The Heart of The Problem

Murder and mayhem. Death and destruction. The twin evils of our day that robs hope from the heart and continue to blind our eyes to what we see and deafen our ears to what we hear. The twin evils that tear away the very fabric of our lives regardless of race, religion or region. The stories are the same. The pain and horror is real. The results are predictable, unending suffering in the cities, hillsides or urban and rural communities. The heart of the problem, indeed is the problem of the heart. The sound of gun shots have become unwelcome music to our ears. If you hear the “pop, pop, pop” that means you have survived another day and you pick up your pace and keep it moving. If the sounds are in the night or before the crack of dawn and awaken you from your sleep, you are thankful that the bullets did not come through the walls and strike you or your love ones while asleep. The yellow crime tape, the numerous evidence markers placed where bullet shells are left scattered about. Another life. erased from the anal of time as the newscasters report, “no suspects, no witness.” Be it one, five or ten years later, too many times the homicide goes unsolved and it becomes just “another” statistic. The quite reframe keeps playing in our mind, “no peace, no justice.” Black Lies Matter tends to “Trump” (pun is intended) the truth, as No lives matter, be it in Monsul, Iraq, Chi-Raq, East. St. Louis, Flint, Los Angels, and on.

The eye sores are everywhere. No block is spared as whole houses, half-a -house, houses with no windows or doors and trash scattered all about gives testimony where hope unborn has died.. The news report a body of a child has just been found in an abandon garage. We are later informed that the body is of a young 8-year girl as the body, wrap in blankets had been there for more than two years. Bodies are found in weeded fields, in abandon building, unboarded-up houses, trunks of cars or in the many safe secured homes in gated communities. Make shift memorials are seen throughout the communities, as teddy bears, balloons and ribbons wrap around utility poles inform you of the most recent homicide. Crosses with the victim’s picture have become the instant cemeteries where speeding vehicle driven not by suicide bombers, but someone who don’t give a damn about their own life let alone their innocent victim’s life. Your learn quickly, when darkness set in, you better be in the confines of your home.

The cloud of impeachment hovers over our new president. The U. S. Senate is secretly considering legislation to drive the final nail in the coffin of Obamacare. Russia’s Putin is celebrating his victory as the drum beat of discord, mistrust and cynicism grows louder and louder. Meanwhile the 99 percent continue to have too many problems with little to no solutions. One thing is for certain. The solutions offered in the past are not working. The water is still unfit to drink in Flint, Michigan. Veterans continue to be homeless and without medical care. Unemployment and underemployment have become the new normal. The domestic terrorism (Black on black crime) continues to be a national crisis with no  solutions in sight. There is the Band on Mexican, the Band on Muslims, and there has always been the Band on Black and Poor Americans.

But there are some solutions that have not been tried. As our military advisors and our allies help take back Mosul, Iraq one house at a time, maybe we should employ the same tactic to our devastated communities. After all, that’s how we lost them, one house, one block and one community at a time. As our homicide victims become younger and younger, sooner or later, we must conclude that the solutions to our many problems will not come from outside sources, but from within our weary souls. We indeed have a communication problem. We have yet to communicate that we are tired of being the victims of broken lives, wounded hearts and no peace, no justice. We are “tired” but we are not “sick and tired.” Like Fannie Lou Hammer, until we  “get sick and tired of being sick and tired”, the pop, pop, pop, the devastation and despair  will continue.

