Only Shoot The Messenger If She Is Black.


It has been a long time since I’ve seen the media in our country united. This show of consistency across all outlets and political opinion is remarkable. We need to bottle this unity. The media needs to tell the truth and be consistent in doing so. Unfortunately, our media is not consistent in how we treat information and most problematically even more inconsistent about how we treat individuals. Consistently, the messenger is reported on, not the message. The last several days have been a great example of shooting the messenger, and there are no consequences for the shooter. Nothing new there.

The consistent inconsistency is in the treatment of people of color, particularly black Americans. We are shot without consequences, both literally and figuratively. The most recent victim doesn’t have clean hands but, does that mean the message is less valid? Like the many victims in our community who get shot, a set of justifications is being cobbled together. The story is evolving and advancing like it always does. Shooting the black messenger is okay. So, what of the message?

In the 1800’s the US court system said asserted that there are no rights of a black person a white person is obligated to uphold. There it is. Our current President is White, a liar, cheat, racist and still vast segments of our fellow citizens believe every word that drops from his lips. The media in totality treat him with deference for only one reason. He is white. Both right and left believe in the doctrine of white supremacy. Like religious denominations, they believe in the magical virgin birth but differ on the minor questions. The media is a white supremacy tool. Individuals across the spectrum vary widely in their individual views and racists tendency but, the institution is racist. If you are asking how I’ve come to that conclusion you have not being attentive to the history of our great nation.

Our history is littered with the corpses of Black Americans for whom no media outlet cares enough to speak the truth. Yes, that claim can be made for all groups. However, I assert we are the only group that cannot be redefined as “white.” The definition of who can be in the fictional club of “white” continues to change and is a moving target because only one group was meant to be excluded, Black Americans.

As a black American, I watched her in the first season of that show and made my mind up that she was not an ethically conscious person but, it’s reality TV and only conflict real or fictional sells. As someone with a science background, I am inclined to look for the facts and give less weight to opinions. I am sad to see us giving equal weight to fact as compared to opinion.

She is aware of her reputation and personally acquainted with the lack of credibility of her President. She is mindful of the deference he receives despite his weak relationship with facts. She did what was necessary and vital. She recorded the liars. There likely will be an attempt to prosecute her. The facts will be ignored because there is no statement from a black person that a white person is obliged to believe. The danger to our republic is great. White supremacy trumps facts, as long as someone of color presents the facts.

Does this messenger have any less credibility? Is she any more a liar that the President’s other mouthpieces? Why are they given deference? Are they any more competent? I will assert on all counts that they are no better. Why the voracious evisceration of her? Yes, we know why.

On March 6, 1857, Chief Justice Roger Taney, wrote “[African Americans] had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it. ”

The current state of affairs has not changed enough.

 

 

No boundries


History has a way of living forever. It’s effect at least. For people of color, this is very significant.

The early nineteenth-century effort of the government to create a segregated community of advantaged whites and disadvantaged blacks has succeeded. This history is ignore and not taught. The story is that we are lazy and have bad spending habits. All that may or may not be the truth, but it does not make any less disadvantageous the deliberate government policy of segregation.

Our elected democratic governments under both parties have insisted on and enforced bank lending to avoid giving loans to African Americans. The history is clear and those that ignore it or bad for our community.  Knowledge is power and how we use this knowledge can either destroy us or allow our children to take an equal footing in country.

We are disadvantage, let’s not be limited by it.

It’s Black America’s Own fault.


My ancestors were slaves. Your ancestors enslaved them, and I will not allow you to forget it. You have gained significant advance from my enslavement, but I will not allow your advantage to define my aspirations. The labor and output of my ancestors have continued to accrue to you and yours, but I will not let that limit my reach.

There is a lack of acknowledgment of the harm that has accrued to the children of the Africans enslaved in the Americas. Among the children of the slave, there is an embarrassment to acknowledge our injury publicly. We seem to have a Stockholm syndrome, like illness. We see the harm but are too cowed to call it out and own it. Instead, we speak quietly so as not to embarrass the children of the enslavers. In so doing we are harming ourselves. We need to own the pain and lay it bare for all to see.

