November 2006


Observing events around the world, particularly in North America, coupled with my own personal experiences, I have come to certain conclusions (actually, some are just re-affirmations) pertaining to those who are of African descent, as we make our way through this life. Events in Darfur and Chad; the increasing desperate emigration out of West Africa to Europe; the recent execution of an unarmed Black man by the New York City police and the shooting of his other two unarmed friends (over 50 shots y’all!!!!); the murder of a 88 year old grandmother by the Atlanta police and the subsequent attempt of a cover-up; the so-called “racist” rants by Michael Richards (he is now claiming to being “Jewish”, although he wasn’t born a Jew nor formally converted to the religion…. “so I guess that makes his outburst okay then!”); etc…. all give me “cause for a pause”. I have a Muslim friend who likes to assert that: “Brown is the new Black”…. REALLY!? I had to remind him that the “enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend” and guide him towards the reality of how Black Africans are treated by Muslims, particularly in Sudan and Mauritania. Genocide and chattel slavery is still the standard “order of the day” for most Black Africans in these societies. But I digress….. kind of….

Let’s be honest: the rants by Michael Richards is just “leakage” of what is being contained just below the surface. This leakage happens every so often, but were any one of “us’ really that surprised!? I am involved in facilitating a “Diversity Dialogue” initiative within the organization I work for. I have continually witnessed the underlying resentment and venom that my white co-workers have towards the “others” of “their” society. It leaks out in their every word, gesture and posture. This leakage has however resulted in more fatal consequences in New York and Atlanta. (By the way: the idea that an 88 year old grandmother needed to be “strapped” and had a policy of “shoot first and asking questions later” in an effort to protect herself and her property says a lot about the confidence that the she had in the police protecting her…. but then again she did “hit” 3 of them before they were able to take her out…. again I digress…. kind of….) This leakage has a subtler, but I would argue just as damaging an effect, when housing and employment opportunities are denied our people; when we are provided with substandard education and health care services; when we are denied well earned advancement in our work place; when our qualifications are questioned as the basis to prevent us from enjoying what others take for granted; as well as various and never-ending forms of systemic discrimination directed specifically towards “us”. .

 

 

AND we certainly don’t help ourselves by some of our decisions and actions. We refer to each other as “niggas”“coons”, “bitches”, “hoes”,“mack”, “pimp”, “M-F”, etc…. as terms of endearment and then fiercely debate and rationalize that “it’s okay” when questioned and/or admonished! We excuse the bad behaviour of our young, as well as our “best, brightest and strongest” and hold them to no sense of responsibility to their community! Actually we have come to the point where we expect none! We look upon those who pursue education and “speaking right” as “acting white” – as opposed to “being Black” by hustling to be ballers, rappers, baby daddies/mommies, pimps, music video dancers etc.      

      

It’s that simple. It’s all intertwined and synchronized. It all stems from the ideology of white supremacy…. AND most of us have bought into it. We are the first to point the finger to blame, yet at the same time, we are the most blameful (is that a word?). They say when you point a finger at someone, there are 3 fingers pointing back at you! So looking around my universe I have come to accept these points as facts based on simplicity, synchronicity and white supremacy:

  1. White people (whether on the “so-called” right or left) will NEVER give up their privilege. It’s the basis of their power…. losing it is the source of their nightmares.
  2. Black people, particularly Black men, are an endangered species.
  3. Nowhere in the world, where white and Black people co-exist, will there be “racial” harmony.
  4. Kanye got it half right. George Bush doesn’t care about Black people, but most Black people don’t care about Black people either.
  5. We oppress ourselves mentally and intellectually more effectually, than the white man even attempts to do.
  6. We need to understand this for our survival: “the enemy of our enemy is NOT necessarily our friend”. We need to be more discriminating with whom we align ourselves with. There are many special interests groups who historically and presently use “us” as fodder in their war to gain more PRIVILEGE for themselves. Once they succeed and have also taken the “crumbs” that we were surviving on, they move on and we are left alone, broken, dazed and confused, wondering, “what the hell happened?”
  7. Truthfully but regrettably, the historian Dr. Chancellor Williams said it best in his masterpiece, “The Destruction of Black Civilization”: “The necessary re-education of Blacks and a possible solution of the racial crisis can begin, strangely enough, only when Blacks fully realize this central fact in there lives: The white man is their bitter enemy. For this is not the ranting of wild-eyed militancy, but the calm and unmistakable verdict of several thousand years of documented history.”
  8. History is continually repeating itself. 

