Bayard Rustin: The Man Behind the Movement.

Have you heard his name? Well you really should because chances are, if not for Bayard Rustin, you would not know the name Martin Luther King Jr. Rustin was the man behind the magic for much of the Civil Rights Movement from the early 40’s well into the 60’s.

Rustin had the opportunity to get involved in activism from an early age. His family were activists themselves and often entertained notable names in the movement such as W.E.B. Du Bois. From there, Rustin went to Wilberforce University, a historically Black College or University (HBCU). Wilberfoce is one of the oldest HBCUs in existence and was the first to be run by African Americans. Rustin, in his time there, became involved as he refined his organizing abilities. He became a member of Omega Psi Phi.

Now, Rustin was a big name in organizing. He was rarely the face of the movement, but Rustin recognized the power of a young minister named Martin Luther King Jr. and helped to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. It was Rustin’s brainchild and a core force behind the impact of King’s actions. More than that, Rustin was a mentor, helping to educate and prepare MLK in the ways of nonviolence.

Not only was Rustin a man with ideas, but he had the passion to organize. He worked beside A. Philip Randolph to organize the March on Washington in 1941 to help end discrimination in business before WWII. Rustin helped to start the 1947 Freedom Ride over interstate bussing. He was the key organizer behind the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom…you know, that place where you may have heard of a little speech called “I Have a Dream”.

So then why have you possibly and more so, probably not heard of Bayard Rustin? Well, see, Rustin was a gay man. He had been arrested in 1953 for charges related to this and was criticized for his public image damaging his effectiveness. MLK would even distance himself from Rustin because of this overtime because of the controversy it raised. Another strike against Rustin was his involvement in the Communist party early in his life. Considering the early 50’s were the peak of McCarthyism, you can imagine how that affected how Rustin was seen.

Of course Rustin’s activism did not stop with Civil Rights for Black people in the US. He was a life-long humanitarian, putting in effort to help others. He fought over labor rights, gay rights, and more. He was a Socialist Democrat and spent his later years in life taking humanitarian trips around the world.

He was one heck of a man.

Still, with all of this in mind, imagine where we might (or might not be) today if not for the actions and impact of Bayard Rustin. He was a driving force behind the Civil Rights Movement for decades yet he rarely gets any credit. Keep him in mind, appreciate him. He probably would not have minded others being remembered for this work, but that does not mean he does not deserve recognition.

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Black Panthers

So for Today’s history lesson, I would like to discuss a group that is often much maligned and misrepresented in history. Of course if you have learned anything from reading my work, it is that most of these men and groups were maligned, whitewashed, and reduced in a way to make them either the safest or most evil thing they could be. Neither is fair to their memory. Remember that when reading about MLK, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and James Baldwin.

No, today I would like to address the Black Panthers. Let’s start with the piece that many folks are able to agree on about this group. The group began in Oakland in October of 1966 under the name “The Black Panther Party for Self-defense. They were in many ways a Black nationalist group and many members were anti-White. What is often forgotten about with them is everything else. Consider, first, where the group was formed. We were still in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement here in the US, so most of these men and women had grown up knowing stories of Emmett Till. Many were followers of Malcolm X or were proponents of Garveyism.

But you know what the core functions of the group were? The Black Panther Party (BPP) established social programs. They fed inner city children. The organized citizen patrols, which served to keep cops accountable, something we still seem to be seeking today.

So if the BPP did such positive things, why are they viewed so negatively in the history of American culture, at least by White America?

Because of Edgar J Hoover. Perhaps you have heard of him? Hoover was the founder of the FBI. He served as the director for nearly 5 decades and managed to use his role to collect so much dirt on those around him, granting him coercive power, that following his death, the law was set so that no one could be the director of the FBI for longer than 10 years.

See, Hoover personally declared the BPP the “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country” because, you know, feeding people who don’t have enough to live on and making sure police officers treat everyone fairly is obviously a dangerous notion to this idea of the American Dream and Freedom. Hoover created COINTELPRO, or the COunter INTELigence PROgram specifically to watch and harass the BPP Leadership, seeking to undermine the growing organization and the work it sought to do. Heck, the government moved in to kill Fred Hampton when he was leading such radical growth and change in the organization.

