Saturday, June 28, 2008

About Men

Whenever I've been away from blogging for a while, I always find it difficult to pick one thing to write about out of all the stuff that has caught my attention during my hiatus. This entry has been buzzing in my head for the past two days.

I got off work early this past Thursday; it was only 8:00 pm. I decided to take advantage of my early release by stopping at the CVS on my way home to spend a lot of money picking up necessary (soap, shampoo, body lotion,hand lotion etc. ) and unnecessary items (new foundation and concealer which I didn't really need at this time but I had coupon for $3.00 off on Revlon products). I tend to wander through the entire drug store just to see if there are any items that I don't need that I can add to my shopping cart. Yes, I use a full size cart at the drug store; I never know how much stuff I may not need.

So as I wandered among the cotton balls and lip glosses, I made eye contact with a gentleman who appeared to be also shopping in the CVS. Southern courtesy means that you don't just pass someone without acknowledging that person's presence, so I smiled and said hello and he did the same.  I continued on my journey, managing to walk past the entire selection of L'Oreal nail polish that was on sale without buying a single bottle. I passed the same gentleman a few more times, and each time we nodded and smiled and continued on (once you've spoken the first time, subsequent passes only require a nod and a smile). When I got to the checkout counter, there was one person, a woman, at the counter but the gentleman with whom I had a nodding acquaintance was standing off to the side. Not wanting to be rude, I asked if he was in line to checkout.

"No, I've got a little problem. Could you let me have twenty cents?"

 I'm not going to deny anyone twenty cents, so I reached in my wallet and handed him two dimes.

"Thank you, miss."

I smiled and turned, intending to place my many items on the counter, when it hit me that it was likely that he had only one item as I didn't see a cart of any sort.

"You can go ahead, I've got a lot of stuff."

"Thank you, I hope that you don't mind, but I needed the money so I could buy a beer."

 Up until that moment, I hadn't notice the 40 ounce bottle of beer in his hand. I'm not certain what he expected that I would do, perhaps insist that he return the twenty cents and give him a lecture on temperance?

Instead, I laughed, and said,"Sir, who am I to judge you?"

He paid for his beer, and stood by as I began loading all my goods onto the counter.

"Miss, can I ask you something?"

Whenever a person asks this type of rhetorical question, I always wonder what he or she would do if the response was, "Hell to the no." (I learned that little phrase from Whitney Houston. She used it on her and Bobby Brown's reality show.)


"Are you married?"

 Fortunately, I was not drinking any sort of beverage or I would have certainly spewed it all over  anything and anyone within ten feet of me. As it was, my laughter just sort of bellowed throughout the store. When I got myself under control, I was able to muster a response.

"No, I'm not married, nor do I want to be."

He shook his head ruefully, and turned to go out the door, then he paused, lifted his beer in salute and exited.

One of the things about men that fascinates me is that it is rare to meet a man who doesn't believe that he has something to offer to any woman. Woman are born with an insecurity gene. My friends that are beautiful women by anyone's standards, fret about the size of their thighs, jeans that make their butts look too big, breasts that are too small or too big; in the words of Gilda Radner's Saturday Night Live persona, Roseanne Rosannadanna, "It's always something." It's rare that women are ever convinced of their own attractiveness. 

On the other hand, none of my male friends have ever asked me, "Does this outfit make me look fat?" Do men ever ask each other, "Do you think that my gut is too big to wear my speedos at the beach or would a hair transplant make me look younger?" Is it arrogance or just healthy self-esteem that allows men to more easily assume that they are desirable no matter what? I know, some of you are thinking that I'm generalizing way too much, that men have their insecurities too. I'll concede that but even at their most insecure, most men still have more self-esteem than women.

