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What This Picture Represents

 

What This Picture Represents

This picture, or rather, pictures of Blacks in the south such as these, have been used for years to capitalize on how Blacks are incapable of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps, as it were.

In reality, what this picture (and others like it of that post-slave era) shows is NOT how backwards Black people were, rather, it shows that no matter how little they had, they literally put sticks together to provide shelter for their families. They cut down trees to build their own cottages and shingled them as best they could.

What the pictures don’t say or show is how whites (#wp) have worked as a group (with a few outliers) to keep people of color (#POC) oppressed. For example, POC were routinely denied proper clothing so they learned to soften burlap bags (aka croaker sacks), dye them using natural coloring, and design their own clothes. Routinely #wp, pre- and post-colonial era, ran “tabs” of debts that they used to accuse POC, particularly Black people (#Bp), of owning them after their harvests, because as long as Blacks owed debt they were not allowed to leave (by law) that farmer’s property. Hence, Black people would work from sun-to-sun (sun up to sunset) and #wp would give them pennies on the dollar for their share of labor, whereas they would give white workers the standard pay.

Another example is if the Black worker (#Bw) picked 100 lbs. of cotton and cotton was valued at 25-cents per 100 lbs., the white worker would get the 25-cents for his 100 lbs of cotton picked, but the #Bw may only get 5-cents for the same 100 lbs. picked. Added to that, the farmer (plantation owner, slaver) would “supply” the workers with food and cloth, but charge exorbitant rates for their purchases so that after harvest the #Bw would still owe for the food, or tools, or cloth.

So #Bp would garden, soften burlap, and whittle or forge their own tools in order to survive. There was a time when #wp would charge #Bp, or even imprison them for cutting down trees for their shelter. When they became adapt at short-cutting, or circumventing, some laws or traditions controlled by #wp, often #wp would find a reason to riot. There was no law enforcement representative who would or could help #Bp fight for their rights (because most were white supremacists), nor courts to enforce any law suits against white landowners (regardless of whether or not they owned slaves). Additionally, Blacks were prohibited from owing guns (and sometimes knives) to protect themselves.

There were even more petty laws forbidding #Bp from looking directly into the eyes of #wp, laws restricting every way of life that made living worthwhile was used to dampen and defeat Black people, but they were resilient and circumvented what was in order to create alternative routes to accomplish what they wanted.

No, in my eyes, the picture doesn’t show defeated Blacks, as some might see, but shows their pride in being able to create a home and family amidst the cruelty of white rule.

[Picture from: AtlantaBlackStar.com]

Thanksgiving Revelations 2017

Well folks, I solved the problems of why this country got itself into this sorry state (and the world followed)! In one evening at the annual Turkey-fest dinner in the fabulous home of people I’ll call my Fabulous Family, I think I finally understood how wypipo have come to hate Black people. By the way, I didn’t get permission to explain this publicly, so I’ll just use nicknames. So, let me just set the scene for you:

This family has hosted this event almost fifteen consecutive Thanksgiving holidays. And after much concerted, often orchestrated, efforts of (mainly) the womenfolk, seven big tables had been set with charger plates, dinner plates, bread plates, linen napkins upon nice linen tablecloths, and real silverware; the food was blessed. Mind you, everyone knew what they needed to do, or saw what needed done and did it. There was barely a raised eyebrow during the whole process, but there was MUCH laughing and joking going on.

Around the time most of the people (maybe a little under about 50 people in the headcount) had finished stacking their plates with second and third rounds back at the food stations, and everyone was deep into the mountain of desserts, people began piling up to-go boxes (also provided by the hosts). Few people drank and the hardest drink was beer.

Now it was fun time; time for the traditional concert that this Fabulous Family (FF) puts on annually. Host mom, Mrs. Doc, is very proud of this FF (and rightly so) which is stacked deep in generations of great artists of singers, soloists, musicians, and DJs. There is no lack of talent, nor musical ambition in this FF. They were all born ready and able. So… that night…

Mar (in her 20s) was killing it on vocals (ooooo, vocals that give you chills)! Rho (mother of Britt) wasn’t slacking either. Britt (also in her 20s) had to be cajoled into singing, but she didn’t have to be cajoled into doing background for most of the songs the others sang, with the intermittent help of little Jordy (who, at 11 years, can belt with the best of them). Robbie (sister to Rho and mother of Mar and Jordy) punched the sky in vocals to start it off [no room for the holiness dance]. And Doc, dad/granddad, showed his flare as he zipped through “The Girl From Ipanema” on the organ; we shoulder dances like Ethiopians in our chairs.

Then… there was Miss J’s group (NOTE: For some reason, all the white folks sat at one table designated specifically for them nearest the front door in chairs marked “reserved.” Didn’t figure that out; didn’t ask for an explanation). Now, Jean and her family have been acquainted with this FF for years and have attended this holiday function for almost as long as they’ve held it, so why they were separate I have no clue (nor care).

Anyway, this year Miss J’s family brought a cute little friend-girl who envisions herself a singer. Lawd! From what I could hear, the child couldn’t carry a note if she paid someone to help her with it (but she had the guts to try). She “sang” a couple of songs, the first of which she kept losing her key and her part (even though Mar patiently held the phone (with the song on it) before her so she could see the words). My daughter, who sat closest to her, said that although she didn’t do too well then, at least she wasn’t tone deaf, and she needed a LOT of practice. That was generous.

The second time around she got up more nerve and wanted to do that new type of “singing” recently named “cups.” Now, a cups song (bonafide wypipo’s music) is a new form of rhythmic singing; it is snappy-fast and coordinated, and mainly consists of the hollow snap of the mouth of a cup hitting a flat (wood/metal) surface, accompanied by the sharp clap of the hands in a fast moving, rhythmic fashion, which is (ordinarily) a nice sounding accompaniment. But little friend-girl made very little noise when she was supposed to bang the cup (losing 1/3 of the effects) and almost no sound when she (almost) clapped her hands, which lost another 1/3 of the effects because the voice is supposed to round it out by being the last 1/3. So, in summary: she’d flip the cup on a cloth-covered table, quietly, “almost” clap her hands, then issue out weak “notes” (trying to modulate). The group encouraged her and clapped for her efforts. I used this time to gather plates.

Then little J (Miss J’s son) wanted his turn in the songfest. Keep in mind that any effort he makes will be championed because he is a sweet, cheerful, teenaged boy with some challenges who rarely separates his teeth even to talk, and loves country western music (as does Rho, by the way). For him, Chelle (sister to Rho and Robbie) turned the volume waaay up on the background soundtrack, but it wasn’t high enough to make it much better so I used that time to gather napkins and silverware. Personally, I think he wasn’t too bad so I cheered and clapped for his enthusiasm along with the rest of them, because—he deserved that (even I don’t have the nerve to sing in front of all that talent).

When I wasn’t clearing up I sat and recorded the FF’s young ladies actually sing and Doc play one song on the organ that made us bounce in our seats; I just enjoyed the hell outta the concert.

