Happy New Year; Here’s to Auld Lang Syne!

It’s time to Break It Down!

Revised from the Break It Down post originally conceived, created, and published December 29, 2010.

The one-half fortnight between Christmas and New Year’s Days is a unique occurrence in the unfolding of the American edition of the Gregorian Calendar.  It is the only instance in which the space of a mere seven days separates two major holidays. Unquestionably, the timing is propitious.  Millions of holiday travelers return home from their Christmas commemoration and revelry, just in time to get a day off to “celebrate” the New Year…and recuperate from the old, most notably their extracurricular activities, including the exploits of New Year’s Eve.

In last week’s post, I opted not to present a re-airing my personally crafted Christmas e-concert (12 Days of  Christmas: The Concert – Redux) from the past Noels.  This week, however, I reverted to my trusty time capsule. Today’s edition is effectively a re-posting of a previous New Year’s blog.  Once again, this tack permits new readers to catch-up by seeing the piece, it allows long-time readers to reflect upon both the passing year as well as the theme lifted in the post, and finally, it ensures that those busy readers, with no time to invest in checking out a blog during the holidays, will not have to miss anything. It’s a win, win…win!

So with that loosely framed preamble behind us, here’s the déjà vu all over again:

Since we are still in the Sweet Spot of the holidays, I shall practice minimalism. For your purposes, that means the blog should be available, but not intrusive. To that end, I

am taking a page from the Christmas e-concert, but going a step further. Instead of a concert, I give you a song…of reflection.

Robert Burns, a Scot, wrote a poem (Auld Lang Syne) in 1788 that has come to symbolize the spirit of mass contemplation that people around the world invoke as the clock strikes midnight, signaling not just the dawn of a new day, but of a new year. Undoubtedly, you have been somewhere, at sometime, when you joined those assembled to sing Auld Lang Syne, which loosely translated means, Times gone by.

Once again, that time is upon us. After thoughtful reflection on my 2014, I have had no choice but to conclude, my travails have been few and small, especially when compared to my blessings, which have been both abundant and vast! All praises to the one true, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God; a mighty fortress is He.

No need to thank me for my inherent thoughtfulness. But, by all means, “Drink a cup of kindness,” or eggnog, or Champagne, or “name your favorite adult beverage,” for me. And, if you are a teetotaler, water will do nicely, thank-you!

As I complete my last post for this year, and, prayerfully and faithfully prepare to embrace 2015, I leave with you this familiar Irish Toast:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

I invite you to click on the link below, which leads to a Smooth Jazz interpretation of Auld Lang Syne, arranged and performed by Donnie Thomas (and listen to the remainder of this week’s edition of Break It Down):


It has been my unique honor and privilege to visit with you briefly for each of the 52 weeks this year.  I hope you have derived a fraction of the pleasure reading the blog posts that I have experienced from preparing and providing them to you.  In full disclosure, yesterday was my birthday.  As such, it may not mean much to you, and that’s OK, but I am humbled to have spent part of my “personal holiday” crafting today’s post…for you.  May 2015 bring you the fulfillment of all your fondest desires. Happy New Year; Here’s to Auld Lang Syne!

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com. A new post is published each Wednesday. For more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post, consult the links below:





Bring The Facts…Or Stay Home!

Bring The Facts…Or Stay Home!

Merry Christmas! I hope you have a wonderful day of fun, feasting, and family.

For several years, I have run what amounts to a Holiday template post during Christmas week. After considerable thought, I decided to deviate from that practice for today’s edition. I understand all the reasons I normally opt not to create new material are in full effect. It’s Christmastime in the city, and the country, and all across the land. Very few people will be allocating time to read a blog. Cool, you have to do what you have to do!

However, this is a special moment in time. The nation is inundated with tensions and hotspots, borne of organized responses to a number of incidents in which police officers have killed unarmed civilians, and District Attorneys or Grand Juries have not found probable cause to file charges against the officers in question.

Before going any further, I must stipulate, police officers are not unequivocally the enemy…period. That is without caveat.

Simultaneously, it is absolutely imperative to enunciate, as clearly as possible, the ranting of select Republicans notwithstanding, to be anti-police brutality, is not to be anti-police. To be in favor of police reform is not to favor killing, harming, or otherwise attacking police officers.

Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York, contends that President Obama is the catalyst for Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s execution of New York Police Officers Rafael Ramos, 40, and Wenjian Liu, 32, last Saturday in Brooklyn. Before shooting the officers, the 28 year-old Brinsley shot his 29 year-old ex-girlfriend, Shaneka Thompson, in Owings Mills, Maryland. about 15 miles outside Baltimore. According to the former Mayor, “We’ve had four months of propaganda, starting with the president, that everybody should hate the police.”

Mr. Giuliani has been particularly harsh not only in criticizing President Obama, but also in tying him directly to a broader effort to foment racial dissension in America. He laid the foundation for that specter last month by placing the onus for police treatment of blacks on black crime, citing the statistic that blacks kill 93% of blacks that are murdered. As I have noted previously, this factoid, viewed alone is deceptive as it relates to degree of strength as a causal factor. It totally ignores the fact that murder is typically a crime of passion and/or convenience or accessibility. In other words, the corollary is also true for whites. As a point of comparison, whites kill 84% of whites that are murdered. In short, whether you are black or white, if you are killed, the likelihood is that it will be by someone of the same race as you.

Representative Peter King, of New York, joins Giuliani in this version of the blame game. He argued, “Obama, de Blasio, Al Sharpton and those in the media need to “stop the cop bashing and anti-police rhetoric.” And the drumbeat goes on.

Add conservative blogger Michelle Malkin to the list. She proffered this sentiment: “Obama used his bully pulpit this week to bemoan the ‘real issues’ of discrimination by some police officers. But he said nothing about the murderous strain of racial animus against America’s men and women in blue.”

Then, there is former Congressman Joe Walsh (R-Ill.). He has been tweeting on this topic. In an e-mail to The Washington Post Fact Checker, Walsh said he believes de Blasio, Holder and Obama “have the blood of those two NYPD cops who were killed this past weekend on their hands. All three “responded by stressing how racist America still is, how understandable urban black anger is toward the police, and how police need to re-train and reform. They put all the onus on the police and created the clear atmosphere for people to be angry at and disrespectful toward police. … What they should have done is come out and say succinctly — ‘The judicial system has spoken, respect the decision, cops are good, don’t resist arrest, never ever attack a cop, and don’t you dare riot, loot, and burn.”

The Fact Checker went to work to test the validity of these assertions. They looked at what President Obama said on the deaths of Brown and Garner, with a focus on his statements from August, immediately after Brown’s death. This would have been the beginning of Giuliani’s calculation of four months.

It turns out that none of President Obama’s statements speak any ill of police officers or condone violence among those reacting to the deaths.

  1. In President Obama’s initial statement three days after the shooting, he urged the public against violence. Violence and unrest nonetheless erupted in Ferguson. Protesters took to the streets, lighting structures on fire and looting stores. Police officers responded with machine guns and other military-style equipment.
  1. President Obama gave an update two days later, speaking directly to the violence in Ferguson. He said he expressed concernabout the violence to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D). “There is never an excuse for violence against police, or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests, or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.”
  1. Four days later, President Obama spoke again about Ferguson. He announced Attorney General Holder’s plan to travel to Ferguson to meet with FBI agents, Justice Department personnel conducting the federal criminal investigation into the shooting, and community leaders “whose support is so critical to bringing about peace and calm in Ferguson.” He added: “Giving into anger by looting or carrying guns and even attacking the police only serves to raise tensions and stir chaos. It undermines rather than advancing justice.”
  1. One statement from this briefing seems to directly contradict claims that President Obama immediately took the side of the protesters, thereby launching “anti-police rhetoric”: “I have to be very careful about not prejudging these events before investigations are completed because, although these are issues of local jurisdiction, the DOJ works for me, and when they’re conducting an investigation, I’ve got to make sure that I don’t look like I’m putting my thumb on the scales one way or the other.”
  1. Holder quickly became the face of the administration responding to Ferguson. He repeatedly talked about reducing tensions between law enforcement and the community it serves. He and President Obama have spoken on the mistrust toward law enforcement in minority communities, and their personal experiences as men of African American descent. But neither has criticized police officers of systemic racism, or called on the public to be outraged at police officers.
  1. President Obama offered one of his most pointed criticisms about police training and practices after Ferguson during his December interview on BET, but it’s a stretch to characterize that as “propaganda” for everyone to “hate the police”:

     “The vast majority of law enforcement officers are doing a really tough job,  

and most of them are doing it well and are trying to do the right thing. But        

       a combination of bad training, in some cases; a combination in some

       cases of departments that really are not trying to root out biases, or

       tolerate sloppy police work; a combination in some cases of folks just not

       knowing any better, and in a lot of cases, subconscious fear of folks who

       look different — all of this contributes to a national problem that’s going to

     require a national solution.”

