Tuesday, March 20, 2007

War changes you, but what else am I suppose to do?

Clearly, the Iraq war has changed the political and social landscape of the United States and the Middle East. As a result of this pointless war villages in Iraq and in small poor towns throughout the United States have suffered. The suffering is noticeable in countless ways. American men and women are coming home maimed. Children are parentless, and Iraqi men and women are scarred for life. Their country will never be the same. The remnants of war will forever linger above the sunsets in Fallujah, Baghdad, South Hill, and in Fayette-nam: home of the 82nd Air Borne.

If you listen to the conservative pundits you will gather that they believe this war is justifiable. According to them it was the right thing to do. If you lean to the left and if you avoid the conservative news networks you are among a group of people who believe fighting this war was one of the United States government’s biggest mistakes. I disagree with this. America’s most drastic mistake was nonchalantly allowing black men and women to be victimized by a system of blatant and institutionalized racism. Anyway, the Iraq war is not only bankrupting the federal reserve it is exposing our third world type conditions to the world.

The government’s involvement in this war has made us vulnerable to additional criticism. We are no longer viewed as the country that has it together. How can we be when the individuals who serve in our armed forces cannot receive appropriate healthcare back on American soil? You would think this fine country could at least house their wounded in non-molded infested dwellings which, as a matter of fact, I have seen in countless hospitals in the developing world - but we are considered the First World. Now, that is worth responding with: Wow! But no, we the United States of America are deficient in this area. We have dropped the ball again. You would think we would have learned something during and after both World War I and II. And, after the Vietnam War. Our men and women faced the same issues back then. Again, Wow!

Do we honestly believe our soldiers were aware of the military’s deficiencies before they volunteered to safeguard the great United States? I often wondered as a high school senior why that Army recruiter was so persistent and evasive. She was always seated each and every Friday in the Thomasville High School Student Union. She did not miss a Friday of tip-toeing around the important questions. I also wondered why so many of my friends walked up to her information table. Actually, at the time I was intrigued by the military. Deep down in my subconscious I wanted to come home alive in a uniform, but I could not get the words of my uncles out of my head. The words were: “Do not fight for this country. This country will turn its back on you.” These were the words of two former military men. When I got older I asked my uncles why did they join. Both of them without hesitation said, “I did not have anything else to do, and I wanted to leave this small town.”

There is a lot of psychology in their statement. Two black men wanted to do something with their lives. Two black men had a desire to get out of a small town. These are the same exact reasons why some of my classmates approached that recruitment table 20 years ago. They wanted to flee all those negative elements that make up a small town i.e. limited mentalities and debilitating unemployment. Their interest did not stem from a passion to serve this country. They were not boasting with American pride. There was no reason for us to be in love with Uncle Sam’s country. We were poor and black. Two characteristics that forced us to remember “our place”. But, we did have a desire to do something with our lives. We were motivated to be somebody. To do more than what the former upper classmen did.

Back then (the late 80’s) in my small town there was a concerted push for young men and women to do something with their lives. The teachers and guidance counselors encouraged us to go to college or to get a job in the furniture factories. However, starting your work career off at a furniture factory was not held in high esteem. Our parents wanted “more” for their children, and going to college was a challenge for too many of us. But, going to the military was an easy answer. I can remember so many adults communicating that join the Army message. When I think about their persistence now I get repulsed, but I do understand and respect their efforts. They just wanted us to make something of ourselves. They wanted to be proud of us. No harm in that.

Most people have felt the pressure to be successful. No one wants to be a failure. I wholeheartedly believe that. Nevertheless, in our efforts to promote the things our children must do to be successful I believe it is absolutely essential that we do not promote a line of work that has a high potential to leave our men 1) mentally traumatized, 2) resentful, and 3) unemployable. My uncles’ personalities and lives give indication to all three despite their ability to successfully navigate through America’s crippling deceit and unfulfilled promises. I honor Raymond and Jerry Payne. They have done their very best under the illusionary banner we hypocritically take so much pride in: Democracy.

