Harmless Prank Led to Suicide? No way!

Michael Christianson & Mel Grieg, Australian radio shock jocks (2012)-2I don’t get this story! As a person with a God-given damn good sense of humor, as one who knows the difference between a harmless prank and a seemingly dangerous one, and as a radio personality (but NOT a shock jock), I don’t understand why Australian radio shock jocks Mel Greig, 30, and Michael Christian, 25 are (seemingly) all torn up over the apparent suicide of Jacintha Saldanha, 46, the hospital nurse and mother of two teens, who took the simply harmless (repeat …HARMLESS…) prank 30-second phone call to Duchess of Cambridge Catherine “Kate” Middleton’s hospital room last week (Thursday, December 6, 2012).  (Click here for video story.)

What has not yet been determined is why Saldanha took her own life.  As the investigation into Saldanha’s suicide continues and in light of the negative press, the management of the radio station where Greig and Christian are employed have taken their show off the air and suspended the two jocks – at least for the time being.  I don’t think they were fired, as some reports say.  Under the circumstances of this story, considering what the jocks are paid to do and certain other legal issues, it is highly unlikely that the jocks were terminated – especially so soon – and without the completion of a thorough investigation. Furthermore, the action of taking a show off the air and issuing a temporary suspension to Greig and Christian is normal business damage control procedure and is done in an effort to help take some of the heat or spotlight away from not only the jocks themselves but the radio station, its management and its owners.  With that said, take most of what you read in the press with a bit of caution.

Now, what I don’t understand is why there are people there and around the world, including the two jocks themselves, upset over this suicide incident. In asking this question, I don’t believe I’m being insensitive. I think if anyone should be upset over an apparent suicide it ought to be Saldanha’s children and family, friends and co-workers – since any suicide is unexpected and shocking.  I will never believe Greig and Christian did anything to directly or indirectly trigger Saldanha’s suicide.  News reports say that Saldanha was “humiliated” which may have led to her suicide. Really? No one is going to convince me that because she could not handle a little prank, Saldanha, a mother of two teenagers (and many teens, by their nature, are pranksters) and a nurse, felt it necessary to take her own life. Again, the investigation continues.

As with many suicides, the issue which often leads someone to take his or her own life usually runs deeper than it appears, regardless whether the person left a note or some other subtle indicator that they were suicidal.  And since none of those self-life takers can come back to argue me on this fact, I ask those still living, breathing and reading to this point to withhold judgment of my commentary until the end of the post.

Some things to consider:

  1. It is ALWAYS tragic when anyone feels the need to take his or her own life.  However, I make a special exception to those muthafuckas who choose to take the lives of others then kill themselves. I do NOT feel for murderers; only their victims, thus I hate the term “murder-suicide”; the word should be “murder-self-execution.”
  2. Australian radio jocks Mel Greig and Michael Christian are SHOCK JOCKS…and with such a title, I, like most people who listen to a variety of radio, are left to presume they are in the same league as many other radio shock jocks known around the world (famed shock jock Howard Stern comes to mind). Greig and Christian planned a radio show for their morning program. They had already received the “ok” to do the prank call from station management. Where the British monarchy is concerned, such permission would be needed if for no other reason than to cover everyone’s ass (or arse, as the Brits and Aussies prefer to say).
    * SIDENOTE:  A little tidbit about morning radio programs.  While many radio shows sound impromptu, most of them are indeed planned.  And the longer a morning team works together, the better the chemistry between each person on that team is.  Of course, there are periods where improvisation takes place but again that is the beauty of the team chemistry which always makes for a great show. Thus, what you hear on radio is often a seamless program!
  3. Call it my opinion (as is most shit in this blog) but anyone who listened to the prank call – which was repeated around the world that day and days afterwards – would have to admit that NOTHING in the call itself was even offensive nor particularly “shocking”. Thirty (30) seconds is hardly enough time for any person of sane and stable mind to commit suicide! It is assumed that Jacintha Saldanha was carefully screened by British security and found to be mentally stable and “safe enough” to be employed as a nurse in the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated.  If there was an indication that Saldanha was mentally ill, suicidal, or had personal issues that could or would pose a threat to any member of the royal family, she would have been removed from that hospital long before or immediately after the Duchess was admitted.  Again, the investigation continues!
  4. Anyone who intends to kill themselves or attempts suicide usually hesitates for at least a few moments – or longer – before actually going through with it. Obviously, I’m no expert on suicide (you reading this proves I’m alive – at least right now. LOL!) but in my time, I’ve either known about, have read about and/or listened to enough people who have considered suicide to know this to be true.  Again, I will NOT believe this harmless phone call prank caused Jacintha Saldanha – let alone anyone else – to commit suicide! Suicides are the result of much deeper personal issues!
  5. Shock jocks are humorists, if nothing else.  They say and do things which often might poke fun, embarrass, irritate or even outright anger some people. It’s simply what they do! But they also say and do things that are humorous and funny and make us laugh at our humanity. Shock jocks give cause for us to lighten up a bit from all the seriousness which tends to overtake our lives. Some of us could use a little joviality (in addition to just coffee and a donut) to kick-start our day! Far worse things have been said and/or done on radio, television, and the internet.  People need to relax.