See, there is a much greater history than we give the BPP Credit for in our history books. There is a much deeper tale to tell than we ever seem to allow. Often times people have a certain reaction to seeing a fist raised in a BPP Salute. But many people simply followed what the media soled about the group. As it truly fell in 1982 after a great deal of infighting and villianization in the media, there have been groups since who have sought to use violence and the name to force change. All of this demonizes and changes the story. It removes the characters. It downplays the wonderful change that the BPP really did instill. It ignores the organizations attempts to “pull the community up by its own bootstraps” as much of conservative America is calling for today. See, even when POC in this country have sought to improve themselves and defend themselves, this was the story.

And sadly is still plays out that way today.

And we have the gall to call ourselves the United States?

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Are you Sick?

Are you sick of seeing me write posts like this? Wonderful! I am sick and tired of writing them. But #AltonSterling and #PhilandoCastile both deserve to have their names heard. They do.

Just like Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, and sadly the list goes on and on and on. Each one killed. Each one having their life taken by a police force which refuses to accept the fact that it has issues. Each one blaming it on an individual case as opposed to the systemic issues.

But here is the thing, there are people out there, besides the police, still defending the officer’s actions. This happens time and again, in a disproportionate amount to individuals who appear and identify as Black or Latino/a. But we, as a society, prefer to blame it one someone else.

Wait, let’s say that how it really plays out. We prefer to blame it on someone who is not White. This is why, as many have noted on social media, that when a Black guy is pinned to the ground and shot multiple times at point blank range because he reacts involuntarily to being restrained, his police record is the first thing we drag up. Compare that to the Stanford Rapist. He was caught in the middle of his act, found guilty, and guess what his punishment was? I’ll tell you this, it wasn’t death. Welcome to the world of Privilege, which we so often attempt to ignore.

And I can hear it now, the calls of my being a bleeding heart liberal and all that jazz. Because naturally, acknowledging a system and encouraging equality makes me that. Expecting human beings to be treated as such makes me that. Expecting a murderer to be held accountable for their actions makes me that. but as I’ve been told too many times to count, I should get over this “political correctness thing.”

Then we come to the protests. Each of these deaths has raised protests for the media and justice systems mishandling of cases (yes, they have been mishandled). But guess who suddenly becoems at fault? Not the system which led us here. Not the judiciary and police forces which could make a difference but fail to time and again. Not the media for their way of portraying things in order to sustain a racist system. Not even the legislature who have been voted in by these people to create laws which protect their rights. No, the protesters are blamed. But Why? Why blame a protester for doing exactly what we as a nation refuse to do?

Inevitably, someone will hold up the example of MLK. Don’t get me wrong, King was a powerful man and a leader. But he was not this whitewashed version that the media and legislature continue to hold him up as. He was disruptive, which is a point of protest. He challenged. He got arrested!

And he wasn’t the only one. Men such as Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, and James Baldwin made their marks. They stood up and caused chaos to invoke change, just like MLK. Just like the protesters today.

But here is the thing. We need to stand. I can respect a cop and still hate the system. I can appreciate a point of view and still disagree with it vehemently. But what I can do that large portions of the nations seem to be failing on is realizing that we do not live in One Nation, United. No, we live in a land divided. Divided by race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, class, education, and much much more. We live in a land where you are reading a White guy’s blog to learn about these cases and racism in the US. Don’t stop or start here. Please just pass through. Read about what others have said. Read what you can do.

I’m calling you all out. Don’t assume your “Black friend” speaks for the entire race, just as, thankfully, we are not meant to assume one White person speaks for me (cough*Trump*cough). It is time to grow up. Make a change. Get involved and take action. Please continue to react to posts on Facebook, re-tweet things on Twitter, but don’t stop there. Comment, call others out, get involved in a campaign in your hometown. Sign petitions.

Do not expect someone else to carry this for you. Don’t just show some appreciation on social media and expect that to be enough. We have been doing that for years and guess what? IT IS STILL HAPPENING!!!!!

I woke up today and I cried. I read about Philando, just a few hours after hearing about and watching the video of Alton. As a White person, I could have walked away and gone on with my day. I could have said none of it mattered and left it at that. I could even have reacted to a few posts on social media to say I was appalled. But that is not enough. It wasn’t before and it is not now.

