Friday, January 13, 2012

"The Road Not Taken"

Robert Frost penned a poem, one of my favorites, that explored the poet's decision to take one road at a fork, and not another.

Whether your life is filled with forks in the road, or not, we can all commiserate with those who have them, as they force introspection, and reflection.



The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,


The latter road, as described in the poem, stands out as one that's rarely taken when two competing positions collide--racism and stupidity, for example--both representing the fork in the road, becoming rivaling perspectives for how an act, a behavior, or an attitude may be viewed by those exposed to the same information and to the same set of facts.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.


Although I've privately wrestled with whether a set of facts represented racism or stupidity, I've never agonized over whether I should call a set of facts racist. Whites rarely quibble as to what should be called racist and what should be called stupidity, more inclined to call racially-insensitive acts the result of stupidity than racism.

Agreeing with Frost, these whites almost never reconsider their first position, "the road not taken"--that it's stupidity rather than racism that prompted an action by their fellow whites--postponing indefinitely a more thorough examination: "I kept the first for another day!/ Yet knowing how way leads on to way,/ I doubted if I should ever come back."

Blacks, during their earthly travels, find more forks in their roads, than whites (Is this act born of racism or stupidity?), as whites are usually spared this kind of dilemma; yet, whites never tire of telling us what it is that we should believe--and, oftentimes, what they want us to believe is that "stupidity" explains their white counterparts actions or behavior, and not "racism," the most likely choice, and the most likely characterization of the facts.

When I purchased my current home, my white real-estate salesperson presented such a fork in the road. From a tract of homes, she selected the one that she felt represented our income and our taste.

I did my own research, using the real estate broker's web site as my source, copying relevant information about each home in the tract, the number of rooms, square footage, and lot size.

When I told her that I wanted to see each house in the tract before committing to the one she selected, she turned red, suspiciously eyeing the papers I held in my hand.

"What do you have there?" she asked roughly. Before I could reply, she snatched the papers from my hand, and, while rifling through them, asked, "Where did you get these?"

"From your web page," I said, struggling to stay calm, as I knew, with a little more provocation, I was going to either walk away, or find another salesperson.

Reluctantly, and with great exasperation, she walked me through each house. On one house in the tract, I made an offer. No, it wasn't on the one she had selected, but on the one I felt had a better view of the mountains.

She was livid. "The builder doesn't take offers," she said. I insisted. Her anger boiled over, mainly because, as she pointed out, she had already drawn up the paperwork for the house of her choosing, and now I was having her repeat her effort.

Finally, she relented, saying, "Now I'll have to start all over again."

The builder accepted my offer, which I knew he would, and, by accepting my offer, reduced her commission. This was not my purpose, but I wasn't distressed because of it.

When the house was making its way through escrow, unbeknownst to me, my wife had promised to invite this salesperson to dinner when the sale was finalized. When she restated her invitation, I was standing nearby.

"When we move in," my wife told the white salesperson, "I'm going to have you over for dinner."

"Okay," she said, "but I don't eat innards."

That was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, that and a few other racially-insensitive things she had said and done during our brief relationship, splitting the road into a fork that ran as far as the eye could see.

The fork appeared abruptly: Was this a show of racism on the salesperson's part, or gross stupidity?

The article that spurred this blog entry has already made its rounds on several blogs, with some readers taking one road or the other, as to whether the act of some Georgia school teachers represented racism or stupidity.

Some of the comments came from whites, and some from blacks, which at times took an uncomfortable turn, as racism is not an easy topic for many, although most had an opinion one way or the other, all looking for travelling companions where the road forked, now that they had committed themselves to one road or the other.

The title reads, 'If eight slaves pick 56 oranges...' Georgia school under fire for racist, violent math homework [1]

Parents of elementary school students in Georgia are outraged after their children brought home math homework referencing slavery and beatings.
In an attempt to mix social studies with math, students of Beaver Ridge Elementary school in Norcross were asked to calculate such questions as how many oranges and cotton slaves could pick.