People need to take responsibility for their own actions.  Really. It’s that simple. My Facebook friend Kris Avalon said it in a nutshell: No one can predict how fragile someone’s mindset is when you ask them certain questions or make jokes or pranks. Ever since 9/11 we have become so fucking paranoid about everything people say and do….” What Kris said is true! We cannot predict someone’s mindset. We also should not feel responsible for the harmful or tragic actions someone chooses to take against themselves simply because of things we may have done, said or written to or to them. That’s why this incident simply makes no sense.  Please, don’t misunderstand. I realize that certain things people say or do either are – or can be – offensive to others. That is NOT the situation with the Greig & Christian prank phone call issue or Jacintha Saldanha’s suicide.

Let’s be real: If Saldanha was psychologically unstable as to allow a prank phone call – or the publicity of such – to give her cause to immediately take her own life INSTEAD of simply taking a few personal days off from work to avoid any publicity, quit her job or go into hiding – but to actually KILL herself – then I say that she had no damn business working in a public service environment!

I also say: let’s stop with all the fake tears and fake concerns over this incident which was – and is – about nothing! I sympathize with Jacintha Saldanha’s family and other loved ones for their loss but I firmly stand by what I said earlier about her suicide being much deeper than what it appears. The suicide has to be the result of negative issues already accumulating and happening in HER life… NOT from some prank phone call from a couple of radio shock jocks!  I’d be willing to bet that is what the investigation is going to find. Saldanha’s suicide was both unpredictable and possibly unexpected (as is most suicides) and the result of bad timing – coming on the heels of a prank phone call made to Kate Middleton’s hospital room.  Under these circumstances, Australian radio jocks Mel Greig and Michael Christian should not – in any way whatsoever – be held responsible for Saldanha’s death.

** Finally, suicide is a serious matter. Entertaining thoughts of taking your own life is a sign for a cry for help but nothing to be ashamed of. If you or someone you know, is in some emotional distress or considering suicide, P L E A S E call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). VETERANS: there is help for you, too! Call this same number and press 1 for Veterans. **

Keepin’ It…REAL!

  

Letter to Professor Xavier

NOTE TO BLOG READERS: This letter obviously is not real. While it has strings of humor, the overall main issue being discussed is very real. It happens to me and many other persons of color far too often and it needs to stop.
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Date:  The Present

Dr. Charles Xavier, Founder and Director
Xavier’s School for Higher Learning
(formerly Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters)
1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center
Westchester County, New York 10451

Dear Professor Xavier,
I believe I am a mutant (or as your friend
Magneto would say, I am not homo-sapien, I am homo-superior.) Sir, I’m not a young mutant but for most of my life I’ve noticed that I have an ability to camouflage with my surroundings.  It sounds odd but often, I’m not aware of when this ability is being used.  I have no control over this ability but I know it exists. I am like a chameleon – an invisible man.  (Ralph Ellison, wherever your spirit is now, eat your heart out!)

Professor, I realize I should have come to you decades ago but, like so many other mutants on this planet, I thought I could handle my mutant ability all on my own.  After all these years, I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t handle this mutant ability so I’m finally reaching out to you.
Here is the list of basic, generally known personal information your assistant told me would be needed when corresponding with you, along with my picture.

  • Age: 52.RobFather-X (201206)
  • Gender:  Male.
  • Height:  6 ft.
  • Weight: 220 lbs-SOLID.
  • [Assumed] mutant ability: Camouflaging; able to blend-in with any inanimate object(s) or environment, becoming instantly invisible but only to some NON-persons of color.
  • Ethnic classification (not the government’s but how others view you): Negro/Colored/African-American/ Black.
  • Skin complexion: Caramel-butterscotch shade (aka light to brown-skinned).
  • Health status: Uh, healthy…as far as I know – and as determined by most recent annual medical physical.
  • Sexual Orientation:  Hmmm…if this means the first time I learned about sex, then that would be 1969 – the year I first discovered the joys of masturbation. Otherwise, what does this information have to with anything? Huh? Huh?
  • General appearance: “Clean looking”; with facial trim sporting “5 o’clock shadow” beard & mustache; bald head (like yours, Professor), dark eyebrows; sometimes I wear glasses. No detectable or obvious body odor.
  • General attire:  Clean, pressed clothing; nothing ever torn, badly worn, oily, greasy or smelly.
  • Education:  I’m smart. In other words, many would have to get up before “o-dark-thirty” (military jargon; meaning extremely early in the morning, like way before dawn) to pull a fast one on me! Otherwise, I have variations of formal education, twenty years of military education and training, and years of street smarts residing in my head.
  • Overall classification: Alpha male, Human.