When does this stop?

When we, White America, get off our collective rear ends and act in the world as we pretend to be on social media. When we get over the fact of the existence of privilege. When we work to come together as a nation and quite treating our fellow men and women as second class citizens.

Can you do that? I’m really beginning to wonder.

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Don’t Forget: The Who

Ok, so I am breaking from my traditional post today. Note this will be a bit longer, kind of like an essay. The reason being that I have been reading up on different bands, particularly those from the British Invasion. This has really arisen out of my newfound love for records (yes, Vinyl, the ones that sit on that big disk and spin). Two things I would like to note, however, before getting into my passion for today, is the lack of recognition that Black and African-American artist receive for their work in creating the British Invasion. And it is true. Call it however you want, but if it weren’t for Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, John Coltrane, Fats Domino, and so many more, the British Invasion would never have happened. The work of those artist, which traveled across the sea to England in the 50’s, is what opened the door for the R&B Rock which groups like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, the Kinks, and Led Zeppelin became known for. Before I can give credit to these other acts for their influence on music, I have to recognize the true founders of the movement.

Now, with that said, I would like to discuss a band which does not get nearly the recognition today which it deserves. When you hear the term British Invasion, most people immediately think of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Some may even recognize the Kinks, the Animals, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin. All of these are incredible bands which have impacted the rock genre in some amazing, breath-taking way. This list, however, overlooks easily one of the most influential bands of all time.

See, there are a group of bands which have been recognized as the holy trinity of the British Invasion. We’ve already named two of them. The Beatles; who launched Beatlemania in the US in 1962, and the Rolling Stones. These were two of the biggest and most influential bands to come from the era. The Beatles were prim and proper, polished and well spoken with just enough edge to appeal to both the young and the old. Their music came to represent far more than the band itself. They were prolific and captured the hearts and imaginations of the world round. It is easy to see why they are the best selling band of all time. The Rolling stones were their exact opposite. The Stones were the self-declared “Greatest Rock Band in the World” and did their best to live up to that. They had the long hair, the loud sound, and were obviously drug users. While the Beatles were the adult act, the Stones were the rebellious teenage act.

So then who on earth could be this mysterious third part of the trinity? Well, it is a little band not nearly as recognized today as they once were, but still a powerful act who has impacted music far more than many know: The Who.

The Who were founded in London in 1964. Originally known as the detours, they became the Who with the founding members: John Entwistle, Roger Daltrey, Keith Moon, and Pete Townshend.

So why do these guys qualify as part of a trinity when few today might consider them rock royalty? Well let’s start member by member:

Keith Moon was a late addition on drums to the band. He had an unorthodox style, relying more on his toms and crash cymbals and using no hi-hat whatsoever. He was wild and more or less dangerous on the drums. That said, look up nearly any list on greatest rock and roll drummers of all time and Moon will be in it.  Typically, he and John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) compete for the top spot. And Moon is the one who began tossing and flipping drumsticks inbetween beats. These days, that seems impossible that people wouldn’t do that, but it all began with Moon. But Moon was not only an amazing drummer, but he was wild. He loved to party and was notorious for damage to hotel rooms on tours. That damage carried onto the stage. Heck, Moon even blew up his own drum kit.

Next we come to John Entwistle, the Bass Guitarist. Again, he ranks among the top of Bassist all time. Check any list you like and John, “Ox” Entwistle will be there. Of course you may hear his other name in the process: Thunderfingers. I mean come on! You play the bass and they call you thunderfingers? See, John did not have the energy on stage that the others did necessarily, but when you play a bass guitar like a lead guitar, it doesn’t really matter. And that is what Entwistle did, and did well. Listen to any bass line from basically any Who song and it will blow your mind.

Now let’s talk about Roger Daltrey. Daltrey had that soulfully painful baritone. And while he is rarely considered a top 10 rock front man, he is easily a top 20. He changed the way a front man acted. And as for singers, with the emotion he shared in songs I think he is easily a top 10 singer. I mean listen to the power in his singing of See Me, Feel Me at Woodstock. Add in the fact that Daltrey was the first guy to jump around on stage with his shirt open or to whip his mike around and you can see why he was as big a part of the Who being part of the trinity.

