Friday, September 25, 2009

Shall We Torture or Not?

I am sitting back applauding the intelligence agencies for dismantling the most recent New York City/Colorado terrorism plot. It is refreshing to know that the intensified measures that were put in place as a result of September 11, 2001 and the Bush Administration’s tenacity (illegal and legal) to establish protective measures are working.

Suspect in terror probe admits ties to al Qaeda, official says ...

My only concern is that the Obama Administration may be diluting what has been effective. Of course, their position of violating human rights is a valid one. Human rights should be protected and honored. No beef from me on this. However, this ‘we will not torture under any circumstances’ got me to thinking.

Pretend with me:

One of these men (confessed al Qaeda members) who recently lied to the government about classified details is withholding information that can stop an imminent terrorist attack (there is evidence that this part is true). The plans for the attack are widespread and will kill thousands. Possibly some of your family members are in harms way. As the person in charge of obtaining factual info from these overzealous Islamic maniacs to stop the mass murder, do you sleep deprive them, water board, put insects in their cells, turn up the air condition, threaten to cut off their genitals, pull on their eyelids…Okay, you get it:

Would you torture these men to get the information?

President Obama and the White House have taken over interrogations of this caliber e.g. suspected terrorism. Basically, they have exerted their power to oversee indicating that they do not trust the men and women that they appointed i.e. Eric Holder. This in itself has me concerned because The White House is adamant about not torturing. Weak…

One thing about Bush and Cheney, when the American people asked for blood they went and got it. Not saying all their actions were right. I surely disagreed on the Iraq invasion that became an undercover occupation and oil control mission. But, I must say that I knew as a citizen of this country after the act of war in New York, the District of Columbia, and in the skies over Pennsylvania (this country deserves all the pay back it receives) that I did not have to worry about if the cowboys in office were going to display weakness.

If I were a terrorist I would not be too afraid to get caught. Although, that is not the objective. I would have some comfort in knowing that no one is going to burn me with a cigarette.

Written by Brian E. Payne.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Singing and Dancing Continues

Black Boy, there are three colors in the United States that you will have to contend with for the remainder of your life. Black, white, and green. –Frankie Lulu Payne

When my grandmother told me that at the age of 13 I stopped in my tracks. I did not question her. We could not do that, of course, anyway – but I did secretly wonder if she was right and/or would be right one day.

After living this life as a BLACK man for almost 40 years I have aggressively, some say militantly, bounced back and forth with my thought processes regarding race in America. No matter where I have traveled for work all around the world (except Africa) I was reminded that America’s problems to some degree go back to its horrendously corrupt and brutal foundation. I was also reminded that being a Black American is a huge responsibility (Notice ‘black’ before American? I am black before anything else in the United States.) One day you are saying to yourself, ‘No, it is not about race.’ The next day you are thinking to yourself, ‘Now, dang it – it is about race.’ The ‘its’ could be any occurrence that reminds us (black people) that we are of darker skin and the fact that living in North America has and will continue to be a racial struggle for black people no matter who becomes president of this Union.

Many times I did what countless black people (non-ruffling of white feathers black folk) suggested I do: “Don’t always think that it is about race. Move on. Transcend race.” White people have conveniently told me this in some capacity too; and I listened.


Because I wanted to be viewed as someone who is/was not hung-up on race. Not identified as a Race Baiter with a Race Card ( I can say now, that taking this thought to be helpful advice was somewhat of a mistake. Not intellectually harmful – but an emotional mistake. My mind each and every time should have calmly reverted back to my grandmother’s message:

Black, White, and Green.

It is unfortunate that many of us black people ‘sing and dance’ to the tune of what some white people think and believe. Some white people believe that we are imbeciles. Others believe that we are God’s creation…too. Their thought patterns that later become ‘valued’ opinions have been sanctioned by black people. Taken to be The Word.

So, when Jimmy Carter (a man raised by black woman) says that racism plays a major role in the opposition and antagonism President Obama is receiving, black people have once again bounced back to the following:

It is about race.