You see Professor X, with all this very visible information about me, I wonder how it is that so very often, some (NOT ALL) non-persons of color Black man silhouette(aka WHITE persons;  sorry sir, but it’s usually a person of Caucasian ethnicity can walk into a room, speak to every other white person in the room – often calling them by name and yet NOT see (or hear me talking) or speak to me – a person who happens to be in the same vicinity, if not 2, 3 or even 5 feet away from those others he/she has just spoken to? How is this possible – especially if I am well-acquainted with that white person, with whom I am a co-worker or classmate? Sometimes I might be in a chit-chat conversation with some non person of color and this sort of thing would happen. I’m treated as though I was not present in the same room! Even my voice seems to become instantly inaudible to the white person who just spoke to everyone else. Professor, what irks me is that often, about a half hour to an hour or so later, that same white person will come back into the room (from which neither I nor the other people have left) and actually speak to me – to ask ME something or worse, ask me for something! Did that white man or white woman not see me the first time he/she came to the room? Or is it because my mutant ability to camouflage with the things around me e.g. walls, furniture – somehow kicked in without my knowledge and made me invisible to the eyes of that person? I need to know, Professor!

Professor X, I understand that this sort of thing happens to many people of color. Other persons of color and I talk about this sort of thing all the time! In fact, it was a close friend of mine who strongly urged me to write this letter. It’s a bit relieving to know that I am not the only one with this mutant ability and that there are indeed perhaps hundreds, if not thousands of other Blending in-2people of color with this same camouflage/invisible man-like ability. Perhaps you can also help me to understand why it is I only tend to become visible whenever some people of  pale complexion and ignorance need or want something from me.  During such instances the people who had before ignored or acted as though they didn’t see or hear me, now can’t seem to stay out of my face until they get what they want! Yet once I’ve accommodated whatever it is they needed or wanted, I’m once again made seemingly invisible. Once again I’m camouflaged with the walls and floors of the hallways, the soda and junk food machines in the lunchrooms as well as the tables and chairs there; in restrooms, and often with the walls, chairs and table in conference and classrooms settings. Don’t forget my strong voice is blended in with the sounds in the air as well whenever such people are around! 

Perhaps those people possess a mutant ability of their own!  Perhaps they can activate my mutant camouflage ability without my knowledge! Wow! Don’t you think that could be dangerous, Professor X? Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (led by Magneto)If this is true, wouldn’t such people be considered “evil mutants”?  Anyway, this mutant camouflage/invisible man ability of mine is amazing but if I can’t control it or if others can activate/control it without my knowledge, then what’s the point of having it? I don’t know about those other people of color who have abilities similar to mine but for me, sir, when certain Caucasians ignore me at their selective convenience, it’s very annoying and frankly, disrespectful!  I also don’t like, nor do I want – to be controlled by anyone else.  I don’t believe I’m asking for any special attention here, Professor X but I’ve always been taught that when you walk into a room of people you know, it is polite to speak to everyone – even those you might not like. Don’t you agree, sir?

I’ve come to you for help, Professor X. I know you have helped hundreds of people with abilities such as mine as well as those born with certain generically natural abilities, such as high intelligence, nerdiness/geekness and even sexual orientation; traits which many in society still deem unnatural, abominable to their religion or deity and/or which they consider to be not “normal” – whatever the fuck “normal” happens to be! Pardon my language, sir. I’m just upset. I’ve often considered that with my seemingly uncontrollable mutant ability to blend in with my surroundings or become invisible, that perhaps, if I punched in the face the very person(s) who ignore me – you know, to help shake off their “selective handicap” of color-blindness and social ignorance, then perhaps such people would begin to actually see and hear me! Don’t worry Professor; I’m typically not a violent man and I’m old enough to realize that sucker-punching someone in the face – even someone whom I might suspect might be an evil mutant trying to control me,  probably isn’t a good idea.  I’m not trained to fight other mutants…yet. But even you have to admit sir, the idea is funny and doing such a thing will certainly draw some attention! I can just imagine the blood gushing from the nose of that person I just punch! The thought and image of such an action itself sexually arouses me! Ha! Ha! Ha! (It must be another suppressed mutant ability manifesting itself at this later stage of my life.)

