Another young African-American lost his life to police on Wednesday. You may have heard about it. I caught the news across several stations on my evening commute; it was the lead on CNN when I got home. It didn’t take long before protesters showed up to display their displeasure at the police. And, apparently, displaying their displeasure at the cars that they set on fire and the businesses they burglarized as well.

Jamyla- books down, don't shoot....

Jamyla- books down, don’t shoot….

Executing a search warrant earlier in the day, police saw two men run from the back of the home police were searching. Officers ordered the men to stop and drop their weapons. In the current climate, who the hell listens to a policeman when you’ve got the reverends and a politicized Department of Justice on your side? Instead of dropping his gun, Mansur Ball-Bey decided it was his prerogative to point his weapon at the officers, who decided it was their prerogative to drop him where he stood.

From there, it all escalated as planned. Protesters blocked interstate 70. They proceeded to hurl bricks and bottles at officers and set fire to cars. Black lives matter you know. Maybe not so much in this North St. Louis neighborhood where crime is at very high levels, but hey, black lives matter anyway. Keep repeating that phrase until it washes away your white privilege or white guilt or whatever helps you sleep at night. Because it actually does nothing for black lives at all. Except maybe shield many from the horrible truth that the epidemic of deaths that consume so many young black men is largely the fault of, well, of many other young black men.

Not far away from North St. Louis is Ferguson, where black lives surely matter. They matter so much that people gathered to remember their martyr, Mike the “gentle giant” Brown. And during the gathering, shots were fired into the crowd sending one victim to the local hospital, prompting the victim’s sister to scream in dismay at the crowd that “they killed my brother, they shot my brother.” Later on that Sunday, the esteemed Cornel West planned to go to jail over an act of civil disobedience. “Our criminal justice system is an abysmal failure,” West said. “Black faces in high places don’t always translate it into justice for poor people.” He never mentioned who may be committing the crimes; just that trying to stop them, arresting and prosecuting those who commit them is an abysmal failure. Indeed. No failure on the part of the community that makes excuses or looks the other way when these crimes are committed. Against themselves. By their own young men whose lives, we are told, matter greatly. Never mind that police are greatly outnumbered by the population of citizens residing in Ferguson. Or that when police are called by the citizens in Ferguson, it’s to protect those same victim-citizens of color from those same young black men whose lives surely matter.

Not far away in Ferguson, and only days after celebrating the life and accomplishments of Mike Brown, yet another black victim falls to the senseless violence. I’m not so sure her life matters though; I never heard mention on CNN, or CBS or on the drive-time radio on the way home. Did a quick google search on her name and not many results came up from the main stream media. Thanks goodness for the foreign press. I’m trying to figure out why her life didn’t matter. Who is marching for Jamyla Bolden? When do the protests start? Jamyla was lying on her mother’s bed doing her assignment for school. Someone stood outside the window of the young girl’s home and sprayed at least five bullets into the house. Jamyla was mortally wounded while her mother was struck in the leg. Jamyla was only nine years old. She wasn’t strong-arming a convenience store clerk; she wasn’t trying to forcibly disarm a police officer; she wasn’t standing in a back alley pointing a gun at police officers after being told to drop the weapon. She was lying on her mother’s bed, engrossed in her homework on the path to bettering herself and quite probably her family and community. Her grandmother pleaded with her to keep breathing as her life slowly ebbed away. And despite the best efforts of two of Fergusons’ most hated civil servants to keep her alive, she died from her wounds, probably delivered at the hands of another young black man whose life surely matters.

When you start marching for the Jamylas of the world, you’ll truly convince me that black lives matter. When you look deeply into the heart of your communities to really search for the answers, then black lives will truly matter. But if Jamyla doesn’t matter to you, if the heroes and the inspirations of your marches and protests are the gentle giants of the world, then it won’t matter what I believe. You will continue to take your own lives for reasons that will never be solved by any political slogan.

Who marches for Jamyla?

Never liked crunchy peanut butter; always went for the creamy style. I guess the taste may be the same when you get down to it; after all, creamy is just the peanut ground to a finer texture, no hint of the shape or physical definition of the aforementioned peanut. Totally unidentifiable at that point. Of course, there are those who just swear by the texture, relishing in the remaining crunchy bits of peanuts that escaped the factory-grade grinding wheels that were set just so, leaving the sought-after bits and pieces they desire in their PB&Js.

Was this a difficult choice?

Was this a difficult choice?