  1. After a grand jury decided not to indict officials in the case of Garner’s death, President Obama saidlaw enforcement has an incredibly difficult job … there’s real crime out there that they’ve got to tackle day in and day out — but that they’re only going to be able to do their job effectively if everybody has confidence in the system. And right now, unfortunately, we are seeing too many instances where people just do not have confidence that folks are being treated fairly.” He added that it was his job as president to solve the problem of people not being treated equally under the law.
  1. Giuliani said leaders like Obama, Holder and de Blasio are perpetuating a myth that there is systemic police brutality. Fact Checker found no evidence that Obama and Holder believe police brutality is a systemic problem. However, Obama and Holder have spoken about systemic mistrust among minorities about how they are treated by police.
  1. Ironically, Giuliani himself was once accused of fostering an atmosphere of police violence. A Haitian immigrant who was sodomized by New York City police officers claimed — then recanted — that the officers invoked Giuliani’s name (“It’s Giuliani time!”) during the assault. So the former mayor should be especially wary of making broad-brush claims that the rhetoric of senior officials is to blame for the actions of individuals.
  1. Fact Checker concluded: “Mr. Giuliani has a point that there is growing animosity among protesters toward police officers. That may have contributed to the actions of individuals such as Brinsley. But the burden of proof rests with the speaker. We combed through President Obama’s speeches and can find no evidence of “propaganda” that “everybody should hate the police.”

The United States of America is indeed a special place. Law Enforcement Officers hold a unique place in our society. At their best, they do everything form the mundane to the sublime to help ensure that our communities function effectively, efficiently, safely and securely. I stand first in line to thank them for their service. However, from time to time, some of them cross the line, and we have far too many examples of that. When that happens, people of good will must respond. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is quoted as having said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

So while we are at it, let’s not just push back on all that Obama hate; let’s show him some well-deserved props for the following:

  • Lower gas prices (Actually under $2.00 in some places according to CNN)
  • 5% economic growth…strongest in ii years
  • Stock Market finished the day yesterday above 18,000 (first time EVER)
  • More Americans with health insurance

I salute you Mr. President! To summarize, conservatives have blamed President Obama for every ill in this country from the abysmal Hurricane Katrina response (which occurred before his Presidency…and under one of their own), to the failing economy (which he inherited, but is continuing to rebound nicely), to the death of two New York police officers last Saturday (See item 1-10 above). As with most of the politically motivated rhetoric aimed at crippling him and/or his agenda, a load of specious misinformation. “Bring The Facts…Or Stay Home!”

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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No Such Thing…As A Toy Gun!

It’s time to Break It Down!

The last half of this year has been more than a little eventful with the shooting of Michael Brown, 18, (August 9th), and what by most accounts appeared to be the choking related death of Eric Garner, 43, (July 17th), both by police officers. Those deaths have sparked numerous protests, many of which have been caustically panned by Police Unions and other Law Enforcement Organizations.

The fact that neither Brown nor Garner was armed, yet the officer was not indicted by the respective Grand Jury in either case, has led to concern among many African Americans, as well as other people of good will and a sense justice. There is an understandable sense that the system did not work to produce an appropriate result for survivors of either Brown or Garner.

I will stipulate up front, as I have before, police officers have a difficult job. I cannot imagine any circumstances under which I would want the responsibility they are charged with, each and every day. Having said that, the simple truth is, I do not have that burden; officers, however, do. It is therefore their obligation to manage the duties, obligations, and responsibilities with which they are charged, with a sense of care that will enable them to go home unharmed at night. But I think, and I hope, they will act in a way that also permits unarmed citizens to do the same…or to be taken into custody alive, if custody is warranted.

The cases of Brown and Garner have been elevated and parsed ad nauseum. Two cases, which in my view are just as controversial, but which have received less attention to date are those of John Crawford, 22, who was shot and killed in a Beavercreek, OH Wal-Mart, August 5th, and Tamir Rice, 12, who was shot to death in a Cleveland Park, November 22nd.