[My first thought: Was the question written with Frederick Douglass in mind?]

'I'm having to explain to my 8-year-old why slavery or slaves or beatings are in a math problem. That hurts,' Terrance Barnett expressed to WSB-TV.

Here's another example from the test:

Whether you find the following to be either "racist" or a show of "stupidity," is fine by me. That's not my argument. You're entitled to your view. My position on this, however, remains the same, as it was formed after much thought, and over many years of reflection and rumination:

Given this nation's racist history, and the fact that blacks have, more often than not, been the hapless recipients of racism, when I hear or see racially-insensitive things, my default position is that they're prompted by racism. I don't accept the burden of determining for others whether these things are racist or not, which fork in the road--racism or stupidity--would better describe, or sum up the facts. That's not my burden. That burden belongs to the other, those who did the racially-insensitive things.

Blacks shouldn't be asked to shoulder this burden, and we shouldn't accept it, if asked.

Let the burden rest with them, and not us. Let those in society who behave racially insensitive, show, prove, demonstrate that a racially-insensitive act is not racism. In the case under review here, we're talking about teachers, for god sake! People who know world history and American history, and the various legacies of race.

Would these teachers have said something similar about Jews caught in the throes of the holocaust? I don't think so. For blacks, the legacy of slavery is what the holocaust is to Jews--highly reprehensible, and highly inhumane.

I always assume that white's racially-insensitive acts, behavior, and attitudes are the result of racism, and not stupidity, refusing to ride the horn of a dilemma, taking the road I've traveled often, when faced with a fork that leads to the left and to the right.

Whites, and some blacks, mostly black conservatives, wouldn't have us call anything racist, occasionally reversing the charge, and leveling it at us for having the temerity to call a thing racist, thereby effectively putting a roadblock at one of the forks, forbidding passage, and making it unpopular to even consider taking the more damning road, where "[t]wo roads diverged in a yellow wood."

On the other hand, Blacks are urged to suspend judgment, not to call a thing racist, when another characterization may be more appropriate, like "stupidity." They're told to exercise restraint, to err on the side of caution, to ignore it, to look the other way--in short, take the high road.

Sure we can take the high road, or the road at the fork that whites would like for us to take, but we don't owe them this. We don't owe anyone anything, in matters of deciding what constitutes racism or not.

At times, I take the road rarely taken, the one with the signpost that read, "STUPIDITY," but I don't feel I'm obligated, or obliged to do so. I could, just as well, turn to the left at the fork, and take the road with the signpost that read, "RACISM."

Occasionally, the stupidity is so glaring, a neon flashing bright red, the only conclusion one can derive is that it's what it seems to be--and that unmistakably. At other times, the road sign identifying the road to the left glows equally bright, pulsating in large block letters the word, RACISM.

I know too much about life, and how it works, to hold anger or animosity towards those who are racist, or those who insist on calling racism stupidity, when all the signs are pointing in the direction of "the road not taken."

I feel an overwhelming pity for those so deluded, as they will, one day, perhaps in another lifetime, stand at the fork of the road where, at times, I stand--definitely more often than I care to say--peering down both roads "where they diverged in a wood."

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.



[1] A video accompanies this article.

28 comments:

BigmacInPittsburgh said...

When I think about how I operate daily in my work place,I come to that fork in the road quite a few times during the course of eight hours.Maybe I'll begin taking that road less traveled more often!Great post,truly informative.

Redeye said...

Why do white folks get to decide when something is racist or not?

Black Diaspora said...

@BigmacinPittsburgh. Thanks, Mac.

"I come to that fork in the road quite a few times during the course of eight hours."

During a lifetime of arduous walking, It's hard to conceive of blacks, any black, living a life absent of forks in the road, as a straight road without them hasn't been our lot.

Black Diaspora said...

Redeye said...
"Why do white folks get to decide when something is racist or not?"

They presume to speak for us, since their superior knowledge can divine, unerringly, what's right and what's wrong; what's racist and what's stupid.

Greg L said...