Tears We Cannot Stop

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson

“America is in trouble, and a lot of that trouble-perhaps most of it–has to do with race…” reads the first line in the chapter “Call to Worship”. This is the lead in by author, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson in his newest book, Tears We Cannot Stop. “We have, in the span of a few years, elected the nation’s first black president and placed in the Oval Office the scariest racial demagogue in a generation,” writes Dyson. The title of Dr. Dyson’s book, captured my attention and I quickly purchased a copy. As I began to read his book I could not avoid thinking of the tears I have shed that could not be stopped. Recently at a prayer breakfast, I talked about the book and its’ probing title. I informed the audience how my tears flowed after watching certain segments in the movies, Hidden Figures and Fences. I remember the tears that flows sometime when a sermon penetrates the dark recess of my soul, or the loss of a love one. Tears that cannot be stop when depression sets in, or one releases tears of joy. Tears (some flow within and some flows outward) are universal, I reminded the audience. There are no such things as white tears, or black or brown tears, yet the universal unspoken language can break through to all in the human race, clearly communicating pain or pleasure without the use of the spoken word. The Word of God even records the shortist verse in the bible, “Jesus wept” as Jesus, the God Man shed tears over the death of his friend, Lazarus (John 11:35 KJV).

Dr. Dyson book has a sub-title,” A Sermon To White America“, but I contend that his sermon is not only to “White America, but to “Black America” as well. I recommend his book, Tears We Cannot Stop, along with Charles B. Dew’s book, The Making of a Racist. Dew, a white author invites the reader into his home and “his”  up bringing as a son of the Confederate South. Dew gives one an up close and personal view of “white privilege” and how his life was molded by his parents and their relationship to the very blacks that cooked their meals, clean their home and manicured their lawn. Dew also gives an in-depth study on the economic benefits of slavery and the Four Billion Industry before the Civil War. Both Dr. Dyson and Dew talks candidly about “white privilege” and the inherited benefits it accords to White America at the expense of the “other.” in general and blacks  in particular.

America and many other nations are surprised and somewhat alarmed after the first two weeks of President Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office. There exist a fear that social, economic and political changes will be occurring at a fast and furious rate, changes that look akin to ” Un-American activity”. Sure his base is happy and welcome their champion and savior, the right man for the right job and at the right time. President Trump never lied to the American populace. His views and how he plans on governing have been openly broadcast all over the airwaves. He continues to “suck all the air” out of the room as little to no effort is being used to unify a divided country. But the truth of the matter is that America has always been and will most likely continue to be “a house divided” as Dr. Dyson and Mr. Charles B. Dew contend.  “With malice toward none and charity to all” sounds good, but this too is one of America’s greatest illusion.

“I alone can fix it” President Trump asserted during the long election season. He frequently brags on how “smart” he is and what “great companies” he has built. President Trump in many ways sounds like the biblical character named Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon. ”The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30 KJV) .It maybe that President Trump expects “us” to sing a song in a strange land” if in fact he plans on taking us to Babylon. President Donald J. Trump takes pride in referring to himself as the “Great Negotiator.” But if he reads up on King Nebuchadnezzar, he just might learn about the “Great Mediator.”

Obama, Over and Out!!!

obama-photo“Today is Friday, November 24, 2016, and there are 36 days left in the year and President Barack Hussein Obama has been our president for a mere 2,866 days, with or without his birth certificate, whether you like it or not and there’s noting you can do about.” The above is basically a paraphrase of a local radio personality on (IHeartRadio) Hallelujah 1600 Gospel Hits; St. Louis. He gives this public announcement each day he is on the air and his statement is generally augmented with an old heart felt gospel song like No Auction Block For Me.  This is a Bob Dylan song, however the black group, Honey In The Rock, sings it after the public service announcement. I have changed the words to read something like this;” Donald J. Trump has been our President-elect for a mere 17 days, that’s with or without revealing his federal and state taxes, whether you like it or not. and there absolutely nothing you can do about it”.

