A Time For Giving Thanks Redux ’20

It’s time to Break It Down! 

Originally posted on November 24, 2010, and prior to today, subsequently on November 27, 2013, November 26, 2014November 25, 2015November 23, 2016, November 22, 2017, November 21, 2018, and November 27, 2019.

As in the past, since it is Thanksgiving Week, this post will deviate from the standard fare. I know that travel schedules (in some cases impeded by weather events, and COVID-19, this year), meal planning, family time, shopping, football, basketball, parades, and if there is any time remaining, relaxation, will be the dominant theme this week. However, it is Wednesday, so there shall be a blog and it will be 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 commonly refer to as the Holiday Season. Almost instinctively, Thanksgiving and Christmas come to mind. Yet, there is so much 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 2020 on New Year’s Day. We will honor the life and works of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on MLK Day. In addition, even in these tough (though improving) economic times, further fraught with the consequences of coronavirus, 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. There are even some precociously enterprising businesses that will start the shopping clock Thursday. Sigh!

In past years, I have sometimes 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 the 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 chronosGreek concepts for God’s time, and man’s time, respectively. In this the Year of our Lord and Savior, 2020, a.k.a. Year 4 A.D. (After Donald), I have again been reminded, God really does have a sense of humor. In accordance, I thank him dearly and daily for Stephen ColbertTrevor Noah, and SNL. More important, I am thankful this moment also reflects Year 1 B.J. (Before Joe).  Amen!

Eons ago, when I was a college student, I pledged a fraternity. It is familiarly known as the Oldest, Boldest, and Coldest, but I digress. The point of this reference is that during the erstwhile pledge process, as prospective initiates, we were required to learn a number of poems. There were many, each selected to convey a specific life lesson. Some 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 each of us, an impulse that prompts us to thank God (for our being undefeated), and for the graciousness to share His blessings with our fellow men and women. Indeed, every day is “A Time For Giving Thanks Redux ’20!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the link: https://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.”

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Slowly, Surely, Inexorably: It Will Happen Redux ’20

It’s time to Break It Down!

I wrote this post a year ago. It was prescient then; editing and re-posting it today is timely.

Last November, I wrote…”For some, it has already been a long and laborious ride, while others argue, those who resist, in whatever form, protest too much. I don’t know on which side of the deep and wide chasm you may fall, but I offer an admonition. It’s an ill wind that never changes; I’m beginning to sense change may very well be in the air. I’m not suggesting it will be quick, fast, or in a hurry; just that it will come.

A month ago, yesterday, Shepard Smith, a fixture at Fox News for more than two decades, since its 1996 inception, walked away. He did not utter a public reason for leaving, and he noted the Fox brass asked him to stay. But he didn’t. From afar, it appeared quite possible that he just couldn’t. He was in the unenviable position of speaking truth to power. Everyday! There are instances in which that may be tolerable, and certainly survivable. But when the power one is speaking to is the perceived most powerful man on the planet, and as a result of exercising said power, he frequently renders scathing tweets/rants at individuals who dare disagree with him, it is conceivable that one’s desire, and even one’s capacity to simply accept it and soldier on dissipates. Just maybe Shep had enough, and said in effect, no mas.

This past weekend on Fox News Sunday, in an interview with Louisiana Congressman, and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Chris Wallace held the Representative’s feet to the fire. Congressman Scalise, a stout defender of Mr. Trump, valiantly stuck to his Party’s talking points. Wallace, however, was undaunted, and fact checked him on numerous occasions. It was precisely the kind of exchange and/or command of fact patterns that Trump, and his phalanx of conservative supporters hated when executed by Shepard Smith. And indeed, Trump fired off a tweet aimed at Wallace, that expressed his deep level of displeasure; a volley augmented by a font of anger from his Twitter peeps, and other supporters, surrogates, and sycophants. An example of Trump’s Twitter screed follows:

Donald J. Trump
@SteveScalise blew the nasty & obnoxious Chris Wallace (will never be his father, Mike!) away on Chris’s lowest rated (unless I’m on) morning show. This kind of dumb and unfair interview would never have happened in the @FoxNews past. Great job Steve!
2:30 PM – Nov 17, 2019

One of Mr. Wallace’s fellow Fox News colleagues, Neil Cavuto, came to his defense, taking on Mr. Trump for his thin-skinned intolerance. Cavuto parsed both Scalise’s non-factual assertions, as well as Trump’s off-based claims. Suffice it to say, many Fox News viewers don’t frequent the network to hear journalists challenge or disagree with Trump, or with those who speak on his behalf.