Dr. Gatter is hawking her own less crunchy “bits and pieces”. She instructs her would-be customers that she can have her factory alter their manufacturing process to a “less crunchy” methodology, leaving the buyer with a product that’s far more intact, if that’s what they prefer. Wouldn’t it be nice if she was only discussing the lifeless, lowly peanut? But alas, like those who are defending her, she sees no more value in a human life or human dignity than she sees in a peanut. This is, remember, the definition of women’s health. Creamy or crunchy. A woman’s right to choose.

The abortion debate always brings out the worst in both sides of the question. No movement. No collaboration, no compromise. You either support this heinous procedure or you hate women. Simple. Or, if you support any reasonable approach to restraining abortion, you get blasted by both sides; defending murder, not protecting life; a msyoginist who wants women pregnant but in the kitchen makin’ those sammiches. Whether either extreme end of the spectrum wants to believe it or not, there are a vast number of people who find abortion abhorrent, see it as taking an innocent life but quite possibly, something that they would continue to accept under narrow circumstances. For many of us, it’s about saving a woman’s life; not her life style. Of course, we’re not much appreciated by either side.

If it wasn’t so disturbing a topic, the recent Planned Parenthood revelations about selling broken babies would illuminate where we stand on the scale of humanity and simple dignity. I scour the papers, web and blogs quite a bit and the conversations about the recently released videos are downright depressing. Both sides have dug in deep but the debate is somewhat slightly skewed. Believe it or not, the majority of the debates end up wandering around the validity of the video; was this a set up? Was the video edited or doctored? Was she taken out of context? “This group is out to get Planned Parenthood” some say, “so anything they produce or present is slanted and not to be believed.” It’s almost as if they want you to believe that someone had a gun to her head, that she had a written script in front of her, a coerced confession as it were, all fake, not real. This doesn’t really go on in today’s society. Truth is, I don’t know exactly what the law says in great detail about trafficking in human body parts, but if you’re standing so close to the legal line that you could be pushed over it by the slightest breeze, then maybe your intentions aren’t as pure as you would have us all believe.

At this point, the validity of the video is moot. Whether this doctor or the one previously recorded knew they were being recorded (unfair!) or not only changes the narrative away from the procedure that needs to be addressed out in the open. How anyone can justify pulling a live child out of the womb, stopping at the point of leaving the head inside so one can puncture the skull, suck out the brains and then crush the skull to make the final removal easier, well that justification is hard for me to accept.

Defenders of Planned Infanticide want to keep the focus on the veracity of the video, not about the horror of the procedure that started the whole conversation to begin with. And as deeply as they study this video, looking for any edits, trying to put words or statements in “context”, maybe they should be forced to view one other video in greater detail. (Please do not click this link lightly; it is very disturbing. I apologize for the horrific scene.) This is the video that should be discussed on the nightly news, in every home, in legislative bodies. Many who support this procedure have never seen this, never taken the time to see exactly what it is they are asking me and others like me to accept. And yet, they know this is out there, know the horror of it, but chastise me, call me a hater because I am repulsed by it. Please tell me that we are, as a race, as humans, far better than this type of abomination.

If you I and cannot agree that this is a barbaric way to end the life of a human baby, then we will certainly never be able agree on when that life began in the first place. Show some humanity. In fact, it should be easier than choosing your favorite brand of peanut butter.

No one knows when he died. No one knows how he died. Well, obviously someone does. Whoever wrapped his little body in a black plastic trash bag sealed with duct tape certainly knows. Aside from that, if not for a routine traffic stop, the only person who would have known that Quincy Davis was dead would have been the person who stashed him in the truck of her car ten years ago; his loving mother.

Who loved Quincy?

Who loved Quincy?

No funeral, no memorial, no grieving for Quincy. Apparently, his mother Tonya Slayton felt no remorse at all; well, she might have been a little annoyed at the inconvenience of him taking up valuable cargo space in her car, but other than that, she went on with her life pretty much as if nothing had ever happened. Or, quite possibly, it got a little better as she was no longer burdened with the very child she brought into this world.

Sorry, but children are, bluntly, inconveniences to many people. I see it all the time. Parents pushing their children into the arms of strangers, if not outright abandoning them to the streets. Keeping them busy in one activity or another so they don’t have to spend any face time with them. “I need a little me time, time with adults,” I’ve heard often. Take it for what it’s worth. I take it at face value. You can’t stand to be with your own children. Then again there are those for whom a child is nothing more than a conversation piece, a trinket, a possession, something they can put on display. Ask them just who their kid’s friends are, what their child’s favorite color is. Yeah, good luck.