Finally we come to the songwriter and rhythm guitarist of the Who, Pete Townshend. This rhythm guitarist would rock the world in so many ways, both as a guitarist, as a presence on stage, and as a songwriter. As a guitarist, Townshend launched the use of power chords into everyday use. Everything that most punk bands, even the great Johnny Ramone, none of it would have happened without this start by Townshend. He set the stage for power chords as a main tool. And he owned it. Just as he owned sound and feedback. See the 100 watt amp and the Marshall stack, both exist because Townshend wanted to be louder. Know why Hendrix wanted a Marshall stack and why Marshall is one of the most recognized names in amp design today? This man, Pete Townshend, and his need to be louder. Don’t underestimate Pete though. Sure he was a rhythm guitarist, but the man could play. Rolling Stones magazine currently ranks his as the 50th greatest guitarist of all time. And he created a stage presence. Ever seen the windmill strum? Guess who invented it. Oh, and the idea of destroying guitars at the end of a set? Pete, once again. As the story goes, he accidentally broke the head of his guitar while jumping around on stage. When the audience cheered, an irate Townshend took the guitar off and smashed it. At his next show, the crowd obviously cheered for an encore so Moon got in on the act and auto-destructive rock became mainstream. And finally we come to songs. See, Townshend was the chief song writer for the Who, and he put all his creativity and imagination to work. He crafted works like My Generation, Baba O’Riley, and Pinball Wizard. He was a master song crafter, but rarely gets credit even though the Who’s songs are widely recognized.

So then what about the band as a whole and their legacy? Well let’s start with the fact that for nearly a decade, they were the loudest band on earth. Yes, Guinness Book of Records tracked them as the loudest band on earth. More than that, the Who were artist in every sense of the word. They were auto-destructive and emotional on stage. They were moving and innovative in their albums and song writing. I mean, their first success came from the album, My Generation. They followed this with “The Who Sell Out” which was a creative little piece including fake commercials and everything. The Who’s work was art.

Of course from 1969-1973 came some of their greatest works. In 1969, the Who would release one of the greatest Rock albums of all time. No, I’m not claiming it was their best workmanship, but it did change the world. Tommy, their Rock Opera, came out. Tommy tells the story of a young boy who is “deaf, dumb, and blind”. The kid becomes a pinball wizard and therefore the leader of a cult, but his followers turn on him. The reason this was a rock opera was because each song tied into the story and shared a part of it. People like to deride it and talk about how it really wasn’t that great of an album, and they’re right. But here is the thing, it was magical and mystical at the time and all of the modern Rock Operas we enjoy owe their existence to that album. The who then would appear at Woodstock and release their live album. See, at the time the who were considered one of the greatest live acts in Rock. Take a few minnutes and listen to any recording of their time at Woodstock. Feel the raw emotion and power coming from these guys and you might see why they were so great. Then consider the fact that the band and many others overwhelmingly agree that Woodstock was one of their worst performance of all time. And they were still great. The Who would then perform at the Isle of Wright which would be called one of their greatest performances. But then the Who release what has been called one of the greatest live albums of all time: Live at Leeds. The Who were being faulted because the energy and enthusiasm of their lives shows did not translate well to studio recording, so along came a plan to record a concert. From that came the album, Live at Leeds. Listen to it. You need to. I promise it is worth it.

And the Who did not slow down. Townshend had planned another rock opera, but scrapped it. Several of the songs from that made their way onto the Who’s next album, Who’s Next. This introduced us to songs such as Baba O’Riley and Won’t Get Fooled Again. Both became anthems for a generation, just as My Generation had 5 years earlier. More than that, both songs made use of a synthesizer. What was unique here was that this was the first use of a synthesizer as a main instrument and not as a small feature. Again, The Who began to Change music. Who’s next even included softer stuff such as Behind Blue Eyes. Next came Quadrophenia, probably the best rock opera from the band that popularized the rock opera. It included such hits as Love Reign O’er Me and Is It In My Head. This piece was far more polished in both the use of synthesizers as well as overall story. The Who were the masters. They ruled the world.

