Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Obama: Politican not Savior

Any Obama supporter prepared to retract their support for the candidate because of his seemingly inconsistent positions on the D.C. gun ban, the Death Penalty, Campaign Finance or even the War, is making a naive mistake.

Obama may change politics but he will not raise above it.
You don't get elected into a political office by being apolitical. The mistake many of my friends are making is that they are confusing a political campaign with a social movement. Let's be honest. Unlike Gandhi or King who targeted systems and empires, Obama's target is ultimately a political seat. A seat which will allow him to do a lot...but not that much. Come on, this is America....checks and balances are in full effect. A president would have to commandeer the Senate, Congress, Supreme Court and all 50 state governments to bring about the sort of change so many Obama supporters seek.

Remember, Gandhi, by unlocking the power of shared humility and non-violent aggression, embolden an ENTIRE NATION to overcome the British empire.
King, using many of Gandhi's tactics emboldened millions of PEOPLE to take to the streets and engage in the only thing that can radically change a nation...self-sacrifice on the part of its citizens, not it's leaders.

What are Obama supporters willing to sacrifice today to radically transform this country?
There's nothing courageous today about getting out to vote...or going to a rally...or wearing a candidate's t-shirt. The kind of radical change that people are looking for in Obama will only come from THE PEOPLE...from OUR willingness to sacrifice organize as people, not as Democrats and Republicans.

I love what Obama and his campaign have been about...I've been to the rallies...I rock Obama shirts...and I'll be in D.C. for the inauguration.
Make no mistake, I want Obama to be the next president of the United States, but, unfortunately, that means he'll sometimes have to do things that disappoint me. You can't change the rules of a game in order to win the game. Politics is a game. Either Obama stays out of the game on principle or, like so many before him, he stays in the game and prepares himself for some compromises.

Obama is engaged in the political process to achieve a politic end.
That means that sometimes it's strategy over stated principle. This disappoints a lot of us and understandably so. But if we want to see Obama in the White House come January of next year, we better wake up and realize what presidential politics in this country is really about; consensus building!

Presidential politics in America is simply a glorified high school popularity contest and the fewer you offend, the more likely it is that you'll win the contest.

There's a reason why every president since Washington has moved towards the political middle in order to win...it works!
Ask Ross Perot or Ralph Nadar how far taking position too left or right of center gets you...ask Sharpton...ask Jerry Falwell (you know he ran, right?). They all failed to find that place where the masses of Americans occupy...the political middle.

Ultimately, Obama's contribution to America politics will turn on the quality he's avoided drawing attention this whole time; his race.
Shattering the notion that anyone other than a white male can be elected President of the United States and, by extension, leader of the supposed "free world" is more significant than any policy or piece of legislation Obama will put into place as president. That's my opinion.

American politics progresses forward ever so slowly..the symbolic significance of an Obama victory will mark the most radical leap forward in a century.
To be part of this momentous leap forward has been and will continue to be one of the greatest experiences of my life.

In order to keep hope alive in this election, we must learn to keep it real.
And so the next time you hear someone lamenting Obama's metamorphosis into a politician, tell them that Obama's simply keeping it real.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Letter to a Mentor: The Importance of Obama...


Included below is an excerpt from a message I sent to a mentor of mine following Obama's win in Iowa. There is a lot of anxiety surrounding Obama's candidacy and potential victory, especially among black folk. This letter hopefully addresses some of those anxieties (or at least puts them into perspective). Be blessed.

I couldn't agree with you more. The current two party system is an affront to true democracy. Even if a viable third party candidate were presented to the American people, his/her party affiliation would mean automatic relegation to the bottom of the political totem pole. I personally think Ralph Nadar would have made a great president.

But, alas, we're forced to work with what we have...we're forced to choose the lesser of two evils as you phrased it. And though this election presents, in my opinion, far better options then we've seen in the previous six or seven elections in my lifetime, there is still much to be desired.

Nonetheless, for all its flaws, the political process in America is still the most idealistically democratic in the world. Ask any Kenyan today how they feel about transitions in power...or South African's the fact that Zuma, a man accused of rape and corruption, was selected ANC chief and may become their next president.

Regardless of who wins in November, the status quo in America remains the pretty much the same and, to be honest, I'm not jaded by the fact. If anything, its somewhat comforting.

Presidential elections in the part of the world I come from is blood sport. People die...children are deprived of basic education...road construction ceases...the consequences of presidential elections in the rest of the world is often far more consequential than here in the U.S.

Obama's probably not going to be any better as a president than any other who has come before him, but his impact on this country is far more than just political.

That's what gets people like myself and Rebecca excited. We have chosen to focus on the impact Obama's presidency is going to have on a generation of youth that will grow up under a black president. That's a revolutionary notion in this country. Who would have thought we'd have a black president this early in the 21st century? And think about the sort of people Obama may appoint...a black attorney general...possibly another minority or female supreme court justice...how about an Asian-American Secretary of Defense. Whatever the case is, we can be fairly certain that a PRESIDENT Obama will not allow gender or race to impair his sense of whether or not an individual is "qualified" for a given position (whatever that means). I can't say that for the rest of the Democractic nominees, let alone the Republicans.

Though the momentum starts with Obama, we're looking beyond him and into what his presence means to America's future both socially and politically. I can't wait for the results to come into tomorrow night.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Celebration and Reflection...

As we celebrate Obama's historic victory in Iowa, I'm moved to reflect on the prophetic life-story of a woman I consider to be the original champion of change…the person who embodied all of the HOPE and PROMISE that Obama now wields even before Obama had completed middle school.

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman to serve in the United States Congress. Four years later she ran for president, winning 152 delegates before she withdrew. Like Obama and Hillary, she championed the cause of the poor, lamented the failing health care system, and spoke in strong opposition to a war many American's felt was unjustified. Unlike Obama or Hillary, however, Shirley Chisholm championed change despite the double-handicap (politically) of being BOTH black AND a woman. Chisholm believed that America could move beyond its imperfect past and vote for someone other than a white man.

Ms. Chisholm obviously never became president of the United States, yet, despite her defeat and in light of her radical challenge to the political status quo, she maintained her belief in America's potential.

In one of her most famous speeches following her defeat, Chisholm declared , "I don't measure America by its achievement but by its potential." Few would dispute that America has yet to achieve its promise of "equality for all" but tonight a major step has been taken towards achieving that goal.