Keep hope alive! I’m trying…. but it’s gettin harder!   

                                                                           

A Bientot!

Asa.                         

You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord [Who is] with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.” 2 Chronicles 20:17

I was out with my supervisor and our manager this September. Now they are both White males in their early 40′s. We had attended a number of intense meetings during that week and had decided to end the day and unwind with drinks and appetizers at a trendy Creole bar/restaurant. We were having a good time, drinking, laughing, eating and discussing the success of the meetings and future objectives.A little background here before I continue with the story: My supervisor is a bit of what you would term “a redneck”. We’ve had our differences and clashes, but he and I have developed a real close working relationship. He shows me a lot of respect and whenever he goes on vacation, he gives me the opportunity to take over his responsibilities and perform his duties. He also confides in me and has recommended, as well as assisted me in getting many “choice” assignments and opportunities. My manager is also very good to me, and respects my opinion on various issues. He will publicly praise my efforts and compliments me to other managers, to the point where at time I become embarrassed. Anywayzzzz…. here we are having a good time with each other. After a while comes the time that we have to leave, as we have a hospitality event to attend, hosted by our upper management and it’s getting late. The manager let’s us know that he has paid the bill and we need to get going. Now my supervisor had been talking to this dark-skinned East Indian woman for quite some time. He is obviously “hitting” on her and is perturbed that we have to leave. My manager and I leave and are waiting at the car for him. After some time my manager, who is becoming increasingly annoyed and agitated as my supervisor is still in the bar, goes back to get him. After some time they appear and we all get into the car. There is obviously an air of tension between them. The manager is driving, my supervisor is in the passenger seat and I am in the back behind him. My supervisor is obviously annoyed and excitable that we are leaving and he says turns to our manager and says: “Why are you in such a rush to leave. Didn’t you see that I was talking to the nigger.” DAAMMMN! Silence. I was dumbfounded. It was like I got kicked in the balls. I couldn’t believe he had just said that! The shock wasn’t caused so much by what he had said, I’ve seen him display certain racist tendencies, but that he said it with me in the car! I guess he felt so comfortable with me, that he forgot that I was Black! In a sense he had achieved the state of “colour-blindness” where I was concerned!  The manager also went uncomfortably silent and ghostly white. He gave my supervisor what i can only describe as “an incredulous look”… BUT didn’t say a word. My manager never made any comment to signify that what he had said was inappropriate. Once it hit my supervisor the impact of what he just “let slip out”, he tried to minimize the event by making some frivolous comment. He NEVER apologized. We drove the rest of the way in silence after that. Once we reached our destination, my supervisor came up to me and again tried to down play the whole event by stating he only used the “N” word to annoy the manager!! “WHHAATT!?” I think he was more concern that if I lodged a complaint with our human resources department, both he and the manager would be SCREWED! He never offered an apology or showed any sort of remorse for his remarks. I must admit I didn’t know what to say or do… I just stared at him, smiled and didn’t say anything. After that we never discussed the event.The experience was eye-opening for me. I told my wife and a close friend, who is also a co-worker about the incident. My wife was shocked. The supervisor had attended our wedding. My friend thought I would be justified in making a complaint. However, I felt an unnatural calm. Something within me said to stand still… take no action and wait. I began to question my lack of anger… lack of rage in regards to the incident. Normally I would have spoken up and challenge anyone who had made such a comment. I started to question if I had become, what Malcolm termed: “a house negro”. Had I become “bamboozled” and therefore so comfortable with white people, that they could make racist comments and I didn’t feel a need or urge to respond? Had I developed a “yeah massa”…. “shuffling negro” attitude…. just smile and hang my head when I and/or my “race” was disrespected? Had I become so paralyzed with fear of taking on the system of which I had become intimately apart of? Had I sold out my Black soul for the proverbial “30 pieces of silver”? All of these questions and insecurities swirled around my head…. my soul…. as a gentle voice within me…. encouraged me to stand still and wait.

