Boyz 2 Men…Maybe

When my son Charlie was a little boy, people used to stop me on the street and proclaim how absolutely cute he was. (He really was!) Added to his inherent cuteness, he had a smile that went from ear to ear, teetering on being a grin. That smile drew people into him, and they adored him.

But he was a little boy. He was African-American …but a little boy. He had not yet developed his deep, baritone voice, nor had he grown to his 6’4″ stature. He was a little boy with fuzzy, wooly hair, little chubby legs and arms, a big smile and wide, glistening eyes.

While I was proud of people saying Charlie was cute, I also found myself annoyed inside when white people would compliment him, because I knew he was only “human,” and therefore, capable of being humanly “cute,” while he was little. All too soon, I knew, he would be seen as “one of them” by these same white people who were smiling at him now, and he would become a live member of the endangered species called black men.

I thought about that as I read the story of a former professional baseball player who was racially profiled in his own driveway in Hartford, CT. as he shoveled snow. (http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/04/i-was-racially-profiled-in-my-own-driveway/360615/) His account of what happened to him was all too familiar. The white officer who questioned him, assuming he had no right to be in that neighborhood left without apologizing after being told that the man was in the driveway of his house. This man was well-educated and knew enough protocol to know what to say and not say, do and not do, to this young, white police officer, but what if he had been less educated, and had not been schooled on what to do when stopped by police? It is very possible, in fact, probable, that this man would have been gunned down, with the police officer giving the excuse that he had to shoot because he was “in fear for his life.”

There have been all kinds of “conversations on race” in this country, and yet, racism sticks to American society, culture and life like human skin sticks to crazy glue. Most people don’t want to have a conversation about race, white or black; most Americans want to believe that racism is gone. After all, we have a black president …

But the facts of our existence as Americans say otherwise. Black kids in school are expelled or suspended more often than white kids for the same offenses; more black people than white are in prison for non-violent drug offenses; one black man is killed by police every 28 hours according to a recent report published by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. (http://mxgm.org/operation-ghetto-storm-2012-annual-report-on-the-extrajudicial-killing-of-313-black-people/). The information contained in this well-researched report is not surprising for those of us who are African-Americans, but it is troubling that in this, the 21st century, black people, and more specifically, black men, are still at risk. Black actors still find it hard to get good roles because Hollywood still sees the world and the stories to be told through a primarily white lens. Lupita Nyong’o, the award-winning and stunningly beautiful actress who played the role of a mistreated slave in “12 Years a Slave” may very well, despite her beauty and talent, find herself out of work because there will simply not be enough casting agencies willing to cast her or roles suited for a very black woman.

Ah, this is America.

My son is now 25 years old, tall, bronze-skinned, handsome…and so smart. That really isn’t a guarantee, though, or a shield against racism, and the fear that undergirds racism and causes people to make assumptions about black people in general. If he were on a corner waiting for a taxi in New York, where he lives, and a white guy was near him, also waiting for a cab, guess who’d get the cab? The most important thing is that he has made it out of boyhood into manhood. He was a boy; now he’s a man. Getting from one status to the next as a black man is not a guarantee, so I should be happy. I will be happy. I am happy…but yet sad, because many young men will not get to experience that blessing.

A candid observation …

 

Black Kids, Dying

There are no vigils when black children are killed.

I have always noticed the difference in spirit and attitude when white children are killed, as opposed to that which is operative when black children are killed.

For the white kids, there are counselors sent immediately to the schools, prayer and candlelight vigils, and a sense of sadness that such young lives have been lost.

For the black kids …nothing.

To be fair, I haven’t heard many stories of killers going into urban schools – i.e., predominantly black schools – and shooting at random.

That’s not where black kids die.

Black kids die on the streets. Sometimes, they are killed by other black  people. Sometimes, they are killed by white people – not an ordinary white person, but, far too often, by a white law enforcement officer. Because they die at the hands of law enforcement officers so often, the attitude in the wider community seems to be “ho-hum. If the kid is dead, he/she probably deserved it.”

Nobody really seems to care …about black kids dying.

Can’t say much more about it now. It’s really a very painful …candid observation.