Both Crawford and Rice were shot after 911 callers reported they were wielding weapons. That was true, in a manner of speaking, and up to a point. That is to say, there were carrying facsimiles of weapons. However, pertinent details were not communicated, or were miscommunicated in each instance.

For his part, a caller reported Mr. Crawford was pointing his weapon at store patrons, and that at one point he was loading the gun, which looked like an AR-15, with ammo. However, when interviewed later, the patron, who incredibly enough was allowed to view the Store’s Security Video, as he made his official statement, amended his version of events to reflect that Crawford did not ever raise the weapon or point it at anyone. Ultimately, of even greater importance was, he did not load the weapon with ammo because…it was not actually an AR-15, but a BB Gun that he had picked up in the store. Oops!

In the case of Tamir, a 12-year old, the caller actually told the 911 receptionist that the gun looked as though it might be a toy. This information was never relayed to the responding officers, or so it is reported. This oversight or lapse proved to be critical, as Tamir’s gun was a toy. In both cases, the officers shot the victims within seconds of confronting them.

Edward Abbey, an American author, and essayist, noted for his anarchist political views, is credited with a number of quotes, including the meme, “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” If the Crawford and Rice cases are apt barometers, Abbey’s meme will have to be expanded to include toy guns.

As a kid I grew up playing with toy pistols early in life, only to have them taken away later, with the prescient warning that guns are not toys. Undoubtedly, I resented the advisory at the time, but as with so many other things, I have come to see the limitless wisdom of my elders.

In a world where police, and even Neighborhood Watch Captains, may use deadly force, without consequence, even when you have no weapon at all, it certainly does not serve one’s best interest to have a toy gun. While I am on record as supporting placing reasonable limitations on access to guns, I am rapidly moving to the point of view that every adult of sound mind should have a gun, a real one, and the willingness/commitment to use it to protect him or herself against the pending tyranny of someone who may wantonly employ deadly force against them, and not even be held accountable for having done so.

“#NOSUCHTHING…ASATOYGUN!” 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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What Do Conservative Americans Want From President Obama?

It’s time to Break It Down!

Ultimately, if you really want to know the answer to that question, you would do well to ask them. Having said that, I recognize my personal limitations in addressing, knowledgeably, such a complex issue as the question at hand. Therefore, I will stipulate from the outset I will consult sources more intimately familiar with the subject than I am, or will likely ever be.

Today, as the nation stands poised to usher in a new Congress, with a Republican Majority in both Houses, the GOP frequently speaks with great passion and enthusiasm about the voters having spoken, and having given their Party a clear and unequivocal numerical advantage in the House and Senate. They consider that a mandate. As a result, they are, or at least they feign incredulity that the President even contemplated, to say nothing of took action to employ Executive Orders, with which they obviously disagree. They warned of “An explosion” if the President used an Executive Order to activate movement on the Immigration front.

I applaud the GOP on their impressive victory last month. However, let’s not get carried away. I could at least respect, if not appreciate this logic leap, were it consistently applied. What ever do I mean, you ask? I mean, quite simply, that in 2008, President Obama won the Presidency, and Democrats swept to substantial victories in both the House and the Senate. Guess what the reaction of the GOP Elite was. Do you think, perchance, it was to say, “Good job Democrats; let’s see how we can work together to advance legislation, big and small?

Aitch to da no! In fact, key members of the GOP Leadership, including, among others, Representatives, Eric Cantor (VA), Paul Ryan (WI), Kevin McCarthy (CA), and Pete Sessions (TX), along with Senators, Jim DeMint (SC), Jon Kyl (AZ), Tom Coburn (OK), John Ensign (NV), and Bob Corker (TN) held an anti-Obama/Democrats strategy session. Non-lawmakers in the meeting included Newt Gingrich and Frank Luntz.

According to Robert Draper’s book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives,” the group spent four hours on the evening of the Inauguration, plotting ways to not just win back political power, but to put the brakes on President Obama’s legislative platform. The author quoted Representative McCarthy as saying, “If you act like you’re the minority, you’re going to stay in the minority. We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”

This meeting resulted in a defined game plan moving forward that included the following points:

  • Go after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (Which Senator Kyl did, beginning the next day.)
  • Show united and unyielding opposition to the President’s economic policies (Eight days later, Minority Whip Cantor would hold the House Republicans to a unanimous No against President Obama’s economic stimulus plan.
  • Begin attacking vulnerable Democrats on the airways (The first National Republican Congressional Committee attack ads would be run in less than two months.)
  • Win the spear point of the House in 2010. Jab Obama relentlessly in 2011. Win the House and Senate in 2012.