The early (5am) morning edition of Cris Matthews, Hardball, caught my attention this day after Thanksgiving as the show was billed, “How Not To Run For President and Still Win.” Chris Matthews has his esteemed panelist of four well rounded and political experts like former RNC Chairmen, Michael Steele and Huffington Post writer, Howard Fineman. For more than half an hour they chronicled President-elect Trump’s primary and general election exploits from the name calling of Jeb Bush being “low energy”, to “Ly-in-Ted”, “Lid-dle Marco”, and “Crooked Hillary”.  From name calling to the public exposure of the Hollywood Access audio tape, one thing appeared to be the common denominator, “every potential mortal wound to any other candidate had no affect on President-elect Trump. Every time Trump felled in a political cesspool he came out smelling like Calvin Klein’s Eternity for Men cologne. As Hillary Clinton appears to be headed for nearly two million more popular votes that President-elect Trump, the nation like Rip Van Wrinkle, can’t help but wonder what happened as we went to sleep one night and received the biggest political upset in history the next morning. How could the polls, the media, and everyone else been so wrong?  How did the women, the Latinos, the blacks and many other groups, both young and old, vote enough in numbers to snatch out a victory for President-elect Trump from the jaws of defeat for Hillary Clinton?  Was there really a so called  “silent majority”  that came alive after FBI Director Jim Comey dropped a bomb on the Clinton Campaign less than 10 days before the election?. Beingbornblack I remember the FBI and the agency’s involvement with the Black Panther Party, Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcom X and others, but that a post for another day.

Speaking of post, I reviewed my post of 10/18/13 titled, The White House With a Black Man, and the comments that were written regarding the post. I recommended your review of the archives of same as we transition from “No Drama Obama” to the “Trials of a Triumphant Trump”. I await each day with the latest news of our rigged system and the rigged media as President-elect Trump prepares to “give the people what they want.” Will he have the compassionate tears that rolled down President Obama face when he was “Mourner in Chief” during the Sandy Hook killing of the 20 young first graders?. Will he be able to feel the pain of the survivors at the Charleston, South Carolina, Mother Emanuel AME Murders? I could go on and on but I think you get the drift. Only time will tell as President-elect Trump said to African Americans in his effort to court their vote, “what do you have to lose?’ Adversity makes some men and breaks others.  “I alone can fix it”, President-elect Trump said. Well, you wanted it and now you got it. Let the show begin. The 44th president, Barack Hussein Obama will have the last word after the transition of power. Say it LOUD, Obama, OVER and OUT.

The African American Museum

“A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”

The National Museum of African American History and Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture

The above words were spoken by former President, George W. Bush at the opening ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on 09/24/2016. It is hard to believe, per the Washington Post  special dedication edition of 09/22/16, that eleven years ago, Lonnie Bunch, the Founding Director of the Smithonian’s National Museum of Africian American History and Culture (NMAAHC) had “No collections. No site. No money. No staff.” President Bush wasted no time in acknowledging this almost impossible accomplishment of Director Bunch. It was President Bush who sign the bill authorizing the construction of the Museum back on November, 2003. President Bush cited three reason why this national treasure should be housed on the National Mall, and I will praphase same. I highly recommend the reading of his entire speech which serves as a beacon of hope to a nation that is highly divided and in need of a good dose of hope and a even larger dose of humility.

Bush highlight how “America’s original sin” of slavery  reflect a country founded on the promise of liberty, held millions in chains. How the voices of men like John Adams, who called slavery an “evil of colossal magnitude,” were not heeded and often not heard. The NMAAHC covers the African Slave Trade, the Middle Passage and the Slave trade in the Americas with the artifacts from shackles from a sunken slave ship to the inhumane marketing and evils of the slave industry. The museum basically looks at three time periods: Slavery and Freedom; Era of Segregation, 1876-1968; and A changing America: 1968 and beyond.  But those “voices” were “always known to a power greater than any on earth, one who loves his children and meant them to be free.”

aahcm3Bush pinpoint his second reason in equally eloquent words. “…this museum shows America’s capacity to change. For centuries, slavery and segregation seemed permanent. Permanent parts of our national life. But not to Nat Turner or Frederick Douglass; Harriet Tubman; Rosa Parks; or Martin Luther King Jr. All answered cruelty with courage and hope.” One photo on exhibit shows Dr. Martin Luther King being arrested by two white police officers. Dr. King is being man handle like a “rag doll’, with his hat barely remaining on his head. The officers have him handcuffed from the back, as Dr. King almost falls to the ground. The look and demeanor on the faces of the officers and Dr. King pierces the heart and soul of the on lookers. The 3000 or more artifacts clearly documents the cruelty and the courage of the many Americans who heard and heeded the call of freedom denied until freedom was delivered. That journey towards freedoms continues today.