When I was on e-harmony, there were the guys with the movie star good looks who didn't bother to even address their looks in their profile, their pictures said it all. However, more likely was a profile in which the guy identified himself as attractive, good-looking, a nice looking guy, above average in looks--terms that didn't necessarily match the photograph that accompanied the profile by any stretch of the imagination. I never based my decision as to whether or not to favorably respond to a potential suitor on his appearance because in my experience, a man's physical attractiveness grows on me as I get to know him. If he's warm, funny, and kind, then I will come to find him attractive.

I've had it on reliable authority from my male friends that this isn't typically true for men. Attraction is either there from the start or it never develops. I don't know if this is an absolute or not, what do y'all think?

Perhaps I'm just too demanding. The guy in the CVS who didn't have any obvious means of transportation and lacked enough money to buy a two dollar bottle of beer, had enough chutzpah to inquire as to my availability. Of course, I can't help but think that what he really wanted was a source with more beer money for the evening. The song is from 1991 by the Forester Sisters. It's all in good fun.

They buy you dinner, open your door
Other then that, what are they good for?
Men! I'm talkin' 'bout men

They all want a girl just like the girl
That married dear old dad, they make me so mad
Men! I'm talkin' 'bout men

Well, you can't beat 'em up 'cause they're bigger then you
You can't live with 'em and you just can't shoot 'em
Men! I'm talkin' 'bout men

They love their toys, they make their noise
They're nothing but a bunch of overgrown boys
Men! I'm talking 'bout men

If you give 'em what they want, they never fall in love
Don't give 'em nothin' they can't get enough
Men! I'm talking 'bout men

Well, you can't beat 'em up 'cause they're bigger then you
You can't live with 'em and you just can't shoot 'em
Men! I'm talkin' 'bout men

In the beginning they always aim to please
They serve a purpose; they fill a need
They ensure survival of the species

They take you for a ride, run out of gas
Most of the time they're a pain in the a-a yeah, yeah
Men! I'm talkin' 'bout men

Well, you can't beat 'em up 'cause they're bigger then you
You can't live with 'em and you just can't shoot 'em
Men! I'm talkin' 'bout men

Silver tongue devils
Well, they're lying through their teeth
Saying anything
Just to sweep you off your feet.
Ooh yeah, men! talkin' 'bout men
Mere mortal men.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Napoleon Dad

I've been fixin' to write a post all day but I'm just getting around to it.  By the way, "fixin'" is southern for "having something to do but delaying getting it done while you distract yourself with doing other things." You can see why we use "fixin'," it's a lot shorter to say. I feel down right multilingual. I speak passable French, a modicum of Spanish, and fluent Southern, Ebonics, and standard English.

A few months ago, my sister and I commissioned Marc Olmsted to create a special picture for our father's birthday. Regular readers are familiar with Marc's Hy-Art in which he combines one or more classic works of art into an original interpretive work of art. Check the Hy-Art logo in my sidebar for a link to Marc's Etsy site where he sells his art. However, the birthday present for my dad is another of Marc's original creations, aptly named "Thou Art," or "you in art" in which Marc inserts you into a classic work of art. I've been the subject of a Thou Art by Marc on more than one occasion. Each time, I loved the results, so I asked him to create a Thou Art of my father.

My mother is the big talker in our family. She is one of the most entertaining gossips that I know, mainly because when she's telling us about the shenanigans of one of her many siblings, she does spot on imitations of not only their voices but their mannerisms. She doesn't just tell me about Aunt Dorothy's worries that her old boyfriend may think that she is still lusting after him if she moves from New York back to North Carolina, she becomes my slightly daft aunt, caught up in worries about a man that she dated some fifty years ago and hasn't seen since.