While, Mitch McConnell were not present during the meeting discussed above, by the end of 2010, after the GOP took control of the House, Senator McConnell was at least spiritually on board, as he declared, “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.” This after he was quoted in the November 4, 2010 Edition of the National Journal as saying, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President.”

According to the Gospel of Conservatives, President Obama and his “God-awful” policies are the foundation of bedeviling economic failure. This is the narrative the GOP has spun since the President proposed the initial stimulus package, as well as during the bailouts of the banking system, and the automotive industry. In hindsight, most economists view the combined effects of the stimulus package, TARP, and the auto bailout as pivotal steps in applying an economic tourniquet that stopped the bleeding and prevented the Great Recession from expanding to become the next depression.

Moreover, over the duration of the 6 years completed in President Obama’s tenure, the Dow has grown from 7,949 to 17,830, the Unemployment Rate has dropped from 7.8% to 5.8%, GDP Growth has progressed from -5.4% to 3.5%, and the GDP Deficit has decreased from 9.8% to 2.8%. In other words, while the job is not complete; there is still work to be done to improve our economy, and create high wage, full-time employment opportunities, we may not be where we want to be, but thank God, we are not where we were.

In the process of rescuing and rebuilding our economy, President Obama has presided over 56 consecutive months of private sector job growth; a record for the country. His detractors will argue that too many of the jobs are, low-wage, part-time, full time, but less than the standard 40-hour work week, and that the low level of work force participation is responsible for the downward trajectory of the unemployment rate.

The truth of the matter is these factors are infrastructural in nature, existed before President Obama took office, and are likely to persist long after he is gone. More truth…as noted above, the GOP has fought the president every step of the way. If he had even a modicum of assistance and/or support from the so-called “loyal opposition,” the economy would be in even better shape than it is. As it stands, he’s done a hellava job, and his economic policy initiatives, when viewed in the cold light of day and the inexorable passage of time, have been on target more often than errant.

Whether the discussion has been the economy, health care, voting rights, gun law modification, Presidential appointments, immigration, race relations…whatever the subject, the GOP has adamantly opposed President Obama. In several instances, the Grand Old Party has abandoned a previous position, rather than align itself with a proposal offered by the President. It would be funny, were it not so ridiculous, and all too often deleterious to our country, and of course to us as citizens.

When cobbling together the tenets of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often referred to as Obamacare, the plan was ultimately framed with components that in large measure had been previously recommended by the Heritage Foundation, the foremost conservative think tank. Needless to say, with the Obama imprimatur intact, the proposal was DOA, as far as Republicans were concerned. As a result, In December 2009, the U.S. Senate passed the measure 60-39, without a single GOP vote. Later, in March 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill 219-212, also without a single Republican vote. The GOP likes to cite this as an example of the President’s unwillingness to work with their Party in a bi-partisan fashion. This assertion is a perfect example of revisionist history, in light of the pact Party Leadership committed to and began executing immediately after the President took Office.

In June 2013, The Supreme Court ruled Section IV of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. The net effect of that action is that certain states, which were required to seek permission to change their voting laws no longer had to do so. That change immediately led to states enacting a series of changes in voting laws that disproportionately affected minorities, students, and the elderly. The changes included requiring voter I.D’s, shortening, or eliminating Early Voting, eliminating same day registration, and making it more difficult for college students to vote. The GOP Party apparatus supported virtually all of these changes. Interestingly, with the exception of the elderly, President Obama won handily the demographics directly curtailed by the new laws.

On the question of Gun Law reform, the NRA has made President Obama one of, if not its most prolific membership campaign issue. The organization presents the President as the guy most likely to take away guns from law abiding NRA members…like me. The suggestion however, is as bogus as the day is long. If statistics are any indication, it’s working, though. Despite numerous mass murders, school shootings, and other horrific gun related killings, after nearly each one, especially those which the President has spoken out on, the NRA or members of the gun lobby initiates PR Campaigns that spike gun sales, often Assault Rifles. The thing is, in the midst of the grainy details, President Obama has not only not taken way peoples’ guns, gun sales and gun ownership are actually increasing under his tenure. The NRA should probably write him a Thank-You check when he leaves office.

