I know I don’t have to tell you the history Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” Speech, so I won’t. At that time, and definitely when you were elected by a landslide in 2008, Americans as well as foreigners alike were hopeful that a change would come in the issue of racial equality. Dr. King dreamed of a better day for minorities. Sadly, unfortunately, he was struck down long before he could witness a man he fought so hard for to rise to the mountain top. Yes sir, you are on the mountain top. But, it makes one wonder if you truly had the same dream as Dr. King.
People still march in front of and around the house that you command. Jobs are lost, homes lost, lives lost…and still, the hope is there but it seems like it’s fading away. Though we all know that it’s not just minorities who are in jeopardy of a continuous diminishing livelihood, so much media attention now is comparing Dr. King’s message to your “Yes we can” or even the “Change” messages you promoted. “Yes we can” is what Blacks and Whites alike chanted back to you, in an effort to get you elected as the first “African-American,” not Black, President of the United States. I guess in Dr. King’s time, he was considered colored or Negro. Boy, have the times really changed? Now, Blacks are considered African-American with thanks to the Reverend Jessie Jackson and his 1988 campaign for your spot. Yet, the “Change” so many shouted for you has not been felt. Then again, many minorities feel that it has gotten worse for them since you took over the podium.
With jobs being a major focus for Americans, one should wonder how jobs will be created when there is no real demand for products that can’t be afforded. Education pales due to the fact that once the paper is received and the debt is grieved, it’s all about who you know to get placement in this world. Then, there are the lucky ones who have the stars lined up for them and feel that the law of prosperity will follow them if they go to the side where money talks. In other words, once Democrats now become Republicans. Yes, Republican is synonymous wealth and status. Democrats are for the hopeless and near-desperate. As an elected-Democrat, what exactly do you represent? The podium is yours, the microphone is yours. Though you stand up straight, it’s actually confusing as to where you stand…for the un-chosen broken.
I read a poem called, “The Day the Ghetto Died,” and found it to be interesting.
I looked and saw that I had everything money could buy
Then realized how little I had
But my ancestors had much pride
Can you tell if this author is Republican or Democrat? One would assume that because the author mentioned “ancestors,” he or she is non-white. One side doesn’t seem to have to yell to get their point across. Another side is just simply ignored and floored. Who could deny the impact of one Oprah, Tyler Perry, Lee Daniels, or Quincy Jones? They have made their mark on the world. Crossovers? Maybe. Still, even the mighty O still has her bouts with abandonment. And now, Americans are feeling abandoned by another mighty O. Are you building your cabin the way you want it to be? There are laws that are nearly favoring the execution of Blacks, let alone Black males – in a state many believe changed the course of history in 2000. As time advanced, so has favoritism. Who now represents our nation for the minorities who want a better life? Just because of the so-called self-help television shows and books, the destination can’t be reached without support, resources.
Let’s give kudos to those who can stand back and thank their lucky stars for a blessed life. It is with faith that those individuals cultivate their gifts and make them grow. Also, they should remember how they got to be in their cushy position and not be ashamed to admit that they received help along the way. Has much sight been lost by tending to the grass in other nations backyards? When you awaken from your night’s sleep, can you honestly tell your dream without making a joke about it? Laughter is only a temporary fix and dreams of a better way die when they can’t be fulfilled. And time heals no one or nothing. It only makes conditions harsher without proper treatment.
Would Dr. Martin Luther King be pleased with the conditions minorities face today? Probably not. Then again, had his dream been kept alive 1988 would have never happened and the 2000 election would never have seen the light of day. You would still have had your chance to speak for the disadvantage man and woman. But you more than likely would have been forced to keep your promises of a better day.
Don’t be that father that went out for milk and never came back. Or, the one who pops back in from time to time to say, “Hey, remember me?” Almost two years into our new house and the steps still haven’t been fixed. You’re the only one who knows where the materials are to fix the steps.
The ghetto should have died by now and changed into a neighborhood. Though it’s like that way for so many, change just can’t happen fast enough. Some can’t even remember their dreams.
And, to think, the movie “The Butler” made you cry.
