The First Step

Odds are, if you’re reading this, than this post probably isn’t essential reading for you.

Great opening line, right?

I know my audience, so I am just making an educated guess. However, many of the people that are inclined to read the things I write here know people that could use this and if this reaches just one of those people, it will be worth it.

Alright, there we go. Everyone else is gone. It’s just you and me now. You decided you’d stick around to read whatever crazy radical left point-of-view because we are all kind of addicted to the stuff that makes us mad on the internet.

I’m glad you’re here. Let’s rip off the band-aid.

You have privilege. You were born with it. I know, I know, it stings… breathe, it will get better.

Very few know more privilege than I do. I’m a white, upper-middle class, college educated (paid for by my father… who is a doctor), male in the United States of America.

And since you’re here the odds are extremely high that you have checked some of those same boxes.

Wait! Wait! Wait!

Don’t go.

Having this mirror held up to your face is uncomfortable, I know it is for me. It makes you feel like you should have done more. I know that I do, daily. In no way am I saying that you didn’t struggle at some point or at many points throughout.

I do not doubt that you have overcome obstacles and hardships in your life. I don’t doubt that you have had disadvantages. I don’t doubt that you could easily prove that my life has been vastly easier than yours.

Have a seat with me. Let’s play some cards.

If it were a game of Texas Hold Em, I’d have pocket kings, suited and you’d have jacks, also suited. I’ve definitely got the upper hand, but you could be crafty and beat me. Hell, you wouldn’t even need to be crafty, just a slight bit of luck and you are taking me down.

And if everybody else at the table were white, they’d all be dealt solid hands and we’d all have a good time beating each other here or there and watch the money flow around the table.

Now, imagine that at the empty seat a black person sits down. All night, they are going to be dealt 2-7 off suit. They can still win, but it is going to be a long, difficult grind for them to get there. Unfortunately, the odds tell us, they are going to lose and after a long night of getting terrible cards they will be furious. They are going to yell and point out that the deck was stacked in our favor.

They might even get so mad that they flip the entire table over. Breaking the table, scattering our chips on the floor, mixing them up so that you and I lose some of the money we had won, fairly, by playing the same game at the same table.

This is where we are now in our country.

We don’t get to be mad because our table is broken, the cards are scattered, and we lost a bit of money.

We were playing the same game, yes, but we didn’t choose our table. We were placed here, just like they were.

Our job right now is to talk to the dealer. Tell the security guard to stop roughing the other guy up. Talk to the pit boss. Talk to the manager. Scream up at the owner’s penthouse, and demand to know what they are going to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

This is how we move forward as a country. We need to call everybody that we come across on their bullshit.

Nothing is going to change quickly. It is going to take a long time to deconstruct something that has been built over centuries.

Right now we are at a fork in the road. One direction is the same way we have always gone, it’s paved, well lit, and safe (for us). But, maybe if the things I have written make any kind of sense, you have already taken a step toward the other path by simply acknowledging your privilege.

As you look up from your shoes, the new path looks dark and overgrown.

The good news is, you won’t be alone. We can all do it together.

We are probably going to zig-zag all over the place trying to get through the thorny branches, but together we will get through. And when our children encounter this same fork in the road the path will be clear and they’ll have a chance to pave it.

2020 is clearly going to be a year that history books will have to reserve chapters for, let’s all take the path to be on the right side of that history.

Cheers.

Huddled Masses

Hate.

Hate is what has been left in the wake of the tragedy that happened in Paris last week. After all of the #prayforParis and people changing their profile picture to be colored in the likeness of France’s flag. Hate comes forth in the end.

We are a country that was formed by immigrants. Thrived because of immigrants. Became the greatest country in the world because of immigrants.

The terrorists are winning.

Interesting that a sonnet “The New Colossus”by Emma Lazarus is bronzed on the Statue of Liberty (a gift given to us by the French) but the words that adorn this plaque seem long forgotten.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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Today, we shut off the lamp and we turn our backs.

Why? Continue reading

Good-bye American Idol

Goodnight sweet prince, it’s been fun.

American Idol announced that after this weeks finale it will run one more season. And, the fact that they decided to announce when they did is just another indication of how lazy Fox got with a show that people used to love (I still do, I can’t help it).

It has been evident all season that this was coming as Ryan Seacrest has continuously been cracking jokes about the shows poor ratings. And, in my opinion they really blew it. This announcement should have been made a year ago so the show could get a proper send off and, in all probability, revitalized the fan base for one last run.

Instead, they changed the voting and made it far to confusing. The judges do everything but judge. Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban do nothing but praise vocal performance while giving confusing advice that makes no sense. Honestly, Keith Urban’s go to critique is wiggle more and “loosen up”, while Harry Connick Jr. gives over technical music advice with a level of condescension that leaves the impression that he believes the audience is beyond illiterate musically. And, we get it, you’re from New Orleans and we care less about that then we do about the show ending.