As Obama supporters, we have often been labeled naïve and blindly optimistic. We have been encouraged to focus on the "realities" of our time and reminded of this country's history of race and gender discrimination.

Well today I hope each of you has been emboldened to – like Shirley Chisholm – focus on America's potential and not it's "achievements."

Putting Obama in the White House will NOT erase racism nor will it necessarily change the lives the marginalized and voiceless in this country. Obama will not be a perfect president nor will he come through on all his promises, but, as he has done from the beginning, Obama will inspire. And we've seen tonight what happens when people are inspired to act.

I want to leave you with these words from the woman who, once again, embodied the best of what Obama (and in many ways Hillary) has to offer. Asked about America's readiness for a black, female president, Mrs. Chisholm remarked:

"The United States was said not to be ready to elect a Catholic to the Presidency when Al Smith ran in the 1920's. But Smith's nomination may have helped pave the way for the successful campaign John F. Kennedy waged in 1960. Who can tell? What I hope most is that now there will be others who will feel themselves as capable of running for high political office as any wealthy, good-looking white male."

Mrs. Chisholm's HOPE has been made real tonight family. Go OBAMA!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Obama States His Case...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

With All Due Respect...

There is something both liberating and defeating about having to criticize ones hero. This afternoon, while at work, a very close friend of mine sent me a YouTube clip titled, "Cornel West on Obama".

(Cornel on Obama: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXj3_pjTTwg)

For those of you who know how much I admire both Professor West (I started this blog is his honor) and Senator Obama, you can imagine how excited I was to finally hear my hero (West) opine on my vicarious mentor (Obama). What I expected to hear was my deep personal affection for and biased opinions on Obama affirmed and articulated by the master thinker and wordsmith, Cornel West. Instead, I was subjected to a disappointingly narrow-minded 3 minute diatribe on race loyalty and politics. At the end of the clip, I sat stunned and in complete silence at the ignorance of Professor West's comments. For some reason, I never imagined that my idol, Cornel West, was susceptible to the psychological pitfalls of race-think and intellectual hubris.

You see, Cornel West, to my great disappointment, appears to have temporarily forgotten the differences between a movement leader and a politician. The sort of courage, frankness and political assertiveness that he talks about in the clip can only be manifested in someone who does not have to build a national consensus to achieve their goal. Barack Obama is running for the highest office in the land and needs the vote of every American to succeed at his bid. Any pundit or moderately informed citizen could tell you that Obama cannot afford to pander to a particular demographic if he wants to win the presidency. As president, Obama will be called to represent ALL American's...not just those of the dark hues. How is it then that Professor West - author of the national bestseller "Democracy Matters" - failed to acknowledge this fact?

I love Professor Cornel West but I've got to call him out on his applause-seeking oversight. Professor West has been known to play to crowds in search of the spotlight and his comments on Obama at the State of the Black Union certainly reflect this tendency.

Professor West always encourages critical, independent thinking. So, forgive me Professor West, but with all do respect, I think you're dead wrong on Obama.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Message from our Leader

Let's hope Barack Obama throws his hat in the ring on February 10!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Late, Great James Baldwin...

I have spent the last 4 hours listening to audio recordings of the late, great author, essayist, and public intellectual, James Baldwin. Baldwin, to me, personifies Mari Evan's philosophy that "Clarity is more than a concept; it's a way of life". He was a fearless "truth-teller" as Cornel West puts it, and his words have resonated with something deep and indescribable within me. Here are a few of my favorite Baldwin quotes:

"Drive to the heart of every answer and expose the question that answer hides".

"To defend one's self against fear is simply to ensure that one will, one day, be conquered by it; fears must be faced".

"The questions which one asks oneself begin, at least, to illuminate the world, and become one's key to the experiences of others".

"It is very nearly impossible to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind".

"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have".

When you get some time, listen to some of Baldwin's interviews and speeches at: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/audiofiles.html#jbald2.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Keeping it REAL!

Last Friday, I called a couple close friends and asked them to take an informal survey that I had hurriedly created. There was a point I wanted to prove to another close friend of mine and I was certain my survey would provide the valuable insight I need to construct my argument. As I expected, some of my friends were quite amused by the questions I posed and others were clearly uncomfortable. I started everyone off with the same exercise...

"I'm going to name two contemporaries", I would begin. "Pick the individual you consider to be more 'authentically black' ".

I started with what I considered to be the "easiest" comparison.

"Michael Jackson or Jay-z?", I would ask.

"Jay-z", most of the respondents would reply.

"Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan?" I would ask next.

"Tiger Woods is Kablasian!!!!", they would often shoot back.

Chuckling, I would instruct them to simply answer the question.

"Michael Jordan", they would finally concede. I would chuckle again.

The comparisons got increasingly more challenging. Whoopi Goldberg or Dave Chappelle? Barack Obama or Al Sharpton? Oprah Winfrey or Tyra Banks? Though the pause between answers invariably grew longer, the answers were usually predictable. Looking over my notes after each interview, several questions came to mind...

What makes Jay-z, Michael Jordan, Dave Chappelle, Al Sharpton and Oprah Winfrey more "authentically black" than Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods, Whoopi Goldberg, Barack Obama and Tyra Banks? What factors contribute to ones classification in one race or another? And what does it mean to be "authentically black"?

A further examination of my results would soon provide partial answers to my questions.

I started with the Michael Jackson / Jay-z comparison. From a societal level, what makes Jay-z more "authentically black"? Is it his association to hip-hop (a stereotypically black musical genre despite the fact that 75% of record sales are attributable to white middle class youth)? Is it his darker skin color (although before the bleaching, Michael Jackson was of darker hue)? How about Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan? Though Tiger Woods has openly self identified as Kablasian (whatever that is), Michael Jordan has never - to my knowledge - self identified as "black".

I was quickly spiraling into a sticky web of stereotypes, faulty racial reasoning and misconceptions...

...Whoopi Goldberg married that dude from Cheers but Dave Chappelle is married to an Asian woman...Barack Obama is bi-racial yet often lauded as the first "black" Senator since Reconstruction and even the prospective first "black" president. And how about Oprah and Tyra? What sort of racial metrics does one utilize to gauge Oprah and Tyra's relative "blackness"?