Carter: Racism plays major role in opposition to Obama -

Over the past two weeks, I have made it my mission to sit and chat with random white folk just to conduct an assessment on this race issue: Our President is Black. What I discovered was interesting. Many white folk communicated to me the following.

‘I wish some of us white people would get over it. Our president is black. We need to just accept it and respect the man.’

Once again, this was my cue to definitely bounce back.

I, with embarrassment, thank these white people for giving me and other black folk the okay to acknowledge that

It is about race.

We still Singing and Dancing!

Written by Brian E. Payne.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Why is it so hard for some black men to support the Black President?

In my experience, sometimes the biggest critics of Obama are black men. There's this, 'yeah, he's okay, BUT’, and the but's range from this to that. You yourself have been extremely harsh in some of your criticisms of him - and yet now you want others to rally behind him after a white guy disrespected him. No, Obama is not perfect, and yes, he is a politician. But he is a man, a black man for that matter, that represents values and character that I am proud of. Why is it so hard for other black men to see that? –White Girl

The majority of the black men that I associate with are Obama supports. Some are actually Obama-mania supporters. I support him along the lines of the character that I have been able to glean from his life story and numerous (sometimes unnecessary) speeches. As a politician, he is NO different than the Capitol Hill talking heads.

My criticism of the president stems from my conservative mindset, values, and disdain for the United States government. He is a liberal with socialistic tendencies. I was not raised to accept liberalism wholesale; and I have always been told that I need to work for what I need and want and do not expect any handouts. Some socialism tenets are a handouts…let’s stop denying that!

To be quite frank, MOST black people are conservative. Some ultra conservative. Isn’t that interesting, conservative but Democrats? Is that an oxymoron?


Blacks are for the MOST part unacceptable of homosexual behavior as a result of what the Bible and Church says (this is where the condemnation of a gay lifestyle began), anti-abortion, anti-immigration ("Mexicans come over here and take the jobs."), separatist (prefer to live among each other), unacknowledged and uncommitted racist (what do you expect we have been treated like crap by an overly oppressive RACIST system), and ridiculously religious (this one has completely destroyed our common sense). All contradictory to where President Obama stands!

Now, yes President Obama is a black man. That is obvious – or is it? LOL! His half African-ness does not mean that black men will support his policy. Should we just because he has some black blood running through his veins? I certainly don’t. Also, when I think about this question without my commentary mind, I am reminded that many of us black men are insecure (a designed/planned outcome by Mr. White Man). Insecurity is a byproduct of self-hatred. For some of us, seeing President Obama conjures feelings of hate: If ya hate the skin you are in - you are bound to hate those in identical skin. You have to understand: when there is a black man killed the killer 86% of the time is/was black. That is self-hatred at its BEST.

I will offer up one last reason from my mind:

President Obama may remind some black men of a preacher with his emotionally driven speeches (euphoric). Countless black men are not too fond of black preachers. Why? A friend of mine gave me a justification one day:

“I don’t respect a lot of black preachers because I am not fooled by the religious rhetoric. I can see past the fluff of Christianity. These preachers are no different than me. Plagued with issue after issue. And yet, he is up in a pulpit telling me how I should live. Damn that!”

I will stop here.

Some will find my response EXTREMELY full of generalities. However, I am a black man. I don’t speak for all – but my response comes from not just me. It comes from the sentiments of black men I communicate with in commentary/dialogue from all across the nation and even in the Caribbean. Just my take...

Being a Black Man (

Brian E. Payne

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yelling, "You lie" would have gotten me killed

Lawmakers Denounce 'You Lie' Outburst at Obama - ABC News

Since President Obama has become president of the United States I have been concerned about the level of blatant disrespect that has been directed at him. Even more surprised by the disrespect certain individuals have for the Presidential Institution. The Office. I was also alarmed by the disrespectful discontent President Bush received in the form of animated pictures, video clips, and with an entire movie.

Kids will blurt random epithets out when they are frustrated and/or mad. Disappointed. I recall mumbling harsh words at my mother when she disciplined me. This act alone would reinstitute another butt whipping. She never heard my words - but the mumble was enough to disrespect her.