Then, quite unexpectedly, a singular, strong thought entered my mind as I watched the wypipo–watch the FF young ladies and Doc (he kilt-ted that organ!!) entertain the crowd as they showcased their enormous, collective, wealth of talents.

It occurred to me that eons ago, wypipo picked Black folks to enslave after they saw these larger-than-life kinds of talents that Black people (innately) have and realized on some unconscious level just how weak they (many, many of them) are in comparison and decided, subconsciously, that they needed to control those talents; to profit from all those gifts and skills. I mean, even back then there were wypipo having to use special made tools to make stuff, but imagine how gob-smacked they were when they saw a Black man whittle a doll, a fiddle, perfect figurines, guitars, or even a drum with a singular, semi-dull pocket knife. Then, factor in that in spite of making it unlawful to teach Black people to read, some were smart enough to figure it out and learned on their own (like my oldest brother did) by teaching themselves to read simply by observing in the shadows what the wypipo did without those same wypipo understanding just how smart their shadowed audience was.

In that moment, I generalized them as they generalize Black people–into one singular group, while denying them an individual identity. I look at them as they do us–as if we have no significant within-group distinctions. I wondered if that’s what’s fueled them for generations to keep Black folk from out-shining, out-doing, out-performing them in life–in general? Granted, there have been many white people contributors to the growth of the world, but who can say with unproven certainty that none of those contributors carried enough Black DNA to make those contributions possible or worthy? Let that sink in.

And we, Black folk, don’t help our own situation because we’ve been cheering their weaknesses for generations as if by doing so white people will work harder to get better—be better people. As if they, after seeing our collective brilliance, will recognize that we are now, and have always been, strong contributors to all that this nation has produced, created, and thereby, progressed from. As if by doing so that wypipo, in turn, will step back, acknowledge those contributions, and let us be. They haven’t, and with their faulty thinking of somehow being superior, they can’t, because they are limited, no–controlled–by that very thought that all they have to be is–born, and somehow that makes them superior. Think about that, just by birth you are superior in thought, word, and deed, without any work to improve your condition, and you are better than a whole continent of people. How tainted, tarnished, faulty, is that!

Yup, I thought all that in those moments. I felt that I finally understood what I imagined started all those years of slavery and degradation, Jim Crow years, segregation, and public executions to anyone who dared to show talents, intelligence, or evidence an interior brightness that couldn’t be tolerated so had to be snuffed out, the consistently inconsistent give-and-take social systems which continue to make Black people, in particular, people of color in general, socially paranoid; all of it came into focus.

I concluded that:

1-They (generalized wypipo) have operated on a subconscious belief that if they kill the light, they stifle the people (whereby they continue to underestimate us all),
2-dolt45 is their weakest link (which has no impact of their unwavering support and loyalty),
3-“And their weakest link shall lead them” must be in the wypipo’s Bible (Dotoallofme 12:2-48) somewhere,
4- They’re very insecure people (as a group—who else would follow the weakest link except lemmings?),
5-Petty minds breed petty people.

6- Like lemmings, the petty minds are still breeding and regenerating that same pre-colonial ignorance of how the world works (but never really has).

Boy, what an evening of revelations!

 

Yes, white women are complicit in killing us

I recently responded to a post:

“16 Women vs. Donald Trump

Being Liberal

(W) 16 women have come forward to report being sexually harassed or assaulted by Donald J. Trump. Isn’t it time to hold the most powerful, and public, figure in America to account?”

This included a video where 16 women talked about how dolt45 (I refuse to intentionally write his name) assaulted them on some level and it infuriated me so much that I had to respond as follows:

All you white women voters, don’t tell me about how much you want rights and equality when you defiantly, against ALL evidence to the contrary, consciously voted for this ass who, from the outset, in his very own voice, told you what a worm he was, and showed you/told you how he demeaned women.

Add to that he hung out with like-minded worms and human(?) vermin that he appointed into leadership and more powerful positions as soon as he got into office. To date, all of them together have worked to strip you and all women of any rights you have of your own body and livelihood…, of any rights WE have of our own bodies and livelihoods.

Your ancestors, in their time, did something similar with the Plessy v Ferguson suit when the Supreme Court issued that infamous “separate but equal” verdict to keep Blacks from becoming independent by any means necessary. You need to own that, too.

Your female ancestors formed groups like the daughters of the American revolution and united daughters of the confederacy (lower case intentional) to make sure white supremacy remained in control over education, the workplace, laws, written history, and any thoughts of fair play by guiding your men like puppets on strings and crying rape when you felt they were becoming too complacent.

And your female ancestors also used intimidation in the form of erecting statues of the losers of wars and shaming any white man or woman who didn’t buy into what hate they were peddling, by shaming them into silence, shunning them, targeting their families and children, and withdrawing support of their businesses (yes, they were too weak to fight).

And in this generation—to this day, you’re doing it again by supporting white men who abuse, rape, or in some way molest, the young, the innocent, the children, and the women (even white women) who won’t fall into lockstep with your evil agenda by making the worse of your lot the commander(molester)-in-chief. You collude with the petty powerful upon the weaker/weakest to maintain that behind-the-scenes control when it suits you, as easily as you plead ignorance of worldly situations when it suits you.

To this day your collective bodies STILL question a Black woman who cries rape (Lupita Nyong’O v Harvey Weinstein) while “praying for” all the other white women Weinstein brutalized over the years. You (the collective) are hypocrites to justice, equality, and a detriment to the forward movement of this country—this world.

And just so there’s no confusion, I’m using the umbrella “collective” as you do to Black people—as if Black people are a solid mass, whole groups of people you refer to as “them,” as if they are all an inseparable group, which it certainly isn’t.

All of you should look at and within yourselves and see that as a (generalized) collective, you have done more damage to humankind across the world than the duration of any war. And while some of you boast not being an active participant in that destruction, you sat passively by as you watched your sisters cause harm that you could have—should have stopped.

If you are ever puzzled as to why women of color don’t consider you as “woke” as you think you are, you need to stop running from history, sit your collective asses down, and read a book to learn how your collective actions are still working against the possibility of us having a better nation.

What you need to do is to understand at a biological level that your race is no better than any other. You need to stop using the Bible to support your hate, indifference, and intolerance.

You need to “get it” that it will only be with the collective genius of ALL ethnic groups that we will have a future worth living. And that each time you allow a Black child, or other person of color be assassinated while you stand by passively wondering “what did he do that we didn’t see on camera” when someone is beaten mercilessly, you just may be losing another link to the creation of something wonderful that may help you or your loved one survive in the future.

Stop acting as if you had the wherewithal to know how to do all it takes to run a city, state, country without other cultures—you don’t, and the failure shown in the constant turnover of your leader’s choices for positions they are incompetent at should be a big clue. God made us to be interdependent, that’s why there are so many different cultures. To deny that is to align yourselves more with terrorists who also believe in intolerance like ISIS with Sharia Laws rather than true American values.

