Marching Past The White House

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President Barack Obama – Marching Past The White House

Sixty percent of Americans and billions across the world spent the last few months of President Barack Obama’s tenure in the posture of a ‘Standing O.’ Accolades have poured in from all nooks and crannies for the leader and man he remained over the last eight years. For his first night back as a private citizen, he will sleep in an unfamiliar bed somewhere in Palm Springs, CA. It might take a while for the familiar burden of caring for the nation and the world to slide off his shoulders like a well-worn backpack. We already miss him. We already feel the absence of his steady and sure hand on the nations’ pulse.

What we know for sure, is that he and his beautiful family will continue to be the model of class, temperance, and fortitude. That’s because the new President Trump has not displayed these leadership qualities yet. Obama leaves us a nation rebuilt economically, reminded of our guiding principles enshrined in the Constitution, and with marching orders to get involved in perfecting this great union via his new website (www.Obama.org )
A recurring theme in Obama’s philosophy was: We are not just our brothers and sisters’ keeper; we are our brothers and sisters. We stand as one or fall significantly diminished.

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@POTUS44 Historical Leader and Icon of Hope.

But even Obama could not save everyone in the entire nation and neither can Donald Trump, despite the loud proclamations he gave at the inauguration. The powers in Washington cannot bring change. With wisdom, they can make a difference, but only God can save wholistically. Change is an individual mandate. So we have to march past the White House, the Capitol, and find the hero within each of us.

“America First” is a selfish, myopic mindset in our collective, sharable existence. It aims to separate the natural rights of humans from the civic rights of citizens as if they are not one and the same. Nobel Prize winner, Toni Morrison warned about the peril of a “rights culture” which unhinges itself from the global capital, meaningful dialogue and our collective identity as human beings.
G. C. Spivak at a roundtable discussion reminded us that “Ours is a culture of convenience.” It takes too much effort to have empathy, to engage with the other side, hence our preference to bury our heads like the ostrich in the sand and just fend for ourselves. I assert, based on Spivak’s statement that because our identity does not [simply] disappear, Trump is proposing an impossible dream.

“Do not put your confidence in powerful people (influential mortals); there is no help for you there.” (Psalm 146:3)

‘We the people’ did not get to choose who would be in power. Secretary Hillary Clinton stands stoic but regal, her three million plus votes advantage over President Trump, is evidenced in the overshot image of the sparse crowds compared to Obama’s at the inauguration and the parade viewing stands.

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Trump unlike Obama, was not the people’s democratic choice, but the product of the Republic’s mechanism, the Electoral College. However, we have accepted the inevitable and the call to pray for wisdom for our new leaders. As parents, we are compelled to step up and provide the example our children need. As a democratic society, we must engage in the process and hold politicians accountable. Speak up, loud! We have a responsibility to present a better world to the future generation. We must love like never before because we are humans first, then citizens.

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May God bless the United States of America and heal the fragmented dreams, realities, and cultures within our country and the world.

*Reference:
Morrison, Toni, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Ngahuia Te Awekotuku. 2005. “Guest Column: Roundtable on the Future of the Humanities in a Fragmented World.” PMLA. 120 (3): 715-723.

Image Credits: Pixabay, Google & MSNBC

This New America and Other Random Thoughts

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When your child’s school leaves a recorded voice message, offering counseling sessions and use of their Office of Human Relations and Equity to support meaningful conversations and concerns that you or your child may have, following a presidential election, you know that this is not normal.
When the district superintendent follows up with yet another message, soliciting your help to encourage your child to use assemblies, classroom dialogues, and open-mic activities to address their frustrations, because the district is concerned about the uptake student rebellion, falling grades, lawlessness, and walk-outs on campus, after the same presidential election, again,  not normal.

When you have to wear an unflattering safety pin on your collar or put up a hideous poster of one in your office or business to show your solidarity with millions of people who are terrified of racist and anti-Semitic abuse, and vandalism, which is occurring at alarming rates, after the same presidential election, you know this is a new America.
The safety pin symbol inspired by Syndey’s 2014 #illridewithyou movement following the Islamophobic backlash after a terrorist attack and adopted by Brits in the wake of the BREXIT against xenophobic abuse, has finally arrived in the United States of America. In USA Today, experts report that post-election spate of hate crimes is worse than post-9/11.

