For some reason, my emotions have been up and down all month long no matter how much I’ve attempted to concentrate.  It feels like I’ve spent more time focused on being unfocused than I have on refocusing.  Hopefully, that makes sense.

Unfortunately, this blog very much reflects my temporary struggle.  So, my blog for this month, is essentially a blog about a blog that almost didn’t happen.

You see, I didn’t want to write that I feel overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time, even though that is exactly how I’m feeling.  I didn’t want to write about feeling sad and happy at the same time, even though that would be accurate as well.  Finally, I didn’t want to write that I feel tired and anxious for fear that you probably would not understand, think I was whining or just plain not care.  It just didn’t seem right to blog about feeling like a ball of contradictions.  I mean, I’m aware that everybody feels one or the other of these emotions at any given moment.  But, right now, all of them seem to be competing for attention in the pit of my stomach.

You might be more than a little curious as to how I can feel what seems like conflicting emotions simultaneously?  Don’t worry, I am too.

Despite all that, I decided, at the last minute, to go against my original thoughts and write down every word…regardless of how whiny or confused it may have sounded.

And you know what?  It felt good.

It felt good to admit I was, to quote the song, a ball of confusion.  It was freeing, almost like a release.

However, with that release, I fully understood that I need to either explain myself at some point or be indefinitely relegated to the whiner’s hall of fame.

And since I didn’t want that dubious honor, that knowledge created more stress and an even bigger problem for me.  In fact, it took me right back to the beginning, when I almost didn’t write this blog in the first place.

The problem was simple.  I didn’t want to have to explain myself.  I didn’t want to feel obligated to explain how I can feel all of these emotions at the same time because, I didn’t know if I could.  I didn’t know if I could properly convey on paper what I felt in my head and in my heart.

So, not writing anything down at all seemed like a real solution.  If I didn’t write anything down, there wouldn’t be an issue.  Problem solved, right?

Wrong!

Wrong and more wrong!  You know why?  Because the issues would still be there regardless.

But like I said, after writing it all down, I felt a weight lifted from me almost immediately. It slowly dawned on me that, as crazy as all of this seems, that I’m not alone.  Sadly (or happily as the case may be), somebody out there knows exactly what I’m feeling/talking about.

Somebody out there feels overwhelmed and underwhelmed, happy and sad, tired and anxious, old and young, encouraged and discouraged, fearless and afraid, hot and cold, smart and dumb, loved and unloved, sure and unsure, all at the same time.

And, here’s the thing, that’s okay.  That’s perfectly okay!!  It’s just another aspect of life that people don’t talk about or don’t LIKE to talk about because they want to appear as always together, always sane, and always normal.  But the irony is, if we are honest with ourselves, we can all attest that ‘normal’ can be extremely overrated or underrated just the same…and at the same time.

Can anybody hear me?

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In January, I had my yearly mammogram.  Although it was only a routine test, this year I opted to have it done at a new facility—one with state of the art equipment and the promise of less discomfort.  In preparation, I secured my old records from the previous facility and brought them with me.

What can I say about it?

New equipment.  Still uncomfortable.  Whatever.  Done.

A month later, I received a letter from the new facility stating that they were “evaluating my case” and that they would contact me at a later date once completed.

Wait a second!

“My case?” I thought to myself.  What case?  I had a routine test, not a case.  Nevertheless, I managed to shrug it off after opening my electric bill, cable bill, etc.

Admittedly, it’s wasn’t the letter I had been hoping to receive, but I reasoned that it was taking a little longer due to the new facility needing to incorporate old film from an older, more outdated system.  No problem, right?

A month after that, I got another letter.  But it wasn’t the same.  It was one of the letters that no woman ever wants to receive from her mammographer.  It read: “abnormal mammogram/right breast’.

Instead of the “happy letter” that usually comes every year (shortly after the test), this one stated that I needed to come back for “additional tests/surgical biopsy.”  To say I was devastated is an understatement.

Why?

Just two years earlier, I had received a similar letter regarding my left breast.  As it turned out, I had calcification in my milk ducts that required surgical removal.  It was a painful procedure, make no mistake, but I was ever so grateful it had not been cancer, as suspected.

