A year ago today you came to our little island city. I did not know you personally, but like many of us, you dreamed of living in a tropical paradise…To wear flip-flops and T-shirts in January, soak up the sun on a beach and maybe even make friends back home in the north a little bit jealous. Many of us happy, long time citizens of Key West got here just like you; alone, with not much money, but a dream that we could carve out a little piece of paradise for ourselves and live among Key West’s “One Human Family”.
We are here tonight trying to make sense of your tragic passing on this beach where you might have wiggled your toes in the sand instead of losing your life in it. Many of us are confused and angered by this senseless loss of life, but we didn’t gather here tonight to express anger. We are called here by the much stronger principle of love. Love is the common thread that weaves through us all. Without love; family, friends and community could not exist. Every spiritual leader and prophet throughout history has love at the center of their tenets. Martin Luther King tells us, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. (and) Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” So tonight we are driving out the darkness with the light of candles and driving out the hate with our love for you and your family. Continue reading
The normal randomness and chaos of everyday life sometimes catches me off guard. To even attempt to make sense of tragedy feels like a form of arrogance. Acceptance is the desired goal when facing the unimaginable, but it’s the process that is hellish. Having children opens up new worlds of bitter-sweet life experience and a portion of our little universe was cracked open and its axis made wobbly by the death of a beautiful young man from our community. His spirit of joie de vivre and sense of humor were his trade marks and death could not have been further from the mind.
His parents are two of the most loving and intelligent people I know and their love for their son and his sister is boundless. They have built a life full of solid friendships and sense of community and are now surrounded by the love they have generated. Their strength astounds me. Continue reading
When I write, my inclination is to focus on national or global big picture issues, such as our nation’s endless war in the name of_____________ (fill in the blank). Other abominations that get my attention are the relentless neutering of our constitution and civil liberties and the contemptuous global corporate rape and pillage of our planet without a thought past the next quarterly earnings report. Most recently I suggested our country’s social and spiritual disease of racism is still very much with us as demonstrated by the frequency of public execution-by-cop/vigilante of young black men, the rise of the corporate prison-for-profit and its lopsided racial make up and the acceptance of racist dialogue in corporate sponsored media and the public forum of social media. (Not to mention the local vitriolic reaction to my essay.)
I have the constitutional right (so far) to express my thoughts and I thank The Blue Paper for publishing some of them. I am proud of my relationship with The Blue Paper and honored to be keeping company with the likes of Naja and Arnaud Girard, investigative journalists and editors of Blue. Going back through the archives of The Blue Paper one can see we in Key West have our own “big picture” problems, one being the KWPD’s heavy handed treatment of African Americans in our little city at the end of the road. Naja and Arnaud and The Blue Paper, have gone to great lengths to report police abuses in our community like no other local paper has. Their interviews and videos of black residents of Key West expose a pattern of racism ranging from ordinary disrespect right on up to physical violence bordering on fatality. Continue reading
My usual “fan club” was out in force last week. I really felt the love. Thank you for reading my essay with an open mind and weighing in with your comments. A simple re-cap; Slavery of Africans on US soil happened. Said slavery has had continuing negative repercussions to this day. Some of my die-hard “fans” decided to ignore those truths and focus on certain details that they felt somehow justified, rationalized, excused and or negated these two historical facts. I’ll repeat; Slavery of Africans on US soil happened. Said slavery has had continuing negative repercussions to this day. Zeroing in on, let’s say, when I pointed out Obama being attacked by the mentally challenged bigots in politics and elsewhere, someone snarked, “Your hero”. He might as well have called me an “Obama lover”. Obama is not my hero. I used his treatment as an example of the symptoms of our country’s diseased bigotry and lack of civility. I think I might have mentioned that recovery starts with an admission there is a problem.
