Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Something else white folk don't know...Kwanzaa

Most white people know very little about Kwanzaa. What they really don’t know is that very few black people know anything about it either… or care.

Inexperienced white folk, which is most all of us, don’t know how to act at Christmas if we happen to cross paths with a black person. Heaven forbid a black person works with you and you have no idea if you should include something Kwanzaa or not.
I would say follow this rule: if the black person in question does in fact celebrate Kwanzaa you will probably already know it.
If the person is African, they don’t (most likely) celebrate Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is not African, it was created in the USA in 1966.
Maybe later we can get into what being “Afrocentric” means, but for now, realize most American black people are Christian and celebrate Christmas just like you. Well maybe not JUST like you, but then again not all white people celebrate it the same either, so relax. You would be better served wondering if the person is Muslim, or perhaps Jehovah’s Witness.

That being said, Kwanzaa has its roots in African-American culture and you, as a white person have no right to clown it. If you chance upon some black people in the act of mocking the lighting of candles and home made gifts… shut up. You are more than welcome to inquire, even participate with someone who does celebrate it, but to verbalize negativity about it would be akin to a black person saying St. Patrick was a Klan member and shamrocks are good for nothing else than supporting alcoholism.

On that note, I am Christian and wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Not Save the Last Dance

“There were black people all up and through that movie… and for no reason too!”

My wife shouted those words on our way back to the babysitters after seeing 7 Pounds last night. It was Will Smith, so of course you expect to see a black main character and consequentially a black love interest but what about all those other folks?

I’m not here to spoil any plot lines and I’m not the top movie critic around, but I have to comment on this. The cast of this movie isn’t huge, no epic crowds or masses. Race isn’t an issue to the plot. They could have been Asian or African and it would change nothing. To my recollection race was never mentioned. I didn’t see any drug dealers, no one got shot, no prostitutes, no cops, no aliens, and no explosions.

I did see a rocket scientist, an artist, a tax collector, doctors, telemarketer, musician, sleazy motel owner, golf, and an aquarium. Spike Lee had nothing to do with the movie and there was no big hip-hop sound track. There was even an interracial couple where the man was the white one… and it was never acknowledged.

Still there they were. Black people, for no reason at all.

We loved it.

We gave the movie a B, but it gets an A for not living up to Hollywood stereotypes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lies, @#$& Lies, and email forwards

I get these kinds of comments and I usually delete them.
I’ve gotten this particular info in quite a few emails as well.

Jack has left a new comment on your post "Being afraid isn't racist":

There are an estimated 1.5 million Black men in prison and another 3.5 million on probation. Black males make up more than 70 percent of the total prison population, even though they make up only 6 percent of the U.S. population. Although blacks are 12% of the population in reality it is just 2% of the blacks that commit 50% of the murders and a greater percentage of other crimes. Consider: black females - 6%. Blacks from zero yrs. to 12 yrs. and black males from 50-100 years commit an infinitesimal percentage of the crimes. Therefore we are left with two percent. If we eliminate crimes committed by this two percent from the U.S. statistics our country compares very favorably with all Western countries. Fact -- blacks kill 7 times more than whites kill. Fact -- blacks kill whites 20 times more than whites kill blacks. Fact -- blacks mug or commit group crime against whites 50 times more than whites commit against blacks. Fact -- blacks rape white women 2000 (yes 2000) times more than whites rape black women. In New York City, about 300 white women are raped by blacks every year BUT there has not been a black woman raped by a white male in anybody¢s memory (going back over 20 yrs.) Consider: Al Sharpton had to go upstate New York to find a hoax and that was almost 20 years ago. (Source NYT 4/22/05) According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics 2004 report (released May 2006), blacks commit 54 percent of the homicides in America even though they constitute only 12 percent of the population.An individual black male is seven times more likely to commit murder than an individual white male. It so happens that black felons commit 43 percent of aggravated assaults, 66 percent of armed robberies, 27 percent of rapes and 85 percent of interracial crimes of violence, mainly against whites (this last figure from a Justice Department report 2003). However, it's not just in the United States. The greatest dicators in recent years have emerged in Africa. People like Idi Amin of Uganda, Hastings Kamuzu Banda in Malawi, Mobutu Sese Seko, in Zaire, self-anointed Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Republic, Mohammed Saidi Barre in Somalia, Sani Abacha of Nigeria, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe -- the list is endless.

Publish this comment.

Reject this comment.

Moderate comments for this blog.

I’m going to entertain this one to
A) confront this info if you have seen it yourself, and
B) illustrate what happens when you open a dialogue on race… you get this stuff.

(just in case you are wondering, I have NEVER recieved an email or comment about how dangerous or evil white people are)

Dear “Jack”
What is the source of your info and how long did your research take?

I admit I usually just sit down and write but this time I actually did research. My research took 3 minutes. It took about 20 seconds to get these numbers and then I spent another 2 minutes and 40 seconds triple checking the sources to ensure they were legitimate.

blacks that commit 50% of the murders
According to the FBI and U.S.Dept of Justice in 2005 (most recent published year), blacks committed 52.2% of homicides compared to white’s 45.8%.

in reality it is just 2% of the blacks
If we were to assume the same for whites, and why not, yours was an assumption and your logic on this is not race specific, than it is only 2% of whites who commit all their/our crimes right? That would sort of balance things out wouldn’t it?
I would be still be a little nervous because that would mean there are 11.9 million really bad white people compared to only 1.9 million really bad black people. Whom should I fear?

Fact -- blacks kill 7 times more than whites kill
In 2005 45.8% of all murders were committed by white people.
52% of all murders were committed by black people
That’s a pretty even split especially if you consider, as you stated, that all these crimes are really only being committed by a miniscule number of people when compared with the population as a whole.
Help me out with the math, how does this come out to 7 times more likely? I would like the equation please.