In comparison, my dad is a quiet man, although he rouses himself if the discussion is about politics or world affairs, subjects that don't interest my mother nearly as much as the continual doings of her siblings. Years ago a good friend told me that my father resembled the actor, Richard Roundtree. I reported her comment to my father and he literally beamed. My dad is still a handsome man, proud of the fact that he is as trim as he was as a 17 year old when he lied about his age to enlist in the military. In addition to being a vet, my dad is also a retired police officer; he served as a police officer on the Wilson police force for 25 years, retiring with the rank of captain. I'm proud of him. He was one of four black men who integrated the Wilson police department. He is featured in a local museum, the Oliver Nestus Freeman Round House Museum, covering the history of African-Americans in Wilson County; when he was asked to provide materials for the museum, including a biographical sketch, he asked me to write it for him. I was proud to do so and I confess that I take delight in visiting the museum and seeing my words about my father on its walls.

I sent Marc a photograph of my father taken 20 years ago. In the picture, he is beaming as he holds his grandson, my nephew, in his arms. I love the smile on his face. Marc selected a setting for dad that delighted me and my sister, and her husband Bob. (Bob likes it when I mention his name in my blog.) He appropriately named it Napoleon Dad. I framed the image and my sister, Bob, and I presented it to my dad for his birthday on May 27. He was totally delighted, immediately recognizing that the original image was of Napoleon Bonaparte and thrilled with seeing himself sitting astride Napoleon's magnificent steed. He immediately announced his plan to carry the picture (a framed 8 by 10) with him on his walk the next day to show to his buddies. Both of my parents are avid walkers, however my mother walks with a group of mall walkers at the local shopping mall; my dad prefers walking the sidewalks of Wilson that used to be his beat when he was a foot patrolmen, new to the police force. The picture now graces a shelf on the built in bookcases in my parents' living room.

My thanks to Marc for helping us provide my father with such a unique present and one that brought that same wonderful smile to his face.

If you are interested in commissioning Marc to create a one-of-a-kind picture of you or a loved one, click here to see more of his "you in art" creations or email him ( directly.

Friday, June 13, 2008

My Vice Presidential Aspirations

I've decided to help my country. I was inspired by my blogami, Marc, to engage in my patriotic duty and offer myself as Barack Obama's running mate. Of course, I have some strong competition from Marc. Before you go any further with reading about my qualifications, mosey over to Marc's blog and read his entry for today, Pros and Ex-Cons. I'm still recovering from the time that I spent rolling on the floor and laughing after reading it. He challenges his readers to also complete his meme on the pros and cons of your qualifications to be the Democratic vice-presidential candidate. After you check out Marc's list, complete the meme by writing your own list of the pros and cons of your qualifications to be VP and be certain to leave a link letting Marc know about your entry. Oh, and don't forget to come back and read my list.


1. I've never been a stripper. No one will be crawling out of the woodwork with video of me doing the full monty. (Can women do a full monty or do you call it something else?) 

2. I've also never hired the services of a prostitute. I have gone across state lines with men but I've never paid them to come with me. Double entendre intended.

3. My friend Marc is willing to sleep with any gay Republican who agrees to vote Democratic. He said so in his blog. He also said that I would sleep with any straight Republican who agrees to vote Democratic, but I have my standards. Only if he's tall, good looking, and hot will I sacrifice myself. However, no money will exchange hands. See pro #2. 

4. I can deliver the southern vote. I've read Gone With the Wind multiple times; not only do I want to be Scarlett O'Hara, hell, sometimes I am Scarlett. I know all the ways to use y'all in a sentence and I know exactly where "down the road a fur piece" is, and I can locate "over yonder" on a map. In addition, I've drunk many an RC Cola after placing peanuts in the bottle.

5. I like to wear red. Red is a power color; it also photographs well. I will be prepared for the many photographic opportunities that are an ongoing part of the VP's job. It will also make it easier for the Secret Service agents to keep track of me in a crowd, although it could be a negative if I have to dodge any sniper fire in Bosnia.


1. I sort of stalked a man when I was in college. Oh come on, don't tell me that you and your best friend have never staked out some guy's room to see if he's seeing that slut who came on to him at the floor party last night?

2. I once wrote erotica for the enjoyment of a man with whom I was in a relationship. (I was following in the footsteps of Anais Nin.) He may still have copies of it and for all I know, by now, he could be a McCain supporter.