Things didn’t always go well of course. The Who struggled like other bands. Like the Rolling Stones, they found it difficult to get a spot in the US until Tommy. The band fought in other ways too. While Moon, Entwistle, and Daltrey enjoyed the shows and wanted to do more touring, Townshend wanted to stick to the theaters and give up touring. He wanted to make art and felt touring didn’t make sense.

Pete and Daltrey were not friends for the longest time. Of course, since it was Townshend who wrote the line “Hope I die before I get old” and Daltrey who sang it, there is almost a certain irony to the fact that it would be Moon and Entwistle who would die young (or younger in Entwistle’s case who died at 57). Townshend and Daltrey made up after the death of Entwistle, realizing they were the only two left. And today, they still travel and perform. While they are no longer the vibrant on stage presences they once were, they are still considered a great act and the passion and emotion they pour into their songs still seeps out of their every fiber.

See, the Who changed music. Individually, they were amazing. They rocked the world. They were the masters of the studio and gods of the arena. Cut it however you want, but these guys were amazing. Could I allow arguments for other bands to be in that trinity besides the Who, the Stones, and the Beatles? Sure, possibly. But when you consider how these three bands changed the face of rock and roll, it seems inevitable to include them.

They are the gods of rock and roll, or the British Invasion.

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Neither One, Nor the Other…

So I have written pieces recently on MLK, Malcolm X, and Muhammad Ali. These are often considered giants in one way or another and their names are known.

Today, I would like to address another name that often does not recieve recognition that it quite possibly deserves. That name, the man is James Baldwin. Baldwin was a contemporary of both MLK and Malcolm X. He was a writer who wrote some incredibly powerful and moving essays. I will warn you that these essays are long and deep, so if you plan on reading any of them, give yourself some time to unpack everything inside.

While Malcolm and MLK are often considered two sides of the same coin, Baldwin fell somewhere more in the middle. While he was still considered revolutionary, at least as far as the social world he hoped to see change, his approach was the pen. Through his pen, he would call for action. He would note the social issues he saw, critiquing them, and challenging them.

And he has impacted future generations. Ta-Nehisi Coates notes that he took inspiration for his essay, Between the World and Mefrom Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. There have been numerous scholars who have recognized his impact and influence, there are university scholar programs named in his honor, and he has even graced a USPS stamp.

But Baldwin’s work did not stop at Black nor African-American rights. Baldwin was a gay man as well. He and Bayard Rustin were two of the only known gay men actively involved in the Civil Rights movement. To clarify, that is they were the only two prominent figures who were also known to be gay.

This would become a hurdle for Baldwin who would find himself uninvited from speaking opportunities as MLK and the Civil Rights movement he led looked to distance themselves from both Baldwin and Rustin.

Still, Baldwin became an activist well beyond the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s. He preferred not to be called a Civil Rights Activist, nor did he consider himself a part of Malcolm X’s movement. Instead, Baldwin referred to the Civil Rights movement as both the “Latest Slave Rebellion” as well as “a very peculiar revolution because it has to…have its aims the establishment of a union, and a…radical shift in the American mores, the American way of life…not only as it applies to the Negro obviously, but as it applies to every citizen of the country.”

See, Baldwin was a master with his words, and he used them to great effect. Even as he found himself living beyond the United States, he was still an active member in improving the lives of others.

As such, he deserves our respect.

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Float Like A Butterfly…

…Sting like a bee. Many of us know the quote. It has come to define the legacy of Cassius Clay, or Muhammad Ali as he is better known the world round.

Ali was the greatest. He was exactly that because he declared himself as such. What made him different from others, however, is that he backed it up and others said the same thing about him. He took the world by storm, as the saying goes, when he took down Sonny Liston in ’64 for the heavy weight title at the tender young age of 22. It shook the boxing world.

So why on earth would I be discussing Ali on this blog? I am no huge fan of boxing, so that can’t be it. But if you have read my blog, you know I have a great deal of admiration for certain figures who have found themselves in certain civil rights battles. Ali is one of those.

See, Clay changed his name when he became a Muslim. He was very close to Malcolm X for a while. The two would distance themselves from one another as Malcolm found himself facing issues with the Nation of Islam, but none the less there was respect.

