October 29, 2006

Motherless Child

You don’t get to choose your mother, and I am envious of those who did have some type of relationship to their mothers. I envy those who had mothers that even through illness, did their best to be mothers. Mine, in illness, chose to revert to childhood and depend upon her mother, and I became motherless without death. I didn’t know my loss at the time; it was just the way things were. Then later in my life as a young adult without the memories, I began to feel a horrific void. For really stupid reasons, there had been no one to replace her, just let me say the reasons involved the preservation of family dysfunction.

Today, I was reading two posts at Anonymous Rowhouse, which surprisingly upset me. It upset me so much that I must write this. One of justrose post was about her and her mother’s relationship and the other a memory of her mother. It is more than memory, but it’s hard for me to describe. I have always wanted this type of memory. Justrose really gets to the emotion of an apparent material object. A box full of possibilities, an ethereal influence.

my mother's makeup box: an old shoebox that had held a pair of my catspaw maryjanes. she kept it on a shelf in the bathroom linen closet. it had no lid. it was stained with pancake.

her mirror was the bathroom vanity over the sink, and she tended to do her face in private. all you could see was her standing on tiptoe on the aqua and black tile of the bathroom floor.

her makeup was comprised primarily of stuff you bought at the five and ten. her eyeliner was a hard cake in a compact that she put on with a sharp little angled brush, as i imagine an egyptian woman would've done. it was always missing the plastic lid.

her foundation was maxfactor pancake, that you did with a wet sponge. she wore angelface loose powder that she kept in an ancient round powderbox covered with small champagne-colored blossoms and edged in gold trim. she put it on with an equally ancient pink puff with a satin band on the back. she favored browns and mahoganies.

See the rest.

I did not have a relationship where I could analyze or have this type of memory. I grieve for the mother I never had, but not because she died. She died under my care. I took on the responsibility after my grandmother died, out of duty, not love. I became the caretaker in my late twenties and during that time, no relationship developed. It may be because I was angry, I don’t know. Was I waiting for her to reach out to me, to become my mother in some sense, to give me unconditional love? I think that’s it. I know I am angry now that all I have left is guilt. I don’t even have any conflict to remember or any thing that is personal. I have no influences of her femininity or how she handled motherhood. I wonder if this has had an effect in raising a son, I do think it might have had an effect in raising a daughter.

October 28, 2006

Whose Responsibility?

When I first heard the story of Adam and Eve, it seemed a little wrong. If God could create Adam, why was it necessary for God to create Eve that way? If he were all powerful, he could not create Eve in the same way? What was going on with that rib thing? It really struck me as wrong; when Adam ate the fruit and all knowledge was lost and the lost was blamed on Eve. Now, I was very, very young when I heard these stories and I did not analyze them. I just knew something was wrong. When I became a young adult, I began to think these stories gave justification to men’s superiority over women, with the exception of some aspects of morality. Adam being tempted became the allegory for seduction. The feminine is totally defined by seduction and so Eve must forever repent for that sin of seduction by being morally responsible for Adam and so must all women. I refused to be that woman, but it doesn’t matter, because their have been and still are circumstances that our society requires it. You still will bear consequences for some man’s actions.

Recently, the public, focused on the treatment of women, have been looking at Islamic communities. On the one hand, in dress and veiled, we are told that it gives women freedom from being objectified and it is their choice to honor their tradition. Then on the other, a woman must be responsible for his desire, sexuality and perversions; since her actions, dress, speech and movement are subject to wreck the morals of men. It appears that some Muslim clerics believe that it is not a woman’s choice at all. It is commanded. You then wonder if sermons like this are being given in every mosque; as the Khaleej Times Online reports, this sermon is delivered in a prominent mosque in Australia, by Sheikh Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly.

In a Ramadan sermon last month, the mufti of Sydney’s biggest mosque, Sheikh Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly, said sexual assaults might not happen if women wore a hijab and stayed at home.
“If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem,” Hilaly said, according to a newspaper translation.
Read the entire article.