Seriously Professor, if you can find a way for me to control or better yet, perhaps remove this strange mutant ability of mine to instantly camouflage with my surroundings (whenever certain white persons, possibly evil mutants come near me while I’m in the presence of other white persons), I’d greatly appreciate it. I’m well aware that the chances of removing any genetically traits with which I was born are slim to none but — I X-Men team photo-1thought I’d ask for it anyway! Please contact me at a time suitable for you. My home and email addresses are enclosed.

Thank you for listening and understanding, Professor Xavier.  Thank you for all the hard work you’ve done to help make the world more accepting of people who may be different or who may possess abilities different from others. Oh, and please pass my regards to the gang; that awesome team of X-Men, each of whom I’ve always greatly admired!

Sincerely,

RobFather-X
(aka preferred mutant code names: Camouflage or The Spook Who Sat by the Door)
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Keepin It…REAL!

My Views on Religion* (Pt. 1)

*Another presentation in a KIR continuing series of articles of the Steppin’ On The Feet Jesus Washed (SOTFJW) Project-Mission!
[Click here to read MVOR* (Pt. 2)]
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I’m often asked why I have certain opinions or viewpoints regarding religion, particularly Christianity, and why I’ve chosen not to involve myself in a church membership anymore. I’m also asked why, for decades now, I no longer subscribed to certain “christian” (word lower-cased on purpose because not all TRUE Christians are assholes and judgmental) fundamentals and rhetoric… or worse, listen to or follow judgmental, hypocritical and the condemn-you-to-hell preachers and evangelists/televangelists like James Dobson, Creflo Dollar, Ted Haggard, Eddie L. Long, Joyce Meyer, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson and others. Well, I could start here but I won’t. It’s enough I’m even bothering to list some of the names of those people in this post! Anyway, here’s my answer to those questions.

I had a spiritual awakening at age 24 and I’ve never looked back. Let’s just say that certain events happened in my life up to that point which caused me to reconsider and revisit certain beliefs I had and which led me to turn me away from being a then semi-religious person. Years before, I had been a faithful Bible reader and researcher.Since childhood, I attended Baptist churches, had been baptized, taught Sunday School, sang in and with choirs in my church, participated in revivals, and retreats, and enjoyed a host of other good and fun things about being a good Baptist Christian young man. At 19, I left home in Philadelphia to join the Navy. For me, that was the best decision I’d ever made at the time.

In the Navy, I got to meet, work with, and befriend hundreds of people from all walks of life.  I got to travel to places on the globe I’d only read about. And I got to see – up close – the practices of other religions. It was all very enlightening! Somewhere between ages 22 and 24, I went through what I’d call, a “personal religious crisis” which, as mentioned earlier, woke me up… spiritually!  The events leading up to that crisis would take far too much time to write about in its entirety and frankly, it’s not really necessary for this particular post; however, I’ll touch on a few things. Keep reading.

During my religious crisis, it was as if a light was turned on in my life.  When people use the expression, “I have seen the light”, I know EXACTLY what they mean! The events of the crisis brought about my own significant AH-HAA! moment! And it was at that moment when I decided that as far as my personal religious position was concerned, things would be strictly between me and God.  I rejected any man, woman, and child in suits, dresses, robes or rags from ever again telling me what I should or shouldn’t do with my life. I had decided to never again listen to nor accept any “word of condemnation” from other people, especially the hardcore, bible-thumping and extremely judgmental Christians I always met and/or had been listening to. Regarding the things I’d done, had been doing, or wanted to do in and with my life, I had decided to never again allow feelings of guilt or worthlessness to continue shadowing my life, like some dark cloud of gloom. And, at that moment, and as the days and weeks passed, I clearly began to understand and accept that God, who created me, did so without error, and thus would accept just me as I am.