And contrary to what people seem to believe today, Ali was not considered a great hero during his day. Well, he was, but several people in power considered him a thorn in their side. He even talked about being such a big name but walking around without any protection.

See, Ali was a huge name the world round. And he used his platform to take stands. He lost his title for them and had to win it back. He took a stand against being drafted for Vietnam.

“Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. No Vietcong ever called me n****r.”

-Muhammad Ali

And he certainly didn’t stop there. Ali used his platform to call out the injustices he knew growing up.

“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognise, but get used to me. Black, confident, cocky. My name, not yours. My religion, not yours. My goals, my own. Get used to me.”

-Muhammad Ali

What many don’t realize is that Ali was not well liked by White America. Maybe he was not hated as much as Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavy weight boxing world champion for whom they had to find the “Great White Hope” to defeat him. But still, Ali faced struggles that have long been forgotten with time. Just as seems to have happened with both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. See, we seem to make a habit of that.

So Muhammad Ali is noted for having said “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Many people equate it with his time in the ring, but for me it means so much more. It was about a life he lived. A passionate man who stuck to his values.

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Before I begin, do not read this unless you have started somewhere else.

So in my office, I have a poster of President Obama’s speech in Selma Alabama for the 50th Anniversary of the March on Montgomery. This particular passage highlights his emphasis on the term “We”. It begins “That’s what it means to love America.” Some form of the term “We” appears 40 times after that. Near the end, President Obama notes “Because the single-most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We.””

I write this while reflecting on the terrible events that have occurred recently in Orlando. While I have previously laid out my thoughts on gun violence in this country and people are fighting for their personal stances to be heard (some calling for stricter gun laws, others crying foul on current gun laws) please keep in mind the words of our President. No matter your stance on his policy, him as a person, or anything else, he is our President. And more than that, he has had to respond to these shootings far more than other presidents. And he has done so rather eloquently time and again, considering the disgusting nature of these events. And it isn’t just when these events happen that he has to respond.

Let me start by saying this. I tried to write this piece without letting my emotions get involved. That lasted until I read the first piece about it. So as you read this, if you feel frustration, if you feel outrage, if you feel sadness or anger, good. I am right there with you. I was going to write this piece, talking about don’t politicize this, let’s work together, yada, yada, yada. Here are the facts. 50 people dead because of legally obtained guns. 53 more wounded because of legally obtained guns. I’m done. This is bull. This is stupidity. This is America. Aren’t you proud of standing up for those second amendment rights? Aren’t you proud of creating this culture where a “safe” place for LGBT individuals is shot up? Where we then turn and blame it on a guy claiming to be Muslim who seems to know next to nothing about actually practicing Islam, therefore proving how terrible Muslims are? Proud that there is more blood on our hands and the only action currently happening, donation of blood, is actually one of the most ironic and terrible factors in this whole thing?

Then there are people running for President currently who seem to believe that events such as this are more about proving themselves “right” than about the event, the people affected, or a nation mourning. I mean seriously people, what is going on?

See, regardless of how you feel, President Obama does get one thing very right. This is a democracy. It is built on WE. Our own constitution opens its preamble with that word. The founding document of our society as members of the United States of America BEGINS with those two letters. Does that give you any idea of not only their power but their importance?

Yet, at a time we should be coming together to find answers, a nation is seemingly seeking to find itself more divided. People either avoid the topic or become too vehemently opposed to have a discussion. Believe me, I know the feeling. I have incredibly strong feelings about gun violence. These are grounded in personal examples that nearly no one knows about. So yes, I know how hard it can be to keep emotions out of this discussion. I’m going to be honest, I probably wont.

But please, for the sake of all of those lost in this tragedy, those hurting now, and a nation seeking to understand, breathe. It is time for action of some sort. If you feel outrage, good. If you feel anger and frustration, fine. If we as a nation move forward on this, it needs to be based in what those of us that are part of the WE find to be just, not because someone wants to be “right”. What does scare me is what some consider ‘just.’

I kept reading. I kept seeing new things. After a while, I felt my body shutting down, my emotions overrunning me. I felt myself unable to stand it anymore and wanting to stop looking. But that is my privilege showing. Being able to just take a break and recover? That is a benefit I have in this situation from being a White heterosexual male who is not Muslim. Being able to turn a blind eye, even for just a few minutes? A privilege that many people do not have in this exact same situation. This is literally the life they lead. They deal with this day in and day out. And your ability to deny it and believe your denial? That too is privilege.