What is it that would make a Black person think their lives are so much busier than the next person when it comes to voting? I couldn’t believe it when I heard a Black man say in the grocery store, “Well, I’m just gonna send my vote in early. I don’t wanna wait in that long line.” Seriously? As I recall, your ancestors and others that probably aren’t that much older than you are today had to stand in lines to be told they couldn’t come in to a certain place or that they had to enter from the back of the house or building. Now mind you, I saw no debilitating ailment that this man possessed, just the ignorance that was placed upon his chest and forehead by someone who told him it was probably better that way. Whenever I tried to look him in his eyes, he more than shied away from me. It was almost as if he tried to run without moving. He shrugged. He averted. He diverted. He cussed under his breath. He cussed out loud as he spoke about the mistake he made in the last election, anyway. I refused to move. I acknowledged him the only way I could, for that moment, until his breath ran out. And, when I heard those most hateful and despicable words that could comprise a phrase, “What difference does it make anyway?,” I pounced.
It was pretty easy, I must say, getting this gentleman to talk to me. He seemed very proud to be the first of seven children to send his only child to college on a janitor’s salary assisted by a criminal justice degree from a reputable four-year college. His devotion and loyalty to a childhood friend who died at the hand of a law official is how he attributes his abandoning his dream position in law enforcement. As a janitor, he felt safe. There, he did not pose a threat to anyone nor would anyone threaten him as long as he relied on tunnel vision. He was well past retirement age and didn’t find it hard to understand how compromises were made for him to be able to make the choice to become a janitor; though there are those who consider themselves custodial engineers (without a legitimate four-year college degree). The pride he had for his only daughter showed proudly on his face as the clouds could nearly touch his chest. Letters were written by him to the news stations and local newspapers about issues that concerned not only himself, but members of his church and study group; he started a book club that has been in session for five years. While we stood there talking in the poultry section, I became engrossed in the presence of a rock star. Everybody knew this guy and he knew them. The crowd could associate the name with the face. The letters he wrote couldn’t do that. Come to find out, the gentleman never forwarded a letter under his real name. He said he just didn’t want the attention. Suddenly, I felt like I needed medication. Here it is, a well-educated, most literate (articulate sounds so insulting for a man of color who has graduated even from high school) man did not want to be acknowledged for his own efforts. Was this cowardice or arrogance? Just because he was Black, I came to understand that he could also have an air of arrogance. After all, he was human.
Although he probably wasn’t in the hunt for a new position anywhere, I suggested that he must have a pretty remarkable resume. Alright, so there was a little sarcasm in there only because of his expressed phobia. Yes, he did have a phobia that he hadn’t allowed a therapist the privilege of knowing. He allowed another person’s demise stifle him. The man had become complacent and had convinced himself that he deserved to be behind the scenes. And there he stayed for years, but popular for just his presence. “Do you know what an employer does with a résumé that has too many errors?” I asked. “Why, I have heard it goes in the garbage can,” he replied demandingly. “Then, why can’t you see the possibility of the same thing happening to your vote whether it’s electronic or absentee?” I said. It took him a minute, but he got it. The man understood that his presence was needed in order to make sure his vote really counted. The many possibilities of errors occurring never occurred to him. And, in the way he would write letters, he said that he didn’t want his friends to think differently of him. I was floored! This brilliant man before me – this rock star personality was afraid to show that he played an integral part in the universe. Not only was he content with being behind the scenes, he was content with being someone turned something else. When I asked him how his daughter felt about what he does, I could see the river start to flow. Yet, he was talking to me in a grocery store as if I could have been his best friend. She didn’t know he was the anonymous local celebrity who was relevant. He was so pleased to have discussions about the writer’s topics. She was amazed at how much knowledge he had on each subject. He looked forward to their continued talks once she got settled into college. The hug I received from this man was one I will never forget. I don’t know if he’d ever say that he had a therapy session with me, but I can say I had one with him. There is a reason for everything. Every single person on this planet has feelings. And one person’s phobia may seem so small to the rest of us. The thought of trying to remain anonymous is one thing. But, when we do it for the wrong reason really cripples us and those who care about us. When messages of positivity are sent out into the universe, I think the universe wants to reward that energy with positive energy. We all know what happens when hate is cast into the air…there is but despair.