So I stood still. I waited.

Three weeks ago my supervisor was dismissed for financial improprieties. My manager has promoted me to temporarily replace him.I smiled.

And they rose early in the morning and went forth into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God; so shall ye be established. Believe His prophets; so shall ye prosper.” 2 Chronicles 20:20.

A Bientot!

Asa.

My man thefreeslave hit me up recently and gave me some love (see post “NIGGER!”). I got mad love for this brother! He is probably the most passionate and direct person I have ever come in contact with through blogging in the afrosphere. He welcomed me back from my hiatus with: “Nice to see you… “Black in the game.” I thought “WOW.… solid!” I hope to see him “Black in the game” very soon also, as he is on hiatus too. The afrosphere needs your voice Lubangakene! We miss you brother. However, until the time is right for your return: “Walk Good!”

Anywayzzzz…. I am excited about my new page here at wordpress and getting “Black in the game” of blogging. So much has gone since I last seriously blogged. I got married, moved to a new city, bought a new house, started a new job and I am learning a new language: french. Although I took time away from blogging to focus on getting my “game tight and sh*t correct”, I have been monitoring world events and have strong opinions on some of them, which I will quickly chime in on (in no specific order of importance): 

  1. Muslims really need to “back up and chill out!” The Pope wasn’t critisizing and/or disrespecting you or your religion. By the way, self-criticism and analysis of your beliefs and values, as well as outside criticism and analysis is healthy… as long as it is constructive and respectful. Where is your outrage against those who do discredit your religion by their actions in Darfur, Iraq, Lebanon? Where is your outrage against those who do discredit your religon by advocating indiscriminately killing civilians, by cutting the heads off individuals and posting it on the internet, by the kidnapping and/or killing of nuns and other aid workers in Islamic countries, by sentencing rape victims to whippings, by assassinating political/religious rivals, etc., etc., etc??? 
  2. There is no such thing as an “appropriate response” when it comes to war… if you poke a pitbull with a stick, it will likely rip your hand off! re: Israeli response to Hezzballah-Hamas attacks.
  3. Shiites and Sunnis commiting atrocities against each other in Iraq, give Islam and humankind a bad name. 
  4. There were more significant events in the world than the U.S. mid-term elections. As Ice-T stated: “If voting could change anything, the government would outlaw it!”
  5. Senator Barak Obama is inspirational. “Run Barak, Run”
  6. Message to David Kuo: “There is none so blind, as he who will not see.”
  7. “Panem et Circenses”: Dancing with the Stars, the “Survivor” series, Brittany Spears and K-Fed, TomKat, U.S. mid-term elections.
  8. The institution of marriage is a holy union meant to be between a man and a woman. Period.
  9. Message to Ted Haggert: “Jesus Loves You!”
  10. The Third Geneva Convention “relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War” does NOT apply to captured terrorists and enemy combatants. However, this does NOT permit torture, brutality or inhumane treatment. Let’s be clear though: there are ONLY 2 ways to respond to those involved in terrorism: LOCK THEM AWAY FOR LIFE OR ELIMINATE THEM WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE.
  11. Mel Gibson and Michael Richards are racists!
  12. While peole kill each other over Playstation 3, the events in Darfur continue to break my heart. re: more “panem et circences”.
  13. Just because everyobe else may be doing it, doesn’t mean it’s okay to engage in illegal, unethical and/or prohibited behaviour. re: steroids use among professional (and amateur) atheletes; smoking weed; Black people using the “n” word. 
  14. Word for the century: Responsibility.