I was getting no where fast! It would not be until early the next day that I would regain my focus and recall the original intent of the previous nights exercise.

You see friends, the comparison I set up for my friends speaks to the complexity of the social construct that is race. Race is not biological. Race is not the definitive categorization we often make it out be (ask someone of "bi-racial" lineage, if you don't agree with me). The concept of race was constructed. To be black or white in America speaks more to the way in which society perceives and responds to an individual, than to any genetic similarities or predispositions.

The reality is that because I am of a darker hue (heavily pigmented), I am like to be socially funneled into certain residential communities, schools, churches, social/professional networks, which naturally acculturates me into a group of people similarly perceived by society. Sadly, most people now accept the fact that I am (as a "black" man) statistically more like to be pulled over by the police, denied a loan, or discriminated against at work than my "white" roommate simply because of my darker hue. And much like Tiger Woods, I may attempt to self-classify as something other than "black" but ultimately the greater society will treat me as they perceive me.

My point is this: Race is complex, messy, and here to stay! The idea of a color blind society is as fanciful as the idea of a world without poverty. Racism, in my opinion, is an inevitable by-product of the ridiculously complex social interactions by self-interested individuals that have and continue to take place all over world.

I fully support and have actively engaged in attempts to minimize and correct the negative effects of America's most infamous social contribution, but I also believe that any attempt at addressing the matter of race most be couched in an appreciation for the construct's complicated history, pervasive effects, and unpredictable future.

I'm not a cynic but I do believe in "keeping it real".

And so to my dear friend who believes that we may one day live in a world free of racial discrimination, poverty, and conflict, I leave you with this: Your desire is honorable, good friend, but let's KEEP IT REAL!

Friday, January 5, 2007

Professor Shakes Lives!

Surprise, Surprise! I'm back!

Per the advice of a mentor of mine, I resisted the urge to spend my vacation dwelling on the weighty issues that often make up the content of our postings and, for once, I just chilled. No books, no newspapers, no blogs, and no C-Span.

Friends, for the last two and a half weeks, I have napped, watched T.V. (Reality T.V. to be precise...The Soup is my new favorite T.V. program), and napped some more. Needless to say, I am very well rested and excited about blogging again. I want to thank all of you who kept the blog alive during my absence. In particular, I want to thank Shahib Shahab, Jason Fall, and Ben Marsh. Your discussions have been both enlightening and entertaining. Please keep the contributions coming.

Okay, give me a few minutes and I'll have my first posting of the year up. PEACE!

Monday, January 1, 2007

"Is America Ready for a Black or Female President?"

In anticipation of Senator Obama's pending announcement as to his presidential ambitions, much has been written of the man, his family, his name, and his primary competition (Senator Clinton). And much of what has been written has circled the question, "Is America ready for a Black or female president?"

In my opinion, the most thoughtful response offered thus far was from Al Sharpton, one-time presidential hopeful, who said something to the effect of ... America has never been ready to address race relations in this country. So it matters little as to whether or not the nation is ready. What matters is whether we, women and minorities, are ready because when we get good and ready to act, then we act, and then American must follow. For example, was America ready for the civil rights movement? Ready for the boycotts and the sit-ins? Their violent opposition suggests not. Rather, when we got tired of the segregation, of dissimilar and disrespectful treatment, then we taught America to get ready too. The question is not, then, whether the nation is ready, but whether we are ready.

The question is flawed in more reasons than one.

With regard to Hillary, the question is flawed because Hillary Clinton is no longer just a woman. Think about a stack of shelves. In terms of how we identify ourselves, and how society defines us, there are levels within our complex identities. On the bottom shelf, we are all humans. Above that, some are men, some women. Above that, we may be fortunate enough to add a career shelf from which we derive a sense of self: Lawyer, doctor, advocate, engineer. And then there are those whose religious lives contribute to their identities: Presbyterians, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, etc. Moreover, these identifiers are not equally weighted. For example, if I find my job unfulfilling, I may find it less important in defining who I am. The problem with the question, "Is America ready for a female president" is that it presupposes that the woman herself and society see her preeminent defining characteristic as her womanhood. But that's not the case with Hillary. Her career, her history, her husband, and a myriad of other "shelves" define her more than does her innate womanhood. A former Clinton aide said it best: "People don't view her first as a woman. They view her as a Clinton." Therefore, the question, "Is America ready for a female president?" doesn't come close to gauging Americans' true feelings about Hillary Clinton.

Furthermore, the question doesn't (or shouldn't) even apply to Barack Obama because he's not Black. He is bi-racial, born to a Black Kenyan father and Caucasian mother. Sure, he's dark enough to be Black, but if gradations in skin color is the primary determinant in racial identity, then Adam Clayton Powell was white. No, no, no. The color wheel won't work here. And neither will asinine statutes. I understand that prior to Reconstruction, the "one-drop" rule was necessary to maintain the dichotomous racial hierarchy that slavery necessitated, such that even light-skinned persons were considered slaves if they could not prove their ancestry. But why should such arcane statutes continue to define racial identity today? Aren't we above simple classifications? Aren't we beyond easy generalizations? To lazily lump every bi-racial person into a Jambalaya category we call Black is sloppy, disingenuous, and inaccurate. It deprives us of the opportunity to appreciate the contributions that Obama and other bi-racial Americans have made, including Tiger Woods, Adam Clayton Powell, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, and good gracious alive! Prince!!! All bi-racial. (I threw Prince in for fun.) Anyway, the point is this - The bi-racial experience in American is a unique and challenging one, and often rewarding in its own unique ways. To disregard that is both simplistic and offensive.

So when you ask, "Is America ready for a female or Black president?" I say this: Please rephrase the question. The real question is are you ready for a Hillary or a Barack?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

How To Handle Ministers Of Blind Faith

After the November elections, a friend of mine joined a Facebook group called “It sucks to find out people I know are Democrats,” then posted a note that read she was concerned about the moral compass of the uneducated people we allow to vote in America. I sent along a little retort reminding her that just because mine points in a slightly different direction, it doesn’t mean I don’t have a moral compass. I also pointed out that political affiliation has nothing to do with level of education.

Still, for some reason her sentiment has bothered me since. No one likes to have a finger wagged at them as if they have behaved badly, particularly when they don’t believe they have. I guess my middle class, rural America, chip on my shoulders adds to my frustration with folks like her who think that if you’re not Christian and you’re not Republican, you are a lesser human.

