My Takes

Just my humble opinion…

I Am Not African-American But I Am Black Though

Remember Raven-Symone? She played Olivia on The Cosby Show. Apparently Raven does not like to be labelled an African-American or Gay for that matter. (She is in a gay relationship).  On a recent episode of Oprah, Raven rejected the notion that she is an African-American.  “I don’t know what country in African I’m from” she added.  Oprah warned her that she could be taking flack for such comments. (By the way, she’s not from any country in Africa).

Now Symone is wrong and Symone is right.  Labels are what is wrong with us as a society.  Labels create distinctions and groups.  It causes boundaries.  Boundaries cause us to hate, fear or reject those who are not of the same label as we are. That’s why there’s gay bashing and racism and bullying.  Yes it’s unfair because labels are also what makes us unique and special.  Our race and individuality should be embraced, not hidden for fear of rejection.  African-Americans have a rich history.  Being African-American is something to be proud of. Being white, Asian or otherwise is also something to be proud of.  Something to embrace and practice.

I understand where Symone is coming from. Do I agree? Yes and no.  That’s her take and this is mine.  Please note that Africa is a place that my fore-parents came from.  I am black but not an African. If I were an African, then a white person whose roots date back to England would be a British-Canadian. Right? And that’s My Take.

What A Little Prayer Can Do

To the cynic or atheist and even some Christians, the above topic would be met with skepticism. “Oh not one of those again” but I am not one of ‘those’. I only say it if I think it is so. Read on.

I started a new job last week. My last one felt short of not only my expectations but also of what it was advertised. Needless to say I wanted out badly! I prayed and my wife prayed and my little boys prayed. I also applied for jobs. I prayed that God would help me to get the right job.

I got a pre-screening phone call one day and told my wife right after “I got this”. I just had this strong conviction that the job was mine for the taking. Then I was called for an interview. Again I told my wife I was 120% certain I had the job. I don’t know why I felt that way as I am not the most optimistic person.

I had one qualm, the job description sounded a lot like my last two jobs where I had too much on my plate and was overwhelmed. I didn’t want to get back in that situation. Other than that it sounded great!

A second interview followed by a third helped to strengthen my belief that I was indeed destined to get the position. While waiting for the results of my final interview my wife almost derailed my optimism. “Honey, I don’t want you to get depressed if you don’t get the position. You may not get it and I know how pumped you have been.” She meant well but it put some doubts in my mind. My optimism was now locked in a fierce battle with my pessimism.

While waiting, we all prayed. My mom, my wife’s mom and a few friends. We made up a powerful prayer warrior team. Oh, even my neighbour offered up prayers. No wonder I was optimistic. But I was still concerned about the scope of the job. After all I wasn’t a spring chicken anymore and I wanted the next job to be my last. God, please let your will be done.

The call came when I was at the mall. The job was mine! The HR person informed me that they had made some minor changes to the position. After reviewing the position, it was determined that the job was too robust for just one person so they were hiring another person too. Prayers answered!

So you see, I don’t think but know that God speaks to and through me. Oh, and nothing happens before it’s time and what’s for a man he will get it.

It’s All About Attitude Of Gratitude

An old co-worker always used the term, “It’s all about attitude of gratitude” and I never really grasped the full meaning of it until later.  I grew up in the Caribbean and experienced first hand what it was to be poor. Because of this, I grew up very appreciative of whatever small token I was given, whether goods or services.  I never fail to express my gratitude.  Sometimes I admit that I get carried away and get lost in the thank you’s, repeating it so that the recipient of my gratitude would get the idea that I was honestly grateful.  (Thank you is so generic that I often think my sincerity is lost) I sometimes wonder if maybe I should go a bit lighter on the expressions of gratitude so as not to come off as weird.  Last week at work for example, I was feeling so thankful for my new job that I had a sudden urge to send a thank you email to the HR lady who hired me. I gave in to that urge and thanked her profusely for the opportunity to work for her company.  Yes, I did feel a bit silly afterwards but my heart was in the right place.

Many feel that favors and handouts are owed to them, hence expressing gratitude is not warranted.  Wrong attitude.  Remember, as my friend said, it’s all about attitude of gratitude. At this Thanksgiving time, take the opportunity to reflect on the things in life that you are truly thankful for.  Not the cars and houses but the little things. The job that provides the cars and houses, the HR lady who hired you, the person who holds a door for you, the irritating friend who although irritating, is really a true friend, your family, your spouse, the cashier at  your favorite store who does a thankless job of making your day just by being nice. Thank her.  So many little and seemingly insignificant people working behind the scene, playing a big role in our existence. Thank you, thank you so much. Really really much. Thank you again, really appreciate all you do. Did I say how grateful I am? Thanks!  If you are a Christian, remember to thank the BIG GUY who makes it all possible. Thank  you God!

