Giving Thanks and Thanksgiving




“US 56 602 XXX.” The numbers I had forgotten, forever lost in the resevoirs of my mind until I ran across my DD214 form, my discharge papers from the United States Army. Seven months shorts of turning 21, I found myself at Sand Hill, a remote part of the world found at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. About two years later, my first cousin, “Ricky” found himself in San Diego, California. Ricky  had joined the Navy to get away from a life of crime and drugs, knowing that he was on a fast track to an early grave and the Navy appeared a “safe” way out of going to Vietnam. Ricky was three years younger than I was and he had already been identified as public enemy number one in his hometown in Arkansas. He felt that wearing the white Navy uniform beat the hell out of wearing a county jail uniform .

I remember Drill Sergeant Dozier. A tall giant of a man that could really sing out cadence, the songs we had to sing during our indoctrination period of 8 weeks of basic training. I remember him wearing his “Smoky the Bear” drill sergeant hat (Campaign Hat) and how he would “hit” us in our face with the brim of his hat as he scared the living hell out of us. The military, it doesn’t matter what branch, takes way your name and give you a number as the many become one. “You like me trainee?” Dozier would yell out to a trainee, as the trainee trembled in his boots. Drill Sergeant Dozier continued the psychological attack to the mind. Being scared and stupid, the trainee would respond “yes.”  thinking you had given him the correct answer and the nightmarish encounter would be over with. “I don’t want you to like me,”  he would respond. “Liking leads to loving and loving leads to F******* and I do not want to get f*****.” (This is a family channel.) After surviving basic training you went next to “AIT” or advance infantry training. Ricky later would informed me that he never had AIT training and found himself in Vietnam with a “colt 45” at age twenty after completing his basic training in California. I found myself outside of Kaiserslaughter, Germany two years before Ricky’s tour of duty in Vietnam began.

It would be some fifteen years later during a walk together at a family celebration that Ricky gave me a brief look into his life’s journey. He explained he was “high” during his entire tour of duty in Vietnam. How he had a two thousand dollar a day drug habit and the only job that could meet his financial need was that of “pimping” and he had a stable of women working for him. Not one who believed in shacking too long, he was married more than times than he could remember and would often tell my mom that he “did not remember” marrying one older white woman who was apparently well off money wise. After his tour of duty he went from one state to another state always on the move and his mother ( my dear aunt) would count it a blessing just to “hear” from him on Mother’s Day or Christmas. Ricky would later informed me how he had “died” several times and once found himself in a” tub of ice”, after over dosing on drugs.” I know there’s a God up above,” he would testify as the God of heaven and earth had protected him from himself over the years. After being delivered from a life of drugs and pimping, the second most important thing for Ricky after his Lord and his God was his attendance at Narcotics Anonymous as he faithfully attended NA meeting regardless of what city he found himself in. Like many veteran of war, he only gave me a “little” information, knowing that I could not handle too much information at one time. As a Journeyman Iron Worker he would tell me how much “peace” he had being 30-50 stories up in the air, working his craft.

The upshot after 678 words. I have often found myself “thinking” about my life’s journey just like my cousin Ricky did. Ricky is now absent from the body, but present with the his Lord. And when you start “thinking” you start “thanking.” The song writer says,” through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come” and you apply those words to your life. We were all “blind and could not see” at one time or another (some still are) until we were saved from ourselves by what the song writer and the Word of God calls “Amazing Grace.” Every day truly is a day of Thanksgiving. But do not take my word for it. “Search the scriptures;” John 5:39a. Remember, Every day is Thanksgiving.


Black Lies Matter

The famous lines from the movie, A Few Good Men, as uttered by Jack Nicolaus, “You Can’t Handle the Truth” frequently conjures up in my mind the skizo-paranoia state of our American society. It’s a culture where two worlds intersect involving the sons of the former slave owners and the sons of the former slaves. It represent a culture where centuries old lies continue to be crushed to the earth only to rise again, day after day and generation after generation.
I recently read a story coming out of Corinth, Texas involving a well education black woman named Dorothy Bland. Ms. Bland alleged she was stopped by two white police officers for “walking while being black.” The sister was “quite bold” as she took pictures of the two officers with her cell phone and a picture of their license plate. She was obviously upset when one of the officers asked for her ID which she did not have on her because she was busy exercising in her upscale white community wearing her “Boston” grey sweat shirt with a hoodie and her leggings on. She gave the officers her name and date of birth and the officer called in to the dispatcher to run a check on Ms. Bland. She later pinned an editorial (Dallas Morning News) on her encounter citing racial profiling as members of the community voiced different opinions on whether she was right and or the two “white”officers were wrong. Be it known there were no consensus as both blacks and whites  took up the pro’s and con’s on the matter coming to different opinions just like me and my wife shared different opinions on the matter after viewing the video and reading the story. Blacks folks like white folks are not monolithic on a variety of topics. (I always felt that O.J. Simpson was guilty as hell for murder). I sided with the police officers as Ms. Bland was walking down the street on the wrong side of the street with her back to on coming traffic. The officers who were polite cited the “safety” issues and stated a truck had to make a special effort to avoid striking Ms. Bland from behind.

Dorothy Bland, like Sandra Bland, also an educated black woman both experienced being stopped by the Texas police, as Sandra Bland was stopped for “driving while being black.” Unlike Dorothy Bland (no relations) Sandra Bland was later found “hung” in her jail cell with the incidence still being investigated. Sandra Bland although she was “right” in her responses to the officer ended up being “dead right.” Dorothy Bland although she was bold in her response to the officers (taking their pictures) could have been “dead right” as she exercised her rights as a citizen that paid extremely high taxes in her white affluent golf-course community in Corinth, Texas.

We face a little over one month before the end of the year 2015 where a noticeable increase in Black homicides have occurred in basically every black metropolitan city in America. This fact plus the alarming increase where  blacks have been killed by the police who are sworn to serve and protect us, causes one to wonder do “Black Lives (Really) Matter”? No one believes the lies more than black America that “we shall over come.” Over come what? When you “hate” your skin color, your hair, your lips, your nose and even your name, are all issues where we must over come. Yes these are relics from the slave past, where if you are white, stick around, if you are yellow, you are mellow but if you are black, get back. “White privilege” still foster a false sense of superiority and Blackness in white America continue to foster a false sense of inferiority. Neither white nor black America wants to talk about race or America’s original sin of slavery as the country continue to be a “House Divided” one red (states), one blue (states) while the one percent that owns the country knows that the only color that matters is “green.”

Ms. Dorothy Bland and others must not believe the lies that were launched during the Cosby Show. Stevie Wonders long ago said you can not “cash in your face.” Even today as we have lost no less than two generations of black and white Americans who struggle with the race problems we must confront the truth. Otherwise we will find ourselfs like Pontius Pilate  who asked Jesus, “what is truth?

Black Lies Matter. We have not over come. Just look at the recent events at the  University of Missouri and the racial climate that forced President Timothy Wolfe out of office due to his refusal to addressed the racial problems there. The struggle continues. Black Lives have “never mattered.”  America have  more black people laid out, locked up, left out and in chains (prisons) “TODAY” than at any time at the height of slavery back in 1850 when the Missouri Comprise came into existence. Even black folks do not want to talk about the relics of slavery as we have become de-sensitized to the murders we see every night at the 5 and 10 pm news cast. The only things blacks folks are making continue to be  the evening news. The Black Lies of “religion” versus “relationship” moves full speed ahead as we hate ourselves and our brothers. I read somewhere where it was pinned, know the truth and the truth shall set you free. I hear the chains falling….Humm