Conversations About Diversity from the Bench

The Charlie Rose Show from last night aired an October 2016 conversation he had with Justices Ginsberg and Sotomayor. The essential element of their conversation was diversity. As the conversation progressed, they considered the different types of diversity as they have come before the court over time.

getting direction

Getting direction

They looked at how long we have struggled for the acceptance of women and for women to be considered essential to the human social fabric rather than coincidental. Have you ever wondered why women could so easily be excused from jury duty? Think about what that means. Think about how that attitude impacted women’s ability to climb out of subservient roles.

The conversation also looked at the matter of inclusion of LGBT in the diversity formula. It was brief but it was necessary. That part of our current discussions impact so many who now have the right to speak of their choice and not live in the shadows of society. But those who desire to serve their country must still be three times as good in order to prove their half worth, as was true during World War II and even before.

Charlie asked them to consider their roles as contrasted and compared to Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. Their responses were striking, to say the least.

The matter of which type of experience is better for a justice also came up – appellate level, trial court, or state supreme court. It became apparent that being able to see the picture from the trial court level is essential. One important, although subtle, aspect of hearing a case at the Supreme Court level is the fact that the many amicai who are affected by the case at bar and its outcome are allowed to present their voices to the justices. Those voices, as well as the arguments of plaintiff’s and defendant’s counsel, contribute toward the ultimate decision.

And we all had a chuckle when they shared the anecdote about being introduced as the sisters who came to the function.

It’s been a long struggle. No, it’s been a long battle. Notably, they said the difference between the ones who graduate from Ivy League schools and the ones who sit in the button factory is merely one generation. Yet so many stories, so many essays are written about those struggles and that one-generation difference.

And then there are groups that *still* have not achieved that leap past that first generation. They continue to be buried in the past and, as was noted during the conversation, kept in a cage where they are not free to do anything except restrained.

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Teachable Moments: Mother’s Letter to Ivanka