Unfortunately, after 30 plus years this is the same result for our young black men. Yes, there are “success stories”. And, I agree that the military can lead one on an amazing path of success. Nonetheless, the war America raged has proven that there is a negative side that our men NEVER hear about when being courted by that recruiter in the crisp uniform. Their methods of minority recruitment are filled with all types of sensory enticements: loud rap music, girls representing the Army with mid-drifts and booty shorts on, and vehicles with flashy rims. This is the way the Army recruits in what they call the urban market. The picture within this link is an example of what they use to attract young black men at HBCU’s and outside of strip malls in places like Atlanta, Detroit, and Houston (http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2848327010072832045qBnLgZ).

Not only, is America’s wing of defense tapping into flamboyant marketing directed to black men and women. They also have the audacity to camp out in small rural towns where the population is mostly white. Yep, they even prey on young whites in the heart of America, the mid-West. The approach is somewhat the same they just don’t bring the fully loaded Hummers blaring the rap song, Throw Some D’s On It. No, the white Marine and Navy recruiters go to the local Friday night football game and hoodwink those teenagers by playing on the emotion of fear. That fear is rooted in the question: ‘What will I do with my life?’

War has changed too many of us. It is my hope the change for those successfully bamboozled will come as a result of the TRUTH: ‘The military’s purpose is to protect and defend the United States. There is a GOOD chance you will have to fight in a war, and you may be killed.’

If the Bush Administration has its way we will be fighting and fighting with no end to the fighting in sight, which means more young and poverty stricken 18 to 25 year olds will come home with no legs or possibly in a coffin wrapped in a symbol that’s hated by most of the world: The American Flag. Just because foreigners arrive at our doorsteps does not mean we are beloved by them. The American government has made enemies and they continue to do so with a renewed zeal of imperialism. Just travel to Europe, Africa, and Asia; and dialogue with the common folk. They resent the America that’s caused so much strife and unnecessary changes in their fragile countries.

The detrimental changes as a result of this war:

*3,218 US soldiers killed and 24,042 seriously wounded in Iraq

*Iraqi Military and Police Casualties - 6,271

*Iraqi civilian causalities have been significantly under reported. Casualties are reported at 50,000 to over 100,000, but may be significantly higher. Some informed estimates place Iraqi civilian causalities at over 600,000.


Written by Muata. Inspired by the 18 year old white kid who told Richard Engel, CNN reporter, “God knows I was not prepared for this.” Inspired by the 20 year old black man who told a BBC reporter, “I want to go home. I regret I ever joined the military, but what else was I suppose to do?”

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Silence is Killing us

The Silence is Killing us is a commentary response to our inability to face ourselves and do what is necessary to remove the shackles of mental slavery. The chains are no longer present, but the affects of the chains are. Being that African Americans DO perfectly understand that we are killing ourselves one must ponder if we are capable of SAVING ourselves. I believe we can without the thralldom of religion, but first we must acknowledge that we are catering to the enemy by not accepting personal responsibility and by avoiding the disturbing reflections in the mirror. We are better than what we display to the world!

The culture of silence has regulated us to a culture of personal responsibility avoidance. No one is responsible for their behavior. The “dog did it excuse” is pervasive throughout America. We have become a culture of finger pointing which will ultimately leave us in “bad shape” as Farrakhan has on numerous occasions passionately communicated to jam packed arenas full of black people.

When I was a child my grandmother faithfully stressed to me that my reputation will be determined by two things: the way I conduct myself and how I handle my problems. She told me to behave like I have some sense and to always and I repeat ALWAYS be responsible for my issues, and NEVER blame my neglectful, asinine, stupid, and ignorant behavior on “the system” or on someone else. Her basic message: “Brian, take responsibility. The issues and solutions lie within.”

Whatever happened to this type of child rearing? Where are the parents who feed this to their children? Are there any remaining? What mechanisms are in place in our public school system to foster this type of guidance? More specifically and in line with current events, where was the outcry from our black politicians, the black community, and our civic/religious leaders when two teenagers were caught red handed supplying cherry flavored marijuana blunts to two toddlers {http://youtube.com/watch?v=SPgKZOfG89Q}. I will tell you where we are: We are waddling in our inability to grab a hold of PR: Personal Responsibility. We are too busy waiting on a white person to say or do the “wrong” thing. Once again, our attention is misguided and shameful on every level. Rhetoric? Ranting? It is, but this needs to be said and read repeatedly.

