A First Reading

I was handed a book today,
It was awkward.
The cover, half black, half white
Included the word, “Negro,” in the title.

Me, being white didn’t know
How to take the word,
Given that the man who brought me the book
Is African American.

We talked about the Steelers choking,
The loss of money wagered on the losers,
And when the book was due.
Later, he would send me two more books.

I dove into Contemporary Poets of the Negro (1921)
Unsure of what I was looking for,
But then I realized that the book spoke clearly,
White people, back then, needed to wake up.

I couldn’t agree more, only with a tenor struck
In our present, for little has changed
In the way the cultures don’t exist together,
A token acceptance based on guilt rather than acceptance.

Perhaps Kerlin’s words,
“For both races it augurs ill,” capture the problem
With the delicate existence of race relations no matter the cultures,
And its time everyone fixed things, before all our cores are hollowed out.

The Roster (LHS Hoops 2/10)

Piano keys,
Black and white,
Work together
Making some kind of sound.

Basketball players,
Black and white,
Work together
Playing hoops and joking around.

Colors blend,
Black and white,
Forging friendships
Defying prejudices in a southern town.

Simple really,
Black and white,
Not different at all
When the goals are the same.

The College Airport

I write most of my blog posts in the month preceding when they get posted, so when I started thinking about this post my idea was to write a fantasy story about shooting guns with my father at the old College Airport off of Waller Mill Road. I had an idea that there would be some kind of demons and we blew them away with our government issued .38s and legally registered .22 pistols. This summer of violence has taken that bit of fiction away from me.

The land at the airport was used as storage for William and Mary and as a place for police officers to practice their marksmanship. Rows of pine trees surrounded the grounds. The exact layout of their placement suggested that they must have been planted after the area ceased being an airport. The bare ground varied between dry, cracking clay and loose, sandy soil. There was a building there that had the smell of an antique store and was filled with tons of furniture stored in mothballs beneath a curtain of cob webs. The airport was far enough away from Richmond and Mooretown roads so that the clacking of the trees and the booming of the guns was about all that could be heard. There was a smell of spent gun powder, the same smell that came from popping strings of paper in cap guns.

Romantic, huh?

Those were great times. I was a boy with, as I saw them, important men (I don’t remember any women being there) who taught me the importance of being safe with guns. I was allowed to shoot the weapons and they instilled in me a respect for the power guns discharge. At that early age, I understood the responsibility of having a gun and as such, I think I had a respectful fear of them. Through high school I would have three guns of my own, but by college, I was out of the gun club.

So back to this summer… I can’t believe what is going on with gun violence. I can’t believe what is going on with policing. I can’t believe what is going on with the killing of police. As I try to make sense of the absolute horror of what is going on, I keep coming back to guns. Before some whacko from a guns rights advocacy group comes at me saying something about the Constitution, I’ll say I get it. The question I have for them is do they get it?

They argue, “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” True. Perhaps they should be recognizing that, “People use guns to kill people.” The problem, as my independently registered voting mind sees things, is that the access to guns and the lack of respect for gun ownership has led to a culture that fails to recognize the responsibility of owning a gun. I could go on about the lack of responsibility for life in general, but then I might be labeled too liberal or too conservative by whichever side was more pissed off by my finger pointing. But back to guns… Are we where we were when the Constitution was written? Could the framers of that wonderful document have foreseen the kind of guns and the ease with which they can be gotten? Would they have supported the irresponsible use of guns by some police and some in the citizenry to the magnitude of which we are experiencing this year? Probably not. Yet here we are in 2016 thinking the same way as in 1788. What of the last 288-years? (I hear you, Ali…)

There are big problems facing our country. The election being the first. Not really, although that’s pretty bad. For me, race relations is the true number one. Unfortunately, guns are so completely tied to the reactionary nature of dealing with race and the complex issues of getting people to come together, the tool of death seems like a better place to start. Where guns, the tools of death (I know, hyperbole…Do deer call it hyperbole?…I’m not anti-hunting…) are concerned, there has got to be a common sense way to control guns without infringing upon the rights of people to own them. Maybe, if gone violence could be slowed, there could be less impassioned, but more productive conversations about how to improve race relations. At the time I am writing this, there seems to be some sort of shooting involving police and citizens (the bullets are being initiated in both directions) every day.

How do we even begin to bridge the divide without resorting to more gun violence? I would suggest that we bring jobs back to America. Hopefully, the jobs could go to areas that really need them and the corporations and unions could figure out a way both sides could make a living so people would not find it necessary to turn to careers so reliant on guns. Dreamy, I know.

Ultimately, all the BS this summer must stop. The police need figure it out. We need you and we need you to be responsible in your use of force. We understand the stress that you are under, but bad cops need to be ratted out by good ones. Law enforcement cannot ask us to “snitch” and not do the same when the “boys in blue” prove not to be worthy of a badge. The people committing crimes against police need to stop it. Go watch The Purge, Escape From New York, or the evening news to see what lawlessness looks like. Is that how you really want to live? I bet not. I realize this is a rant that does little to offer solutions to the problems of guns, gun violence, or the issues of race relations that are so connected to guns.

Something has to change.

So Tired of This Stuff

Man, I’m listening to the stats
Watching the reports
And wondering
How the divide can be so great
How can the government
Report numbers in so many ways
That nobody can figure out
What the frig is going on
One life lost to a police bullet
Is too many
And I could care less
About the color of the victim because
Nobody should die that way
Anymore though
I blame us
For the issues of racial disharmony
Not the government
And the way it makes us check boxes
To define “who we are”
Heck, DNA says we are all mutts anyway

It’s us

And if you believe in the Bible
We’ve been effing it up for awhile now
Eden, Babel, whatever else there is
Government, God, no they are too easy
To make scapegoats
One is an institution we chose,
The other having bestowed upon us choice
And look at what we have done with both

Allowing violence to run our show

And there is plenty
For all of us to accept
The stats are confusing
The verdicts are perplexing
The violence is unacceptable

It’s time for all to bring some sensibility
To our humanity
We must us the brains we were given
To exercise the established rights
In a manner that is fair for all

Stop shooting
Stop looting
Stop blaming
And clean up this mess

Blinders

These trials

These comedians

These television shows

These activists

These politicians

All playing race

For gain

Showing their “ism”

For what it is.

Blind.

How hard is it to believe

That skin is not our make up

That “cracker”

Is every bit as offensive as

That word Paula Deen shouldn’t have used

Even when some

Use it for effect

Explaining it away

As, “Y’all don’t understand,”

Well I do

And I don’t

But isn’t there a better way

To argue a point

Than by using the very tactic,

The absurd weapon,

That keeps progress from advancing

Beyond past injustices

And present excuses for race relations

Made by anyone who can’t

See past the rancor from those

Sitting at the table

Or the ones left to

Stir the pot

Maybe we should be thinking

About our diversity differently

How about as PEOPLE

Instead of labels

How about risking

To stand up for what is right

Outside of our pigmentation

Using the gifts inside our skin

Without making jokes about race

Or trying cases under prejudicial pressure

Or basing public policy

On the voting records of skin colorations

And living down the negative stereotypes

Gripping every culture

Whatever the hue

I’ve grown weary of Trayvon

Reverse discrimination affirmative action law suits in Texas

Us versus Them

Immigration

Discussion of tattoos, beards, stupid white people impersonations

And all the other ways

Intolerance wastes our trust-

Recognize color

Live with it

Through appreciative blinders

Allowing humanity

To go where we should

All go,

Outside the lines

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All rights reserved.