Start with “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration,” by Isabel Wilkerson. It is history written into a novel that will keep you spellbound.

It’s YOU, white women, your lack of knowledge, your lack understanding of other cultures, your lack of an understanding of your own heritage and how it has impacted others, your lack of understanding of the history of all others; it’s YOU–your ignorance is killing us all.

 

Family Life in the 1940s-50s: A Black/white Comparison

Family life in the 1950s is the stuff of myth: rolling suburban lawns, practical housewives, Cadillacs, and tuna casserole. A lot of that is based in fact. Flush with postwar freedom and cash, life looked pretty good to most Americans. They got married earlier than at any other time in the century (women at 21 and men at 24). Incomes more than doubled from 1935 to 1950, and 59 percent of American households owned a car. Still, day-to-day life could be a slog.

We decided to imagine what a typical day might have been like for your grandparents at age 30, circa 1950. We’ll give them the most popular male and female names of babies born in 1920, Robert and Mary. A marriage search on Ancestry shows this isn’t a hypothetical pairing: There are millions of records for Robert-Mary couples in the early 1940s, when our 30 year-olds would have gotten hitched. We’ll start with the white version.

6 a.m. [#wp]

Mary wakes up early because there’s a lot to pack into the morning. Before her two kids go to school at 8 a.m., she needs to iron Linda’s dress and John’s shirt, make their lunches, and get breakfast ready. She’s in a rush, so it will probably just be cereal: Grape Nuts for her and Sugar Frosted Flakes for the kids. Sugar cereal was still a novelty and they’d begged her for Sugar Frosted Flakes after hearing Tony the Tiger say they were “Grrrreat!”

Robert has coffee and cereal with the kids and skims the morning paper. He gives the kids the comics page. Then he hops in the car and drives to work (“Goodnight Irene” on the radio). Their house is in an urban metropolitan area just outside the city, in a nascent ring of suburbs. Like a third of American workers, he has a job in manufacturing, at an automobile factory.

5:00 a.m. [Black version]

Jim Crow laws of segregation were in full force. The NAACP was just founded in 1940 and wasn’t fully operational, nor helpful to the daily lives of the average Black person.

May-May wakes up extra early to prepare for the day. She has five kids who need to get to school at 8:00 a.m., and some share classes with (white) Mary’s kids.

May-May’s kids are crammed into a 2-bedroom flat in government housing because she and Big Junior aren’t allowed to buy the home of their choice, which happens to be near the white people’s homes. Big Junior had served time in the segregated army, but was not allowed housing benefits when he mustered out. They’re one of thousands who have been red-lined for housing.

Since the mandatory bussing laws were passed, May-May no longer has time to iron clothes so she invests in wash-‘n-wear clothes. She goes outside in the cold, dark weather and removes the stiff clothes off the clothesline (that she was too tired to do the day before, and tosses them on the bunkbeds where her kids are sleeping. Breakfast is not cereal, which is quite a luxury, but toasted white bread with margarine spread (and sometimes jelly), and powdered milk, all of which are government issued because, in spite of their college educations, they cannot get jobs that pay more than minimum wage and need a supplement, because… Jim Crow.

There is no coffee and cereal with Big Junior and his kids because he’s working third shift and only arrives home when they’re in school. Big Junior, like May-May, takes the public transportation to and from work because they cannot get a car loan because they have no assets… because… minimum wage, redlined, no savings, because… Jim Crow.

 

7:00 a.m. [#POC]

Dishes are piled into the sink with a daily promise to wash them after school, because outside forces control their lives through the schedules of mass transportation. Four of Big Junior and May-May’s five kids are on the bus on their way to their segregated school because they live farther out and it takes longer to get to school—and back; it is usually dark in the mornings and dark in the evenings while they ride the busses to-and-from home. The baby went next door to the neighbor, Miss Jefferies, who gets government aid because of some health issues, but she takes care of all the kids of working parents in the block.

The dirty clothes are stacked in the corner of the respective bedrooms to be taken to the laundromat on Saturday, which is national Black people’s wash day at the wash-o-teria (in some places).

May-May left the house before her latchkey kids because she has to take the bus to make it to work as an expert seamstress in a sweatshop in the downtown of the city. She’s good enough to have her own clothing line, but no one will finance her business; she is paid $1.25/hour more than other workers because the manager doesn’t want her to leave, even though he berates her and her work constantly—keeps her humble, he says.

8 a.m. [#wp]

Having put the kids on the school bus, Mary cleans up the kitchen. Then she throws a load of laundry into the washing machine. Before marrying Robert, she had worked briefly as a secretary (the most common job for women at the time) but now runs the house. Most of her friends do the same: only 33 percent of women work, while 86 percent of men do. Yet the 20 hours a week she spends cooking certainly feels like a job.

Robert clocks in and takes his place on the factory floor. He supervises the new machines that the company is experimenting with to cut and install parts. Automation is just beginning at car factories, but there were still a lot of human operators on the noisy floor. It’s a boom time in the industry.

8:00 a.m. [#POC]

Big Junior, like his wife, is an exceptional and skilled factory worker. He works graveyard shift because there is a $.50/hour pay differential over day workers. He misses his kids, but knows sacrifices have to be made to provide for them.

At that time about 60 percent of Black women worked compared to 30 percent of white women, but with both parents working together they still earned 13 percent less than whites. <https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/02/the-origins-of-the-racial-wage-gap/461892/&gt;

Arriving to work five minutes late because of the bus and traffic, May-May is docked 15 minutes, the default rate. She works through lunch to make up for it.

12 p.m. [#wp]

Robert and his co-workers have an hour for lunch and go to the diner a block from the factory. They scan a menu of toasted club sandwiches, burgers, and milkshakes — though they could also treat themselves to veal cutlets or crab cakes.

Mary goes to the supermarket, which has recently opened and was more convenient going to multiple mom-and-pops. The number of supermarkets in America doubled between 1948 and 1958, offering shoppers plenty of parking, wide aisles, bright lights, and air conditioning.

12:00 p.m. [#POC]

May-May works through lunch to make up for the bus (she has no control over AND she left on time) getting her to work late. She has a greasy fried boloney sandwich and stale potato chips which she eats between stretch breaks at her sewing machine. Big Junior sleeps a sleep of exhaustion while day workers and women of leisure are having their lunches.

3 p.m. [#wp]

With the kids home from school, Mary keeps them entertained. John watches a slinky climb down the stairs and Linda blows bubbles. Other popular toys are Legos and a new Fisher-Price fire truck. The decade would later produce classics like Mr. Potato Head and Play-Doh.

3:00 p.m. [#POC]

Big Junior is home sleeping when the kids arrive and let themselves in. They quietly make snacks of government issued processed meats (which were linked to cancer studies). They made sandwiches with cheese, mayonnaise and logs of bologna that they had to slice themselves. The upside is that Big Junior is able to have dinner with his kids and see May-May briefly. < https://www.institutefornaturalhealing.com/2015/07/processed-meats-declared-too-dangerous-for-human-consumption/&gt;

The younger children played on the stairs trying to make a mangled Slinky roll down the stairway, and try to keep the noise down so Big Junior can prepare for work that night.