This sermon has caused much controversy and the Sheikh has apologized, but has not really backed away from his sermon. Even though his analogy is gross, it is representative of attitudes in the Muslim world. We may abhor those ideas, but we must not forget that it has not been the only religion or culture where women have been expected to be responsible for male morality. Is it too much to expect of men to take responsibly for their morality?

October 22, 2006

The Revolution Was Televised!

I came across this article of the revolt in Hungary in 1956. It reminded me that tomorrow is the fiftieth anniversary of that event which lasted from October 23 to November 10, 1956.

1956 - Hungarian Revolution

You can see a narrated version of this, other videos and photos at Hungary 1956.

East - '56

I was crestfallen as a child, my vision of America changed after this event. Heard much talk of Radio Free Europe and the encouragement we were giving the new Soviet satellites to seek freedom. Communist were the scourge of the earth, and yet we let the Hungarians fight alone. My most vivid memory, watching the news and seeing the Russian tanks roll through the streets. I could not understand why America was not helping.

Later we fought this fight in some distant rainforest.

October 20, 2006

Contrapuntal harmonies of life.

The disease, then the cure or is it just maintenance. A life lived or a life made poor from the cure. I have been rescued from death by modern technology. Had I live earlier in the 20th century, I would be dead. The question is; how do I live a full life when the cost of what I want to do is sucked up by medical bills. I am not the volunteering type, I don’t get thrills from long walks in the park and there aren’t that many things free that interest me. In managing the cure there are many co-pays for visits and ever changing medication. It pains me when I have to throw out medication, some time hundreds of dollars worth. That is only the co-pays. If I had to pay retail for my yearly medication it would come close to ten thousands dollars. As it is I have to pay around 20 percent. Maybe to some that would not be much money, but it is to me. That is more money I could save and use for a few extra things I would like to do.

What gets me; is that when life saving measures are offered, you are not told the true cost. Only that you can refuse treatment. Are you going to turn down treatment? You may not be in a physical condition to be able to make that decision and so you are saved. Later you may have to make a choice between medication and eating. You can live a very long time on maintenance, what happens when you run out of resources. Anybody telling you that the government will take up the slack is wrong. You lifestyle will have to diminish. It could diminish to the point of have no life at all; cheapest rental, light meals, wearing too many clothes in winter and possibly suffering heat stroke in summer. Most income going to the maintenance of the cure. Tell anyone to “go to hell,” if they suggest you should have planed better.

In the earlier stage of my illness, I realized that no matter what, I still had to work. I had just recently bought a house and I didn’t want to give that up. I kept hearing from people, why don’t you go out on disability. The healthcare system supports that too. I am thinking how does anyone pay their bills like that, I can’t? I am too young to be staring at concrete block walls that they have in a lot of subsidize apartments. I had to continually fight Medicare (since I had end stage renal disease I was eligible) and my employee insurance about whose going to pay what. Another irony, since I was working I was still paying for Medicare with a payroll deduction and writing them a check too. I could not slack off because I would have paid more. Now one of my activities is to deal with health care. There is a struggle for it not to become your life. In the meantime, while those of us that have been saved or have health issues that are being managed; we are not considered in the healthcare debate. Healthcare has now become a debate over political philosophy rather than about the sickness and wellness. While others debate, we continue to study cope with the opposing changes in harmonies of our lives.

October 18, 2006

Someday! Though I hope it's not too near.

I can’t see myself in a self imposed world of old people, but I will have to make a choice whether to live in an assisted living or by myself in a few years. I’m thinking that how disadvantageous to live in our isolated society, to be on ones own. If you are not out and about would any one notice if you are no longer there or if you need help? Would any one just drop by? When my mind goes will I notice? I had a hard time taking care of my medical problem in middle age when I was sick. I literally could not speak. If it weren’t for my sister, the complications of my transplant would have been more difficult, because I could not explain. How would I be able to take care of business and medical issues, argue with the providers and know what’s going on with my health care? Would I remember to take my daily medication? It’s possible that there will not be any family close that could help day to day. I may be fortunate to stay healthy with a sharp mind until I die and be able to continue to live by myself; but if I have to, I would prefer that there would be better alternative communities with people of all ages. A place where I might have a six year old for a friend; just like there were adults that I would chat with when I was that age. There were boundaries between the child and adult, but I still considered them my friends. It is not that I mind being with people my age, when I am much older. I wouldn’t want it to be my world. It would be easy to forget there are new ideas in the world, become too involved with health, and become suspicious and resentful of younger people.