The Mothership

The Mothership

Finally President Bush reminds us that the museum showcases the talent of some of our finest Americans. “The galleries celebrate not only African American equality, but African American greatness.” Bush highlights one of his favorite as a teenager, Chuck Barry and his restored 1973 Eldorado convertible. “I’m not giving you anything” Berry reported said. Yet  after curator, Kevin Strait ended his meeting with Berry the Cadillac was on a truck headed to Washington.  A similar story exist regarding the beaten-up PT-13 plane that was restored by its owners and now hangs high proudly in the NMAAHCM. Christened “the Spirit of Tuskegee” to honor the airmen who used the PT-13 to train during World War II, the plane was in use by its owners until the curator sealed the deal. The greatness of the African Americans goes from the artifacts of Mohammed Ali to the Parliament Funkadelic’s “Mothership.” From James Brown to Etta James, from Mom’s Mabley to Redd Fox the African American experience is well documented. “The African American experience is the lens through which we understand what it is to be an American.” said Bunch. Learn more at nmaahc.si.edu.

 

An Open Letter to My Grandson

20160223_170927850_ios-2“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” are the famous words of the southern author by the name of William Faulkner. If there was one crown jewel of wisdom I would like to past on to my grandson, Samad, and others, it is the need to “know your past, and how knowing your past prepares you to deal effectively with your present and finally how you engaged the present, will determine the successes you may have in the future”. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are intertwined throughout the fabric of life and the biblical scripture of “My people perish due to a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6) is one infallible truth.This letter is to my grandson, Samad, but in actuality it is a letter to all my grandchilden and to you.

It was a hot, and humid day during the first week of July, two months ago as my grandson, his mother and his sister awaited our arrival from Sunday church services. Samad will be 20 in December, and the family was here in St. Louis for a family reunion. Mom and daughter drove up from their home State of Oklahoma, but Samad accompanied his grandfather (maternal) from Oklahoma to Washington D.C before arriving in St. Louis as his grandfather was continuing his struggle to obtained a redress of his grievance as it relates to the loss of more than 200 acres land. As a sidebar, reportedly 1910 was the peak year of landownership by blacks with over 218,000 black farmers owning in full or in part  more than 15 millions acres. As of 1992, those numbers dwindled down to 18,000 black farmers left, owning 2.3 million acres. Samad was blessed that his grandfather included him on the trip to the nation’s capitol in his efforts to address his grievance to the government. His grandfather is included in the class action lawsuit (Pigford V. Glickman) involving the black farmers of America who filed discrimination claims against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and that legal matter remained unresolved to date.

I was impressed that my grandson was learning how to work on a farm, the planting, and harvesting of crops, the sale of live stock, and how to operate the various heavy equipment his grandfather has. Hearing him made me reminisce how I drove my grandfather’s John Deere tractor at a young age and later was involved in the sale of nine acres of land for my grandmother. My paternal grandfather died in 1978.  I was surprised to learn about the Illinois Centennial and Sesquicentennial Farm Programs, the former representing more than 9,000 farmers throughout Illinois that have kept their family farms for “100 years” or longer and the latter group (600 farmers) maintaining their farm land in the family for 150 years or longer. I wondered how many black farmers were included in these numbers?

The conversation later moved to politics and I learn that Samad was ” feeling the burn” as he wanted Bernie Sanders to become the next president. It should be noted that my eleven year old granddaughter also voted for Bernie Sanders as her 5th grade class held a mock election. Samad informed me that he “would not be voting” as he had done the research on Hillary Clinton and could not support her. Naturally I was livid and “seeing stars” I thought of the lives loss in order for black Americans to obtain the right to vote. I circled in for more answers and asked him about his “research.” He made reference to “social medial” and I informed him that you can not always believe everything you read or hear on social media.