Now, this new letter was discussing possible complications with my right breast.  Would I be lucky enough to get away with evading cancer again?

Already eating away at me was the fact that my maternal Grandma died with breast cancer at 34 years old, when my mother was just a child.  This made it difficult for me to have to tell my mom that my mammogram had come back “bad” again.  I didn’t want to worry her or other family members who had assisted me through the previous ordeal.  So, I kept it to myself.  I figured I would casually bring it up a day or so before the retest.

As fate would have it, the weather refused to cooperate.  Snow fell and, long story short, I missed my retest appointment.  I had to wait another two weeks before retesting.  Right then, I was glad that I had kept the incident to myself.  No one was the wiser…and no one could pull their hair out in the interim.  But, with that, I had nothing but time to pray that Yah would move in my favor.  I ended up telling my family two days before the actual exam.

I finally arrived at the facility to be retested.  I noted quite a few other women there for the same thing.  They too had received the unwanted letter.  Apparently, that was retake day.  One by one, each of us took the retest.  After a battery of tests, additional mammograms/sonograms/xrays, some were cleared while others needed additional testing, biopsies, etc.

In my specific case, it was ruled that the abnormality had been a false alarm.  Nothing showed up on the screens, test, after tests, after test.  Nothing was there.  Nothing!  I was cleared without further ado.  See you next year!  Yah had indeed ruled in my favor.

But, although I was excited, I was muted.  I felt badly for the women who had not been cleared and whose lives would never be the same as a result.  They were in for a journey that I had had a front row seat for with many of my own family members and friends.

For me, it was over.  Instead of going for a surgical biopsy, I could go home.  I could go home.  And, l did just that, rejoicing all the way!  But what about everybody else?  And what about the support they need to get through what’s coming?  What about that?

Can anybody hear me?

As depressing as it is to say, racism/white supremacy is just as rampant today as it has ever been at any time in history.  Granted, it’s not as overt or as outright and widespread as enslavement, but it’s present nonetheless.  More than that, it’s no longer hiding under the veil of civility.

This may not seem like a profound revelation to some but for those who have had to endure this malady from the cradle, while often pretending that they don’t, it’s groundbreaking.

It’s groundbreaking not because it’s so shocking or somehow strange to modern day sensibilities.  Rather, it’s groundbreaking because of the clarity it brings to the everyday existence of the affected parties.

For those above mentioned individuals, the reality that a large portion of white America, as well as a decent sized swath of the rest of the population, considers them to be lesser people answers a lot of the nagging questions they have had about the status of their lives, education, and employment.

For those individuals, it answers the “whys.”  Why are other races of people allowed to prosper?  Why are blacks treated differently from other races?  Why do the cries of black people fall upon deaf ears? Why are black people profiled as criminals regardless of their contributions to society?

Regardless of what is going on in the world or what other races of people are actually committing crimes, somehow, blacks are projected as the race of people that should be feared.

Even though the recent school shooters, church shooters, concert shooters, cinema shooters and mail bombers have all been white males, black males are still seen as the most dangerous threat imaginable.  Somehow, the white males are often presented as loners (not terrorists) and arrested without incident.

Meanwhile, a young father in his grandmother’s backyard with a cell phone was fatally wounded by law enforcement…because the officers suddenly feared for their lives!

The reality of seeing so many people armed to the teeth for fear of black and brown people answers the question of why the police don’t fear for their safety when dealing with white armed males but are afraid of unarmed black males to the point that they are murdered.

It also answers why so many other races of people who see proof of the injustices manage to somehow justify them.

Still, the question must be asked, what’s going on here?

Do white people believe black people are imagining these situations?  Do they see the fight for life as whining?  Complaining about nothing?

Can white people actually justify these situations as fair?  Do they even care?

More importantly, how long can any group think they will get away with these atrocities without repercussions?

Can anybody hear me?

Ok, I need to say this…

I’m so…sooooo tired of makeup companies and their biases.  I mean, supposedly they sell makeup products for black women…but they use the same formulas that they do when making makeup products for white women.

And that’s a problem.