To be sure his vote counts, he will get in line instead of trying to vote early or by absentee ballot. By being present, he could see the confirmation for himself. He will make sure this potential cycle is broken with his daughter. I will continue to see people as people and know that they all have a story to tell. But why I chose him to accost and talk to him didn’t make sense to me until I thought we were about to part. Looking at my watch, it was now 3:30 in the afternoon. I arrived at 3:00. I felt like at least a couple of hours had gone by. Then suddenly, I got my answer. “You know, you look just like my buddy that passed away years ago. Would you like to see his picture?” he said smiling. “Sure.” I was speechless! The resemblance was uncanny. Everything made sense. I guess we both did exactly what we were supposed to do that day. How could we not be friends after that? I didn’t need a copy of that picture because I felt like it was me looking back at myself. Talk about timing. While he was sending his only child off to learn a new lesson, we both learned one in just that short time.
What a fantastic feeling it is to win! To actually, WIN! I don’t mean to come in second or third, but to WIN! All our lives – from the very moment we are able to start competing, we are told to keep our eye on the prize. And what is that prize? The prize is a trophy…be it a winged-figure sitting on top a platform, a standalone nude phallic symbol, or even a gold book opened in the middle affixed to a different base, or better yet, that pure physical embodiment of all that is grace and holy…a woman that everyone envies. In any respect, a trophy is a trophy. That trophy shows that YOU are the BEST. You wiped the floor of all the other competitors and came out on top. The only difference in the kind of trophy you receive when you win an award is that it is an inanimate object. And, that’s the only kind of trophy you can get for coming in second or third place. But, a trophy is a trophy anyway, right? Wrong. An inanimate object appears one way until someone takes a closer look at it and reads the placard: 2nd PLACE. That’s when the heartbreak sets in. You didn’t win. There is the other top award or even reward that many men strive for: SEX APPEAL. When a man wins outright in his sport, that sends a message out to all other men that – I AM BETTER THAN YOU AND YOUR MATE SHOULD BE WITH ME INSTEAD. A lot of times, you’ll hear losers say, “It’s not all about winning.” Seriously? Either this person never entered a contest before or this person never had a role model who cared to strive for anything. Isn’t that called complacency? Now, when it comes to a woman winning a GOLD medalist in the Olympics, what is her just reward? Though you wouldn’t automatically admit it but many men would see her strength as his weakness – that is unless he was competing too (whether on the outside or at the GAMES as well). Sure, he could say that he wholeheartedly supports his spouse, but to what extent? With her receiving all the perks and attention of being a GOLD medalist may impinge on his ‘family’ time. What an opportunistic time to claim invasion of privacy. Then, in an effort to simmer down, the female winner has children and works on her family. To her, she has achieved what she set out to do: She Won! Continuing to be a winner more than likely doesn’t fit into her stream of things anymore. She has made it. The only time she may return to competition is if she was coaxed into it by her spouse and outside influences. Then, if she doesn’t bring home the GOLD this time, she already has it to fall back on. ‘Nuff said. For the male, competition is supposed to be naturally in his blood. In order to get anywhere in life, he must be a winner. There are just no ifs-ands-or-butts about it. Second place is an accomplishment – and many actually live the dream of having been able to compete in any games. That, however, is not the point. Unless that male has WINNER on his shelf or in his corner, all his efforts seem bittersweet. Now, should he get what some would consider to be the ‘trophy wife’ or ‘trophy girl,’ who’s to say he’s not the one constantly looking over his shoulder to see who she’s looking at? In remembrance of the girls that are Runner Ups in the Miss America and Miss Universe pageants, before they are shuffled off the stage to announce the winner, they are told, “Thank You, Girls!” Nobody wants to be called a “Thank You, Girl.” No one wants to hear, “Thanks for your hard work, but you’re still a loser. Better luck next time.” “Thank You, Girl!” How demeaning! Yet, you must exit the platform with style, grace, and your dignity. That is, unless you are that new viral sensation from the USA Olympic Gymnastics Team 2012, Makayla Maroney, then you’re the exception. Your team won Gold, so you’re safe! Together you stand, better if you win. Divided, the lone wolf, there can be but one winner! Will it be You? It better be. Because you have so much to lose, if you don’t WIN!
