A Time For Giving Thanks!

Originally posted on November 24, 2010 by alphaheel

It’s time to Break It Down!

As in the past, since it is Thanksgiving Week, this post will deviate from the standard fare. I know that travel schedules (impeded by weather events this year), meal planning, family time, shopping, football, parades, and if there is any time remaining, relaxation, will dominate this week. However, it is Wednesday, so there shall be a blog! It is definitely brief.

Those among us who have perfected humility, and ascended to a genuine Nirvana state, have no doubt, also elevated giving thanks to an art form. The rest of us must fully invest our appreciation in the notion, “That’s why we have Thanksgiving!”

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, which kicks off what we refer to commonly as the Holiday Season. Almost instinctively, Thanksgiving and Christmas come to mind. Yet, there is so more than that to the Season.

Over the next 54 days, many of us will enjoy succulent feasting at Thanksgiving, exchange gifts and contribute to the needy during Hanukkah. We will buy, give, exchange, and/or receive gifts at Christmas, eat, drink, and celebrate the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa, and party and toast the dawn of 2011(2014), on New Year’s Day. We will honor the life and works of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on MLK Day. In addition, even in these tough economic times, this weekend, millions of Americans will pay (literally) homage to our most celebrated of shoppers’ holiday weekends, Black FridaySmall Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, by rising early, and proceeding to scour the aisles for those perfect gifts…and if not perfect, at least cheap, relatively speaking.

In past years, I have recounted my reasons for being thankful. This year I find that I have more reasons than ever to sit contemplatively in humble repose, and affirm boldly, that I know, without caveat, not only the goodness, no greatness of God, but also of his inestimable and inexhaustible beneficence. I thank Him for deliverance, and for imbuing me with the sense and sensibility to discern the distinction between kairos and chronos, Greek concepts for God’s time, and man’s time, respectively.

Eons ago, when I was a college student, I joined a fraternity; the Oldest, Boldest, and Coldest…I digress. The point of this reference is that during the erstwhile pledge process, as prospective initiates, we were required to learn a series of poems. There were many, each selected to convey a specific life lesson. Many of them have stayed with me, but none more than Invictus, written by English poet, William Ernest Henley (1849-1903). The Latin translation for Invictus is undefeated. You may recall it, but just in case, see it below:

Invictus (Latin for Undefeated) By William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

So, as you go about your way tomorrow, and all the tomorrows that follow, recognize that Thanksgiving, at its core, is not simply a day on the calendar. It is a spirit that dwells within us, an impulse that prompts us to thank God (for our being undefeated), and the graciousness to share His blessings with our fellow men and women. Indeed, everyday is A Time for Giving Thanks!

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: https://thesphinxofcharlotte.com/. Find a new post each Wednesday.

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The Hip Hop Congressman: Busted!

BREAK It Down!

At first blush, the notions of conservative, hip-hop, and Congressman may seem incongruent, if not mutually exclusive.  However, as we wind our way through the 21st century, we must be aware that some paradigms have shifted; after all, we have a black President.  There are other instances in which, while the paradigm may not have changed or evolved, there are exceptions.  I give you Florida Congressman Henry Jude “Trey” RadeI, III.

Mr. Radel maintains a Twitter account.  He describes himself, in his Twitter profile, as a “hip hop conservative.”  He is a 37 year-old conservative Republican who represents Florida’s 19th Congressional District, which includes Fort Myers, Naples, and Cape Coral in southwest Florida.

“Trey,” who grew up in suburban Cincinnati, lists the musical influences of his youth as, Eric B., Big Daddy Kane, and Chuck D of Public Enemy.  In other words, he was part of the “quiet as it’s kept,” majority white culture support system of the rap music industry.  He claims as his 1989 introduction to the world of hip hop, NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton.”  The first words he heard: “You are now about to witness the strength knowledge.”

Congressman Radel found a way to integrate the spirit of hip hop into his conservative political vision.  As he framed it:

“I find a conservative message in “Fight the Power (a Chuck D meme)” because I believe when government expands it becomes a political tool meant to oppress.”