But that’s really my point. Even at Fox News, more and more views are emerging that reflect the undeniable aroma of truth, unsullied by orange-tinted lenses. It’s not an avalanche of new-found converts, to be sure, but it is evidence that eventually, truth crushed to the ground will rise again. And if it can rise at longstanding Trump-leaning organizations such as Fox News, indeed, there is hope that it just might penetrate the consciousness of enough independents to make a difference come Tuesday, November 3, 2020.”

Lookie, lookie; it did. Fast forward twelve months, and my faith is vindicated. Even now, as a recalcitrant Donald Trump has dug in his heels and let loose a series of hissy fits, he is being pulled, by the irresistibly unrelenting ghost of the next inauguration into a future in which he has been evicted from the Peoples’ House, located on Black Lives Matter Plaza, Northwest.

He has had his lawyers file upward of a dozen lawsuits across the country, all but one or two of which have been rejected, dismissed, or withdrawn. In fact, several lawyers have exited, due to the lack of merit of some of the cases. It appears at this point, as counting in most states wind down, Trump will lose in Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, all except Nevada, which he flipped from Trump, by between 12K and 150K votes.

Mr. Trump has also been firing staffers, replacing them with Trump-friendly yes-men, and, of course, threatening to fire others. He’s making moves that complete his personal policy wish list, but of even greater concern, he has stopped the transition (to President-elect Biden), which is designed to prepare the new administration to seamlessly assume its duties. Simultaneously, he has threatened to fire anyone caught looking for another job.

Finally, and perhaps most ominously, last night, Trump fired (by tweet, of course) Chris Krebs, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency of the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Krebs, last week, publicly said, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” Obviously, this incensed Trump. He, in turn, tweeted (last night), “The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud. Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.” Twitter flagged the tweet as disputed.

Is this really #MAGA? Not even a little bit. So yes, I still believe, despite all Mr. Trump’s protestations, “Slowly, Surely, Inexorably: It Will Happen Redux ’20!”

I’m done; holla back!

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

To subscribe, click on the bottom right hand corner of my homepage at: http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your email 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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The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month Redux ’20

It’s time to Break It Down!

Eleven years ago, I wrote a post in recognition of Veteran’s Day, and the service personnel we as a nation honor on that day. In 2009, and again in 2015 when I reprised this post, Veterans Day fell on Wednesday. In 2018, the day fell on Sunday. In 2019, Monday. This year, the day again falls on Wednesday.  Today is Veterans Day. I’ve decided once more, to edit/re-post the Veteran’s Day Edition of “Break It Down!”

That call, in and of itself flies in the face of the current news cycle. We’ve just gone through a consequential quadrennial (Presidential) election that resulted in the two candidates each amassing more votes than any other candidates in U.S. History. For just the 11th time in 58 elections, a challenger defeated an incumbent President. The Democratic challenger won the popular vote by more than 4M votes, and, though it took four days, independent news outlets, including Fox News and the Associated Press called the race Saturday afternoon. The margin is the largest since Roosevelt defeated Hoover by 7M votes in 1932. Nevertheless, the incumbent refused to concede, and on a number of occasions, expressed certainty that he will still win.

He has also declined to permit members of his administration to assist in any way with the transition. Moreover, he threatened to fire anyone known to be seeking other employment. Given those dynamics, while the election and the incumbent’s legal gymnastics may be the current pre-eminent story, followed closely by a still surging coronavirus (100,000 cases per day in the U.S. for the past week, over 60K hospitalizations yesterday, and more 239K Americans dead from it); neither will be decided today. Hence, I will take a moment to honor Veterans Day and the men and women whose dedication, valor and personal treasure make the day one of merit for distinction.

I hope you enjoy your day, and that you take an opportunity to reach out and thank a Veteran. Moreover, for my part, to all of you who are Veterans, “Thank you for your service.”

Many of you may know, or at least faintly recall that I frequently alter the blog format to integrate holiday traditions into the discussion. Often holidays are expanded by days away from work, long weekends, travel, and a host of leisure activities. In those cases, I prefer to scale back in recognition that aside from road map directions, GPS instructions, and the like, very little reading will be taking place.

As most Americans know, last year marked the 102-year Anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I, AKA “The Great War,” and/or, “The War That Ended All Wars.” At first, it was known as Armistice Day. It later became known as Veterans Day. But what do we really know about this day that has been set aside to honor real American heroes and sheroes?

