Mr. Simon, You the Man!

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My barber, Mr. Carl Simon

Carl is the head barber at my barber shop on Al Lipscomb Way in Dallas, Texas. His is the first chair on the right as you enter. There’s almost always at least one person waiting for Carl, sometimes two or three are ahead of me. He is so good that people will wait two, three and more hours for one of his cuts. Carl has cut my hair for over 30 years, and there’s only one problem: He is not a fast cutter.

I get a scissor cut which takes much more time than a clipper cut. Even when I’ve arrived as early as 7:00 a.m — Carl arrives at 8 — someone else usually has beat me there. So, I finally have developed a strategy for waiting the least amount of time before my turn in Carl’s chair. On the appointed day, I arrive between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. Someone is usually already in the chair, but sometimes there’s no one else ahead of me. Every once in a while, I’m his first customer of the day, without getting up at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning. That’s pure gold because Carl is fresh and ready to cut hair!

Why have I gone to such great lengths to avoid the waiting? Well, ladies, it’s not like the beauty shop or the “salon.” The barber shop is first-come, first-served. I hardly ever get there first, though goddess knows I try. I think Carl ought to take appointments, but it’s the barber shop, so he doesn’t. I always just hope the guy/s before me aren’t getting a shave and a haircut. Those take forever!

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The hands that work the magic.

I used to wonder why Carl’s cuts take so long, and finally, after sitting around his barber shop for thirty-plus years waiting my turn, I’ve figured it out. Carl is a nurturer, a caretaker. He takes his own sweet time with each and every customer who sits in his chair. He wants us to feel good as well as look good. When you’re in Carl’s chair, you’re his only client. You may get a neck rub. If you get a shave, you will get multiple hot towels and a facial massage. Carl tweezes ingrown hairs, pops pimples, and trims unruly eyebrows and wiry, wayward ear and nose hairs. All this takes time, the one thing I didn’t think I had.

I used to be extremely impatient (now, I’m just impatient). I wanted all Carl’s attention lavished on me when it was my turn, but not on the guys before me. I wanted him to work on them fast so he could get to me. But that’s not Carl. He’s an equal opportunity nurturer.

I’m ashamed to say that I once boycotted Carl for about two years. That was before I retired. I was just sick of all the waiting. I was mad at Carl for “wasting” so much of my time. So after trying the barbers of two or three friends without success, I ended up at a Supercuts.

SuperCuts is fast, but it’s formulaic, dull, and boring. The cutters never remember how they cut my hair the last time. Even the one time I was assigned an African-American “stylist,” I didn’t get a good cut. As a matter of fact, I never got a really good haircut at Supercuts; and no matter how many times I went, they never remembered my name.

On top of it all, there was no worthwhile conversation at SuperCuts. So, I couldn’t find any better place to get my hair cut than where I began: waiting for Carl. It’s all good though, because Carl knows and remembers my name, and he’s happy to see me when I show up.

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Posing for the snap!

And at Carl’s shop, there’s either good music playing or a lively, provocative, or funny conversation and banter, or all of the above. But that’s another post for another day. . . .

Then I Learned That He Didn’t Vote . . .

Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49er’s quarterback, initiator of the National Football League players kneeling during the national anthem, that Colin Kaepernick didn’t vote in the 2016 presidential election. Nobody said he couldn’t. His vote wasn’t suppressed by a racist institutional system. Claiming it would have been “hypocritical” for him to vote, he chose not to.

It doesn’t make sense to me. People died so we African-Americans could participate in the political process. Kaepernick claimed to want to initiate change, but that is hard to do if you won’t participate in the process. It is not hypocritical to vote, but it seems so to refrain from it. I know you can see why I’m now conflicted about my one-time hero.

Did he vote in the 2018 midterms when so much was at stake? I sure hope so. Voting is where the rubber meets the road, where we get to make a difference in our political system, where we get to promote the change for which Kaepernick claimed he was protesting.

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Colin Kaepernick, if you didn’t vote 6 November 2018 I don’t want to know. Remember: I’m the one who said you aren’t a “dumb jock.” Please don’t make me eat my words .

The Midterms Aren’t Over ’til the Votes Are All Counted (Or Recounted)!

At long last, the midterms are over. I both looked forward to and dreaded their arrival. It was as though I was teaching again. Midterms are the “hump day” of the semester. When midterms arrive, you’ve made it half way through. You can make it the rest of the way; the semester will be over in no time: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Finals, and you’re at the finish line, and on to the winter holidays.

Unfortunately, the political midterms are not so easy. For one thing, just because the election is over doesn’t mean the contest and the meanness is. Sometimes people won’t concede defeat. And, of course, sometimes they shouldn’t. Actually, I’m glad Georgia’s Stacy Abrams hasn’t conceded, and sorry that Florida’s Andrew Gillum has.

 

The count continues in both those races, and it ain’t over ’til it’s over!

Beto O’Rourke conceded to Texas incumbent senator Ted Cruz, and it’s a total and complete shame that Beto didn’t win. However, he was gracious in defeat, and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him.

I am happy for and send congratulations to Colin Allred who unseated Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, Ayanna Pressley, newly elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts, and every other Democratic winner across the United States.

