Wear it out!


Friday is officially becoming a day I both relish and dread. I hope for the chance to engage with people who happen to catch a glimpse of my weekly shirt slogan choice. (This week is “Hands up Don’t shoot”) But I also despair at how few people willing respond in any meaningful way. Yes, I have been stopped on the street and had photos taken. And I have been questioned in the supermarket. But most Fridays show the need for a campaign like “Wear out the silence” because it is increasingly apparent to me that one of the things we white people are good at when it comes to racial  issues and the issues of equality or equity is SAYING NOTHING.

Today a coworker looked at my Royal blue long sleeved “Hand’s up Don’t shoot!” shirt and simply made this statement as he passed by on his way to something else around the work place. He said, “Love that shirt.” Now I know this man and have a good working relationship with him and I know what he meant was that he really liked that it was made into a shirt and that I was wearing it and that he was endorsing both of those things, me and the shirt. I believe he even liked the message as far as he understood it.  To his credit I do consider this white co-worker to be a reasonably enlightened person and believe he really is supportive. But as he said the words “love that shirt” it hit me like a shot to the back of an unarmed man that I “HATE THIS SHIRT!”hands up dont shoot photo

I hate the fact that because Michael Brown was killed and there was some disparity in the story around the testimony of him having his hands up and saying “don’t shoot” people have called it the biggest lie of 2015.

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/12/hands-up-dont-shoot-false-216736

I HATE the fact that since the time of this becoming a rallying cry for black American’s that countless unarmed people have been shot and killed by police, one in particular shot while trying to help and mental patient and laying on the ground with his hands in the air being more than 20 feet away from the officer who shot him. I HATE the fact that I even need to wear this shirt to try and provoke people into waking up and at least pretending to care or to start having some uncomfortable honest conversations. I HATE IT. But you know what? I get to go home, take off my shirt, stay white and have it all just suddenly disappear because I am not black and the thing I HATE most of all is the idea that black people in my country have to wonder if they put their hands up and say “don’t shoot” that those words may be the last thing they ever say before being murdered by a police officer at his or her racist worst.Racist in recovery

Full disclosure. I am a ‘Racist In Recovery’ you might say. I grew up in rural america surrounded by white people who were afraid of things hey did not understand and that mostly meant anyone who didn’t look, talk and act like they did. So like them, I held all the normal negative stereotypes of minorities and women. It has taken me a while to even become aware of some of these ideals and continues to take deliberate effort on my part to change the way I see the world and all the people in it. But each day I hope to make some small progress in my understanding of other people and how important other views and paradigms are. By the way, here is an example of someone taking my idea of racist recovery a few steps further

Today as I am taking off the shirt I wear one day a week to remind myself that things in America are not the same for all of us, I wear it to remind myself that I as a human being can do something even if that is only to get people to start thinking differently, to support those who want the same things I want; opportunity, purpose, safety, love, fun, success in all its forms, family, life and maybe more than anything, respect. If you are not sure of your racism as you read this or if you are in denial I invite you to get real honest with yourself and see if there are seeds of racism burred deep that you may need to deal with so you can help make the world and in particular our nation – the one many people believe is something that we are simply lying to the world about – a better place. And if you have been awakened to seeing the world in a new way in the wake of protests and injustice and want to start doing something about it. Go here and like me you can go all in. I’ll be there right along side so you won’t have to do it alone.

http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/

 

SURJ

 

 

 

 

My ANGER Leads to ‘Fight or Flight’ Response


Mister Rogers used to ask me a question on his television show through the words of a song. It began with, “What do you do with the mad that you feel. When the whole world seems oh so wrong?” and the song finishes with these promises, “For a girl can someday be a woman and a boy can be someday a man”  In this simple song he manages to teach us some measure of control all while validating the angry emotions we all have when things go wrong. Then he takes us to words of hope acknowledging that as we learn to master our emotion of anger (if that is even truly possible) that this will enable us to grow and become women and men. Is he suggesting that those of us who never master this powerful emotion of anger may not be fully men and women? I can’t say, but you might reach this conclusion. I bet you even know some (adults) who you would say act a lot more like children when they respond in anger to the world around them.

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Well today I want to take this simple idea of anger management and throw a wrench into it. I want to talk about the fight of flight response. That chemical undeniable reflex response that kicks in when we as humans fear for our very lives. I wonder, when was the last time you were angry? Can you remember? I mean REALLY angry. Spewing venom, throwing things, hitting things or people, screaming obscenities. When was that? Think about it right now. OK now when was the last time you were truly afraid for your life? You heart rate increased, you muscles tensed, your eyes dilated, you were panicked, that tunnel vision set in focusing you on that thing you perceived as an immediate threat to your life. Can you remember? Has it ever happened? For some the answer is no. For some the answer is, unfortunately, every day. It’s true that some in this modern “civilized” world are truly in fear for their lives each and every hour of each and every day.

