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In the News last week:  Jussie Smollett

In the News this week:  Jussie Smollett.

In the News next week (you’ll never guess):  Jussie Smollett.

In fact, week after week after week after week:  The Misadventures of Jussie Smollett is THE news…to my utter dismay.

What can I say?!  I am so tired of hearing about Jussie Smollett, his arrest, his hoax, his release, his existence and anything else to do with him at this point.  In fact, hearing his name makes me sigh involuntarily.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I am not a fan or that I am a fan or that I have ever been or not been a fan.  Truth is, I’ve not seen one episode of Empire…and have no plans to change that anytime soon.  Thus, I have no particular attachment, emotion or loyalty to him, the show or to his character.  For me, the problem is simple…the overkill.  Enough already!

From the outset of this ‘made for TV’ spectacle, it was clear that whatever had taken place (or had not taken place as the case seems to be) would be played out in the media and not in a courtroom.

Remember courtrooms?

You may have heard of them.  They are places where potentially criminal cases are tried in front of a judge and jury, with one side mounting a defense and the other prosecuting.  I hear they’re really big overseas.  And, at one point, they used to be big here too…before they were replaced by a jury of social media.

At this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Nigerian brothers (somehow easily confused with white attackers) who were supposedly hired by him to commit the alleged “crime.”   Now, they would have us believe that the “brothers” had been hired by Smollett himself and paid via check (of all payment methods available today).  Seriously?  A check?

I’m surprised they didn’t try to convince people the “memo” section of the check stated “Payment for media hoax.”  I mean, why not?

Who on Earth would pay for any such services with a check in 2019?  Could anyone possibly be that stupid in this age of CSI (and the like)?  Why are we even considering this foolishness?

Wait a minute…

With that last question, I’m left with an even more horrific thought.  While the country was being entertained by this and other tomfoolery, what other, way more important things were taking place behind the scenes?

What programs were being cut, what leaders were being ousted, what ordinary citizens were starving, homeless, jobless, being killed, etc. while we were ODing on foolishness?

Frankly, this felt a little too much like a daytime soap opera being presented as something actually newsworthy.  To be honest, I’m tired of entertainment being called news.  Let’s face it, Jussie Smollett’s case is not new or news!  In fact, it is quite typical.  Imagine a black man being targeted, mistreated or beaten by racist whites in America?  Now imagine that case being ruled unsolvable or some kind of figment? I mean, is any of that really farfetched?

Regardless of that, shouldn’t news provide useful information about current events that will affect the viewer…instead of gossip, innuendo and/or propaganda aimed at keeping us entertained rather than informed?

Shouldn’t major issues of politics and international relations and trade be always be pushed to the forefront of people’s minds?

Shouldn’t I be able to turn on the television or go online and immediately find out what I need to know about the world around me?

Who is dating whom in Hollywood or some Dynasty level drama isn’t exactly what I had in mind.  How about you?

Has anybody else had enough of this madness?

Can anybody hear me?


Ok, at this point, you would have to have lived under a rock not to know that Republican Majority Whip, Steve Scalise, was shot and critically injured over a month ago at the practice for a charity baseball game.  Through various news reports, we are all, more or less, intimately familiar with the specifics of HIS health​ situation.  And, of course, we are also fully aware of Representative John McCain’s recent health crisis where he underwent surgery to alleviate symptoms directly associated with brain cancer.  As I understand it, his situation is particularly dire, to say the least.

But, can I be honest?

All while this is going on, I’m trying hard to force myself to think about or, more importantly, even care about Steve Scalise’s or John McCain’s respective medical conditions.  This saddens me.

I’m usually a caring person.  I don’t like to see anyone or anything hurt.  I’d almost bring an injured feral cat indoors to care for it.  I even feed the neighborhood birds.  However, these days, in these United States, I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to care about individuals who have proven that they are hell-bent on the destruction of others.