 

They aced their midterms!

Just as at the end of the academic midterms, there’s no downtime at the end of the political midterms for the winners, the losers, or the voters. The winners will get sworn in in January, and move into or tidy up their offices, the losers have to be gracious in their sorrow, and we voters have to rejoice or wallow — sometimes both.

But, the meanness just continues. Forty-five first congratulated, then threatened Nancy Pelosi. Then he finally fired Jeff Sessions. And this is Trump happy! Imagine if he felt the Republicans had lost the midterms. Now many are worried that Robert Mueller will be the next on Trump’s hit list.

So we’ve almost made it through the midterms and lived to tell the tale. There’s no telling what awaits for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the holidays. but votes still are being counted in Florida, Georgia, and elsewhere. I guess we just have to stay tuned to see what the future brings. . . .

I Do Not Like Your Words I said; You Should Not Misstate Things, Ted

I can’t believe Ted Cruz! In a Houston TV interview in reference to the Botham Jean murder,  he actually said, “I wish Beto O’Rourke and Democrats weren’t so quick to always blame the police officer.”

Jean, a black Dallasite from S. Lucia, was gunned down by white police officer Amber Guyger while he was in his own apartment minding, it would seem, his own business. So whom else are we to blame for Jean’s murder other than the police officer who admits to walking to his apartment door and shooting him dead?

“Cruz is just determined to get things wrong”

Cruz’s statement was made when he learned that Beto O”Rourke, his opponent in the race for U.S. senate, had indicated that maybe DPD Officer Amber Guyger should be fired, by saying, “I don’t understand, given the actions, how anyone can come to any other conclusion.” According to The Dallas Morning News, “an O’Rourke spokesman confirmed the quote, but said that the El Paso Democrat also said there should be a full investigation and accountability for [Botham Jean’s] death.”

Yet, it seems that Cruz is just determined to get things wrong, for he also said that National Football League players “protesting the national anthem and the flag, protesting law enforcement … is inconsistent with where most Texans are.” Cruz, like a lot of Texans and other Americans, obviously has been listening to the man in the White House rather than the N.F.L. players who are protesting. Yes, the protest is against unjustified murders of black people — men, women, and children — by white police. It also is against police brutality, the school-to-prison pipeline, mass incarceration, and economic inequality; but it is not against the national anthem or the American flag. And maybe “most Texans” aren’t where the players are, but I promise you most black Texans and African Americans do support the player protests.

I expect better from Ted Cruz, the person who is supposed to represent me in congress. I expect him to know what he is talking about, especially when discussing an issue about which it is easy to get the facts.

So, Ted Cruz, regarding your willful ignorance regarding Amber Guyger and the N.F.L. players’ protest, I’ll say it agin: I do not like  your words I said; you should not misstate things, Ted!

Whose Life Matters?

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Left to right: Amber Guyger, Botham Jean

Botham Jean was a vibrant 26-year-old black Dallasite originally from St. Lucia. Until 6 September 2018 he was an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He was respected and well-loved by family, friends, and colleagues. He helped numerous people, and until 6 September his future was bright and limitless.

Then Amber Guyger, a white off-duty Dallas police officer, opened his apartment door and shot him dead. Murdered him. In his own home.
It took police three days to arrest and charge her. With manslaughter, NOT murder. It doesn’t seem right. Jean is dead. Guyger is out on bail, free move about and live her life.
Let’s face it, if the tables were turned and Guyger were black and Jean were white, things would be moving at a faster pace. The shooter would be facing a murder charge and would probably be in jail. Because no matter how much I know in my heart that Black Lives Matter, it seems that white lives still matter more . . . .

These Are Not Dumb Jocks!

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During the 2016 pro-football season, Colin Kaepernick, then the San Francisco 49ers quarterback began sitting, and later kneeling, during the national anthem. He had a reason and he had a plan. Eric Reid, then a 49ers safety, began kneeling with Kaepernick as did many others. Their goal was to draw attention to the injustices African-Americans and Hispanics suffer on a daily basis in these United States of America. And it would have worked much better if Donald Trump had not jumped on twitter and misrepresented the nature of the protest.

It is really annoying that numerous people continue to willfully misunderstand why National Football League players kneel when the national anthem is played prior to each game. If these naysayers did even a teeny, tiny bit of research on the issue they would know that the protest is to spotlight – and hopefully stop — police brutality, especially the unjustified murders of African-American adults and children; systemic injustice against people of color; and economic inequality.

@Kaepernick7, @eric_reid35 and the kneeling NFL players are against all that. I want to know who has the nerve to say they’re for any of it!

So once and for all, let’s get this straight, Mr. Trump and all your offended, Nike-destroying minions: Kneeling is not about disrespect for the American flag; kneeling is not about lack of support for our military men and women; kneeling is not a negative gesture at all. People kneel when praying, and I have learned that Marines even kneel to honor fallen brothers and sisters as their caskets pass before them.

