like no one, along with the Misery Merchants, wants to take a long hard look at some very troubling facts.

Accountability must be the first line of defense against continual failure in certain segments of the black community and it must be the new mode of thinking in order for healing to take place in many disenfranchised areas across this country.
In my opinion, another point that should be made, and vigorously reviewed, is the one that recognizes and acknowledges the issue of socioeconomic factors and the role they play. I like to refer to it as the "big green elephant that is in the corner of the room." It is my belief that if Treyvon was the son of Congressman Allen West, Dwayne Wade or Will Smith there would've been, rightly or wrongly, an arrest made in the case. As Bill O'Reilly would say: "that is complete conjecture, not fact", and with that statement I would agree, but the fact still remains the same; that is what I believe.

Most of the time the handling of these senseless and painful situations are more about money than they are about race.

Unfortunate, but I believe true.

In the end, I believe the death of Trayvon Martin to be saddening and sickening. I also believe it to be just as saddening and sickening to watch the Misery Merchants rushing to the scene to divide and capitalize on this tragic moment. 


I mentioned accountability earlier. The one thing that seems to be missing every time answers are needed and justice administered is accountability. Mahatma Gandhi once said; “It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one's acts.” In the end, none of us can claim to know exactly what happened that fateful day. What we do know is that choices and decisions were made and consequences followed.

Consequences that will last for a lifetime.  

What we do know is a man followed another person without cause or reason. We know that the police were called and neighborhood watchdog was told not to follow or pursue the other person any longer. Police reports show that he allegedly took heed and listened, and retreated to his vehicle. We also know that the victim had a choice to carry on, move forward and avoid any contact or confrontation with the person he correctly believe was following him. He allegedly decided not to do that and the ensuing incident created the ultimate, and unfortunate, consequence that lead to his untimely death. I know this isn't a popular stance or opinion, but both made choices that were incorrect and detrimental. And both will live with those decisions, and their consequences, for the rest of their lives.

Their loved ones will live with the consequences for a lifetime too.

It is very sad and awful.

Bryce & Laura (2011)

Yesterday I wrote these words on Facebook concerning the above picture:

This is my 16 year old son… I wouldn't know what to do if he wasn't here living his life and sharing his love with me. He is special, he is important and I love him with my entire heart! I love you Bryce. -Dad
The reason I posted those words was as I began to write this piece I couldn't fathom not having Bryce, or any of my 5 other children, here sharing their life with me. I can't even begin to understand what Trayvon's parents must be going through right now. 

My father has always said that no one should have to bury their own.

I agree.

When any of us lose a young child senselessly we all lose something. We lose a little bit of hope, a little bit of innocence and our faith in mankind is chipped away at. And in the same way the fractions of a second can separate runners in a race we soon realize even smaller fractions separate us as humans.

We all have the same desires for our children; we all want to experience life with health, strong finances and good friendships. We all enter this earth the same way and we all will leave this earth some day.

When you sit and reflect you realize we have much more in common than you might have thought otherwise.  

And it's because of this commonality I hope we learn as a society, and a country, that everything doesn't have to do with race.

When everything is viewed through the lens of race we soon find out that race is one "race" we can't win.

It's not even close.

And it never will be.

sbb 28.3.12

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