Let’s face it, It takes a special kind of evil to leave a hospital bed—against the advice of your doctors, no less—in order to vote in favor of something that is said to have a potentially catastrophic outcome on the poor.  With that said, I don’t know if Scalise’s vote was needed or not since he was released from the hospital with little to no fanfare.  And do you know why I don’t know?  The reason is simple.  I don’t know because I stopped watching.  I simply unplugged.

For all I know he could very well have voted.  Either way wouldn’t surprise me.  But you see, I have decided not to care about any of it.  For clarification, I have made a conscious decision not to worry, stress or entertain strife in my life.  This, I do for my physical and mental health.  And, you know what, I am happy.  Even in this current, politically hostile climate, I have found a way to be content and worry free.

Don’t misunderstand.  I am well aware of politics and the role it plays in people’s lives.  I am well aware of all the ways the world if breaking down and things are becoming worse seemingly every day.  And I am well aware of the things I need to do to protect myself.  But I’ve determined that I will not allow any of this to break me down.

I pray a lot and cannot tell you how much it helps to keep me grounded.  I suggest you try it too.  Pray to whomever you feel is your Creator, Sustainer or Whatever.  Let me tell you, it sure beats taking loads of drugs (prescription and/or otherwise), alcohol and excessive food consumption in an attempt to self medicate.

Fear, stress, worry, strife and dis-ease can open the door to diseases and other major medical conditions you don’t want or need, especially with the state of healthcare/ insurance being up in the air.

I can say that it’s working for me.  In the face of all that is crumbling around me, I have to confess, I’ve never felt better.

Can anybody hear me?

To impeach or not to impeach Donald Trump, that is the question.  And, honestly, I hope the answer to this unfortunate but very real question comes a lot sooner than later.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not some ranting nut job.  I know that impeachment is a big deal.  It requires a lot of steps, meetings, testimonies, hearings and enough evidence to all but bury most legal departments in paperwork for years.  Impeaching the President of the United States just can’t happen in a day.  Simply stated, it’s a process.

Sadly, this isn’t my first experience with U.S. impeachment proceedings.  I am old enough to remember the impeachment of Richard Nixon/the Watergate scandal as well as the more recent impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998.

Note to history buffs, while I am also fully aware that President Andrew Johnson was the first president to be impeached in U.S. history, I am, in fact, NOT old enough to have been around for that one.

Still, I must confess that seeing Nixon impeached and kicked out of office while Bill Clinton was also impeached but allowed to remain in office puzzled me a bit.  I know, I know, it’s two different proceedings but…still seemed a little weird to me.  Nevertheless, even though I disagreed with the process and the resulting outcome, I learned to deal with it and keep it moving.  But, I digress.

My point is that since Donald Trump is probably going to be impeached anyway, why not do it expeditiously?!  By expeditiously, I mean well before​ he does anymore damage, sends out anymore tweets, meets with additional heads of state or embarrasses the United States any more than he already has!

Think about it!  Starting the proceedings now would save so much trouble.  There would be no more outlandish and ghoulish facial expressions​ to scrutinize or poke fun at.  There would be no more threats of war due to the pushing and shoving of dignitaries that he feels are too unimportant to even be courteous to.  There would be no more embarrassment at having your president caught not wearing a headset for translation purposes during meetings with foreign dignitaries, despite the fact that he does not speak/read or understand their language.  There would be no more splitting Secret Service details between two states because he and his family expected special treatment.  There would be no extravagant weekend jaunts for the taxpayers to foot the bill for.  There would be no more hints of improprieties during FBI investigations or of collusion with foreign leaders.  All of that could stop right now.


Why wait?

Why wait until the poor are completely railroaded and totally without basic necessities such as insurance or much needed social programs?  Why wait until seniors return to eating cat food out of desperation and hunger?  Why wait​ until orphanages are overrun with Hispanic children because their parents have all been deported?  Why wait until missiles are fired as acts of war rather than “routine testing.”  By then, it will be too late.  The situation will be far too catastrophic for any incoming president to fix!