Radel may be a part of hip hop records’ majority of buyers, but his affiliation with conservative Republican politics is another thing altogether.  While I have no statistics on the question, I have a sense that his avowed hip hop flava makes him a minority of one among Republican Congressmen.  In his allegiance to the musically crafted views of Chuck D, he is almost certainly unique in the club that is Republican Congressmen.  In July 2013, Congressman Radel, in describing why he is a hip hop conservative, wrote this:

“My goal as a Member of Congress is to connect and communicate the conservative message to people, cutting across cultural, generational, and ethnic lines.   My love for music has helped me do this, and as much as we may disagree philosophically, Public Enemy and NWA have helped me do this.  Music has always been a way to bridge people together, whether it’s sharing a head nod to hip hop or having a jam session with a few Fenders.”

On October 29, 2013, law enforcement officials arrested Congressman Radel on cocaine charges, in Washington, DC.  Today he will appear in court on misdemeanor charges of possession; he could serve a maximum penalty of up to six months in jail along with a $1000.00 fine.

The Congressman, married and father to a son, has apologized to his family and his constituents.  He has admitted, in addition to letting down his family and the voters, that he is an alcoholic.  He notes that a positive outcome of this unfortunate event is it has nudged him to seek treatment and counseling.

I hope Trey can pull it together, for the sake of his family, for the sake of his constituents, and most important, for the opportunity to save his life.  This is my wish for him, as it would be for anyone, our ideological differences notwithstanding.  For nearly eleven months, Mr. Radel has been an interesting person, an oddity in his field.  Today, he is…” The Conservative Hip Hop Congressman: Busted!

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com.  Find a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.”  Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

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Richie’s Wish: To Be Incognito, Please!

In MEMORIAM: G. Ronald Tillman 5/21/53 – 11/13/12


Today is the one-year anniversary of my friend, Fraternity Brother, fellow Carolina alum, and sports fan extraordinaire, G. Ronald Tillman, transitioning to the next life.  May he Rest In Peace!  This post is for him.

For the past couple of weeks now a significant portion of the NFL media machine has focused on the brouhaha emanating from the Richie IncognitoJonathan Martin imbroglio.  Just in case you have been in a cave, you have been out of the country, or perchance, you happen not to be a football fan, and have managed to miss this storyline, it boils down, in a nutshell, to a blow-up in the Miami Dolphins locker room.

Depending upon ones perspective, the not so spontaneous combustion occurred because Incognito bullied Martin, and displayed racist behavior, or because Martin, a rookie, despite being 6’5”, 312 pounds, was ill equipped, or at least reluctant to push back against the 6’3”, 320 pounds of Incognito.  Ultimately, Martin left the team, according to his attorney, because of “harassment that went far beyond the traditional locker room hazing.”  The Dolphins subsequently suspended Incognito for conduct detrimental to the team.

By most estimates, football, the NFL variety, is America’s Sport.  It is the ultimate gladiator contest.  Moreover, as this episode underscores, not just the combatants, but even teammates can be adversaries.  There are myriad stories purporting to depict the intricacies of what happened and why, including details of the interaction between the two men, both before and after the controversial locker room/team meeting incident.

For his part, faced with the release of a profanity and racial epithet laced text message that he sent Martin, Mr. Incognito has responded , insisting that he is not a racist, and that the transcript of the text message simply reflects the close nature of the team, and the fact that they routinely communicate (without malice) in this non-traditional way.  He also asserts that Martin recently sent him a threatening text message…which he “did not take seriously.”

While the NFL is still in its investigative process, there are already rumors that Martin may be through as a Dolphin.  Speculation persists that Incognito, despite a checkered past, in college, and in the NFL, is of higher value to the team than the shy, standoffish, and perhaps cerebral (played collegiately at Stanford University) Martin.

The angles to this story are varied and endless.  I will not even attempt to explore them, nor their validity, in an exhaustive manner.  Instead, in honor of my good friend Ron, I will do what sports fans (extraordinaire or not) typically do best; offer my unvarnished opinion on the matter.

I have been neither in a cave, nor out of the country.  I do admit to not being a big NFL fan.  The he game is too violent for my tastes.  Moreover, it is not just that there is violence in the game, but rather that NFL players, especially at the so-called non-skilled positions, gain their bona fides based on the level and intensity of the violence they bring to a particular play.  There is a purposeful effort to elevate the “doing battle in the coliseum” metaphor when opposing teams take the football field.