I should have stopped watching when Simon Cowell left; as he is what made the show great (him and his deep V-necks). The best musical talent that has come from that show performed in front of him and I do not think that is a coincidence. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help myself. Every year my wife and I would still get excited for the auditions and even did our own fantasy American Idol draft for the last 3 seasons (I am a real man’s man).

All things (good and bad) come to an end, of course.

I can remember watching the first season in my parent’s basement with my girlfriend (now wife) in our first year of dating. I successfully predicted that Kelly Clarkson would win immediately following her audition. Ever since, the show has sparked many arguments in our relationship about what a good singer actually is. Turns out that despite being an amazing singer, my wife has no clue how to identify one.

I’d like to say that I will try The Voice but I have no interest in watching Blake Shelton do anything. I mean, honestly,

Unfortunately, this will end the era of singing competitions in our house. I will miss the auditions, the performances and the suspense. But, most of all, I will miss debating who is good and who is bad with my wife week in and week out.

Guess we will just have to get drunk on Wednesdays and argue about something else. Oh well.

At least we all got to experience William Hung.

william-hung-o

Cheers.

 

 

Baltimore

I am not pretending that I have all of the answers, or any for that matter. However, I do have an opinion that I feel compelled to share.

The way people have reacted to the recent events in Baltimore and even going back to the events in Ferguson is beyond ugly. Now, given the sample size of people who I see on social media, you may be nodding your head in agreement but I am not talking about those that are rioting. While I don’t agree with their method of protest, I am not at all surprised by their actions.

Unfortunately the ugliness comes from the small-minded people of Facebook and Twitter that use this as an excuse for sharing racist opinions but think it’s okay to share them because the news coverage that they have seen focuses on the protest and not the issue that sparked the protest. And what happens? The real issue is buried and it becomes all about race. It is so sad.

First of all, how are we surprised by this behavior as human beings? People can only be backed into a corner for so long until they revolt, whether it be violent or peaceful. We have numerous examples of both violent and peaceful protest across human history. Unfortunately, given how stagnant our government has become, peaceful protest seems to be an ineffective option. Again, I am not saying that I agree rioting is the best way to set the wheels of change in motion but I can see how it feels like the only option.

What really gets me is people referring to people rioting as “animals.” I have seen this in various Facebook posts and articles. The racist undertones are prevalent and it is largely due to the fact that most people don’t understand or are unwilling to acknowledge that the reality is scary for a large portion of the African-American community. I don’t pretend to know what their lives are like as I have lived a more privileged life than most. and I only fear the police when I have been speeding.

People also attempt to reduce the issue to “don’t break the law and things like this won’t happen.” On the surface this is true, but I think that if we look at the situation rationally we will all see that this issue far more complex.

Unfortunately, what is less common is to see people being appalled by the behavior of the police officers. Once they have someone apprehended and restrained it should be expected that their next priority is to ensure safety of that person. Now, we don’t know what the circumstances lead to Freddie Gray needing medical attention. We learned from the events in Ferguson that we should wait until the story plays itself out. The difference here is that the police officers failed to get Mr. Gray the medical attention he needed and deserved as a human being.

Freddie Gray was murdered.

This is not to say that all law enforcement is bad, largely I believe that law enforcement follows the law and does the right thing to help their communities. And if we can agree on that, then we can agree that the actions of all the people rioting are not representative of all people in Baltimore or the African-American community.

This isn’t a white vs. black issue. I wish people would realize this. It is a socio-economic issue that happens to affect an enormously high percentage of the African-American community. They have been put into this position by our country’s past and are stuck in a vicious cycle.

Rather than condemning people for the violent outbursts, we should examine what is causing them and remedy those issues. Instead, the pattern is further alienation that results in further distrust of the authorities, and who can blame them? Every week we hear about law enforcement using excessive force. As history is written, we have an opportunity to look at this situation rationally and make change that can strengthen our entire national community. Let’s not be a part of history that future generations look back on in disgust.

Cheers.

Should You Spank? Of Course Not.

“My parents spanked me as a child… As a result I now suffer from a psychological disorder known as ‘Respect for Others.’”

Now, many of you have undoubtedly been subjected to this ridiculous meme on Facebook. It isn’t clever at all and, what’s worse, is that the message is completely asinine.

Before the grumbling starts…

I know, it is “your right to raise your children as you see fit,” and, I know that I “couldn’t possibly understand” because I don’t have children.

Regardless, you have made it this far because you care at least a little about what is coming next (and for that I thank you, kind reader). Continue reading