 

 

 

When People See

Only when people think a problem is THEIR problem do they mobilize … and work.
Activist Chip Berlet said that people have to SEE trouble before they act on trouble. When people SAW, for example, women and children being attacked by police dogs and hosed down with fire hoses like they were pieces of burning wood, they acted – or reacted. From President Kennedy on down, people reacted. What they SAW horrified them.
When people SAW residents of New Orleans stranded on rooftops, standing in the heat on the Danzinger Bridge and outside of the Convention Center; when they SAW pictures of old people, sitting dead in wheelchairs after that horrific storm …they reacted.
We like to think that we are nice people; we like to think that we care about things. Thing is, our “niceness” usually needs a bump to get it activated and we usually care most when a situation touches and affects us directly.
Heroin addiction is on the rise; it apparently is no longer a “ghetto drug” but has made its way to people who are affluent. Now, THEIR children are overdosing; now THEIR families are being affected. Now they can SEE how devastating the drug is (and always has been) and because THEIR children and family members are falling because of it, they can also see that it’s not BAD people who become addicted.
Because THEIR children, THEIR family members, are not bad.
Right now, there is a pandemic of black and brown and poor people going to prison. Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, has told the story well, and in such a way that nobody can escape its power. At an event at which she recently spoke, she said something profound; she said, “All of us are sinners, and all of us are criminals.”
When the Prison Industrial Complex begins to really affect children other than black, brown and poor children, that statement will have new buoyancy.
But right now, what’s far too isolated, far too removed from THEM …is this whole issue of extrajudicial murders. Black children, black men and young boys, are being murdered. Some of the murdered’s organs are being removed. It is not a small problem; it is large and it is growing. And yet, there is silence…
THEY are not connected; THEY have not seen the horror for themselves. Who is “THEY?” Anyone who needs to see a problem but who does nothing. “THEY” are white and black and brown. “THEY” like to keep their heads in the sand and pursue their own material success and THEY do it well …until THEY see what’s going on because it affects THEM.
These kids and young people being murdered is a problem, an American, not a black problem, and it is spreading like a thick, black ink across our nation, city by city. Mothers and fathers and relatives are wailing, unable to get justice for their slain loved ones, because it has not touched THEM.
But it will. Spreading ink doesn’t make choices on who it stains; it stains anyone in its way …and the truth of the matter is that all of us are in its way. Some of us are just closer.
Trust and believe, the ink moves toward us all. The slain children and young people …are calling out to us all to SEE what’s going on …before it touches US.
A candid observation …

“Boys Will Be Boys”…

It has occurred to me that only some boys are “allowed” to be boys, according to the common adage.

When I think of what happened to Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, what I think is that these were two young men …being boys. Teens tend to do dumb things in general; teen boys, no matter their color or ethnicity, do even more dumb things…It is part of growing up. Some of us get out of our teens safely, meaning we don’t get killed or injured or wind up in “the system,” but many of us, unfortunately, do not.

Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow, said on Saturday that “all of us are sinners, and all of us are criminals.” What an incredibly simple yet profound statement. All of us, surely, have done something that puts us in both those categories…yet it seems to be black and brown males who seem to end up in prison or dead for …just doing “dumb boy stuff.”

I remember hearing the story of a young black teen who lived in Chicago, who, with his friends, took up a dare that they could all outrun an oncoming train. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb …but that was the challenge of the day. There were about six boys in the group. All of them made it…except for one, who tripped and fell, and before he could get up, the rambling train had run over his legs, amputating them both.

I hear stories about this all of the time, as I am sure many do, but what bothers me, again, is that black and brown boys don’t really have the luxury of being …boys. And what’s worse, it feels like the white police officers know exactly the mind set they are dealing with. They know what boys will try, what they will smoke or when they will fight …because these police officers have done the same “dumb boy” stuff themselves. They have done what they are chasing down these black and brown boys for r, and have gotten away. Now, they are in positions of power.  It feels like they have never been too fond of black or brown people; it feels like they have totally bought into the opinion that black and brown people are bad, stupid and lazy, and they use their power to reign these young men in for doing exactly as some of these police officers have done in their lives …if not worse.

When it is suggested that police officers take some diversity training, or get some kind of training that will help them deal with the communities in which they immerse themselves, there is pushback; they are miffed, it seems, that anyone would suggest that they need training to deal with …common criminals…and yet, they do need something . These police officers go into black and brown communities armed with guns and misguided and misinformed perceptions. They go in believing that the black and brown people with whom they deal are inherently bad as opposed to being humans who need help and protection like everyone else.