I had always been taught, if not directly told by others that some of the things I chose to do or desired to do were sinful and/or considered to be “abominable in God’s sight”. How could this be, I’d asked myself? I realized that I wanted to be ME and that being ME was natural and it was good!  I cussed when I felt like it. I smoked cigarettes when I felt like it. I bought, sold, and smoked pot. I consumed beer and liquor – sometimes in excess (but never drove home or back to the ship shit-faced). And sex? Ha! Ha! Many hard-core Christians are immensely hung up on, if not outright obsessed with sex and everything about it. Other than for reproductive purposes or intimate relations with a spouse, they preach and act as if they abhor the many other “sins” which, they say, sexuality seems to cause, forgetting that sex and sexuality is NATURAL and is a gift from God. Yet many are hypocritical in their preaching for they practice the very same things which they tell others are “unnatural” and “sinful”. I shake my head at their hypocrisy! Whenever I hear someone give Biblical references as to what is “unnatural”, “sinful” and an “abomination in God’s sight”, I halfway wish one of those “uber-Christian” folk would give me a clear and concise demonstration as to what they mean. LOL! Anyway, since I was no longer subscribing to certain strict Christian virtues where sexuality was concerned, I took it all to mean that I’d set myself free, to a certain extent and within reason, sexually. No more lying about masturbation or feeling ashamed that I was “polluting” my body, the “re-born temple” of God’s Spirit when I masturbated. According to Christian dogma, masturbating meant that I was actually making my body “unclean” or dirty for God’s Spirit to “live inside” me. Really? Give me a fuckin’ break!  Next, I decided there would be no more hiding the fact that I liked, no… I LOVED looking at ADULT pornography or that I enjoyed visiting strip clubs, whore houses, and nudist beaches, either alone or with my fellow Sailors and Marines during my world travels. And sexual freedom meant that I could fuck and have oral sex with whomever I wanted, however I wanted. Damn; with all the sexual freaky-ness I’d come to enjoy over the years, my body must be EXTREMELY too filthy to house the Spirit of God!  Now I’m not some alcoholic or some sexual deviant. I simply sought to have fun in life whenever and wherever I could. I still feel this way today. As people say, “you only live once!” I did all those things… and more and was very happy!  Mind you, I happened to be a very strong and independent thinker! And I’m stubborn, too. It’s hard to convince anyone of anything with that combination of traits!  People who are like me decide things all on their own! As time passed, I learned that being ME was so much better than pretending to be or needlessly working hard to be someone or some-THING else!

Let me be clear about something: my new-found awareness and revised thinking on the religious or spiritual sense does NOT make me an atheist, nor does it make me agnostic. I was then, and have always been, a kind, honest and trustworthy person; one who tries to treat and respect others as I’d like to be treated and respected. That’s it, really. I’d give anyone the shirt off my back if it meant that person needed it more.  These traits and others I have are a natural part of who I am. They have nothing necessarily to do with me being or not being a Christian, nor with being religious. It simply makes ME very real and very human. I did not then, nor will I now, or ever apologize for being me. In fact, if I became spiritually aware nearly 30 years ago, then over the years, surely I’ve become much more aware of who and what I am than ever before!

Because of my humanity, I am expected to make mistakes in this life. I have always learned, and continue to learn from my mistakes. However, I believe that so long as I acknowledge God as my Creator, Heavenly Father, Guide and Judge, and so long as I do my best to treat other people with respect and dignity (no matter how bad they may treat me), I will be o-k with regard to my personal relationship with God. I said PERSONAL because my relationship with God is no one’s damn business! I do not need someone to “save” my soul or to speak to me about “working out my soul salvation”. I do not believe Jesus Christ saves all because all people do not subscribe to Jesus, nor do all people feel the need to be saved. I touched on this briefly in this humorous post and on Facebook.

I talk to God regularly as I would any friend. I am often frank, sometimes a bit crude, but always to the point with Him. I can talk to God far easier than any person I know! I get mad at God too, just as I would any friend. As far as I’m concerned, I’m being neither disrespectful nor blasphemous. God knows my thoughts and feelings so why should I hide them? Why look for some formal or correct way to speak to God? That’s not being real! God knows me and expects me to be REAL with Him! If anyone hates true hypocrisy, it’s God and hypocrisy in itself, is blasphemous!

I acknowledge that I am but a helpless child of God and under God. And as a child, I am just like any earthly child with earthly parents; I am filled with human temperaments, attitudes, and expectations. Yet, I know my Father and Creator sees and knows everything about me! I’ve learned to NOT be ashamed to do certain things or feel ashamed to talk to my Father about anything. This has made life so much easier for me! My rejection of others attempting to judge or “condemn me to hell” has also made my life easier! And my founded ability to be able to discern hypocrisy and bigotry in most people has greatly protected and prevented me over the years from ever again experiencing another personal religious crisis. Thank you, God!

Finally, I respect people who are TRULY Christian as well as those people of other religions (and those who happened to be non-religious) who are truly following their respective religious dogma… so long as they all realize that they too, are still only human. Furthermore, I can and will RESPECT any religious group or organization’s freedom and their right to worship and believe as THEY choose, so long as they do not force-feed or impose their beliefs and practices upon me or other people and if they can refrain from being judgmental and condemning of myself and others.
Keepin’ It…REAL!