What are the ethical considerations here

What are the ethical considerations here

Ahem. We learned that Ivanka Trump (daughter of billionaire President-elect) flew on a JetBlue plane in Coach class with her husband and children on December 22, 2016. Apparently her mother never had a talk with her about protocol or etiquette. This is definitely a (overdue) teachable moment and a time for some words from Mother. This is a time when an overwrought mother with too much on her plate will be challenged to be tactful and soft spoken so that the bottom line message can be heard. Here we go.

~~~~~

Ivanka, we need to have a conversation. No, you don’t need to do an inventory of the jewelry to be sold on your website. You definitely don’t need anyone else in the room with us. This is a private conversation. You need to listen carefully. You should ask questions. Don’t be like your father and ask questions that will twist things into making it allowable for you to do something similar at a later date. We need to help you grasp some concepts.

First, although your father gained an amazing number of states in order to win the Electoral College vote, he did not win the popular vote. Do you understand what that means, my love? No, it does not mean his message was what the people of the United States believe and want. It means (just as he kept shouting during his campaign) that there was something fishy with the election.

Bless his heart, he hates to be undone. He has to be top dog. He will never admit that there was tomfoolery when it came to affirming him as the choice of the people. My dear, the popular vote shows he was not.

But he has chosen to put himself in the spotlight through his years. He has chosen to be (in fact, he has insisted on being) center stage and refuses to allow anyone else to occupy that space. He has chosen to be a public figure; he insists on it – until it goes against him. Now that he’s been elected, now that he’s been confirmed by the Electoral College, he is more than a public figure. You, and your siblings, need to conduct yourselves as progeny of the incoming President of the United States.

Not only that, my dear, your father is a billionaire. All of us know that. Your salary is far above that of the average person. You are different.

What the hell were you thinking when you and Jared booked that flight from D.C. to New York on a commercial airline IN COACH with the children?

[deep breath]

You have never been one who is part of the general population. You are different, my love. You can afford much more than the mere average American (even though you occasionally try to appeal to them by walking through the crowds with your security team). This should not be a news flash, Ivanka. Your father is not adored by the population. You do not have an esteemed position in the country. You are, at best, tolerated by necessity, nothing more.

Just as that poor man was yelling, you should have taken a private plane. The you and Jared can afford that. It wasn’t a trans-Atlantic flight so there was no major expense. Even that is affordable with your income and allowance. What the hell were you two thinking?

It’s good that you bring up that meeting with the diplomats from Japan. That was quite a stir the two of you raised. No, your father hadn’t been elected. He was still on the campaign trail. Still, it may have been better if Melania (even with her broken English) had been there instead of you. Your being there made it appear that you were assuming the role of First Lady. It made it appear that you were part of diplomatic, confidential negotiations. You don’t even have security clearance!

And then to show off your line of jewelry! I thought you were intelligent! Do you realize the types of ethical concerns that were raised during that flight of fancy? Let me put this in commoner’s vernacular. There were subtle messages of bribery and coercion laced throughout that meeting. There are already rumors (not to mention outright statements) that diplomats and political emissaries feel they must stay at a Trump property when they visit. (Thus, they feel they must line the pockets of the new President. Argh!) The jewelry thing gave the impression that they must purchase your goods. You should have saved the marketing ploy for another place and another venue – or just left it to your marketing team. (Not to mention they’d have been much better at it.)

You haven’t learned about your father’s shouting tirades – yet. Kellyanne has been shielding you from them. She’ll be integral in doing that after the inauguration but one day. One day you’ll do the unacceptable and even those lurid comments about his beautiful, hot daughter will not protect you from the real man that we three wives know.

Use common sense, Ivanka. Being a woman of the people doesn’t mean flying on commercial airlines in coach. Being a woman of the people means doing things that bring you popularity among them because of your benevolence, because of your charisma. And those attributes will flow to you because you are promoting things that are reachable and desired by the average person aiming to reach a better status, not being able to purchase a several thousand-dollar bit of jewelry that only millionaires and billionaires can afford.

Use common sense, Ivanka. And if there is a God in Heaven, encourage your father to do likewise. It’s becoming an embarrassment to acknowledge that I was married to him.

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Challenges of Development

PBS is airing a program called Edge of E18teen that examines the lives of several 17-year-olds and the challenges they face as they mature.