I don’t understand why these mega companies cannot grasp that black women have very different needs when it comes to makeup than white women.  Is it really THAT hard to understand?

I mean it’s Makeup Science, not Rocket Science.  This should be fairly obvious.

Simply stated, white women often choose make up products that provides shine to their skin.  They refer to this shine as a youthful glow.

On the other hand, black women choose makeup products that control or limit shine.  They often incorporate face powder, etc., for a more matte finish.

And that’s ok.  What’s not ok is for companies to pretend that different women don’t have different needs, expectations and requests from their makeup and other products.

Why do black women have to/want to wear the same shiny makeup that white women wear?

At what point do companies that manufacture makeup—and other products in general—realize that different races of people may have differing needs when it comes to product selections?

Sadly, this has been going on for decades now.  It seems as though black women have been forced to more than compromise on every level.  Straighten your hair, stay away from afros, braids or any other “ethnic” hairstyles or be written up as unprofessional and intimidating.  Shave your legs, regardless of whether or not that is necessary for your body’s standard of beauty or be considered ugly and backwards.

In any of a thousand different ways, women of color are pushed into conformity with white standards of beauty.

This should not be.

Now, I’m not suggesting to you that all black women didn’t choose to shave.  My point is, black women were being cited at work and in other professional arenas for not accepting that this way is the only way PERIOD.

Enough already.  Compromising doesn’t seem to be working.  The more black women accept, the more employers, et al., want them to accept.

Now, I realize that there are companies popping up all over the country that specialize in makeup, skin and hair products for women of color.  And that’s as depressing as it is inspiring.  It’s inspiring to see products on the shelves that reflect the diversity of the people.  But it’s upsetting to think that a company has to be black-owned in order to care about black people.

I’m looking forward to the day when racial differences can be respected instead of overrode by someone else’s cultural needs being viewed as THE standard.

Can anybody hear me?

I think I hate men.

No.  That’s not right.

I’m almost sure that I do… but not for the reasons that you might suppose.

I’m not heartbroken over the one that got away.  I’m not recovering from physical or emotional abuse at the hands of a domineering lout.  I’m not even dealing with the aftermath of infidelity.

In fact, there’s actually a lot I love about men.

You see, I love their physiques (obviously).  I love their attitude.  I love how quickly they get over conflicts.  I love how they can thrive in the midst of adversity.  I love how they smell and even how they laugh.

So what’s the problem, right?

The problem (and the reason I hate them)… is their unfair advantage over women.

What do I mean?

Simply stated, I hate how the world treats men differently from women.  I hate how, for some reason, they age differently from women even though they have just as many years under their belts.  An old woman is past her prime; used up.  An old man “still got it.”

I hate how happy they are with themselves even when they aren’t attractive.  Women spend thousands to look their best, fight off the ravages of time and cover any blemishes.  Men will walk around with their guts out, their hair askew and their faces pockmarked and misshapen, fully confident that they can attract a “perfect 10” with little to no effort on their parts.

I hate how they can reset their family/time/body clock by simply marrying someone half their age and having more children.

I know, I know, women can do that too!  However, even here, she is at a distinct disadvantage.  If her much younger man wants children, she may have to birth a baby at a late age even if she already has grown children.  Ignoring that grown children are another animal altogether, carrrying a child is a lot more intensive than watching someone else do it.

Even if the younger man agrees to adopt children, the older woman starts over in the worse way: Diapers, Kindergarten, PTAs, etc.

Again?

Who wants to do that unless you have money and can afford a nanny to help out?

And then there’s the issue of trust involved with that.  Compare the number of single fathers you know to the number of single mothers.  All too often, men have the option of simply walking out, leaving the mother to raise any children alone.

Men don’t even have that as an issue when they marry a young girl. Oftentimes, she hasn’t experienced these things yet and has the energy to keep up with the demands of young children, to say nothing of the novelty and newness of such a thing.

Is it just me or does this seem very unfair?

So, looking back at my previous statement, I guess I really hate men because they have more lives than women.

What does that mean?

It means that, like a cat, they get a seemingly endless number of do-overs.  They can stop and start and restart their body/life clock whenever they like.