And truthfully, haven’t we already seen enough of Trump to know where he is going and in which direction he is taking this country?  Why wait until he totally destroys it?

I say, impeach him today!!  May as well get it over with.  After all, it is inevitable at this point.  Why prolong the agony?  Why allow him to waste more taxpayer money?  I say, save the time, the money and the headache.  Impeach Donald Trump today!  It’s the kinder, gentler thing to do.

Can anybody hear me?

It seems that every once in a while, something has to happen to remind people that race relations between blacks and whites have not changed much since the days of slavery. As with any point regarding human nature, someone has had to die in order to get it across. The latest, publicized victim is Trayvon Martin. For those living on a different planet, Trayvon Martin was a 17 year old kid who, while visiting his father in Florida, was gunned down by a volunteer Neighborhood Watch warden named George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was later acquitted of any wrongdoing.

In fact, some people are saying that young Trayvon contributed to his death as much as Zimmerman. After all, what right did he have to strike another human being? Here’s the thing they fail to consider. For all the talk of whether Martin was a street thug or a scholar, we seem to forget that he was, above all else, a child. He was a young, dumb kid who responded in an immature way to a perceived threat. In his young mind, he was defending himself against a lurking presence that wished to do him harm. He was defending himself as much as Zimmerman claimed to be.

No matter what side of the verdict you find yourself falling on, I think we can all agree on one thing: the entire incident could have been avoided. Zimmerman could have had some identifying factors such as an ID or official uniform that would have revealed his identity to Martin. Consider those worn by the Guardian Angels. They are immediately recognizable as individuals working for the common good. Uniforms and badges give validity and purpose to the people wearing them. They let others know that these are people who, while in positions of some authority, are able to be depended upon.

If this is too over the top, Zimmerman always had a trump card. He could have taken the advice of the dispatch and not have followed Martin in the first place. He could have stayed in his car and “watched” to see what Martin was doing and/or where he was going. After all, Zimmerman was the neighborhood “watch,” not neighborhood “security.”

However, he chose not to do that. Instead, he chose to put his faith in his OTHER trump card—the gun that he was carrying. As a result of his decision, a young man is dead . . . forever!

I guess as a consolation, one of the jurors is now saying that Zimmerman got away with murder.

Okay, tell us something we don’t already know.

She goes on to say that Zimmerman will not escape God’s judgment. Seriously?? Isn’t that the same for any situation or crime? Who can escape God’s judgment? No one. The people were not asking for God’s judgment. The people were asking for man’s judgment. In particular, they were asking six women to judge Zimmerman right here on earth! Now is simply not the time for platitudes and hokey religious sayings. Frankly, I’m not trying to hear them. That kind of thinking is what got us into this mess as a people and will continue to get us in situations such as this. Yes, God is in control of this universe. But constantly eschewing the responsibility of working for justice in this world just ensures that there is never any real accountability for crimes of this nature. Can anybody hear me?

In recent news, we have heard about the capture, enslavement and eventual liberation of three young women in Cleveland, Ohio—Amanda Berry, 27; Georgina “Gina” DeJesus, 23; and Michelle Knight, 32—as well as a 6-year-old daughter apparently born to Berry while in her imprisonment.  They were held in captivity for ten years by a man named Ariel Castro.

During those ten years, they were brainwashed, intimidated, raped, beaten and emotionally destroyed.   Without argument, everyone can plainly see that a tragedy has occurred.  Everyone agrees that the perpetrator of the crimes has to be punished.  Everyone is sympathetic, angry and downright incensed that such an event could take place in a civilized society/world.  There are those who feel that there will never be appropriate restitution for these three women.  Still, in order for them to have any chance at a normal life, all the experts are recommending therapy.  Even with the best therapists and counselors in the world, I think we can all agree that they have a long recovery ahead.  The public is outraged and rightly so!