In our private space, we lay the blame and see the continuing injustice of slavery and the results of the accrued resources. We are disadvantaged, and those who deny such are free to do so. What is not acceptable is that we the children of Africa don’t speak more forcibly to the dilemma.
Maybe we don’t speak because we also see that we have caused ourselves almost as much damage.

The damage, as I see it, stems from our cultural denial of the trauma we continue to experience. We have learned from the plantation that we should speak quietly in the presence of the masters but loudly to our co-oppressed. In hiding the truth of our oppression from the children of the enslavers, we have harmed our own.

What is the harm? The harm I am referencing is that insidious self-hatred and disrespect we have for ourselves, and worse the hatred we have developed for all things we consider too much like our oppressors. In doing so, we have lost sight of the skills we need to succeed in a world created by the resources of our labor. We are our worse enemy.

The enemy, as I see it is a culture of self-hate. We treat our sisters in the same manner that the oppressors do and suspect our brothers in the same ways the oppressors did and do. We discourage our children from academic achievement because it looks too much like our oppressors, and in so doing we are allowing them to fulfill the predicted behavior that the oppressor have of them. A vicious cycle is in motion, and like our brothers who flogged us on the plantations, we have become the keepers of order.

This order means to keep us, children of Africa, subservient to the children of our enslavers. We continue to be the enforcers of the order imposed by our enslavers. It is time for us to wake up. We need to turn a new leaf, examine the world we are leaving for our children and determine to affect it positively. No one but ourselves can save us.

Social Media Is Not The Problem.


I’m an introvert, and I’m happy.  I’m comfortable with my own company and don’t ever feel the need to be entertained. Why others need to is a mystery to me. Sometimes, that lack of understanding is a disadvantage, but I am most of all happy with myself.

Recently, as I have watched the news, I have been struck by how needy people are, especially those in power. The need to be noticed and to be seen to be noticed is in my opinion perverse. However, coming from someone that prefers his own company you may not agree with my analysis. We are social beings and have a need for company and companionship. There is research to show the benefits of our social nature. I am not so naive as to discount the work but I have concerns about the direction of our community building. I’m not sure we are building the communities we need. Your smartphone should not be the limit of your social group.

My favorite pastime is walking in nature alone, and I have spent hours walking alone listening and observing the life around me. I don’t pretend to have any greater skills of observation than others, but I find peace in those moments I’m alone.  Like most, I have my smartphone connected at all times and within easy reach. I am connected and enjoy the ability to interact when needed. I just don’t think I need to interact at all times. In recent years I have paired back and have tried to live more “in the moment” than via my connectedness. Yes my phone is connected but my notifications are off. There are no email notifications, app notifications are off too. Only those who may need immediate responses are allowed.

I hear the complaints about social media making us less social. Social media is not the problem, we are. Smartphones, tablets, and computers are excellent tools. The problem is the workman. The connected world is still new, and society is still learning how to manage these tools. We need to teach our children how to use technology to enhance their lives while also not being overwhelmed. The commercialization of the tools, including the internet, is a push to make you the product.  Social media is a tool, don’t be the product. Use these tools to make your life easier, use it to your benefit. Use the internet as intended by its inventors, a means to communicate over unbridgeable distances. If we direct our children to see computers as a means not an end we will all be better for it.

As I see it, this intersection of valid use and addiction to connectivity is where we need to intervene. I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I would suggest the answers must start with us being able to be alone without being bored. We must learn to be with ourselves.

The ability to introspect and to self evaluate is essential to loving and accepting who we are. Loving ourselves and accepting our flaws is the beginning of understanding and acceptance of others. Acceptance of others does not mean we acquiesce to their opinions, but it allows us to be comfortable with our differences and not be stressed.

If we first learn to accept ourselves then we can more easily accept others. If we can become more comfortable with silence and our own company we will not need the approval of people we don’t know or will never see. Let’s spend some time with ourselves and unplug a little. I’m going to follow my own advice.

I Know How To Save The Planet!


Every year Americans get larger. We are getting fatter, and we care less about the health risks. As a physician, I can see the effect on health, but societal pressure is going opposite to the medical evidence. The science is being ignored to spare the feelings of the obese.