October 12, 2006

Lives Undone by Words of Intent

“The man who would deprive another of learning to read and write, and learn wisdom does not fear God. They took my labor to educate their children, and then laughed at me for being ignorant and poor, and had not sense enough to know that they were the cause of it. “
A slave narrative: “The Life of John Quincy Adams.”

Today, that said, the ignorant and poor, although not slaves, have to bear witness, to the truth of that statement of two hundred years ago. The aspirations of freedom have been so corrupted. Those who speak to this, know that without the tethers put on by continued racism the slave would have excelled in their quest and understanding of freedom. The slave reveled in the words of the Declaration of Independence and could not wait until they would have such liberty. They took it upon themselves to become literate when they became free; so that they could become full participants of this society and in a modest way pursue those unalienable rights. The former slave John Q. Adams expresses these intentions.

The great want among us is education, and more particularly those who have been slaves, and deprived of that great blessing of being educated when young. If our fathers and mothers did not have the opportunity of learning when they were young, they are glad to know that their children have a chance to be educated, and enjoy that great and glorious privilege that so many were deprived of. I love my privilege; I love my freedom; I love protection; I love liberty, and love industry. Let every man work for his living as it is said, "let every one live by the sweat of his brow." But not "let every one nor any one live off of the sweat of another's brow without paying for it." Then you will be following the commandments of God. Who ever heard of such a thing as a man working for another for nothing and he sitting down doing nothing, but only violating the laws of God and the just laws of the land, and then say it is ight.
Read his complete narrative

This is our greatest legacy. Every effort has been made to ensure that we would forget and in some that legacy seems to be lost: and now there are those among us who would tell us; the descendants of slaves, that indeed, we were responsible for that lost.

Herein lies the problem; I cannot accept the absolution of whites in this country from the responsibility of propagating racism and then telling me that it’s all my fault. There has been a disturbing stream of thought that is permeating in the blogoshpere and put in the public consciousness with certain pundits. I hinted at my feeling about this in my previous post “Origins.” I think this topic deserves a more complete analysis.

I have been reading a few blogs, mostly conservative ones, for about a year and a half. When the topic of race came up, I would sometime comment. Mostly my views were usually thought of as another black playing the race card or victim. In their challenges, I began to see an attempt to absolve themselves of any blame and any racist action, some even began to try to change my view of history and say that Southern Heritage did not have anything to do with slavery and that the secession issue was about state rights. I did think I knew something about the South, since I grew up there. I am not disputing that blacks share some of what is called Southern Heritage, but my view on how racism played was a part of Southern Heritage was quite different. My view of the South was that of a black growing up in the South during Jim Crow. Finding out at four years old I was different. I could not do certain things or go certain places. I later found out it was because I was not white. At four, so simple those things desired; but so hard to forget. I don’t hate, but I don’t easily forgive.

I thought how curious to try to rehabilitate the South. This post at at Positive Liberty describes the new thought on the right of secession. There is an attempt which to give credibility to new ideas, which I thought that Timothy Sandefur adequately rebukes. Sandefur doesn’t mince words in this post either. I still feel a Southerner, even though I have lived here for more years than there. I know what is was to me, and I still prefer certain things about the South. I do not need a rehabilitated South. Then why is there a need among some whites? I think its guilt, even though they say it is not their generation and they are not the blame for slavery or Jim Crow. I think it is guilt, because they know that they have bought into many racist stereotypes and struggle with the thought that they could have such thoughts. It clouds their minds so much, as with those I argue; that even if I do not disagree with one of their ideas, they don’t see it.