So what it will take for those of us who do not have an experience of choosing fight or flight due to our lives being in danger, for us to respond to the world around us with the same energy that someone who is in fear of their life. How can we be provoked into choosing to either RUN or STAND and FIGHT? Some may ask if this is even a good idea. Doesn’t this emotional response (often rooted in anger) cause us to loose perspective? Doesn’t this place us in a compromised mental state incapable of making clear sound decisions? I wonder? Modern psychology tells us that, “…all of these physical responses are intended to help you survive a dangerous situation by preparing you to either run for your life or fight for your life (thus the term “fight or flight”). Fear — and the fight-or-flight response in particular — is an instinct that every (human) possesses.”

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With this in mind I want to know for myself and you can ask this in your own way for yourself as well. Are there things happening right this minute, in a country professing freedom and liberty for all, that are causing us to feel fear in the present? No? Yes? Are there things happening to you or those close to you? Your friends and family, your coworkers and fellow students, parishioners and sports team fans? Are you feeling something different than you did a year ago? What is your level of fear right this moment?

Side bar If you are not feeling any fear but instead irritation at people taking to the streets or protesting the current powers that be, you may be white and privileged like me. Believe me I know. And if you are darker skinned and have a heritage that is not in northern European and you do feel afraid and provoked to fight or flight, I want you to know that this seems perfectly normal from a psychological, reasonable, survival standpoint. Ask anyone. I know all the best psychologists who can corroborate this belief. End Side bar

Ok back to the point. Yes I have a point. I want to know, how do we get white people who seem to have nothing to fear but fear itself, to become angry even to the point of either fighting by standing up as though their lives depend on it or to get out of the way and run allowing those who can and will fight to do the work of staying alive for the rest who are overcome by their fear? What will it take? I ask myself what must happen to awaken me to action? Do I need to see my personal rights violated? Will I need to be personally threatened or can I be just as angry about a friend being threatened? And shouldn’t I be if they are my friend? What about a neighbor? What about a fellow American? What about a victim fleeing for their life?

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There will come a time for each of us in the coming months when you will be faced with these issues. Many of us will need to respond in a moment of anger and fear to take flight and run choosing not to defend ourselves and let the chips fall where they may or to stand and fight for our lives and the lives of others.

I want you to know that I used to believe that I could live my life immune to many of the discriminations faced by many minority groups in my country. But I believe how we treat the least of us says everything about what kind of people we are. So as I reflect on how we enforce our laws, and how we protect ourselves and how we consider our educational system and I see images or read stories and investigate how we treat the least powerful people in our nation (children, minorities, women, others) I am provoked to stand and fight for the lives of people who live in a country that is worth living in, a nation of people who have learned to live and let live, a nation who have moved beyond a history of slavery into an era of understanding and integration, a nation worth fighting for.

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I need to say something that makes me feel powerfully saddened, I no longer believe that this nation exists in the way it once did. It is traveling down a dangerous path. It is a path from which we may not be able to return. But when my fellow Americans choose to threaten other citizens of this country I will be standing in their path, with heart racing, and eyes wide, muscles tensed and ready for action. And Mr Rogers, in my anger I may make some mistakes with the mad that I feel. I, as an adult, am willing to accept those consequences if they help just one person find peace and safety in America. I invite others to stand with me. If you think you have what it takes. And if you don’t, I’ll do it for both of us. I’m willing to bet some others of you will too.

“Dear White People” Kills White People


Recently there was an announcement of a new Netflix production of a show called Dear White People based on the film of the same name. It is a sarcastic funny different perspective on what life looks like for black students in the world of college education. It offers a new standard of what is acceptable for white people to do or not do in order to understand and respect black people. For many of us white people this would be something we are doing for the very first time. However, there are some Americans (mostly on twitter it seems) who have said that this show will bring about “White Genocide” No I am not making this up. You can’t make shit like this up. Here is my response to those white American’s who are cancelling their Netflix subscription because they claim they are creating a show which will begin a white genocide. This is a bit of a rant so please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.