Fact -- blacks kill whites 20 times more than whites kill blacks.

In 2005 black on white murders were 8.8%
White on black murders were 3.2%
86% of white victims were killed by another white while 94% of blacks were killed by another black person.
Now this is admittedly lop-sided, but you forgot a few things, like how 60.7% of murders are committed by family members.

Are you an interracial family?

25% of interracial murders are committed by perfect strangers. If you were a murderer, looking for a stranger to kill, would it be easier to find a black person (38.3 million) or a white person (239.9 million)?

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics 2004 report (released May 2006), blacks commit 54 percent of the homicides in America even though they constitute only 12 percent of the population.

In 2005 blacks only committed 52%... we’ll catch up to them if we just keep trying!
But don’t worry “Jack” because they are mostly killing each other… O wait, but so are we (remember that family statistic?).

Jack, I would love to talk to you or anyone else about all this but first, please answer a few questions:

How many murders go unsolved? Who committed those? If on trial for murder, whom is more likely to have a good lawyer, the 16 year old black kid, or the middle aged white guy?

How much do these stats reflect policing rather than what “really happened”?

Have you looked into acquittal rates for black vs. whites, as well as arrest rates for black v. white?
Which is more likely to be rigorously investigated; a white kid getting shot or a black kid?
A rich kid or a poor kid?

Why did you send me this information and what conclusions should I draw from them?
Are black people just worse people than whites?
Even if these numbers were accurate portrayals of reality, you make no offering as to why.
If you think it is this bad, how did it get this way?
What is the cause of the disparity?

What is the cause of your mind set?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Being afraid isn't racist

Being afraid isn’t racist.
Being afraid at the wrong time is suspect.

Barack talked of his white grandma admitting to clutching her purse when seeing a young black male on the street. It was an example of her irrational fear of black males, despite her raising one. Fear is an emotion. It usually works separate from one’s rational mind and occasionally quite contrary to it.

You can learn a lot about yourself by your emotional reactions. I challenge everyone to look honestly at themselves and think about when, and of whom, you are afraid.

Let me give some examples where race played a part.

I once lived on Bankhead Highway in Atlanta. My roommate and I were the only white people we ever saw there. This is where I saw my first dead body, a man shot at the entryway to our apartment complex. People laughed at me when I told them where I lived and I had police officers, on two separate occasions, tell me I was stupid for living there and not to expect any help when “they” came after me.

I never felt afraid. Why?

Because I knew the people. I was there as a religious missionary and knew that I was respected for that. All my neighbors had a deep respect for religion, even the “bad guys.” In addition to that, I was never alone, there were always two of us.

A few years later I came back to visit and found myself surprisingly nervous. Why?

I had been gone from that neighborhood about two years and no longer knew everyone. I was no longer a religious missionary but a white guy who was dressed nice, looking like I had money. I found myself leaving a friends place after dark, and realized I was alone. I got nervous because I knew that I was a mark. People around here were all broke, that hadn’t changed, and broke people tend to get a little desperate. I looked like I had money, was alone, and yes I am white. Sure race could play a factor. If some broke and desperate young black man, angry at the world, was looking for a wallet to take, what better mark than a symbol of historic oppression… the white guy?

I did not loiter.

Compare that with a work meeting I attended in D.C. not too long ago. About six or seven of us were walking back to the hotel after dinner, about two blocks off the mall, right by the capitol building. I’m six foot one and usually weigh in at about 250lbs. I’m not small. The other guys were an athletic looking bunch, all white guys, admittedly all past our primes, but not a bunch of chumps… so I thought. It was early evening. On one particular block there were a number of rough looking black folk mulling around. We didn’t know it at the time but there is a homeless shelter on that block. There were women and children looking dirty and sad, and a number of shaggy men looking at their feet. All were black. Everyone stopped at the curb like they had hit a wall. One even grabbed my shoulder as I stepped off the curb. I looked around for the car I thought I must have missed, didn’t see one, and looked at the guy and articulately said, “dude!?”
One of the other guys said to us all, “maybe we should walk around.” I think our hotel is only two blocks that way, it won’t take that long if we get there by going over to the mall and then cutting back across,” said another.

I told them to relax and walked on, not waiting for a reply. They reluctantly followed, looking like scared hobbits expecting demons to come flying from the shadows. They all thought I was trying to be some sort of tough guy.

Why would they be afraid?

There were seven of us, all able bodied men. These were families and famished looking men. They were black and they were poor. Two things I learned none of these guys had any experience with.

If any of them took two seconds to think, they would realize that even if any of these people did have bad intentions, we would be the LEAST likely bunch to go after. But they didn’t think, they just felt. Emotion outweighed rational thinking. Why such a natural jump to fear?

I now live in a city that averaged more than a murder a day last year. That only counts the people who actually die, not the ones who simply get shot or stabbed.

Should I be afraid? I know plenty of people who are. They avoid the city and get nervous when forced to certain parts of town.

None have taken the time to think, or looked things up, to realize that out of over three hundred seventy people killed, only three looked anything like me.

Ask yourself, why are you really afraid?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Why the term “African-American”?
What about “Black-American”?
Why any sort of “ – American”? aren’t we all American?
Don’t these hyphenated names just create and maintain division, contrary to the idea of “one” America?

This one is fairly easy, but let me fully explain it. Bear with me.

As early as the 1600’s, black people were being born in America. This began a new generation of black people who had never touched foot on the continent of Africa. These black people and their descendants were no longer African, so what were they?


They were not English, Spanish, Dutch, or at the time even American. There was no America as we know it. From their beginning on this continent they were denied any identity, or rather ethnicity, aside from their demeaned status. Legally no more English or Dutch than a goat would be.

Now of course a lot has happened since then.