Meanwhile, women are in a footrace against that same body/life clock to meet, marry and bear children before they end up as old maids…or raising children well into their fifties and, God forbid, their sixties!

I know, I know.

Women are having babies at older ages, and you always have women who want that life and embrace starting over.  But for the vast majority, getting through with childbearing and rearing and getting back to your own life is the goal.  And they can’t reset the clock whenever they please.  Once their time is up, they’ve essentially expired.

Can anybody hear me?

I’m not going to mince words.  I don’t like Christmas!  In fact, my family doesn’t even celebrate it!   Why, you might ask?  Why would anyone hate a day when you get presents from friends and family members without having to earn them?  Honestly, there are a number of reasons.

When I was a kid, I found myself fooled when people tried to put in my head that you could get anything from your loved ones without doing anything to earn it.  I was further bamboozled by the notion that you could somehow give back to those who give to you.  Hello, newsflash!  That’s not how life works.  You don’t just get anything in life, you have to earn it.  But more than that, just because you’re doing good doesn’t mean that someone is going to notice or reward you for that, nor should that be your main motivation.  Some people need to grow up and realize that.  Don’t get it twisted, I’m not trying to be mean.  Nevertheless, sooner or later, when your kids grow up, so will their minds.  And they will understand a lot more about gifts, behavior, pride and flat out good and bad than you ever expected.

But, I guess my biggest problem with Christmas is the duality in reasons most people give for observing/celebrating Christmas in the first place.  Often, that dissociation ties right into the overall confusion that is Christmas.

What do I mean?

On the one hand, people claim to be celebrating the birth of Jesus. Just think of how many songs and bumper stickers proclaim that “Jesus is the reason…for the season.”  People cite gifts from three wise men (although there is no biblical basis for people assuming there were just three of them) as their reason for exchanging gifts. The day is supposedly sacred unto God.

On the other hand, people seem more interested in Santa Claus, reindeer, gaudily decorated trees and gifts than on any particular religious observance.  They attribute the exchange of gifts as the result of good or bad behavior as judged by Santa himself and make quite the fuss over what they give as a gift vs. what they receive in return.  Now, we can debate religions or beliefs or faith but, NEWS FLASH: Santa doesn’t exist!  And no intelligent person on earth believes that he does.  What kind of parent teaches their children about Santa giving nice people gifts and naughty people coal in their stockings?  How is that helpful to them?  How can you rationalize anything like that?

How is being told that a jolly, fat ass man, dressed in a full-body outfit with a long white beard rides across the entire planet in one evening, on a sleigh driven by flying reindeer, with elves assisting him in dropping gifts down chimneys helpful to anyone in life?

And what do people say when you ask that?

It’s for the children.  It’s just fun for the children.

I’m confused.

Christmas is supposedly about Christ (despite the fact that it is unlikely if not impossible that the person often referred to as Jesus was born at that time), right?  We don’t go to Mass for the children.  We don’t say Grace for the children.  We don’t baptize for the children?  But this one is somehow different.

Look, I don’t have a particular problem with exchanging gifts by individuals on either sides of the Christmas story.  What bothers me are those individuals who blur the lines and find ways to incorporate both schools of thought simultaneously.  It blows my mind to witness people not taking the time to research who Jesus Christ really is or isn’t.  Why are people so nonchalant that they won’t take the time to discover the true origins of Christmas and see how the myths regarding Santa Claus came about in the first place?

How?  How can Christmas be about the birth of Jesus as well as Santa Claus?  How can we obsess about gift giving/receiving and Christmas trees, etc. while simultaneously celebrating the birth of someone who would selflessly surrender his life and comfort without the expectation of receiving anything in return?  More importantly, how can people justify the vast difference in meaning that celebrating Christmas as the birth of Jesus vs. celebrating Santa creates?

I’m curious…what does Christmas have to do with the birth of Christ?

And how can it teach people, especially kids, about the spirit of giving?

In my opinion, nothing and it can’t!

More distressingly, who even came up with ridiculous indoctrinations, such as the thought of waking up to presents on Christmas morning, making milk and cookies for Santa and hanging up their stockings?  What good does that do for anybody?  Why people would even conjure up such a theory I’ll never know as long as I live.