These white officers know that kids use drugs. My son used to tell me that at his high school, a very good high school in the suburbs, was full of drugs. Chances are these police officers have used or are using marijuana …and they know how boys get together and smoke to “have fun,” and yet they round these boys up and herd them into the system. The huge numbers of black and brown people in jail and prison, especially black males, for non-violent drug offenses, supports my observation.

What to do? How do black and brown parents raise their sons? They certainly are not allowed to “be boys” as the white boys are allowed to be. So …what does a parent share? When my son was a teen, I gave him “the talk” on how to act in public, what to say, do, not say and not do, if he were ever stopped by police. He got through…but so many of our boys do not.

When I think of Trayvon and Jordan, I think of boys …being boys …defending their manhood, standing up for themselves, in the wake of being challenged by other men who challenged them …just because they could. I believe Trayvon was frightened by being followed by George Zimmerman and decided to “stand his ground” and protect himself…and I believe Jordan decided that no white man was going to tell him how loud he could play his music and he challenged Michael Dunn’s demand that they turn the music down in their car. Boys. Being boys. The white men against whom they came against took up the challenge. It was a pissing contest … as men will often engage in …but both Trayvon and Jordan …and so many more young black and brown men …lost. I mean they lost the ultimate – their lives.

Yeah, “boys will be boys,” but black and brown boys and youth are highly at risk when they do that. And unfortunately, as the white boys and men whom they confront do the “boy thing” too, it is the black and brown kids who too often end up with the short end of the stick.

A candid observation …

Goosebumps

It gives me goosebumps, all this attention being given to what’s happening in Russia.

Yes, I am concerned about the people who are and who have been affected by violence or the threat of violence. It has always struck me as odd that people who believe in God are so eager to get into war with others, killing innocent people.

But what gives me goosebumps is that America, which has so many examples of treating people fairly or just, is so indignant at the possibility that another country might be doing the same.

America’s violence against its citizens isn’t as dramatic as what we have seen in Egypt and Syria and others, meaning, there are no tanks rolling through cities, running over and gunning down innocent people.

But metaphorically, America has “run over” and “gunned down” innocent people throughout her history. Beginning with how America decimated Native Americans in this, THEIR country, moving on to black people, the interring the Japanese …Americans have violated the human rights of large numbers of her own citizens.

I recently heard a report on National Public Radio (NPR) of a car load of Muslim-Americans who were detained and harassed by American border guards. Apparently that goes on quite a lot.

There is the reality of people being incarcerated for 20 years for non-violent, primarily drug offenses. America incarcerates more people than any other modern nation in the world…Michelle Alexander says in her book, The New Jim Crow, that America “has not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” Incarceration is a form of racialized control which will only get worse because of the emerging and growing Prison Industrial Complex, created to bring huge profits to those who run it.

There are children who are dying of preventable disease because of their lack of accessibility to health care, and too few people seem to care. There is a feeling of disgruntlement amongst some law makers as government attempts to help those who are struggling; they see that as government helping the lazy remain lazy, even as the powers that be outsource jobs that many of these people used to have access to. Former Vice-President Dick Cheney said last week that President Obama would “rather give food stamps than build a strong military.” (http://www.politico.com/story/2014/02/dick-cheney-pentagon-budget-food-stamps-103906.html).

What are unemployed people supposed to do to survive? And why don’t so many lawmakers seem to care? Why don’t the lawmakers who were instrumental in outsourcing jobs to which many Americans formerly had access…care? If they don’t get help from the government, if they don’t have money or time to go back to school to get the skills they need to get the high-tech jobs that ARE available here…what are they supposed to do to survive? How is the cold-heartedness of our lawmakers any different from what rulers of other nations are doing?

I get goosebumps because America has a human rights violation problem …but will not own up to it or fix it. I get goosebumps because America has ALWAYS had a human rights problem…but has ignored that problem while she has gone traipsing all over the world to help other people who are suffering. That help would be noble if America would just hear the cries of her own people.

Perhaps I am too cynical but I feel like if America is helping people in other countries, it’s not because she cares about the suffering of the people, but it’s because there’s some economic gain in it for America.

Can a world power remain in power acting that way? Don’t world powers who disintegrate into money and power grabbing entities eventually self-destruct? When nations, world powers, don’t care about the masses, doesn’t that eventually mean their power is curtailed or forever altered?

It doesn’t seem to me that a nation can be concerned about everyone else but which ignores its own suffering can survive, ultimately. Eventually, the oppressed rise up and fight back. Isn’t that what we’re seeing in other countries?

I get goosebumps. Can’t write much more about it right now…but I get goosebumps.