Let us keep our minds clear and our hearts pure and not get distracted by the “panem et circenses” which are fed to us daily by the politicians and media. This Latin term, which literally means “bread and circuses”, was used by a 1st century Roman poet to describe the practice of Roman Emperors, who gave low-cost, low-quality, but highly available food and entertainment as a means of pacifying their citizens and distracting their thoughts from more substantial, moral and ethical issues. In my opinion this term unfortunately, but adequately describes the underlying dynamics of our society today. 

A Bientot!

Asa

“The true worth of a race is measured by the character of it’s women.” Mary McLeod Bethune. 

“Self-hate finally culminates in pure and direct self-destructive impulses and actions.” Karen Horney: Neurosis and Human Growth. 

Asa.

27 July 2006

Among all the turmoils, conflicts and wars currently taking all the focus in the news, there is a quiet war still going on. This war has preceded the current conflict in the Middle-East. This war has been taking place since the 1400′s until today. There have been different moments in history, at various places in the world, where this war has erupted and taken the center stage of world events. There have been BILLIONS of innocent victims associated with this war. BILLIONS of casualties. 

Although many battles in this war are fought vigorously and daily by courageous men, women, boys and girls, against enormous odds, it has become primarily a silent war, and these are their silent heroes. Many have struggled and sacrificed themselves in these battles. However, there have been many more cowards, who have hid themselves, or pretended that this war isn’t taking place, or sided with the enemy against their own. It is the war against the ideology of white supremacy and eurocentric superiority

The continuing saga of this conflict recently occurred in Longueuil (near Montreal), Quebec, Canada. In September 2003, two men of African heritage, Seydou Diallo and his friend Mamadou El Bachir Gologo, entered a bar called “Le Surf” and ordered a drink. They were told by the bartender that they couldn’t be served because they had a policy of not serving Black people. After some discussion they were informed by the manager that black customers had allegedly caused too much trouble at Le Surf in the past. Blacks were termed “gang members”, “bandits” and “troublemakers” by the manager, and although Diallo offered up his university student card and other pieces of identification to prove that were not “bad guys”, it was to no avail. They were still refused service. 

Flabbergasted and stunned, Diallo went to the press and returned to the bar with a white reporter from the “Journal de Montreal”, who disguised himself as black. Once again they were denied service and told that the bar did not cater to Black customers. The story went public in October 2003 and the case was brought before the Quebec Human Rights Commission. Today the Commission awarded $25,000 to the two men and in their ruling also stated that Le Surf was racist and exclusionary and that a steep fine was necessary to send the bar a message. 

I caught this story on the news this morning. It was just a brief piece… a snippet of the days news events.  I went online to get more details and had to search hard and deep. I am sure it was missed by most Canadians who didn’t hear about it or more importantly, didn’t listen to it. The media is currently inundated with conflicts and wars in the Middle-East, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Sri Lanka and India… to name a few. Terrorism has the spotlight, even here in Canada. But for two Black men, a victory was gained in one battle of the war they fight continually, day after day. “The decision of the commission is for me like a big, big victory,” said Diallo. “After three long years of waiting, I am glad with the decision“. 

These men are two of the silent heroes… of this silent war.

Asa.