[Click here to read MVOR* (Pt. 2)]
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PS:
The song, Shallow Be Thy Game, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 1995 album, One Hot Minute, expresses much of my sentiment about my views on religion, at least as I understand the lyrics.
Shallow Be Thy Game (1995)
(Lyrics by: Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Dave Navarro, Chad Smith)

I was not created
In the likeness of a fraud
Your hell is something scary
I prefer a loving god
We are not the center
Of this funny universe
And what is worse
I do not serve
In fear of such a curse

Shallow be thy Game
2000 years look in the mirror
You play the game of shame
And tell your people live in fear

A rival to the way you see
The bible let him be
I’m a threat to your survival
And your control company

[Chorus]
You’ll never burn me
You’ll never burn me
I will be your heretic
You can’t contain me
I am the power free
Truth belongs to everybody

To anyone who’s listenin’
You’re not born into sin
The guilt they try and give you
Puke it in the nearest bin

Missionary madness
Sweep up culture with a broom
Trashing ancient ways
Is par for course
It’s fucking rude

To think that you’re above
The laws of nature what a joke
oh, Purple sashes feeding masses
Smoke on which to choke

I might be a monkey
When it comes to being holy
Fundamental hatred
Get down on your knees and

[Chorus]
You’ll never burn me
You’ll never burn me
I will be your heretic
You can’t contain me
I am the power free
Truth belongs to everybody

I was not created
In the likeness of a fraud
Your hell is something scary
I prefer a loving god
We are not the center
Of this funny universe
And what is worse
I do not serve
In fear of such a

[Chorus]
You’ll never burn me
You’ll never burn me
I will be your heretic
You can’t contain me
I am the power free
Truth belongs to everybody
(repeat 2x)

The Stigma of the “Angry Black Man” (Part 2)

How would YOU react if you overheard the following, particularly in an office setting?

Scene: An office setting. Two White women,(whom I’ll call “Veronica” and “Betty“) are in their early to upper-30’s, talking. “Veronica” is the manager; “Betty”an employee of near-to-equal status of Veronica. Both are in the manager’s office whose door is wide open; both are using their “inside whisper voices”. However, on this particular day, activity around that office was quiet so a good ear in-passing could hear every word spoken.

Betty: (talking to Veronica) “The receptionist said Mr. ‘X’ is here for that 2 o’clock appointment with you regarding that issue he emailed us about.”
Veronica: “Oh, I know. He wants to talk about issue (X). I didn’t answer the email he sent so I guess he decided to see me personally.”
Betty: “Well, his complaint seems valid. Let’s hear what he has to say and we’ll go from there.”
Veronica: “Ok, but not alone! I’ll need you to sit in on the meeting with me, you know… just in case he gets belligerent….”
Betty: (interrupts Veronica) “Belligerent? About what? We know this man; I don’t get that from him. He’s not…”
Veronica: (interrupting Betty) “Just stay here, just in case. I’m not gonna be in this room with that nigger by myself! Those people are always complaining about something and always seem to have some kind of issue they’re mad or upset about!”

FACT 1: I could have made this up (which I didn’t) but even if I did, it wouldn’t matter. SOMEBODY out there will say that they either know of or have been witness to, a scenario exactly like or similar to this.

FACT 2: It is 2012. White women have been working, partying, dating AND sleeping with Black men for years! When they see us on TV or the big screen, they even seem to also admire us. Yet many (not all) are STILL scared or fearful of us (Black men) no matter how well or how NON-threatening we may look or how professional we may present ourselves! For some strange reason, the “innate fear of the Black man” still resides within them. “Veronica” and “Betty” give their sisters a bad rep!

FACT 3: Since joining the civilian work force after the Navy, I have discovered that in some settings, many White women (and some White men too), will hardly ever be found in a room or office ALONE, in an one-on-one meeting with a Black man (or other person of color) to discuss any issues of a direct personal or work-related, or business-providing nature. If the primary person having such a meeting is White, nine times out of ten, (at least in my experience) the other person “just sitting in” is always going to be…White.

FACT 4: Expecting a Black man (or any other person of color) to meet alone with Person 1 is rarely, ever going to happen (again, I’m speaking in some settings), as Person 1 would always give one of the following top three “reasons” (aka, lies) for why Person 2 is also in on the meeting:
(a) Person 2 is there “in training”;
(b) Person 2 is there to make sure the meeting is being conducted in a “professional manner”; or
(c) the issue concerns Person 2’s “area of responsibility”.

While there may some truth to any of these “reasons” for Person 2’s presence, the client/co-worker/subject still has a right to meet one-on-one with Person 1 if he or she feels it necessary. However, certain White persons I know are, or at least seem to be, intimidated by Black men (and Black women) in the corporate setting. Based on my experience, some of them will use – and have used – the words “belligerent” or “militant” to describe almost any Black person’s expressed concerns or views about a situation. They will say that particular Black person “has a bad attitude” or that he (or she) was “being belligerent in the meeting”. If they know the person served in the armed forces, they will accuse him (in such an inaccurate application of the word) of being a “militant”, especially if he happens to disagree with an issue or intelligently (and respectfully) expresses an adverse opinion. At least TWO college degree-holding managers I know have actually said that my “negative attitude was the result of having served in the military for such a long time that it made me a militant.” I laugh each time I hear this!  It is unfortunate that honorable Black men such as I cannot reasonably express a complaint, dispute, or legitimate concern without certain people still feeling the need to “protect” themselves from us with the presence of some other person nearby as they jump to the automatic conclusion that I/we Black men might somehow get “belligerent” on them…EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NO PRIOR OR SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THEIR PERCEPTION!