It’s a troubling candid observation …

Michael Dunn, George Zimmerman, and Fear

I wonder if any black person has ever had the benefit of  having a trial with an impartial jury.

The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution says that American citizens are entitled to a trial with an “impartial jury.” That  phrase has been interpreted as one having the right to a trial with a jury “by one’s peers.” That’s not exactly what the Constitution says. It says we’re supposed to have trials with an “impartial jury.”

I have long struggled with trials for black people that have had juries which were nearly all white. Because I thought the Constitution said we have a right to a jury of our peers, I have long thought that something was very wrong. Well, there’s a lot wrong, but for this moment, I just want to concentrate on the one thing I felt was wrong: Black people were NOT having trials with juries “of their peers.”

But along those same lines, black people have not had many trials with impartial juries, either. In the Dunn trial, there were four white men, four white women, two black women …one Asian woman and one Hispanic American. Were these jurors impartial? I don’t think so. Out of the total of 12 jurors, 8 were white. Impartial?  I cannot believe that they were.

Chris Cuomo of CNN interviewed George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, in spite of being free, is pouting. He says HE is a victim and was made a scapegoat by the government, naming the president and the attorney in general. Michael Dunn is amazed that he was convicted even of attempted second degree murder. He said from jail that he was attacked. Apparently, the juries believed both these men, that THEY were victims. I cannot believe that that the jurors who saw him as victim …are impartial.

White people are so often afraid of black people…just because they are black and because the media has been very effective in portraying black people as criminals.  Almost every black person I know has experienced a white person gripping her bag more tightly when she has seen a black person, primarily a black man, approaching her. It is a fact that one can be (and is) stopped just because he is black.  Statistics show that while blacks commit a large number of violent crimes, most of their victims tend to be black. A report done by CNN indicated that the most likely victim of black crime is a black male, 12-19 years old, and the least likely victim, a white male, ages 35-64.  Blacks, in relation to being only 12.5 percent of the population, commit “a disproportionate number of crimes,” but, the report said, “whites commit more crimes.” (http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/moneymag_archive/1994/06/01/88911/)

Blacks have been criminalized historically, something that began after Reconstruction, when white people in the South needed a way to get blacks back on the farms to do the work that would improve the South’s economy. Blacks could be arrested for the most petty things – like being outside too late, or walking on the wrong side of the railroad tracks, for loitering (even as they waited in line to get a job!) The message was being given that black people were bad, unworthy of freedom. That sentiment has persisted…

The overarching feeling of many whites, then, is that black people are bad and are to be feared, and fear drives white emotions, beliefs and actions. Why did the man in Dearborn, Michigan, shoot 19-year-old Renisha McBride in the face as she banged on his door in the wee hours of the morning seeking help? Because he was afraid. Why did the police officer shoot injured and unarmed Jonathan Ferrell as he ran toward police, seeking help? Because he was afraid.

Both Michael Dunn and George Zimmerman are murderers; they both shot unarmed black teens …but their actions were driven by fear and they had jurors who were ALSO afraid, or who know the fear of which they spoke, and in the cradle of that fear, acquitted these men of their crimes. The juries were NOT impartial. Fear prevented that.

When I hear Dunn and Zimmerman say they were victims, my blood boils. They were not victims of anything other than their own fear.  Fear leads people to insecurity and irrational actions…which is what we saw in the case of both these men.

Somebody on the Dunn jury was connecting with his/her own fear…and that’s what drove them. Dunn is still shocked that he was convicted of anything, given the scenario as he feels it happened. He was afraid of Jordan Davis, afraid of what he believes to be true of all black people. His fear, probably fed a bit by machismo, increased as Davis offered him an angry challenge to Dunn’s request that the teens turn down their money. Dunn  rode into that gas station with contempt for and fear of black people in his heart. He acted on both…and contrary to his sorry claim, he was NOT the victim; he was NOT attacked. That 17-year- old kid was the victim and was attacked and killed.

I get that. But the jury, which was NOT impartial, did not.

It’s a sorry and tragic shame, what has happened.

A candid observation …

Waiting for Justice

This morning I am waiting with bated breath the verdict in the Michael Dunn murder trial.

It is day three of this so-called “loud music” trial. I am so afraid the jury will bring back a verdict of “not guilty” or that there will be a hung jury.

I am afraid because in so many cases of black people being shot and killed by white people – police or civilians – the verdict is “not guilty.” And each and every time one of those verdicts come down the pike, my heart sinks.