Later as this issues continued to simmer in my mind I ran across an article regarding Tuskegee Airman, Dabney Montgomery, who died earlier this month at the age of 93. Montgomery was a member of the fame Tuskegee Airman , the bomber escorts of the 332nd Fighter Group who became known as the “Red Tails.” Montgomery, after fighting in World War II returned home to face Jim Crow American and was refused the right to vote in Alabama. I never met Montgomery, but I did meet Harold Earl Tubbs also from Alabama. Tubbs was the brother to my spiritual mentor, the Reverend Carl Tubbs who have since transition from time to eternity. Harold Earl Tubbs fought in the Korean War and was a member of the U.S. Army. Tubbs was a POW for more than a year in North Korea. His mother refused to accept that her son was dead and always set the table with a place for the son whom the army reported was killed in action. Refusing to accept the $10,000 insurance benefit from the Army, one day she received information from the Red Cross informing her that her son was indeed alive. Harold went one to become a gifted “left hand guitar player” for the late James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. Time will not allow more on what the Mongomerys and the Tubbs of the South (and North) experienced before the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement.

Samad has a high school diploma and has a bright future ahead. Like I out lived my grandfathers, there exist the possibility that he will do likewise. I never met William Faulkner, Samad, but I have met a philosopher named The Reverend Dr. Solomon. There is “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10) says Solomon. Samad is a gifted athletic and execlled in wrestling, baseball and football. He also has a good work record and is not afraid of doing a “good days work. But, if I had it to do all over and had quality time with his mind, I would make sure he could bench press his way from the “land flowing with milk and honey to forty acres and a mule.” I would like to witness him hitting a grand slam as he clears first base learning about Dred Scott, approach second base and smile at Plessy V. Ferguson, stroll on toward third base and meet Brown V. Board of Education and proudly head home where a cloud of witnesses from Emmett Till, Jackie Robinson, Marcus Garvey, Martin, Medgar and others cry out for a curtain call. Finally my son, with only ten second left in the game and your team is down by “three” the football is in your hand. Run for the goal post, score the winning touchdown and grab the victory out of the jaws of defeat as you make the world a better place because you were here.

A Tiger Named Trump

IMG_5323It took several key stroke, but eventually I ran down the author who said “…those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.” The words were used by John F. Kennedy in his Presidential Inaugural Address delivered on January 20, 1961. My cousin who is a prolific writer believes strongly that “words are spirits” and I could not agree more. Even though JFK may have spoken these words the truth about the orgin and authorship of “words” have to go back to ” In the Beginning was the WORD.” But for the past year or longer, RNC Presidential Nominnee, Donald J. Trump, has taken over the Republican Party, defeating his 16 challengers and appears to be well on his way from Trump Plaza to the White House by his crafty use of “words.”

President Barack Obama could be credited with being the creative force behind Donald J. Trump, when he publicly made Trump the butt of his jokes at the White House Correspondence Dinner. Remember when Donald Trump lead the “Birther Movement” and how he claim national attention alleging that Obama was not born in Hawaii? If I am correct his investigators are still in Hawaii as the result of their investigation was never revealed. Remember how Trump dogged out the first African American President until Obama had to produce the “long form” of his birth certificate and then to add insult to injury Trump later demanded he produce copies of his transcripts from Harvard? The bottom line, President Obama made the unpardonable sin of a black man embarrassing a “white man” as Donald J. Trump. the very epitome of the rich and famous, was the butt of a national joke, on national television/cable delivered by the nation’s first black president.

Donald Trump had no other alternative but to run for president. The green-eye-monster of vengeance and pay back could never be achieved by any means other than the entertainer in chief pulling out all the stops in his effort to become the commander in chief. Trump found a willing and wanting audience of voters who finally, since the days of Ronald Regan, had the nerves to “say” what they always wanted to say and felt in their heart. The use of codes words, blowing the dog whistles and going from one extreme to the other, enable Trump to go from one percent and a laughing stock during the primaries to knocking off all of his challengers in grand style. No one is laughter now. The GOP has been taken over by ‘Trumpism.” Be not deceived. Donald J. Trump could be elected president of the United States in this toxic atmosphere of greed, the fear of white America  losing the “America” of yester-year and the desire to turn back the hands of time when Jim Crow was alive and well (still is but now refined to James Crow). Trump asks African Americans, “What the hell do you have to Lose?’ as he has of late being talking “about” black America but not “to” black of America. Well, Mr. Trump we would like to have “change” not “chains.”