Shhhh, nobody tell the white people cancelling their Netflix subscription over Dear White People that the show Empire is on Hulu. Now you gotta cancel that subscription too. Oh and stop listening to all songs with black singers and rappers because that’s how they are going to finance their “White Genocide.” Oh and Blackish, the award winning comedy is on ABC. So stop watching anything on ABC who also owns Disney. Damn it!! Didn’t see that one coming did ya? Gotta cancel that. Aw, that means no more cartoons for the kids. But saving their precious white lives is more important right #WhiteLivesMatter. So now you gotta stop paying to see Dory or Moana (She’s black) or Elsa or the new Cars 3 (McQueen’s tires are black), Oh ya did you know 45 of the 67 Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots are Black? So that’s right you gotta STOP WATCHING the NFL. Cancel that NFL Season pass and Sunday ticket right away. No Super Bowl for you this year. And I won’t even tell you how many other NFL players are black. White people you could NOT handle it. Suffice it to say that you all have just become hockey fans. I don’t even have the heart to tell you 6 out of the 9 cast members on HBO’s Ballers are black so pick up the phone and tell HBO just how racist you are and how you won’t put up with all these blacks on TV and the internet threatening to kill you by being on TV and the internet. That’s right, you call and tell em you don’t care if you can’t watch Game of Thrones, Girls, True Detective, Insecure – wait, that’s an all black cast (mostly) too. Well there you go. The blacks ARE taking over and getting things set to launch their master plan, “White Genocide.” Call HBO, You tell em how you are cancelling your subscription and how obviously HBO now stands for HOME of the BLACK OVERLOARDS! Then fire up your internet browser and fire Amazon (Amazons: large black women who lived deep in the rainforests of Brazil) for Carrying “Being Mary Jane.” They have all 4 seasons. Starting this weekend better boycott Saturday Night Live and everything NBC too because you know 4 SNL cast members are black. It’s only a matter of time before the blacks rise up and start killing all the white people around them. We can only hope Alec Baldwin survives. Speaking of blacks killing people have you seen the way Michonne is threatening EVERY WHITE PERSON IN AMERICA with that sword?michonne_katana

And that other black guy (Morgan) with his staff and those other black people (Sasha and Gabriel oh and King Ezekiel) with their guns and fists and tigers and violence. This show (the walking dead) on AMC (which you now need to call and cancel as well) is just code for Blacks to say “White America your days are numbered. You are the Walking Dead”. The White Genocide is coming! So call and cancel, cancel it all. I’m not even gonna tell you what is happening on BET right this minute. What’s the point anyway if we (white people) are all gonna die? But as a last ditch effort, Call your congressmen, call your representatives and let em know. White Genocide is a comin! Beg them to protect you if they can. Call the police to protect you – except the black ones of course ‘cause they’ll kill ya. Call the National Guard but not those who are darker than a paper bag, cause they’ll kill ya. Call the armed forces, except those servicemen and women who had grandparents who were slaves cause they’ll kill ya! Call the president! Wait don’t call the president, he just tweeted @realDonaldTrump “White people are being treated so unfairly by Netflix. Just cancelled White House Netflix account, Will not support White Genocide, Complete disaster. Black people prepare for nuclear war” So now white people run into the streets screaming to the world “The White Genocide is coming. Start hoarding Mayonnaise, Boxed wine, Tater Tots, Apple Juice and Caviar. This is the end for us all!”

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Ok, I am catching my breath and have calmed down a little. Now I know enough white people and I can confirm a few things. They like to believe they are the best at anything they do. In this case I can say they are right. I have never seen such an epic level overreaction at such a completely asinine level before. Congratulations White people this has got to be the best dumbest racist bullshit ever. And one last thing, If you think a black female co-ed like the one from Dear White People is on her way to your house to kill you because she schooled you on what it means to be black, you are the kind of pussy (sorry ladies) only trump will grab.

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Mic Dropped

Wearing out the Silence… again


Week 2: Wear out the Silence

The rain fell like a shower. With every stuttered step I was becoming more drenched. Lucky for me my jacket was water proof and got me to the car with minimal dampness. I put the key onto ignition and headed out to do my Friday workout at Planet Fitness. I was ready I told myself that this was the day. I was gonna destroy it. I would shred my quads and calves. I would blast my lats, delts, traps, and any other muscle that ended in “s” Yep, this was going to be my day in the gym and I was gonna kill it. And I did… until I didn’t.

Instead I found myself wandering the aisles at Costco. We needed a new pencil sharpener I had convinced myself that I should get it first before heading to my AWESOME workout. Costco had the 15 horsepower ultra-lead shredder sharpener. And since I have NEVER got anything from Costco that wasn’t in some way AMAZING I dove right in a bought it no questions asked. Later when I arrived home I ground down half a dozen pencils and started to get a little buzz going. It was sort of a rush, I have to admit. Then I let my son give it a try and man was he impressed. When it was done he let out a yelp of astonishment that let me know I had scored a home run with the new lead-n-wood whittler.

After my trip to Costco I was on my way to the gym. Nothing would stop me now. Until Carl’s Jr. There it was. Reminding me about all those memories with my older boys living in SoCal 700 miles away. I sometimes go to Carl’s and have some fries and a drink. Somehow I feel connected to my boys and I think about them and how much I miss them. For some reason today the appeal was simply too much and I found myself sitting with my fries and a drink. I am not really exactly sure the reasons why I could not resist. But lately I think a bit of a depression has settled on my otherwise positive outlook. My world has been assaulted with some very hard truths about the world we are in. And I will admit that it got to me. I was very melancholy eating my fries. Feeling guilty that I had not actually gone to the gym.

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Long story short. Today I never made it to the gym. Big surprise right? In the end I simply didn’t have it in me today. But next week… I am gonna wreck my biceps and triceps and quadriceps and forceps. Wait that last one is not a muscle. I think that’s used in labor and delivery. Scratch that last one. But all that other stuff I said before Ohhhh ya, I am gonna wreck it!