The Revolution and subsequent constitution began the foundation of what the mainstream considers “American”. Black people were there, this new culture and identity had a formative affect on them as well, after all, they were now owned by Americans.

In 1808, two hundred years ago, the importation of slaves was outlawed. There were no longer new Africans being brought to this continent, but the ones already here, were still not Americans. In 1857, just in case anyone got any ideas, the Supreme Court reminded us all that black people would never be citizens (Dredd Scott Decision).

Then America had a big war over slavery. America didn’t want slavery, and those who did, tried not to be Americans anymore. This was a big deal, there were a lot of black people, mostly in the south, and they represented nearly all the money, either as property or as means of production, in half the United States.
America won the war and even passed the 13th Amendment in 1865 to free the slaves. The vanquished slave culture did not give in so easily and the 14th Amendment was passed shortly thereafter (1868), making these newly free black people, nearly all born on the continent, Americans!

Now these newly christened Americans got up to speed exercising their new rights and participated in the workings of this country. They were elected Mayors, owned businesses, and even sat in the Senate and Congress. Many white Americans were not happy with this and a systematic and violent campaign was launched to relegate these “citizens” to a non-participatory status. These black Americans did as any citizen would and plead in the courts for protection of their rights. The courts said “no”.

White Americans, thanks in large part to their civil war training, were quite good at using violence, resulting in those black politicians and business’s disappearing in less than a decade. The black Americans persisted in asking the courts and the government for help.
That government consistently said no building up to one great climactic ruling in 1896. This is when the Supreme Court, or “America”, said black people are American but must stay separate from all the other Americans. It legitimized the idea that White Americans make the rules and Black Americans must follow them. To emphasize the point in 1908 the Supreme Court disallowed a college in Kentucky from admitting a black student… even though Berea College, a private school, wanted too.

This continued up till, and even past, the signing of the Civil Rights Act in1968.

Let’s give a small recap. The United States at this point has been a country for 192 years. Black people have been deemed legally “American” for 96 of those years.
Of those 96 years black people were only semi-allowed to act as citizens for 28 years (between 14th Amendment and Plessy v Ferg). I say semi-allowed because all historians agree this was probably THE worst time for a black person to try to participate as a citizen. After those 28 years America settled on a sort of compromise.

Black people were allowed to be Americans as long as they kept to themselves, and asked nothing of the government. This was the law for 68 years.

Now ask again why black people may call themselves African-Americans. For 188 years America had been an independent country. Black people were here the entire time but except for a brief reconstruction period, were never allowed to be fully American.

This whole time they continued to grow and develop. They developed religions with accompanying songs and styles of worship. They forged the Underground Railroad with all its legend and drama. They created jazz. They displayed great minds like Douglass, Dubois, Booker T, Langston and Zora. While being held at arms length they stamped their mark on what was considered cool, putting Harlem on the map. They fought as soldiers in wars, despite being denied rights. They formed their own schools, own clubs, own traditions, own foods, own language. All distinctly American, and all distinctly different than white America.

For 188 years they were forcibly separated. For 188 years they grew into their own parallel culture. They became “African-American”. Maybe “Black-American”. It is not my place to give the culture a name, but it exist still the same.

It is now 2008, forty years since the Civil Rights Act. Isn’t it time for things to change?


I have no place to say that someone else should deny what they are and become something new. There is an American black culture. It exists and has for some time. There are those within it who would like to assimilate. There are those who don’t. I personally believe we can, and wish we would, not only peacefully coexist, but easily intermingle. To deny that culture the right to declare itself would be no different than telling a Navajo he can no longer be called that.

Our two Americas can be one. I would say now, more than ever we are “one”. But by being undivided legally or in nationality should not mean giving up one’s personal history. That is and always has been the beauty of America.

Fly your Italian flag. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Be black and proud. Speak Spanish. Do any of these things and you can, at the same time, be American.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

November 4th, 2008

My Daughter Marlee and I spent yesterday giving people rides to the polls.

It was mostly old black ladies who didn't bat an eye at this strange white guy helping them in and out of the car. Everyone gushed with gratitude and beamed with pride. Two of the ladies commented on how strange the neighborhood looked, they hadn't left the house in years. this election was a lot bigger deal to them than could be imagined.

No one in the long lines complained at all, most smiled, as I wheeled a lady in a wheelchair past them to the front of the line.

I followed one address down a trash strewn street, up to a corner being patrolled by the usual crowd of young men in hoodies and white tees. As I pulled up, one of the guys in cornrows and saggy pants, punches a buddy in the shoulder, throws up a deuce to the others, and hops in my car. He smiled, shook my hand, and said, "I haven't done this in a long time. Could you kinda show me how the voting machine works?"

I let a poll worker walk him through the machine. I wanted the people to see me acting without political bias.

When I gave the guy a ride home he had no problem letting me drop him off right at the crowded corner, as opposed to "around the corner" like an embarrassed teenager, ashamed of daddy's rusty car.

It was the type of day all these people expect to sit around, years from now, and recount where they were. Just like the Hugstable grand parents telling tales of marching with "the King."

I don't expect things to change over night. I will not be surprised if they never do change in a lasting way. But yesterday people were hopeful and no one assumed I was the enemy. Yesterday this city had brotherly love. No matter what happens in the next four years, it was worth it for what I got to experience yesterday.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I'm tired of this. Part 1

It’s my fault. After all, I signed up for it.

I’m not tired of obvious racists. They usually don’t try very hard to hide, you tend to know who they are, and we generally pay them no mind.

I’m tired of everyone else.
O.K. not everyone, let me explain.

No one wants to admit they are wrong, not even to themselves.

Black and white people know very little about each other.

That about sums it up.

Polls have shown, and my experience confirms, that black and white people’s views on race differ dramatically. White people think race isn’t an issue, while black people do. When I say differ dramatically, it could be summed up as; few whites think race still matters, while nearly ALL black people do.