Yelling, "You lie" would have gotten me killed.

Joe Wilson, the congressman from South Carolina, has apologized. The President has accepted the apology. Now what?

Should we continue on like the vile comment was not made? Should Joe be reprimanded? Should The Left step-up?

Of course, I cannot move on as if nothing occurred. Thus the reason I am expressing myself in MS Word today. Yes, Mr. Wilson needs a harsh talking to or some level of punishment. And, those on The Left/The Democrats should respond. The response should not be a playground response. Nope. What the voters and supporters of President Obama need to do is speak out. Make their voices known and heard.

As I travel to work or to a coffee shop each and every day all I hear on the radio are steaming mad
over-the- top conservative talk radio hosts, ignorant RIGHT WING callers, and numerous men and women who are dedicated to the Republican Party. Loyal Americans.

I have always believed that the Democrats are weak. Pansies! Unable to 'be there' for their elected officials. Unlike the Republicans, for sure! The GOP followers are dedicated to the PARTY. Not the man. Loyal to what makes up the elephant symbol. These Americans will die for what they believe in. While the Donkeys sit back and do nothing. Basically, hide from confrontation. Flee when times get tough. Punk-out when their President gets disrespected.

Why do Democrats function this way?

They are fickle. Easy to sway. Emotionally driven to 'get happy' during a speech. Incapable of organizing after the victory, winning the presidency.

I left the Democrat Party years ago for various reasons: Too Liberal for my values and I stopped being fooled by their ‘dedication’ to Black issues. I also left because I could not have my name next to what they represent:


Where ya at, Democrats? Your president is all alone. By himself. Fighting for you while you are preoccupied: wondering if an illegal immigrant will get health insurance coverage. Please let Joe Wilson worry about that.

Written by Brian E. Payne.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Arrogance and Disloyalty Resurfaces: Mr. Green Got the Ax

I was at Borders Coffee Shop on Labor Day trying to formulate my thoughts about the recent resignation within President Obama’s Socialist Revolutionary Party. Van Jones. While there a homeless man asked me, “What do you think of Mr. Green. You know Van Jones?” An unlikely question coming from a homeless person. I usually get, ‘Do you have any change?’ Over the past year I have responded with, “Our President has a lot of Change that You can Believe In.” One of America’s “degenerates” told me in response one day, “Change my A**.”

Van Jones, a self described black nationalist is the most recent man, that America knows about, who has been exiled from his czar post as a result of our President’s persistence to maintain his political capital and cleanout his closet.

Is the Van Jones saga a turning point for Barack Obama?

Just by reading a few articles with Mr. Jones as the center of the commentary it was relatively easy for me to determine Van could be a ‘political liability’ for anyone in public office. If I, a man with a little intelligence, could make that determination - why couldn’t President Obama and his group of background checkers?

There are two reasons this slap in Van’s face has occurred.

Capitol Hill Arrogance:

Our president has become like his predecessor in that he may actually believe that the American people are clueless and do not pay attention to what occurs on The Hill. In this case, he for some arrogant reasoning thought that The Right would not find out about Mr. Jones. Now, please keep in mind that Van Jones has been connected to Marxist thought, communism in the so called Third World, and he has been an outspoken bullhorn for human rights. To add a career ending notation to his resume, Jones signed a petition that accuses the United States government of allowing the travesty of September 11, 2001 to occur. All eyebrow raisers for ultra conservatives. Mr. Van Jones was doomed from the beginning of his tenure with President Obama’s administration considering people like Glenn Beck is encouraging and inciting an all out ‘investigation’ of Barack’s associations. Lessons learned from Glenn Beck's media scalping of Van Jones