And you, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Bad Cop, Good Cop, Racist Cop

Copwatch

Copwatch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lately, it seems as though there are more reported instances of police using extreme force in non-violent situations. I recently watched a video where an officer smashed a car window then reached in and tasered a black male passenger just because he did not exit the car as requested.  As per the story, the guy and his girlfriend were pulled over because of seat belt infractions.  They were asked to produce identification to which the girlfriend complied. “The Hammond police officer then went to the passenger side of the car to ask Jones for his identification. Jones told the officer he didn’t have his license because he had been ticketed for not paying his insurance. Jones said he was trying to find the ticket in his backpack when the officer drew his gun and demanded he get out of the car.”

Ok, let’s just say that the officer was concerned for his safety because the big black guy was reaching into a bag, hence he drew his gun.  “He was looking at me with his weapon drawn. Not once did he tell me to hold my hands up. He let me go in the bag, grab the ticket,” Jones said. Jones said the officer refused to take the ticket through the small opening in the window or through the sunroof.”  Why didn’t the cop take the ticket that he asked for? There’s something missing here.  So the big scary black guy wasn’t getting out of the car because he probably saw the news about his ‘brothers’ who were shot by police while running away unarmed or holding a cigarette, can’t say I blame him.  Point, black guy.

The officer called for backup, even though he was not alone, then he probably got tired of waiting for the passenger to exit.  He then proceeded to smash the passenger side window, dragged the guy out and tasered him.  What makes it even more appalling is the fact that a 14-year-old boy and his 7-year-old sister were in the backseat.  The video was recorded by the boy.  Great! Now these kids are going to grow up thinking that the police are out to hurt black people. The circle continues. Thanks officer.  The children were allegedly hurt by flying glass.

Now there are two sides to every story, even if there is  video proof.  There are two videos to every story as well.  Yours and theirs but after watching this video, I did a search on the internet and what I found was disturbing.  A 68-year old black guy shot to death on his driveway because he failed to stop as ordered.  A 35-year-old in South Carolina was asked for his license then shot while he reached for it.  The cop was later fired.  That’s just a couple of the many I found.  Many of these stories like I said have two sides but many are also instances of police using excessive force.  Are the cops involved actually racist or just poorly trained?  I am not sure.  No one really knows but the cop.  If a white man was the victim, would I still hear about it and would I see the same protests as I see when it involves a black? I don’t know.

Maybe they just one-off incidences where the officer was not properly screened or poorly trained. Or maybe a trigger-happy cop with a chip on his shoulder? We will never know but we can all offer opinions.  As a black guy, I just hope that it is not a black thing, from my angle, it does sure look a little suspicious.  But that’s just My Take, the police are there to protect us but who is there to protect us from them?

Marley, White People, Reggae and Weed

English: Ziggy Marley singing live on the Main...

English: Ziggy Marley singing live on the Main Stage at Guilfest 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do all of the above have in common? I am not sure but they went together last Saturday at a Ziggy Marley concert I attended with my wife.  Before we were even through the doors, the sweet smell of ganja assailed our nostrils. Hmmm…ganja and reggae.  Weed at a reggae concert is like bibles in church.

The crowd was a decent mix of young and not-so-young.  Us blacks were actually the minority.  When Ziggy took the stage, the power of music transcended every boundary and everyone was ‘feeling it’.  Because of the way the seats were set up, I earlier assured my wife that it would be a sit-down affair.  I had to eat my words as the concert-goers behind us decided early that they weren’t going to be using their seats.  They stood, chanted and dance to every single song!  The older white couple in front of me were also grooving as though they were born Jamaicans and I couldn’t help but smile when the husband yelled “Rastafari!” with upraised fist. Half way through the concert, just about everyone was on their feet.

When Ziggy covered a few of his dad’s songs, the crowd roared its appreciation.  Those in front of the stage rocked to the pulsating beat.  Who said white people had no rhythm? They lied. These white people, some clad in full Bob Marley and Rasta colors, swayed and jumped like they were Jamaicans. I was proud!  Then he sang a song that was a thinly veiled marijuana anthem, urging the crowd to light it up.  They didn’t need to be told twice, a pall of smoke wafted overhead.

At the end of the night, my wife and I had the munchies, go figure! We ended up consuming a pizza between us.  Ziggy did his dad proud! I never got a chance to see Bob but I did feel that much closer to the great one on Saturday.  His stage antics were reminiscent of his dad as he used every inch of his allotted stage space.

