May 14, 2013

Wayne Brady is right

So, first, a tiny bit of context, in the video link below.

For hundreds of years, Black slaves in this country were denied the chance to even learn rudimentary reading and writing skills. The ability to articulate was crime, often punishable by beatings, mutilations, and even death. Articulation was literally the next step in evolution and denying this to blacks was a key to maintaining the falsehood that we were less than human.

Articulate African Americans were literally not allowed to be Black by the racist structure that had enslaved them.

There was a time that eloquence and grace were attributes to be valued. Think of Paul Robeson, or Harry Belefonte, Jackie Robinson, or Dr. King, or Malcolm. Respect and poise were never confused with weakness. Far from it: they were signs of strength, self control, and maturity.

Anyone who hoped that voting for a Black president meant you'd be putting a thug in the White House really ought to re-think their understanding of what it means to be an African American.  And I mean that even more for the African Americans who happen to read this than our Caucasian brothers & sisters out there.

May 09, 2013

On Charles Ramsey

I don't think I can do much better than the man himself. Charles Ramsey, in his own words.

YouTube - Charles Ramsey recounts heroic day

 The word "Hero" gets thrown around a lot.  It's rare that we get a clear, pure instance of heroism.   And I love the fact that he claims that he did what he did because he's a man AND he's a Christian AND he's an American.  Talk about buying into the ideal!  For that alone, Charles Ramsey is an inspiration.

But there are two things that bother me:

First, I'm really irritated by all of the people who claim this man is an embarrassment   To me, the real embarrassment is that there are literally millions of decent, every day people like Charles who are dehumanized because they have not been given the opportunities those of us with the means to complain about him have had.  More to the point, if we're uncomfortable laughing at some of the things Mr. Ramsey has said, take a moment and really listen to him.  Is there a single untruth that, so far, has come out of his mouth?

Charles Ramsey is funny, but, most important of all, Charles Ramsey is REAL.  As we used to say in college, he is real as a heart attack.  Maybe we should stop making jokes or blushing and actually think about some of the more uncomfortable truths he has to say.

But the other thing that bothers me is the same thing that bothers Mr. Ramsey.

Girls are snatched away into the darkest corners of the world all day every day.  One of the women Charles rescued had been friend's with the kidnapper's daughter.  And the accused seemed like every other guy in the neighborhood - making ribs, working on cars, listening to salsa, etc.

I'm reminded of Josef Fritzl, who kept his own daughter trapped as a sex slave, along with 3 of the 7 children he sired with her, in a dungeon beneath the house he shared with his wife for 24 years.  I'm reminded of Ted Bundy, who kept the bodies of many of the women he'd taken and murdered in the same secluded wooded areas so he could continue to engage in unspeakable acts, dressing up and applying makeup to the cadavers, until decay made it impossible.    Let me not even get into Jeffrey Dahmer again.

There are monsters out there.  And sometimes, they live right next door.

This is why we all need to be ready to answer the call.  If someone like Charles Ramsey can rise to the occasion, why can't we all?