No mention of the father in any story I have found to date; fathers are pretty damned inconvenient in society today too. What about siblings? No aunts, grampy or grandma? No favorite uncles, snot-nosed cousins, rambunctious best friends? No neighbors, parents of BFF’s, coaches, teachers, pastors, local friggin’ barbers? No one on this great green planet noticed the hole created by Quincy’s absence? Did no one ever hug this child, kiss his forehead, feel for him in their hearts? For God’s sake, what kind of miserable existence must this child have had before someone ended his life and he became a permanent fixture in the rear of his mother’s mustang? How could anyone, let alone a child, live day-to-day knowing that he was of such little value to anyone that he could vanish forever and no one would notice. Or care. And don’t think this wasn’t Quincy’s life. You know damned well it was. Just another expendable little life, brought into this world by another selfish cretin with a personality disorder so advanced that the stench of her own son rotting in the truck of her car had no effect.

Yes, it tears my eyes to read this. Catches in my throat. His death was probably quite violent, the final culmination of a life that was deemed absolutely worthless from the beginning. It was his mother who determined he was of no value to anyone in this world. As a result, there is no one to mourn him now.

Well, I mourn you Quincy. You deserve your special place in heaven. Rest well little man.

So I just put my eldest daughter on a plane for her first solo trip away from home to a young leaders conference in Washington DC. Due to the weather, the flight that was supposed to have been wheels up by nine a.m. finally departed at one-fifteen p.m. As if the trip wouldn’t have been stressful enough for the both of us of on a good day, the weather decided to add an extra level of concern for the both of us, as brave as we tried to be for each other. I waited in the boarding queue with her until the line started down the ramp, as she kept pushing her hand in the small of my back to shoo me away. She couldn’t bring herself to hug me in front of all the strangers surrounding us, her eyes probably every bit as moist as mine. Have a great time honey, daddy loves you. Farewell on this fathers day. Please come home again; I’ll lay awake until you do.

Dad has all the embarrassing photos...

Dad has all the embarrassing photos…

If you were to peer under my desk at home, you’d find a small shelf no wider than some of the largest books I have standing on it. You’d also find three rather non-descript storage totes, two the size of large shoeboxes, one the shape of a pizza box, only twice as high. The boxes are ornamental, fabric covered, and they match the decor of my office. They also contain some of my most valuable possessions. Every once in a while, or truthfully more often than that, I like to open one or more of these boxes and admire the riches inside, hold them, spread them out on the desk and marvel at their inestimable value. The irreplaceable collections in these little decorative storage bins certainly need a more secure location than the foot of my desk; maybe I need a small safe or a safety deposit box. Of course, that would make them less accessible and who wants that? No, the little storage bins will have to do. The two smaller shoe-sized boxes are labeled “Photos” and “Videos.” The larger box is labeled “Dad’s memory box.”

I don’t even have a camcorder that can play the little tapes anymore. I burned through that machine after years of abuse at recitals, band concerts, trips to the beach, and all around constant pounding on various playgrounds. The very first video I ever took with it is sound only; I was hiding in another room, trying not to distract my eldest daughter who was probably three at the time. As she busied herself with whatever toy was holding her focus, probably her blocks, she was singing happily, not loudly but very strong and clear. I couldn’t bring myself to intrude on the moment and I just let the audio catch her for what seemed like five minutes of one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard. The dozens and dozens of other tapes are all like that, all neatly labeled with dates and in numbered sequence. I have to find some way to get them off the tape so I can view them.

It’s the same with the box marked “Photos.” Every digital picture I have ever taken of the kids is backed up on CD’s, all labeled by date and sequenced. I don’t even know how many thousands of pictures it holds. Enough to actually crash my Imac iphoto library several times. But I still follow the same ritual, year after year, event after event, chronicling each step along their journeys away from me with a melancholy mixture of pride and dread. It is as I had noted before, the unforgiving father clock ticking away unmercifully at the time we have left together as father and child. And I know my place, my charter; give them what they need to be able to fly away from me when they’re ready. Never be willing to let them go but be prepared to give them the push they need. Seems quite unfair, really.

If you were to pick up the box marked “Dad’s memory Box,” you’d probably hear a rattle before you opened the lid. Chances are that there’s at least one piece of macaroni rolling around the bottom somewhere, a derelict decoration straying from the dried glue that held it in place as a border or an accent piece on some beautiful artwork that depicts a breathtaking scene or a magnificent creature. Some of the animals are quite amusing and heartwarming; the stick-legged cat with the sausage body or the graceful unicorn with the beautiful mane that looks too long for the body. Of course because dad loves hippos, there are quite a few of them as well, most with a very wide grin of self-satisfaction.