5 p.m. [#wp]

Robert leaves work after an 8-hour day, as set by the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938. He makes about $13 a day, which makes his annual income around the national median of $3,216 per year (about $32,00 today).

Mary has Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook open on the counter. The family is tired of casserole so she’s trying a new ham meatloaf, made in a ring pan for visual interest, with a side of canned pineapple. She is often tempted to pull out a frozen TV dinner — the important thing is that they all eat together, right? — but Good Housekeeping says you should take pride in your cooking. (And always makes it sound so easy.)

 

5:00 p.m. [#POC]

According to Carruthers and Wanamaker, (2016), ‘” ‘The discriminatory preferences of white southerners were powerful in limiting black public-school quality and reducing the wages of young black men through the human capital channel,’ the authors write. The persistent inequality of educational opportunities, they found, singlehandedly cut earnings of black Southern workers by as much as 50 percent.” <http://www.nber.org/papers/w21947&gt;

Therefore, using this study of income analysis, Big Junior and May-May worked more than the average yet still only earned about $1,500 (or $15,000 current year figures).

May-May arrives home in time to check the kids’ homework, eat mac ‘n cheese with (processed) hot dogs cut up in it prepared by Big Junior, fuss at the kids for not getting their things ready for the next day, and kiss Big Junior before he leaves so that he can put in overtime at the factory.

May-May and Big Junior’s family might possibly get a canned ham for the holidays, but not for average meals, and frozen TV dinners (cheap store-brands, which were never filling) would also have been a possibility, but May-May has never had a cookbook because her mother and grandmother made sure she learned to cook by the time she was in elementary school. 

< http://classroom.synonym.com/how-african-americans-lived-in-the-1940s-12081821.html>

7 p.m. [#wp]

After dinner, the family plays a game of Monopoly. In the years before TVs were common, board games were a popular form of entertainment. Only 9 percent of American households had TVs in 1950, but everybody wanted one. If the family went to a bar or a friend’s house, they might catch Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater. A variety series filled with gags and jokes, it was the most popular show on television in 1950-1951.

7:00 p.m. [#POC]

After doing homework where the older kids help the younger ones, if they can’t watch the neighbor’s television, the older children play stick ball in the streets in from of the apartment building. There is only one television in the neighborhood and the mother of the house is kind enough to let nearly 15 kids pile into her living room to watch The Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, and Jackie Gleason before it got late enough to evict them all so they could get some sleep.

8 p.m. [#wp]

Mary gets the kids ready to bed while Robert reads. Following the advice of Dr. Spock, whose child-care Bible came out in 1946, she tries to make bedtime pleasant, with stories or songs. Unlike her parents, who thought too much affection could make a child spoiled, Mary makes them feel loved. Sometimes, she dozes off with them. It’s been a long day.

8:00 p.m. [#POC]

The kids come in from playing stick ball covered in a day’s worth of sweat, sharing the same tub of ever-cooling bath water until they are all bathed. The kids get themselves ready for bed while May-May helps Big Junior get ready for work and sneaks in a few rare moments of intimacy. They work hard to keep their relationship together while dealing with the outside forces of racism, prejudice, and social injustices every time they try to do better for themselves and their kids.

Yep, the white-icized version of American history does make it sound so easy.

—Original [#wp] portion by Rebecca Dalzell from https://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/a-long-day-in-the-life-of-your-grandparents/

There’s smoke in my house

There’s so much smoke that sometimes it feels like someone is in the attic blowing smoke directly into the vents. It smells like a casino and I can recognize that same smell the moment I walk into any casino.

But my landlords, a couple, wouldn’t send a handyman to clean the vents. No, they had to come themselves to dispel me of the notion that there was smoke in the house. Now, if I could do this vocally, I’d use a common Asian dialect to recreate our conversations about this smell, but suffice it to be written in broken English. I tell her I’m glad she came because men usually don’t have as refined a sense of smell as women do.

Her (in understated, quite tasteful, black knee length dress with matching black purse, carried on hand like Sophia on Golden Girls): “What you smell?” She starts off with a direct challenge.

Me: “It smells like it’s coming from the vents.”

Her: Walking further into the house. “No, no smell smoke.”

Him: “No come from vent. I change all [points to the filters in the ceiling for lack of proper words].”

Her: “Where you smell?”

Me: “In the bedrooms, one of them I use as my office, and here [point to my dining table where my computer is].”

Him: Furiously, “We do whole house. We change all [points to ceiling filter]. No carpet, new flo,” [points to wood floors in bedroom], we paint, no smell.”

Her: “No smell heh [points to the living room space]. Maybe furniture smell. You smoke?” She turns to him and they have a conversation in their native language.

Me: “No, we don’t smoke” I say as they finish their exclusive conversation.

Her: “I smell sometin, maybe in hall, maybe some heh [points to dining area]. Maybe give me slight head hurt.” She continues to walk around the house inspecting, he follows.

Her: “No smell in there [points to Andre’s office].”

He: Goes to sink and smells garbage disposal. “Maybe heh,” he explains to my assumed naivety, “you run garbage, sits in sink, smell. Where you run?” I show him where the garbage disposal button is under the sink. He turns the water on and runs garbage disposal.

She turns the water off as disposal is running.

I quickly move towards the sink and say, “No, you have to run the water while it’s on.”

At the same time, he’s waving her hand away from the water faucet and turns the water back on.

He stops the disposal, turns off the water, goes into my bedroom.

I explain that it’s not the garbage disposal, it’s smoke and it’s coming from the vents.

She follows him claiming, “No smell smoke heh,” continues into the master bath. “You have ka?”

Me: Not understanding her pronunciation, I ask her to repeat it. Still don’t get it.

Her: “Ka.” She looks at me as if I’m dense.

Him: Stooping with his hand at about his ankles indicating size, “Dog, ka?”

Me: “Oh, sorry, no, no dog, no cats, no pets at all.”

Him: In the master bath, explains that I need to run the water in the sinks to get rid of trapped debris. “Catcha heh,” he points to the U turn in the pipes under the sink. “You run water to move out,” he gestures in a sweeping motion how the water will clean the drain after debris is washed down the drain. He points to the shower drain suggesting that there’s debris in there causing the problem.

Me: “No, that’s not making the smell of smoke.”

Her: “House closed 1-2 yeh, no smell after that. We come heh weekend while redo, no smell.” She’s empathic and slightly aggressive.

Again, softly, patiently, I explain that there is nothing in the drains that’s causing the smell of smoke. I tell them, too, that if the people who lived here were heavy smokers then the smoke has penetrated the vents and the wood in the attic, all the while knowing there’s no way they’re buying or even understanding the logic in that argument. After all, to them it’s been two years since the house has been occupied, which somehow invalidates any lingering smoke smells.