20 June 2006

I enjoy writing. I also enjoy reading other people’s blogs. Sometimes I have an abundance of ideas of what I want to write about. Thoughts, ideas and feelings that I am bursting to share. However, lately it has taken me a while to come up with something of interest to impart. Lots of contemplating. Lots of reassessing. I have been spending time reading the select few bloggers that I find interesting. Their topics are varied. Their backgrounds diverse. Their styles of expression are very individual. Their opinions, beliefs, values and viewpoints are distinct. Some I agree with. Some I don’t. But that’s not the point. What matters most is that they are all committed to what they believe. The passion in their words captivates my attention. Yet as they write…. and comment…. and rebut…. they grow. I experience the process of their metamorphosis as they spur my own transmutation. I am an information junkie. It’s like an addiction. An obsession. So I spend a lot of my time surfing through various blog, news, political, cultural and religious sites. I watch news programs and documentaries. I read journals, magazines, books, the Bible. I attend church regularly, engage others in discussions, debates and share ideas on a wide variety of subjects. I am on a continuous quest to take a sip from that “Holy Grail” of information, knowledge and wisdom. Yes…. I am a nerd! lol. Sometimes I feel that I have squandered lots of valuable time on this journey…. until I discover and taste that rare nectar which briefly quenches the thirst…. that causes me to go “hmmmmm”…. then “awwww”…. that stirs the spirit within me and I get enthused to create…. to write….

I find that writing is like playing the piano. I get an inspiration, a vibe wells up within me, I hit the keys and begin to compose the notes…. sounds…. melodies…. arrangements…. songs…. in an effort to transform the voices of my being into life.  It’s a painstaking process. I edit. I revise. I delete. I mix and match. I grasp and struggle to find my rhythm. Once I am done…. I am exhausted…. I am never satisfied…. yet there is an indescribable joy as I look upon my new birth. I reluctantly share my various opuses with the world…. but they are not listened to by the ear…. they are welcomed through the portals of the eyes and entertained by the mind of the recipient…. and subsequently translated by the tones and rhythms of their own virtues, beliefs, values, experiences and emotions. I play and I wonder if others are moved by my creative endeavours. Not that I am writing to gain the approval of the audience…. but if you are creative…. you want your creations to be enjoyed, dare I even say, “appreciated”.  I received an email from a Jewish gentleman the other day inviting me to the “2006 Progressive Faith Bloggers Conference” in New Jersey. He stated that he enjoyed reading my blogs and felt that I would gain much from the conference. I was surprised and honoured. So I am encouraged to continue searching…. playing…. developing…. creating…. growing…. changing…. Striking the keys to unearth and discover my own unique style and rhythm, so as to continue expressing the jazzy melodies of my mind.

Asa.

30 May 2006

For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land. Deuteronomy 15:11 (NIV).

The other day I was leaving the baseball game and there were a number of people begging outside of the stadium. I was with two other friends, and we first came upon an old Black man in a wheelchair who seemed to be suffering from Parkinson’s or the after effects of a major stroke, as he was shaking uncontrollably and didn’t seem able to speak properly.  He had a cup out and I gave him a dollar – my friends gave him nothing. We came upon two other guys asking for money and I didn’t give them anything, and neither did my friends. I felt bad about it, but I thought “I can’t give money to everyone who asks…” Plus I felt at least I did a good deed by giving money to the first guy who probably really needed it. One of my friends made some comment about how these beggars were ripping people off and made a “wise-crack” about what I did, giving money to the first guy. I laughed. I don’t know why, because I didn’t agree with his comment and his joke really wasn’t funny.

My father died at the end of January 2006. One of the things I remember most about him was that he was not one for charity. He would not go out of his way to help someone in need outside of our immediate family. He did work hard to provided for his family and my siblings and I never wanted for anything. If we asked him for anything, he would more often than not give it to us. But he would never give money to a stranger… certainly not a beggar! His attitude was that he worked hard for everything he had, so they could work for theirs too. He would also be one to complain if a charitable organization asked him for a donation. He was of the opinion that they would steal the money or use it for their own benefit. I remember him complaining for months when the hospital where he had an operation to remove a part of his lung due to cancer asked him for a donation after he was released. He had this paranoia about being ripped off. I don’t know if this attitude was why he also had no friends. He may have felt that they would at some point ask him for money or for help in some way. When he first retired, he had joined a seniors social club at a retirement home and center. They mainly played cards, had events at the center and went on outings. He quit when they asked if he could assist some of the more feeble members get around. I think they had also asked him for a donation above the yearly dues - A BIG NO-NO!! At his funeral not one person who attended could claim to be his friend. No one outside of our immediate family could sincerely say something “nice” about him. No one could say how he had helped or influenced them in a positive way. No one said that they would miss him. I reflected on all this after his death. In his own way he was a good man, but he had no compassion or empathy for others. After my Mother, his last remaining brother, my siblings and I are gone…. he will be forgotten. It will be as though he never existed.