Granted, as mentioned earlier, there is no proof of Christmas Day being the birthday of Jesus any more than there is any proof of Santa Claus.  However, merging the two with equal importance just seems wrong on so many levels.

Make up your mind.  Make a decision.  Pick one reason or the other for observing the Day, but don’t be greedy and pick both reasons.  Heck, that directly goes against God’s command to either be hot or cold.  In other words, don’t pick the birth of Jesus as your reason for celebrating the Day and then decorate with Christmas Trees, mistletoe, etc. That’s just plain FOOLISHNESS!

Why bother with the mixing and excuses?

You’re just trying to justify something that doesn’t require justification.  You wanna do it, do it! Don’t make more of it than is necessary.  At the same time, what harm would it do to give something just out of the goodness of your heart? You can give gifts to your loved ones anytime!  And I’m not just talking about material items.  That’s my two cents.

Can anybody hear me?

Ok, this needs to be said.

Even though racism/white supremacy is as American as football, let’s face it, the NFL is NOT solely responsible for creating it or combating it in America.  It is unfair to place the burden squarely on the players’ shoulders, however well padded they may be.  It is important to remember that Blacks who are employed by the NFL experience a lot of the same racism and suffer under the same white supremacy that exists in all walks of life in America.

Granted, they are wealthier than others.  But, at the end of the day, they face the same simple truth: Still a ni**er.

As such, Blacks in every field of study from Accountant to Zoologist, not just those in the sports and entertainment fields, are tasked to participate in their own methods of protest towards their collective emancipation.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that racism/white supremacy is so much bigger than the sports arena.  Black actors/actresses, entertainers, lawyers, scientist, etc., continue to experience unfair treatment in the workplace, ranging from lower annual salaries to scarce  promotions to questions regarding their very competence and the suggestion that their success is due more to some poorly defined Affirmative Action advantage than their own hard work and tears.  Outside of the workplace is more or less the same.  Without the benefit of a team uniform to mark them as somehow acceptable to society at large, black people pay higher mortgage rates, are given more jail time and experience increased incidences of police brutality compared to their white counterparts.

NFL players are not immune to this treatment; neither are they unaware of it or the cause of it.  They are similarly unfairly paid lower wages than their white counterparts.  At the same time, white quarterbacks of poor quality are allowed time to lose and learn the game while black quarterbacks must perform perfectly at all times in order to receive continuous play.  If they lose a game, they are often benched or permanently replaced.  Meanwhile, Matt Cassel and Ryan Fitzpatrick have been given over a dozen chances collectively.  I’m sure Josh McCown is simply having a bad season.  Jay Cutler has been given another chance.  Tony Romo played ten years in Dallas without winning a Superbowl and barely clinching the NFC East Championship.  And for that lackluster performance, he was rewarded with a job as an Analyst almost before he turned in his jersey!  Where are the black former players?  Former greats?  They are not owners, coaches or analysts.  They are forgotten relics of the game.

But wait!  Doesn’t the NFL boast a 70% or more Black player roster?

Yep.  And, as a result, it’s great starting point in today’s work.

But remember, the quarterback position, the coaching staff and the owners continue to be overwhelmingly and unfairly white.

This is not because blacks do not possess the intellect, the skillset or even the funding needed to compete at the quarterback position, to coach professionally or to own/operate an NFL team.  We can name people who fit any of the three.  This is directly due to racism/white supremacy!

And I get that it would be nice to see people with such broad reach and resources to do more.  I get it that Black NFL players don’t know the amount of power they possess over other areas of industry due to their sheer numbers.  However, after years of enduring racism/white supremacy, they share the same fear of being destroyed for speaking up as other blacks.  They fear returning to the ghetto or losing the homes they just purchased for Mom.  But, it’s important to remember they can’t do it alone even though they have power!  Even with it being present, unknown power is equal to nonexistent power.

But, back to the point, they shouldn’t be asked to hurt themselves if blacks aren’t united.  As mad as we are that they aren’t doing more or risking more, why should they?  Why should they risk all?  So that black folks can live next to, go to school with, date or even marry into the race of the people whose system they are protesting against?  Blacks have to be clear of what the true black agenda is and then participate in any way we can. In this way, no one person carries the burden as per King, Malcolm X, etc.  Be real.  It’s not a Kaepernick thing or an NFL thing.  It’s a black thing.  Calling all Black People!