We celebrate our fathers on father’s day, ostensibly to pay homage to the man who loves and supports his children, earning their love and respect for all he does. I may be biased by the relationship that I don’t have with my own father but that’s not what father’s day means to me, not as a father. No, father’s day for me is about the pride and joy that I have for being allowed by some greater power to have been trusted with this great responsibility for which I have never been trained, for which I was never fully prepared. Father’s day is always a reminder that the appearance of my own children into my life has made this life that much richer, that much fuller and that much more meaningful. Name another role that can instantly give you purpose and clarity; a role I never had to interview for, never had to prepare a resume for, a gift bestowed upon me before I was even remotely wise enough to understand let alone value it. The first time I had those chubby little fingers wrap gently around my index finger, my motto became clear; I only want to be a good father. No greater responsibility can be placed on any man’s shoulders; No greater reward can be had. As always, I will try to live up to my own expectations, and I’m sure I will often fail. But I will never cease to try; I am a father. It’s what we do.

I won’t tell them that the gift I wanted for father’s day was just to be a father to begin with. It feels somewhat greedy, taking gifts from the greatest gifts in my life. But I hope that they give them because they truly love their father; that they want to tell me in some measure that I have done a reasonably good job at this life-long endeavor, this journey with no map, task with no instruction booklet. I count the passing of each father’s day knowing that they will end when I do, not before, but each one more poignant than the last. For soon, father’s day will be a card from a great distance, maybe a cheerful call after dinner or possibly, a dinner out with an extended family. But I will still be introspective; worried that I didn’t get this or that right, that I made some awful mistake, that I didn’t deserve the love they gave me; or I wasn’t the father they deserved. And I’ll smile, thank them profusely for the gifts, letting them have their moment of devotion to their father, all the while secretly thanking the good lord that he put me here, in this place, in this role, giving me a meaning and purpose that many men seem to be missing.

For the greatest gift they could ever give me on father’s day, they have already given; the chance to be their father, loving them unconditionally, being a part of their lives, who they are, were and will become. They can, and I hope will honor me on this day. And I will bask in it, every bit. But later tonight in bed, when the house is silent and I stare at the distant nothingness fading into the night-time ceiling, I will as I always do, hope and pray that I was indeed, up to the task and am truly worthy to be called their father.




So, what emotion should we reserve for Rachel Dolezal? Disgust? Pity? Bewildered amusement? I would guess that depends on what your agenda is. Normally, the social justice meted out for appearing in black-face is excommunication from society, a shaming and loathing that requires months of introspection and countless twitter apologies if one hopes to ever be forgiven. Some are forgiven. Most aren’t. Go figure.



We talk the talk about race, but we never budge from the hard realities of it. The realities that segmentation of race artificially imposed by government policy is far more destructive than beneficial, used for nothing more than scoring points on an electoral map, never seeking to achieve whatever lofty goals they may have once had. Everyone is so equal, so special that we must all achieve the same results or someone is to blame; or some event from history, or past transgression. Some people are so damaged by what their ancestors lived through hundreds of years ago that they just have to have special loan programs at the bank, need special allowances made for them at college admissions offices or are allowed exemptions from curriculum or discipline. Those who champion diversity only see diversity if they enforce it upon us, as if left to their own choices and outcomes, people wouldn’t be diverse enough. Or maybe they’d be too diverse and wouldn’t need to be part of a social construct of a specific “racial segment,” which is actually nothing but a perpetually aggrieved voting block.

What Rachel can teach us will be lost in a few months, the oddity of it will wane and we’ll be on to some new issue that divides us, which of course the government will inflame in order to swoop in with some new mandate or policy to once again fix a problem of their making. And we’ll all look at each other with suspicion and fear or hate, quite content to blame others for whatever little number of check boxes didn’t get filled in the grand quota of life that government tells us we need before we can all get along. More programs, more taxes, more hate and distrust for us along with more power and influence for those who peddle the divisiveness they call diversity and equality.

What does it actually mean to be black? I cannot answer this question, since I’m as white as cottage cheese and am not allowed to have a comment or opinion in any way shape or form. Only people like me can be racist. Against that backdrop, we’ve had leaders tell us we are cowards about discussing race. However, discussion usually means two sides; but not when it comes to discussing race. White people are racist for even wanting to discuss race. Wasn’t I always told that white people could never understand what it means to be black? Ever?

