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.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Wannabee?

Personal note: I first wrote this about 15 years ago, but I think it's still relative in it's message and intent today, especially with the racist attacks the past three years on our President and his family.



I have been asked on several occasions why I wear an X hat or a t-shirt with Malcolm X on it. My normal reply is that Malcolm taught and acted on simple truths which, though he was asasinated over three and a half decades ago, are still valid today.
That statement is usually met by a disinterested and non-committal response. But sometimes I find myself in lively, intelligent conversation touching on any number of topics relevant to Malcolm and his teachings.

Two situations in the summer of 1996, however, cause me a bit of mental and emotional turmoil. The last week of June, I wore both my X hat and a T-shirt showing Malcolm backed by the American flag on the front; and on the back, he is pictured enjoying his family, with the words "Peace and Love" clearly visible.
Four people accused me of being a racist.

The next day, a man asked me if I am a "wannabee" black man because of my X hat. You see, I am what is called "white." So were all five of my accusers. Clearly, none of them had any real idea of Malcolm, and were just as clearly unwilling to learn.

This is not to say that so-called "Caucasians" have a monopoly on bigotry intolerance; we don`t. I have been laughed at and cursed at by a small number of young men of direct African descent. (Interestingly, the few threats and physical altercations I`ve dealt with had nothing directly to do with my advocacy of Malcolms` teachings.) Perhaps unsurprisingly, women of direct African descent generally have reacted by either staring or smiling; they`ve never shown anger or hostility toward my choice of attire.

It would seem, in general, that among people of direct African descent, women have a deeper understanding of Malcolms` experiences and teachings than do men. I do not suggest that there are no bigots among dark women, given, for example, the ongoing controversy among them regarding so-called "inter-racial" relationships.

Rather, it appears to me, a small percentage of young men, and an even smaller percentage of young women of direct African descent have the attitude that so-called "whites" are incapable of understanding certain issues: "You wouldn`t understand; it`s a black thing." Many of these same young men apparently feel threatened by any so-called "white boy" who honestly strives to comprehend these issues; and they react with anger and closed minds instead of an intelligent, open exchange of perceptions.

As threatening as my choice of attire may seem to these young men, none have ever, to my knowledge, called me a racist or a "wannabee." That distinction, ironically, comes from a few supremely ignorant specimens of my own so-called "race." Such ignorance as I`ve described can only be overcome through education and by example. As I teach my son, skin color doesn`t matter; being human does.

Malcolm X was taught from early childhood to be racist. He learned from his father, who preached Marcus Garveys` black separatism. He learned from the KKK types who brutally murdered his father. He learned from the criminal justice system of his youth. Finally, he learned from his mentor, Elijah Muhammad. And he taught what he learned. But then he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, the home of Moslems and their religion, Islam.

From Mecca, Malcolm wrote, "I have broken bread from the same plate and drank from the same cup as brother Moslems who had blond hair, blue eyes and pale skin, and it didn`t matter."
On his return to North America, when reporters asked him What do you now stand for, he replied, "I am for Truth, no matter who speaks it. I am for Justice, no matter who it is for or against. I am a human being first and foremost, and as such, I am for whatever will benefit Humanity as a whole."

Obviously, this was not a man who can be claimed as a hero only for so-called "black America." This was a man who actively sought knowledge and truth. And when the truth he found conflicted with what he had learned before, he stopped being a racist.

This was a man who had the courage to grow, to become a better human being, and to proclaim it to the world in spite of overwhelming opposition. This was, and is, a hero for all people, no matter what degree of skin pigmentation we have.

The man who asked me if I`m a "wannabee" black man received the following response:
"I`m not a "wannabee" anything. I believe we should all follow Malcolms` example and throw off our prejudice."

But after due consideration, I`ve concluded that most people are "wannabee" something. Most of us have something we want but are too afraid to try to get, some status we want to achieve: a "wannabee" sports star, or inventor, or millionaire, or singing sensation. The list is endless. But we can achieve what we want if we work to overcome our fears.

As for me, I "wannabee" an example of positive living, racial healing, family togetherness and economic success, but most of all, I "wannabee" a positive role model for my son, whose mother died nearly ten years ago.

You see, his mother, my wife (pictured above, with me), had at least one pure African in her ancestry, and several so-called "mixed-race" people. If the bigots, racists, and separatists of history had had their way, neither my wife nor my son would ever have been.

Upon further reflection, I`ve decided that my other four accusers were also right. I am a racist. I believe in the Human race, which comes in many sizes and shapes, two genders, and innumerable shades of skin.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

On Belief, Faith, and Truth

(From my personal journal, June 6th, 2007)

What is Belief? Put simply, Belief is a concept that something is true. That something may actually be true; but it might not be. Belief does not make it true. We may have been taught since childhood that something is true. And having been thus taught, we believe it is true. But it is still only a concept. Without Knowledge born of experiencing Truth, that belief will ever remain nothing more than a concept.