>>>"Okay," she said, "but I don't eat innards."

That was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, that and a few other racially-insensitive things she had said and done during our brief relationship, splitting the road into a fork that ran as far as the eye could see.

The fork appeared abruptly: Was this a show of racism on the salesperson's part, or gross stupidity?<<<

Hell, they just need one road for this one. It's both racist and stupid and just reading about this makes me a bit a angry and I hope you withdrew the invitation. I can't imagine having a meal with someone like that.

A constant battle we have is the stereotypes and folks making assumption that you must be just like some false stereotype that they read or heard about black folks. My son just made his middle school team a few weeks back and I generally always go to his games and I had one of the other parents ask me if I was my son's "guardian" as if he were some waif and couldn't have a father living with him. Yet another fork in a road that I didn't want to even travel on. More often than not, you're not going to be perceived or dealt with as an actual person--at least not initially and sometimes not ever.

Fortunately, I don't have to deal with this in the workplace and the main reason I'm self employed is that I wouldn't accept this sort of thing. It's bad enough dealing with this occasionally, but the workplace racism I literally couldn't stand as you had the added pressure of putting up with this mess to put food on the table and a roof over your head. I worked like hell to extricate myself from those situations.

I do find myself often limiting my interaction to taking care of whatever I'm trying to do until I get a handle on who I'm dealing with, but it sounds like that would have been of no help in this case owing to this person's ignorance. They really shouldn't wonder why there are lot of angry or slightly perturbed black folks running around.

Black Diaspora said...

@Greg L: "Hell, they just need one road for this one. It's both racist and stupid and just reading about this makes me a bit a angry and I hope you withdrew the invitation. I can't imagine having a meal with someone like that."

My thought exactly. I'm chuckling away, thanks to your observations.

Okay, I left a bit of a cliffhanger there, wondering who would be first to ask if I did, or if I didn't, invite the poor woman to dinner.

As forgiving as I am, I couldn't bring myself to do so, or allow her to enter my humble abode again, although she hinted several times that that would make her day.

"A constant battle we have is the stereotypes and folks making assumption that you must be just like some false stereotype that they read or heard about black folks."

I agree. It is a bit disconcerting. And although we've been bombarded with hundreds of white stereotypes, we have yet to interact with whites as though they're all true, unlike their interactions with us, where they blurt them out without restraint, and with total disregard of whether they're true or not, or how we'll feel if they're not.

Whites behave at times as though we have no feelings, or none that they should honor or respect.

"My son just made his middle school team a few weeks back."

Congratulations! to you and your son.

"[T]he other parents ask me if I was my son's 'guardian' as if he were some waif and couldn't have a father living with him. Yet another fork in a road that I didn't want to even travel on."

I understand. It does become tiresome after awhile, and tries one's patience. They never seem to think outside of the stereotypes, which, in itself, is a kind of racism, mentally molding us into a form that never seems to change, making assumptions and voicing them, rather than setting them aside, at least temporarily, until more information is gained.

"More often than not, you're not going to be perceived or dealt with as an actual person--at least not initially and sometimes not ever."

First, we were perceived as savages, then as property, and now as invisible, a non-entity, anything but a person with actual feelings, having actual thoughts, and the power of reason.

For all our power of expression on the Internet, evidencing intelligence and an higher education, some whites still treat us nothing more than those stereotypical images in their heads, as anything but an "actual person."

"It's bad enough dealing with this occasionally, but the workplace racism I literally couldn't stand."

It takes a pretty hard carapace in that setting to endure. Somedays, the forks in the road became so many, that they became like that crooked road that the crooked man traveled:

There was a crooked man,
and walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.


"They really shouldn't wonder why there are lot of angry or slightly perturbed black folks running around."

For many, that "anger" has morphed into rage.

I had hoped that the Internet would help dispel some of those stereotypes of blacks than many whites hold--ever so close to their bosom--but, alas, whites seem unwilling, or disinclined to part with the comfort that the images must bring, images that have always set them apart from their lesser human counterparts.