They walk through each room and come back to the living room. “No smell, maybe heh,” she proclaims. “Maybe time to change filter. Maybe our handyman do, but you pay, or you do.”

He: “Time for change,” [he points to filter in ceiling]. “You see they dirty. Six monf; time to change.”

Me: “The filter?”

Her: “You pay for fillta. Six monfs long time, or handyman change, you pay for.”

She goes to the back door, opens it and goes out to back yard (definitely not in the smoke-filled house complaint), which has just jagged rocks where a lawn used to be and some rose bushes on stakes against the back wall. “Was plant dying…” she mutters as she checks out back yard.

Me: “I have a gardener.”

She: Exclaims happily “Ahhh,” as she looks at the cared-for yard. “Look good,” as if this could part of the reason she was there.

Me: Sighing with relief that I didn’t leave the yard to be overgrown on Andre’s promise to take care of it “one day.” I explain to her that there is no smoke smell in the yard or outside.

She: Suddenly has an epiphany about a solution. “You open fron doo, you open back doo, breeze, no smell!”

Me thinking: There are no screens on either door to prevent flies, gnats, and lizards that I see scurrying about from coming in. Neither can I see if someone comes in either door depending on where I am in the house if the doors are open, but wow, she has solved the f**king problem, WTF didn’t I think of that! [I think pissedly]?

We move back into the house

Her: “You open doo! Air good. Good neighborhood. No one come in. You open front doo, back doo, [makes sweeping motion that I assume is the wind passing through].” She pulls out her phone and hits her weather app, shows me that the temperature is 81 degrees. “Now not hot.”

Me: Not mentioning that our car had been broken in as well as other cars in the neighborhood, so leaving my door open to the randomness of strangers ain’t gonna happen! Quietly, respectfully, I say to her, “I really didn’t mean for this to become [mentally struggling for a replacement for bone of contention continue] an argument, I’m just saying that there’s a [f**king] smell of smoke coming from the vents that is quite [f**king overpowering] strong and I wondered if you would run an ozone machine in here to get rid of it.” I continue to explain that I had already bought a Groupon to have the vents cleaned at our expense, but the AC company told me that cleaning the vents probably wouldn’t get rid of that smell. It was he who suggested the ozone machine.

Her: “We come weekend (last year some time), house make new, paint, change fillta, all new, no smell. No smell after two yeh, I say you change fillta, den no change, you do [insinuating that if there is no change after changing the filters I can use the ozone machine]. No smoke, you pay fo.”

And through all this I believe in my heart that they are well-meaning; that they meant no disrespect to me as a tenant. It’s just a big f**king cultural gap and I’ve heard lots of jokes about Asians (collectively) and their legendary tight fists when it comes to spending money. They certainly live up to those stereotypes.

I escort them to the door and as they leave He sees a tile that has loosened on the roof overhanging the front walk. He asks for a ladder, I provide him a ladder and a rubber mallet, and as he climbs the ladder I steady it by holding the proper side like I’ve been taught eons ago. He says something rapid-fire to her in the native language and she moves to hold the ladder. He fixes the tile, puts the ladder back. I thank them for coming, close and lock the door.

Fade to black.

She Waits: The story of my life with my mother (short version)

My mother waits.

For death, I believe.

Playing solitaire by the hour, day, week after week.

Waiting.

In my house.

Failing me as an adult child as she did when I was a dependent child.

Resentful that her children kept her from getting the man she wanted.

The unnamed, unidentified, fantasy man who would give her all she needed.

An amalgamation of men who paraded through her life, failing to see through her wiles to comprehend the truth beneath her smile.

Her once young self with a beautiful face, flawless skin, tapered legs, skin bearing evidence of the races mixing in her blood, still proud as she ages.

She’s needed all of these components throughout her life; still uses all to get what she wants.

Still not accepting, in her advanced age, that it was she who, in her prime of life, controlled conception, contraception, birth.

Not the men whose faces she can no longer recall.

It was her who brought us here into her world. Eight.

She remains the outward picture of southern gentility.

Polite, but not friendly with my friends.

She makes only a few of her own.

Stays away from long acquaintances who suggest death is near; no visits to friends in hospice care as if death will overtake her immediately–but isn’t that what she wants?

Even her children are kept somewhat distant.

Lonely and afraid she is.

Of life; living; a conundrum in one tiny figure.

Acquires no things of value or substance.

Afraid her children will inherit what she leaves.

Applies to all mail order sweepstakes while sending money for prayer schemes on a global level.

Still will not voluntarily contribute to conversation to the living.

Gives no gifts, but unforgiving when hers don’t arrive.

Does not socialize in friendly groups.

Just waits. For what, I ask?

For my ship to come in, she responds.

And she continues her lifetime wait.

A sad, lonely, still outwardly beautiful woman, waits.

She does take the time to tune in to electronic preachers asking her to send money.

Greedy for The Word as if there is a magic phrase, an elixir, that will admit her to heaven.

And in between The Word and solitaire–

She waits.

For death? Because she has not learned that death is the end of fulfillment for the living.

Waiting in my house, on my watch.

I’m afraid of that.

Not because it ends life, but because she will greet it like a long-lost lover.

Signifying that I, her grown woman child,

Am still unable to please her.

 

[1998]

Our Political System Needs an Overhaul

Let me start with the fact that I’m not a political wizard, but I’m an observer of how our politics have been working for generations and it from that observation that I make my comments.

One of the most outdated things we have now is the limited 2-party system, because it virtually eliminates any other candidate who isn’t democratic or republican, or it pits two worthy candidates against each other instead of letting the voters decide which one to support. This greatly effects citizens voting because, as we have seen from this last (2016) election, citizens are now highly aware of the purpose of the Electoral College (EC) system and they now have seen proof that no matter how they voted, the EC will override any efforts they make to put the most prepared candidate into office.

So, what do we know about the EC? Most of us know little to nothing (much of what I learned was in high school and I’ve forgotten all of that) so I did a little research.

“The Electoral College was created for two reasons. The first purpose was to create a buffer between population and the selection of a President. The second as part of the structure of the government that gave extra power to the smaller states. The first reason that the founders created the Electoral College is hard to understand today. The founding fathers were afraid of direct election to the Presidency. They feared a tyrant could manipulate public opinion and come to power” (historycentral.com).

By my count, the EC has outlived its usefulness because what it was constructed to prevent has come to fruition in that a power-hungry tyrant manipulated public opinion to win the vote for the highest political office in our country. Now, more than in the 1800s when it was first established, people are able to get to the polls to vote (when republicans aren’t using trickery to keep people of color from voting). As soon as the EC is eliminated, I predict that voters will again flock to the polls to vote because they’ll then understand that EVERY VOTE COUNTS (one person, one vote); it doesn’t work that way with the EC as it’s currently designed.

“The number of electoral votes is derived by adding the number of Senators (100) plus the number of members in the House of Representatives (435) plus three (3) additional votes for the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia was awarded three electoral votes with the passage of the 23rd amendment in 1961. This adds up to 538 total votes [270 is the majority]” (http://712educators.about.com/cs/polisciresource/f/numberelectors.htm).