How do we know if a belief is true? We could study and cross-reference from now 'til the end of time; but without experiencing Truth, our belief will still remain only a concept. Yet we often go on believing -- or believing in -- something, without ever experiencing that which we believe in. We then enter the realm of Faith.

What, then, is Faith? Faith is only Belief, but belief so strong and pervading that almost no evidence to the contrary can be permitted to disrupt it. Faith borders on the domain of those who may be called "True Believers," those who wil brook no disagreement with their views and dismiss any contrary evidence as suspect.

We may extrapolate that Belief may lead to Faith. Yet here, too, if we're honest at least with ourselves, this faith has not the experience of Truth to back it up, to give it substance. Our Faith is blind; it sees no evidence, no manifestation of Truth. And if we're not very careful here, we may enter the arena of fanaticism, which is what appears to be holding sway in the world about us today, in all areas of human life.

Properly, Belief does lead to Faith, but only if it has been tested and found to be true. It has been placed in the crucible of Experience and come out as Faith. But not the faith taught by religions and their societies, their followers. Not Blind Faith, but the faith spoken of by Jesus of Nazareth: "If you have but the faith of the mustard seed, you shall say to the mountain, Remove yourself, and cast yourself into the sea. And it shall be so." That faith is born of Knowledge, hidden within that tiny seed, of the potential to become a mighty tree.

So, then, Belief, properly tested, leads to Faith born of Knowledge gained from Experience. Properly observed and applied, that knowledge leads to Truth. And since knowledge, once acquired, becomes a part of ourselves, an indispensible component of our very Being, it follows that Truth can only be found within ourselves. Not the truth found in books, films, music and conversation (though these things can be useful as guides), but the Truth we extrapolate from observing and applying our inner Knowledge.

Then, wonder of wonders, we will find that we've had that knowledge all along! It has always been ours, individually and collectively. We don't need the books. As Master David M. Berry taught his students, "You ARE the book!"

Belief is only a beginning. Faith, that of the mustard seed, we may consider an intermediate state. Even Truth is not the end of our journey. There is another aspect to all of this, a dimension of awareness, of being, that is absolutely necessary, which must permeate all of our endeavors, if we are to succeed in our quest. What is that indispensible ingredient?



On Finding Your Truth

My  journey is going great, as I learn new insights and adapt my life to this new understanding. I must say that, since my early 20's, I'd thought that churches were just a beginning on the path of higher awareness. Now, I know that even that is a generous asssessment. The real journey begins when we start on an honest, unbiased quest for Truth. The man we call "Jesus of Nazareth" said, "Does not your Law say, I said, You are Gods?" He also said, "Marvel not at what what I have done. What I have done, you also shall do, and greater things shall you do."

The question, of course, is "How?" How does one actually DO what Jesus did, and greater? How does one become God?

Jesus also said, "Know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free." He didn't say, "Have faith in the Truth" or Believe in the Truth." He said "Know the Truth." So how does one know? Seeking to answer that question is the beginning of knowledge.

In my life, I've learned that we don't really KNOW something until we DO something. So how do we DO Truth? By LIVING it, by incorporating it into our daily lives. If we don't live our truth, and act on it, we are living a lie; our LIFE is a lie. So we need to CHANGE the way we live. And we start by recognizing that when God, or the Universe, or whatever label we choose to give that Great Intelligence, created everything, He put Himself into all of creation. Therefore, all of Creation contains God; we truly are ALL ONE. And we need to respect that oneness.

Didn't Jesus say, "As you do to the least of these, so you do to me."? And when he said, "I am the Way, te Truth, the Light; no man comes to the Father but by me," wasn't he saying, "Do as I have done; live as I have lived. Lay down your life and follow me." He wasn't saying to live an itinerant life of poverty, but to do everything we put our hands and minds to with LOVE. And the love here is a pure love of all of creation, recognizing still that we are all one. As you do to your neighbor, you do to Jesus. And to me. And especially to yourself. So change how you live, change how you love. Change yourself. Live your truth. BE your truth. And it will eventually lead you to Truth.


On Knowing Truth

The Christ said, "Know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free." But how does one KNOW if one doesn't DO? So this is my quest: to KNOW by DOING. Yet I have learned that I must learn HOW to do before I can DO.

Faith is insufficient to the Cause if one is to fulfill the Christ teaching that we are all Gods. KNOWLEDGE through ACTION is EMPOWERMENT toward FULFILLMENT.