Greg L said...

>>>I had hoped that the Internet would help dispel some of those stereotypes of blacks than many whites hold--ever so close to their bosom--but, alas, whites seem unwilling, or disinclined to part with the comfort that the images must bring, images that have always set them apart from their lesser human counterparts.<<<<

I've gotten to the point of literally not giving a damn what others think. To be sure, some of this stuff can definitely get a rise from the best of us, but all of us really need to be about insulating ourselves from this to the greatest extent we can. It's bad enough when one has to be insulted with this some of thing, but its much worst when our economic and political progress is tied to people who harbor these sorts of tendencies. This is why I'm a big advocate of us having far greater economic and political independence than we currently enjoy. That doesn't eliminate this entirely, but it certainly reduces it to a mere annoyance rather than a factor that controls one.

BigmacInPittsburgh said...

I just love it when GregL and you part with your vast knowledge !

Black Diaspora said...

BigmacInPittsburgh said...
"I just love it when GregL and you part with your vast knowledge !"

Thanks, Mac. Our conversations really develop and come full circle over at Greg L's place, as his Internet searches turn up topics that beg examination and discussion.

Black Diaspora said...

@Greg L: "I've gotten to the point of literally not giving a damn what others think. To be sure, some of this stuff can definitely get a rise from the best of us, but all of us really need to be about insulating ourselves from this to the greatest extent we can."

As you know, Ralph Ellison's protagonist in his controversial novel, Invisible Man, explored this very thing, when confronted with the invisibility that arises when others can only see their expectations, rather than what's really in their sight.

His character's solution: to surround himself with light. How could invisibility survive in the midst of light?

The novel's protagonist found: the greater his invisibility, the greater the light that was required to dispel it; and that, although the light with which he surrounded himself was borrowed from the power company, it was, nevertheless, insufficient to meet his need.

Hence, my next thought: I don't burden myself with the need to bring light to my being (as did Ellison's protagonist) so that others may see me--either with the use of borrowed light, or a light of my own--to disabuse others of the stereotypes of blacks they hold.

If they refuse to see me, resulting in making me invisible, so be it.

Besides, being a "bringer of the light" is an unsustainable burden, one that usually twists those who bear the burden into unrecognizable caricatures of themselves, a being that whites have created, rather than they, themselves.

Since I'm engaged in life, and would lighten my fellowman's burdens where possible, I am available to assist any white person who's earnestly making the effort to divest himself of the racism that's clawing away at his soul.

I'll have to be asked, though, as I'm not one who's own a crusade to free up whites from the beast that consumes them.

We must remember: They created the beast, and, ultimately, only they can build the fire of light to keep the beast at bay.

Without them first beseeching me, I refuse to help build the light, or to be that light for them.

How a person keeps his soul is his own business, as long as the keeping of it doesn't intrude on my right to do the same.

"This is why I'm a big advocate of us having far greater economic and political independence than we currently enjoy."

It would make us a formidable force to be reckon with, but overcoming the barriers to this level of cooperation is as elusive as Dr. King's Dream of a Black Promised Land.

Have a thoughtful, revelatory, MLK day!

Greg L said...

>>>I just love it when GregL and you part with your vast knowledge !<<<

Why thank you Big Mac, but I must say that my friend BD has much to do with invoking my own thoughts and I thoroughly enjoy our exchanges. Besides, I'm a great admirer of his writing style so I get an opportunity to read good writing as well as work on my own writing in our exchanges!

BigmacInPittsburgh said...

Thank you both for the kind words.

Greg L said...

>>>Besides, being a "bringer of the light" is an unsustainable burden, one that usually twists those who bear the burden into unrecognizable caricatures of themselves, a being that whites have created, rather than they, themselves.

Since I'm engaged in life, and would lighten my fellowman's burdens where possible, I am available to assist any white person who's earnestly making the effort to divest himself of the racism that's clawing away at his soul.