Someone has to be wrong, don’t they?

Maybe I could re-word it a little.

White people don’t think they are personally discriminating against black people and assume other whites are like them.

Black people have their race pointed out daily, if not constantly, and observe how it paints every initial interaction with others, as well their communities, so how could it not matter?

If this is the case than I could make an argument that they are both right. It’s a communication issue plain and simple.
So why don’t we just communicate?

Here’s a suggestion for white people. Ask your close black friend if they think race is still an issue in America, and when they say “yes”, ask them why. Wouldn’t that be a simpler and more accurate tactic than simply reading the polls in the paper or seeing them on TV, and thinking, “black people are all crazy”?

O wait, you probably don’t have a black friend close enough to you to ask that question do you?

Before you get all defensive, feeling picked on and oppressed by political correctness, it cuts both ways.

To black people I ask, “do you hang out with any white people on the weekend”? I know you work with them, go to school with them, see them in every TV show, see them in every political office, every occupation, every commercial, writing for every paper, etc. etc. but does that mean you really know any of them?
Ask your white friend why white people don’t think race matters. If you don’t have anyone to ask that question than you don’t really know white people.

That’s what I’m tired of.

Neither side knows the other, there doesn’t seem to be a general effort to fix that, and it’s getting worse.

I know both and firmly believe that neither is crazy, or… hold your breath… neither are bad. It isn’t rocket science; we just need to get to know each other a little better. So why don’t we?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

WE WIN !!!!!

We got in!!! We were there!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

White people need to know this happens

Little story.

Barack Obama was in Philly giving open to the public rallies in various locations. The crowds were huge, excited, even giddy. These rallies were quite obviously “the place to be.”

Some friends of mine who have been working as volunteers on Obama’s campaign, were working as ticket takers and ushers at the rally. One specifically, one with extra…”backbone”, was assigned to check tickets for the V.I.P. section and control who gets in or out. This lady was checking everybody, “Hi Mr. City council, do you have a pass? You do? O.K. go ahead.” You get the point.

Along comes the President of the Philadelphia NAACP. Miss backbone has no idea who he is; she has never seen him before. He has no pass and she refuses to let him in the V.I.P. section. Of course Mr. President won’t take no for an answer and starts to make a scene. Backbone calls over one of her supervisors, a lady who quit her job in NYC to come to a battleground state and volunteer for Obama. The supervisor has never met this man before either, he loudly lets her know who he is, and proceeds to belittle these ladies and cover every “do you know who I am” cliché there is.

Another friend of mine, who has lived in town for some time, is overly active in local issues, and knows who this guy is, came to the rescue. She matched loud with LOUDER, asking “who does he think he is?” She asked why he thinks he is a V.I.P. for this event when none of the people working the event have ever seen him before. She asked why, if he is so important in the community, none of the community has ever seen him before? She asked why if he is in charge of helping out black people, none of theses people (all the players in this story are black…as well as the surrounding crowd) have ever seen or been helped by him?

She could hold her own, but that is not the notable part of the story. As she carried on the crowd made it well known whose side they were on. She began to get a chorus of “amens” with each point she was making. The crowd got loud enough that some elected city officials, who knew my friend, came over to try to discretely attempt to distract and calm her down.

I believe Mr. NAACP probably got in eventually.

Why do white people need to hear this story? Because they/we never do.

I try to tell my white friends that most black people feel the same way they do about Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. They don’t believe me.
I know several white business owners who tell stories of black politicians and organizations pushing forward unqualified candidates. I can tell them this is in no way representative of the black population but how would these white people ever know? They don’t actually know, in any meaningful way, any black people.

As far as these white people know Jesse really is a voice for the masses.
As far as they know the crony being forwarded by the black politician is the best the black community has to offer.

These become the white people that oppose affirmative action.
These instances leave a sour taste in the mouth of whites, who then open their mouth to their friends.
These instance become how white people view the black community, and as far as I can see, neither side is doing much to contradict that notion.

All I can do is tell a little story, one of many, and keep telling my white friends that so-called black leaders represent black people even less than Bill Clinton represents all the people from Arkansas, or that W represents all people from Texas.

They probably still won’t believe me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Who Am I" is back!

Once again you have a chance to prove your superior ability to identify roughly drawn portraits of people you usually don't find grouped together. I will post your wrong answers so others don't repeat your mistakes (aren't I helpful) but will hold on to correct answers till someone gets ALL THREE right.

As always, points will be awarded, which is important because the commissioner just ruled that points from "who am I " can be redeemed in your fantasy football league.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Public Service Announcement


I just realized that Halloween comes right BEFORE the presidential election. This means parties and costumes. Let me say this now while you are all planning your costumes...


No it does not matter if he is running for president. If you want to be Barack Obama buy a mask. This is not negotiable. No it is not "unfair" or political correctness gone too far. Just give up the idea now or buy your mask. Ask questions if you need to, just put the makeup back in the drawer.
(artist, Ryan Muldowney)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Criminal Record

Wednesday night we had a church youth activity at my house. We played a Jeopardy game centered on our church's standards.

The category was "Sabbath Day Observance"

The answer was "when looking for a job you should tell your potential employer {blank}"

(the answer is, "we don't work on Sunday)

In an effort to win a twelve year old boy quickly blurted out "Your criminal record!!!"

As people laughed not only he, but his teammates as well, looked around wondering what was funny.

This kid has never commit ed a crime in his life.

You can't tell me this kid has the same opportunities I had at his age.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Johann Sebastian Bach

I figured this was appropriate after my last post.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Football is the answer to all our problems, answering the question in my last post.

Football is the answer to all our problems.

Don’t laugh, I’m serious.