3. Back in the 1980s, I had a membership in a video club. I can't recall the name, but it had a wide collection of foreign films and art house stuff that was somewhat adult in nature. I've seen the unexpurgated version of Guccione's Caligula.

4. I am not a morning person. No breakfast meetings with foreign dignitaries before 10:00 am.

5. I don't play golf. I can see no point in trudging around in the sun trying to hit a little white ball into a little hole. I totally don't get the traps. Someone should smack the architects who build sand traps and water holes into the golf course; they should know better!

Of course, every candidate needs a theme song. Inspired by a recent post by Marc, I've selected Whitney Houston's version of "I'm Every Woman."  It's not a political song, but it's got a great beat. I figure that I could start each campaign appearance with a few dance moves.

I'm Every Woman

Whatever you want
Whatever you need
Anything you want done baby
I'll do it naturally
Cause I'm every woman
Its all in me
Its all in me

(chorus 1): I'm every woman
It's all in me
Anything you want done baby
I do it naturally

(chorus 2): I'm every woman
It's all in me
I can read your thoughts right now
Every one from a to z

I can cast a spell
Of secrets you can tell
Mix a special brew
Put fire inside of you
Anytime you feel danger or fear
Instantly I will appear, cause

(chorus 1)

Oh, I can sense your needs
Like rain on to the seeds
I can make a rhyme
Of confusion in your mind
And when I comes down to some good old fashioned love
I got it
I got it
I got it, got, got it, baby, baby, baby

(chorus 1 & 2)

I ain't braggin
Cause I'm the one
Just ask me
Ooh, and it shall be done
And don't bother
To compare
I got it

I'm every woman (repeat till fade)
I'm every woman (repeat till fade)

Don't forget to do your own meme with your five reasons why you should be vice president and five reasons against the idea. Y'all drop by Marc's place and leave him a link.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Obama Phobia

This post began as an email reply to a comment left in my journal on my post yesterday. Here's the comment:


One thing in your entry did make me frown...
'I have no more tolerance for those who profess that he scares them, that they worry that he's going to sell out this country. That's total nonsense and you're too ignorant for words to even believe it. If I hear or read one more person assert that he's a Muslim and that he's going to help the terrorists destroy the United States, I'm going to scream. And so help me, if I read or hear one more white person say that he is a reverse racist, I'm going to forget that I believe in nonviolence and slap somebody up side the head. By the way, my head was wagging when I wrote that last line.'

I am not ignorant, I am not racist, but from day one I had a gut feeling, a mistrust, not the color of his skin but the way he spoke.  Elegant some say, to me it's fake.  I don't think he'll sell out the country, but I don't have a blinded trust.  He's a politician.  I can't stand by and be called ignorant for my opinion, sorry.

Sorry, but I don't get it. How would you expect a person who graduated from Harvard Law School, who lived in many different parts of the world as a child, to speak? Does Ted Kennedy sound fake? Does Bill Clinton? Does Hillary? Does John McCain? Does George W. Bush? (Okay, bad example; he is fake.) What do you expect a well-educated black man to sound like? What is fake about being an eloquent orator?


I don't have blind trust in anyone. However, I do find it interesting that white Americans have expected black people to trust them for generations, as they have run for political office and made promises that often have not been kept. As a people, black Americans have been tolerant and trusting for a long time. Curiously so given our history in this country. It began with slavery but it didn't end there. Segregation, Jim Crow, lynching, all were the progeny that followed slavery and lasted well into my lifetime.


Imagine being snatched up, chained together, branded with a hot iron like cattle, and then being shoved into the hold of a ship where you would remain for months. You will never see your homeland again, your parents, your husband or wife, your children, your life has just ended and yet you still breathe.


You arrive in a strange land with others who are like you but not like you. All Africans are not the same and the slave traders made an effort to mix tribes, recognizing that the differences in languages and customs would make the possibility of their captives joining together in an uprising during the long sea voyage, less likely.