When I heard about this incident I was on the road driving to one of the black community’s leading events. The CIAA basketball tournament is regarded as the premier sporting event for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Not only is the basketball play entertaining, the action surrounding it is what I call top-notch. Yes, I am referring to the partying and networking, but I want to point out also that these all day and all night long parties are mature in nature, safe, and fun. No teen or early twenties type of drama whatsoever. At the completion of the weekend festivities I felt so proud that some fool did not pull a gun because someone stepped on his sparkling white Air Force Ones.

Anyway, as I drove up interstate 85 this ridiculous crime was shared with me by a teacher. When he finished describing what I later saw on CNN and Fox my immediate question to him was: Were the teenagers black? The impetus to this question is “deep seated” in my desire not to be embarrassed by black people’s trifling behavior. Something I constantly write and talk about with love. Something that makes me want to smack a few of my people. Something that can be prevented if WE do what needs to be done to reverse the tide of self destruction. Remember that song with those two words throughout? I believe part of the lyrics are, “we are headed for self destruction”. This was when hip-hop had a positive message and image.

What I am even more embarrassed by is our lazy and sorry-behind response. We are no where to be found on this issue. But yet, a few weeks ago we were all over the news complaining about a white man giving Barack Obama an accolade. Well, I and a few other black folk took it as a compliment. I suspect my line of thought was way off considering I was blasted by friends who thought I was not down with blackness. One person insinuated that I am recklessly critical of my people. Another friend mentioned that I was selling out.

Selling out? Well, selling out to me is when we are not flooding the internet blogs with condemnation of irresponsible behavior. Selling out is when we remain hush-hush when a black person does something imbecilic. Selling out is when our great arms of “protect the black folk from the white media” i.e. NAACP are no where to be found when devastating events like the one the world has viewed on YouTube over 160,000 times occur. Do I need to list any other examples of selling out? I shall not! I will only be accused of “hatin’ on black folk”. Watch the video and really see who is hatin' on us. Try to figure out what the black community is doing to address this opprobrious act, and you will see whose hatin' on black folk. We are doing the hatin’ as a result of our tight lips.

Back to personal responsibility. But first try to stomach the latest YouTube video that further supports my claim that black folk are becoming more and more reluctant to grabbing a hold of Personal Responsibility. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUv3Y7f1hRc

I have personalized this commentary because I saw the devastation of four black youth last week. The two and five year olds may have been smoking weed for months. Weed heads already! The two teenagers evidently are shiftless and lack the necessary gumption to do something meaningful with their lives. What do we have as a result: the uncle and his boy will go to America’s second home for black men (prison) and the two toddlers are now wards of the state. The Great Savior: White Family will save the toddlers, I imagine. Pathetic! And guess what, the white man had nothing to do with this one. Wait a minute! I forgot the reason for the two young men’s behavior is a result of slavery. Once again slavery is the card we have played. Why not drop down the Ace so we can ace ourselves out of this self defeating culture of... What? I can’t hear the word. Oh! That word is SILENCE.

If only we would fall in love with personal responsibility and not the lyrics from the song This is why I am Hot. If only we would as a people stop condoning foolishness. Those of you who believe we do not condone it answer this question: Why aren’t we up in arms when we commit crimes against black humanity?

Brian, there you go again. You are being unfair to black people.’ Okay then, I will attempt to
re-direct my finger. “Grandma Frankie, please forgive me.” Read below.

Last week, actually on the same day as the world witnessed the demise of the African American family again, Dr. Rod Paige, former Secretary of Education was on Fox news giving his progress report on the public school system. When asked what grade he would give the taxpayers school system he responded with C-. When asked what the grade would be if the Department of Education would take away the wealthiest districts of the public school system he responded with D or D-.

Maybe those two black teenagers’ behavior is a reflection of a failing school system. If the system was working they more than likely would have been at school and/or valuing the importance of reading a book. What do you think?

This one was written by a disappointed and embarrassed Muata. Inspired by the teenager who gave the 5 year old a ganja shot gun? Inspired by those black folk who were QUICK to hang the falsely accused white boys from Duke University. Inspired by little black boys who need positive black men in their homes.