Now I’m not just talking about sports in general but this specific one. I will concede that all sports, well most sports, have merit. It is good to learn that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. Winning takes work, or luck, or a weaker opponent. Sometimes you just aren’t good enough, sometimes the referee robs you, and sometimes you are just unprepared.

There are rules. If you choose to disobey the rules penalties are enforced, unless they don’t catch you, but someone always notices.

Sports are proactive, or reactive, but always active. Doing is required. You have to play. There are those who watch, and they are often loud and always have an opinion, but someone has to play.

All these things apply to sport and life. These merits have made room in our academic institutions and our children’s schedules. Long live sports!

But if I was told all sports must go but one, I would need no time for deliberation. The answer is clear. If I had to choose one sport with which to instruct our youth, one sport with the most to offer, one sport with which to craft our world, it would be Football!

First, before you start, I’ll address the violence. Yes, football is rough, so is life. I am not fundamentally against spanking kids, but I’m doing everything I can not to. It is hard not to because I know that sometimes a quick smack in the mouth teaches a lesson quicker than a sermon, 5 time outs, and forfeited toys. The problem is I don’t want my children associating smacks in the mouth with me. That’s what is great about football. There are strict rules governing the use of violence. There is room to exert it with everything you have, but only while in control. When you loose control there are the most severe of penalties… you get thrown out of the game.

There are pads to protect the player. In a violent sport there must be some sort of protection but pads also change the game. What my rugby playing brothers don’t understand is that football pads are covered in plastic and metal. Plastic and metal are much harder than muscle and bone. Pads allow a player to play past the usual physical limitations. Without pads a player could not run full speed directly into another player, who is also running directly at him, exploding into the contact rather than bracing for it. The pads remove hesitation and fear, allowing the player to give it their all without inhibitions. The result is much more explosive collisions, more intensity, and more violence.

Laws, family, and society work as pads for life. All can both protect us and change the nature of the game we are playing. The more padding life or society gives us, the harder we can play without fear of pain or penalty. If we abuse this padding the consequences are also amplified.

Football, more than any other sport, must be coached. Someone is calling the plays, directing the game, orchestrating the whole show. Every play is choreographed. There are so many moving parts that must work in concert with each other, that the one moving the chess pieces must be heeded. A player must learn to take instruction, feedback, and criticism, not only in daily practices but during the heat of battle as well. Player and coach must learn to communicate and wills must bend. Someone must lead and someone must call the shots. A player who wants to play must learn that performance gets the coaches attention. If a player wants to get noticed, wants to contribute, they must gain the coaches favor. Some coaches judge solely on skill and performance, others on personality and family. A player must learn that if the coach is running the show, the player must accommodate. Most all programs have multiple coaches. A player must learn to listen to different coaches and use these coaches as advocates in their favor with the head coach. Each individual must not only perform individually, but gain favor of layers of others, be they teammates or coaches, and at the end of it, all must work together to win.

Society works the same way. Jobs, governments, neighborhoods, and families all possess layers of hierarchy and networks that must be maneuvered and navigated.

Unlike basketball, baseball, or even hockey, no one player can completely dominate a game. There is no real Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods of football. In basketball all players are more or less doing the same activities, dribbling, passing, shooting, defending. Some may perform these tasks with slightly different roles but essentially a center and a guard are both dribbling, passing, shooting, and defending. There are some players who do all these things so well they can render the rest of the team secondary or even inconsequential. A pitcher can throw a no-hitter. A goalie can amazingly shut down an entire team… not in football.

Each position in football has a unique purpose, and all must be done well to have success. A quarterback is useless without good lineman, and the two positions are absolutely nothing alike. Receivers and linebackers are nothing alike but both are essential. The different positions are so varied that they require players with a staggeringly wide range of skills and abilities. Some positions require obscene size and strength, others speed and agility. Some take aggression and reaction, others vision and cunning.

To win a team and its players must learn to perform individual tasks while also relying on others to simultaneously perform completely different tasks. You must balance individual responsibility and trust in others, as well as a system. A player must learn to trust someone who is nothing like them; doing things they can in no way do themselves. Leaders may emerge and weaknesses may become apparent, but to win all must adjust and work together.

This lesson, above all else, can make the world a better place. We must not all be alike in the world, nor should we be. Difference is good, even essential. The key is learning to appreciate that no one position, or person, can do without the other and all are important.

As long as we are all on the same team.

We perform our roles with varying levels of success, while others do the same. We win, we lose, and our actions have consequences for both ourselves and others. The way we play in life has rewards and sometimes pain. How much better prepared is a person, or a society, that has practiced living while young, before it really matters? How much better prepared is someone who has learned what it takes to win, or lost and still got up to play again?

Our world and our society are fraught with problems. We have racism, starvation, greed, and selfishness. Irresponsibility, laziness, nepotism, and politics are everywhere.

What is to be done?

Let’s play football!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Social Studies class got it all wrong.

Have you ever read a recipe, planned a great meal, followed the directions, and had it turn out terrible? There is always a chance the recipe was a good recipe but somewhere along the line you messed it up, forgot something, or maybe you just don’t understand the kitchen well enough to cook well.

That sums up my education of the civil rights movement.

The civil rights movement was not love and peace, it was rights.

It wasn’t, “please stop hating me and let me sit next to you on the bus”, it was, “stop hanging people and let me have a job.” How did I miss that? I was paying attention. I was genuinely interested. I was taught the civil rights movement had something to do with everyone getting along. I thought it was about the content of our character and not judging others. MLK and the freedom riders won that war. Mission accomplished right?

So why are black people still angry?

The fundamental misunderstanding was, and I think still is, about how bad it really was for black people. The problem wasn’t not being accepted, few people thought that even possible. The problem was feeding your kids. The problem was owning your own house for a fair price. The problem was being able to walk down the street without fear of violence. The problem was a justice system that assumed your guilt and took very little effort to protect you.