While she didn’t respond to my responses, I’ve heard her propaganda before and often from all sorts. The Conservative Christian sect of American politics has made it chic to bash liberal thinking as amoral and liberals as heathens. Amazing that for a time during the Regan administration it almost appeared as though the Republican Party was finally wising up to the notion that all men and women are created equal and that differences were okay.

Thanks to Clinton’s Lewinsky and a healthy dose of terrorism, the Fallwells and Robertsons of the world brought scare politics back and chased a large number of our fellow country men off to their bibles to find absolution before the Apocalypse fell.

The end result is a country half full of perfectly well-meaning people hiding behind religion from fear of those who don’t share their point of view. And they’re doing so to the point that perfectly intelligent, well-intended people like my friend are practicing the polar opposite of what that religion teaches them.

I wonder what ways we can fight without magnifying their fear. How can we show them we don't want them to be like us, we just want them to let us be unlike them? How can we speak to them as individuals and not as ministers of their blind faith, which short-wires the logic motherboard in their brains?

What are we, the targets of their hate, left to do? All I can think of is poetic irony. We should turn their preach into practice and pray for them.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Run Now, Obama!!

By George F. Will
Thursday, December 14, 2006; Page A31

New Hampshire was recently brightened by the presence of Barack Obama, 45, who, calling the fuss about him "baffling," made his first trip in 45 years to that state, and not under duress. Because he is young, is just two years distant from a brief career as a state legislator and has negligible national security experience, an Obama presidential candidacy could have a porcelain brittleness. But if he wants to be president -- it will not be a moral failing if he decides that he does not, at least not now -- this is the time for him to reach for the brass ring. There are four reasons why.

First, one can be an intriguing novelty only once. If he waits to run, the past half-century suggests that the wait could be eight years (see reason four, below). In 2016 he will be only 55, but there will be many fresher faces.

Second, if you get the girl up on her tiptoes, you should kiss her. The electorate is on its tiptoes because Obama has collaborated with the creation of a tsunami of excitement about him. He is nearing the point when a decision against running would brand him as a tease who ungallantly toyed with the electorate's affections.

Third, he has, in Hillary Clinton, the optimal opponent. The contrast is stark: He is soothing; she is not. Many Democrats who are desperate to win are queasy about depending on her. For a nation with jangled nerves, and repelled by political snarling, he offers a tone of sweet reasonableness.

What people see in him reveals more about them than about him. Some of his public utterances have the sponginess of Polonius's bromides for Laertes ("neither a borrower nor a lender be . . . to thine own self be true"). In 2005 the liberal Americans for Democratic Action and the AFL-CIO rated his voting record a perfect 100. The nonpartisan National Journal gave him an 82.5 liberalism rating, making him more liberal than Clinton (79.8). He dutifully decries "ideological" politics but just as dutifully conforms to most of liberalism's catechism, from "universal" health care, whatever that might mean, to combating global warming, whatever that might involve, and including the sacred injunction Thou Shalt Execrate Wal-Mart -- an obligatory genuflection to organized labor.

The nation, which so far is oblivious to his orthodoxy, might not mind it if it is dispensed by someone with Obama's "Can't we all just get along?" manner. Ronald Reagan, after all, demonstrated the importance of congeniality to the selling of conservatism.

Fourth, the odds favor the Democratic nominee in 2008 because for 50 years it has been rare for a presidential nominee to extend his party's hold on the presidency beyond eight years. Nixon in 1960 came agonizingly close to doing so (he lost the popular vote by 118,574 -- less than a vote per precinct -- and a switch of 4,430 votes in Illinois and 24,129 in Texas would have elected him) but failed. As did Hubert Humphrey in 1968 (he lost by 510,314 out of 73,211,875 votes cast), Gerald Ford in 1976 (if 5,559 votes had switched in Ohio and 7,232 in Mississippi, he would have won) and Al Gore in 2000 (537 Florida votes). Only the first President Bush, in 1988, succeeded, perhaps because the country desired a third term for the incumbent, which will not be the case in 2008. So the odds favor a Democrat winning in 2008 and, if he or she is reelected, the Democrat nominated in 2016 losing.

Furthermore, remember the metrics of success that just two years ago caused conservatives to think the future was unfolding in their favor: Bush carried 97 of the 100 most rapidly growing counties; the center of the nation's population, now southwest of St. Louis, is moving south and west at a rate of two feet an hour; only two Democratic presidents have been elected in the past 38 years; in the 15 elections since World War II, only twice has a Democrat received 50 percent of the vote. Two years later, these facts do not seem so impressive.

In 2000 and 2004, Bush twice carried 29 states that now have 274 electoral votes; Gore and Kerry carried 18 that now have 248. Not much needs to change in politics for a lot to change in governance. And Obama, like the rest of us, has been warned, by William Butler Yeats: All life is a preparation for something that probably will never happen.

Unless you make it happen.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Interesting Discussion...

"Racism in America"

jason said...

I'm stunned that 12-13 percent of people would admit to harboring racist sentiments. Like Sonya, I too believe the actual number to be higher, but can't fathom someone admitting it, outside of the hate group sect.

From a white perspective, I am not proud to admit that there have been times when I have had what I would call prejudicial thoughts. Whether these were the result of media stereotyping, growing up in a rural/lily-white environment, or some other factor I don't really know. I've never thought of myself as harboring racist thoughts, though.

I think that might be an area of misunderstanding between races ... there are varying degrees of prejudice and/or racism at play in different people.

Still, if I -- someone who considers himself certainly not racist in any fashion -- can admit to having prejudicial notions from time-to-time, certainly the number of people who harbor racist thoughts is higher.

Of course, my statement may bring on contentions of contradiction (I'm sure to some the slightest prejudice is racism) I honestly believe these prejudicial notions that I've encountered over time are just passing thoughts that I consciously dismiss as being wrong. I'll admit I have to make a conscious effort to not allow them to find their way to affecting my decisions or behavior, but I think that's because the environment of stereotyping and racism we live in produce these notions in all of us. We just have to be stronger people to dismiss the temptation to take the easy way out and apply those prejudices in our everyday life.

While this might be a poor metaphor, it's like having the temptation to lie or steal or cheat. It's there. Some people wouldn't fathom it, some people hear the passing notion and dismiss it. Others fall victim to it. That said, 12-13 percent is just of those who would admit it. That's sad, but that's true, I believe.