It seems and feels like that, no matter what, there is seldom justice for black people, especially in cases where a white person has killed or injured a black person.

What in the world is it? I remember feeling optimistic way back when Rodney King was beaten by police. It was caught on video tape…and I thought it was clear as day that that young man had been wronged, beaten cruelly and mercilessly by police who seemed totally out of control. He was treated like a sick and dangerous animal, not a man who had made a bad move.

But not even the video tape helped. The police officers were acquitted …and a city went nuts. I understood why.

America’s lack of willingness to extend justice to African-American families which have been changed forever because of violence waged against their loved ones is a dangerous and troubling thing. American jurists, too many of whom are white when it comes to delivering verdicts in cases like this – seem to subliminally think that if a black person is shot down by a police officer or by a civilian, he or she somehow deserved it. It boggles the mind, or my mind, still, that George Zimmerman is free. It boggles my mind that the police officer who shot Henry Glover was convicted …only to be later acquitted in a new trial.

Michael Dunn shot into an SUV and killed an unarmed teen. He then drove away – miles away – and didn’t even bother to call police. He shot because he got angry with a teen who dared challenge him when he asked the teens to turn their music down. He gave the classic line used in these types of cases, “I was in fear for my life.”

Bull.

This man was wrong. Jordan Davis, the kid he killed, perhaps should have kept his mouth shut …but being mouthy is NOT  a reason to be gunned down like a rabid dog.

I don’t understand why everyone cannot understand that.

I keep thinking of Langston Hughes’ poem, “A Dream Deferred.” He asks what happens when a dream is deferred?:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore, and then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

African-Americans keep dreaming for justice in this land, but it really does feel like a dream deferred.

What will happen if Dunn is acquitted? I shudder to think of the brutal slap to African-American souls if that is the reality. Another dream, another moment of hope, dashed …another dream deferred.

It just cannot keep happening. I am afraid of what this jury will decide.

A candid observation .

Two Americas

“If profit is your only metric, man, where …do people stand?”

David Simon, a reporter, author and television producer, asked that, and says that in America there was a class war between the working class and the rich …and that the working class lost.

His words stunned me. There is something about hearing stark truth spoken out loud. If you don’t hear the words, you can pretend that things are not as bad as they are. If you’re in a relationship that’s over, you tend to do better, feel better, pretending that things are not as bad as they are until your significant other says, “I don’t love you anymore.”

Once that’s said, pretense is shattered.

That’s what Simon’s words did to me – jostled me into an uncomfortable reality. In America, something has gone horribly wrong, and much of it is because of our economic system which has pushed too many people to the brink of despair.

Simon says that democracy was supposed to be, or is supposed to be, about sharing. Yet, in the grip of capitalism, the notion of sharing has gone missing. If one talks too much about income inequality, or people needing to make a living wage, cries of protest – yelling out “socialism,”   “communism” or worse are heard in full force.

If you keep on and push the argument further, suggesting that Jesus believed in sharing, (some have suggested that Jesus was a socialist in his world view) then you will surely be shot down as a heretic.

And yet, it is clear that something horribly wrong has happened. The Congress, points out Simon, is full of people with good wages and health care; they have lost touch and do not care about – cannot, in fact, relate to – those who work hard and still cannot support themselves and their families …and who do not have health care. They cannot hear the cries of the growing underclass because their quest for more comfort for themselves and their families takes front and center.

Was capitalism supposed to turn out this way?  Conservatives like to quote the Constitution as the reason for all of their beliefs …but do they understand the spirit of that document …or, for that matter, do I? Did I get it wrong? Wasn’t “democracy” supposed to be a form of government that insured some type of equality for all its people?

If I listen to Conservatives or Libertarians, the answer would be a resounding “no.” All of us who have interpreted the Constitution as a document of, for and about economic parity and  “fair chance” of all people would be criticized as being constitutionally ignorant.

Simon says America’s government is a “purchase government.”  Capitalism worked, he says, when more people were, in fact, able to “purchase.” That is not the case anymore; too many people can purchase little to nothing …and from what I’ve learned from listening to economists, our economy cannot be at its best unless large numbers of people can purchase things that they need and some things that they want.

Big money, notes Simon, has purchased much of government. Consider Art Pope, who is said to have purchased much of the government of North Carolina and the result is that the poor, the almost poor …and the “gonna be poor” are suffering and struggling like never before. Simon says there are “two Americas.” Damn if he isn’t spot on. One only has to open one’s eyes to see it. The poor are getting more and more numerous. It’s not just people of color, either. Plenty of white people are in the “poor” category.