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We now live in a country where post-election, people can fly the confederate flag on their cars. People can boldly blandish the swastika – a sacred symbol used in Neolithic Eurasia, Eastern Religions, and Europe for good luck and well-being – until Schliemann 1920’s volkisch movement adopted it as a symbol of “Aryan identity” and German nationalist pride.
This election was about American nationalist pride (for a country founded by immigrants, who displaced the native Indians, that’s an oxymoron). It was also about the economy and pocketbook issues. On both fronts, the more stable and reasonable candidate, Hillary Clinton won the people’s heart and confidence a.k.a the popular vote by a margin of over two million and counting; but lost the electoral college vote.

These last few weeks has seen passionate anti-Trump demonstrations in over thirty-seven states. I get the frustration. How can the country reward a man with questionable morals, twitter-happy fingers, checkered business practices, and pending court cases with the highest honor and office of the land? A man so uninformed, inexperienced, unprepared and undisciplined that over sixty percent of the voters agreed that he was not qualified to be commander-in-chief.

Our children are decrying this choice that the ‘adults’ have made. It’s not fair to ask them to accept that Donald Trump can break all the rules of decency and decorum when he shattered accepted norms like transparency, facts, and tolerance. That he who became the crusader for propaganda and deplorable views can now wield enormous power over the nation. Our kids are asking, “Why should we bother to do right, be kind and do homework?”

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As a parent, I could not find the right answers. Instead, I offer a few thoughts:

  • Life is not fair. Sometimes we do not get what we deserve. Other times, grace gives us what we have not earned.
  • Christians call God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Remember Jacob? He was known as the heel-grabber, deceiver, cheat, swindler, schemer, and usurper) Even after Jacob’s name was changed to Israel which means prince, God still preferred the former name. Maybe because as a fantasist, Jacob had ideas and desires that were outside the norm. He was a passionate change agent. It’s the what,  not the who.
  • To settle the *rancor between his disciples, when Peter asked. “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus answered,”…what is that to you? You follow me.” Our focus after this election returns to evaluating our lives, keeping our hope on the Lord who rules in the affairs of men and has a broader perspective.
  • Stock up on emergency supplies. In a climate of unrest and discord, be prepared in case of a lock-down.
  • Donald Trump has four years to prove the skeptics wrong. If he takes the oath of office and fails to be the president that American needs, it will be a rough four years because people are committed to holding him accountable to the ideals of the office of the President.
  • Get involved in the political process. Talk to those with opposing views.
  • Pray. Pray for Donald, our leaders, and the victors. Pray comfort for Hillary and those who are broken-hearted and scared. Pray for wisdom, hope, and healing.

This situation is not normal. Our children, friends, and neighbors demonstrating for over a week, is not the usual aftermath of a presidential election. The bitter, tart tone of the past election season is responsible for this new America, but we’ll move forward if we all do our part.

May God bless the United States of America and All of us.

Photo Credits: Pixabay Images and amadanesi.com
*John 21:20-23

The Art of Tart

The Art of Tart

 

Tart – severe, sharp, biting, acrimonious. This year so far has been one for taking life’s lemons and making some very pricey lemonade. Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s alleged Betty-with-the-good-hair problem has given them millions of dollars; Gwen Stefani has made us like Blake Shelton again and my favorite yogurt, Liberté has gone organic.

You know you’ve got something special when breakfast inspires a blog post via a lemon haiku on the foil cover like mine did. The Kaporovsky family emigrated from Russia and founded Liberté in 1936. They opened their first factory in Montreal, Canada, on the corner of Rue Saint-Urbain and Avenue Duluth Ouest.

Inspired by the Statue of Liberty, they named their small, kosher dairy farm, “Liberty”. Even though the name was changed to appeal to their French-speaking Quebec customers, it still captures that original spirit of hope and freedom.
The company today has crossed the borders into America and sells various artisan dairy products nationwide, but their dream is even bigger – one of their employees circulated a petition declaring that the first yogurt eaten on Mars would be Liberté.*

Hope and freedom – wouldn’t we like to see some of that expounded upon instead of the recent rancorous and vitriolic nature of our politics. Trump’s campaign has made the art of tart, a core strategy – their conspiracy theories and scattered-brain policies help no-one focus on our grave and pressing issues. Immigration is not the pressing issue, the modified refrain from Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign strategist,  James Carville, “It’s the economy, stupid” should be ringing in our heads. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s campaign dogged by the need to engage in so much defensive posturing would like America to fall into amnesia about some aspects of her long career in advocacy and politics.