What Good is Receiving Praise When It’s All Said and Done?
It’s been over 30 years since I graduated high school. I haven’t even returned for a reunion. Not that I haven’t wanted to attend; it’s just that other things took precedence over my cheek kissing over girlfriends and fist-bumping then boys who still wouldn’t mind showering with me – either alone or in a crowd. Every now and then, I would spot an old, and I do mean old, teacher I had during my high school years. Because of either timing or convenience, I couldn’t even yell out a, “Hello,” to them. Then again, maybe I didn’t want to. Maybe it was because of shame…shame that they would turn away from me or act like they didn’t know me from all those years. Some of the things I did in high school, I often wish I didn’t have flashbacks for. Though the years weren’t all bad; there were the stimulating times like playing on the football team, the basketball team, the wrestling team, Yearbook Committee, FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), tennis team. Then, there was the time I called my Guidance Counselor a loser and I made fun of how large my Accounting instructor’s head was. And I do mean “HUGE.” While many students ranted and raved about how smart or intelligent he was, I only saw my Accounting instructor as the one who gave me a “D” in the class I worked so hard in. But, it was my Guidance Counselor who I had a vendetta against because he didn’t think my SAT scores would get me into Pratt University. Aside from calling him a loser, I refused acceptance into Pratt as soon as the acceptance letter arrived. I was determined to show him. I really did want to go to school in Manhattan.
I don’t know what happened to that high school Guidance Counselor. I do hope him the best though. Maybe he’s retired and living in Florida with his wife and seeing his grand kids every chance he gets. Yep, he must be living the life away from having to crush the hopes and dreams of those college hopefuls and the ones who can only hope and dream that the stars align just for them. That Accounting Instructor and I finally came face-to-face one day in a grocery store that was just so out of character, I think, for both of us. And get this, his wife was there in the deli section reading a book! He noticed me right away. After all these years, more than 30 of them, he remembered me. Not only did he remember my name, he remembered all the classes I took as if he was my high school stalker. Boy, was I about to get the shock of my life. The instructor told me how a certain Calculus teacher and he discussed me during one of their teacher meetings. Quickly, I was taken back to that teacher who made me sit up front, every day, in class. I hated that class. I hated how I would have to go up to the board and work out problems or play this game he created called, “The Game of NIM.” “The Game of NIM” was a stick game that named its winner by having the last stick left on the board. I didn’t master that game until many years after I left high school. But, I felt it was my responsibility to teach others how to play the game. Awesome! My memory or my Calculus instructor. Aside from that memory, the Accounting Instructor advised me that my Calculus teacher thought that I could be great if only I had committed or dedicated myself. All while he spoke, I could remember seeing that teacher shaking his head or burying his head in his hands when I would come to class late or act as the class clown…all for no reason. It was Senior Year! What did I need to continue caring about Calculus? I was off to UCLA or Cornell. Either school I decided on would get my acknowledgement when I gave it to them. That’s just how special I thought I was. I had no idea that that was their way of trying to talk to me. Why couldn’t they just come out and tell me I could be throwing my life away by not staying detail-oriented or maintaining my tunnel vision for excellence that other students so envied about me from grades 9 thru 12. They all knew I was going places…but I could have gone anywhere and everywhere. And looking back, I did deserve much less than that “D” I got. My Accounting Instructor could have really crushed future by not receiving college credit for that course. Would you believe that when I did get to college, I didn’t even turn in the invoice for the credit? Ego.
All these years, I harbored resentment for someone who was trying to help me, in his own way. I now wonder what or where I would be now had that teacher taken me told me of what my life could be like if only… I was the student. I was supposed to be made to listen and obey. Then, I could honor. What gall did this Accounting Instructor have to approach me with this so many years later! It was almost as if this conversation was on his Bucket List. Had the stars aligned for this to happen? However the case, it makes me more aware that if this one teacher shared this with somebody, who’s to say that someone – anyone else felt I was unapproachable? I guess all it took was one quick moment or the first few months of a school year to feel that I was above it all. I had listened for three years. To me, that was long enough. I was on my way to doing things my way. I know the old saying, “Hindsight it 20/20.” I was young. I don’t want to feel bad about the ‘what ifs’. But I will say I wish somebody had held me down instead of held me back. Or did I do that all to myself?