Trump’s overture to building a “wall” reminds me of a guy named Haman who after the use of his crafty words and scapegoating one people (the Jews) at the expense of another, built a gallow for a Jew named Mordecai. As the sinister plot unfolded, the heroin of the story, named Ester, reveals the plot and Haman ends up on the very gallow he built for Mordecai, the Jew he hated. Mr. Trump, you can find these words not at “Two Corinthians” but in the old Testament Book of Esther 7:10. I conclude with a question by Joseph N. Welch put to Joseph McCarthy during the Army-McCarthy Hearings. “At long last, have you (McCarthy) no sense of decency?” Keep riding the tiger.

From Here To Eternity

Courtney Teat, of Teat Chapel, Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 1 10-year old who pursued his dreams.

Kourtney Teat, of Teat Chapel, Funeral Home & Cremation Service. No longer a 10-year old child who pursued his dreams.

A Hurst pulled up and unload a casket, entering through the unlock doors of the church. A set of ten year-old twins observed this activity like they had observed so many times before from the window of their Chicago home. Their home gave a bird’s eye view to the front of the church located at the corner of the street. Unknown to their parents the twins, Kourtney and Hiliary, dashed from their home as the Hurst leaves the church and make their way into the church sanctuary before the grieving family and friends arrive. Kourtney, three minutes older than his sister, Hiliary, examine the decease and critiques the work of the mortician, saying, “I could have done a better job”. Normally children their age would be fearful and not willing to enter into an empty church with the decease. But these two were far from “normal” in that regard. They were more than inquisitive as they made a routine habit of observing the work of the local mortician and somehow were in “awe” regarding death. At the age of 10, Kourtney’s dream of becoming a mortician was engrained in his heart. Kourtney tells when asked what he wanted to be in elementary school he stated a mortician. “The teacher had to explained to the other students what a mortician was.” said Kourtney.

Some 30 years later, Kourtney finished high school in Chicago, graduated from Western Illinois University with a degree in Economics and later successfully completed a two year program in “one year” at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in their Mortuary Science Program. He worked part time at a local restraunt while in pursuit of becoming a licensed mortician. By license he explained he had to pass a state exam before he was granted his license. “I had to pass a 500 question exams that took 8 hours to complete,” Kourtney replied. He is also an ordain minister as well.

I officially met Kourtney after my 98-year old aunt transition from here to

Mr. Courtney Teat of Teat Chapel. Licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer.

Mr. Kourtney Teat of Teat Chapel. Licensed Funeral Director & Embalmer.

eternity on Christmas Day. My aunt had made prior preparation for her journey, having purchase the burial plots for her and her husband some 60 years earlier. Her husband died after 48 years of marriage. They never had any children. My aunt and her niece (my wife) picked out her transition clothing about seven years ago and planned her home going celebration at her church including her favorite gospel songs. Kourtney was amazed at her level of preparation as he stated she had to purchase two of the first “one hundreds” plots sold by the cemetery. “Over 26,000 people had been buried at this cemetery since she purchased these plots.” Kourtney said as we attended a private burial. As a licensed funeral director and embalmer servicing Illinois and Missouri, Kourtney also provides his professional service to four other funeral homes as he continue to pursue his dream and goals first established at the young age of 10 years.

I recall a billboard of one out of state funeral home where the company slogan was “Only heaven could provide better service.” The dignity, the professionalism and the care we witnessed from Teat Chapel, under the direction of a child with a dream captivated our hearts. But that should not be a surprise from a 10 year-old twin telling his sister as they inspected the work of a local mortician, “I could have done a better job.” And a “better job” he does.