Yup, out of ~324,363,800 (census.gov) citizens, of which 242,470,800 are adults, of which 207,643,600 (answers.com) are eligible to vote, of which only ~47,000,000 voted (statisticbrain.com), it only took 538 votes overrode the millions. That’s 538 votes (270 is the majority number)! Also check out the video (at http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/thepresidentandcabinet/a/Puerto-Rico-And-The-Presidential-Election.htm) that tells about how the EC functions.

PLUS, the more than half a million Washington, DC residents are not allowed to vote, and neither are those American citizens in Puerto Rico nor any of the other American territories, even though they all have delegates and they can vote in the primary elections (how crazy is that!?). That also needs to change. Instead of looking to how California votes to foresee how the nation will vote, the voters in DC should lead the way in predicting the outcome of elections because they hear more about what’s going on in government via the news channels than the rest of the country is privy to.

Questions no one asks: Why have we [the public] never seen a list of the people chosen as EC voters, or know anything about them? What are their backgrounds? Are they educated, well versed in politics, or is it just someone chosen because they are party-loyal? Are they career politicians who use their power to garner influence with politicians? Do they vote twice (as a citizen and as an EC voter)? Why have we never seen these EC voters publicly researching candidates, or interviewing them about their positions? Why are they never seen on those public political panels discussing governmental issues? How were they selected? How long have they held that position? How are they viewed in their community? How many contributions have they received from various politicians and/or candidates? If they go against the popular vote (the people’s choice) what are they basing their decisions on? As Dr. Phil always says, “people with nothing to hide, hide nothing.” What are they hiding from the public?

If the rules of sanity (as displayed in this past election) were reversed and Hillary was the republican candidate spewing all that horrible nonsense through the media that we are inundated with these days, I would have voted for the orangeguy in a heartbeat because, regardless of what sin he’d committed politically (and everyone makes mistakes), at least he would be reasonably sane and Hillary would have been the crazy one.

Looking at it another way, if Senator Obama had been televised talking about grabbing women’s private parts, would he have even been considered a viable candidate. Does anyone remember how much the media talked about the (then) Senator having no experience to run for such an office—a SENATOR!? If Senator Obama had a foreign, English-as-a-second-language wife when he was running for election in 2008 would the public have questioned how she gained her citizenship—or IF she had? Would they demand that she show them stamped and verified documentation of said citizenship, requested pictures of the swearing in ceremony, required the judge to submit verification, or ask to see pictures of her taking the oath? If they saw proof positive of him lying about everything he uttered from his mouth in a ten-second delay as it is verified using a truth app, would he even have been elected?

And just look at the public outcry (begun by Pat Roberson) when Mrs. Obama wore a quite tasteful sleeveless dress (a sleeveless DRESS!!), what would have been the public outcry for having naked pictures of her circulated around the world like the incoming president elect’s wife has (Pat Robertson deemed them “tasteful art”)?

If President Obama had never been seen in a church like the new president elect, would we be questioning his status as a Christian? [NOTE: Even though President Obama was a member of a Baptist church when elected, certain citizens didn’t like the pastor of that church so they pressured him to sever his membership, only to turn around and accuse him of being a Muslim. Yet they never saw the absurdity of these accusations when he was first accused of belonging to the “wrong” Christian church.]

If President Obama’s two daughters were adults when he came into office and he GAVE both daughters, and their respective husbands, high ranking positions in his administration, how loud would be the outcry for his recall (especially if they had no experience or knowledge of their duties)? If his wife chose to stay in another state in order that his daughter assume the duties of his wife, what would be the nation’s take on that? And then, what if President Obama had kept his business ventures running as he ran the country, would voters be worried and demand he dissolve them before taking office? Voters can NOT change the rules to be against one person and reverse them to be okay for the person you want.

How many are familiar with the Norquist Pledge, which began in 1986 under the auspices of president Ronald Reagan? Well, simply stated, it reads:

I, ______, pledge to the taxpayers of the ______ district of the state of ______ and to the American people that I will: One, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and Two, to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/11/norquists-tax-pledge-what-it-is-and-how-it-started/).

Although it looks straightforward and uncomplicated, its broad wording is deceptive and getting incoming republican politicians to sign the pledge is the (almost) sole job of Grover Norquist, who is neither an elected official nor a politician, but he holds the power to bully anyone in disagreement, or objecting to signing it.

Now more than thirty years later (2016) the pledge is alive and well and every republican who comes into office is coerced into signing it. Its broad goal started out to be about stifling any vote about raising taxes, but it has evolved since then to pressure every newly elected republican to be party loyal or suffer the consequences of being unsupported on any and every bill they try to pass (60 Minutes report, https://youtu.be/K25kqP0YdZ0).

It is incredible, but a majority of Republicans have signed a solemn pledge to assist Grover Norquist in his drive to “inflict pain” and drown the government in a bathtub regardless the consequences to the United States or its people.

There is no rhyme or reason to Norquist’s pledge except, as Norquist says, “to drag the government into the bathroom and drown it in a bathtub,” and if he can “inflict pain” on the American people in the process, then as John Boehner is wont to say, “so be it.” Willard Romney signed Norquist’s pledge, but he plans to raise taxes on the poor 60%, and eliminate tax deductions for the middle class, so he already plans on breaking his promise to Norquist but it is acceptable because it “inflicts pain” on working Americans to reward his wealthy elitist friends. (politicususa.com, 2012).

The worse thing we do as citizens is to betray our country by being party-loyal in spite of what goals our individual party has; this is how the 1% (or rich white males) have held this country hostage since its inception. The lower white 99% remain hopeful that there will someday be a trickle-down effect that they will benefit from, but this system not designed for them either. If, as an American citizen, you don’t agree with the direction your party leaders are headed, at least have enough intelligence to NOT go along with wrongdoings; don’t be a lemming (someone who follows blindly and without question as to the direction of its leaders).

Personally, I can like the person, but not like the things that person has done, but I can also envision disliking the person yet appreciating the things the person has done (even though that’s hard to do). In this past election of 2016, I disregarded as much of the media rhetoric as I could and looked at the PERSON. Yes, they both had their flaws, no doubt about it. One didn’t necessarily have personal flaws, but had a specific political flaw that stemmed from one major over-televised event (even though she was cleared of wrongdoing). And even though she wasn’t the only one who made the decision that ended up costing the lives of citizens in foreign posts, the proverbial buck stopped with her. However, prior to that and since then, she has worked to ensure the progress of the American people—ALL THE PEOPLE, not just select ones.

The other has been doing things to harm, rob, cheat, and steal from other hard working citizens his ENTIRE 70 years of life, as well as child abuse and being caught on camera bragging about molesting women. All the vehement arguments in his favor have never cited anything he’s done for America, they have ALL been based on what Hillary did (that they never paid any attention to when it happened, but used it against her during the election). And for the orangeguy, her opponent, there has yet to be ONE thing that can be pointed to that he’s done (not promised) that has benefitted anyone outside of his cloned children or his billionaire peers. He has considered himself so much of a god that almost everything he’s made his entire life has his name on it.

