Sunday, February 17, 2019

When Did God Forsake Us?

Throughout the course of my life I've heard Christians, especially Evangelicals, argue that God has removed the blessings and covering from America we took for granted. They say all of the violence, addiction, death and destruction we are seeing is a result of losing favor with God. Let's say, for the sake of agreement, that's all true. Where was God during the genocide of this continent's original inhabitants, chattel slavery, Black codes, Jim Crow, misogynistic treatment of women and segregation?

Did God sanction those atrocities? Did a loving God turn a blind eye to the undeserved suffering of those people? Did God bless and cover those responsible for the crimes against their humanity?

When did God turn his back on America? What was the final straw? I have questions.

These aren't questions about Theodicy, bad things happen to good people all the time and we are left wondering why God allows the innocent to be victimized. These are questions about a nationalist ideology that ignores history and prioritizes the culture wars. Too many Christians refuse to address these kinds of questions. Did God bless the dehumanizing and barbaric behavior that was a fundamental part of the formation of this nation?

Friday, February 8, 2019

Something I wish I understood in My Teens


Duh! This should be obvious, but the truth is: a lot of us figure this out too late. We live in a society that applauds every effort and accomplishment of children, but at some point the cheering stops. The overwhelming majority of our lives are lived without people on the sidelines rooting us on. That's fine as long as we remember to cheer for ourselves.

We are the only ones responsible for setting and accomplishing our goals. All of us have had doors open and close right in front of us. Some of those doors closed because we were too afraid to walk through them. It's up to us to find the confidence necessary to meet our potential. It's better to fail miserably at something outside of your comfort zone than to live the rest of your life looking back and wondering what if.

This advice is cliche, but it rings true. Find yourself! Accept yourself! Love yourself! Believe in yourself! Keep pushing! Fail trying! Never fail the same way twice! Die living!

Your successes all start with a healthy relationship with yourself. Keep Grinding!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Writing is Life!

I write over two hundred thousand words a year. This number doesn't include texts, Facebook posts or work related emails. Words are my life. I read them. I study them. I work to understand them. I pick my words very carefully.

One of the hardest things about writing is knowing my words can be misunderstood or willfully distorted. With that said, I will never stop writing. I will never stop advocating for the people and causes I believe in. Being popular is a distant second to being free. Too many of us avoid "controversial" subjects because being "liked" is more important than being honest. I'm not that guy. I would rather a person not like me for who I am than "like" me for who they think I am.

For the record: just because I disagree with you about something doesn't mean I dislike you- unless our disagreement is about the oppression and dehumanization of people. We can disagree about complex issues with dignity. I never use profanity to back my arguments, and I avoid ad hominem attacks. Anyone is welcome to agree or disagree.

If my words cause you distress please unfollow; no hard feelings. We are allowed to ignore each other. If you have been part of this from the beginning: respect. I appreciate your support. You helped make it possible for me to have many of the opportunities I have. Those of you who've invested their time and patience in me have helped me gain access to platforms that put my words in front of thousands of readers a week. I'm not on social media for cat pictures and gossip. This is part of my grind. If you rock with me, cool; If not, cool. I promise you my heart will stop beating before I stop writing.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Governor Northam: Exhibit (A) In The Case Against Politicians

Rudolph Cardwell Sr., Perlista Henry, Ralph Northam, Linda Cardwell, Danny Cardwell 

Ralph has to go! There's no way he can continue as the Governor of Virginia. This is a painful sentence to write, but a necessary one. I've covered the Governor at a debate, a ribbon cutting, and a few other small events. I've met him a handful of times. I sincerely thought he was the real deal. He came off as a kind and caring person, but he has to resign. I was fooled. We all were fooled. He. Has. To. Go.

If Governor Northam turned over a new leaf and changed his "past" racist ways he did a horrible job of trying to convince us. His press conference was painful. He either doesn't get the outrage behind his past actions or doesn't care. His apology was almost as disappointing as his yearbook photo and past fascination with Blackface. He acted as if he found out Friday this picture existed. He expected us to believe that a 25 year old intelligent medical student didn't have the intellectual horsepower to know how offensive those images have always been. He. Has. To.Go.

Governor Northam is the kind of politician older Black activist have been warning me about. He's the kind of politician I've been writing about since I started participating in politics. He's the kind of white politician who shows up in Black churches singing hymns and talking about how bad racism is. He's the kind of Democratic politician who understands how important the Black vote is and will say anything to get it. He's the kind of politician who makes communities of color distrustful of election year shenanigans. His presences in the Governor's mansion is a slap in the face to voters of color who have been taken for granted by the very politicians they entrusted with their support. He. Has. To. Go.

This has been a disastrous week for the governor. He started out having his words willfully distorted concerning Delegate Kathy Tran's abortion bill, and now he is facing calls for his resignation by many of the Virginia (and national) politicians who helped him ascend to the office of Lieutenant Governor and ultimately Governor. I'm sure he wishes he could return to the good ole days where the most controversial issue he had to deal with was the amount of money he has taken from Dominion Energy and his tacit support of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. He has to resign before Virginia Democrats are forced to impeach him. The only noble thing left for him to do in Virginia politics is save us from the media circus that would follow impeachment proceedings. He. Has. To. Go.