Even more disturbing is how the discussion of slavery is being used as an argument to totally absolve whites of participating in the institution of slavery in America. It’s like they couldn’t help it, it must have been an addiction. Those statements that slavery was good for blacks and blacks are better off because of slavery; and we should be grateful, are becoming another meme. In order to blame blacks for their own enslavement, it is quickly brought up how Africans enslaved other Africans. Those who say this, don’t even know how to distinguish the Africans. It’s all a mishmash. No distinguishing of the different cultures or even how slavery worked in Africa. Just repeat partial truths enough, it slowly become believable. They know the ignorant and racist of their group will latch on anything they say. No questions, just a relief that whites weren’t really responsible, because you know, they had slavery in Africa. There would not have been any slavery in America, if blacks had not sold other blacks. These pundits are espousing this new version of history, having their discussions and pontifications in the public media. The first I heard this type of comment, slavery was good for blacks, was from a black pundit, Walter Williams on local TV. (Unfortunately this was many years ago and I can’t refer to a transcript.) Williams also professes the rehabilitated view of the civil war. There are others that have expressed the same sentiment, Ann Coulter and Dinesh D’Souza. These are not the only two, but they tick me off the most. Their analysis says slavery is what gave a better life to blacks, than if they had stayed in Africa. D’ Souza, in his book, “What’s So Great About America,” even uses quote from blacks to convince us of his view of slavery, although I think he misunderstands the intent of Zora Neale Hurston.

Back to Muhammad Ali: I understand him to be making the same point. Slavery was a grave moral crime that inflicted incalculable harm to slaves. But the slaves are dead, and the truth is that their descendants are better off as a result of slavery. Jesse Jackson is vastly better off because his ancestors were enslaved than he would have been if that had never happened. If not for slavery, Jackson and others like him would be living in Somalia or Ethiopia or Nigeria. The enormous improvement in their condition can be verified by simply asking them whether they would consider moving to one of those places. As the African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston bluntly put it, “Slavery is the price I paid for civilization, and that is worth all that I have paid through my ancestors for it.”18 (59)
I think Hurston was stating that her ancestors had paid her dues to be a full citizen in this civilization. I admit that I have not read the source of that quote. To get more of an idea of D’Souza point of view, this is an interview in reference to his book “The End Of Racism,” along with some other quotes from from campusprogress.org. These pundits also point out how blacks enslaved blacks, sort of inferring that if the African had not sought after other blacks to sell, there would not have been any slavery. It is really interesting that I can not find any of Ann Coulters own words on the net. I only see references to what she had said about slavery as here and here. Here’s an excerpt from One Peoples Project, “Ann Coulter.”

This speaking engagement brought a huge number of persons who wanted to call her on the comments on the flag and something else that was in that particular column. Coulter also supports slavery revisionism, the latest thing among conservatives where they suggest that black persons are responsible for slavery in America. "Slavery, as Joe Sobran has remarked, is the only African institution America has ever adopted," she wrote, making reference to a columnist routinely admonished for his anti-Semitic views and white supremacist connections. Once, during an episode of Politically Incorrect, Coulter even said that the Emancipation Proclamation is among laws she felt should be repealed. During one moment in her discussion at Cornell, she repeated the assertion in the column that European slave traders bought Africans who were already enslaved, saying, "It wasn't as if the traders ran into the jungle and kidnapped their victims."
I think their words denigrate blacks and say we are inferior. That as an African without the intervention of the European, we would have been incapable of creating viable institutions for ourselves and if our lives were not exposed to technology; our lives could not be meaningful. These comments are made when they criticized blacks for being dependant on government and how we should follow their way of thinking. As if 12% of the population are 100% of the recipients of government programs, that we look to government to employ us and that racism would not exist if we just would stop playing the victim or race card. They don’t know how much their criticism sounds racist. Ann Coulter believes the Bell Curve and what she says about the races, blacks are inferior. Let us look at her criticism:

— Liberals were afraid of a book that told the truth about IQ ("The Bell Curve") because they are godless secularists who do not believe humans are in God's image. Christians have no fear of hearing facts about genetic differences in IQ because we don't think humans are special because they are smart. There may be some advantages to being intelligent, but a lot of liberals appear to have high IQs, so, really, what's the point? After Hitler carried the secularists' philosophy to its grisly conclusion, liberals are terrified of making any comment that seems to acknowledge that there are any differences among groups of people — especially racial groups. It's difficult to have a simple conversation — much less engage in free-ranging, open scientific inquiry — when liberals are constantly rushing in with their rule book about what can and cannot be said.
I wonder what Ann Coulter would do if she found out she had an African ancestor, would her intelligence take a nose dive. What scientific inquiry is she speaking, “The Bell Curve”? When genetic test are done between the so called races, there are more differences between individuals than groups. It’s possible that my DNA could be very similar to hers. Coulter and D’Souza configure their statistics to prove their points. They are not even trying to give a better analysis using more parameters. Just use one test, that’s quite enough. Even though those pundits know nothing about black people, they should realize that the poor do not survive on government programs alone. The working poor do not get very much either. Many survive in an underground economy, which you would have to live in that environment to understand how it works. Entrepreneurship is not dead in our communities, even though there were efforts to stomp it out. Some of those earlier incidents, Memphis and Tulsa were not just race driven, they were meant to destroy the black competition and instill fear of competing with whites. Of course, I think most whites today, would only think of drug dealing as that alternate source of income. Of course, this is my own prejudice speaking.

We can not imagine the African without the European. Portugal ships arrived in Africa during the 15th century. There were emerging civilizations at the time, Benin and Songhay. What were lacking in these civilizations and other societies were gunpowder, and the associated weapons technology. No superior intellect, just brute force. I’m sure those societies who had slaves and moved into the interior to catch more, found it profitable to sell slaves to get that technology. Most Africans were taken directly from the western cities by force. Why pay for them if you could capture them yourself? The African was not responsible for transporting Tens of millions of slaves across the Atlantic. They may have works on the ships, but they didn’t profit like the European from the transport of slaves. The big bucks were made by the Portuguese, Dutch and English. Less than a hundred years after the transport of slavery was abolished, the Europeans after WWI divided up the African continent and the Middle East into colonies. How could the African recover from having their population stripped, their land and resources taken over and then left ignorant? Then they compare the American black’s condition. Of course we are better off, but it should not have been because millions of slaves suffered and died; or from living in fear instilled by Jim Crow; or acknowledging the devastating and deteriorating conditions of many African countries.

My last comment from “Origins” was not meant to trash Western Civilization or what is called “The Enlightenment,” but to imply that it is not perfection. Where were the philosophical ideals at work for the African? Some whites at that time; did not think of us as equal and many more did not think of us as human. We were some sort of an advanced ape. Slavery was not seriously challenged at the beginning of this country. Only discontinuing the importation of slaves was in the constitution. That was a compromise, because the Virginians thought that blacks reproduced rapidly enough to provide ample supply; a self propagating commodity. Some of the “founding fathers” ideals were not a reality in there lives. When I first read the Declaration of Independence, naively I thought it meant all of man. In later years, I was disappointed that they could not share their own ideals. When much older, I just thought they sold their souls. I finally came to the realization that all my icons were tarnished. America has become a myth, which doesn’t even include me. This does not mean I do not think of myself as American, I do. I don’t like to be called an African-American, because my ancestors have been here since the beginning and their blood is in the dirt. I am only three generations out of slavery. I am an American of African descent. Other ancestry doesn’t count, because my life has been only defined by my African ancestry.