Every statement the orangeguy makes is about how wonderful he is and how rich he is and how “overrated” everyone else is in comparison to himself. And his voters laugh hardily at his mean tweets, verbal and physical abuse of others, as if that’s a good thing to model to their children. Then, before he is even sworn into office he’s begun staffing people to dismantle everything that has been established to make the lives of American citizens more comfortable, especially medical care. There’s no way in hell he’s going to change 70 years of habits to suddenly care for the people who elected him. And, he’s begun his tenure by not following any rules, including nepotism, continuing to retain all of his business ventures, continuing to funnel monies through his foundations, and now chooses to ignore those rules he bullied others about regarding taxes and birth certificates, neither of which he has produced. He started off the bat by appointing so many white supremacists and supremacist supporters to his staff he might as well rename the White House—KKK Hq. It’ll be pathetic to see all those faces of outrage when the average citizen finally understands the impact of their voting decisions when they start losing their jobs and can’t get even the basic medical care for their families. And let’s not even mention how he will pirate Social Security funds (which are NOT public nor government monies, but retirement savings federally mandated to be taken from the paychecks of citizens, with the promise of giving it back to them when they reach retirement age).

This president-elect has adult children who are quick to say that they had to EARN their elite positions, but underlying that is the truth that no matter what they did they were supported by money, never worried about paying their rent, eating, medical care from the best doctors, or shopping in every top tier store in the world. They learned from him to establish foundation that have been proven to only funnel monies to themselves, not at all to the people or places they were established to do. All the while they were learning the family business they KNEW the names of the people their father cheated like his builders, his contractors, people he stole land from, and his heavy-handed use of eminent domain laws which evicted citizens from their homes and properties that were in the way of something he wanted to build and put his name on–including the elderly (which is how he initially came to the attention of people who watched the news). His business practices are proving to be (almost) monumental conflicts for a presidential position (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/us/politics/donald-trump-international-business.html?_r=0).

If you can see that your party is doing something that doesn’t progress this country and its citizens forward, don’t support them, anything less than that shows your weakness to think for–and make decisions on behalf of–yourself. But whatever the hell you do, don’t vote for and support a selfish white supremacist who has never given a damn for hard working people (nothing other than promised he will), supports white supremacist behaviors (and displayed them regularly), invokes violence (as seen on TV during many public speeches), mocks the disabled (as seen on TV), has never been even associated with a religion—that alone a church (and wanting a CHRISTIAN president was part of the pushback for President Obama), has a child that seems to exhibit a disability (or special needs, but admitting he sees his son as less than perfect will somehow affect the way he sees himself as perfect). And, according to the people who have made such statements that he has never given back a damn thing in his 70 years of life, consider that they can’t ALL be lying about that.

What we need is to: 1) Enable DC citizens and those American citizens living in U.S. territories to have voting rights; 2) Disband the Electoral College; 3) Install an all-party system to represent a wider distribution of voter attitudes; 4) Make Social Security off limits to any and every political huckster who threatens to misuse it for purposes it was never intended; 5) Make voting age automatic when people reach the age of 21 years.

Lastly, don’t try to dismiss your support of the 2016 president elect under the guise of you wanting to destroy the system or status quo?! Instead, admit that you support and believe in the ideals of white supremacy. Don’t hide behind it—OWN IT.

 

The Illusion of the Dick

Men think that they hold the power of the world.

They keep the power of the world

Hidden from view,

Zipped up,

In their pants.

The dick.

Locked and loaded

Chiseled to a fine point for easy entry.

Ready to embed itself into anything warm and furry.

They don’t feel the need to have a personality

Or looks

Just be in possession of …

The dick

and maybe money.

They think that women who refuse

The dick

Are misinformed, missing something

So they can’t possibly say no.

Saying no means they haven’t seen it

Felt it

Understood the POWER of it

The need of extra credit for the size of it

The skin slapping against skin of it

The self-absorbed admirable beauty of it

When all it is,

Is a tipping point

The end of an extension.

And if the story is true that man was molded from clay,

The dick

Is the place where he was separated from the living clay.

Maybe it was intended to be something else …

Another hand, an extra foot,

A divining rod, or something yet unnamed

When it was pinched off from the excess clay

With that part left unfinished

Hanging without purpose

When its maker got distracted.

Powerless unless held to be stimulated, activated or eliminating,

For spilling seeds, self-admiration, or emptying water.

An appendage as funny looking as an elephant’s trunk

Flapping uselessly

Causing hysteria (or revulsion)

when unbound.

But it is all an illusion.

They have fooled themselves with their fragile masculinity

Because it is the woman who holds the power.

Their power, too, is hidden from view

But held in the center of her being

Cradled

Protected by flesh and bone

To issue the real fruit of the world

The seeds

Women evolved to not needing to be stimulated

Just activated

Productive

Producing.

Even those without fertile seeds

Hold the power

Because mothering comes from the heart

Not the loins.

It is the ability to love and love and love

Unlimited, unrestricted, infinitely.

And because mothering in healthy soil

Is the necessity for all things living.

Where are the pictures of God?

Where are the pictures of God? Have you ever wondered why there are no pictures of God?

Sure, we see pictures of how Jesus has been imagined (almost always white and male), but never God from whence he came. So how do we know when God is in the building? How do we know when we’re saved? When do we receive grace (i.e., the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings)?

Maybe, just consider God as energy or essence, never fully formed into matter, but surrounding us all the time; energy so massive it cannot be imagined. Imagine that there was God before God had a name.

From the way religion has (d)evolved over time it was race-based from its inception, because a white man and a white woman in a country of brown-skinned people rode a donkey, ended up at an inn where they delivered a white baby who was supposed to “save” us all by his death. Yet, (some) white people have become more sinister, demonic and self-centered since that happened. Perhaps they have bought into this belief that they represent God? This deception of Christianity (meaning Christ-like) was force-fed all over the world to people with no singular god by people who were full of malice and had a lot to gain—wealth.

In the beginning, indigenous people (Native Americans, (India) Indians, Africans), once scattered from their moorings in Africa, no matter which country, had no limits for God as a singular entity. There was no “puff up and pack everyone to go to a building” on Sundays, and–no finery–no church. You opened the flap on your hut and thanked the sun for rising, or the rains for falling. On the other hand, there were the white people who could only imagine a god who looked like themselves and they wanted badly to be worshiped because their “being”, their “selves” were so small only worship could make it larger than life, a central focus.

I think the indigenous people got it right in worshiping the sun, earth, water, air, trees, animals, plants, all the things that provide us life and support our living. So while white people could only imagine God in their own likeness, indigenous people respected God as a source, an energy emanating from the earth and beyond, but not a singular being. Imagining God only in your own likeness is like modern day selfies in its selfishness and vanity.