Can anybody hear me?

What to say?  Where to begin?  After more years than I care to remember, I can say with certainty that I have been cheated, misled, defrauded and robbed.

But, and this part is important, this wasn’t your typical robbery.  There was no gun, no knife nor even a mysterious, violent looking culprit​ lurking around in the night.

What’s more, I wasn’t exactly the Hollywood stereotype of a victim.  I mean, I didn’t do any of the usual things that people who put themselves in harm’s way do.  I wasn’t flashing money around like it was going out of style.  I wasn’t publicly intoxicated or visibly impaired in any way that would indicate I was an easy mark. I wasn’t wandering around, looking lost and uncertain.  In fact, I never left the comfort of my house.  Yet, it happened, just the same.

Like many today, I’ve got a few problems.  Some of my issues are health related.  Some of my problems concern wealth or, in my case, the lack thereof.  But some of the most pressing issues in my life revolve around spirituality.  I admit it, I have a few questions.  And as I no longer belonged to a church, I needed to do some searching if I wanted my answers.  Just my luck, information and possibly answers were available 24/7 via my favorite medium… the TV.

Again, like so many others, I settled right in.  And before long, I had chosen some favorite Ministers, simultaneously tossing out more than a few Bishops, Apostles, Pastors, Doctors of Theology etc., that I deemed as suspicious and/or obviously money grubbing.  As much as I wanted/needed information, something in my spirit said paying for divine guidance was wrong.

Armed with my spiritual arsenal of religious men, I felt strangely empowered.  I now had plan A.  I even had plan B.  If my favorite Man of God wasn’t available, (you know, that special one that speaks directly to you), I had emergency alternates.  What could possibly go wrong?

In a word… everything.

Before long, they had me roped in.  Trust me, that’s not a simple​ task. Somehow, I was convinced that I could tithe, seed and pray myself out of my problems. So, I did just that!  I scraped every penny I had together and sent it in.

I don’t know if it was fate’s decree, coincidence or something decidedly more sinister but, some fairly nice things—things that I had wanted for so long—started to materialize in my life.  I couldn’t explain how it was happening (and didn’t much care to).  All I could do was confirm that it was indeed happening for me.

After a while I became quite used to sending in tithes, seed offerings and donations for this or that, in support of less fortunate people in other countries or for my personal healing and success.  I really didn’t care about the narrative.  I helped out and, as a result, expected to be blessed.

Because that’s how it works, right?

With those blinders firmly in place, it was a while before I noticed an increase in family ministries.  On the surface, this seemed harmless. God was saving whole families, right? It made sense that if one family member became saved, they would spread the Gospel to all the other family members.  But, as I begin to take a closer look, I couldn’t help but notice that church was starting to more closely resemble a family business—where the children of the proprietor are poised to step in and takeover—than real ministry.  How could this be?  How could ALL the children of all Televangelists receive a calling from God to become ministers?  For me, it seemed highly unlikely and very contrived.  I mean, what are the odds?

And I had a front row seat to the grooming process of the next generation of pastors, who seemed to be making more of a career move than receiving a calling from God.

Suspicious and more than a little upset, I took my studies abroad, expanding my research to YouTube, the KJV 1611 Bible, the Apocrypha, biblical encyclopedias and as many other sources as made sense.  What I discovered was telling.  To say it was a bombshell would be an understatement.

I’ll spare you the bulk of my angry ramblings but, suffice it to say, I discovered major discrepancies between what is in the Bible and what is being taught in Christian churches.  This was particularly true as it pertains to tithes and offerings.

It was only through my research (and actual reading of verses) that I discovered what the purpose of a tithe actually was.  Hint: it’s not for a helipad.