Since then I have made a commitment to be compassionate to the less fortunate… especially to the poor. I was not one to give money to beggars. I hardly ever did it for a number of reasons. I had no problem giving money to family or friends if they really needed it. But since I started to give to the needy,  I feel… well… better, not just about myself, but about society in general. I feel like I am doing my part, a small part to make the world a kinder, gentler place for someone. Young, old, male, female… if they ask, and I have change or small bills, I give it to them. The recipient is always very appreciative, almost surprised that I do give them some money when they ask. All say “thanks” in their own way. Most say “God bless you.” I have come to realize the reason I felt bad about not giving the other two guys some money is because I could have easily done so. I had a number of one dollar bills on me. I had just spent $25 for a ticket to the game, another $25 for beers, and we were on our way to spend more money on food and alcohol. If I had given each of those guys a dollar… that would have been $3!!! 

So… do me a favour… the next time you are walking by or stopped at a light in your car and someone comes up asking for a dime, quarter, dollar… or just some change…. don’t think about what they are going to do with the money… whether they are going to buy drugs, alcohol or spend it on something illicit, nor think that they look young or able-bodied enough to get a job… just give them a little change and a smile for me. Thank you and God bless you.

He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done. Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)

Asa.

15 May 2006

Africans and African-Americans In Distress = A.I.D.S. I was stunned by the “Newsweek” May 15th 2006 issue that featured a number of articles about the scourge of the AIDS epidemic in Black America. First let me say that I am not one to entertain conspiracy theories. However many years ago I read an article entitled: “W.H.O. Murdered Africa” by William Campbell Douglass, M.D. that left me with the notion of the possibility that AIDS was a man-made disease. He contends that AIDS was purposely introduced into Africa, Haiti, Brazil and Japan by the World Health Organization via a small pox vaccination program in the 1970’s. Douglass was definitely off the mark on a number of the things he stated but hindsight is 20/20. I still believe in the primary theme of his thesis, that AIDS was man-made, especially after reading the book “AIDS and the Doctors of Death” by Alan Cantwell Jr. M.D. With this in mind, reading in Newsweek how AIDS is devastating the African-American community, as well as the AIDS pandemic that is taking place in Africa, leaves one wondering if this is all just a coincidence. I don’t believe in coincidences. However, the issue now isn’t on the origins of the disease, but it’s effects on those of us of African descent today.

According to the Newsweek article:

Twenty-five years after the virus was first documented in gay white men, HIV has increasingly become a disease of color, with blacks bearing the heaviest burden by far. African-Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for an astounding 51 percent of new HIV diagnoses. Black men are diagnosed at more than seven times the rate of white men, black females at 20 times the rate of white women.” Astonishing!

“Understanding why HIV has taken hold of black America and how to prevent its spread has proved to be no less daunting a challenge. The root of the problem is poverty and the neglect that comes with it—inadequate health care and a dearth of information about safe sex. IV drug use, sexually transmitted diseases and high-risk sex (marked by multiple partners and no protection) have fueled transmission; homophobia and religious leaders steeped in moralistic doctrine have suppressed honest conversations about how to stop it. All the while, much of black leadership has been slow in responding, only recently mobilizing to protect its community.”