But from afar, observing it from a distance, one wonders what the hell is going on with the black community in this country? Rachel Dolezal was whiter than I am for heaven’s sake; but once she donned the black-face and got a new do, she only needed to become hostile to white people, her own heritage, and bingo, she’s in. No claim of misappropriation of black culture for Rachel? What was the selling point? Was it the false claims she made about being harassed as a black woman? If they had known she already sued Howard University for discrimination as a white woman, would she still have been considered sensitive to the black experience, would she still have been teaching African-American culture at Eastern Washington University? New old saying; if you can’t beat em’, get a tan.

Melissa Harris-Perry feels that Dolezal may in fact be black. Cis-black or trans-black. Absolutely marvelous. “I wonder can it be that one would be cis-black and trans-black, that there is actually a different category of blackness, about the achievement of blackness, despite one’s parentage?” Yes folks she’s serious. Fifty shades of black as it were. And if you’re wondering what’s wrong with her question, you’re just as daft as she is. What the hell is the “achievement of blackness?” Is it something that Russell Wilson failed to achieve? Or maybe even Stacy Dash? Mia Love? For what it’s worth, Morgan Freeman doesn’t feel President Obama is quite black enough.

There are those who support Dolezal. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar feels, “Dolezal has proven herself a fierce and unrelenting champion for African-Americans politically and culturally.” Apparently, he feels she was “outed” by her vindictive parents over a legal dispute that they have with her. I wonder if the legal dispute has anything to do with her claiming not to be their daughter, claiming her adopted brother as her own son or maybe her false accusation that they punished her with “baboon whips.”

How about we take this at face value, let’s discard the emotion, the political advantage, the recriminations; we have a young woman who is suffering something psychological. Of course, episodes psychological seem to be celebrated today, but hey, humor me anyway. It would appear that we have an individual who was looking for attention, maybe an identity, a persona. Sorry, but she was conditioned early on that white equal bad, black equal good. And whether you want to admit it or not, there is as much black privilege as you claim there is white privilege. In fact, there are all sorts of minority privileges out there, and it’s supported and fostered by the political classes who seek to do no more than keep us at each other’s throats, convinced that it’s the other guy who has the leg up.

Had she become the pasty-white freckled ginger adult she was destined to become without an obvious tanning addiction, would she have been as effective a leader in the NAACP as she became? Probably. But who knows. Like Elizabeth Warren, checking off the right boxes and identifying yourself as something other than the hated white man seems to open a lot of doors. And please, don’t give me all that crap about how wonderful it is to be a white male in today’s society. Liberal society has done nothing but foster hate for all things white for my entire life, making many middle-aged white men like myself far more cynical about race relations, as we’re held responsible for everyone’s failures. We’re pretty damned tired of being told we have advantages that never materialize while we get squeezed out of opportunities we’re suited for because our little boxes weren’t the right ones checked.

Anyway, if this doesn’t start changing the conversation about race and/or blackness within the black community, nothing will. Does this not shatter some of the conventions that we’ve all had to accept or be cast as the villain, asking the right questions but excoriated for the having the temerity to ask them? Are some blacks more black than others? What about non-African-Americans who happen to be black? Where do they fit in? Or blacks who have shed the yoke of victim-hood, are they black even if they aren’t down with the cause? And what do we do with the Oreos and Uncle Toms? What does it mean to be black and what happens if I wake up one day and just happen to feel Trans-Black? Do I have to change my political views to be black or does ancestry play any part at all?

At least she’s got us talking. Or for what it’s worth, she’s probably got the majority of Americans shaking their heads in disbelief, regardless of their color. Or maybe, just maybe, a large majority of blacks in America may now finally see how viewing the world first through the prism of one’s own skin color only separates us all from one another in this society. Are there those who are white and will hate others just because they are black? Yes, of course and there always will be. Just as there are blacks who will hate anyone or anything considered too white, even hating people who actually have the lineage Rachel tried so hard to affect. Hated, just based on their political point of view.

It’s not enough to complain about racism, scream it at the top of your lungs, and use it as an excuse or a weapon. One needs to be committed to living without the consequences of those tiny little check boxes or the power we bestow upon them. Racism will never die out completely, but it will never diminish until we decide to start ignoring race altogether.

It’s what we all say we want. But like Ms. Dolezal, we’re too addicted to the power of those tiny little boxes.

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