Shahib Shahab said...
Sonya,Incredibly interesting article. What struck me most was the 12 - 13% of people who believed themselves to harbor racist sentiments. I'm curious as to your thoughts on what pushes a person to think that of themselves, past rationalizations and explanations to a critical self-analysis, the results of which aren't particularly flattering. To the remainder of our blogging audience, I'm also curious as to how many of you would honestly assess yourselves to fall in the 12 - 13%. Thanks Sonya.

December 13, 2006 2:45:00 PM PST

Sonya said...
Hello,I honestly believe that the percentage of people who harbor racist sentiment is far higher that 12-13%. However, only those few are willing to admit it. By this I mean that almost everyone gets caught up in racial stereotyping and prejudices. It is part our socialization to lump any person or thing into a category. Just as we would describe a thief as someone in a ski mask and dark clothing or assume that someone driving an expensive car is wealthy even though these conclusions may not be true. Categorizing those who are different from us is a human's way of organizing large amounts of information and unfortunately it can lead to racist beliefs especially when the most popular forms of media are scewed toward depicting only the negative, e.g. black women as hoes, black men as thugs, latinos as uneducated or lazy. (That's an entirely different discussion!)The characteristic that distiguishes a person who harbors racist sentiments from an all out "racist" is the fact that while we all have socialized beliefs, most can acknowledge this belief and question its validity while a "racist" chooses never to question their beliefs but rather to live in his or her own ignorance.

December 13, 2006 7:35:00 PM PST

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Catch a Fire - Part 1

This last week was tremendously challenging for me. Cooped up in an office for 12-15 a day, I had little time or energy to EXIST…no time or energy to read, reflect, exercise, meditate, socialize or engage in any of the activities that energize me. Unfortunately, last week wasn’t an exception. For the last year and a half, weeks like last have been the norm. And I’m CERTAIN that my experience over the last 72 weeks hasn’t been unique. I’m positive that anyone reading this blog has at some point gone through the periods of lifeless, sleeping walking and spiritual emptiness that is currently infecting my life.

I don’t know about you, but I’m in need of a resurrection.

Over my next few postings, I’m going to explore the notions of success and happiness as they pertain to career, relationships and spirituality. While these postings will be public, the subject matter will be deeply personal. I don’t claim to have any special insight into the aforementioned themes, but I do hope that my postings stir something deep inside anyone reading my blog.

To give context to my future posting, I want share an extract from an email that I sent to an organization I was hoping to volunteer with. Hopefully, this introduction will put many of my future commentary into perspective.
I'm currently working as an Information Systems Auditor for a public accounting firm, but my interests have always centered on sociology and history (especially as it pertains to social struggles for freedom and equality). Having been born and raised for a significant portion of my life in Africa, my interest begins with colonization and African struggles for independence (particularly in the 60s and 70s) and has moved more recently (in the last two years), into the African American struggle for equality. With regard to the latter struggle, I have been inspired by so many of the themes and heroes emerging from the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Arts Movements. Such movement themes as self-determination, black empowerment, black beauty and pride - though integral in the African independence movements - have most clearly been articulated to me through the writings of Malcolm X, James Cone, Harold Cruse, Huey Newton and, as I've discovered lately, Martin Luther King Jr. I've been moved by the music, literature and poetry of Gil Scott Heron, The Last Poets, Curtis Mayfield, John Coltrane, Sonia Sanchez, and Toni Morrison.

As one might expect, this interest has quickly matured into a desire for action. Thanks to the intellectual leading of Cornel West in particular and bell hooks to a lesser degree, I have come to realize that ideas alone and intellectualizing on issues is not enough. There must be a by-product that results from the spiritual, intellectual and emotional wrestling one engages in with such issues as poverty, failing education systems, patriarchy, homophobia, homelessness, religious fundamentalism, tribalism, etc.

At this stage in my life, I believe the best way to act on the little bit of knowledge I've been blessed to discover is to share it with others and attempt get them excited about it. I can't tell you how inspired and empowered I've become as a result of the literature, music, movies, plays, I've been exposed to and the folks I've broken bread with over the last two years. I want others, in particular those younger then me, to share in the sort of transformative experience I'm undergoing.


Professor Shakes

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Excellent Debate....

Shahib Shahab's posting on diversity has sparked an interesting debate. For those of you who haven't been keeping up, I've included an excerpt below. If you've got an opinion on the subject, click on the "Comments" section of Shahib's original post and join in!


In response to Shahib's essay, "Truly embracing the beauty of diversity", Neal said....

I think it's important to note that the main reason cited in the article for parents making this choice was that the parents themselves were born with the genetic trait in question and wanted their children to be born with the same traits. As the article notes, "many parents share a touching faith that having children similar to them will strengthen family and social bonds." So with this fact in mind, I wonder whether this is truly an example of diversity being embraced. Isn't this more similar to people deciding to marry within their own race or ethnicity in the hopes that their children will carry on that tradition? Does attempting to guarantee that your children will be similar to you, even by going to such lengths are intentionally causing genetic abnormalities, show a real acceptance of diversity?I do share the author's sentiments on the importance of diversity and the fact that what makes someone different is often what defines their life and gives it deeper meaning. However, I question whether the choices made my the parents in this article are in fact a reflection of their understanding and acceptance of diversity. I think that a more genuine respect for diversity would be shown by these parents if they were to accept their children however they may be given to them by nature, whether they are similar to themselves or not.

December 6, 2006 7:43:00 AM PST

Jason Falls said...
Call me old-fashioned, non-enlightened, or maybe this is the one area of my life where conservativism shines through, but I see no value or purpose in genetically engineering a process that should only be handled and manipulated by God himself. Of course, I would also never dye my hair, pierce myself or get a tattoo. I don't condemn others for their choice in doing so, but it's not my cup of tea.Intentionally inflicting a disability on another human being is paramount to taking a sledge hammer to their knees after birth in my mind. I am a father and I can't fathom anyone -- afflicted or not -- wishing genetic deficiencies (should they add to the diversity of our world or not) upon their children.The only solice I can take from this is that the parents will be prepared to deal with the adversity they've caused in their choice. I only hope they are also prepared to look into their grown child's eyes one day and answer the question, "Why did you do this to me?"

