America – Why Don’t You Get It?


America – take a three minute break from tedious blithering you call freedom and democracy to watch this video. Understand – congratulating yourselves because Negroes no longer sit at the back of the bus makes my skin crawl. America is a nation divided by race, in many ways an uglier nation than existed at the dawn of your civil rights movement. Calling yourselves a great nation, professing to be a world leader, last bastion of promise in a world of misguided subordinates – makes me cringe.

It’s business as usual until the Negroes get uppity. Nobody likes uppity Negroes. Least of all trigger happy police officers. Watch this clip, then ask yourselves why African Americans cry “black lives matter”.

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This Is What Courage Looks Like


The courage of Tommie Smith and John Carlos exemplifies the civil rights movement. I’m not going to explain why – take 5 minutes out of your life to watch a snapshot in time, a moment in history when  Olympics’ sacred line was crossed, when damn the consequences ruled over “tow the line”. Smith and Carlos managed to define injustice without uttering a word.

I often write of protest; specifically my dismay at society’s screwed up priorities – our spoon fed cult of celebrity, gun toting, fundamentalist, reality television, someone else’s problem world. For those too young to understand the optimism, hope and determination of people who believed they could make a difference, I wish I could roll back time. When coffee shops and campuses burst under the weight of collective purpose rather than suffocating taps of MacBook keyboards in an otherwise silent Starbucks.

This ponder isn’t about “world peace”, I’m talking about back yards and dark alleys. Poverty, education, injustice taking place in front of our eyes – corporate greed, “stand your ground” nonsense, environmental atrocities, civil rights violations – reduced to a Tweet or cooked into poppycock by Fox News wingnuts.

This Olympic moment reminds me of a time when purpose out weighed lucrative endorsements, a time when we believed change was a matter of determination, a time when seizing  Olympic glory for peaceful exclamation of injustice was not only thinkable, it was possible.

MLK Day


Today, January 18, 2016 is Martin Luther King Day in America. A federal holiday falling on the Monday closest to January 15, the day MLK was born in 1929. MLK was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Establishing MLK Day wasn’t easy – a 1979 vote by the House of Representatives –  defeated by 5 votes. In 1980/81, six million signatures supporting MLK Day were collected on a petition to Congress – deemed “the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history”. Republican Senators Jesse Helms and John Porter East from North Carolina led the opposition. Helms orchestrated a filibuster against the bill in 1983, producing a 300 page document alleging King associated with communists. New York Senator Patrick Moynihan threw it on the Senate floor, declaring it a “packet of filth” as he stomped on it. On November 2, 1983 president Ronald Reagan set aside initial opposition, signing a bill which passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 338 to 90. The first official MLK Day was January 20, 1986. Not all States jumped on board, see link below.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr._Day

As a little girl I remember chanting “eeny meeny miney mo, catch a n****r by the toe”, it was the early sixties, I was 3 or 4 and hadn’t the slightest concept of what it meant. Somewhere along the way the “N” word became “Tiger” – I can’t recall an explanation, all I knew was we had to decide whose turn it was to go first, so tiger it was. There wasn’t a hateful bone in my body; my family – decent hard working people who never spoke ill of anyone. It wasn’t the deep south, this was rural Canada  in 1963 – parents passing along rhymes  they learned as children – nary a thought to meaning.

I believe that “Tiger” was Martin Luther King Jr. August 28, 1963, close to a quarter million people marched on Washington, D.C. Gathered at the Washington Monument, Martin Luther King delivered his iconic I Have a Dream speech. Powerful, articulate, compelling, pivotal – I can’t think of words that do justice to this moment in history.

MLK was a proud American; a man who asked only that people uphold the American constitution, the promise of emancipation, the pursuit of life, liberty and freedom for all citizens. He calls for tolerance, understanding, and peace. He asks that the black community forgive white America and proceed in a spirit of understanding. If you do nothing else today – take a few minutes –  click below, listen to the words of Martin Luther King Jr.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Listen, then ask yourself what you’re afraid of. Ask yourself what good it does to sabotage every move the Obama administration makes. Ask yourself if a “tiger” is just as capable of settling things. Ask yourself why you’re filled with contempt, ask yourself to snap out of the past, think for yourselves. Stop being afraid. Ask yourself if America is worth fighting for.

Mindset


News of the Louisiana theatre shooting ignited a ponder. What makes the U.S. and Canada so different? I came across this excerpt from Michael Moore’s Bowling For Columbine – Moore speculates the biggest difference is fear. The clip is a little long at 10 minutes – try to spare as much time as you can, it’s worth pondering.

What Should People Do?


Pondering tonight’s Grand Jury decision in Ferguson Missouri presents a quandary of suffocating despair. What should people do?

The decision wasn’t surprising, nobody actually expected another outcome. For days leading up to the “official” statement by St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch, media speculated on reaction, documented preparations, and reported on school closures tomorrow. Everyone knew what was coming.

Clicking back and forth between CNN, MSNBC and Fox News served as a lesson in perspective. My decision to briefly tune into Fox caused jaw dropping rage of epic proportions. President Obama hadn’t spoken, still in developing moments of coverage -Fox focused reporting on “a carnival atmosphere”, “crowds of smiling and grinning people who cared nothing for the decision”. Fox reported “the crime situation in urban America made confrontation inevitable”. Wow, I’m speechless.

I’m not advocating looting or violence. I have no doubt opportunistic looting erupted. With that I have to ask why the decision was read at night – what possible purpose was served by waiting until darkness? Would the cover of darkness make for better news coverage? Would “urban” unrest validate white America?

I can’t define my dismay. What should people do?

Let It Be


Sunday often ends with a musical ponder. In keeping with civil rights, a topic weighing heavily on my mind as the 50th anniversary of America signing the first Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964 approaches – a short clip from Across The Universe.

Across The Universe – directed by Julie Taymor, released in 2007, Oscar nominated for best musical (lost to Sweeney Todd) – not just my favorite musical, it rates as one of my top movies of all time. On the surface a love story based on music of the Beatles, set in the era of Vietnam and Civil Rights protests. What it delivers – a razor sharp statement on war and civil rights, as relevant today as in 1968. A link to the full movie….

Olympic Power


In the spirit of July 2 marking the 50th anniversary of America’s first signed Civil Rights Act , on the heals of last night’s pondering of those rights – I’m re-posting “Olympic Power”. I can’t watch this clip without becoming emotional. Take 4 1/2 minutes out of your life to watch and ponder. All I ask is that you try to find the absurdity of hatred, fear, and exclusion based on the colour of your skin.

notestoponder

Fresh off  closing ceremonies at Sochi, still smiling from the exhilaration of Canadian men and women’s hockey taking gold, I find myself pondering another Olympic moment.

The courage of Tommie Smith and John Carlos exemplifies the civil rights movement. I’m not going to explain why – take 5 minutes out of your life to watch a snapshot in time, a moment in history when  Olympics’ sacred line was crossed, when damn the consequences ruled over “tow the line”. Smith and Carlos managed to define injustice without uttering a word.

I often write of protest; specifically my dismay at society’s screwed up priorities – our spoon fed, cult of celebrity, gun toting, fundamentalist, reality television, someone else’s problem world. For those too young to understand the optimism, hope and determination of people who believed they could make a difference, I wish I could roll back time. When coffee shops and campuses burst under the weight of collective purpose…

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