As we spare the feelings of the obese, we are doing several things that will harm us all. We are making obesity socially acceptable and have gone further to pretend that highlighting obesity is the same as racist speech. It is not. As obesity increases in prevalence, the conditions that create obesity are becoming normalized. In the long term, this impacts our children and leaves them with a lifetime of obesity. Obesity may become socially acceptable, but it is not medically sustainable. We need to take better care of our citizens and start by telling the truth. Obesity is the most destructive disease to Americans. We will be paying in ways not yet foreseen.

The science is clear. The medical observations are in, and obesity is not an acceptable fashion statement. It is a disease state. Like smoking, no amount of obesity is without consequence. All obesity will cause medical damage. The only question need is, how much. Many will have long lives in spite of their obesity, but the facts are clear. They could have had better lives. The sad news is that obesity is not a personal disease, it is a societal disease. We have an epidemic.
The epidemic is that of the whole organism. The organism is humanity. As the maldistribution of food resources leads to obesity all over the world, the entirety of the planet will suffer. There is a need to clear and plant; rare and kill more animals. This race to produce more food is destroying not just our bodies thru obesity but is destroying the biosphere.
As we destroy our planet’s ability to sustain us, we are killing ourselves. How we handle food is not a personal matter, it is a species matter. The capacity of our planet is finite. We live on a rock covered with a small volume of air and water in a giant vacuum. If the potable water runs out, or the breathable air disappears we have no place of refuge.

All of us can directly impact the planet. We can eat less. The science is clear. If we eat organic or non-organic, there is no difference. We need to eat less. There is no superfood. There is food. No matter the nutrient content, excessive quantity has the same result, obesity.
Eat less and leave a healthier planet for our children. Teach our children to eat less and save the planet for our grandchildren.

Eat better.

SCOTUS and the bigotry of tribalism.


Our country is being slow-walked toward the edge of disaster. As a father of daughters, the most pressing issue to me is that of choice. I am working hard to give them an education so that they can have financial freedom. Without economic freedom, there is no other freedom. Money provides options and opportunities. The poor are not poor because of last of character. Having options, most importantly those your parents can provide are vital.  Success is about preparation meeting opportunity. For the women of this country, the direction of the political class both women and men are driving the opportunities for women to have freedom and control over their bodies back to the great days before Roe vs. Wade. Women losing choices is just one way of making America great again.

Disagreeing with me is your prerogative. However, it is my responsibility to my girls to fight for their right to choose and to direct their lives as they see fit. The current direction of the supreme court is clear. Roe vs. Wade is likely to be reversed, and our daughters will have fewer choices. Many women are ok with removing the ability of others to make decisions that they disagree with. As a father of daughters, I am not ok with my daughters having few choices. As free and independent beings they and not the government should have control over their biology. I may not agree with their choices, but that doesn’t mean I should remove their ability to choose.

As mentioned above, money gives freedom and as affirmed by the Supreme Court of the U.S. money equals speech. Predictably those with more money will have more speech and in our political system speech is a proxy for freedom. As SCOTUS moves toward a likely reversal of Roe those without as much speech, i.e., less money will be the ones most affected. In our country that usually equates to poor women and most acutely women of color.

Sadly, many in communities of color have put their religious views above their communities and wish to impose their beliefs on others without thinking out the full consequences of those actions on themselves and family. Worse, some are only looking out for their “tribe” not realizing that they too will be victims on another day.  The bigotry of tribalism is killing us all.

 

 

Happy Father’s Day.


Maintaining a healthy weight in our culture is becoming more difficult. Just look at the people around you. Most of us are overweight. As the epidemic of obesity continues to grow, we seem to be less concerned. We seem to be more concerned about the consequences of fat shaming and not on the fact that life expectancy in some segments of the population is declining. Obesity is primarily a disease of excess compounded by a lack of insight.

If we want to change the trajectory of this epidemic, we need first to acknowledge that there is a problem. As I have gained several kilograms over the last few months, I’ve had to confront the trip wires in my life. It seems to me that we all need to honestly evaluate the obstacles preventing us from maintaining a healthy weight.

Let’s challenge our obstacles and surrender to the facts. 1. I’m making poor food choices 2. The people around me are allowing me or encouraging me to eat poorly 3. I don’t recognize appropriate portion size 4. I eat too much and too often 5. I buy too much food 6. I move too little 7. Everything I believe about exercise is wrong 8. Dessert is food 9 Calories matter.