Friday, February 1, 2019

When Satire Exposes Hate

Nancy Pelosi is one of the few politicians who can say they have favorability, likeability, and approval ratings comparable to the president. According to a Monmouth University poll, Nancy Pelosi’s approval rating doubled after the government shutdown. The poll found that 34 percent of voters thought she was doing a good job— twice as high as the same poll found in November of 2018, when her approval rating was 17 percent. She doubled her approval rating and was still 16 points below 50%. There are legitimate reasons to like or dislike Nancy Pelosi, but more times than not people base their reasoning on the caricature of Nancy Pelosi.

About a week ago I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw that one of my friends shared an article from "BEBEST.WEBSITE". I wasn't familiar with the website, so I was hesitant to click the link. I was going to settle for just reading the comments. Let! Me! Tell! You! They didn't disappoint. These people formed some very strong opinions about an article they either didn't read or understand. After reading the 20 or so comments I had to read the piece that inspired such hatred. 

The article opened as follows:

As the new Congress prepares to take control tomorrow, presumptive Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a final legislative offer to President Trump this morning : the border wall will be funded and built – in exchange for passing a bill banning the ownership and use of all firearms in the United States by private citizens. Pelosi’s edict sent shockwaves through Washington.
Pelosi noted that Fema and U.N. troops, already mobile from Operation Jade Helm, are ready to begin house-by-house confiscation, and sites in the Nevada desert and Utah plains have been readied for mass weapon meltdowns and burials. Liberal gun legislation activists like David Hogg and Taylor Swift have expressed overwhelming support for the ban.

I don't know how anyone could read the first two paragraphs of this piece and think it was serious, but there are people who did. Sadly, this is happening about issues of great importance. Critical thinking and literacy are more important now than ever. A former teacher once told me she spent the first 10 years of her career teaching her students how to find information and the last 23 years teaching them how to wade through the information overload. I'm amazed at how often people will chime in on conversations they know absolutely nothing about. We are allowed to research a topic before commenting on it. 

Facts aren't politically motivated. Facts are the cornerstone of truth. The constant attacks on the institutions of higher learning and the media have convinced a generation of people to be distrustful of any information that challenges their worldview. This will continue to hurt real people as long as terms like "liberal media", "intellectual" and "fake News" permeate the right-wing lexicon. I use to think a lot of Donald Trump's people were ignoring his daily lying, but now I'm certain many of them just don't know the difference.

Here are some of the better comments. Even though they were made publicly, I redacted all of the identities except mine: I don't think it's fair to embarrass their family members. Also, I apologize for the language used: these are "good God-fearing Christian Conservatives", but something about Nancy Pelosi causes them to forget their upbringing. 



Thursday, January 24, 2019

What We Ignore About Senseless Violence

Zephen Allen Xaver, 21, was charged with five counts of first-degree murder after allegedly killing five women in a Sebring, Fla., SunTrust bank.
Courtesy of Highlands County Sheriff's Office
America is a violent country. We are the descendants of a violent people who committed genocide against this land's original inhabitants, we based our early agrarian economy on the violent enslavement of Africans, we fought a violent revolution to separate ourselves from the British Empire, we fought a number of violent wars to maintain and grow "our" country, we fought one of the bloodiest and most violent wars in history of the world amongst ourselves. Violence is embedded in our genetic code.

Every generation has had a "great" war. Every generation has taught the next generation the virtues of violence. We have fought wars for land, strategic resources and to protect our position as the global hegemon. Every generation has benefited from this violence: especially those who pretend like our violence was/is for noble reasons. Our problem isn't violence; Americans don't like violence that doesn't make our lives easier. 

Zephen Allen Xaver is the latest product of our violent culture. I know I'm supposed to feel sympathy for him. He's not like those violent "thugs" ruining our cities. He's not like those violent Muslims waging Jihad. He's not like those violent Mexicans coming to take our jobs. No, he's a real American, so we must try to understand where his violence comes from. America has to make sense of the senseless. 

By the time investigative reporters track down his friends and family he will be another "lone wolf" with mental health issues. There will be people working overtime to make sure he doesn't reflect poorly on the rest of real America. Zephen's actions had to happen in a vacuum.

He, like the other real American mass shooters before him, is a victim of society. Not a victim of the violence that is a constitutive part of the American ethos, but a victim all the same. He was ignored, rejected or made to feel less than. In other words, his real "Americanism" didn't afford him what he thought it should have so he lashed out. Real Americans spend a disproportionate amount of time worrying about everyone else while Billy, Timmy, and in this case, Zephen are locking and loading. Five people lost their lives and the response has been muted. I have a hunch real Americans would be responding differently if this crime was committed by an immigrant or Muslim.