So far today no one had said anything about my shirt. Today was the Eric Garner “I can’t breathe” shirt day. The reason no one had said anything was today it was raining and the jacket I had on covered the shirt. I knew it was there underneath but no one else in the unassuming public did. Until I took my son to the public pool for a little Friday night free swim! For 2 hours he got to go bananas at the community pool with three of his friends from school. They had a great time. There is this awesome water slide at the pool that is the highlight every time he goes. I realized that for the first time, as I sat in the bleachers and watched the kids play, I would have my “I can’t breathe” message as a billboard for the entire pool population to see.

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What I had not planned on however was the Lifeguard training class that went on all during the 2 hour swim. These committed lifeguards were hard core and working very hard at mastering some very difficult scenarios. Diving in and rescuing people who were unconscious, people who were screaming and flailing around, sometimes two people needing help at the same time and trying to drag the rescuer down with them. Each time the team would pull the victim from the water and provide lifesaving aide all while their trainer was screaming at them to do it faster or better or correctly. It was VERY intense and captivating to witness.

Near the end of the session I found the rescue team of lifeguards right in front of me running a rescue drill on a dummy that had been placed in the bleachers earlier. As I watched the rescue effort and heard the coach identify what they were doing right and what was changing. He would shout. “Non-responsive!!” which would change the way the team was interacting immediately and brought a renewed sense of urgency to the rescue effort. In the midst of this I started thinking about Eric Garner and what happened to him. I was startled by the lifeguard coach telling the ‘big man’ of the class to move something out of the way and take control of the environment. “Do whatever you have to do provide life saving techniques. If you need more room and you can move things do it!!”

Then the team got back to work. They called out “beginning compression’s”… and started counting as they worked 1 – 2 – 3… I remembered the number of Grandchildren Eric had – 4 – 5 – 6… and the number of children Eric had – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10 – 11… the number of Times Eric said “I can’t breathe” 12 – 13 – 14 – 15 – …28 – 29 – 30 the number of times Eric had been arrested over a 10 year period. The rescue team at the pool would then yell “Clear!” and everyone would lift up their hands – it was almost like a prayer was made in that brief second- they would then wait a moment for the AED to charge and deliver a heart resetting jolt to the victims heart.

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When this exercise was over and the lifeguard time was debriefing, the ‘big man’ on the Lifeguard team came over to me and asked, “Are you alright? Since your shirt says ‘I can’t breathe’” I could see in his eyes and hear in his tone of voice that this was a dismissal of everything the shirt represented. My response was clear and simple as I looked him up and down, “Ya I’m fine, but sometimes the air gets a little bit thick.” He smirked but turned and walked away. I’m glad he did. I would have hated to have gotten into it with the “big man” and put the talents of the lifeguard rescue team to work saving his life after I was through with him. After all, I did miss my workout <wink> So I fantasied about how I would lay him out and punish him for his ignorance. So sue me! I am a male and we men have these scenarios running through our minds more often than most will admit. I know I could have taken him but that was not the point.

Today was Eric Garner day. A day when I was reminded that there are many victims who have first responders push the clock as fast as they can to save a life. There is nothing more important. Everything I saw in the lifeguard training told me something very important. If Eric had stopped breathing at the scene of his arrest he might still be alive today. The simple fact is that an unconscious person would probably gotten more attention “I can’t breathe” from the police “I can’t breathe” than a person actually “I can’t breathe” telling them what was “I can’t breathe” wrong with them. If his asthma “I can’t breathe” would have been severe “I can’t breathe” enough maybe he “I can’t breathe” would still be alive “I can’t breathe” today. If the EMT’s would have “I can’t breathe” known he had asthma “I can’t breathe” they could have done “I can’t breathe” what they were sworn to do.

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And I would love to believe that this was just a case of simple lack of information. That Eric Garner received from both law enforcement and EMT’s the best possible medical attention. But instead I know better. These officers and EMT’s failed to protect and save a life that day and they did it willfully. And that chills me to the bone. It should you too. Some would tell me, “Ya but you weren’t there and you don’t know what it’s like.” And you know what they would be right. Here is what I do know. There are some things that Americans are supposed to value above all else. Doing your best is high on that list. I don’t think allowing a man who had been arrested and was in you care die ON YOUR WATCH is in anyway an American thing to do. Someone needs to call Trump and get these people FIRED. He loves to fire people in law enforcement and the judicial branch of government so it will really be no problem believe me. Then someone needs to call the district attorney – assuming Trump hasn’t fired them already – and put both the Popo and the meat wagon jockeys all in the prisons they love to over crowd so much for their crimes of willful abandonment their of the sworn duty and negligent homicide that they are all complicit in.