Hurt feelings were trivial compared to a lynching. Hurt feelings are trivial compared to working hard every day while knowing you will never reach a level of comfort.
I was not fully taught how bad it was AFTER slavery and I don’t think I’m the only one.

I don’t think I’m the only one because I still hear people, when confronted with a complaining black person (on TV of course), say “slavery was over 150 years ago, get over it.”
The majority of all white people were relatively untouched by the racial tension of those days. Most of us remain relatively untouched (outside the media) by black people PERIOD.

Do we really think people marched, got arrested, and risked their life over a seat on a bus?

That was the battle, we passed some laws, then what?

Do we really expect “them” to like “us” just like that?
Sure it may have been 40 years since then but what has anyone done since then to encourage black people to like white people? Did we suddenly turn nice and accepting? Have we (whites) done enough by simply refraining from burning crosses? Yes that is a fair question because THAT was the problem, not just dirty water fountains.

Serious question… Who out there is, or has ever, done anything proactive to promote a healthy social relationship between black and white?

(you may be surprised by my answer)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

How did you get where you are?

We tend to think we get what we have because we worked hard and acted responsibly... or the reverse may be true. Sure we may have done those things, but is that why any of us really are where we are?

Did you go to college?

You studied and worked hard to get into and through college. How did you know the entrance process and requirements? When did you realize or think college was an option for you? Who placed those ideas in your head? Did you know other people who were, or had been, in college? Did you do all your homework on your own or did some one “help” you? I don’t mean help as in what is four plus four but as in, “get in there and do your homework!” How many of your friends, or people in the neighborhood, finished high school?

How many times did you or your family move from k-12?

How did you pay for school?

How did you get your current job? Did you just walk up and apply or did you know someone? Did you know anyone in a similar industry before you started working there?

Did you ever get in trouble with the law growing up? What were the consequences? Who helped you get out of, or into trouble?

The answers to all these questions may or may not play a large role in where or who you are today… you tell me?

After answering these questions consider that the likely answers change depending on your race (and other factors, mainly economic) and ask why.

Is it all up to us, or does our situation play a large role? How did those before us get into these situations?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What Do we Really Know About "Them"?

What do you really know about them?

Some time ago I read an article about local high school graduation ceremonies. This article was a little bit of a rant rather than report. It was the smaller neighborhood paper so I expected nothing too ground breaking. What I did get was a great example of culture clashes still happening today.

The ceremonies in question were from the local Catholic schools. The Catholic school system here is the most viable option for those wishing to escape a drowning, and burning, public system, as opposed to the unaffordable ivy prep style private schools that also dot the city.

Where else would a Catholic graduation be held than in a cathedral? Makes sense.

The article was about the behavior of some “types” of parents and families. These people were designated as “newcomers”, a different “class”, and not “from” the usual neighborhood. What was not stated, but is true and obvious is that these people are black.

The behavior in question, and being complained about, was; shouting, clapping, cheering, and standing up. It was pointed out how inappropriate behavior this is for both a church and a ceremony such as this. The writer was deeply and vocally offended.

Has this person ever been to a black church?

What is appropriate to one is not always appropriate to another.
The writer saw these actions as inconsiderate at best and more deeply disrespectful.

Was it?

Did the writer consider that in the churches these “newcomers” attend, if you like, or approve of something you immediately let them know? Did the writer consider that in this culture NOT showing approval or excitement when one should be excited, is seen as disrespectful? Did the writer know anything of the black church’s association of spirit, progression, and making a “joyful noise”? I’m sure in the minds of these newcomers they were acting as expected and as is appropriate.

Now the inverse is true.

If you enter a new place or culture you should take some time to learn the ins and outs. Did the newcomers stop to think of what a Catholic would see as appropriate behavior in a catholic cathedral? Did they know or care what the “others” thought was appropriate?

The two cultures, black and white, are different. These differences are OK.

Who if anyone is paying attention?

Why is no one taking the time to educate each other on these things, or are they but no one wants to listen?

No, in stead we just watch, get offended, and talk about whats wrong with "them."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

What we learn from Malibu's Most Wanted

What We Learn From “Malibu’s Most Wanted”.

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of things we know, only from movies.

There are lots of places I have never been to, events I did not witness, and characters I never met. Still, I had my picture taken with the Rocky statue, if I ever go to “Nam” everything I see will have to pass through an Apocalypse Now filter, and thanks to the Power of One, I consider myself an expert on South Africa.

This being said, there are few things that irk me the way a nice interracial relationship drama or love story. Why? Do I have thin skin? Are the cultural contrasts off limits in my mind? No, it’s the unavoidable, predictable, and wrong, instructional section of all these movies.
For example:

Chris Rock’s dancing old rich people in Down to Earth with the resulting old lady’s “this party is off the hizzle!”

Again, Chris Rock in Head of State, when he finally goes off script, takes off his jacket, and starts preaching. Of course all the white folk start breaking into hilariously uncharacteristic “Amens!”

Bullworth, when Warren Beatty sees the light, and starts rapping everything.

And worst of all, Save the Last Dance…pretty much the whole movie.
This one is the worst because it isn’t trying to be funny.
There is an “iconic” scene where the black guy is teaching the white girl how to dance like a black person. They start by sitting in chairs and the guy says something along the lines of, “if you want to hang with us you can’t sit like that. You have to slouch and loosen up.”
This begins Julia Stile’s education on how to get black people to accept you. This is done by wearing puffy coats and beanies, slouching and strutting, and of course a more affective bump n’ grind on the dance floor. This works brilliantly in this, and all the others, as the races all start to get along when we finally learn to act like the stereotypes of the other.

Moral of the story, all black people say “wassup dawg” and white people are stiff and nerdy.

Enter Malibu’s Most Wanted.” A rich white boy with identity issues, refuses to act white.