I'll have to be asked, though, as I'm not one who's own a crusade to free up whites from the beast that consumes them.<<<

Very well said and I agree 100%. I only depart slightly in that I prefer not to be asked. Moral reform is wholly a responsibility of those who have the afflictions. Moreover, all of this can be addressed simply with empathy and if that were in place at the outset, most would be able to "self regulate" hence making these sorts of requests unnecessary to begin with.

Black Diaspora said...

@Greg L: "I only depart slightly in that I prefer not to be asked. Moral reform is wholly a responsibility of those who have the afflictions."

On this point, I realize that others may disagree with me, and that is fine: I understand both the nature of the disagreement and the source.

Each according to his own conscience, and each according to his own light. I have no quarrel with your position and I respect it, as it is one that many hold, and will hold.

Here's my case, if there's one to be made, and my apology:

You wisely used the term "affliction," when referencing a "moral" depravity, for so it is.

I could no more turn my back on those who are "suffering" or in "pain," because of a moral deficiency, than I could those whose affliction is born of hunger, the ravages of disease, or a lack of clothing or a roof to shelter them from the elements.

The only requisite I impose is that my help is summoned, petitioned, or requested, and is done so with an earnest desire for reformation.

I have long subscribed to the Dumasian Creed, "One for All and All for One." It's the same as saying essentially, "We're All One."

Ultimately the responsibility for change falls almost exclusively upon those who're bearing the affliction, as no substitute will suffice, as is often spoken of in the bromide, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink."

Yet, those who are willing to do so can guide, can direct, can counsel, can teach, can facilitate, can assist in the rehabilitation, the reclamation, the recovering, the reconstructing, the reintegration and the redeeming of tortured souls seeking help--succor to help face the challenges of overcoming an addiction, mental health issues, and the anguish of moral turpitude, not as a professional, of course, but as one who supports their goals and aspirations.

To be sure, it's not for everyone, but for those with the temperament, and a willingness, to help make a difference in the lives of the afflicted.

"Moreover, all of this can be addressed simply with empathy and if that were in place at the outset, most would be able to 'self regulate' hence making these sorts of requests unnecessary to begin with."

I agree. Empathy, for all its finer points, is not an attribution that's cultivated or highly prized in our society. The Ultimate Empathy, of course, is the "Golden Rule," popularized in this way, "Do unto other as you would have others do unto you."

Here's a twist on it, that harkens back to the Dumasian Creed, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you, because you are the other."

If the thief had empathized, he wouldn't have stolen, if the murderer had empathized, he wouldn't have murdered, and if the racist had empathized, he wouldn't have used his power to oppress and to suppress.

The cheers and jeers that have gone up during the Republican presidential debates, regarding the president as the Food Stamps President, the execution of prisoners, the killing of enemies, our involvement in conflicts abroad, the openness of gays in the military, and the hypothetical lack of health insurance, speak to a dearth of empathy from a certain corner of our nation's populace.

We will "self-regulate" only when we learn what many a sage have taught since time in memoriam, "What you do unto others you do to yourself," and "As you sow you reap."

These sayings are more than truisms: They're demonstrable facts.

As a society, we have done a miserable job of imparting this basic knowledge of life to our children--and we reap what the wind has sown, rather than what we might have planted in its stead.

Anonymous said...

BD I posted this on Grannys'