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Rest in peace Eric Garner. Today, at this moment as I remember you and how you breathed your last breath, I find that ‘I can’t breathe’ either. PEACE

MickGee is ‘Wearing out the Silence’


Week 1: Wear out the Silence

It was around 11:30 when I left the house to head out into my world that is America this Friday 1-27-17. I was filled apprehension and excitement knowing I was putting myself in a position to come into debate, verbal assault, a measured discussion but hopefully not violence. It would be sort of like Facebook only in real life. Quite frankly that is not a good thing most of the time. Lots of conflict on the walls of F.B. these days. But I was psyched up and ready to meet America and hear its thoughts about this white man and his Black Lives Matter shirt.

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So with my Black Lives Matter shirt wrapped tightly around my body. Mine is just a little more ‘snug’ than I would like – that reminds me I gotta get to the gym this afternoon. I’ll add that to the list; 1) Wear out the Silence 2) Wear out my abs 3) wear out the calories I ate for lunch. 4) Wear out my eyes at the movies tonight because it’s Friday!! But I digress. So I load up the car with some things I need to drop off at the school. I teach a couple of classes at the local Charter school Monday afternoons and I wanted to have my materials there and ready to go so I thought I’ll swing by and drop them off. About half way there my mind started thinking. “Wait, can I or should I walk into my school as a teacher with a Black Lives Matter shirt? What would the students say? What would the administration or the parents say?” Then my mind conformed what I already know. HELL YA! Why do you think I get the shirt in the first place? I WANT someone to say something. I wanna hear what people REALLY think face to face. So I ROCKED that shirt up and down the halls of the school, intentionally making two trips to my car for the materials even though I could have done it in one. Hoping, expecting, anticipating, that first comment, the ‘first contact’ if you will with others.

And while there were looks and many smiles there was no real engagement. So I am left with my only option of speculation or for me to imply what I think people might be thinking. Here is my best shot. My first encounter was with a teacher (one of two on staff with blond hair and blue eyes) who clearly saw my shirt and then looked me square in the eyes with a sort of solidarity but also a look of “better you than me” feeling. The next was a different teacher whose eyes said softly “You’re NOT serious are you?” All others either didn’t pay attention to the shirt or just didn’t see it. But no one voiced any obvious support or disagreement. So I went on to my next stop, THE MALL.

I walked in the main doors to the huge open atrium food court and proceeded to the Asian Food buffet for some rice, noodles and veggies. The man who helped me seemed a little shaken by my shirt. After taking my order he tried to serve me the wrong items, then he tripped as he handed my food to the cashier and after catching himself then knocked one of the serving spoons off the counter with a clang. I clearly made him nervous. However, something happened next that I thought was pretty cool. I ordered a 2 item combo which is $7.89 plus a large drink $1.79 for a total of $9.68 plus tax. The young lady at the register, who was Hispanic, charged me $6.60 total. I didn’t know it at the time but she was giving me the “people of solidarity” discount. After my meal I looked at the receipt and realized what she had done and went up to say something to her. She responded “Yeah, I just charged you for a half and half” but her manager was behind her and stepped into the conversation correcting her and saying the amount should have been more. He then said it was their “mistake” but there would not be any additional charge. The girl looked at me with eyes that said what she could not. “Thank you” they said “thank you for wearing the shirt and being white while you are doing it.” And they said, “Thank you FOR GETTING ME IN TROUBLE WITH MY MANAGER WTF!?” Next time I’ll know better and I will simply accept the support. Asian Express at the Bay Shore Mall ROCKS!

Next stop the auto parts store. I knew this one could be risky. Many of my conservative friends are car nuts and hang out at the auto parts store. So I was ready for some push back. But surprisingly it never came. I made my purchase and we talked for a minute about cars. There was no tone of voice or strange looks but there was a little awkward body language. It was just enough that I knew once I left, the first words out of this very nice young man’s mouth to his fellow workers would be “Holy S^%T, Did you see that guy’s shirt, WTF? What is he thinkin’?” But I felt nothing out of the ordinary about my experience except the usual great customer service I receive at Oreily Auto Parts. Next stop, THE GYM.

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So I roll into the Gym at 3 PM on a beautiful sunny winter afternoon in the Pacific North West. What an amazing time of year. You just can’t get this color of green anywhere else. I am greeted by the “behind the counter” guy at the club. He takes my “mark of the beast” keychain to prove I am marked by the workout Anti-Christ. Lucky for me I am already “saved” so there is nothing they can really do to me that I am not about to do to myself in their workout torture chamber. So I get scanned in then I unzip my outer jacket revealing the billboard shirt that is my BLM statement. I await the gasps of disbelief and cries of despair as I stride confidently toward the free weight section of the club. What’s that I hear instead? A faint voice seemingly form an Adam Sandler movie “You can duit.” So with confidence I hit my workout hard. I have a series of 5 exercises, max weight, one set to failure. High Intensity. Between sets I walk across the club floor mainly to catch my breath and get some much needed H2O. I walk past the ab punishment room and the treadmills of terror. No one meets my gaze except one guy on his way out wearing a ‘Compton’ knit beanie. No words, just the universal man to man bro nod of acknowledgement. Peace my brother from a different mother, peace.