Image of young businessman opening door with lights

Image of young businessman opening door with lights

Their circumstances are diverse. One young man was sent to military school. His grades were slipping; he needed more discipline; he needed to learn about taking on responsibility.

A young Cambodian girl is living with her father. Her mother left the family. There was much divisiveness in the home. The parents had vicious arguments. The mother was having an affair. The girl punishes her mother by not responding to her text messages and refusing to communicate or see her at all.

Another boy is about to graduate from high school. He is a devoted Christian and wants to address the student body at his graduation by telling them about Christ. When that idea is rejected by his school, he proposes to have a graduation party for his entire class (400+) and use that as a platform for telling them about Christ. His mother rejects the idea.

All but one say their relationship with their parents is difficult, that they don’t understand.

Our youth face so many challenges as they mature. Are we doing enough to prepare them for what Life and our societies have in store for them? Preparation also comes down to doing things that involve some degree of training and explanation. Small dollops of autonomy grow into taking on full responsibility for various projects, accompanied by nurturing support to catch them if they fall.

But with parents being challenged with low wages that sometimes require two or more jobs to support a family, and constantly increasing costs of living, we are starting to lose the time necessary to provide the building of responsible, independent lives that are ready for adult life challenges at the age of 21 or 18.

How do we successfully prioritize the overwhelming amounts of responsibilities that face us as we create a worthwhile future for our offspring, our progeny, our future?

How can we leap to the heights of doing the things that are necessary to do even a merely adequate job of nurturing the future generations when there are still so many things we ourselves still need to learn and master. There are so many times when I feel inadequate and regret the lessons that are missing.

It would be so good to have the right answers – or at least clues to which are the more important for the path we endeavor to follow or make. Perhaps that is the clue. Determine what the path is: one to be followed or one to be made. The next step is to find the right mentors to offer guidance while we learn by trying and failing and then trying again in order to succeed while the mentor explains what went wrong if we do not examine the broken pieces on the floor to see where the weak spot was.

And therein may lie some of the answers to nurturing our youth.

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A New Math

It was 1955 when on one day the Second Grade teacher gave a unique lesson to her class. For some of the students, it was a Life lesson. For others, the words were recognizable but the meaning of them was like a foreign language.

Opportunity

Opportunity

Her lecture didn’t come from a textbook. It came from her heart and a desire to feel she had encouraged her young charges to strive for excellence in every aspect of their lives.

It’s difficult to remember when she addressed the fact that her class was comprised of children of color. That fact was conveyed, however, in order for them to understand the importance of the information, especially for them. It was about learning a “new math.” It was about learning how to calculate one’s worth both in reality as well as in terms of how the rest of the world evaluates one’s worth.

Paraphrasing in order to compensate for the passage of time, she counseled, “When you go into the world and are competing against [White people], remember: you need to be three times better in order to be considered half as good.”

In other words, the world as her students interacted with it in any way would find them lacking and unqualified. In order to rise above being shut out of admission to the race for attainment, in order to be accepted and receive the deserved (earned) position, it would be necessary to make certain their skills and abilities were superlative, above reproach, and undeniably three times better than anyone else vying for the same brass ring. She was also telling them to be so overwhelmingly prepared that they could venture into any place and feel confident that they were among the best striving for the same situation. It wasn’t necessary to be embarrassed in any way. The main task was to perform well and thereby bring merit to the work that was done.

Did she tell her novices that in everything they did they were representatives of not only their school and families but also of their racial identity? No. That lesson was for another day and from another teacher. The fact of their ambassadorship was already an unspoken factor in their existence. It was part of why their parents scolded and chided when something about them didn’t measure up to the socially acceptable standard.

It was important to have that lesson in those early years so that it became part of their psyche. It was supposed to become the driving force for those young minds. She wanted all of them to strive to earn more than 90% on each of their tests. She wanted them to absorb all of the knowledge available and then use that knowledge to reach for even greater accomplishments. With that, it would be possible to develop new ideas and techniques. They would be burgeoning founders of many innovations, examples to others of the good work that could be expected of them, as well as those who would be known as “first”s to achieve.