I understand that no one alive today had anything personally to do with slavery, point taken. However, this country was built on the backs of African slaves, American Indians, Chinese railroad workers, all groups that did not voluntarily commit  their labors, and or land to building  these United States but were conscripted into doing so, and then denied a fair share of the benefits that their efforts reaped.


Every first year law student has to take a class on property law, after all, this country is predicated on notions of ownership--land, air space, intellectual property etc. One case from the 1800s that we studied dealt with a momentous decision regarding land ownership.


Some Native Americans had attempted to reclaim the land that had been taken from them by white settlers and had taken their case to the courts, hoping to find justice. The court couldn't deny that the Native Americans occupied the land for generations before the settlers had taken it, so it came up with a new definition of ownership. According to the court, the native population had been merely occupiers of the land; they never owned it because they didn't engage in the activities of ownership such as cultivating the land, i.e., cutting down all the trees and making it into farmland or grazing land for cattle. Therefore, the Native Americans had never owned the land, and when the white settlers cultivated the land, they established ownership. Decision in favor of the settlers, and the setting of a legal precedent that salved the white landowners consciences and allowed them to sleep well at night.


The more of the history of this country that you know, the more the question should be why are people of color not consumed with hatred and a desire for vengeance?


I'm not filled with hate or seeking vengeance, and neither are the majority of the people of color in this country. (By the way, my list of people of color who have suffered discrimination in this country is not meant to be exhaustive; it would take much more time than I have to acknowledge every group.)

I am, however, intrigued by the paranoia and anger that is expressed by some white people. Sorry, but my people have never done unto your people what your people have done unto us. What right do you have to be paranoid or angry? Why does a black man (who is really as much white as he is black) scare some of you? Are you afraid that Barack Obama is going to engage in a big payback, retribution for the sins of your ancestors? Trust me, if black people had some big plan for punishing white people, we wouldn't have waited so long.


We don't want retribution; we don't want vengeance. What we do want is fairness, equality, and respect. We want recognition that this country, this society that we live in today, would not be what it is without the blood, sweat, and suffering of our ancestors. We want you to recognize that it doesn't matter that you didn't personally own slaves, that nonetheless as a white person, you have reaped the benefits of a society that was built on slavery, on the intentional, systematic, and legal oppression of one group of people by another group of people, based on skin color. We want you to acknowledge that this oppression didn't magically end with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865, to the contrary, the subsequent rigid segregationist laws and policies that fueled the Jim Crow era were in many ways more horrific than slavery itself. We were a free people but enjoyed none of the rights of a free people.  My father went off to fight a war (the Korean conflict) riding at the back of the bus on his way to the departure air base. Black people, not even men in uniform, were not allowed to ride at the front. We want you to acknowledge that you recognize our pain.


So when I read comments about fearing Barack Obama, not trusting him, it leaves me totally bewildered. What has he done to merit such fear? Did his ancestors ever support a legal right to enslave others? Did his ancestors engage in the wholesale lynching of others based on skin color? Did his ancestors deny people the right to vote, to live where they pleased, to attend school, to marry whom they pleased?


What has Obama personally done that has demeaned others? Has he ran a campaign of divisiveness? Has he declared that he is only concerned about the well-being of black people? Does being erudite, capable of presenting complex ideas in an understandable fashion, make him a person to be feared?


If you don't support Barack Obama, then just say so, but don't come up with some sanctimonious nonsense about how you would like to support him but you fear him because he speaks like a fake. You don't have to support Obama to prove that you're not a racist. I'm not really interested in racists because I think that they are a hopeless cause. Most people aren't racists, but all of us engage in prejudice and bigotry way too much. I don't give people a racism litmus test by asking them if they plan to vote for Obama.