This is where I discovered, among other things, that I had indeed been robbed, just not with a pistol.  And sad to say, this is also where I learned I had been more than complicit. I walked in with open eyes but a closed book.  Did you know that tithes and offerings were meant to support the widows, orphans and priests—who, incidentally, weren’t allowed to hold property on earth…in direct opposition to the multimillionaire pastors we have today?  Did you know that the things being offered weren’t monetary at all, but rather food and goods that they needed?  I didn’t.  Surprise, shock and anger… all of them seem far too small to encompass my emotions.

If nothing else, though, I had an answer to an oft repeated question.

Will a man rob God?  Possibly.

Will a man rob another man using God’s name?  Absolutely.

Personally, I prefer robbers that don’t preach their bastardized version of the Good Word and that aren’t appareled in nice suits, touting false promises and taking advantage of those disenfranchised with life.  I’m better prepared for them.  I know what to expect.  They want your money.  Plain and simple.   And they don’t try to appeal to your soul or build themselves up as holy men.

And maybe that’s part of my pain.  Call me old-fashioned but, I prefer my thieves with ski masks, not crucifixes.

So what’s my conclusion?  Just this, if you want knowledge, don’t just take it for granted that someone will hand it to you for free.  There is no such thing as a free lunch.  If you want to have something, do something, know something, you’re going to have to put in some old-fashioned elbow grease.  Do research.  Study.  It’s only a click away now.  No excuses.

In my case, it wasn’t all bad.  Uncle Sam recognized my efforts and rewarded me in the form of a nice tax break.  Thus, the tithing/seed sowing deception was not a total disaster for me.  Still, along with a few of the other major deceptions I’ve uncovered, it was more than enough to make me shake my head and fear for humanity.

Can anybody hear me?

When asked to define “home,” most people will agree that their home is where they are most comfortable and feel most relaxed.  In fact, they often volunteer unsolicited information about items within their home that maximize their comfort level.

From leather recliners to chaise loungers, everyone has that one piece of furniture that puts them most at ease.   Even with differing taste in furnishings, varying size of the homes etc., the dwellings still promote the same feelings of security and pleasure to the owner ​regardless of social standing.

Interestingly enough, during these discussions, most people never mention putting anything in their home that makes them feel uncomfortable or unappreciated.  In fact, even with limited funding, most people go out of their way to make their homes their sanctuaries.

That same need for security within your home is also needed when you exit said home for work or play and, when properly in place, promotes overall health/wellness.  And most people would acknowledge this.  After all, we have laws and rules on the books to protect people from “hostile working environments.”  However, this basic and often taken for granted level of comfort is routinely denied to black people in the United States everyday, resulting in a very different and difficult life for blacks compared to their white counterparts.

If it isn’t harrowing enough, not knowing if law enforcement will see you as a criminal today as a direct result of your skin color,  hairdo, or outfit, you have to contend with walking passed innumerable statues and shrines that pay homage to the slave masters (both past & present) of your people.

Blacks in the US have no choice but to attend institutions that bear the names of the same individuals who not only enslaved their people but who fought then and whose followers fight now to have them remain slaves in some fashion and listen to the cries and murmurings of those who wish to celebrate that legacy of barbarism under the guise of maintaining the integrity of history and tradition.

What’s even more amazing, if possible, is that this particular level of insensitivity has flown under the radar in a country such as the US, which claims religious, cultural and moral superiority over other countries with differing religions, gods, languages, etc. Yet, somehow, from members of Congress to ordinary individuals on the streets, so many people believe it’s okay for blacks to live with the reminders of these and other atrocities every single day.  Not only that, but if blacks bring these points up in any sort of conversation, those on the other side claim that THEY are the ones being persecuted for being who they are and that it is black people who are oppressing them because of their whiteness.

With all of that being the case, I don’t find it a quantum leap to conclude that black people are being told through situations—such as the excused, if not celebrated, murders of blacks by law enforcement officials, as well as the continued overlooked acts of daily cruelty, as discussed above—that the United States is not their home.  If it were, the individuals who run this country and who are in positions of authority in this country would own up to the truth about its history of flagrant mistreatment of black people.  They would make reparations to them, as other nations guilty of genocide and enslavement in the modern era have to their victims.  They would make every effort to ensure the comfort of ALL the nation’s inhabitants and not just a few.  In other words, they would do everything in their power to make sure blacks Americans would “feel” at home in America.