Humility was not part of the lesson that day. Perhaps the talk about humility wasn’t necessary. Perhaps, that also was a lesson for another day and from another teacher. After all, it was a classroom of young coloreds. Being subservient was part of one’s expected deportment no matter where they were. But they were also expected to have dignity, self esteem. Those characteristics did not need apology; they were expected as part of the embodiment of any healthy personality. Dignity, or self esteem, was a quality that came from within and accompanied everything that was done, from the trivial to the grand, and as part of any task that was being performed in any position. Being, even feeling, servile simply was not part of the formula in execution. Being excellent was simply a part of their identity; conversation about it was unnecessary.

That lesson never happened again in any form. There was only one lecture about the new math nor about any related subjects. For some, the lesson was indelible. For others, some of that lesson in foreign language seeped in later comprehension. That was 1955. The landscape has changed. There are more of the coloreds who are allowed to vie for opportunities. A larger percentage of those who dare are not only pushing their way through the door to positions other than in the servile range. The number of those who are of color in leadership positions are no longer the exceptions. We expect them to have all the characteristics that are part of being a leader. If lacking in any of them, the representative is allowed to linger until a suitable replacement is identified and installed. It is a death knell to have less than the best as part of the overall framework.

The Door of Opportunity is now being opened more frequently to those of color. There are times when the formula for that new math is forgotten and the struggle to prevent the Door from closing must begin anew. That’s the danger of forgetting the new math. Now what was that formula again? Let’s see. “3 x 1 = 1/2”. No, it isn’t about inflated ego; it’s actualization of the survival of the fittest in terms of achievement.

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Oscar and Minorities

Hollywood

Hollywood California USA. World Famous Hollywood Sign Concept.

Not the first time in their history, the Oscar Awards ceremony has a boycott in store this year. Started by Jada Pinkett Smith, it didn’t take long for the boycott of the Oscars ceremony (announced the day after the nominations were revealed) would take place. And the announcement was close on the heels of another protest in Hollywood – women’s salaries compared with those of men.

The complaint is there are far too few roles for Blacks on the big screen that result in far too few who are eligible for nomination for having done exceptional work. Some of Hollywood argues back that there aren’t enough stories to be told. In the alternative, the viewing public only identifies with White faces and characters, thus the casting of the parts. But the Oscars acknowledge the work of more than just those on the screen. There are also writers, directors, composers, designers, and more who comprise the entertainment experience. This year none of color were among those nominated. Protests regarding the good ole boys club atmosphere among those who can nominate and vote for Oscar recipients grew with such intensity that protocols were immediately changed and implemented – but too late for this year’s nominees. As long ago as 1970, George C. Scott was noted as having expressed his disdain for the Oscars. “George C. Scott held nothing but contempt for the Oscar organization. He called it a ‘2 hour meat parade’. He said the whole thing was offensive, barbarous, and innately corrupt.”

It was complained that only movies about slaves and slavery or racism are put forward as examples of Blacks who have done superlative work as actors. What about the other portrayals that could have been available? There are far too few. Why is that? It seems one of the complaints expressed during this year’s protest are accurate. It isn’t so much that the parts aren’t available so much as a matter of the parts for Black characters are converted to being played by White actors. This fact was memorialized in a book I happened to discover circa 2007 while at a Los Angeles branch library that dealt with the subject of Black Hollywood. A random opening of the book brought me to a section about the Western, “The Searchers” in which the scout is portrayed as a White man. According to the book, the scout was actually Negro but Hollywood didn’t find it appropriate to portray that fact.

The refusal of Hollywood to cast Black actors in positive roles has been cited as one of the reasons there is still a struggle for Blacks to rise into being viewed as a population other than suspect and available for exploitation. The outcries of 2016 are merely echoes of what was openly expressed in a 1999 paper on ethics wherein the three authors state:

Forcibly brought here as slaves to the white man, blacks have never been treated as completely equal to whites. Stereotypes of blacks as lazy, stupid, foolish, cowardly, submissive, irresponsible, childish, violent, sub-human, and animal-like, are rampant in today’s society. These degrading stereotypes are reinforced and enhanced by the negative portrayal of blacks in the media. Black characters have appeared in American films since the beginning of the industry in 1 888. But blacks weren’t even hired to portray blacks in early works. Instead, white actors and actresses were hired to portray the characters while in “blackface.” (http:/www.moderntimes.com/palace/black/open.htm). By refusing to hire black actors to portray black characters, demeaning stereotypes were being created as blacks were presented in an unfavorable light. In addition, blacks were purposely portrayed in films with negative stereotypes that reinforced white supremacy over blacks. This has had a tremendous effect on our society’s view of blacks since motion pictures have had more of an impact on the public mind than any other entertainment medium in the last ninety years.

Add to that representation the unstated but very prevalent attitude that Blacks are an exotic race that is more for the appeasement of sexual gratification and stimulation, not for critical thinking and stubborn business aptitude.

The reference librarian who attempted to help me relocate that book from 2007 found a list of titles that may be helpful to your further inquiry on the subject of Hollywood and accurate portrayal of race. He never found the book. He explained that it may have been removed from the shelves. However, the list of titles he did find is provocative and can be found at the bottom of this post. To get more information about any of the titles, you may visit the page of your favorite book seller or put the title into your favorite search engine.

This boycott and protest is not new to Oscar. The civil rights of a pantheon of actors of all colors and genders, of every sexual preference, has endured throughout the ages. The question, then, is whether this latest wave will be effective in bringing about positive, enduring change.

References:

Other References:

  • Cinema Civil Rights: Regulation, Repression, and Race in the Classical Hollywood Era by Ellen C. Scott
  • Reel Racism: Confronting Hollywood’s Construction of Afro-American Culture by Vincent F. Rocchio
  • Race Results: Hollywood vs. Supreme Court ; ten decades of racial decisions and film by Eileen C. Moore
  • Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race during the Civil Rights Struggle by Allison Schoen
  • The subject of film and race : retheorizing politics, ideology, and cinema by Gerald Sim

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About Thought Leaders

We had a teachable moment back in May when thought leader Keith Halperin put forth his ideas about why some individuals should be discounted and not considered recruiting thought leaders. There were assertions about various characteristics of people he considers unqualified. Perhaps it was more an opinion piece than it was actual fact. Still, his words predominate the opinions of many in the recruiting space. For those who struggle against these opinions and find their efforts are suppressed or repressed while others avail themselves of taking credit for the innovations, let us look at the factors that create the foundations for being considered a thought leader.

getting direction for being a thought leaer

Getting direction for being a thought leader

“Becoming a thought leader is about making money and making history.” “[A] thought leader has earned his or her title because that person’s ideas have gone viral.”

There are those who, like the unethical used car sales person, will make disparaging remarks about the competition in order to promote their own wares. Sometimes those are just as flawed and lacking (or more so) that the alternative. Just as an abuser uses circular reasoning, those who ‘do not’ qualify for the designation of a desired title will use their form of persuasion to cast aspersions and persuade others to come to their shop. It seems Keith is exercising that tactic to promote his theory.

In “What Is a Thought Leader?” the attributes of a thought leader are examined. Brilliance is one of those attributes that can be hard to pin down at certain times. According to authors Prince and Rogers””, “Brilliance is a function of acclaim, created where others bestow the accolades.” That is true. However, that type of brilliance is very transitory, here today and gone when you leave the auditorium. It is also as valid as how well the lead blankets are at repressing the “voice” of the leader. For example, how many women (or people of color, for that matter) throughout history truly were/are thought leaders but because of their position in society, their voices are muted or their words were stolen by others who could not measure up to the concepts? The source of those tactics is typically akin to what drives an abuser: fear, envy, awareness of inadequacy, lack of knowledge about how to learn, unwillingness to take direction from someone who is deemed subservient, manic need for control. When those propensities are made manifest, the logical path is to spend as little time in the acid pit as possible. Is it any wonder then, that those who could be considered deserving of being called thought leaders are sparse? And there is another tactic that has a lot of popularity in the more competitive industries (as well as abuse). Discourage others from associating with the source of the jealousy. If that isn’t effective, threaten financial harm or even exact it.

Let’s consider Carly Fiorina who started her career as a receptionist. But she used that position to gain the knowledge necessary to network (in a very subtle way) with the people she needed to know while also working her way through the jungle that ultimately led to her being the leader of a publicly-traded Fortune 500 corporation. She was an exception but she also had tenacity, which is also a mark of a thought leader. How many others are not and is there room in the leadership space for them to stand in the limelight?

Martin de’Campo talked with the industry through a series of articles he wrote about recruiting luminaries, the first of which appeared in 2002. He took the time to outline what in each person’s character made them unique and deserving of recognition. What is fascinating about the profiles he presented is that he found aspects about the people that did not duplicate the others yet they exemplified practices to aspire to claim as one’s own. (You’d probably find yourself in a very enjoyable milieu if all of them were present in the same room at the same time.) He cited accomplishments that denote an exception to being among the throng and that tend to distinguish for positive reasons. The practices are enduring and good. People walk away from conferences and other industry confabs with the names of these people on their lips and in their minds, striving to deliver their business card into the hands of the “leaders.”

The interesting thing about being a thought leader is its transitory nature. It means the “leader” inspires. Once the inspiration is reduced to implementation and execution, there is no longer leadership because it has become managing the execution and practice of the concept. “[L]eadership is about the initiation of new directions. Implementing them is a managerial undertaking.” The interesting thing I’ve noticed about many industries, and especially in the recruiting space, is that there are so many who are avid to claim ownership of the ideas generated by others so that the practice of those concepts can be executed by the envious wannabes. As with plagiarism, attribution is late or never arrives; evidence of the source is quick to be destroyed. It’s worth pondering how many more-than qualified individuals are passed over in deference to the lesser candidate because of the unrecognized abilities, suppression, or even repression of the former’s viability. Censorship can rob us in many ways on a social level because the ideas and advancements that can lead to a better life are not allowed to emerge. The flimsy, purloined imitation fails and is then discarded as worthless.

Authors Prince and Rogers offer a two-part definition of thought leadership that is quite telling and supports the notion of unattributed source of ideas. Part one of the definition explains: “what we’re talking about . . . is “brilliance.” What’s essential to understand is that brilliance doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it’s a total waste of time to debate whether it’s authentic or not. Brilliance is a function of acclaim, created where others bestow the accolades.” The second part of the definition holds some provoking concepts and a possible reason for the suppression of those who actually originate the innovative ideas. “A thought leader is an individual or firm that significantly profits from being recognized as such.” Being able to “profit” from something doesn’t always mean financial gain. “Profit” can be derived in many ways. But the imitators seek the wealth – especially in lean times. They will quickly abandon what requires time and nurturing in deference to the quick payoff.

“Whenever you advocate a new idea to your colleagues or boss, you show thought leadership.” Self proclaimed thought leaders are full of flushable content, eh? To the extent that others want to claim ownership of the ideas and credit for the innovation, bespeaks the fact that the idea has merit enough to encourage adoption. To disparage the practice, especially because another didn’t come up with it or misunderstood, failed, and didn’t ask for guidance from the originator shows the fraud. Self-proclaimed thought leader? I don’t think so. Incidentally, what happened to all those articles and other things that mysteriously got deleted or lost? Who’s the “Cinderella” in your space?

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Passing of The Lion

My appointment book memorializes not just future commitments in order to prevent the embarrassment of having the impossibility of double commitments occurring at the same time or too close to onset of one another. The appointment book also acts like a timesheet that preserves information about something that occurred at a particular time.

More importantly, my appointment book memorializes events that have become historic time stamps. The page for Thursday, December 5 at 1:00 PM, records in red ink, “Mandela died.”

Since that point in time, my mission has been to devote thoughts, recollections, influences, that became part of my awareness of Mandela the man, Mandela the leader, and Mandela the legend. Unfortunately, Life had other intentions for my time. Business matters took priority that developed ancillary necessities. Exigencies spontaneously grew out of expected successful conclusions. Thus, self-imposed feelings of guilt grew with each night that Fatigue replaced Writing Time. Additionally, the 50-year anniversaries of the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. imposed recollection of how those shocking events affected not only Americans but the world. Stacking the expanding issues that deflected attention from writing a tribute about Mandela were the various social media conversations, misconceptions, uninformed opinions, myths that purported to be informed information but proved to be hate mongering, unsupported, short sighted statements, and platitudes.

Those 50-year anniversaries were presented to us via the media by individuals who had only tangential (if any) contact with the events. They did not witness the stamping of history. However because of the importance of the events being remembered, they attempted to flagellate us into a frenzy about the significance of them. Is that what these collections of historic events will become? Attempts at being proud about the evidence of rising from the oppressive conditions become attempts to tell the tales. They aim to present the momentous significance but merely parrot the platitudes they’ve heard second and third hand and merely stand as substitutes for the pride and jubilant celebrations that are supposed to be had.

So here we are five days later. All that could possibly be said about Mandela the man, Mandela the leader, Mandela the legend have been televised, recited, discussed, and written. Images of his ex-wives, his widow, and some of his chilren have been shared with the rest of us. Interviews of people, White and Black, domestic and foreign, have been broadcast on all manner of programs. We have been advised of the plans for his lying in state leading up to his funeral. We have been informed about how The Lion felt during his developing years – his revolutionary years. There have been glimpses into how life was during his incarceration. We are told about his stoicism on release and his statesmanship in the negotiations for it. There are round tables about his challenge of making one country constituted of many races that feel passion for their country and breaking down the decades of the divisive racism that existed during the reign of apartheid.

In South Africa, there are celebrations because of the death of The Lion. Some find this odd. Those who are aware of the American Black practice of celebrating the life of one who has entered the Hereafter are able to understand. It isn’t a celebration because the person is dead. Instead, it’s a celebration that their mission has been completed with whatever successes have been achieved. It is a celebration of graduating from being a mere mortal who is subject to the many vagaries that challenge us to being among those who have risen above those challenges and into a more beautiful existence. Some achieve this at very tender ages while others have many purposes and missions to fulfill. Life does not end because of actuarial numbers but when the Master Craftsman says Death may become the possessor of the soul – but only the portion of the soul that may remain in that plane for the Master Craftsman has other, further intentions for the principal portions.

It is significant that the timing of certain events shape us and our thoughts. Those events enable us to see things more clearly. Those who are trainers and presenters should take note of those events as they develop their materials. It was in October that a discussion group was developed to study the book The New Jim Crow and the social impacts of jails overcrowded with Black men. It was a study of how Blacks in America are singled out and punished for even the slightest of matters and told they have so egregiously broken the rules that they must spend the remaining 40 to 60 years of their budding lives behind bars. They lose all rights of citizenship. They essentially become victims and unofficial slaves.

Close in timing was release of the movie “12 Years a Slave” that traces an actual account by a learned free man of his kidnap and being sold into slavery before the Civil War. We learn (or are reminded) of the conditions of that slavery and concomitant abrogation of citizen rights. Programs populate the public broadcast stations about the Civil Rights Movement and the many assaults Black citizens endured in order to make a more whole United States. Some who are paying attention to these history classes take note of how interrelated the subjects truly are and begin to appreciate the marginal progress that’s been made domestically. Additionally, appreciation of life under apartheid was for the native population.

Why have I not dedicated any time to actual writing of this tribute to Madiba until today? My emotions, like my time and attention, have been sucked out of me. Those social media conversations (so skewed and uninformed) ate much of my time spent reading and in search of non-existent enlightenment about him. Instead, I came away further drained but more aware of why America sinks into the mire of destructive rule under unenlightened Right Wing rhetoric. I deal with an increasing number of businesses striving for economic success by using some form of fraud and slipshod workmanship. I labor to educate myself about my own health maladies and then hold my breath when the time arrives that the situation is beyond my non-licensed abilities and must entrust my life and conditions to those who have been educated and licensed to do so. Those are just some of the reasons why these words are structured as they are and published today.

Today the many aspects of the man, Mandela, that taught the lessons about leadership, captivity, social and civil wrongs, forgiveness, striving to overcome oppression screamed for release. Today I was forced to come to grips with the antithesis of American Freedom and the apathy that fertilizes the American inertia. It made me want to scream. Looking at the life of Madiba causes a trickle of Hope to melt my jaded attitude, the callous perspective, and my personal numbness. The struggle for a healthy oneness isn’t subverted by one’s age nor passage of unproductive time. It only seems as though it’s been unproductive. The struggle is furthered by how many lessons have been presented and mastered.

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