There is only one word that can describe the AIDS crisis taking place in Africa: TRAGIC. This is a continent where continuous wars, rape, poverty, lack of preventative health care, migration of working men and beliefs, such as AIDS infected men having sex with virgins to cure the disease, are some of the factors contributing to the pandemic. It also doesn’t help that Jacob Zuma, the 64-year-old former deputy president of South Africa and former head of South Africa’s National AIDS Council, who although cleared of raping a woman he knew was HIV-positive, admitted to having unprotected sex with her and claiming that he had reduced his chances of infection by taking a shower after his condom-free sex. God help us!

There are a number of articles in this issue that are vital readings:

Read, think, comment and commit to change. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance can lead to death. Or at least to consequences of pandemic proportions.

Asa.

09 April 2006

“NIGGER!” “NIGGER!” “NIGGER!” “NIGGER!” “NIGGER!” I remember the first time I was called a “Nigger”. I was about 7 or 8 years old, so it was around 1968 or ’69. I was living in Toronto Canada, and had moved there from Jamaica about a year before. I was outside playing with two white friends and I remember it was winter for there was snow on the ground. Two white teenage boys came along and started calling me “Nigger”. They pelted me with snowballs. My two white friends who I was playing with moments before joined in. I remember one of them took a shovel and hit me with it. I cried. I went home. Although I have experienced many racist remarks and situations since then, that first incident is the clearest in my mind. It’s like the first time you lose your virginity. You remember where you were, whom you were with and the experience itself, good or bad. I lost a large part of my innocence that day. I have never cried over a racist incident since then.

I watched the April 6th news conference of David Mitchell, a Black Man, a Deputy Superintendent of a correctional facility in Toronto, which is under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. He had received a letter filled with racist slurs, taunts and death threats. Since January 2005 to January 2006, at least 11 such racist letters have been sent to more than 20 Black and Brown correctional officers, threatening them directly or indirectly with death. Some of the letters have indicated they come from the “Ku Klux Klan” and that their goal is to get rid of all Black people. 

What lead to all this? It all started when a correctional officer, apparently from Afghanistan, allegedly assaulted a handcuffed Black inmate and was criminally charged. At the trial a South Asian correctional officer who had witnessed the alleged assault with a number of other officers, was the only one to testify against this officer. Since it was his word against his other colleagues, there was an acquittal. The South Asian officer was harassed and ostracized at work for breaking “The Code” and testifying against a fellow officer. A Black officer who refused to go along with the harassment and sided with the South Asian officer then became the target of harassment. He not only received racist and threatening letters at work, but they where also sent to his home and to a restaurant he owned. It got so bad that he was hospitalized and is now off work. Sides started to be taken and any Black officer who sided with the victims were sent racist and threatening letters. Complaints and grievances have been filed by the Black officers with the Ministry, union, Ontario Human Rights Commission and the police. No results and the letters, harassment and intimidation continued. The Black officers subsequently contacted David Mitchell, who is also an active member of the Association of Black Law Enforcers, and after hearing their complaints he also received a letter. Hence the press conference.

What I find most intriguing is the form in which the intimidation against the Black correctional officers has taken. Racial slurs are being used to demean and dehumanize the officers. References to the “Ku Klux Klan” are meant to strike fear. Words such as “Nigger” is being used to remind the Black officers of a history, not so long ago, when they were looked upon as “three-quarter human” and had no rights that a white man was obliged to recognize! When they could be victimized, harassed, threatened, beaten, raped and killed at will and nothing would be done about it….. just like now. Let us be very mindful of the fact that those who are engaging in this behaviour are the same ones who condone and most likely participate in using their position to victimize those in their charge. They feel that due to their status in relation to the inmates, who are criminals and therefore sub-human, they can commit whatever atrocities they want, especially if that inmate is Black! (Shades of Abu Ghraib!?). And who will believe the inmates over those who have been charged to keep our society safe from these animals. And if it so ever happens that they are ever questioned or scrutinized as to their actions or tactics, then there is “The Code”. “The Code” is superior to integrity, honesty and compassion. “The Code” is above the truth. “The Code” is silence. And when one breaks “The Code”, then one must be made to suffer. Intimidation. Harassment. Threats. Racial slurs.