Normally, I am NOT one to pull the “race card”, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see, hear or learn from others, the things that are said and/or done in workplaces, stores, schools, etc. No one can EVER convince me that racism, bigotry, and hatred is “dying a fast death” or that it “no longer exists” in America! Such may be dying in SOME parts of America but, like a cancer, it has its own of staying and/or hiding where it is or spreading to places one might least expect. Only the “radiation” of KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING and RESPECT FOR THE DIFFERENCE OF OTHERS in our society, capped with SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE will eradicate this cancer of racism, racist remarks, and bigotry. Until then, anyone who thinks otherwise I shall call “fool” straight to their face, as I continue to LIVE with the stigma of the “angry Black man” every day of my life! There’s still more to come on this issue. Stand by!
Keepin’ It…REAL!

The Stigma of the “Angry Black Man” (Part 1)

There is a term that Black people, in general, hate for people who aren’t black people to use. That term is, “YOU PEOPLE”. Considering certain things that have been going on both in my life and in other places in the city where I live as well as throughout various parts of the country, I have decided to PURPOSEFULLY use the term “YOU PEOPLE” in this post, certainly not as ANY reference to my fellow Black people, and not necessarily to insult anyone reading this. I simply want to get your minds on where I see things regarding the “angry Black man” stigma. Some (only some!) of you non-Black folk act or feel (for some strange reason!), that every Black man (or woman) is angry; and being “angry”, then we must be angry at, and with, YOU PEOPLE for whatever reason YOU PEOPLE tend to come up with!

SIDE NOTE: Any non-Black persons reading this note who takes offense then I say GOOD! My words fully apply to some of YOU PEOPLE in the spirit in which you’ve already assumed that I must have written them: as an “angry Black man”. It is my sincere hope however, that YOU PEOPLE will take something from my words and learn a thing or two more about Black people, in particular, Black MEN, for I wrote this specifically with many of YOU PEOPLE in mind! For every other NON-BLACK person (and even the few of my Black haters) who are NOT OFFENDED by my words, I hope you understand that this note is simply from MY point of view… as a Black man. Of course, it will not apply to everyone. There are indeed some very GOOD people in the world. However, since NONE of you are living in MY skin, there is only so much I can expect you to understand. Those who can will be able to relate to nearly everything I’m saying.

First, let me premise this little commentary by stating very clearly that I am NOT an “angry Black man”; at least not by any twisted definitive, stereotypical meanings many of YOU PEOPLE have been taught, have taught your children, and have taught and CONTINUE to teach AND believe yourselves to be true! In fact, I am a happy, if not reasonably content, person! Sure, I have issues and life’s challenges just like everybody else, but I didn’t get to be my age by not having learned SOMETHING about life and about other people. I happened to be a man of reasonable intelligence, wit and charm. I have a great sense of humor, logical (not just common) sense, wisdom, skills and a keen awareness of who I am, where I came from, and where I would like to go in the path that is my life. These traits and more could apply to ANY dick-swinging male on the planet. Just because there are BLACK MEN with such traits makes him no different from any other male.

Second, although many of YOU PEOPLE tend to think so damn little of us Black men, I cannot dismiss the fact that there have been, and currently are, quite a few Black men who perpetuate the stigma of the “angry Black man” and who tend to “fulfill” the stereotypes you might have of Black men in general. Those exceptions notwithstanding, I still say that many of YOU PEOPLE do tend to look down on us. YOU PEOPLE have a strong tendency to assume that nearly every Black man you see has “anger issues”; issues stemming and carried over from: a bad childhood, a broken home, fatherless guidance, drugged-out mothers, physical, mental, and sexual abuse, disabilities and illness, jailed/imprisoned relatives, a lack of personal attention, having a lack of respect for other people from other ethnic groups, unemployment, certain economic conditions or poverty, poor educational and recreational opportunities, a lack of people willing to care or love us, just to name a few. Yes, some of YOU PEOPLE do in fact, think and believe all this – and more – to be the answers for why the “angry Black man” exists. With a few exceptions, generally, you could not be farther from the truth!