Not tolerated…and certainly not like they should feel grateful for the consequences of the enslavement that cut them off from their native lands and history.

But at HOME…right HERE.

The cultural differences of blacks would be nurtured and celebrated the same as other cultures of people within the US.  Perhaps there would even be areas of town set aside for the advancement and encouragement of black pride and business, which would be especially important for a group of people who arrived to the US on slave ships as opposed to other groups of people, such as the Chinese and Indians, who arrived in the US of their own volition and with their memories and histories intact.  To be clear, I’m not disparaging them.  I’m trying to make a point.

So, let’s think about it.

What is the underlying message to black people, who continue to be disrespected, murdered in the streets by law enforcement and forced to endure daily cruelty at work, rest or play?

What CAN it be?

America is making it loud and clear that this land is not your home.  If it were, at the very least, the same attention to detail currently in place to make other cultures feel at home when they choose America as their new home would be extended to black people who didn’t choose America in the first place, but had it forced upon them.

To recap, when you are at home, you feel welcomed…not alienated.  You feel at peace, not that little concern is being shown for the continued damage to your spiritual, emotional, physical, psychological and financial capability.

Can anybody hear me?

Alright, I have no choice.

I finally have to accept the fact that I have a problem.  Actually, if I’m being honest, I’ve had this problem as long as I can remember.  However, by now, I had hoped it would be solved or that I would have simply grown out of it.

You see, unlike some (read: most) of the people I grew up with who seemed to have everything figured out, I never did.  While they knew from approximately eight years of age that they wanted to become a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a preacher, a writer, an artist, a pecan tree, or whatever, I was struggling with . . . acne, knock knees, and everything else.

While they pretended to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, preachers, writers, artists, etc., even during times reserved for play such as recess, I was trying to figure out where I fit in in the scheme of things.

While they seemed to eat and drink what they expected and accepted to be their life’s work (and have a damn good time of it), I was wondering if I would ever be chosen as a teammate and not just relegated to the team that was unlucky enough to get stuck with me.

While some of my peers were planning what high school, college, fraternity, and sorority they would join, I was struggling to understand slang along with wondering if I would ever speak publicly without stuttering.

While they were planning when they would marry and how many children they would have, I was still wanting and playing with Teddy bears and dolls.

Basically, where they had certainty and callings, I had distraction and confusion.  Some refer to this clarity as knowledge of their assignment in life.  And as I looked at them go about their callings, my question always was, when would I discover my own assignment?

I was normal, I guess.  I played house.  I pretended to have a family with children.  I pretended to have a spouse.  I pretended to be a doctor, a lawyer, a preacher, a teacher, a writer, an artist, etc. Sometimes, I even had fun.

But, none of the careers stuck with me… or maybe, I didn’t stick with any of them.  It seems that as quickly as I became interested in any subject, I became equally and just as quickly disinterested.  Why?

Why did this keep happening?  And where was that blinding certainty of action?

Maybe, if I had struggled through school or a particular subject, something would have jumped out at me.  However, I seemed to do just well enough in each subject without any real commitment that nothing ever screamed at me “do this, dummy!”

So, day after day (or year after year, I guess you could say), I was waiting for something in my life to stand out.  But alas, nothing ever did.  Ever.  So, I’m left envying people who have a clear calling.  I’m left wondering why I never received such a calling myself.

Perhaps my head is too hard or my hearing too weak.  Perhaps, I am ignoring my calling because it isn’t fancy or lucrative.  Perhaps, I need to meditate or pray harder.  I don’t really know.

What I do know is that something odd is happening.

All my friends who grew up with clear purpose and who followed their respective dreams from childhood keep soliciting my opinions, input, and advice regarding their lives, their children, their spouses, etc.  And, if that isn’t crazy enough, they all seem to value my humble opinion.

While I’m walking around frustrated with no real focus and with no clear idea of what to do with myself, my friends, the doctors, lawyers, teachers, preachers, writers, artists, etc. are all asking me (and often, exhausting me) with the weight of their problems.  What does it all mean?  What could it possibly mean?  A clue?

Can anybody hear me?