As it relates to filibustering Presidential Appointments, it’s fair to say, this is a partisan exercise that has gone on for ages. Moreover, on first blush, I would tend to agree with anyone who made such a case. However, upon closer inspection…always it comes down to the details, the gritty facts of the matter tell a clear story. In the history of the United States, there have been 168 filibustered nominations. Before President Obama, there were 86. On average, that is exactly 2 for each of the 43 Presidents who preceded Mr. Obama. That means, for you higher math whizzes, that 82 of President Obama’s nominees (so far) have been filibustered. That is 41 times as frequent as his predecessors on average. By the way, I am still bemused when I consider, Senator McCain selected Sarah Palin as his Vice President nominee, but considered Dr. Susan Rice unqualified to become Secretary of State. I’ll leave you to ponder that one.

About immigration, it’s worth noting, America, as we have come to know it, is a country of immigrants. That is more than a passing notion. In fact, it is of primal importance. For most of its history, America has been a predominantly white country. But let us not forget, this great nation was occupied when Europeans arrived. Over time, Native Americans, “who hosted us,” for the first Thanksgiving, were dispersed, displaced, or just plain decimated. No, it’s not depicted that way in American History books…but that’s the way it was. That is what happened. Moreover, a large expanse of what we now consider the Southwest and the West was inhabited by people we now call Mexicans. Yes, America was quite different before the explorers, expansionists, cowboys, and other adventurists arrived on the scene. Given the state of our manners and scruples, I can understand why we, collectively, have such a jaded view on immigration. I mean look how we handled it. By the way, were slaves undocumented workers?

Recently, as a result of Congress’ lack of action on Immigration, President Obama, as promised, signed an Executive Order to facilitate immigration action in this country. Republicans are characterizing his action as unique, unlawful, and unconstitutional. They are making this claim, even though every President since George Washington has issued Executive Orders, and it is particularly noteworthy that every president since and including Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower has taken executive action on immigration without facing threats of lawsuits, government shutdowns, impeachment, or loss of executive authority. End of story!

Finally, when it comes to race relations, the first Black President, as he is known, is firmly lodged between a rock and a hard place. When he is not being called a socialist, or a Muslim, or an African (as in not born in America), of a Kenyan anti-colonial, or a community organizer, he is called a racist who hates white people, which is interesting, as his mother is Caucasian.

On Monday, President Obama sat for an interview with BET, in the aftermath of the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who initiated what appeared to be a chokehold that led to the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY. Conservative America frequently argues that President Obama, who shows great restraint in most racial matters, over reaches and demonstrates a clear bias; actually a racist bent. They do this despite of the fact that he always, and I mean always, stresses the fact that we are a nation of laws, and the system must run its course. The curious thing about his critics’ position on this matter, particularly in an instance such as the Eric Garner case is, these are the same Americans who never trust their government…until a neighborhood watchman or a police officer shoots and/or kills an unarmed black man. At that point, amazingly, they seem to trust the government (or its representative) completely.

So, after giving it considerable thought, I think I have figured it out. “What Do American Conservatives Want From President Obama?”

  • They want him to wake them up and tell them they have been dreaming since November 4, 2008.
  • They want him to convince them that the outcomes of the 2008 and 2012 Presidential Elections were really not what they have been “dreaming.”
  • Yes, they want him to tell them that he is still Senator Obama, and that he is completing the fourth year of his second term as the now Senior Senator from Illinois.

Well…let me know how that works for ya. 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.

Consult the links below for more detailed information on a variety of aspects relating to this post:























Ferguson: The Aftermath

It’s time to Break It Down!

In August I wrote about the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri. Protesters conducted a series of vigils, marches, and other acts of mostly peaceful assembly after the first several days following the incident, during which violent acts of civil disobedience ensued.

On Monday of last week, the District Attorney announced a finding of No True Bill, which means, no criminal charges will filed against Officer Wilson. After the decision, which was announced at approximated 9:00 p.m. EST. News outlets announced early Monday afternoon that the Grand Jury had reached its decision, which for sometime had widely been assumed to be no indictment of the Officer. Given that dynamic, a host of factions and citizens had positioned themselves in various places around the City of Ferguson to await the announcement.

As the hours passed, many observers openly questioned why the announcement was being delayed. More wondered if it would actually be made at night, or whether the D.A. would wait until the next morning. Once it was made clear that the D.A. would announce the results of the decision at 8:00 p.m. local time, there was a near universal outcry in the media suggesting that this was a bad call.