Rastafari!

 

I Am Not A Racist But Those Indians…

As a person of color, a black man, I have heard it all.  The veiled racist comments, the not-so-veiled ones, the ill-timed apologies for saying something that had racial undertones for fear it would offend me, yes I have heard it.  What always gets to me though is when someone says to me,  “I am not racist but I can’t stand those Indians!” Then they go into a rant about the ‘lazy and drunk Natives’.  No racism there.  I feel so much better knowing that at least they could stand me.

I am sorry, well not really sorry, but if that’s how you feel about ANY race, then here’s your card, you are racist and ignorant!  Oops, pardon my directness. Well not really pardon. It’s usually just My Take but I have a feeling those ‘Indians’ feel the same way.

Don’t Apologize For Your Kids Being Kids, We Were Kids Too.

image

The above picture is of a goodie back that was handed to airline passengers by a mom who was pre-apologizing for her child in-flight baby noises.  Just in case.  My wife who was flying on the plane was given one and she was taken aback that this mom felt the need to go to such lengths.

Sometimes in church, my boys get antsy from sitting on the not-too-comfortable chairs.  They start doing what kids their ages to, be kids their ages.  My first instinct is usually to tell them to behave like good kids. Well how exactly does a good kid behave? Like a robot? Or I when they are running around the house, I would start with, “Why can’t you behave like a…” Like a what? A grown up? A teenager? Time enough for that later in life.  Right now it’s all about exercising their status as kids.  Yes, I know, within reason.  The same reasons that we stayed within when we were kids. Remember those times? We were so quiet on planes and buses. Not a peep out of us.  Look at us now, frowning at other parent’s kids. “How dare she let her baby cry? Or stand? Or move? Or breathe?”

I feel for this parent who had to resort to this.  It’s not her fault and it’s not the fault of the kid.  Airline passengers have to deal with terrorists, drunk and unruly flyers, the least they could do is tolerate the temporary wailing of a newborn baby exercising its healthy lungs. If they can’t, then maybe they are the ones needing to handout goodie bags to the poor kids who have to share space with people like that.

And you know what? If my kid is disrespectful to you, I would apologize and have a ‘talk’ with him.  If my kid cries in your presence, don’t look at me for an apology, there would be none coming.  In fact, don’t even look at me because I know what you would be thinking…

But that’s just My Take, no offense.

Read related blog:

Son, hit em back!

 

Blurred Lines

 

Pop singer Robin Thicke hates blurred lines, or so he says in his song Blurred Lines.

I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines

Today more than ever there are many blurred lines. The lines that separates a man from a woman and fact from fiction are blurred, so too are the lines that defines marriage, love and hate, right and wrong, and even Christians and Non-Christians.  It’s predicted that in the far off future, there will only be one race.  We will all merge into one race.  Would right and wrong also merge into just ‘everything is acceptable’?

In Thicke’s song, he tries to override the girl’s ‘no’. Telling her what she is and what she isn’t.

Ok, now he was close
Tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal
Baby, it’s in your nature
Just let me liberate you

Society is telling us to change the way we used to think and changes our beliefs.  We were wrong and uncivilized back in those days, they say.  We are smarter now and need to change all these old-fashioned rules and beliefs. Praying in school? Get rid of that rubbish! Traditional marriage? Oooh…that’s so ignorant and tramples on the rights of others.  We are much smarter now.  Christianity? All you need to do is believe and you will be saved.

Remember when Christians wore their faith on their sleeves, (Some still do) and you could tell if your neighbors were believers or not? Not anymore. We are merging! We go to the same places, wear the same things, say the same things and do the same things as the non-believers.  Sometimes we even outdo the non-believers!  At their own game! Yes, that includes me, sadly.

No doesn’t mean no anymore, at least if it does, then it’s blurry in translation. No could mean yes and yes mean no.  Love and hate are interchangeable.  Some love to hate while others hate to love.  Is it right or is it wrong?  It depends on who is doing it. A man can become a woman tomorrow or a woman a man, so don’t gettoo comfy. Nothing is really as they seem.

It’s not your glasses, it’s just blurred lines.  And it’s also just…

My Take

Note: Unfortunately for Robin Thicke, there were no blurred lines in his marriage.

 

What Should We Do With The Black Guys?

I received a call from the casting agency that I’ve done a lot of work for regarding a role as an extra in an upcoming television series called, ‘The Pinkertons’.  The show was centered around life in 1860s Kansas.  When I got there, I noticed right away that one of these things were not like the other. Well make that most of the people were not like me, or the other black extra, an older gentleman who I quickly gravitated to.  As expected for that era in the USA, everyone, meaning the Caucasians, had that ‘look’.  You know the white 1800s look? The beard, hard face…ready to rope a black man look?  They had it.  Man these guys were awesome extras!