When it gets too hot in the kitchen, our President runs for the comforts of air conditioning. He disses those who have the same ideology: Black Radicalism. I wonder if he is prepared to divorce his once afro wearing wife. We (conservatives) may not be ready to accept it – but Barack Obama is radical. A man who has pushed the limits and who will continue to do so until he is stopped. He and Van are cut from the same fabric. Two men prepared to give their all for the cause. However, Mr. Obama is not like the Patrice Lumumba’s of the world: willing to remain loyal to those who have either helped him or those who are prepared to be maligned by the media all in his/her LOYALTY to the President. Barack Obama has proven that he cannot stand with us purposeful agitators when the pressure gets to a boiling point which prompts me to believe that he will not STAND with the common/everyday man and woman who voted for him when they need him to. He will be too busy protecting his political capital. Reputation…

What happened to the new politics that we were promised? Those politics will ruin you on The Hill. President Obama understands that. Unfortunately, our president has become what genuine-hearted men and women of The Right and The Left become:

Protectors of the Status Quo.

Rendering him without a real home. Soulfully homeless. No real place to sleep without guilt. In the end, the homeless man I exchanged words with on Labor Day 2009 will not be void of integrity. Defeated by politics. He has somewhere to sleep. Thankfully, it is NOT in the White House.

Degenerate - a person who has declined, as in morals or character, from a type or standard considered normal.

Written by Brian E. Payne.

Friday, September 04, 2009

People are People

Are we? If people are people, why are there so many physical characteristics, personality dimensions, and behaviors that ultimately identify us as unique individuals? I have heard time and time again: “We all bleed.” Yes, we do – but I contend that we are more different than we are alike because of secular conditioning.

That is totally opposite from what we were told in kindergarten. I am aware of that.

Over the years, I have tried to be fair and non recklessly judgmental. However, I am only human. “I am only human.” Isn’t it ironic that we typically hear this when someone is on the verge of doing something wrong/immoral? Isn’t it interesting that, “I am only human”, is prefaced during those times when we feel insecure? Isn’t it interesting that we present this to clarify why we “sinned”. Isn’t it revealing that we use this overplayed justification when we want to say or do something that mirrors our true feelings? Feelings that are usually hurtful/damaging to someone’s self concept or ego?

The use of the word ‘only’ within this declaration indicates to me that we, humans, understand ourselves to be limited. Somewhat defected or of lesser stature. Lower on the mammal chart: Are four legged creatures smarter? Wiser? Better decision-makers? Kinder?

Kindness is a personality output that I attempt to project into the universe both in my personal and professional life. Unfortunately, the make-up of my job prevents me from being as kind as I would like to be. I have to tell people ‘No’ more often than I would like, and in some cases my ‘No’ is communicated because an individual is too aggressive, limited in their education, and believe it not because he/she is significantly overweight.

I cannot imagine how it feels to be humiliated because of ‘fatness’. I cannot imagine what it feels like to be out of breath all the time. I cannot imagine having to sit in seats that are too small. I cannot imagine having to give the convenient and mischaracterized “my overactive thyroid” excuse for weight gain all the time. I cannot imagine being told ‘No’ because of obesity. These realities are in fact daily occurrences for ‘fat people’.

How they got to this place of obesity is never compassionately considered. Us, slim and in shape people really do not give a damn. We don’t. We just see these pathetic donut eaters as people who have no self control or the unfortunate beneficiary of the fat gene. We don’t take into consideration that their weight may be connected to psychological trauma. I, myself, have been known to temporarily soothe my emotional scars with food. Fortunately, the eating of a cheeseburger and fries at 11:00PM does not end-up as a disgusting bulge in my midsection. High metabolism, a dedication to working out for health reasons (high cholesterol and hypertension – THANKS to my unhealthy father), and a legitimate fear of getting fat does it for me. But, I have gained a few pounds in my old age. I am not the owner of a tight six pack anymore!

What I do wish I was the owner of at times are blinders. I wholeheartedly wish that I did not see the people I interview for employment. Here is why.

This past week I sat down with a young lady to talk with her about her work experience and her motivation for applying for the job I identified as a good fit for her via her resume. When I stepped out of my office to look for her I was amazed to find a woman who is about 5 feet 4 inches and weighing about 400 pounds. I was not surprised that she could barely get out of the chair as I approached her. I was not surprised that she struggled to take each step as she walked toward my small office. I was not surprised that she had to literally wrestle and tug to get in the seat I had available for her. I was not surprised that my mind had issued a ‘No’ before she articulated to me, in response to my question of her well-being, “I am tired.” What a way to start an interview for employment: “I am tired.”