December 6, 2006 10:06:00 AM PST

Shahib Shahab said...
Neal & Jason,I want to thank you both for your sincere and thoughtful response to my posting. And Neal, I think your response was right on point. I agree with you that if a parents' primary motivation in choosing a child with a genetic defect is solely to “raise a child like them,” then no diversity interest has been served. For example, suppose a dwarf parent was uncomfortable with the idea of raising a child of average-height, and instead choose to implant in her child a genetic defect causing the child also to be a dwarf. I completely agree with you that the parent's motivation here serves no diversity interest. In fact, the parent’s actions seem to be motivated by nothing more than selfishness - wanting a child like them so that they may avoid the difficulties of raising an average-height child. This hardly serves a legitimate commitment to embracing diversity. So, in that regard, I completely agree with you.But would you agree with me that parents might also be motivated by other desires? For example, by the desire to give their children a unique experience? A character-building experience? An experience that will mold and shape their core? I posit that these are also motivations that prompt parents to make such decisions, and that these motivations may in fact serve legitimate diversity interests.For example, many parents go to great lengths to ensure that their children lead rich lives that expose them to the beauty of diversity. They move to cities where blacks, whites, Indians, Africans, Caribbeans, etc. live among one another. They live in neighborhoods where ethnic eateries are widely available. They enroll their children in schools where they can take Spanish and Japanese. And WHY? All for the purpose of giving their children a diverse range of experiences intended to mold them into intelligent, compassionate, tolerant people who likewise appreciate diversity.But, some might argue, “giving a child lessons in Japanese is a far cry from making them deaf! One is an external opportunity, the other a permanent trait imposed upon the child.” Well, not really.

With surgery both dwarfism and deafness can be corrected (cochlear implants and leg-lengthening procedures, should the child so choose).But still, some might argue, “With those other things, at least children have a choice about what extra-curricular activity (ballet or banjo) they want to embrace, but by imposing a genetic defect, you are forcing the choice upon them!” Okay, good point, but don’t millions of people already do this? The black woman who chooses to marry the white man. Aren’t they imposing a life-long, irreversible identity upon their child? Some might likewise argue that this is an unfortunate situation in which to place a child, but think of the richness of that child’s experience. Being raised with an appreciation for county music and collard greens! (smile) Being able to approach a racially-sensitive issue with sympathy for and an understanding of both sides of the issue.In my mind, it’s all about education. We offer our children a range of educational experiences intended to mold them into people who appreciate diversity (in music, in language, in food, in cultures, in life). Is it really so absurd to extend this educational lesson to their bodies? To their physical abilities? We have the potential to teach them invaluable lessons this way – what it feels like to be looked upon with pity; what it feels like to be rejected by a society that refuses to make reasonable accommodations for your hearing limitation; AND what it feels like to be completely loved and adored and accepted by someone in spite or (or because of) your limitation. These are priceless lessons.

Sometimes painful lessons, but priceless nonetheless.That said, Jason, my thoughts here are really for the sake of argument. Like I said before, I can't say that I would be comfortable doing as these parents have done. In fact, I SERIOUSLY doubt that I would. But to me, it's more important to understand WHY these parents have made this decision. I think I do, in part, understand their choice, and I've tried to articulate the rationale. Jason, and Neal, I really would like to hear your response and appreciate your thoughtfulness!

December 6, 2006 11:14:00 AM PST

Jason Falls said...
All well-said and put. The only response to your follow up is this: "The black woman who chooses to marry the white man. Aren’t they imposing a life-long, irreversible identity upon their child?" --- Being black or white or racially mixed is not, in my opinion, a genetic deficiency. To say it is simply extolls the notion that the races shouldn't mix.Granted, in an ideal world the race of two people sharing a life or child together should not matter, and we do not live in an ideal world. However, should that prevent us from believing that racial mixture is a perfectly acceptable, even beautiful, by-product of an open-minded society where love happens beteen two people for whatever reason and we accept that?Choosing to dial up a genetic disorder on your child is equal to drinking or smoking or doing crack while pregnant, in my opinion. You are knowingly causing physical, mental or emotional harm to your child.Choosing to have a child with a black, white, red or yellow person isn't. While emotional stress of a not-always-accepting society may result for the offspring, it isn't the intent of the parents to produce that when conceiving the child.Oh -- and as to the notion of providing the child with a character-building experience -- sorry for the smartalek tone of this, but send them to summer camp or make them volunteer at a soup kitchen. Don't give them down's syndrome.
December 6, 2006 12:13:00 PM PST

Neal said...
Shahib said "But would you agree with me that parents might also be motivated by other desires? For example, by the desire to give their children a unique experience? A character-building experience? An experience that will mold and shape their core? I posit that these are also motivations that prompt parents to make such decisions, and that these motivations may in fact serve legitimate diversity interests."Yes. I do agree that parents may be and often are motivated by these interests. And I agree that these are important interests. I guess what I think it comes down to is a cost-benefit analysis. An interracial couple, I am sure, thinks about the fact that perhaps their child will be subject to more hardship than other children. This is a cost. But they decide, either consciously or subconsciously, that their love for each other, their morals, their desire to raise a child, and, as you point out, the benefits of being "different" all outweight that cost. I think that may be why you see more interracial couples raising children now than you saw in the past--the cost of being interracial (at least in our society) has decreased. And rightfully so.In this case, I think we are talking about what most would agree (and I think you and I agree) is an incorrect cost-benefit analysis. Yes, there is a benefit to being different--but at the high cost of a severe physical disability? I don't think that analysis works out for me.I do genuinely appreciate your thoughts and opinions on this topic. I hope I'm contributing in a constructive way.
December 6, 2006 12:30:00 PM PST

Shahib Shahab said...
Neal said: "Yes, there is a benefit to being different--but at the high cost of a severe physical disability?" Neal, I appreicate your cost-benefit analysis. (Are you, by chance, an accountant or computer programmer? (Smile) Jason said: "Send them to summer camp or make them volunteer at a soup kitchen. Don't give them down's syndrome."Based on both your comments, I think I must have given the wrong impression as to the types of genetic defects that parents are choosing to give their children. I may be wrong, but I don't recall reading that any of the parents in the original article had chosen to give their children down-syndrome or a severe physical disability accompanied by serious health risks. No, the parents interviewed had chosen deafness and shortness. My comments are likewise limited to those two traits. So, working from that point of reference ...What I hear in Neal's comments about cost-benefit analysis and in Jason's comments is a belief that a disability (being deaf or being a short person) is an unfortunate and pitiable things. HERE, I believe, is where our fundamental difference lies. I do not believe that living without the ability to hear or to be of average height is a pitiable thing. Downsyndrome and any other genetic disease causing severe physical limitations = Yes, a pitiable thing for the pain and suffering and shortened life expectancy caused. (A '97 study found that roughly 12% of babies with DS die from heart complications at birth) But being deaf or short = Not a pitiable thing.Shortness and deafness are DIFFERENT experiences, but not necessarily LESSER or PITIABLE experiences.Both of you made many more valid points, but why don't we begin our conversation from there. Would you agree with this last point?