I LOVED this show. Why? Moral of the story is act like yourself… even if that means rapping about when people are like all up on your private beach, yo.

Even better… one of the best ever on the issue, is Finding Forrester. Old white guy author, young black kid who plays ball, and they navigate learning about each other beautifully.

One of the worst days of my life was walking into a record store in L.A. and the Idaho farm boy I was with approached the store clerk with, “wassup sista? Where the [????] at?” He was serious.

I wanted to die, and I blame Save the Last Dance.

Yerba Mate'

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Beginners luck Cappy

Monday, August 18, 2008

Who Are They?

Admittedly not my best drawings but I think there are enough visual clues to make this somewhat easy... let the games begin!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's in it for me?

What’s in it for me?

Life is not easy for any of us. We each have our struggles, be they visible to others or not, we still have them. We usually toil and struggle in our professional lives, work hard where it is required, then surround ourselves with people we enjoy or are comfortable around to accommodate relaxation or recreation. Our social lives are usually a path of least resistance, or high return investment, designed to give balance or fulfillment to our otherwise stressful and taxing existence.

Diversity in our social lives is not easy and sometimes seems unnatural. This diversity need not be racial, it can be economic or nationality, gender or musical tastes, age or religion, but any of these categories of experience or interest, differentiate ourselves one from another. We are usually most comfortable around those we are most alike and form closer relationships with them.

The reasons why friendships across racial lines may be difficult are many, and not really the question being posed. The question is why.

Why should we desire or pursue interaction with those of another race? What, if any, are the benefits? If your/my life is busy and hard, why should I work on something that will only cause more discomfort and stress? Discomfort and stress seam to cause themselves without my asking for it…why would I add more?

Is it worth it?
Why should I try?
Should I try?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

There is Something Black People Don't Really Know About White People

There is something black people don’t really know about us white people…

There is no white community.

“What” you say. “I know plenty of places, organizations, events, activities, that are nearly all white, how much more white can a community be? In fact this country works on a foundation of whiteness, how can you say there is no white community!?

Sorry, there just isn’t a “white” community.
With the small exceptions of the lunatic fringes, we white people don’t relate to other whites on the basis of skin color. I once spent over a year living in an all black place doing nothing but going around and talking to nothing but black people all day. Even in this environment, when I would chance upon a stray white person, nothing inside me yearned for them or assumed I had anything remotely in common with that person. Now this is not because I had lost my identity (my whiteness was constantly pointed out), but I just never identified myself, or any other white person by their color.

Now many may argue with me or recite theory on “white privilege”, but this is classroom knowledge not common or practical knowledge. Try this: ask five white people to pick five words that best describe themselves. I have done it more than five, much more, and not once has “white” made the list. All but a few black people I have asked to do the same thing have listed the word “black” somewhere near the top.

This difference makes sense in that any minority group has some shared experience in whatever it is that makes them a minority, but white people are not a minority. Now some may identify with things that are associated with whiteness, as in: Irish, German, polo player, etc. but this does not mean skin color has registered at all in their own mind.

I say this to enable communication and interpretation across racial lines.

Black people as a whole, assume some similarity, at least in how others treat them, with other black people. A black person should not assume that a white person relates to another person on whiteness, and when referring to the white community, be assured that the white person in question will balk, or simply assume you are wrong.

This is part of what is at the root of white people’s defensiveness when whites are accused of racism. They are forced into considering their race as a whole, for which they have no experience, and will harp on how they do not fit into whatever generalization has just been made, thus side tracking from the original topic.

If you wish to communicate, explain, or even accuse, try breaking down your comments in the same way the white people themselves divide themselves, i.e.: rural Southern men, cowboys, NYC investment bankers, country music fans, hippies, yuppies, surfers, democrats, republicans, or Catholics.

Try using any one of these definers and you may be amazed at how much more constructive or honest your interactions will be.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


I’m not a bad person. No, really I’m not.
I know, and have known, a few black people, but no real close friends.
I would have liked to have been better friends but I was pushed away.
I studied hard in school and work diligently at my job.
I didn’t have a silver spoon in my mouth… or even saw a silver spoon.
I have never witness an act of racism against a black person but have seen some get preferential treatment.
I hear Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton talking about how racist America is and how white people are causing the troubles faced by the black community, but I have never caused, nor have I ever seen any one I know cause one bit of harm or discrimination to a black person.
I think racism is over… at least the kind coming from white people.
In fact I’m getting tired of being called bad, not being allowed to defend myself, while listening to others say hateful things about white people… about me.
I’m losing patients, and I'm not alone.


I can’t ignore this person.

I don’t think this person should be ignored.

This is a good, intelligent person.

What would you say to them?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Old rugby story...still holds true (mostly)

The Cancer of the Alternative Sport

American rugby is a club, not a sport. For better or for worse, that’s all it is right now. While rugby struggles to take hold in the US, some of those who love the game most are holding it back.
Rugby guys are a dedicated bunch.
Coaches toil with no pay, players practice on grassless vacant lots, athletes pay their own travel costs, and selection to represent your country can mean having to quit your job. Old boys play their way into the hospital because their passion to play is stronger than their wrinkled bodies. Young athletes travel long road trips to play important matches in front of roaring crowds of zero.
Yet, with all this passion, we consider ourselves lucky to come away with one win in the World Cup. Why?

The answer at the tip of everyone’s lips is money. Rugby’s most pathetic pitch is greener than USA Rugby’s bank account. The Eagles are essentially a bunch of volunteers competing against well-paid professionals, and it shows on the field. It is easy to see the need for funds and while receiving financial support would solve many problems and open even more doors, it is not the real cause for America’s failure.