So, where do we go from here?

I leave you with this article from the Onion. It was written some time ago, yet it seems to be pertinent even still today. The Onion thinks so. It happens time an again, yet we shy away from it. It happens in theaters. It happens in Elementary Schools. It happens in Colleges, Churches, and Clubs. It doesn’t change who is killed. It certainly doesn’t change the fact that WE are killed.

And it hurts. It hurts to watch as a part of this nation dies and we find it more important to yell about personal rights. It hurts when we lose a life and people fight harder to enforce a bathroom restriction. It hurts when I feel the bile rising in my own throat at how some people who like to consider themselves a part of this nation have reacted to this.

See, these are people I have never met. I did not know the victims. I had never been to the club. But these were still human beings cut down, not by some religion, not by some political preference, but by a gun that “legally” found its way into the hands of a homophobic person. And you aren’t outraged?

Want to call yourself an American? Where is the WE?

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What I should have said…

So if you read my last post, you may have felt the animosity pouring off of me. While the feelings still remain, I just read Vice President Joe Biden’s response and was reminded of how eloquently words could be used. For that reason, I will not be commenting about the Rapist, the heroes, the judge, victim, nor anyone else that was previously mentioned. Between the Victim’s Letter, this Father’s Letter, and VP Biden’s Letter, there is little more to be said.

No, I would like to get back to my roots.

Whatever could I mean, you may be asking. I am referring to the fact that this situation rose out of a fraternity party. This is disappointing. I have said it in other places, but We Are Failing!

And let me add, if you are the one stating how it wasn’t their fault, how they couldn’t have known, it wasn’t their responsibility, or anything like that, you are missing the point of fraternity. See, I am a firm believer that with the ability of hosting an event such as a Fraternity Party comes the responsibility as well. You do not merely get to have guests visit and then not care what happens to them. That is not Fraternity. That is embarrassing. You do not get to throw an event where anything could happen to make women feel less safe and blow it off as not your responsibility. That is not Fraternity.

I will guarantee that each and every one of your founders would find you to be an embarrassment to their legacy if you feel that way. And here is the thing, in case you forgot, your “legacy” affects theirs. And you would not have the chance to establish a legacy if not for them

So please, no more failing. No more pushing the blame on someone else. No more embarrassing myself and every other fraternity man out there by pretending.

Either step up and become a Fraternity Man or get out.

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I bet you can guess

If you have ever read my blog and you have been on facebook or twitter today, I am willing to bet you can guess what today’s topic is.

If you guessed anywhere near “Stanford Swimmer” and “Rapist” you are dead on. More specifically if you put these two together. And I find the entire situation appalling. See, there are two groups, for example, who suffer most prominently from PTSD. The first are soldiers returning from active war situations. The other, survivors of rape and sexual assault. Imagine what that must mean about their experience as you continue.

But this situation is a living breathing example of privilege. Of White Privilege, or Male Privilege, or Class Privilege. You name it and it is showing its disgusting little head.

Ok, let me start with this. There is nothing I could ever say that would be anywhere near as powerful nor as moving as what the victim herself wrote. (I will warn you that reading it can be very difficult. I cannot even begin to imagine what this victim went through and I got sick after reading this).

Now that we have been through that, I would like to address the heroes. These were two young men who merely stepped in when they saw someone in distress. To clarify, my issue is not with them. I am proud and glad for what they did. No, what I am disappointed in is that these young men are seen as revolutionary and heroes for doing their normal human duties. Why is that? Shouldn’t their actions be seen as the expectation, not the exception?

Then we come to the father. The dad wrote what I would call a rather disturbing and disgusting letter about the incident. I will not be linking to it because it bothers me. Then the argument comes up of it is just a father defending his son and you cannot understand unless you have kids, yada yada yada….See, my dad would not have defended me in a situation like this. I love him a great deal and he loves me, but he had an understanding that sparing me my own lessons was wrong. To be entirely honest, my dad was never a big one for physical punishment, but if I were in this young rapist (yes, the jack-ass lost the right to be called a young man) position, I am not sure my dad would have stopped with merely telling me how disappointed he was in me. So yes, I am utterly and entirely disgusted by this fathers letter. So are other fathers. More so after the findings of the court.