Like that perfect kiss, the pen touches the paper, hoping that in its eloquence, the perfect sentence will be formed; that one sentence that as it resonates in the minds of individuals will either enlightened or changes the minds of those whose eyes are open.
These are the hopes of us who explore the depths of our souls, looking for a truth that will sustain our lives and make others search for theirs; and so with these thoughts in mind, I wonder what is it that we as African-Americans should be looking for? Is it our unification if so, what is the sentence that will bring us together? What is it that will make the African in the East think the same as the African in the West, and the same for the North and South?
Although, we as African-Americans, often complain about the way we are treated by others, the larger question is. How do we treat ourselves (let not this statement be confused with that of Herman Cain, for his message is one of voluntary servitude)? Over time, at some point we must realize the damage we cause each other. There is a type of selfishness and misdirection that keeps interfering with our unification.
To understand life is to love and understand the ones true origin; and fill yourself with the pride of your true heritage; for understanding heritage only means that the land can not belong to you unless you belong to the land. In order for us to survive the soul of Africa must be in us.
There is also a deeper question, do people actually create a country, or does the sense of country really create and shape its people? The land and the history of the land and the history of the land is what gives people pride, it is not the beat of the drum that motivates us. It's the calling that it provides.
Today we are giving our drum away and following a different drum. The drum a of selfishness.
We as African-Americans, are without leadership and the understanding of true self worth, we have the knowledge and capability of building a bridge from the Americas back to the homeland of Africa to me; this accomplishment must be made for its too late. We must gather the minds of our people and give them a life based in a truth that they can live by.
In order to accomplish this we must seek those that can write, they need to use that gift the feed those wondering minds, those who can't speak need to open up their mouths so that others may hear the truth that lies before them.
With the advent of the Internet, we have been given an opportunity to unify our voices in the most positive manner; the bases of our conversations should not be to antagonize each other, but to bring about a positive discourse that will allow us as a people to learn from each other.

Black Diaspora said...

One

Anonymous said...
"BD I posted this on Grannys'"

And I will respond, not to an Anonymous commenter, for there are none, but to the humanity that speaks through us, to us, and for us, regardless of the name that's used to identify the person behind our human facade.

I was moved by your statement, and will, in that spirit, offer my response.

"I wonder what is it that we as African-Americans should be looking for? Is it our unification if so, what is the sentence that will bring us together?"

Here's that sentence: Seek not to "unify," as that would be redundant. Seek, rather, to know that we're already One, already united, part of the whole, organic, and indivisible--an integral part, not only with those of our color, of our ethnicity, of our culture, or of our race, but with the whole of humankind, not only with those living now, but with all who have ever lived, or ever will live.

"What is it that will make the African in the East think the same as the African in the West, and the same for the North and South?"

Tell them that differences is not the same as division, and that "sameness" should not be our goal, as the heart is not the same as the liver, or the kidney the same as the spleen, as each is faithful to its own function, its own unique purpose, while still contributing to the life and the function of the whole.

"Over time, at some point we must realize the damage we cause each other. There is a type of selfishness and misdirection that keeps interfering with our unification."

Tell them that at all times, and during every encounter, we entertain nothing but angels, and hidden in every moment and every interaction--especially those we find unpleasant--a blessing, for in that moment we're given a rare privilege: to define who we are, and to experience that.

"To understand life is to love and understand the ones true origin; and fill yourself with the pride of your true heritage."

Tell them: Love is Life, and Life is Love. And Love is Freedom. And Freedom is Who You Are. Tell them: Our True Heritage is already foretold, is already our constant companion, and not something that must be sought or hoped for.

"In order for us to survive the soul of Africa must be in us."

Tell them: Our "survival" is assured, that we're One with All That Is. Not only is Africa's Soul a part of our DNA, so is the Soul of the planet, Mother Earth, Gaia.

Black Diaspora said...

Two

"[D]o people actually create a country, or does the sense of country really create and shape its people?"

Tell them: All That Is, and All That has Ever Been, is Now, and ever shall be. Tell them that we're self-created, that we give meaning to All That Is, and without us, there is no meaning--and apart from us, no reality.

"Today we are giving our drum away and following a different drum. The drum a of selfishness."

Tell them: Follow the drumbeat of their own Truth, and the rhythm of their own Feelings, for it's in their Feelings that their Truth resides, and in which their Soul rejoices.

"We as African-Americans, are without leadership and the understanding of true self worth, we have the knowledge and capability of building a bridge from the Americas back to the homeland of Africa to me;"

Tell them: There is Nothing and No One who can lead us, but Our Self. Tell them: Our Destination is not ahead of us, but at the place where we First began. For where we Began, we shall also End, for the Beginning is the End, and the End, the Beginning.