I am excited about Obama and I know other people, black, white, Hispanic, Asian etc. who are also excited. However, I dare say that everyone that I know is not an Obama supporter and I haven't dismissed them as being racists. However, their reasons for not supporting Obama are far more complex than that they are afraid of him. I'm not even afraid of George W., although I probably should be. 


Ask yourself what you mean if you are one of those people who is afraid of Barack Obama? Ask yourself, what in the hell do you have to be afraid of?


The video is by a singer/ songwriter whom I like a great deal. Her name is Tracy Chapman. The lyrics are below the video.

Talkin 'Bout A Revolution 

Don't you know
They're talkin 'bout a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Don't you know
They're talkin about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

While they're standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in the unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Poor people gonna rise up
And get their share
Poor people gonna rise up
And take whats theirs

Don't youknow
You better run, run, run...
Oh I said you better
Run, run, run...

Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talkin 'bout a revolution

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Embracing Hope: Why Obama Rocks My World

The world of my youth was a world of separation. The railroad tracks separated our town into black and white. There were two libraries, the Wilson County Public Library and the Wilson County Negro Library. Everyone ate barbecue from Parker's but my mother had to go to the back door to pick up our order; only white people were allowed to enter the front door and sit in the dining room and eat. The train station had two waiting rooms, one for whites and one for coloreds. The one for whites was bigger, brighter, and cleaner. In facilities where there was no separate area for us, the signs read, "no colored allowed," or "white only." There were even two hospitals. I don't recall the name for the white hospital but the colored hospital was called Mercy. These are my memories of growing up as a colored child in Wilson, North Carolina.

I was born in 1955; I turned eighteen in March 1973. The public school system in Wilson ignored the court ordered integration that came from the Brown decision in 1954, and it was 1971 before the school system fully integrated. I was in tenth grade. My dad, who had been one of four black men who integrated the Wilson police force in the 1960s, worked a detail at the only high school in the city of Wilson, Fike Senior High. The KKK had set up camp across the street from the Fike to make their opposition to the presence of colored students at the school perfectly clear. The police were there to maintain order.

My dad says that when he first joined the police force, the black officers weren't allowed to drive patrol cars. He was on the force when Dr. King and then Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. I remember him wearing his riot gear as he went to work. I was thirteen.

Darden, which had been the black high school before integration in 1971, became a school for tenth grade only. All sophomores, colored and white, attended Darden; all juniors and seniors attended Fike. Darden lost its status as a high school for participation in sports, choral competitions, drama competitions, and all other extracurricular activities.

When I began my junior year at Fike, I signed up for chorus. The chorus teacher commented that she had noticed that the colored students all had a lot of vibrato in their voices and asked uswhy we sang that way. At Darden, we had sung spirituals, jazz, and R&B as well as some classical pieces. At Fike, the spirituals, jazz, and R&B were not regarded as appropriate music for choral presentations. I dropped chorus and took art instead.

A new employee at my office is also from Wilson. She is my sister's age, two years younger than I am. She is white. She doesn't remember any of this. She says that her year at Darden was a lot of fun. She has asked me if my class ever has a reunion. I didn't have the energy to explain to her why there is no class to have a reunion.  When we integrated, all it really meant was that we attended school in the same buildings. 

My class was the first integrated tenth grade at Darden. We never became a class. When we got to Fike for our junior and senior, we were still separate, just in the same buildings. Fike was on the white side of town and the KKK felt that it was on its home turf. It was difficult to build bridges among the students when grown men in white robes and hoods were standing across the street shouting epithets at us every day. It was also common knowledge that some of the armed police officers who were supposed to protect us had white robes and hoods in their closets at home.

I had thought that I was done writing about race. Friends whose opinions I value, have cautioned me that I only upset myself when I write of these things. I had decided to move on to other matters and let it be. However, I've come to realize that although they are well meaning, they don't get it at all. Writing about my experiences, what I know to be true, doesn't upset me. What upsets me is that so many people want to pretend that these things never happened, that they are some distant echo of reality, that what I know to be true is insignificant. That's upsetting and something that I refuse to accept.

