Writing from the intersection of race, faith, and equality.

RACE IN AMERICA

It’s not so much that I, as a Black man, am chomping at the bit to talk about racism with white people, but if asked about it, I am eager to share my thoughts.

Artwork by Clay Rivers

Two years ago, I shared John Metta’s searing “I, Racist” and Roxane Gay’s New York Times article, “Of Lions and Men: Mourning Samuel DuBose and Cecil the Lion,” on my Facebook page within minutes of each other. Over the next week, I noticed I was having the same conversation with a number of my white male friends, and saying the same thing over and over, and getting the same response: Oh, I never thought of it that way. In an effort to save time and energy, I wrote down the major plot points of those discussions. …


Gleaning meaning from 2020's 366 days of chaos and hatred

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Photo by Quinten de Graaf on Unsplash

Some folks call 2020 a waste. Not so. Like twenty pounds of manure packed in a five-pound bag, last year overflowed with ruin, crazy, and hate.

As someone who tries to glean meaning from situations and people, I see everything as an opportunity to learn. To me, time is wasted only when, in retrospect, I feel I haven’t learned something. Like you, I was blessed enough to survive 2020, but what was it all about? Where is the meaning? What is the takeaway from all the hate and crazy?

To survive the dumpster fire of the past 365 days without having learned, matured, or deepened my understand about something — that, Sugar Lump, is a waste of the highest order. You see, to forego gleening the meaning from circumstances and people sets us up to repeat the same mistakes or fall for the same ruses. …


You *still* don’t get to decide who is and isn’t Black

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

It’s ironic how up until a few days ago, people were more than happy to refer to the junior representative from California as African American, some would even refer to her using the B-word, Black. But now that she’s presumptive Democratic nominee for vice president, haters and naysayers would like to deny her the identity she has claimed.

Puh-lease. These folks are probably of the same ilk who would deny that Serena Williams has won twenty-three Grand Slam titles or Condoleezza Rice was the first female African-American Secretary of State.

Connecting the dots will be quite simple. No mental gymnastics here. …


How white supremacy covers intent, impact, and culpability

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Photo by Yoann Siloine on Unsplash

There’s a school of thought that purports in matters of racism, nice makes it right. Essentially, if one regards oneself as a good person the thoughts whitewash decades of abject racist acts one has committed and rewrites volitional hatred as an innocent mistake. Adherents also believe for anyone to label the actors and behaviors as “racist” is . . . well, unseemly. Believing a conviction, no matter how deeply held, does not make it so.

Case in point.

I live with spondylo-epiphyseal dysplasia (yes, it’s a mouthful), but in short, it’s a type of dwarfism. In my stocking feet, I stand forty-eight inches tall. I don’t see myself as short because the fact of the matter is that height is what’s typical for me. I’ve never existed at a comparatively taller height and then lost a few inches to become “short.” In the context of spondylo-blah-biddy-blah, a height of four feet is “normal” for me. But in the context of the rest of the population, I am indeed short. …


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Ben Lane, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London. Image by Chris Gent.

A literary composition in four parts

Within the last two months as many of my closest friends have died, Joel Strack and Ben Lane. The former’s passing came with the gift of a month of hospice care which afforded his friends the opportunity to reminisce about days long gone, when we had more hair, less excess weight, and our futures seemed boundless. It also granted his family time to see firsthand their beloved’s impact on Central Florida. With the latter’s passing, we were not so fortunate. My friend was called home with no warning at all. There was only a simple, Ben’s suffered a heart attack can you come to the hospital? Quick. Death came stealthily on the remnant breezes of Hurricane Dorian’s drive-by approach some one hundred miles off the Florida coast. …


RACE IN AMERICA

The cancel can’t happen fast enough when bigotry is involved

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New additions to SNL’s forty-fifth season, Bowen Yang, Shane Gillis, and Chloe Fineman. Source.

SNL brass got caught trying to pull a fast one, but their efforts went over with all the charm of a turd in a punchbowl.

A week ago Thursday, “Saturday Night Live” was set to begin its forty-fifth season this fall and recently announced three new cast members: Bowen Yang a writer from the show; Shane Gillis a stand-up comedian; and Chloe Fineman a female improv artist. …


They don’t make ’em like they used to

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Hurricane Dorian, roughly ninety-five miles offshore, making its seven-mile-per-hour crawl up Florida’s Atlantic coast. Image: WFTV Channel 9 Twitter, Orlando.

I’d been back in Florida for all of four months. My dog Jack and I sat huddled on the couch riveted to the TV as Hurricane Charley roared onto south Florida. Ten years out of Florida, living in Los Angeles, New York, touring the country, and my first trip to France changed my perception of the world, myself, and how I fit into it all. America’s larger metropolitan areas thrilled me. Culturally, Europe fed my soul and left me hungry for more. My hometown of Orlando? Not so much.

While I was away, Orlando had grown in ways I hadn’t expected. Gone were the early morning and late afternoon trickles of bumper-to-bumper congestion. The new round-the-clock rush hour traffic evidenced The City Beautiful’s population explosion. The sleepy little downtown blossomed into a bustling mix of gleaming high-rise condos, business, bars, and nightclubs to shame George Bailey’s worst visions of Pottersville. As far as the eye could see, bedroom communities blanketed what used to be rolling hills of orange groves. And the tourism industry ballooned with dozens of new resort hotel, west coast restaurants dotted the new upscale International Drive extension (think Las Vegas strip), and the theme parks all boasted new land, attractions, and entertainment. …


Despite the awfulness of humanity

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Photo by Eidy Bambang-Sunaryo on Unsplash

The following is an August redux of an essay I wrote back January. It’s been updated with references to recent events, but its basic premise is more relevant now than ever. Enjoy.

Things are tough. All over. A lot of people are hurting physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. All any of us need do is turn on the TV, log into social media, or if you’re daring, you can step outside your front door and witness the awfulness of humanity. With this pervasive level of devastation, a friend of mine asked —

“If God is real, then why do things like [insert tragedy] happen?” …


Life isn’t about avoiding the storms, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain

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The Raindancer: Finding Joy in the Storm takes a 360-degree look at one man’s use of unwavering faith, a positive attitude, and an indomitable sense of humor in the face of cancer; and how he changed the lives of everyone with whom he came in contact. This book presents the world in a new light and will give you the courage to dance in the midst of life’s storms.

Foreword

Rich Willis and I first met in the 1980s while working as performers in the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Entertainment Division. We only worked together for roughly four years, but over the following six years we ran into one another on numerous occasions around the Disney property despite our divergent career paths. …


Blackface

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Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

In response to Sam McKenzie Jr.’s “Black Like Me” Is Blackface Too.

Sam, there was a time when I would’ve said, “Do whatever it takes to get people to understand the horror of racism.” Now? Not so much. To me, it comes down to this: is revealing a universal truth (racism is evil) that in the process also harms the victims of that oppression (blackface) viable?

Like my grandparents used to say, there’s a way to talk to anybody; meaning, a desire to tell the truth is not a license to disrespect someone in the process. Respect for human dignity must be the force that guides all social justice. Namely, first, do no harm to those who have been negatively affected by racism. …

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