Speaking of the court, next we come to the judge. The judge who noted he gave the rapist a shorter prison sentence because it may affect him negatively later in life. Here we are, discussing a man found guilty of a crime, unanimously. The is incredibly rare in rape cases, just so you know, because of how we tend to view victims in those cases. We are discussing a rapist. He was found guilty. Yet the judge gives the shorter sentence because it may affect this buffoon negatively. I have no words for how much I utterly despise this judge in this moment. And guess what else? He was re-elected to his seat because he ran unopposed. There are calls for his ouster, but still…WTF?

So next we come to the media. The media who shared the photo of the rapist’s “mug shot” where he was cleaned up and in a suit and tie. This was the photo of a man convicted of RAPE for crying out loud. Compare this to the photos used of other individuals, even if they are found innocent. Consider the photo that was used of Trayvon Martin surrounding that case (again, another jerk I will not be mentioning). If that isn’t race privilege on display, I’m not sure what is. And perhaps you have seen the Washington Post article talking about using the photo given by the family. Besides being wrong, let’s talk about the class privilege. In order to be provided that photo of the rapist, they needed to wait. quite some time, actually, for things to unfold. The same was apparently not true for other individuals, based on race and class.

So I am calling each and everyone of you in on this. Why does rape culture persist? Why do we still talk about feminism? About class struggles and racism? Because of hos the media, the judge, the father and this rapists friends, because of how they all acted.

I have an incredible amount of respect for the victim. I respect the two heroes.

I despise and am sickened by the rest I have named in this article.

Of course none of them sicken me anywhere remotely near as much as the rapist: BROCK TURNER

Of course I have found one great use for his doctored chance at a photo. There is a shot of his mugshot going around referring to him as a rapist. Facebook has removed this shot and people are not too happy.


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The Question I Ask…

Ok, So I write on a blog. I spend a lot of time writing on here about a variety of things. My last post may have suggested to you what two of those particular topics are.

And I am here on this blog for a very particular reason. The second of those topics was social justice. See, my thesis addressed racist attitudes among leadership in White Fraternities. As such, I do spend a great deal of time analyzing and often writing about my views on race relations in the US, particularly as it affects and relates to higher education.

But here is what you must understand:


See, I can write all day long about how racism exists, how women do not receive equal rights, and the immeasurable amount of oppression and just plain disrespect received by numerous communities ranging from the GLBT Community to individuals with disabilities. You can even come in read it. I am a bit selfish and happen to enjoy when people take the time to peruse and review different posts on my blog. Of course this strange feeling often leads me to asking why exactly I am writing. Is it to bring awareness or for my own ego.

And then comes the big question. As a White heterosexual cis-gendered educated able-bodied male, doesn’t it become oppression in itself if I assume myself an authority on living in the US any other way? I have never lived a day as a Black person, as a woman, gay, transgendered. I do not have to face the same challenges as these individuals. I have walked on crutches and had issues with stairs, but I don’t face those same challenges in every day of my life as it affects others.

So where exactly do I get off on writing about these things?

See, here is what I have to say. If you are on my blog as a starting point. If this is the first time you have critically considered these subjects. If you are looking for one more voice and perhaps a different angle, I am honored to be a part of your reading selection.

If, however, I am your only source on any of these subjects. If I am the only voice you listen to arguing for the existence of these subjects. If you only read the majority voice (i.e. if you are learning about racism and only read posts by White people).  If any of that is you, please stop. There are far more important voices and people to listen to. I have even offered a few of those voices in regards to race. If there are other subjects you want to read more on, let me know and I will find resources for you!

What matters here is educating yourself entirely. Don’t read one side. Some don’t like to think so when reading my blog, but when it comes to race, I have read the stories from men such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, yet I have also listened to the stories of men such as Dr. Ben Carson and Justice Clarence Thomas. I have my own views on these perspectives which may be rather apparent after a quick read of my blog, but that is my challenge for you, dear reader. Don’t talk and argue before you have done your research.

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