With such mentality had by YOU PEOPLE, it would not matter how many Black men smiled at you, spoke pleasantly to you, or could walk into a room in the fullest of confidence, their heads held high. YOU PEOPLE would still fear or think less of them. With such mentality, it would not matter how many Black men were well-groomed and dressed, carrying their own sense of class, swagger, or how well they conducted themselves as mature, self-controlled persons – even in the most STRESSFUL of situations. How often have you heard stories of BLACK MEN gunning down hundreds of people or blowing up things, endangering and taking the lives of others? Yet YOU PEOPLE still show signs of those oh-so-very-damn-obvious vibes of FEAR of…us! Yes, YOU PEOPLE continue to show upstanding Black men that you are fearful of us! And for what! What are you so damn afraid of? I’ve seen how many of YOU PEOPLE prefer to deal with a Black man who is lighter (and I’m talking very light-to-almost-White) in skin tone than those men who are darker in complexion! What the fuck is THAT all about? (And at this point, I have to ask my own brothers and sisters the very same question, for some of US do the same thing among our own kind! But…that is another topic for another day!)

Listen: This is NOT any racist charge; it is a FACT based on fear or being uncomfortable with someone BECAUSE of race and gender!
We (Black men) see this in hundreds of instances where many of YOU PEOPLE clutch your purses tightly, lock the car doors, and in some cases, even change directions to walk on the OTHER side of the street- at FIRST SIGHT of a….BLACK man, just like a person does when he sees a big dog heading in his direction! I am NOT making this stuff up! I CAN’T make it up! It’s 2012 and it’s STILL happening! The brothas and I talk about it – and quite often, too; never in jest, but in sheer wonderment! If one of YOU PEOPLE were walking side by side in a forest with me, the wildest animals living there would attack YOU first – simply because of the scent or pheromones of FEAR which you tend to emit! It makes me wonder and shake my head in disgust sometimes on how obviously fearful some of YOU PEOPLE can really be over a seemingly harmless individual simply because of that mix of skin color and gender! Many of YOU PEOPLE also emit this fear in the silly and very awkward ways in which you communicate with us Black men whenever we assert ourselves in an effort to peacefully address or resolve a situation. If we raise our voices, even on the smallest scale, or write a letter in an assertive manner, YOU PEOPLE tend to assume that we are acting out in the “angry Black man” mode. Your initial reaction to that is to try ever so hard to choose your words carefully in responding to those situations of confrontation or dispute. How is it then, that unless a gun is pointed in your face, you’ve never shown ANY of these awkward behaviors towards WHITE men?  And I know some of you are just waiting at the edge of your seats for President Barack Obama to show his true, “angry Black man” or “real nigger” nature! Admit it! You’ve probably said to yourselves, “No black person is THAT damn cool under all that stress!” It really bothers some that Obama, like myself, and other of men of my race are the epitome of coolness! (or “kool”, which is my preferred method of spelling when using the word in this sense.) Some brothas have this coolness it to a very high degree; others have it at other degrees! It’s really that simple when it comes to the coolness of Black men! The REAL “icing on the cake” of YOU PEOPLE daring to deal with a Black man who is not happy with you, or with the services you provide, or the way you’ve been treating him is: AVOIDANCE, LYING and DENYING that you are available to meet or talk with him either in your office or some neutral setting. Many of YOU PEOPLE like to have your secretary or some other office lackey pass on this same blatant LIE to the “angry Black man” (or Black MEN) patiently standing and waiting in the foyer who, just five minutes before, peacefully asked to see you. YOU PEOPLE always tend to jump to conclusions, assuming that the Black man is already very pissed off and… well, you “just can’t deal with that man now!” You know, some of us Black men have been in that situation (of wanting to meet and talk with YOU PEOPLE in the office to address or resolve an issue) only to have your office lackey AND sometimes an armed SECURITY GUARD come back to tell us that “not available” lie. You would send an ARMED guard to ensure that the “angry Black man” (or angry Black MEN) won’t go ballistic! As I said, YOU PEOPLE think very little of us Black men and you continue to erroneously underestimate our ability to control and conduct ourselves accordingly as well as our ability to deal with you personally in a peaceful, mature, and rational manner! Shame on you for thinking like that about us and ALL men of color!

So what to do about the “angry Black man” stigma? Well, first thing is for many of YOU PEOPLE to stop believing the hype, the stereotypes, and the perceived and assumed social problems of the world which some of YOU PEOPLE think contribute to the development of EVERY Black man in America, thus making him to be “the way he is” towards other people and issues. All of THAT is the reason why you are afraid to deal with us! Second, other than skin color, generally Black men are no different from any other male. We have moments, just like you and non-Black males, when we get upset or angry over certain things, too! Therefore, do not be afraid to deal with or even confront us based on such small-minded, unproven fears or worse, our skin color. We are still MEN; and MOST of us are still peaceful, intelligent and RATIONAL human beings! I’ll write more on this subject later.

Keepin’ It…REAL!