Alternative Sport
The real problem lies in the "alternative sport" culture fostered in clubs from coast-to-coast. A large majority of those who play rugby in the US love the culture more than the game. Countless write-ups in local papers and recruiting pitches tout the unique camaraderie and sportsmanship associated with rugby.
Fox telecasts are produced in a set made to look like a pub and post game parties are legendary to the point that most college students have been to one while never having attended a game. Rugby culture is truly an entity all its own, but pints in the pub have never equaled points on the board.
Nothing is wrong with a love for the lifestyle but it must be understood that as long as that is the focus and foundation of American rugby we will never win. For proof that culture, not money, is the issue at hand, one need look no further than last years brief Team Roc sponsorship.

Team Roc
Finally, after years of struggling in obscurity and poverty, some truly deep pockets were ready to empty in rugby’s direction. Here was a sponsorship from a company with not just millions at its disposal, but distribution and exposure as well! This was a record company experienced at getting its product into millions of homes in every nook and cranny of the country. They were ready to give our little sport a chance and how did rugby react?
We bucked.
What was the problem? Were there disagreements over how the money would be allocated? Was it arguments over player selection or coaching? Was it the schedule or game plan? Nope. Not a voice complained about any of these things, in fact no one complained of anything to do with the actual game itself. Yet the rugby public bucked, and bucked hard.
Articles and letters were written and conversations ensued over what this sponsorship would do, not to the team, but to the culture. The outcry and comments were truly amazing. Fears were aired over the image and propriety of the sponsor. This company was accused of promoting violence and debauchery.
Of course these concerns were coming from the same "blokes" who have made post match festivities famous for… violence and debauchery.
Concerns were voiced that the market associated with this sponsor would lower the sportsmanship and modest behavior that rugby demands. Did any of these critics watch the Tri-nations? I suppose George Gregan and Carlos Spencer are good buddies who never get riled up? Those Springboks are really known for their sportsmanship aren’t they?
Every American who watched the USA 7s on TV should remember back to their post game banter and see if it was centered on the play of the teams or on the rap soundtrack and advertisements. Most can’t remember the scores but they remember the music.

Not A Good Fit?
It was widely decided that this sponsorship was simply not a good fit. Why is that? Did the check bounce? Apparently the American rugger decided that somehow Hip-Hop was not as responsible as Guinness or Michelob. I wonder what image Vodafone, Ford or Steinlager portray.
It’s obvious that American rugby does not want to be a competitor but rather an "alternative" club of guys who share a passion for the same hobby. Not convinced? Try this test.
Visit a rugby chat-room and bring up the subject of gridiron. Then count the seconds before the subject shifts from rules of the game to end zone dances and all that is wrong with American society. It is unavoidable.
"Rugby players don’t dance after every tackle or pound their chests after every point," is a popular quote. Somehow it’s O.K. for New Zealand to dance before every match, and I guess the anti-celebration fans have never watched Fiji play. Nothing is sure but death, taxes, and conversations about American rugby eventually sinking in the swamp of, "I’m glad we aren’t football".

Attitude Adjustment Needed
The affect of the collective community should not be underestimated. If we rugby playing "Yanks" ever want to join the rest of our nation and its tradition of winning, there must be an attitude adjustment. Right now we are simply a clique crying over lack of attention.
How can we compete as Americans while trying our hardest to not let the sport become American? We say we want to grow and win. We tout how brotherly and accepting we are, when in reality we are simply looking for more people to join the club, enlarging our crowd of like-minded buddies.
If you see yourself as an exception, consider a few questions: how many players on your squad actually live in the neighborhood where your practice field is located? If you share the field with the local little league football team, do you see these neighbors as potential recruits or an annoyance? When a recruit or competing player shows up in baggy shorts, or wearing cornrows, do you think to yourself, "that isn’t what a rugby player looks like?"
A call must be put out to everyone in this country who loves the oblong ball, to re-evaluate what they want the sport to be. Maybe after we do this we can finally turn the corner. Maybe we can get Americans to play the game. Maybe we can get people to see the sport as an option and not just a foreign oddity. Maybe then American companies will fund us out of obscurity. Maybe then Americans will come across a match on TV and wonder what the score is rather than what that game is.

Maybe then we will win.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What do we do now?

Its always easier to point out what happened than it is to come up with what to do next.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What and where are they?

O.K. I'm back.
This one isn't very hard to figure out but they are some cool places. Places I would like to see in person.
What are these buildings and where are they?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

Why I beat the dead keeps kicking

Two places I feel close ties with have made national news recently. This opens the door for conversation on a couple points.

Curious George
The owner of the bar cited his right to freedom of speech.
I agree, he has a right to make the shirt, I will defend him on that. I would like to add for those who do not know the area, Marietta
(where the shirt was made) is not a country hick town. It is an affluent suburb of Atlanta chalk full of houses that have retained their value despite the housing crisis.
The shirts sold out.
Is racism really a thing of the past?

Obama Sock Monkey
My daughter has a sock monkey. The maker of the Obama version has ceased production, apologized, and claims it did not realize this doll would be offensive.
Even if the manufacturer was simply unaware as they claim, this one hurts.

To be unaware that referring to a black person as a monkey is the height of ignorance. It shows a complete lack of historical knowledge and a complete blind eye to the experience of millions of black people.
Reading the responses to columns dealing with this story in both the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune have sent me into a funk. I should know better, as these comment sections tend to attract the fringe who are simply trying to get a rise out of readers, but the tone was more than disappointing.
The idea is repeated that the outcry was unfair, because Bush is called a monkey all the time and “the left” are not upset by this.
Do I really need to explain why this is not a case of unfair double standard? Have political lenses really made empathy this out of focus?

Do black people need thicker skin or do white people need to knock it off?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gordon B.

This was done from my seat, 4 rows from the stand. He kept looking right at me either thinking I was some great note taker, or he was more likely wishing I would stop doodeling and pay better attention.

Friday, June 20, 2008