Fortunately or unfortunately, this news story made me think—hard—about the many injustices that people have faced.  I started to think about all the enslaved peoples of the world.  Specifically, I thought about the plight of African Americans who, like these three women, were captured against their will.  Like that first group of Africans that arrived here in the United States, these women were strategically isolated, beaten and outright tortured to the point that the front door of the house where they were being held could remain unlocked and they would not attempt to leave.  So convinced were they that their condition was hopeless, they soon accepted their plight and made a life for themselves as best they could.  At the same time, they were forced to rely heavily on their slave master for food, water and shelter.  As such, they accepted whatever he said as if it were law and they assimilated.  As with the Africans, he wanted them to forget their former lives and to submit to him.  Soon, they didn’t question his authority.  Like the Africans, they submitted for the sake of survival.  On some level, they may even have identified with their captor.

I learned recently that the three former captives are receiving counseling and are slowly reclaiming their lives.  Nevertheless, the descendants of the African captives were not so fortunate.  For them, counseling was not even considered.  No.  Once free, they were expected to go about their lives, “get over” what happened and not “live in the past.”  As a result, they will never get the sympathy, restitution or even restorative counseling that are so clearly needed in order for the formerly enslaved individuals to make a life for themselves.   Do not misunderstand.  They will receive scholarships and grants to institutions of higher learning.  Nevertheless, we must all agree that classes are not the same as counseling, nor textbooks acceptable therapy.

The victims of Ariel Castro will see their tormentor prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law.  However, the victims of the African slave trade will not.  Regardless of what happens that closure will never come.  Of course, the situations are not identical.  Many people will point out that, in the case of African Americans, no such therapy is necessary because the injustices and abuse of the past did not occur to them directly.  While this is true on the surface, we must remember that trauma like that is not something people just get over with time.  It spreads and eats at its victim.  Like a cancer, it spreads to every aspect of their being.  It is naïve to think that it spreads to every area EXCEPT social interactions, EXCEPT self esteem, EXCEPT childrearing.  It enters and twists every part of a human being until it expresses itself in everything they do and everything they see.  It is foolish to believe that such harm can be overcome simply by maintaining a positive attitude and chanting “yes we can.”  They NEED treatment.   Without that medicine, no matter their level of achievement, they will always be multiple steps behind individuals who, while not directly responsible for slavery, continue to profit from it by birthright.

So, rather than address the issue once and for all, we continue to play “Let’s Pretend” at work, at home, at church and everywhere else.  Let’s pretend that discussions of race are passé.  Let’s pretend that racism is confined solely to the history books.  Let’s pretend that we are not still celebrating “firsts” for African Americans in this country (e.g., first African American Mayor of this, first African American Governor of that, first African American President, etc.) in 2013!  Surely, the election of President Obama cannot make up for the continued suffering of a group of people struggling to make it in a land that continues to view them as second-class citizens.

Can you imagine a world where these three women had been freed, straightaway returned to society and told to stop whining and to make a life for themselves or to stop blaming their captor for their misfortune?  Would it be fair to them?  How do you think they would fare?  Yet, this is essentially what happened to the enslaved Africans now called African Americans.  After many, many years of slavery—much more than ten—they were released into society and told to “make it.”

How successful has that been?

Can anybody hear me?


PS.  This article follows a similar theme.

What do you think would happen if the terms, “Christian” or “Christianity” were mentioned every time a crime was committed in the United States. by an everyday, church going American citizen?  For example, the “Christian Rapist” or the “Christian Bomber” committed this crime today.  I mean, this is what happens when a Muslim or someone from a non-European country who falls outside of the Christian faith commits a crime.

For example, whenever a terroristic act occurs, we frequently hear that the perpetrator was Islamic or a Muslim terrorist or an Islamic extremist.  This is often followed by a litany of well-chosen words designed to instill fear in the listener.  If this treatment was the same in all cases, how do you think Christianity would be viewed?  Might it be viewed in the same vein that Islam is today?  With that in mind, we have to ask ourselves if there a campaign to give Islam a bad name while preserving the name of Christianity?