I did get some sympathetic looks (emphasis on the pathetic) from some of the girls. Not sure if they were supportive or pitying but they made eye contact nonetheless and some smiled politely. HEY that’s more than I get most weeks from the ladies wearing tight ‘spandexy’ workout clothes and earbuds, so I am soaking it in people! Believe me. So I finish off my ab torture routine maxing out the crunch machine again at a weight that I will not say because I do not want others to feel small. Let’s just say it was probably more than you weigh. So chew on that. Yah, my testosterone is pumping after my workout and it’s awesome!! I am PUMPED! After each of my HIT routines, I Iike to HIT the massage chair (see what I did there?) Today was special though. I approached the flatbed hot hydro massage lounge with seductive weariness and fell into the loving caress of the indentations of the surface. It gently cradles my buttocks and wraps my shoulders massaging away the pain with a sort of rough yet playful hot water pattern of ecstasy.

When we were done with our 10 minutes of mutual love I returned to the front counter and openly declared to the behind the counter girl that I believe hydro massage lounge #4 and I were now very close and may be forming a serous relationship. What I didn’t tell the behind the counter girl or the many other gym patrons now listening closely was that this hydro massage lounge is BLACK! Hear that DAD, she is BALCK! Wow where did THAT come from? Hmm. Need to bring that up with my therapist. Anyway, the girl takes my #4 token from me and looks at me like I am completely nuts. Then she reads my shirt “Black Lives Matter” she smiles in a way that says “Please just go away quietly and don’t speak to me anymore… please” So I smile and bid farewell to my friends and lovers at Planet Fitness Bay Shore Mall. See you all again next week. Get used to it people EVERY FRIDAY you get to deal with me. The shirt next week will be “I can’t Breathe.” Next stop THE MOVIES.

There I was, standing in the queue or the “rope maze” as I like to call it. If you’re not careful you can get lost waiting in line at the theater and possibly have to face a Minotaur before you can buy your tickets or get snacks and drinks. I scanned the crowd of eager Friday night movie goers for anyone who was looking my way. Seeing if anyone would notice the shirt and make eye contact. I know eye contact is the bane of our modern society. Non-the-less, one man standing just to my left did peek at the shirt and looked me up and down but decided to remain silent. (Full disclosure, I am approx. 6’6” tall and 300 lbs.) maybe he thought better of engaging, who can say.

Once I knew I survived the movie maze of madness and reached the counter unscathed I did notice the woman who was waiting on me seemed EXTRA nice and unusually chatty. It could have been that she was just feelin’ good on a Friday night but from all the people I have known who have worked at a movie theatre I doubt it. My favorite part was when she swiped my rewards card and told me that she was going to “upgrade” my purchase. For a moment I envisioned a truly first class viewing experience with reclining padded heated massage chairs with speakers and sub-woofer right beneath my, ahem “sub-woofer” (if you know what I mean) and a dinner menu with pasta, pizza, Asian cuisine and sushi. But instead she just meant I could get some candy for $2.50 instead of the usual low rate fixed loan at 3.13% for the candy which I could then pay back in installments over the next 6 months. Oh AND I had earned a free unrestricted ticket. So tonight I was seeing a first run movie on its premier weekend for FREE. That’s right people I am a Visual Veloci-VIP. Mic Drop!

So I get my snacks and FREE ticket and head to the theater. I knew at this point that my chances of anyone seeing the shirt were pretty much over since it was dark and we were all facing the same direction, so I got comfortable and enjoyed the movie. Let me tell you a little bit about the film. It opens with Washington D.C. in ruins. The Capitol building, White house and Washington monument are destroyed beyond repair and the world has come to an end except for a small contingent of people who have held on facing unbelievable odds against their survival. A madman has seized power and is trying literally to destroy the world which will then be rebooted and populated with the uber wealthy all of whom lye safely in cryo-stasis in a secure underground facility only to be awoken after all of humanity has been extinguished to pave the way for them to rise and repopulate the planet making it over in their own image. Wait, I’m sorry, that was just the twitter and facebook feed I was reading on my phone before the movie. And Resident Evil Part 6 was a greed motivated apocalypse too.

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So after the action fest of death and horror. By this I mean the movie. I made my way to the lobby – by the way for fans of the Resident Evil franchise you MUST stay ALLLLLLLL the way to the VERY, very end of the credits. Worth it. So I walk out to the lobby. And the theater manager walks past in front of me eying my shirt. I then see a woman looking at my shirt and she starts walking toward me. The theater manager stops and turns to her and asks her if everything is ok. Yes seriously he did this. The woman looks at him and says everything is fine and I walk past. Interesting yes? As I round the corner passing the concession counter I see 2 black ladies ordering their food and one spots me and turns to her friend and makes a gesture I cannot see. I imagine she says “Ooo-Ooo look, another white man with a shirt he doesn’t understand. Man WHITE people are CRAZY!” Neither of them say anything to me but I think to myself. “You ladies have a good time at the movies, my work is done here” Exit. Next stop, HOME.