Back in da day!

“This is going to be interesting.” I said to my new friend and fellow minority.  I don’t think there were any aristocratic looking blacks wandering around Kansas around that time, were there?  Costume did a great job of putting us in getups that made us look like well-to-do slaves. Ok maybe freshly-freed slaves.  They even came by from time to time and rubbed dirt on us.  Hey, it’s all about credibility.   Then it was time to send the extras to their various positions or activities.  Now this is where ‘interesting’ comes in.  Remember, blacks weren’t ‘in style’ back then.  So where oh where should we go?  At first they told us to stand on the train platform and pretend to lift a box.   Nice! I will be on camera!  Well that suggestion didn’t last too long While all the other extras were finding their niches rather easily, finding something to do with the black guys was creating a small problem.  That was until I spotted an 1860 wheelbarrow sitting there right in front of me.  “I can push that”, I offered.  The production guy was only to glad to agree.  I pushed the thing for most of the day. Back and forth, figure 8s, letter H, back and forth…

It wasn’t exactly all I did.  One scene called for the extras, or townsfolks as they/we were called, to pretend to be engaging in buying and selling outside their stores.   There were Coffin makers, Mercantile stores, Pottery stores, etc.  Again, it was no problem finding a spot for the Caucasians.  My friend and I were brought over to the mercantile store that sold pots and pans and other supplies.  We were told to pretend we were buying something. That idea lasted as long as the first one.  After some head-scratching and hmms and aaahs from the production fella, I spotted another prop.  A broom.  “I can use this and pretend to sweep.” I offered, grabbing the broom and sweeping the dirt lightly.  “Yes! Perfect!” The guy must surely be thanking his lucky stars that I was on the ball.  I swept or pretended to sweep for a few hours.

I was having a field day with this.  Watching them struggle trying to figure out where we should go.  I could imagine the director thinking,  “Who thought it was a great idea having a couple black extras?  This could very well compromise the integrity of the show.”  Or maybe, “I could have sworn the casting call was for white extras.”  As each new scene was introduced, I would tell my friend and new partner, “Let’s see where they are going to put us now.”  The we would both have a good laugh at the expense of the guy trying to find somewhere to hide to black guys.  The last scene I did before they decided to wrap me, was shot on the train station platform. Everyone was to be on or close to the platform as it involved someone getting off the train and the hubbub that ensued.  Again, finding somewhere to put the two black guys  presented a headache.  They finally decided to split us up.  My friend was taken somewhere and I was taken to the platform. Yes! Right in the thick of things! Not so fast.   The guy had another changed of heart,  “Hmmm….how about you and you go stand at the corral and you pretend to be showing him what to do?” You and you meant my friend and I.  He had come full circle and we were once again re-united.

My buddy trying to find where the camera was

So off we went to our new job as stable boys.  We looked at the camera and figured if we stand in a certain spot we would be sure to get some face time but when the director yelled, “Background!” we were disappointed to see a pall of movie smoke coming our way. Effectively thwarting our dreams of being seen.  We both had a laugh at this.  “Oh well…”, said the old man.

The food was great.  The people were nice and friendly and it was a great day spent outdoors.  I later found a newspaper ad for extras for the show.  It read in part: “Winnipeg casting agency Kari Casting has put out the call for “Caucasian extras, both male and female, ages 18-70, to fill background roles as townsfolk, saloon barmaids, saloon patrons, union soldiers, coal workers, police, and many more.”  Maybe they ran out of caucasians?

That’s all folks

Click here to read about the show and see some more photos (with Caucasians) taken on the set. On page 2, you could see my wheelbarrow.  A split second more and I would have been in that shot!

OP Is The New OJ

English: Oscar Pistorius during 2011 World cha...

English: Oscar Pistorius during 2011 World championships Athletics in Daegu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And just like that, Oscar Pistorius is basically off the hook for the killing of his girlfriend.  Sounds like the latest O.J Simpson? Maybe, maybe not. No one really knows the truth but God and Oscar. Although his story may seem a bit weak and he is known to be aggressive,  it still leaves a faint chance that he could still very well be innocent.

In the end, it was up to the court but everyone is a judge, jury and executioner in their own minds and I’m not exception.  In my court the verdict would have been, “Oscar Pistorius, the court of Carlos has found you guilty of murdering your girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.  The court has decided to give you maximum sentence base on circumstantial evidence.”   But who cares what I think? It has no bearing on the case and after all, it’s only…

My Take…and maybe, just maybe, he’s innocent after all.

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