Why am I thinking of these things now, at this time? Because I am witnessing an amazing revolution, a revolution of heart and mind that I never believed that I would see in my lifetime. I am filled with a deep joy as I contemplate the very real possibility that a man, who has brown skin like mine, may well be the next president of this country, my country that for so long has rejected me and my people. I had long ago accepted that there were wounds to my soul that could not be fully healed, wounds made by bigotry and hate, by an unrelenting message that because of the color of my skin, of the skin of my people, we were inferior. Don't misunderstand, I never believed that we were inferior but it was far too daunting a task to have to constantly fight against the belief by the larger culture that we were, a belief bolstered by pseudo-scientific claptrap like The Bell Curve.

I've been working over time to refrain from admitting to anyone, least of all to myself that at least part of the reason that I support Barack Obama is because he looks like me. I'm done with that. I admire Hillary's strong female base who have not shied away from admitting that they rallied around her in part because she is a woman, and they identified with her accomplishments as a woman in a male dominated world.

What Barack Obama has done is astounding, in a culture that is in its infancy of letting go of the racial apartheid of a less than 50 years ago, the culture of my youth, a culture that I know not through history but because I lived it. I get misty eyed and I have a lump in my throat just thinking about it. Every time I hear Barack Obama speak, I feel a sense of pride and joy that is intoxicating, and I shed all of those scars born of bigotry and I feel newly born into a world of promise. Finally, I can say with no irony, no sense of fabrication, to a little black baby, "Someday, you may be president." 

I make no apologies for my unabashed support of Barack Obama. I have no more tolerance for those who profess that he scares them, that they worry that he's going to sell out this country. That's total nonsense and you're too ignorant for words to even believe it. If I hear or read one more person assert that he's a Muslim and that he's going to help the terrorists destroy the United States, I'm going to scream. And so help me, if I read or hear one more white person say that he is a reverse racist, I'm going to forget that I believe in nonviolence and slap somebody up side the head. By the way, my head was wagging when I wrote that last line.

Barack Obama is a man of principle. He is a man of intelligence. He is the man to lead this  country forward on this journey of healing and I'm proud to claim him as my candidate of choice.

As a seventeen year old, I dragged around my guitar in a battered case with peace signs all over it, and sang songs about peace and love, but I was filled with the despair of youth, that the world in which I lived would never "give peace a chance," nor ever find those "answers blowin' in the wind." I thought that the racial division that filled my world would outlast my lifetime. My heart cried for the ongoing list of martyrs--Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Jonathan M. Daniels, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, King, JFK, Bobby....

The Civil Rights Memorial that stands in front of the Southern Law Poverty Center includes the names of many of the people who risked and lost their lives in the pursuit of justice. I visited the memorial in August 1993. I recall my visit very clearly, because it was on that trip that I decided to go to law school. The memorial is black granite. It bears the names of the martyrs on a large disc in front of a slightly curved wall that bears a favorite line of Dr. King's, "Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." A steady stream of water bubbles out of the disc and washes over its surface, and water cascades down the curved wall.

When I visited the memorial back in 1993, I sat and stared at it for a long time and I cried. Not so much for the dead, but for the living, because I had no hope that we were going forward and I feared that their deaths  had been in vain. I am allowing myself to believe that I was wrong. I am engaging in the audacity of hope, and it feels really good.

Below is a poem that I wrote after viewing the civil rights memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.

Memorial in Montgomery

casting long shadows in the afternoon sun

the wall is smooth, black

warm to the touch


the water falls down like healing rain

slides, swirls

drains away

washes clean…


close by, rising from the earth

stands the remembrance of struggle

a litany of the martyred

finite circle of sorrow and joy


            cross over the river Jordan

            fall down, fall down  

like the walls of Jericho 

like the walls of Jericho


dark mirror of tears take me home

wash my heart in justice

bathe my soul in peace

fall down, fall down

like healing rain

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