"We must gather the minds of our people and give them a life based in a truth that they can live by."

Tell them: Live their own Truth, and let their Truth live their Life, for where their Truth resides, so shall their Heart.

"In order to accomplish this we must seek those that can write, they need to use that gift the feed those wondering minds, those who can't speak need to open up their mouths so that others may hear the truth that lies before them."

Tell them: Let their Life speak for them, and write for them. Tell them: Let their Thoughts be their pens; their Deeds, the paper upon which they write; and their Life lived, their Composition for All to see and read.

"[T]he bases of our conversations should not be to antagonize each other, but to bring about a positive discourse that will allow us as a people to learn from each other."

Tell them, finally: Speak from the Heart, to the Heart, and not to the mind. Tell them: We know All There Is to Know, we have but to Re-member, to Re-mind Ourselves of That Which We've Always Known. Tell them: The mind is for Creating, not for thinking. Tell them: Think less, and in Silence find Their True Self--that is, Who They Truly Are.

Mr.I.M.BLACK said...

BD:
Your response to anon.was great, (but for me it makes want to put away my pen, lol). This is the type of blog that should be out front.

I have not posted in a while but read your blog often, keep up the good work.

Mr.I'm black said...

I don't know why anon did not want sign in maybe next time.

Black Diaspora said...

Mr.I.M.BLACK said...
"BD:
Your response to anon.was great, (but for me it makes want to put away my pen, lol)"

Thanks, Mr.I.M.Black.

"This is the type of blog that should be out front."

I rarely speak with this voice: Not every one can hear my words, and those who do hear, are growing scarcer by the day, but that won't last.

"I have not posted in a while but read your blog often, keep up the good work."

Thanks for reading. It's good to know you're there.

"I don't know why anon did not want sign in maybe next time."

Perhaps, next time. He did sign his work, however: His signature is all over his words, his thoughts, and his ideas.

Greg L said...

>>>The cheers and jeers that have gone up during the Republican presidential debates, regarding the president as the Food Stamps President, the execution of prisoners, the killing of enemies, our involvement in conflicts abroad, the openness of gays in the military, and the hypothetical lack of health insurance, speak to a dearth of empathy from a certain corner of our nation's populace.

We will "self-regulate" only when we learn what many a sage have taught since time in memoriam, "What you do unto others you do to yourself," and "As you sow you reap."

These sayings are more than truisms: They're demonstrable facts.

As a society, we have done a miserable job of imparting this basic knowledge of life to our children--and we reap what the wind has sown, rather than what we might have planted in its stead.<<<

Yes! And I understand where you're coming from in helping those who ask to get over their affliction and, yes, I suppose that racism is an affliction like any malady that affects the body or spirit. To be truthful, the world could use a lot more your idea of one for all and as I read back through what I wrote, it seems like I'm being unduly harsh in that respect and that's not my intent as I do have a heart for all people.

It's been my experience that those afflicted with racism often seek to assuage their guilt by making their problem my problem. My position is to hand that problem right back to them. If one wants to know how it feels to be treated unjustly, it's simple enough (or at least should be) to place oneself in the shoes of those who've been treated that way. The problem is a sort of superior attitude/feeling or sense of entitlement that blocks this and permits those with the affliction to feel as if they should occupy the superior position even though that position is built on the sand of unjust advantage or action and is ultimately destined to crumble as a result. Many of these same individuals simply can't "see" this and the few who have the pangs of guilt want those they've wounded to apply a salve to their conscience rather than for them to apply a salve to the wounds they're responsible for inflicting. In this topsy turvey world, the victim bails out the perp and the perp never changes his attitude as in his zero sum world, that might mean a change in his privileged position.

This may reveal a personal failing on my part, but I have absolutely no time for this. The only person I want to morally reform is me (i.e my own community). I'm not wanting to sound selfish, but there are just so many wounded that need to be attended to within the walls of our community and given a choice, that's where I'd like to spend my time.

Greg L said...