When I was young, which wasn’t too long ago, I always dreamed of having more money than my parents. I wanted to be able to drop whatever I was doing and head off to the mall like my Mom or even leave my office like my Dad and go fishing or even hit the tennis court. They would always give me the option to do what I wanted to do. Sometimes, they would just assume I would choose to spend time with one over the other. Sure, we did things together. It’s just that when we couldn’t do everything together. Love had nothing to do with it. Going to the mall wasn’t my Dad’s favorite thing to do and breaking a nail on the tennis court didn’t win any love points for my Dad. And, when something didn’t go right with a family outing, somebody blamed it on the fact that they never liked doing that sort of thing in the first place. But, aside from all that, I remember that wherever my parents went everybody knew them and liked them. Even to this day, when I enter an establishment that my parents frequented, I am always referred to as “Mr. and Mrs. So-n-Sos-kid.” Just who gets the respect here, me or my parents?
I can never recall a time when my parents had a falling out over money or anything ever went lacking in the household. As a child, I had things when other kids in my neighborhood said they wished they had them. If I asked something of my parents, they saw to it that I got it just as long as I could give a good enough reason other than “…because” for having it. I must have been a pretty bright and morally correct child because I seemed to know what being spoiled was. My just knowing that my parents could obviously afford the world for me made me feel privileged. How forever grateful I am to them. That’s when I realized the greatest gift they had given me: their name. Strangely enough, though I never directly asked them about it, I think my parents knew about the Law of Prosperity and could have written the book, “The Secret,” long before it was conceived by Rhonda Byrne. My Mom was Oprah and Martha Stewart before they were and my Dad was a nicer mental form of Donald Trump and a more appealing and agile Warren Buffett. I said all that to so this, I loved it when I heard people wanting to give my parents things. When I go to the mall with my Mom, quite often a different sales agent each time would offer my Mom his or her discount or would say to her, “I knew I would see you sometime this week, so I put something on hold for you.” The expression on my Mom’s face was always priceless. What’s more is I could tell she was genuinely sincere in her response to the sales people. My Dad wasn’t too different. People actually wanted to spend time with him and asked if he could bring his family over for dinner. He was never without a tennis match or a round of golf playmate. They even asked his advice on certain business opportunities. I guess what touched my heart more was how other men actually treated him like he was their brother. My parents were like celebrities who both had underwear tossed at them wherever they went. The wallet only served as a tip holder. But when they gave, they gave.
Talk about values…family values. I learned from my parents that it was necessary to have money – however much money you needed fully depended on the habits you develop also known as needs, addictions, and desires. If you set yourself up for failure, you have to work harder to stay away from it. I adored that about my Mom and Dad. They were so wise. Now, I won’t say that I didn’t go off the deep end at least once in my rise to adulthood. It was ever-so-comforting knowing that my parents were there to pull me back to earth reminding me to fully understand my purpose for doing a certain thing. How on earth could I ever try and hurt the image that they had so effortlessly built for me? Aside from feeling loved by my parents, I heard them tell me that often. That really made a difference as well. It would be such a shame for me to tell someone how my parents were so chummy with the outside world but were complete jerks when it came to me. What isn’t a shame is that my parents treatment of the outside world made them see me and love me in their absence. Though my looks may have changed slightly over the years, the mere glance at the name on my driver’s license brought me into being for myself. It is my wish that in time I will be remembered for the good I have done to and for others. I don’t know if I will ever be exactly like my parents, though being them isn’t a bad thing, but I must make sure I continue using the Law of Prosperity every day: Give freely and it will come back to you.
Do I want Fame or do I want Fortune? By having a fortune, it would take so much out of you by looking over your shoulder, becoming paranoid, at thinking of ways you have to maintain it. There may well be a price to pay for fame, but with fame people remember your name. And what you do with your name could mean the difference between eating and starving to death. Treat your fame well and respect will be your best friend. It wouldn’t hurt to have a little of both Fame and Fortune. Since you can’t take your fortune with you, your name can live on even after you’re gone.