We Are At War With America


I am angry and in love. I am happy and frustrated. I am thinking of violence while demanding peace. I can argue with myself I am so conflicted about so many things. But through these debates within myself and others a singular view starts to emerge. It offers a clearer view as I wash the tears from my face. When I can catch my breath from the wind being knocked out of me by the stories I hear from all areas of my nation. Once I regain a moment of composure I am reminded of who I am or at least who I aspire to be.

And even though Congress has not met, the Joint Chiefs have not convened and the Commander in Chief has issued not proclamation. We are at war. It is a war waged apparently ON America BY America. Sounds insane I know. Some would say then that this must be a civil war then. And I would say you may be right but there is nothing civil about it. A civil war would have two sides each struggling to make the other submit. This is not that war. We did that already. This war is fought in coffee houses, and class rooms and apartments, on sidewalks and at protests outside conventions and of course on social media and in the “NEWS”

We are at war with each other. If America has enemies in the world today all they need to do is sit back and watch us tear at each other. Destroying what good things we have. Like liberty or the freedom to choose to do good for each other. Our enemies can sit back and bide their time. Because we are doing their job for them. We can’t let this happen and yet many of us are not only letting it happen but participating, even though we would not likely acknowledge that we are in a war. “America is gonna be great again” some might say. I could argue America is already great and anyone who says otherwise might not appreciate what we have going on here. That is to say, what the great American experiment has the possibility of achieving. Only time will tell on that one. But it’s not looking so good today.

We are at war and I want the whole damn country to know that I am a Conscientious Objector. I will have nothing to do with the dehumanizing of the ‘enemy’ so we can be motivated to destroy them. Them being my fellow Americans. I will take no life, I will assault no person or persons because of the freedoms they express in their beliefs, attitudes or behaviors and convictions. I WILL defend EVERYONE’S right to be here. Especially those who are here for reasons we cannot understand. Who wanted more than anything to chase the same American Dream we all say we want but just can’t seem to see it when someone struggling to survive says that their American Dream has become an American Nightmare. Well WAR IS HELL and some have been in the trenches a long time. Lately however it appears that battle has become more heated and we (All of us, from all sides) are struggling and attacking and killing more of our own than ever before. We say but we haven’t killed anyone. Maybe some of us haven’t but we also refuse to defend them, we refuse to stand up and protect those who deserve our protection. We have become cowards. We are now weak and afraid. That is not the America I believe in. We have got to do better. We have got to BE BETTER than our worst emotion, We have got to be smarter than to be reacting from being “triggered” by something someone says who disagrees with us. We have to learn that different is not always dangerous just likely misunderstood.

I hope that this war can one day come to an end and we can get back to the ideals of an America we all are proud of. Yes we disagree, yes we have troubles but we struggle together to move beyond them. I said TOGETHER. We have to stop being at each other’s throats or all we will have is more blood. Do we really want to silence the opposition? So only one side is heard? Do we really want to remove the checks and balances that are designed to keep us from going too far off track? Do we want to place so much hope in a few individuals to lead us to better days or do we want to KNOW that it is only together, each one of us doing are part, that our nation is better of all of us.

Listen, America is not easy, in fact most days it is pretty damn hard especially with people who disagree with you shouting their loudest in your ears. So let’s get serious. Let’s work it backwards. What kind of a country do you really want? And be careful here. Remember, limited rights and freedoms eventually mean limited rights and freedoms for EVERYONE. Remember those one time war taxes? We all know where that got us.  If we want a country where freedom rings in the streets and there is the kind of opportunity that has made us the envy of the free world then we have got remember who we are. WE are Americans and we have got some shaping up to do.

As an conscientious objector, opposed to this war, I propose an immediate cease fire and talks, focused on negotiating how we can bring peace to our people fighting this modern social ‘civil war.” The casualties are adding up by the moment and eventually the cost may be greater than America can withstand.

Time for a new National Symbol


I wanted to find a symbol that might depict for all people the feeling of people of color in America surrounding the unjustified shootings and violence and discrimination and institutional racism which is recently being spoken against in our public arenas and in the streets. I wanted that perfect image of what the state of justice and civil rights and equality in our country are.

So at first I thought of the obvious image of the American flag used to signal distress by being flown upside down. Here is what the Law of the United States says about it.

THE UNITED STATES FLAG CODE
Title 4, Chapter 1

  • 8(a)The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

Here is an example of how to effectively display the flag in distress by an active member of the military.

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The statement he wrote on the upside down flag reads “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people”

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Then I thought we need an image that is truly current and represents the mood of the oppressed so I looked and found the flag of protest pictured here.

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A group of protesters demonstrating together against police violence and brutality on blacks marching in the streets. The flag depicting the names of those shot and killed.