My simple advice, which I should take myself. Stop listening to the people in your life who overeat and are always complaining about their weight. Stop eating out. Eat whole foods. Eat a plant first diet. Remove the highly processed carbohydrates. Eat less often. Count your calories. Sleep better. Stop worrying about what you will look like after you have lost the weight.

Dads, be an example to your family. Be disciplined and eat better.

Happy Father’s Day.

 

Exit


Life has both a tenacious and fragile grip on our flesh. Acceptance of its challenges is the beginning of enjoyment. The rose bush comes with her thorns, and her flowers are much less fragrant than we expect. Her flowers are beautiful and surrounded by sharp barbs. How we deal with the thorns is all we can pretend to control. Life is the struggle.

I will push on. I will not allow the pain to prevent me enjoying the fragrance and the beauty. I will enjoy the jabs and chant the reminder. Life is the struggle.

I will allow the breath of life to penetrate deep into my soul and catch the fragrance of the flower. The struggle is life as the scent of a rose is fleeting.

As I slide down the backside of life, I will not forget that life is the struggle. I will hold tight and breath deeply as I traverse the thorns. I will lick my wounds and recognize the magic of my bleeding. I will affirm that life is the struggle.

On that day when the struggle becomes too much, I will exit on my terms. My exit may be your thorn. Feel the pain, breath deeply and remember, life is the struggle. The rose is less fragrant that you remember and the view from the mountaintop is only as beautiful as the struggle to get there.

Enjoy the struggle until the enjoyment is gone. Exit without any apologies.

Battle Cry of Freedom.


History is filled with stories of both great victories and damning defeats. The story of the American Civil War has all those components. The story of why, where and how is fascinating and is worthy of investigation. The central question today of the reason for the civil war was never a question at the time. It was clear to all why and who started the war. The many compromises made to keep the Union together are documented in national documents. As such, the pre-war the question was, could this Nation survive half free and half slave.

The Negro question, the question of slavery, the issue of the right of the States with the “peculiar ” institution to continue to perpetuate an unethical institution was the base of all decisions. The essential flashpoint was the question of slavery in Kansas. Many citizens of the Northern states saw the admission of a slave State as unethical and worthy of dying to prevent. To that effect, many took up Arms.

The story of how the Civil war played out is filled with many twists and turns and is a reminder of the depth of sacrifice made for the advancement of the idea of freedom and equality.

Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. Mcpherson, is a must-read for all Americans. The great divide then as it is today, is the color line. The joy of emancipation is spoiled by the fact that too many today hold the same view of people of color as was the state of affairs in the 1800’s. If more Americans knew our history, we would be both prouder and more depressed by where we are today. Knowledge is power and those who ignore history will repeat it.

Reading the Man.


I have a fascination with knowledge. Knowledge, for its ability to inform, captivate and clarify. Reading this collection of the Lee letters gave a new look into an old hero. In the South, many have caricatured his memory to that of a hero of State’s rights. However, his life and legacy was and is much more complicated. He was distant to many but incredibly intimate with family. He was a man of his upbringing.

Like the engineer General Lee was, this book is structured from a strong base and expands to give a fuller view of the man. It does not over sentimentalize but humanizes by exposing both his incredible strength and destructive failings. He was an advocate for self-discipline and quality education, but only for white Americans. He was a racist; he was paternalistic with a wicked temper.

In contrast to the fairy tale that the post-war South cultivated and many white supremacists advocated, he was not a state’s rights advocate. The book, Reading the Man by Elizabeth Brown Pryor, eloquently demonstrates how the post-war Lee and others tried belatedly to portray a State’s right agenda outside of their advocacy of the continuation of slavery but his writings have betrayed him.

This is a story in his own words of a man that was ambivalent and racist, who preferred to maintain slavery or dispose of the slaves because like his Virginia peers he thought blacks to be inferior. He was not a righteous warrior. His cause, the cause of the Confederacy was not just.

In the end, he was like many today, indifferent to the suffering of non-white Americans because fundamentally they think us inferior. They believe that keeping us subservient is in our own best interest. The paternalism is clear and is killing us.

Go ahead, read this book and examine our current state of affairs, and you too will realize that our country has not come far enough. Later in his life, General Lee suggests that the struggle was more important than the possibility of victory. Too many of us have not come to that realization.
The struggle is real, and those who choose not to join have chosen the side of indifference and death.