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Let’s face it, NFL players are not dumb jocks; they are smart, reasonable men. The franchise owners could stop the protests today if they wanted to work with the players. An NFL sponsored campaign against unjustified police shootings, public service announcements during the games shedding light on the issues of mass incarceration, driving while black and brown, and the need for money bail reform might do the trick. But instead of addressing the issues the players are protesting, the owners  continue with their misguided notion that they own and control the players as well as the franchises.

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So. The 2018 NFL season begins this week, and I, for one, hope the players keep kneeling – and not in their locker rooms, either. I hope they come right out on the field and kneel, maybe even their hands over their hearts. Or one fist in the air.  Why do I wish the demonstrations to continue? Because the solutions don’t require rocket scientists, only grown men willing to work things out; and as I’ve said before, these issues are matters of life and death.

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Dr. Natalia Tanner’s Death: The End of an Era in Medicine

My pediatrician and physician until I left college, Dr. Natalia Tanner [Cain], died this past weekend in her adopted hometown of Detroit MI. She was also a family friend, and so our relationship spanned my whole life. Dr. Tanner was a remarkable woman in many ways. In addition to a barrier-breaking career in pediatric and adolescent medicine, she was a wife and mother to two equally impressive daughters. I will miss her as will thousands of Detroit patients and parents.

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Keep Kneeling: It’s a Matter of Life and Death

I am not a football fan. Just as I was getting interested in football — in high school, my boyfriend was a defensive tackle — one of our Central High School players was made a quadraplegic on the football field. My interest in the sport evaporated that very day. So why do I care about the National Football League’s kerfuffle with its players and Donald Trump? I care and believe everyone should because the majority of the kneeling players are African Americans whom Mr. Trump has attacked and lied about and whose First Amendment rights are being infringed upon by him and the NFL.

Last month, the NFL owners, in a supposed “compromise” on players kneeling during the  national anthem announced that players who want to kneel during the “Star Spangled Banner” before each game can do so. In the locker room. I say “supposed compromise” because the players were not included in the decision-making, so it is the owners and NFL Commissioner Goodell who compromised.

What kind of foolishness is that? As American citizens, the players have a right to protest pretty much when and where they please. The kneelers are protesting police shootings of African-American men and boys and inequities in the criminal justice system, and effective protests don’t occur behind closed doors. The players who kneel are not being disrespectful of the flag or the military as the president incorrectly asserts. As a matter of fact, kneeling is not disrespectful at all, or people would not do it when they pray.

Donald Trump has managed to put the fear of the presidency into the NFL owners, and suggested that players who don’t stand for the national anthem are unpatriotic and should not be in the United States. That’s outrageous! What is he going to do, deport them?

It is my hope that the NFL players will not be cowed by Trump or the owners. It is my hope that they will continue to kneel in protest before the games. And it is my hope that the owners and fans will see and understand and do something about the inequities and wrongful deaths being protested.

 

We Must Remain Hopeful . . .

27 June 2018, Washington D.C. —Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement effective 31 July. What a drag! Now Donald Trump will get to appoint another Justice. I fear the next appointment will be worse, i.e., more conservative, than the last one.

Justice Kennedy is the swing vote: sometimes he’d side with the liberals on the Court, sometimes with the conservatives. A Reagan appointee, Kennedy frequently surprised many by standing with the liberals rather than always siding with the Court’s conservatives. When Trump nominates his next Justice, the Court will be packed with conservatives.

Justice Kennedy notwithstanding, the Supreme Court already is doing Trump’s dirty work for him: making America forbidding again for people of color and women. With five conservative justices on the court, it will be a miracle if African-Americans can continue to vote, if women can still get legal abortions, if unions can survive, and if gerrymandering can be slowed.

Trump’s conservative vortex is scary, sucking down many of the advances the country has made over the past 50 years; and it seems unstoppable. It is a time machine set to the past.

All we can do is wait to see who Trump will nominate to the Court and hope the candidate is someone we can live with, someone who won’t help take the country too far into the past. After all, everyone understands what “Make America Great Again” means, and a return to the “good old days” for which Trump and his minions yearn does not bode well for African-Americans and anyone else who isn’t part of the mainstream.

It is hard to remain hopeful, but we must. . .

 

Welcome to Lit Night @ Sandaga 813

Big congratulations to my friend Sanderia Faye on the successful launch of Lit Night on Wednesday, 13 June at Sandaga 813 on Exposition in Dallas!

Readers included:

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Demethius Jackson kicked off the evening with a reading from Realmsic Conquest.
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Susan Norman read from her eco-novel about Paolo Emilio and honeybees gone awry.
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My friend Scott Branks read three pieces

 

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Featured writer Joe Malazo read Homeopathy for the Singularity #40 and #16

 

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I Am Will the Poet: Poetic Justice and Twelve
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Namdi was reluctant to read . . . but he did it well!
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Monica Bell treated us to Lemon Curd!
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The barefooted Carlos presented a sensual poem
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Stone and Rope by Darius
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Sanderia Faye ended the evening with a reading from her current work-in-progress, Eleven Days

Check out Lit Night every second Wednesday . . .

Hope to see you next month at Sandaga 813  on Wednesday, 11 July!

And don’t worry, I am still outraged. There is more outrage to come!