Who will America choose come November? A woman scarred by years of fighting, sometimes unfairly, in the arena vs. a man who is most known for his avarice, and who has spurred and elevated the underground fringes of the far-right to the podium.
And what will our choice say of us?
Speaking of options, if you haven’t tried my favorite Liberté – lemon-flavored yogurt, you haven’t lived – not fully at least.

Ah… Liberty!

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Image Credits:
Pixabay
Susan Watts/NY Daily News
* http://www.liberteusa.com
 

How Much Longer? Are We There Yet?

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How to stay sane until November…

I feel like a child in the back seat with two squabbling parents
fighting for the steering wheel. I can’t ask, “Are we there yet?”
So I’m left with – how much longer can we stand this?
The fringes of our society have taken hold of their ideological ends
and are reaping us apart like skirt seams.
I cannot wait for the sun to rise on November 8th.
It will be the 58th quadrennial U.S. presidential election.
Like deep-sea divers, how low can we go?
I hope that those who have drowned their sense of civility and elected to
engage with prosecutorial glee in depraved depths of inhumane rhetoric,
blatant falsehood and tribal rage will once again be neighbours and friends.
Did the salacious appetite for coliseum-style politics seep
into our veins while we were asleep?
How did this get so vicious that we are demanding the heads of political rivals on silver platters and shackles on their supporters’ wrists across the aisle?
Surely America is better than this.
Surely once again, rays of love will beam across this land,
and we can fix the labels sticking out like tongues at the back of our heads.
We are officially in the twilight zone, and we should all feel
betrayed by the state of our union.
What to do? Let’s pray and read haikus to ease our troubled minds.

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Full moon night
All that is
and isn’t.


“Xyz?”
“Abcdef,
Xyz!”


Hydrangea rain
will I see you again
in my dreams?

Credits:
Haikus – Johan Bergstad, Kika Hotta, and Kris Kondo respectively
Images – Pixabay.

When Magic is All Too Real and in Your Face.

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Magic happened in this year’s BET awards and it wasn’t in Beyoncé’s surprise performance or the beautiful tributes to the late Prince and Mohammed Ali. Magic happened when the bold and unapologetic face of activism, with blazing light-eyes showed up in Jesse William’s speech while accepting his Humanitarian Award.

The Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) actor who plays Dr. Jackson Avery graduated from Temple University with a double major in African American Studies and Film and Media Arts, he taught public school for six years and is a board member of Advancement Project. He was an executive producer of Question Bridge: Black Males and Stay Woke, a documentary that traced the genesis of the revolution movement,  better known as Black Lives Matter.

 

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His speech woke everything up in me and I realized why I have been so silent in the past few months…it hurts too much to be cute, superficial and entertaining.
I could either vent or stay silent and not ruffle our well-coiffed sensibilities in the face of the constant barrage of everything evil to our humanity. Instead of speaking, standing or sitting-in, it was easier for me to remain numb and impotent, secretly abhorring the rash of hatred that has triggered senseless murders and mass killings all over the world.

Somehow till it affects our neck of the woods, we are content to watch others be killed every day, being slaughtered like sheep. Sometimes even in the name of God.(Rms. 8:36)

Jesse Williams paid homage to the unsung heroes in the crusade against systemic racism: “The black women who have spent their lifetimes dedicated to nurturing everyone before themselves.” He added, “We can and will do better for you”

While the honoree called for fairness in policing, he decried the extrajudicial killing of black people, invoking the memory of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and Rekia Boyd, among others. I say let’s go further. Let’s stand for a return to love and acceptance for those of a different color, lifestyle or creed. None of us is qualified to judge another.

Here is an excerpt of Jesse’s speech but really, you want to watch the entire clip. (And you’re welcome)

“We’re done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness, uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment… ghetto-lyzing and demeaning our creations, then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit. The thing is — just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real.”

Jesse Williams Speech

Ah, Magic! It’s in our glossy sienna skin, fiery eyes and golden smiles. We need reminders lest we forget that we matter and all this is real.