December 6, 2006 1:48:00 PM PST

Friday, December 1, 2006

Ashley Judd for President!

An hour and a half ago, I sat down in front of my laptop to write up what was to be a vicious and incisive attack on neo-conservatism. For years now, I, like millions of my fellow liberals, have sat idly as politically loony religious fanatics led this country through the most retrogressive period since the Jim Crow era. Filled with pent up angst, I sat down prepared to tear into the Pat Robertsons, Jerry Falwells, and James Dobsons of the world. Intellectually, I was ready to employ the sort of smear tactics that have become the hallmark of the ultra-conservative right. And so you can imagine how frustrated I later became when struck with the most devastating bloggers-block of my infantile blogging career. I couldn't even think of an opening line.

Pissed off and hungry, I decided to pacify myself a healthy dose of comfort food and mindless entertainment. Wings and MTV where in order. Nothing lulls the soul into passive complacency like the all American diet and Reality T.V.

To my initial disappointment, however, VH1 was not showing re-runs of the Flava of Love, but instead a program on AIDS. What the...? Turning to my sister - the resident expert on contemporary cable programming - I was reminded that today is World AIDS day and that VH1 had substituted its regularly scheduled programs with programs dedicated to AID prevention and awareness.

Friends, for the last hour and 46 mins, I have sat in total silence as footage of mothers dying in their children's arms has flashed across my screen. I have looked upon once virile men, now reduced to skin and bones, helplessly awaiting death. I have listened to AIDS activist speak of the extreme difficulty in getting those infected with AIDS to share their stories for fear of persecution and have watched celebrities give of their time, money, and humanity for a cause so much bigger then themselves. Don't get me wrong. I am the biggest critic of celebrity humanitarianism. Intuitively, something about Madonna in Malawi or Matthew McConaughey among orphans screams insincere. There is certainly something to be said for a good deed done in secret and, as the old adage goes, "actors, like moths, are also drawn to the spotlight". Tonight, however, one actress, in my humble opinion, broke the mold.

For 5 mins brief minutes tonight, I witness one of the most sincere acts of humanity I ever witnessed. After days of trying to convince local HIV-positive Madagascans to appear on an AIDS awareness commercial, one woman finally agreed to meet with and co-star on the project with the actress Ashley Judd. At the request of the woman's liaison, only Ms. Judd, a translator, and Ms. Judd travel companion were allowed to attend the private meeting. Behind closed doors and seated side by side with Ms. Judd, the woman told of how both her and her husband had contracted AIDS and been notified of their condition around the same time. For reasons only implied, neither of the affected individuals could determine who had transmitted the disease to whom. With her head bowed, she told of how the stigma and ignorance around her disease caused her to fear for her life. As a restaurant worker, the woman was certain that members of her community would kill her at the thought that she had made them vulnerable to her dreaded disease. As she told her story, the camera artfully caught every wince, awkward smile, and sigh. And while the footage was touching, it was Ms. Judd, unconscious, often nearly off camera gestured that moved me in the profoundest way. As the woman told her story, Ms. Judd tenderly patted her knee, smiled adoringly at the woman and, towards the end of the testimonial, gently held the woman's hand. Ms. Judd treated the woman like anyone would a friend. And Ms. Judd's actions must made an impression on the woman because at the end of her testimonial the woman asked in a soft voice and with tear-filled eyes, "you're laughing and talking to me, aren't you afraid of getting AIDS". Surprised and moved by the comment, Ms. Judd responded instinctively with the sort of embrace only one deeply familiar with love can offer. Needless to say, the woman was visibly overtaken by the gesture.

FOLKS, I NEARLY BROKE DOWN AND CRIED. I must confess that I was totally overwhelmed. Were it not for my anti-sentimentalist, African upbringing I am certain I would have bawled like a baby.

You see friends, Ashley Judd, tonight, exhibited the sort of compassion, love, and humility now foreign to most of our brothers and sisters on the ultra-conservative religious right. Those self professed Christians - men and women supposedly called to walk in the footsteps of Christ - have, in my opinion, lost sight of Christ's most virtuous quality...HIS LOVE FOR ALL HUMANITY. Christ loved and died for ALL men, regardless of tribe, social status, education level, or lifestyle. It was the Christ who Pat Robertson professes to serve that taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves. It was Jerry Falwell's Christ who sat among prostitutes, tax collectors and the most despised in His community. And it is the Christ of James Dobson who today would have been drawn to the outcasted of our day - those in poverty, those in jail, those infected with disease, and yes, even those leading "alternative" lifestyles. We get so caught up in our society on issues surrounding sex, power, and money that we begin to create God in OUR OWN image. No one knows with absolute certainty how Christ would have treated a homosexual, an individual addicted to crack-cocaine, or a teen addicted to sex but if the Bible give us any indication of how Christ treated the marginalized among, I get the feeling it would be far different then some of our brothers and sisters on the political and religious right and LEFT. Don't get it mixed up, if actions speak louder than words, then one must concede that LIBERALS can be just as racist, homophonic, and selfish as conservatives.

I don't know what Ashley Judd's religious and political affiliations are but tonight she afforded me a glimpse of what it truly means to love your neighbor as yourself. As a Christian, Ms. Judd's unconditional act of love reminded me of the perfect example Christ left us while here on earth on how we are to treat others.

I certain have a lot of work to do toward become like Christ, no question about it, but if Ashley Judd, an individual immersed a world as vain and indifferent as Hollywood can do it, why not you and I?

Let us allow today, World AIDS day, to mark the beginning of a life dedicated to the principles of unconditional love, compassion, and humility.