Making the announcement at night ensured that local law enforcement and the assembled members of the National Guard would have a much more challenging job controlling what was almost certain to be multiple rowdy gatherings. It would have been difficult to create a more volatile mixture, if one had planned to so…which is exactly what some skeptics accused the D.A. of doing.

Given the preceding stipulations, not surprisingly, the D.A., Robert McCulloch, announced the Grand Jury had not found probable cause to indict Officer Wilson, so No True Bill was issued. Equally unsurprising, riots and looting broke out in Ferguson.

This matter of Brown’s killing has now been front-and-center, or near center for three and a half months. The most recent violence, after nearly three months of peaceful protest, reignited a spate of national psychoanalysis of the black community, played out daily in various media outlets. The one sure thing that has resulted from the country responding to a proverbial open invitation to discuss race matters is a reminder that no matter how much so-called racial progress we have made in this country, the central view of blacks and whites on the matter is poles apart.

Almost certainly, there are blacks folks and white folks who agree on the big picture pieces of the subject. I am not convinced, however, that agreement is representative of the majority of blacks or whites.

As I read the comment sections of news articles and social media outlets in which a white person cites with full-throated authority that black folks’ problems inure from black-on-black murders, a la Rudy Giuliani, or welfare dependence, per Dinesh D’Souza, or the race-baiters, according to Rush Limbaugh, there is almost always a chorus of apparently white voices who can hardly wait their turn to echo the lead voice, and most often illuminate further, for good measure.

Similarly, when I see a black person write or voice what seems to me a well-reasoned, even balanced perspective, whether it be Leonard Pitts who countered the Mayor Giuliani’s rant by explaining that murder is a crime of opportunity and/or proximity, which results in the majority of white murders being committed by whites (83%), or Ta-Nahisi Coates reminding us that this country actually had a very violent beginning (see Africans and Native Americans), or President Obama recognizing that there have been aspects of the legal system that have been historically applied to African Americans in an inequitable fashion, these same white folks, or their ideological twins race to the fore to note that the black writer or speaker, no matter who it is, presents a racist argument.

In a previous space in my life, I spent a fair amount of time participating in and in a number of instances, leading diversity initiatives. I came to recognize that as a matter of course, many white folks enter such conversations with the intractable point of view that racism is a false construct. That is to say, many white Americans believe racism does not exist. Some of these people are willing to concede that it did exist “once upon a time,” but they insist that it was eliminated long ago…and they add, no, they are not racist.

How could they be, since there is no such thing?

A popular argument is that this country ended slavery, and when it did so, the playing field, for all practical purposes became pretty much even. Others, while not making that assertion, argue civil rights laws were enacted in the 60’s, and that ended discrimination. Ergo, with the elimination of racism, and the end of discrimination, any remaining inequity experienced by blacks in America is on blacks themselves, pure and simple.

After years of sifting through different variations of “I am not a racist,” I do not discriminate,” and essentially, “it’s not my fault,” I began to see American History in a much more compelling way. I understood, with much greater clarity, what my parents, teachers, advisers, and mentors meant when they talked about the sacrifices our forefathers made to lay the foundation for the progress I am privileged to enjoy today. May God bless all of them!

Those people did not have an opportunity to discuss such matters in a format even remotely intended to represent equals. They were not merely subjected to electronic bullying and belittling; they were physically assaulted, maimed, or even killed for daring to express an opinion that might be deemed out of line or uppity, as it were. So in comparison, I can almost understand why today, a person could in good conscious contend that there is no such thing as racism, and that discrimination is dead…almost. But not really.

Newsflash! Racism and discrimination are alive and well. Not everything bad that happens to black folk is a result of either. But the fact is, it would be a lot easier to foster and maintain a dialogue, and to move forward if, these pernicious behaviors and practices were called what they are when they do occur, and dealt with accordingly. A popular meme from the 1970’s is “No justice, no peace.” I cannot simply issue a demand that anyone concede racism and discrimination exist. I understand that. But if there is some kind hopeful notion, that if you bury your head in the sand long enough, all this “stuff” will somehow blow over, I have a one word response for you…WRONG!

Moreover, if that strategy makes its way into public policy, I envision a reprise of that 70’s meme…”No justice, no peace!” Sadly, for now, that pretty much sums up “Ferguson: The Aftermath!”

I’m done; holla back!

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