Let’s face it; a lot of our understanding of our society is largely shaped by television and other mass media.  Our views are framed by what we have been told.  Whether you admit it or not, when you are on the train or on a bus and someone of Middle Eastern descent boards, you instantly feel nervous, especially after 9-11.  If the Middle Easterner has the audacity to be wearing a backpack, he could clear off the entire front row if he just pretends to be even slightly agitated!

Nevertheless, when it is a homegrown terrorist, such as Timothy McVeigh, religion often does not come into play.  Why not?  Timothy McVeigh was labeled a lone devil and Christianity got to maintain its good name even while its members continue to commit egregious crimes and horrible social offenses in the United States on a daily basis.  Somehow, Christianity is never discussed when any crimes occur.  So, when a crime is committed by a good old, Sunday-going Christian, their religious background is simply left out.  We may hear that the offender was “slightly off” or “bored” or “socially disaffected/awkward” or simply “wealthy” with nothing better to do then to construct a bomb and use it in a crowded arena.  The one thing we won’t hear is whether the criminal was Baptist, Catholic etc.  No, we won’t hear that.

Can anybody hear me?

I heard on the news that legislators in Maryland want to honor Harriet Tubman by naming not one, but two parks after her.  Now, history tells us that Harriet Tubman was instrumental in the escape of hundreds of American slaves along a clandestine route to freedom known as the Underground Railroad.  That being the case, can anyone explain to me how a park or two named after Harriet Tubman would honor her?  After all, her quest was for freedom, not for parks and recreation.  Rather than giving a park a name that many young people won’t bother to understand the relevance of, why not honor her with what she was fighting for — the freedom of her people.  Now, some of you might say, “Well, that’s already been attained.  They are free.  They have an African American president and all is well. ”  Truth be told, however, they have merely traded overt bondage for covert bondage.

In the past, African Americans knew where they stood in American society.  They understood where they could live, go to school, work, etc.  Nowadays, however, they are free to move about the country.  Nevertheless, this movement remains closely monitored, as it did in the days of Harriet Tubman via census taking, racial profiling and other means.  Though educated, Blacks remain under-employed or unemployed at an alarming rate.  In entertainment, they continue to make less than their white counter parts regardless of talent.  In housing or credit, they continue to pay higher interests rates than their white neighbors.  In the criminal justice system, they continue to face harsher penalties for the same crimes committed by their white peers.  Even with the freedom of movement mentioned earlier, there are still neighborhoods in the United States that do not welcome African Americans.  If they were truly free, they would enjoy the same amenities afforded to their white counterparts.

To properly build a monument to Harriet Tubman, we must either grant African Americans their full equality and protection under the law or build a metaphysical train to allow them to escape the tyranny.  At this point, I’m not sure which is easier.  Can anybody hear me?

Though it is quite disturbing to think about, it appears that all sicknesses and diseases are not treated with the same respect or concern. Certain illnesses/diseases, specifically those related to men, are given a higher level of importance than those issues that solely affect women.  For example, men’s issues, such as prostate cancer and/or testicular cancer, are given greater priority in terms of research and treatment options.  Meanwhile, cancers that affect women, such as breast or ovarian, are relegated to fundraisers and the kindness of strangers.

Think about it, have you ever been asked to solicit sponsors to support prostate cancer research or been asked to race for the cure?  No.  On the other hand, in order to keep issues related to women alive, public funding is constantly required…and usually under heavy debate.

This has to end.  We have to realize that no society can survive with only one gender.  Women are of equal importance to men—for the purpose of  procreation/the continued survival of the species at the very least—and thus, our(their) problems must be given equal importance as well.  There is no hope for society otherwise.

Of interest to me is that the U.S. often exposes other countries that treat women as so-called second class citizens, yet I cannot think of a better example of treating women as second class citizens then the healthcare system right here in the United States of America essentially telling women to fend for themselves when it comes to their bodies’ future.  Can anybody hear me?