I pose this challenge first to myself and then to you.


Professor Shakes.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Response to Neal's Comment...

Neal asked:

Rev. Sharpton is quite an intriguing person and personality. Who of the current ranks of black politicians/leaders do you think should step up to the plate?

Thanks for opening up the dialogue, Neal.

The last mid-term election featured more African-American candidates then I can recall in my lifetime. I'm no historian, but I'm sure some record was set. You had Harold Ford Jr. running for the Senate seat in Tennessee. You had Deval Patrick running (and winning) the gubernatorial race in Massachusetts and, though wasn't running for a seat, Barack Obama was probably the most talked about politician of the year.

What all the men I mentioned have in common is cross-over appeal. They are all Ivy League educated, well polished, intelligent brothers. If anyone should be called to step to the plate, it should be the aforementioned brothers.

Unfortunately, there a price one pays for popularity. It's hard to be a truth-teller when your success is riding on being likable...non-threatening.

Even my favorite politician of all time, Bill Clinton, lacked the courage and integrity to stick and speak to his conviction…hence his response to the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.

That's why I'm afraid for Barack Obama. As much as I want him to run for President, I recognize that he'll have to walk a tight rope until he's in office or loses...either way precious time will have been lost. Time he could have spent addressing the issues that affect the most vulnerable in our communities.

And to be honest, Neal, though I was disappointed that Harold Ford Jr. lost, I have to admit that I don't see him as a genuine leader. He's a politician and I mean that in the derogatory sense. He runs as a Democrat but his politics pander to his growing conservative base.

Ultimately, Neal, I place my hope in folks like yourself. People at the grassroots level who have a sincere concern for their neighbor and aren't in it for the celebrity or money.

It's unfortunate that the media doesn't give more attention to community organizers and grassroots activist. The media makes and breaks politicians. Ask Barack Obama (DNC Speech) or Trent Lott (Segregationist Comments).

My hope is in everyday folks who are stepping to the plate every day...they're just not getting the recognition.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Resurgence of Al Sharpton: Good or Bad?

I was standing in line at a deli in downtown Atlanta today when I overheard a middle aged white gentleman admit jokingly to a group of his peers, "I'm not sure how serious the situation is... all I know is that Al Sharpton's gotten involved." Not to my surprise, the gentleman's comment was met with great laughter.

By now, most of you have heard about Sean Bell, the 23 year old brother from New York City who was shot down by undercover NYPD officers last Saturday. I'm not a journalist and so I'll leave the detailed reporting to the professionals (check out the links below), but, in a nutshell, Mr. Bell was allegedly approached by undercover cops, who, without identifying themselves, opened fire on Mr. Bell outside of a popular New York strip club. Mr. Bell was gunned down while leaving his bachelor party and, according to reports, was to be married that same day. Needless to say, Mr. Bell was unarmed.

While my heart goes out to the Mr. Bell's family and fiancée, I think the most personally frustrating element to this incident is its familiarity. And by familiarity, I'm not alluding to the all too common shooting of yet another unarmed, innocent black man, but the predictable, ineffectual response from the "black leadership" - in particular, the response by Rev. Al Sharpton.

Before I criticize the good Reverend, let me begin with a few words of praise. There are few black public figures in America today with more courage than Rev. Sharpton. While some of our more polished, "politically savvy" elected officials back down from issues like welfare, affirmative action, and police brutality, Rev. Sharpton is always eager to step up to the plate. He's not a politician and I mean that as a compliment.

And so, it didn't surprise me in the least bit when I picked up the New York Times this morning and saw Rev. Sharpton's image adorning the front cover with the subtext "Appeals for Calm After Convening of Black Leaders" beneath him. For better or worse, he is one of our "black leaders".

But while I respect Rev. Al Sharpton's contributions to the community, I believe that it is time someone asked the Reverend to step back. TO MOST AMERICANS REV. AL SHARPTON IS A JOKE and any honest member of the black community would admit this fact. Whether it be his love of the camera, his hair (I'm sorry I had to go there but you know I'm right), or his preachy, often excessively flowery rhetoric, Rev. Sharpton cannot help but embarrass himself. I honestly wish I could take Rev. Sharpton seriously. Right when I think I'm on board with the Reverend he pulls a stunt like his appearance on Saturday Night Live. And I'm not the only person who feels this way. Professor West once remarked that Al Sharpton is characterized by "one-note racial analyses and sentimental practices". Professor West's assessment couldn't be more on point.

Like the ambulance chasing lawyer, Rev. Sharpton, by not being selective in picking his battles, has LOST CREDIBILITY. And even worse, his love of celebrity has chipped away at the MORAL AUTHORITY that once accompanied the title Reverend.

Let me re-emphasize that I DO RESPECT Rev. Sharpton. I'm not submitting this posting to put Rev. Sharpton down. This posting is an appeal...it's an appeal to men and women of my generation (35 and under) to stand up and be counted. To add wisdom and a servant-leader attitude to the courage and boldness of men like Rev. Sharpton.

As will soon become tradition, I direct this challenge first to myself and then to you.


Professor Shakes

Links to the Sean Bell Shooting Story:
BBC's Coverage: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6186808.stm
CNN's Coverage: http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/11/27/nyc.shooting.ap/index.html

Monday, November 27, 2006

Book Recommendation: The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

A couple months ago, a friend lent me a book that I could not put down. The book was both prophetic and profound. If any of you has ever read The Prophet by Khalil Gibran, you know exactly what I'm talking about. There is a particularly thoughtful excerpt from the chapter on Pain that I thought I'd share with all of you as we begin this journey towards greater awareness.

As you all know, there's a great deal of emotional/spiritual pain that comes with awareness. We must accept that there is no way to avoid the pain to come should one choose to seek wisdom and raise ones consciousness.

Mahatma Ghandi once said: "Those with the greatest awareness have the greatest nightmares".

Khalil Gibran on Pain:
"And a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of Pain. And he said: Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. Much of your pain is self-chosen. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility: For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen". That's powerful! Please, pick up the book if you get a chance.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Introduction to Westian Thought 101

Food for Thought:

For those of you interesting in getting to know Professor West, I would suggest you start with this September 12, 2005 interview at National Constitution Center:


This interview was conducted following the release of Professor West's national bestseller "Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism".