Monday, November 12, 2012

Grover Norquist and the New Feudalism

"If it was true that lower taxes for the rich and more wealth for the wealthy led to job creation, today we would be drowning in jobs."  ~~  Nick Hanauer, super-rich Seattle entrepreneur.

Grover Norquist, popular among neoconservative "Tea Party" Republicans, once again raised the ugly specter of George H. W. Bush, he of the "Read my lips: no new taxes" meme.  He has been wont to do this for several yeas now, and needs to be addressed as the buffoon he is.

This jackal probably knows the history of taxation in this country as far as the fact that we had the strongest economy combined with the lowest levels of unemployment when we had a 70% tax rate on high end capital gains.  High end, of course, being the massive amounts of money made by those who were already very wealthy. 

That high tax rate not only did nothing to hurt those people and corporations which were subject to it, but they also kept increasing their bottom line.

Furthermore, that economic strength, combined with American ingenuity and dedication to a strong work ethic, is the very thing that enabled the development of a strong middle class.  And that strong middle class was the fuel for maintaining a strong economy.

The Glass-Steagal Act, passed in 1933 during the Great Depression, in part kept commercial banks from getting involved in risky venture capital endeavors.

When that act was rescinded, such endeavors began in earnest as investment banks merged with commercial banks.  It picked up steam as time went on and the corporate demand for deregulation took hold and began to hold sway, culminating first in what we so lovingly refer to as "Reaganomics", the theory known as "trickle down economics".
That theory led to lowering the tax rates on corporations and the wealthy, as well as a concerted effort to further deregulate as much as possible in support of increasing the incomes of the wealthy and the profits of the corporate world. This led directly to the "Great Recession" of 2008, otherwise known as the Bush Economic Crash.

Now comes Grover Norquist and the pro-corporate, no-tax-increase cabal of extreme right-wingers currently in control of the Republican Party.  They clearly are aware of the history stated above, yet they insist that taxes on the wealthy and corporations be pared down even further.  It is enough to make one wonder if perhaps they WANT the United States to fail, so that corporations can take over completely. 

If that is the case, then they must be stopped at the ballot box in no uncertain terms.  Failing that, we are heading for a new feudalism in which the wealthy do, indeed, control everything because they own everything and everyone.  It's already started.  The only question now is, can we stop it?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Obama won again. It's over. What next?

The election is over.  President Barack Obama has won a second term, much to the consternation of the political and religious right.  And in some circles, his win is being called a landslide.

At what point does a win become a landslide? Slightly more than 2/3? And even if this could be considered as such, it is only an ELECTORAL COLLEGE one. We must remember that the popular vote was very close from a perspective of percentage: only three million votes out of more than a hundred million.  No landslide there either.

Yet when George W. Bush took the White House with the same popular margin and a much lower electoral margin, the Republicans called  that a landslide.  So from that perspective, we might call Obamas' win a rout.  Of course, the Republicans will deny this, telling us in so many words that we can't use the same criteria they did.

What the popular vote margin really means is that there are still almost half of the voting country that refuses to understand that we CANNOT go backwards if we are to return to our leadership position in the modern world. We cannot turn our backs on math and science as the extreme right would have us do. Nor can we turn our backs on the social progress we've made in our laws.

It's a basic truth of existence that we can't stand still; all of life is either progressive or regressive, and the regressive dies out and becomes extinct. Therefore, for our survival as a nation and as a power in this world, we MUST go forward; we MUST progress.  We cannot afford to go backward as a society.  That way lies the chaos of loss and anarchy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Government does not create jobs!" Really, Willard?

"Government does not create jobs! Government does not create jobs!" ~~  Willard Mitt Romney at the second 2012 Presidential debate.

When Governor Romney made this claim, he was clearly about to lose his composure.  Of course, it was already weakened due to President Obama's calling him out on several statements Romney had made during the debate.  But I have to wonder if he failed American History when he was in high school, since it's clear that he really believes that government doesn't create jobs.

Clearly he's forgotten about the causes of the Great Depression, as had the previous three Republican Presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.  If they'd remembered, they would never had pushed the "trickle down" theory of economics.  Or maybe they were just so beholden to their corporate masters sponsors that they didn't care.  And Romney wants to double down on Bush's policies, in spite of the fact, as Obama pointed out, that those policies are what caused the financial collapse in the first place.

Yet that's just the recent background filler.  Let's go back to the Depression.  When Franklin Roosevelt won the Presidency, he had a plan to get the economy back up and running.  That plan included putting people back to work who had lost their jobs.  And part of that strategy was for the government to be the employer of last resort.  There was the Public Works Project, as an example of this.  Government creating jobs.  And as part of the overall strategy, it worked very well.

But that's not the only example of government creating jobs.  There are a whole slew of government agencies, staffed by civil servants to fill the positions created by those agencies.  Guess what?  Government creating jobs. 
Post office jobs.  Park ranger jobs.  Police officers, firemen and women, teachers, administrators, judges, and military personnel.  The list goes on and on.  So Gov. Romney's claim doesn't hold water at all. 

But wait, there's more!  The governor said in that secretly filmed dinner that he doesn't care about 47% of the people because they're NOT GOING TO VOTE FOR HIM ANYWAY!  So maybe he thinks that those government-created jobs don't exist, because for him, the little people who hold those jobs don't exist.

So the question now for our consideration is this:  Can we, the voters, in good conscience, knowing the facts and hearing the lies, actually vote for this man, Willard Mitt Romney, to be the President of these United States?
My answer is a resounding "NO!"

© 2012 Donald C. Rice Jr.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Why I will vote for Barrack Hussein Obama


People have different reasons (or excuses) for their political choices. In this Presidential election, there are a number of factors why so many still cling to the far right notion of government.
The largest of these, I think, is the racial issue, although the vast majority on the right will deny this.

Next up, are the people who have always voted one way and always will, regardless of facts and truth.

Following that are those that believed every word out of Obama's mouth 4 years ago, and are disappointed that he hasn't fulfilled every last campaign promise he made then. They generally refuse to give credit to the almost total obstructionism of the Congressional Republicans, or the fact that they were joined in that obstruction by what we so lovingly refer to as "blue dog Democrats".

And last, there are those who begrudge Obama's efforts at compromise. They think that he should have gotten down to business with them after the first six months to a year, rather than continuing to try to find a middle ground.

Personally, I tend to agree with that last group, but not to the extent that many do.  I refuse to abandon Obama for a couple reasons.
First, even though he has made his mistakes, how many of us haven't?  After all, he's only human, and I think he's shown that he does learn from those mistakes.

Second, I think he's on the right track on most issues, and he has the intelligence to find ways to follow through, with or without cooperation from the right.

Third, he has shown, time and time again, that there is a better way to engage in politics than to constantly be attacking this, that and the other.  He has, time and again, taken the high road, the civil and civilized path to his goals.  He had consistently refused to wallow in the muck and mire of the extremists on both sides of the political spectrum.

And finally, there is the issue of his "foreign-sounding" name.  Having travelled a good part of the world, visiting several countries and engaging in discussion on a variety of topics with people from countries I haven't been to,  I have no fear of the different, the "other than me".  I've come to know that, as the song says, "We all know ... that people are the same wherever you go."  (Thank you, Sir Paul McCartney!)

On the other hand, I've come to see the near-total idiocy of the right which culminated in the Romney/Ryan ticket.  Neither of these "gentlemen" have any sense of what is needed to get this country back on it's feet.  They downplay or ignore the successes of the Obama administration.  And they flat-out lie about so many things it's become something of a comedy of errors.  And that's not even counting the inumerable flipflops of the Republicans' chosen standard-bearer.

So, even though Barack Hussein Obama isn't perfect, he is, in fact and in truth, the best candidate for the job.  And that is why I will vote to re-elect this black man ...

No.  That is why I will vote to re-elect this MAN that so many are afraid of to another term in the office of the President of these United States of America.

Donald Charles Rice Jr.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why We Need Higher Taxes On The Wealthy And Corporations

Top Tax Rates Match Closely With

Lowest Unemployment Rates

Compare the top tax rate in the first chart for any given year with the unemployment rate in the second chart for that year. This is rough, still a work in progress, but this information needs to be diseminated. This is PROOF that our economy was at it's stongest when we had high top tax rates.
Then throw in the statistics on income disparity between the labor class and the wealthy through the years, in the last chart. 
Taken together, these three charts show a clear path to ending this recession: Return to the higher marginal tax rates of the pre-Reagan years.  But that's only a beginning.  More must be done.  People must be put back to work in jobs that pay living wages.  People need incomes that are big enough to not only pay for their necessary living expenses, i.e., food, shelter, clothing, and health care, but also allow them money to spend on non-essentials.  You know, things like going out to dinner and a show, or buying gifts for the husband/wife and kids.  Why?  Because these things, taken as a whole, are the fuel that run a robust economy. 
Not more tax cuts for the rich.  They don't need them.  They still had plenty of income back with those higher tax rates. 
Not deregulating industry.  Regulation is needed to protect our environment and our health and safety.  More is needed, clearly, to keep greedy multinationals and their wealthy CEO's/CFO's and stockholders from shipping more of those jobs overseas in order to enhance their own incomes.
 And for sure, not outsourcing (off-shoring) our labor!  That last item has done more damage to the economy than any other single thing.

Annual average unemployment rate, civilian labor force 16 years and over (percent) Source:


 1948 3.8
1949 5.9
1950 5.3
1951 3.3
1952 3.0
1953 2.9
1954 5.5
1955 4.4
1956 4.1
1957 4.3
1958 6.8
1959 5.5
1960 5.5
1961 6.7
1962 5.5
1963 5.7
1964 5.2
1965 4.5
1966 3.8
1967 3.8
1968 3.6
1969 3.5
1970 4.9
1971 5.9
1972 5.6
1973 4.9
1974 5.6
1975 8.5
1976 7.7
1977 7.1
1978 6.1
1979 5.8
1980 7.1
1981 7.6
1982 9.7
1983 9.6
1984 7.5
1985 7.2
1986 7.0
1987 6.2
1988 5.5
1989 5.3
1990 5.6
1991 6.8
1992 7.5
1993 6.9
1994 6.1
1995 5.6
1996 5.4
1997 4.9
1998 4.5
1999 4.2
2000 4.0
2001 4.7
2002 5.8
2003 6.0
2004 5.5
2005 5.1
2006 4.6
2007 4.6
2008 5.8
2009 9.3
2010 9.6
2011 8.9

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Possibilities of Mia Love

Let's talk a bit about Mia Love.  Yes, THAT Mia Love, the lovely New York-born daughter of Haitian immigrants now currently running for Congress from the State of Utah.  The same Mia Love who gave such an incredibly naive speech at the Republican National Convention.

Much of her speech made sense; at least the parts where she talked
about how her parents came from Haiti and built a life without
government assistance, pulling themselves up, as Supreme Court
Justice Clarence Thomas would say, "by their own bootstraps".  Never mind that Thomas benefited from the very same government programs, such as affirmative action, that he more-or-less regularly excoriates. 

Of course, Ms. Long didn't offer any evidence beyond her word, but
that's neither here nor there at this stage of the game.  The fact
of the matter is that she is apparently the only one of her generation in her family born and raised in these United States.  As such, she doesn't have a personal historical background as do the many black people living here descended from the slaves set free (on paper at least) by Abraham Lincolns' Emancipation Proclamation a hundred and fifty years ago.

She has no inherent or inbred comprehension of why the rules,
regulations and laws put into effect after the supposed end of legal
slavery are still necessary today.  And thus she, too, has jumped on
the Republican bandwagon of less regulation and rolling back the
very rules, regulations and laws that allow her to openly speak and
act as she does.  Remember, the Constitution originally counted
"negroes" as 3/5ths of a person under the control of their "owners"
and therefore ineligible to vote or to benefit from most of the
other benefits of the new nation.

However, if she should win her seat, it still opens a door to
the future.  Consider this.  She may be considered the "top token
negro" in the Republican Party at the present time, displacing such
luminaries as Colin Powell for example.  But it's clear that she was
given her spot at the convention as a means of detracting from the
clear racism endemic to the Republican Party as a whole, which is
evident from the tone of that party ever since Barack Obama won the election, and even before, while he was still running.

Yet and still, it opens the door, just a tiny bit, for more black
Americans to come out as Republicans, to be suckered into
supporting policies that don't benefit them or any other working
American but only those in the highest income brackets.  And by
opening that door even a fraction of an inch, if a sufficient number
of black Americans decide to join her, and bring with them their own historical perspective having been raised up in this country for
many generations and endured what has gone on regarding them since before its' founding, then the Republican Party will be forced to change. 

It will be changed, returning to a more moderate platform similar to what it embraced before the Nixon era.  Why and how?  Simply because it would be unable to keep the gains it makes in terms of minority membership if the far-right radical bigots maintain their
stranglehold on the party.  And that being so, those radicals will
be forever consigned to the fringes from whence they came.
I'm not suggesting th at this will happen in this upcoming election,
or even in the next Presidential election four years from now.  But
it will happen nonetheless, because if it doesn't, then the Republican Party will sooner or later be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Race and Religion in America's Current Political Landscape

This blog post was brouoght on by another blog site where I am an occasional contributor.  The issue there had to do with attitudes toward so-called "inter-racial" relationships.  If you'd like to review that before continuing, it's posted here:

The views on race in general in this country have a distinctly religious flavor, in my experience and observation. Many relate it back to the ancient Biblical tale of the Tower of Babel, when, according to the story, God separated the people into different classifications by changing their tongues so that they could not understand each other's words. Today, people assume that this included a separation between "races". Therefore, they see integration as being contrary to "God's will". And they've developed myths surrounding that perspective in order to support it.

Many who view the issue that way seem unable to explain it as I have just done. And they refuse to accept that the concept of free will combined with the natural, "God-given" ability to reason can be used to successfully re-unite the people back into one people. One people with varying skin shades, cultures, physical characteristics.

In short, the issue is ignorance. And that is difficult to overcome when the people in it's grasp are satisfied to be as they are. As my Teacher, Master David M. Berry, puts it, "They don't know THAT they don't know, and they don't WANT to know."

The only way to overcome such ignorance is through education. But what method of education will work? Clearly the systemic education being used by the schools and the civil rights groups and other organizations is not working; the backlash from having a black President is ample evidence of that.

I suggest, as Master Berry teaches, that the best way to teach is by being the example. Know your truth, and live your truth, until you BECOME your truth. And do so in a way that others will see it and wonder how you can be so content within yourself and within your relationships.

Friday, June 22, 2012

For my grandson on his birthday...

Damian Carson Rice

Today is my grandson's 5th birthday.  I am his only surviving grandparent.  Through no fault of my own, I haven't seen him in over two years.  His mother, my ex-daughter-in-law, divorced my son and is currently with another man, both in the Army in Tennesseee.  His father, my son, told me he doesn't feel like a father.  Both need to grow up and stop being so self-centered.  To both of them, I ask the following questions:
What are YOUR actions and attitudes teach Damian about life?
 What are you both teaching him about family? 

What are you both teaching him about responsibility?
And why are you both being so darned hard-headed and selfish?"

I don't want an answer; I want you to ask yourselves these questions and answer yourselves honestly.  If either of you can even BE honest.


To my grandson, Damian Carson Rice:

Happy birthday, Damian, wherever you are. I love you, and I hope you are safe and well, and that you stay that way.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


What will we choose?

The carpenter's son we call Jesus of Nazareth was instrumental in helping to usher in the Age of Pisces. This was an age of deep universal truth, and also one of deep delusions, both of which are part of the Piscean energetic vibration, depending on how each individual and the society of individuals, responds to that vibration.

The old power paradigm of the Roman empire builders won the day by playing on the hopes and wishes of the peoples within their domain, thereby promoting the delusional side of Pisces and winning the battle between what we call "good" and "evil". This battle was symptomatic of the fear of losing power that is nearly always the catalyst for greater struggle at the changes of the ages.

The same is happening now, as the power elite attempt to hold on to their crumbling control structures, the physical and social as well as the economic, mental and what we might call the "spiritual", as we are now in the beginning of the much-touted Age of Aquarius, which represents purposeful change or, conversely, undirected or misdirected rebellion.

As a people and as individuals, it is entirely up to us how we resppond to those Aquarian energies. And our response is, above all other things, a statement and an indication of our growth and evolution as a species. We can either give in to the rebellious impulses, or we can choose to evolve, both individually and as a society.


Saturday, May 19, 2012


All that should be
    Already is, or will be
    When we awaken
    And become free.

And our inner eyes
    Begin to see...

Me!  As I am,
    And as I could be
    When I make the choice
    To simply BE...
    The real ME!

Copyright © Donald Charles Rice

Monday, March 5, 2012

On Faith, God, and Truth

"If I didn't have spiritual faith, I would be a pessimist. But I'm an optimist. I've read the last page in the Bible. It's all going to turn out all right." -- Billy Graham

At the risk of inciting the self-righteous wrath of the "true believers", let me point out that the very book that Mr. Graham referred to, the Book of Revelations (or Apocalpse for Catholics) in that Bible states that 144,000 souls will be saved when "Jesus" returns.  Now, if that should happen tomorrow, it means that almost 7 BILLION souls will be consigned to Hell, or the lake of fire, there to suffer and burn for all eternity.
Yet Mr. Graham said, "It's all going to turn out all right."
Does anyone besides me see anything wrong with this?
Yet if the Bible-thumpers are right, I guess I'm going to wind up in that lake of fire myself, because I dare to use the brain God gave me to question the propaganda that keeps people living in fear.  But that's okay, because I'll have plenty of company.  Didn't the Bible also say:

  "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:22, 23)

So all those who claim Jesus as saviour, redeemer, et cetera, yet ignore or discount his teachings (remember the Beatitudes, among others?) will find themselves in that same lake of fire.
But if God is truly a loving Being (1 John 4:8: "God is love"), then there is no way he could cast all those souls away like that.  Why?  Because love, in it's truest sense, is totally unconditional.  It is therefore incapable of acting out of revenge, jealousy, anger, spite, disgust, or whatever.  Those are conditions that come about in the absence of love.
According to the Bible, Jesus said the two greatest "commandments" are to love God with all your heart, and to "... love one another as I have loved you."  So then, given the nature of love being unconditional, where do those who call themselves his followers get the idea that they can ignore the poor, the sick, the downtrodden, and anyone else they discriminate against, as if Jesus' teachings have no value? 
I am not a "Christian" in the accepted sense of that word.  I am only on the beginning of the road to learning what that even means and how to BE Christlike.  But I do know that I won't find it in the churches or temples or mosques.  In the Gospel of Thomas (one of the texts discovered at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945 and scientifically dated to have been written between 130 and 250 A.D.), Jesus is recorded as having said:
  "You will not find me in mansions of wood and stone, but in everything around you, AND WITHIN you.  Split a piece of wood, and you will find me; pick up a stone, and I am there."


Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Concept Of Sin: A Primer

The Concept Of Sin: A Primer

File:Creación de Adán.jpg

I recently read an article that touched on the issue of "sin", and decided to look up the word based on my teacher, Master David M. Berry's, teachings.

Master Berry teaches, quoting from the Bible, that "whatever may be known about God is in Man. (Romans 1:19)" Regarding sin, he teaches that sin is ignorance. So when I came across this issue in my reading, I decided to end my ignorance regarding this concept.

First, we must consider the question: What is ignorance? Simply put, ignorance is being without knowledge. It means that the person who is ignorant on a topic or issue, doesn't know all there is to know about it. That would probably cover about 99.99 per cent of humanity, if not more. To anyone's knowledge, nobody on earth knows everything about everything. So EVERYBODY is ignorant.

Now let's go to the concept of "sin". The "traditional" definition is an act or omission that is against God, or words to that effect. Encyclopedia Brittanica defines "sin" as
"moral evil as considered from a religious standpoint. Sin is regarded in Judaism and Christianity as the deliberate and purposeful violation of the will of God." The American Heritage dictionary states that the word is from the "Middle English sinne, from Old English synn", meaning: "1. To violate a religious or moral law. 2. To commit an offense or violation."

But something that has apparently been forgotten came to mind while reading that article that mentioned sin. The English language, including middle and old English, is largely based on the ancient Latin. This stands to reason when we consider that the ancient Roman Empire had a great sway over Brittain, even to the point of having a hand in the legend of King Arthur, who was listed in ancient Roman texts as "Arturus, Dux Bellorum" (Arthur, Duke of War). Then I recalled that Spanish and Italian are even more closely rooted in Latin. The Spanish word, "sin", means "without"; and the Italian is "senza". Even in French, "sanz" is very close to the Latin root word, "sine" (pronounced, in Classical Latin: si-nay), which means "without".

To further this concept, the Latin words "absque", "foras" and "vacuus" are synonymous with "sine"; they ALL mean "without". To go further yet, "vacuus" also means "empty, devoid of, free from, useless". In other words, "without" something. But without WHAT, exactly?

We're dealing with the concept of "sin", which has been said by traditionalists to mean "against God". But what is God? God is the ultimate Truth! So to be in sin is to be without God, without Truth. It has nothing to do with any transgression, it is, as Master Berry states, ignorance. It's being devoid of KNOWLEDGE. Since Knowledge is Power, it means that "sin" is "powerlessness".

To correct this state of condition, Jesus the Christ said, "Know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free."

Yet Truth is this: We CANNOT be without God, for God is in and of everything that exists. "Behold, I am with you, always."

But we are, in Truth, without knowledge. What knowledge, you may ask? The knowledge of our God-hood, our divinity. "Does not your Law say, I said, You are Gods?" And even if we accept this Truth as our own, what good does it do us, if we don't know how to BE Gods? None whatsoever. Therefore, we must learn how to be that which we have been given to be.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Evolutionary Creation

The Evolution Of Man

In the Beginning God created Man.
Or did Man create God?
Only He and We understand.

Through the first nine months evolving
In the womb of Woman-kind,
We go through these symbolic changes.
But one day soon our race will find
That once again we need the aid
Of our Creator, the One We made,
Who helps us learn and helps us grow,
To help us change just one more time,
Into the race we truly need,
To right our wrongs, to end our greed,
To find Hope, gain Peace,
And use our Mind.

Copyright © Donald Charles Rice

Monday, February 20, 2012

The "Nappy Hair" Affair

I first read this article in the St. Petersburg Florida Times, and posted on my first website in Geocities in 1999.  It was written by a black columnist whose name I don't remember.  I thought I'd post it here in light of the current controversy surrounding Nicki Minaj.

The "Nappy Hair" Affair

A third grade teacher in Brooklyn, New York wanted to
help her
students of African and Latino descent build
some self-esteem. So she introduced them to
Hair," a book written by Carolivia Herron, who is an
American of African descent, as well as an assistant
English professor at
California State University.
Professor Herron wrote the book in celebration of the
unbreakable spirit of a little girl and her untameable
hair. The book describes the young girl as having
"the kinkiest, the nappiest, the fuzziest, the most
screwed up, squeezed up, knotted up, tangled up, twisted
up, nappiest hair..."
It has been reported that the tale is, in fact, based
on stories created by Professor Herron's uncle, about
her and her own nappy hair, of which she is uncommonly
proud. It has also been reported that few of those
parents had any children in Ms. Sherman's class, and
that none of them had read the book at all.
But the teacher, Ruth Sherman, was totally unprepared
for the consequences of her action. She was taken out
of her classroom and transferred to an office job, and
some of the parents of students have threatened her life.
Why did this happen, one might wonder. Was it because
of the teacher's
skin shading? Or that she had the utter
audacity to want to teach self-esteem to children not of
her so-called "race?" The answer is, both and more.
It seems that Ms. Sherman, in choosing that book, walked
into a firestorm of racial self-hatred in the United States.
Since slave days, the standard of beauty and acceptance that
has been brainwashed into our heads is having
light skin
and straight hair. Even now, there are many older Americans
of direct African descent who remember their parents forcing
them to get their hair burned and straightened, in the name
of "beauty" and "acceptance."
Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page wrote, "The
'Black is Besutiful' movement of the late 1960's tried to
liberate black Americans from the tyranny of the hot comb,
a lsting symbol of our oppressive fealty to European
standards of beauty. But the durability of hot combs and
other black hair straightening products shows that black
subservience to European standards of beauty remains
largely unbroken, especially for James Brown and the
Rev. Al Sharpton."
Even though the protesting parents completely missed the
point, the children in Ms. Shermans' class loved the book,
according to school officials. And interestingly, Newsweek
reported, "Even after all the commotion, some parents
admitted they still hadn't read the book."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

On The influence Of Music

One of the blogs I read and post on has a piece on how music affects children.  The point is that children tend to internalize what they hear and listen to.  I got to that blog post afte it had been up a while, and found quite a discussion going on.  So after reading several comments,  I decided to put in my two cents worth.  Re-reading it later, I realized I had written and dang blog post.  So I decided to repost it here, on my own blog.

The original blog discussion is here:

Could the Message Be in the Music? What White Kids Listen to Versus What Black Kids Do.

Kudos (Props) to the author of that blog, my online friend, Christelyn Karazin!



Okay, I just got to this post. I've only read a few of the comments, and from that it seems that there's a disparity of perception of the internalization of music. don't know if this will help, but I can relate my own experience. Maybe i'm different than most people, but I've observed that if a song speaks to me, no matter if the artist white, black, hispanic, or purple with pink polka dots, I'm most likely going to internalize it.

I've commented on at least one other blog here that when I was growing up, the only "black" singers allowed in my home were Nat "King" Cole and Charlie Pride. Out of their songs, the only ones that really spoke to me were "Unforgettable" (Cole) and "Kiss An Angel Good Morning" (Pride). Other songs that spoke to me were the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love" and Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" and "The Sound Of Silence".

Later, as I grew up, the ones that spoke to me became more the "social message" songs and less the "romantic" and "love" songs. Ones like John Lennon's "Imagine" and The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby". And later yet, after I got out from under my family, I was exposed to other music that spoke to me, which I also internalized: "Black and White" by Three Dog Night. "Brother Louie" by The Stories. All "social message" songs.

Then I was introduced to "soul" music. Barry White, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, and so on. And that music REALLY spoke to me. I understood almost immediately why it was called SOUL music. And for a while, I silently cursed my family for keeping this beautiful experience from me. And once again I literally fell in love with "love" music. "I Stand Accused" by Isaac Hayes. "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight and the Pips.

But this wasn't the only music I internalized; I syill loved the "social message" songs like "One Tin Soldier" from the movie "Billy Jack". And the juxtaposition of the different types of music I liked and internalized made me realize that it's not the KIND of music, it's what the music says that speaks to me.

But when I first heard "rap", it was the "gangsta" rap. was immediately turned off. I hated it; it glorified destruction and mayhem. It definitely wasn't for me. And when I was later with Carolyn, this was one of the very few things we argued about. Tired of the arguing, I agreed to listen to the words of a couple of Tupac's songs. I don't remember which ones, but when I really listened to them, I realized that he had a message too, one of uplift and hope. But I still disliked it because of the language; as I saw it, there was no need to swear in music. I told Carolyn this, and she agreed in principle, having been raised in the R&B industry. But she also told me that Tupac was able to reach some of the people who were wrapped up in that so-called "culture" with his songs.

To this day, I don't know if it was true. But I do know that there are always possibilities. And I recalled one of the few rap songs I DID like before I was with Carolyn. It was a song by Queen Lateefa: "U.N.I.T.Y." And what stuck with me from that is the main line, the message for the women, especially the AA women: "You gotta let 'em know, you ain't a b*tch or a hoe."

Yup. That's my story ,and I'm sticking with it.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On Personal Growth (Part Two)

Given, then, that we are not evil, how do we get
started changing ourselves? Well, it's been said
that the longest journey begins with a single step.
It's also been said that we ust crawl before we can
walk. For most people, those two statements are
unalterable Truth. So we need to start with some
small thing, something we may see as insignificant,
or nearly so.
Instead of your morning coffee, have some orange
juice. Once a week at first, then twice, until that
coffee has been replaced at the start of your day.
Or skip one of those daytime soap operas, or some
other show that you watch "religiously." Or you
could read "The Art of Inner Listening" by Jessie
Crum instead of the latest Steven King novel.
These are just examples, suggestions. What
your first step is, is your personal choice. But
once you've accomplished your chosen task,
be sure not to just rest on your laurels. Go
on to change something a little harder, then
something harder still.
As you succeed in changing these smaller
things about yourself, you're building your
self-confidence. And you'll need it eventually.
You'll come to something about yourself that
you want to change that, at first, may seem
too difficult, too ingrained in your being,
too much a part of your self-image to even
contemplate really changing. This is when
you must look back on all the changes you've
already made, and tell yourself, "Hey, I did all
that; I can do this, too!"
Continue on this task of changing yourself,
becoming the person you really want to be, and
you will come to see that what you thought of
as "bad" or "evil" about yourself, wasn't bad at
all. It was merely a way station on your path
of [ersonal growth. You will find that you love
yourself; not in any narcissistic way, but in a
manner of wanting to do whatever it takes to
make yourself an even better person.
You will love yourself, perhaps in spite of
that societal programming we've all been
subjected to which tells us that we must
hate ourselves, or at least certain things
about ourselves, which is really the same
thing when all is said and done.
The man known as Jesus of Nazareth taught,
"Love your neighbor as yourself." The clear
implication is that you must love yourself;
otherwise, how can you truly love your
neighbor, or anyone else for that matter?
And the best way to love yourself is to
continuously strive to improve yourself.
To grow. To evolve.
How far can you evolve? Only you can
answer that question. And you can only
answer it by doing it. And the Nazarene,
Jesus, provided the ultimate answer by
asking a question:
"Does not your Law say, I said, you are gods?"
It's a lifelong quest, and a challenge that we
all, sooner or later, must respond to.

On Personal Growth (Part One)

(From my personal journal)

All of humanity is composed of contradiction and opposition,
from the global community all the way down to the individual
man, woman, boy and girl. We each, as individuals, contain
within us, light and dark, truth and falsity, good and not-good.

I do not say "evil," because in Truth, there is no evil; what we
may call "evil" is in Reality a lesson in Truth, that Truth being,
"This is not Love." Therein is another contradiction within us:

Love and not-love.

When our actions and attitudes arise from the area of
not-love, we are conflicted. Acting from not-love gives
rise to selfishness, anger, jealousy, envy, and greed,
among other things. But when we act from Love, those
things from not-love tend to fall by the wayside; they
lose their power to corrupt our lives. The more we
empower Love within us, the less we have of not-love,
and the more we are able to act and feel in harmony
with the rest of Creation. As we empower Love, we
also empower Light, Truth, and Good.

We need to re-define "good." Let us use as an example,
the starting premise of this lesson: contradiction and
opposition. Most of us would call this "bad" or "not good."

On the level of the individual, this is not correct. Dealing
with the contradiction and opposition within ourselves
allows us to define ourselves, for ourselves. And in
reaching those definitions, we enable ourselves to change,
to evolve: "This is what I am; but it is not what I want to be.
That is what I want to be."

This is a necessary first step toward awakening the higher
power within each of us. Once we reach that starting point,
we can begin to alter those parts of ourselves - our actions
and our failures to act; our attitudes, wants and desires,
our false pride - and start to become who and what we
want to be. This is not easy at first; and for some, it will
seem next to impossible.

Why? Because we are comfortable with the way we are,
even when we don't like it. Yet another contradiction.
We're used to ourselves, and to change even the smallest
thing about ourselves takes us out of that place we've
come to call our "comfort zones." But we must leave
those zones in order to become that which we desire
to be.

Should we fail (or decline) to do this, we will not only
keep disliking ourselves; we will also re-inforce that
dislike. We may even come to hate ourselves and
believe we are "evil." And our society and especially
our religions make it easy to see ourselves in this
way. "All have sinned," the Christian Bible says.

Sin, of course, isdefined as "evil." Ergo, we are ALL
evil. Or so they say. Or they'll "flip the script" and
say "We're the good guys, and anyone who doesn't
believe as we do, is evil."

Yet that's a different topic, perhaps for another
entry. Suffice it to say, for now, that this is an
erroneous concept.