>>Tell them, finally: Speak from the Heart, to the Heart, and not to the mind. Tell them: We know All There Is to Know, we have but to Re-member, to Re-mind Ourselves of That Which We've Always Known. Tell them: The mind is for Creating, not for thinking. Tell them: Think less, and in Silence find Their True Self--that is, Who They Truly Are.<<

Writing is truly an art form as exhibited here. Excellent BD!

Mr. I.M. Black said...

Greg L:

The ability to express oneself in words is truly a gift, some of us have that natural ability to place them on paper.

I believe that both you and BD have that gift, although there is a poetic cadence to BD's writing.

I as an older gentleman have learned a great deal from your exchanges and hope to participate more.

Greg L said...

>>Greg L:

The ability to express oneself in words is truly a gift, some of us have that natural ability to place them on paper.

I believe that both you and BD have that gift, although there is a poetic cadence to BD's writing.

I as an older gentleman have learned a great deal from your exchanges and hope to participate more.<<<

Mr. IM Black,

Let me assure you that you're not the only older gentlemen here:-)

I'm a great admirer of those who can write, so quite naturally I admire my friend BD here and his writing definitely has a poetic quality. I even once asked him about this as I wanted to know how he learned to do this and his recommendation was that reading poetry would bring alive one's writing and as I think about that it's true.

I have few favorite books that I reread once or twice every year and one of them is Frederick Douglass' autobiography which is literally a piece of fine literature and a history book wrapped up into one. I would have loved to hear him speak as by all accounts, in the annals of American oratorical address, they are few who could best him. BD's poetic license reminds me of Douglass in many ways in the sense that both communicate in ways that help draw a picture in one's mind while capturing the imagination. I think the latter is the key in communication and as I think about it, many of the great social movements gain impetus from words-either written or spoken. Words and the ideas they convey are very powerful things. They're also immemorial and stand well beyond the time when originally written and this is why it seems that some words call out across the centuries and inspire us even now. I'm a great admirer of those who have the skill to do that as they really have a power well beyond what they themselves may realize when they pen them.

Black Diaspora said...

@Greg L: "[I]t seems like I'm being unduly harsh in that respect and that's not my intent as I do have a heart for all people."

And that "heart" is in clear view, which is one of the reasons I was drawn to your blog, and your commentaries.

"It's been my experience that those afflicted with racism often seek to assuage their guilt by making their problem my problem."

It's called "headache switching," a term I learned years ago, and one which, over the years, I have had many occasions to use.

"The problem is a sort of superior attitude/feeling or sense of entitlement that blocks this and permits those with the affliction to feel as if they should occupy the superior position even though that position is built on the sand of unjust advantage or action and is ultimately destined to crumble as a result."

You see a pattern here? It's also the smug, "superior attitude" with which we conduct our foreign affairs. It's the cowboy swagger that's evidenced in the words of Rick Perry, who, after calling Turkey leaders Islamist terrorists, set off a firestorm of criticism, and forced the State Department to initiate damage control.

We're also admonished not to throw our pearls before swine, as they will be trampled by our unrefined, swinish natures that can't differentiate pearls from decaying fruit.

"Many of these same individuals simply can't 'see' this and the few who have the pangs of guilt want those they've wounded to apply a salve to their conscience rather than for them to apply a salve to the wounds they're responsible for inflicting."

If we're to offer our service in the rehabilitation of the soul, let it be done in the interest of noble pursuits, and not to give the afflicter comfort in his wrongdoing, but a rebuke.

"This may reveal a personal failing on my part, but I have absolutely no time for this. The only person I want to morally reform is me (i.e my own community)."

You have spoken from your heart. As such, you haven't "failed," and neither can you be called a failure, as you have remained true to your own Truth.

The worker is worthy of his hire. Work in the garden of your choosing, my friend, for to feed one is to feed all.

Black Diaspora said...

Greg L said..."Writing is truly an art form as exhibited here. Excellent BD!"

Thanks, my friend.

Melisa Marzett said...

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Black Diaspora said...

Thanks for the link, Melisa. I'll check it out.