Hates greatest allies are silence and fear. As I watched David Mitchell speak out, he broke down and cried. I was reminded of that winter day so long ago. 

Asa.

06 April 2006

 

I read a blog on a religious page titled: Isolation, Conforming or Transforming? The author posed this question: “How can the church shape the culture without being shaped by it? Does it matter? What did Jesus intend for the church anyway?”  The author was of the opinion that the church seems to operate from one of two extremes, either in isolation from the world or totally conforming to it. Interesting position.  

I believe that over the years within Christian based western democracies, there has been a continual, conscious eroding of religious influence from society. The practice of any religion by mortals will undoubtedly produce both positive and negative aspects within the culture. I would hope that we all applaud the efforts of those who worked towards, if not completely removing the negative elements, at least minimizing their effects. However I believe that certain “special” interest groups and individuals have manipulated the concept of the separation of church and state, in an effort to eliminate the influence of religion, particularly Christianity from our culture. They sincerely believe that a completely secular state is what is best to promote equality, tolerance and rational thinking within society. Although these “secularists” have never been in the majority, they have been quite powerful. Successful to the point where prayer has been removed from schools, it is politically incorrect to make references to “Christmas” (it’s the Holiday Season!), and monuments with the Ten Commandments written on them are being removed from courthouses, etc. But worse of all, many Christians have become uncomfortable with openly proclaiming and/or practicing their faith outside of their home or church. They become paralyzed by the fear of being labeled as “subjective”, “intolerant”, “close-minded”, conservative”, patriarchal, racist and/or misogynist. How many of you pray and thank God and/or bless your meal before eating in public, especially around friends and/or co-workers, whether they are Christians or not? I remember there was this email going around about a speech made I think to Congress, on the decline of society due to the removal of God and any religious influences. I wish I had kept it!

The Bible teaches that Christians are the “church”. So the result of the separation, or should I say the continuing eroding of the “church” from society, is that it would appear that we have little or no impact on influencing the culture of the society. Hence the increase of decadence, delusion and despair. What did Christ expect from the “church” in regards to the impact “we” should have upon society? The answer I believe lies in Matt 5:13-16:

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”.

I would conclude from this statement that Jesus wishes, no… expectsthe “church” to be a transforming positive force on culture. Therefore we are NOT to be in isolation from the world! Salt adds flavour and it preserves. Jesus warns that if we are expected to be the “salt” of the earth, and we are not fulfilling our mission, i.e. we are not adding flavour (influencing) and preserving what is best in the culture of a society, then as the “church” we are useless! Light, very simply, illuminates so that we can see clearly where we need to go, identifies pitfalls to be aware of and eliminates the fear of the unknown. If our “light”, i.e. good works are not getting rid of the darkness in our society, illuminating the way for others to glorify God, then our light is hidden. What benefit then is the “church” to society!? We are therefore required, again I would stress… commanded, to interact with the world and have an effect on its culture. Case in point, one example is the ministry of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. There is no doubt that his ministry changed a culture!

I am reminded of the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats concerning judgment day in Matthew 25: 31-46. Those who “inherit the kingdom” are those who fed the hungry; gave drink to the thirsty; took in the stranger; cloth the naked; comforted the sick; and ministered to the incarcerated. Certainly these values are not what our present culture advocates as the basis for a fulfilling, successful and happy life. Selfishness, personal gratification, and individual concepts of morality are the norm of our culture. But Christ equates when we, the “church”, promote a culture that helps the less fortunate, we are in fact helping HIM!

Isolation…. No! Conformity…. Never!

Rom 12:2: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

I think tomorrow at lunch I will bow my head and pray, thanking our Heavenly Father for the food He has provided for my co-workers and I, Christians or not.

Asa.

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