I was accused of suffering from “white guilt” and called a white racist and a “libtard”. I did not write the piece to inflame people. I wrote it to hopefully encourage a constructive dialogue on, not only racism, but the general co-option of our country by the Corporate Pathocracy to the detriment of We, The People. Instead, as it turns out, my thoughts were taken as an affront/attack on White America, completely ignoring the thrust of my words. Continue reading
Is the United States of America a society in regression? With each rationalized and exonerated killing of young black men by cop and vigilante, are other regressive malcontents emboldened? Rather than ushering in a new era of racial harmony, the election of a black man to the highest office in the land has brought out the worst sort of hatred imaginable. Vile and treasonous epithets never before uttered publicly against a sitting president are posted daily on social media. The loony fringe has oozed out of the woodwork and taken up residence in main stream US society. Law makers and TV pundits have incrementally introduced racism as legitimate political dialogue. Code words that are palatable but are still racially derisive are used liberally in that dialogue. Civility and self control are non-existent. Who could forget South Carolina’s Rep. Joe Wilson’s infamous outburst, “You lie!” directed at president Obama at his 2009 State of the Union Address? Continue reading
Here we are, another celebration of Columbus Day has passed, and every year it gets just a little bit more embarrassing, bordering on surreal. We citizens of the United States are slowly waking up to the reality that the Americas were heavily populated by natives and doing just fine without European “civilization”. The fact that the Europeans were greeted for the most part by friendly folks willing to share what they had, was taken as a sign of weakness by our “hero”, Columbus. Instead of honoring the people that invited him into their home, he enslaved and murdered them, of course, baptizing them before they were put to the sword. Not the best way to start a new relationship.
I was incredulous when I saw the photo of Key West Police Chief Donnie Lee smiling and shaking hands with Sgt. Pablo Rodriguez, honoring Rodriguez for his fifteen years of service. Is this the same Pablo Rodriguez involved in the Charles Eimers case? Is this the same Pablo Rodriguez video recorded enthusiastically assisting fellow officer Mark Siracuse in the illegal public anal cavity search of Glenn Hanes in Bahama Village? Is this the same Pablo Rodriguez that cost the tax payers of Key West $ 287,500 in an out-of-court settlement for intimidating a fellow officer that refused to destroy video evidence of Officer Rodriguez intentionally driving his cruiser into a suspect on a bicycle?
There seems to be a lot of damage control “honoring” by Chief Lee lately. Credibility of and faith in the KWPD is rapidly diminishing and that is tragic for a community that calls itself one human family.
When I read a report on Jefferson County Colorado high school students walking out in protest over proposed changes to the school’s history curriculum, I rejoiced. Anyone that pays attention to current events knows there is a concerted attack on common sense being administered by conservative ideologues and their corporate sponsors. The kids in Colorado have decided enough is enough. Their misguided school board members are proposing a flag waving revisionist history curriculum that emphasizes obedience to law, extolls the virtues of individual freedom and free enterprise, and at the same time dismisses social consciousness, past struggles and victories for civil rights as mere footnotes. Hardly worth mentioning…, and PLEASE disregard the fact that our nation was actually forged in the fires of revolution caused by lack of representation in our government. Yeah…that’d be great. Continue reading
My wife and I just finished watching all seven, two-hour installments of Ken Burns’, documentary on Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. It left me feeling a bit melancholy, for watching any birth-to- death encapsulated in a few short hours will depress, but such Olympian greatness ending like ordinary mortals is an especially bitter pill to swallow. Ken Burns’ reputation for skillful use of black and white stills melded with music, sound effect and professional actors reciting the written word of the protagonists is mesmerizing and “The Roosevelts, An Intimate History” did not disappoint. Continue reading
No matter what your political affiliation is, haven’t you wondered, “What is wrong with those people? Can’t they see how misguided they are?!” God knows, I’ve said that countless times. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some explanation why political paralysis and polarization are so prevalent? Look no further than science! Finally we have an answer why some see black and others white when looking at the exact same thing. The amygdala, sometimes called the amygdaloidal nucleus, a little almond shaped bit of gray matter amongst our other gray matter, in the anterior section of the temporal lobe, might be the culprit. Frankly, I don’t care what it is or what it’s called. I’m just pleased as punch there is ANY explanation for the insane cognitive dissonance and schizophrenic contradictive perceptions of what is our current political theater of the absurd.
MRI images of test subject’s brains revealed that conservatives have a larger amygdala than liberals. Now before you conservatives start high-fiving each other, Continue reading