As an indigenous person I see God in an awe perspective:

the wonders of the world,

a newborn baby,

horses frolicking in meadows,

animals giving birth and immediately knowing what to do,

mountains spiraling heavenward,

clouds forming and reforming images that reflect our imaginations,

squirrels racing up trees,

giggling babies,

the hypnotic effects of still waters,

chanting,

running water creating sounds unmatched and meditative,

music,

friendship laughter,

grace.

In so doing, I believe that there was God before little thinkers with big egos forced people, out of fear, into a building, which they then demanded a tithe for its upkeep, and the upkeep of its occupants. Anyone not giving to the church was deemed unworthy, heathen, not blessed; that’s a fear-based God and it continues to be looked at that way to this day. You got no church home—you’s a heathen, fo’ sho’.

It is no wonder that (almost) all religious denominations were instituted by white men, especially in the western world. The rules that emanated from that institution reflected each of those men’s beliefs, beginning with how he experienced life to that point, his personality, the way he wanted to control others, and at the base of each is—money, individual wealth, and the demand for unquestioned worship and loyalty. Where is the grace in that?

For years I struggled with “organized religion” without understanding why I was unquestioning it. Many of the people I knew until I understood their beliefs without question, but not me. I couldn’t understand why. I questioned whether I was a disbeliever at heart, but knew at a gut level that wasn’t true.

I saw, read about, heard, experienced inexperienced men (majority) shouting at, teaching, preaching, about faith. Yet outside of that building these “men of God(?)” took on other roles like being gossips, ill-willed, evil, adulterers, cheaters, spiteful, misogynistic, misguided, controlling, wife beaters, abusers, pedophiles, sexual deviants, perverts, and sometimes killers. Outside of that building there were people who hated others for their differences, killed girl babies because they weren’t male, killed wives because they coveted another woman, hung, raped, beat, killed under color of law. How, I wondered, is this Christianity? It just doesn’t compute to me.

Then I began to understand the difference between spirituality and man-made denominational religion. It took a long time to get there, but I made it. I find it amazing that people from churches, including the church I went to, act as if I am disrespecting THEM or my religion by not going to church regularly. I miss them, but not the church anymore. At the same time, I have never stopped believing in a higher power, NEVER. I only stopped feeling comfort in men who had such incredible shortcomings, yet stood before us on Sundays and told us how to behave while reading and quoting from a holy book, the Bible; behavior that isn’t necessarily practiced by himself either.

The Bible, I now believe, is a guide some people generations ago put together as a guide to help us understand how life was in their times, the mistakes they made, and they even took the time to spell those mistakes out, in a kinda roundabout way to show what NOT to do in order to receive grace. Later readers of that Bible began to use is as if time was stagnant, not to be changed to embrace the advances of the world. I believe we are supposed to add to it our versions of life as we live it for future generations to learn from; an ever-evolving tool.

In the beginning the Bible was just a mass of miscellaneous writings found in caves that someone decided to compile and give a singular name to—Bible, then the writings were split up into chapters and verse. Of course, not all the writings were to be included in that final edition because some of the writings didn’t conform to what they wanted to convey. Yet some writings have much less meaning than others such as the book of Numbers, which is about a trip a group of people made across the desert (again—in the land of brown people), two censuses taken, death and destruction, how ungrateful the people were no matter how much they were given, and punishments for being unfaithful and disobedient. Again, lessons to be learned, but while the Book of Numbers most likely could have been lessons about how we should be grateful, the writings, in toto, became politicized and used as a weapon to control people. Where is the grace in that?

And a virgin birth? Neither have I ever heard a believable story of how a woman was impregnated to carry a savior child, when some scholarly research of the writings show that Mary had four other sons which were determined by Catholic doctrine to be Joseph’s by a previous marriage, but no writings to support that; the Catholic version only acknowledges James as being a brother of Jesus.

Virgin means “a person who is naïve, innocent or inexperienced.” It also means a female who produces fertilized eggs without male fertilization, so it can be that Mary WAS a virgin in her naivety, just not defined as we’ve understood it all these generations; especially because she was so young, so I can get that. Females even today can be very naïve about childbirth, sex, and pregnancy.

So how do we know when God is in the building? When we’re saved? When we receive grace (the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings)?

Grace is in how we treat others, how we use the Bible as a “tool”, a “guide” to see how behaviors need to be changed, or improved in order to be bestowed with such blessings. And, in that blessing is that saving, that saving grace.

When you look at another person, place, thing, animal, vegetable, mineral, and see the workings of God, you know that the God essence is around you. When you work to improve yourself you are following the tenents of the writings in the Bible. When you are using those writings to control, damage in some way, or marginalize others you are not seeking Godship, or God worthiness, and you have definitely not learned the lessons so clearly defined in that book.

We’ve learned from the Bible that the earthly Jesus was flawed when made man. It seems to follow that our journey, therefore, should not be so much to focused on wanting to be a follower of Christ (as imperfect as he was), as to be a seeker of Godship, which cannot be contained in a building, or bound within the covers of a book, or molded and described to fit our limited words.

We have reached that Godship level when we take the lessons we’ve learned from the Bible into the world and treat each other with respect, honor, dignity, and thoughtfulness while we are fully present in another’s presence. It is beyond being Christ-like or Christian (since Christianity has become much too flawed).

Still, I have no disagreement with organized religions as they are, nor do I have an aversion to going to church. That is not a contradiction to me. I’m still mesmerized by how The Word is delivered, still moved by good preaching, still hypnotized by watching a person showing true grace in their interactions with others.

But now I view what “church” means differently, because all definitions refer to “church” as a building; a limitation of where God can be. If that is the only place God can be, and there is no one in your life who treats you with Godship, how can the unconverted be converted? Where does your hope come from?

Instead, I see churches as a means of discussion about those chapters and verses in that book, and held in various gatherings to dialogue and remind us of how we need to remember and pass on the stories to future generations while fellowshipping with current generations; an oral transmission of written words. It’s been difficult, but I’m still moving past the shaming I’ve felt from people who think I need to be in a pew in order to prove to them I still believe in a higher power. I know many people of high moral standards who have no defined organized religion, and they treat others as if they’ve discovered their own Godship. It’s a work that continues to be in progress.

But the most benefit of such gatherings is the music of worship because I believe song, music, instrumentation (in some cases), travels to reach God’s essence further, faster than spoken word; a musical ministry. The right interpretative dancer can make you jump to your feet in applause. The right singer can bring the worst sinner to his knees, it can make even the staunches, the most prideful, break into tears and surrender. This kind of music you don’t hear on street corners, or parking lots, rapped lyrically, or in the parks, but now it’s mostly contained, shut away, theologically banished, to be housed in those church buildings. And, depending on the people who walk through the church doors, if you watch carefully with your heart, you can pretty much feel if God is in the building.

[NOTE: I am in constant editing mode, so the words may change over time as I develop.]

10/24/16