Since, I have just started this blog; I don’t think this essay will reach or influence many people, so I comment at other blogs when the subject comes up. I have written to a few bloggers about my views, hoping that if they agree they would speak out. Those bloggers have a better voice than I and reach more readers. There are very intellectual arguments that redefine the Southern secession and slavery, its difficult for me to challenge those ideas. I have read one blog, that I think successfully challenges those ideas, Positive Liberty. I hope to find others. Since, I have started writing this post, another idea is surfacing. Now, slavery had nothing to do with the economy of this country. America would have grown as fast as it did without slavery. This is to say, blacks are owed nothing; in which I conclude, that we are not even owed respect for the inventions and everyday gifts of our labor for all those years. The gift of leisure, we gave to most of the founding fathers, so they might have time to ruminate over the issues of freedom and liberty.

The remnants of the ante-bellum South still exist, like this organization, American Renaissance, dedicated to the preservation of the white way of life and the belief that black are naturally inferior. I fear that if this rhetoric is not challenged, that blacks could become more demonized and we will be responsible for all crime, for defrauding government programs, and coercing business and other institutions in order to work; we will become a scapegoat for all white’s failures. This may degenerate into black offenses which would make it permissible to commit genocide, perhaps not in my lifetime, but sometime in the near future. We suffer now for the offense of crack cocaine use. I feel I have to say something or else someday, someone again may say the words of Martin Niemoller, “When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.”

October 09, 2006


I am agitated
Waiting, waiting on their next post

As if it will bring some acknowledgment or peace
Trying to get sustenance from the net

To find that one profound thought
One that I could shake my head in knowing

Hoping there will also be that which will emerge
Only for me, a melding of mind
That will lead the same for body and soul

October 07, 2006

When did the world lose it goddesses?

I had never thought before that my talent for using hand tools was ever gender related, until I had my first tech job. An engineer with surprise; remarked that I was much better at using tools than my predecessor, and that I must have been “born with a pair of dykes [diagonal cutters] in my hand.” My predecessor was male. So I guess using tools was supposed to come with the Y chromosome. Since I have worked mostly in a previously traditional male job, I find other things that were thought to be on the Y chromosome. Over time I have wondered why did anyone think this, how did this come about?

Somehow way back when; while we were engaged in agriculture, we lost the goddess. The goddess was all powerful in the matters of the fertility of woman and the earth. I don’t think it ended with any agricultural invention, because at the time women were more engaged in growing crop than men. Any innovation would have probably been their invention. I do think the division of labor was the responsible, but not because the men were doing the heavy lifting. I think they had more time on their hands, because herding, hunting, being potters and making mentally enhancing drugs is not mind consuming. They had time to philosophize and come up with a way to make themselves important. It was in the interest of male vanity to dismiss the goddess and make god in the male image. More powerful, so that he would rule over the goddess and finally the goddess would disappear.

The talents that had been associated with the male were assumed to be only male. No one ever looked at what the women were doing. Women gained physical strength with out becoming big. Look at women who still carry most of their belongings on their heads. Taking care of crops, cooking and taking care of their husband and children required organizational and social skills. It would seem like corporations would value this most. Also some technical skills, they had to devise ways to do cooking, weeding and other task. The men may have made the pots or the tillers, but I would suspect that it was done to the woman’s specs.

The thing is; I can’t understand how women let this happen? Were we too busy multitasking to care very much and over time it became easier to believe in the other myths? I want to find the goddess. I think a good beginning would be for the next presidential race to run, Senator Clinton and Dr. Rice. If is not them; any two women of that stature. I am tired of the idols, cowboys, bubbas and pretenders. It is necessary for our culture to revive the feminine.

October 03, 2006

The age of knowledge

There is an age within Christianity one becomes responsible for their sins. I don’t remember what that was called or exactly how old one had to be. I began thinking of this, when the motive began to emerge for those horrible killings in the Amish school house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The news is reporting that the gunman had been greatly upset and troubled by his molestation of the two relatives when he was twelve. They said he said he was having nightmares and having those feelings again. I wondered if those relatives were much younger or were close to his age. I also wondered was he truly a predator or indulging in sexual experimentation. Evidently that event was powerful and made more so by an immature mind. Apparently there was no one to confide in, no one to help or even to notice. Has a mind left in ignorance has created this catastrophe?

October 01, 2006

Another move away from geekdom

It takes a grocery retailer to see a computer as an appliance.