Well, first, Veterans Day is not Memorial Day, and vice-versa. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Day is intended largely to honor Living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty. Memorial Day honors those veterans who died in the service of their country, particularly those killed in combat, or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.

We also know that Veterans Day is a different kind of federal holiday. With the exception of Sundays, it falls on its actual date. In 1968Congress approved the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This law, which took effect in 1971, amended the observance of certain federal holidays so that Washington’s BirthdayMemorial DayColumbus Day, and Veterans Day would be observed on Mondays instead of fixed dates.

Congress passed the Act to increase the number of three-day holiday weekend for federal employees. After a loud and persistent outcry from Veterans and Veterans’ groups, who argued the historical significance of November 11th was compromised by the change, Veterans Day observance was returned to November 11th in 1978.

So how did this affinity for November 11th come about? As with many historical facts, it evolved. Veterans Day began as Armistice Day. The significance of Armistice Day is that it was the day of the signing of the Armistice that terminated World War I (WW I). In effect, WW I ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. That was when the Germans signed the document, ending hostilities that had begun in 1914President Woodrow Wilson subsequently proclaimed the first Armistice DayNovember 11, 1919. 

WW I was deemed The Great War, and was thought by many, at the time, to be “The War That Ended All Wars.” It was, as the numeric designation suggests, the First World War. Of course, more wars would ensue. There was World War II (WW II), later the Korean Conflict, and then Vietnam.

In 1953, a storeowner in Emporia, KansasAl King, launched an idea to honor all Veterans, not just those who served in WW I. The idea took root, sailed through Congress, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law May 26, 1954Congress amended the Act November 8, 1954, changing Armistice to Veterans, and thus it has been ever since.

So now, especially remember…”The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month!” To augment a popular bumper sticker, “If you can read this, thank a teacher”…and a veteran.

I’m done; holla back!

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

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Altogether Now; Black Is The New Black

It’s time to Break It Down!

Yesterday, I shared a passing thought on my Facebook feed. “Voter suppression and intimidation are not new tactics. They were simply dusted off, refreshed and applied to our Election 2020 narrative.” As I write this, The Polls have closed, and state-by-state results are being revealed. In the backdrop of yesterday’s election, CNN’s Brandon Tensley wrote a piece in yesterday’s online edition exploring “The anxieties looming over Black Americans on Election Day (2020).”

In an America in which the President refuses to say Black Lives Matters, or to concede that systemic racism is a thing, viewed in concert with a steady parade of Black men and women being killed by law enforcement officers, and seldom charged, and even less frequently convicted, Tensley’s article is in a word, timely.

Moreover, it overlaps with the election, irrespective of the outcome, because Blacks are far and away the most reliable voting bloc of one of the two major parties…the Democrats. Tensley wrote:

“Overwhelmingly, Black voters, the backbone of the Democratic Party, are on the receiving end of Republican chicanery: voter ID laws, shuttered polling stations, purged voter rolls, the disenfranchisement of incarcerated people, voter intimidation.”

America’s first federal (Presidential) election occurred in 1788, when citizen voters elected George Washington. African Americans were not able to freely participate in the electoral process until 1968, the first Presidential election after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Their reward was the election of Richard Nixon. That translates into making this just the 13th time Blacks have voted in an American Presidential Election in 232 years, or in 58 elections. In other words, for the first 45 elections, Blacks were off the participation board.

So, transport us back to the present, and we have one major political party and presidential candidate reducing the number of available voting sites, initiating lawsuits to disenfranchise voters, purging voter rolls, and disavowing systemic racism. This is juxtaposed with a party and a candidate for president who embraces BLM, chose a woman of color as his running mate, and who has committed to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. There’s much more to a Presidential Election than the candidates’ positions on race matters. But this is a time in history when our country is in the midst of a reckoning on race, police brutality, social justice, a crippling pandemic, and a month’s long economic convulsion.

The election will end. If not today, soon. Unfortunately, the economic, political, and yes, racial dysfunction that roils us, will not pass so easily. Regardless of the ultimate winner, the chasm that is the racial divide will not be bridged simply as a result of either of the two candidates prevailing. That will require, at a minimum, coming to grips with the fact that we have a problem. It may be tempting to pretend that all’s well. That can only last, best case scenario, until the next George Floyd or Breonna Taylor. In short, America…and Americans must face the unshrinking reality that systemic racism is a thing, and without a unified commitment to confront it head on, the problem cannot be resolved. “Altogether Now; Black is the New Black.”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

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