I was tired too at that moment. Tired of being: Only human. And, tired of saying ‘No’ to another desperate job seeker.

My decision to issue a ‘No’ to this woman was not formed as a result of how she responded to my plethora of interview questions. I must admit, however, that even with her obesity she is not a ‘good fit’ for my program. That realization was a gift for me considering I did not want to face the dilemma of having a dynamic candidate with me having an Only Human mindset. My ‘No’ decision was rooted in what many of us become over time: Only Human. We cannot help it. This is what we are: Only Human. Full of prejudices and discriminations. And, sadly, pre-judgments.

Guess what?

People are People. I am who I am. A recycled product: Made in America.

This ‘No’ was sealed in my mind when I noticed that she was among America’s obese. I apologize for being American!

According to a study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, Between 15 percent and 30 percent also said they would rather walk away from their marriage, give up the possibility of having children, be depressed, or become an alcoholic rather than be obese.

Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by that flame-broiled double cheeseburger that Burger King has for one dollar.

TIME Magazine: America's Obesity Crisis

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Magic working Magic on his People

A few years ago Earvin Magic Johnson coined himself as a pusher and spokesperson of black entrepreneurship and community development. With his athletic determination he was able to break the tree hugger insulation Starbucks had around their corporation. Actually, he was/is the only man who was able to secure a significant franchise deal with this killer of mom and pop coffee shops.

In his persistence not only did he increase his wealth he introduced gourmet coffee to urban areas: the hood and siddity land i.e. Cascade, Atlanta. He has other ventures that encourage and promote black financial empowerment and employment too i.e. movie theatres (Largo, Maryland). But, his efforts have not produced much financial capital for those identified.

I should not be too disappointed. Collective black wealth building is a concept that has been forgotten by most black folk. We (ME INCLUDED) too busy making someone else rich while THEY continuously disrespect and exploit us (we allow it).

How many of you black women still going to the Asians to get ya nails done? How many of us fellas purchasing our 22 ounces at the Around Da Corner Stop and Shop (owned by an Asian)?

I am almost certain that those two questions do not apply to us Progressive black folk. Right? It does apply to the black man/woman in locales The Progressives rarely visit, however.

I will humbly disclose that I had the unpleasant financial opportunity to dwell amongst the ‘forgotten’ when I returned from serving with the Peace Corps: I frequented Pay Day Loan establishments to make ends meet.

Just waiting on Earvin to invest in this leech for a business alternative.

“Our integrated for and non-profit efforts create a unique and comprehensive offering. As a minority owned and operated brand, we are in the unique position of understanding these valuable communities, have long-standing relationships with them, and continue to be motivated to serve them in order to increase the quality of life for these vibrant, yet often neglected, neighborhoods.” –Magic Johnson Enterprises

If Magic is so dedicated to increasing wealth and financial literacy, which equates to quality of life, within the “neglected” communities, why in the h*ll is he the pitchman for Rent-A-Center? Why is he pushing black people to get their "taxes done" at Jackson-Hewitt over urban radio airwaves?

Rent-A-Center: Exorbitantly overpriced and keeps its customers in debt with their high finance charges. I know their MO, when I was a teenager my family’s frig was repossessed by them.

Jackson-Hewitt: Charges ridiculous fees to complete tax returns and encourages a 'spend ya loot now mentality'. These resemblances of liquor stores (quick fixes) are on every corner in black and brown environments.

We have a responsibility when we know better. Earvin Magic Johnson knows better. I know better. You reading know better.

This crap has to end.

If you know someone who has a low to moderate annual income please recommend the VITA program:

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.

Free Tax Return Preparation For You by Volunteers

If you know someone who needs appliances and/or furniture please recommend that they visit the local Goodwill store:

Locate a Goodwill® Store

Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by: The Great and Wondrous Dr. J:

Julius Erving Interview -- Academy of Achievement