I am just beginning to deal with this on a gut level. And it hurts…I think I wanted my government to be better than all governments. I liked living in the myth that justice and the tenets of the Constitution would ultimately prevail.

Apparently, that is not so.

A candid observation …

He With Gold Rules

“He with the gold …rules.”

That is a line spoken by Bill Moyers in his documentary: “State of Conflict: North Carolina.”

It is a fascinating but troubling documentary, exposing the right-wing takeover of government in North Carolina, bankrolled by one Art Pope, among others …which is resulting in an extreme erosion of rights of people in that state.

Specifically targeted are voting rights, women’s rights, and public higher education.  There are consistent “snips” to social safety nets in the state. Medicaid was not expanded in the state, seriously affecting “the least of these” and compromising, if not outright preventing, the very poor to have access to health care.

There is a minister, Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter NAACP and a key coordinator of the multi-issue, multi-ethnic movement  which has taken on the state. Barber began his public protest with a small group of people last year; that number of people has swelled to thousands, gathering in cities all over the state, protesting and fighting what is going on.

There will be a mass rally on Saturday, February 8, in Charlotte.

Those are the facts of what’s going on. Here is my gut-wrenching reaction about what’s going on.

This sucks.

I have long thought that “justice” comes most readily to those who can pay for it. What’s going on says that “government” is defined and shaped by those …who can pay for it.

At the end of the day, is there such a thing as a democracy, where, theoretically, there is “liberty and justice for all?”  Is the notion of government “of the people, by the people and for the people” a pie in the sky? How can a select few of wealthy people be so cavalier about the lives and welfare of the masses? How can legislatures so blithely cut away services that will make live more bearable for so many people?

Somehow, a small group of wealthy people, and a larger group of not-as-wealthy-but-wanna-be people have gotten the notion that if one is poor, it’s because he or she is lazy. They have bought into the notion that in America, anything and everything is possible if one is willing to work hard.

Scores of people would refute that, people who are working two, three jobs to make ends meet and who still can’t make those ends meet. Scores of people who do have low paying jobs but with no benefits would refute that as well, stating for the record that they work as many hours as possible – at minimum wage, many of them – and are still living below the poverty level.

That the wealthy cannot see this, or perhaps more stridently, do not believe this or care about the truth of what’s being said and experienced, is troubling. It pulls at the very seams of a nation that prides itself on being morally superior to other nations.

A nation which forgets and exploits its poor cannot be said to be moral, not in any shape, way or form.

A candid observation …

When Dark Nights Come

My mother used to say, all of the time, that life isn’t fair.

It isn’t.

I keep thinking of the “newly homeless,” people who used to have jobs, good jobs, who are now homeless. I think of the parents and family of people who have been killed by senseless gun violence in this nation within the last year. I know a family whose son was a good student and athlete and was headed to college ….but who died during basketball practice. In a historical sense, I keep thinking of Solomon Northrup, the free black man who was stolen and sold into slavery, as depicted in the movie, Twelve Years a Slave.”

Talk about unfair. Dark nights do come, no matter who we are.

When I watched that movie, I kept wondering how Solomon did it? How did he …well, how did any slaves …make it through that horrific experience? How did he keep from going insane or losing hope? I wondered if he woke up every day thinking that this would be the day of his deliverance…and how he kept going when the day at hand turned out not to be that day.

What did he tell himself? What did he do with the feeling of life being unfair as he was beaten and almost killed and treated like a brute?

I can’t even imagine.

But stories like that are good to know; Northrup’s story is as compelling for me as was Nelson Mandela’s. How did he stay sane and hold onto hope for 27 years? I read his book, Long Walk to Freedom and was reminded that within us all there is that strength given to us at the moment we were created.

If we can remember that the strength is there…and if we can turn our attention away from our angst and toward, perhaps, the suffering of others, it seems that light begins to seep through.

Even the tiniest bit of light in the midst of darkness gives hope.

It seems that, when dark nights come, we need to look up and out…and remember that dark nights are not unique and that they are temporary – even if temporary is a long time. Darkness, eventually, is overtaken by light …which is always moving toward us.

As my mama would say that life wasn’t fair, she would also say, “this too will pass.”

So true, dark night, so true.

A candid observation …

 

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