As I continued my search I thought I would play with the idea of designing a NEW AMERICAN FLAG. After all Betsy Ross had her chance so I would take mine. I envisioned a flag much like ours but in black and white instead of red, white and blue. Black and White to show the huge divide between Black and White perspectives of the world in America. But my design needed something to drive home the horrendous nature of the violence we have seen between blacks and police of late. So I thought to put one RED STRIPE across my new flag to show in stark relief the image I wanted to invoke in people the current state of things. Here is my first design:

Unfortunately someone else already created it. This is a flag you can buy today from Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Thin-Red-Line-Flag-Firefighters/dp/B01A97O0KE/ref=pd_bxgy_86_img_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=476NFKNN1NGQDG6RCCN5

Here is what the listing at Amazon says The Thin Red Line is a symbol used to recognize Firefighters for their unwavering courage. Between harm’s way and innocent citizens stands a thin red line of committed firefighters and EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians.) These brave men and women, first responders, put their lives second to those that they protect.”

You may know that “The Thin Red Line” thin-red-line-movie is a film from 1998 about war focusing on the conflict at Guadalcanal during the second World War. Here is an excerpt:

Private Edward P. Train: [narration] This great evil, where’s it come from? How’d it steal into the world? What seed, what root did it grow from? Who’s doing this? Who’s killing us, robbing us of life and light, mocking us with the sight of what we might’ve known? Does our ruin benefit the earth, does it help the grass to grow, the sun to shine? Is this darkness in you, too? Have you passed through this night?

Wow! That is kind of spooky as to how this seemingly random dialog from a movie by the same name as this flag speaks to what is happening in the streets of America today. Maybe the designers didn’t know about this movie when naming this flag design. So I was even more confused and unsure about my design ideas but it did remind me of another Black White and Red flag design.

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The flag of the German Empire during World War 1. Once again seems like knowing a little history could serve us well when trying to decide on a new American symbol. I was learning this flag designing stuff was hard.

I was undeterred however and would not give up. I wanted to continue my search but not before I came across this flag as well

You’ll never guess what this one is for…

Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Thin-Blue-Line-Flag-Embroidered/dp/B00ZDA120Y/ref=pd_bxgy_86_img_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=8A96E18CTWJQ7QXPK9FQ

The Amazon listing explains it this way. The Thin Blue Line is a symbol recognizing Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) for their courage while keeping the peace. One black bar below represents the criminal element in society. One black bar above represents the innocent citizens. What stands in the middle is a thin blue line of committed Police. Display this flag to support the brave men and women that serve and protect.”

thin-blue-line-movieYou may know that “The Thin Blue Line” is a movie from 1988. Synopsis from IMDB “A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.”

Maybe the flag designers didn’t know about this. Hmm.

If these designers are so far off how can I expect to do better? I plunged forward in my search for the perfect new American flag symbol. But wait, then THIS! From Cornell University Law School:

 

18 U.S. Code § 700 – Desecration of the flag of the United States; penalties

(a)(1) Whoever knowingly mutilates, defaces, physically defiles, burns, maintains on the floor or ground, or tramples upon any flag of the United States shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

(2) This subsection does not prohibit any conduct consisting of the disposal of a flag when it has become worn or soiled.

 

Wait a minute. I wanted to design a new flag but just realized that almost every picture of the flag, both present and future, I have shown hear could be breaking the law. If I continue I could be fined and jailed for a year!? Oh well I say, “WORTH IT!” Moving on.

But since so many others seem to be acting criminally with there use of the flag and flag designs I thought Hey you better be smart about this. Know the history of the symbolism of your own flag before you start. So I did some research. Ultimately there is NO OFFICIAL SYMBOLISM for our flags colors of symbols. The exception being the number of stars and each one representing a state. The history of the red white and blue are simply our new nation coopting the colors from mother England’s Union Jack. Ok so we like red, white and blue. I can work with that. So I think finally I have my design. I present to you for the first time anywhere the new symbol of American. Please rise and salute the flag of the United States of America.

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Or maybe this one. Maybe more than any other design this embodies America. Sex, Female Exploitation, Skin, Women’s bodies, did I mention SEX

lynda-carter-american-wonder-woman

Wait how did that get in here? To my wife “Honey look away. This was just a momentary distraction.” To the fella’s, “Whose with me on this design. So many front thighs on Linda Carter?”

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This could work… right? Kaepernick symbolizes “Colin-izaton” and the upside down flag represents our distress?

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Now here is a new flag design with the flag in distress… or maybe not. Did I mention nothing says America better than SEX and the Exploitation of Women’s Bodies? But seriously fella’s am I right? Americans next official symbol? I could rock shorts like that!

It’s so hard to decide with all these great designs. I know, here is one that says America better than all the others. I heard the Trump campaign officially approved it. Hey at least it’s red, white and blue…

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With that in mind we could just do this

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Maybe if we all stand up and cover our heart, salute and sing while seeing Black Lives Matter people will actually start to believe it.

So did I succeed in finding the new symbol of America? Maybe. Maybe not. What I think we can all agree is there are many images which represent who America is and who we as Americans are today. Some of those images we can be proud of and some others not so much. PEACE