By most accounts, Richie is certainly no choirboy.  However, there is no indication his behavior, vis-à-vis Martin, was viewed as a problem by the team.  In fact, his extracurricular activity may even have been encouraged.  While I respect that football culture is unique, and that the locker room is a special inner sanctum, it is virtually impossible to draw an imaginary line in the sand that dictates aggression and hostilities start and stop on cue.  Those unpredictable traits almost never conform in such a convenient way.

In my view, Incognito’s actions are boorish and unsportsmanlike.  His behavior in this incident was not consistent with that of a good teammate; in every way imaginable, it was unacceptable.  However, the bottom line is, his actions are on par for the NFL.  Some reports floating around go as far as to suggest Miami’s coaching staff actually encouraged Incognito to “bring Martin out of his shell.”  Given the machismo-driven attitudes associated with even the fandom of football, it is hard to consider anything about this matter surprising.  It is part of a classic vicious cycle.  The players display a ake-no-prisoners attitude.  The fans exhort them to be even more forceful.  The players double-down and step it up.

So where does it all end?  In this instance, it ends with…“Richie’s Wish: To Be Incognito Please!”  I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com.  Find a new post each Wednesday.

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One Year Ago Today: President Obama Won…Again!

It’s time to Break It Down!

On November 6, 2012, Barack Hussein Obama defeated Mitt Romney, beat the odds, disappointed the collective GOP-Tea Party, and marched into the record books.  By holding off Romney’s challenge, the President, now at the close of his fifth year in office, fashioned and executed an improbable run back to the top by winning despite facing deeply entrenched headwinds from economic doldrums that included a full-fledged downturn characterized as the Great Recession, and an unemployment rate that, even now, has not fallen south of 7%

The President, of course carries the distinction of having been the first African American (emphasis on American if you are a Birther…hint, hint, Mr. Trump) to win the OfficeNovember 6, 2012 marked the end of his political office-seeking life.  It is too early to pen a retrospective or define this President’s legacy, of course.  He has his share of detractors.  Lest we forget, despite all the naysayers, Team Obama managed to: 

  • Conceive and formulate legislation that saved the Auto Industry
  • Reinvent American Banking
  • Stabilize and energize the Housing Market
  • Enact a comprehensive Stimulus Package (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009)
  • Oversee approval of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • Save a Captain/spawn a movie (though not depicted in Captain Phillips)
  • Withdraw American troops from Iraq
  • Terminate Osama bin Laden
  • Sign an Executive Order to expand immigration
  • Nominate two women, including the first Latina, for the Supreme Court 

While any comprehensive list of POTUS’ achievements, substantive and otherwise, is much longer than the ten items above, and I have already conceded it is too early to talk legacy, the final story is likely to be closely tied to the issue known as Obamacare.  That is too bad. 

I say that, not because I am down on the President’s signature domestic initiative, I am not!  In point of fact, I anticipate that the horrific website rollout issues will fade into a distant memory, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will do what it is designed to do…ensure that millions of Americans who have previously been denied health care will get it.  

That new normal, in my opinion, will stabilize Obamacare, and the program, which will always be controversial, because of its ties to President Obama, will gain traction, and increasing support.  Why will it remain controversial?  We must remember, a key element of this Country still opposes Social Security, Welfare, in any of its iterations, and every other safety net program ever established in America.  

Every Democratic Administration since Truman’s has been infatuated with the idea of rolling out some version of a National Health Care model.  Barack Obama, the man whom Dinesh D’Souza and Newt Gingrich cited for his “Kenyan anti-colonial” worldview, despite that slur, got it done.  Gingrich and the GOP-Tea Party tried valiantly to prevent Barack Obama’s re-election.  The former Speaker of the House, and many like him, called the President a Socialist and virtually everything but a Child of God…oh yeah, and President.  Undoubtedly, November 6, 2012 was a dispiriting day for all who hold their banner, and for their special worldview.  There is no denying it, “One Year ago Today: President Obama Won…Again!”  Moreover, so did America

I’m done; holla back! 

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com.  Find a new post each Wednesday

To subscribe, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.”  Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box. 

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