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!

Outrage!

There is so much to be outraged about these days that I have been nearly paralyzed by my anger and dismay for the last two months. For a while, my words failed me. But, I am doing my best to be over that now, so I’m back!

A month ago the U.S. government — Health and Human Services [HHS] to be exact — admitted to losing track of nearly 1,500 minor children who showed up at the US-Mexico border sans parents. Because they were unaccompanied, they, along with over 6,000 other children, were placed with sponsors, and now HHS can’t reach their sponsors or account for the children’s whereabouts. One concern is that these unaccounted-for children may fall prey to human traffickers. And as far as I’ve been able to discern, not much is being done to find these kids because they “are no longer [the government’s] responsibility”! Maybe, maybe not. I say #WhereAreTheChildren? What a scary, outrageous mess!

Yet another outrage is the government’s decision to split up undocumented families  at the border in a effort to dissuade people from coming to the US illegally. There is no law that requires this separation of families. Mr. Trump has tried to blame the policy on the Democrats, but there is no evidence to support that claim. The whole situation is absolutely outrageous!

Television star and Trump supporter Roseanne Barr, who is famous for her outrageous behavior, delivered an ugly little political twitter rant on 29 May, but she is not Teflon-coated like her president. Within hours of the twitter posting, ABC had cancelled her revived — and vey popular — show, the eponymous Roseanne. It’s a shame that her costars and scores of others are now out of jobs because of Barr’s mean-spirited, racist words. As for Barr herself, well, every once in a while the harm a person inflicts boomerangs right back. Ambien indeed!

More outrage next time . . .

 

Alive in Memory

Nine years ago, in the fall of 2009, I realized that I was losing my mother.    That is when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  We, my sisters and I, actually had begun losing her a few years before that.  We just did not realize or understand what was happening.

Mother’s inability to find her way around the ship during

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4 July 2012, Southfield Michigan.

a family cruise in 2007 had alarmed me, but neither of my sisters were concerned. When she was completely unable to find her way around the hotel during a conference we were attending, I insisted on getting her assessed by a neurologist.  She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Despite the diagnosis, Mother did not believe it, and she seemed in command of her environment. So she continued living on her own until we got a call from her hometown police.  She had called 9-1-1 to report a robbery in progress, but when the police arrived, all was well and there was no evidence of a break-in.  The police officer who called me explained that this was not the first false alarm Mother had reported; it had happened a number of times before we were called.

Mother lived in Nevada; my sisters and I live in Michigan, Mississippi, and Texas.  We definitely did not want the police to involve Adult Services.  So, with no prior planning or knowledge of what the next steps would be, my sisters hustled her out of Las Vegas to my sister’s home in Michigan which is where Mother had said she wanted to go if she could no longer live on her own; but she did not remember that, and she did not want to leave. Heart-breaking as it was, we had to remove her; and against her will, she went to live in Michigan with my sister, a transition that was not easy for either of them.

I felt a lot of guilt about my mother’s plight. As with any disease, early detection is critical.  However, in part because we were so far away, it took us a while to realize that Mother was slipping away.  By the time we understood that we were losing her, she was probably already half way through the seven stages of Alzheimer’s.   And though I know it is not my fault that she developed the disease, I can’t help thinking I should have noticed earlier, that I somehow should have known she was deteriorating and done something; what, I don’t know.

Over the six years she lived in Michigan, Mother forgot our birthdates, her wedding date, friends she had known for decades, and where her daughters lived. She no longer remembered the rules of bridge, a game she had mastered and enjoyed playing for over sixty years.  Fortunately, she still remembered and loved all three of her

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On a family reunion cruise to Bermuda, July 2013.

daughters, her son-in-law, her one remaining brother, and her deceased husband.  What I learned to do until she was actually gone – all I could do – was adjust to and love the mother I still had – the mother we lost a little more day by day, week by week, and month by month – while cherishing the strong, capable, resourceful, brave, nurturing, charming, and often amusing woman she had been for most of her life and mine.

 

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Lois Tabor Ice died 29 March 2015 at the age of 93, and though I am grateful for her longevity, I miss her terribly; I missed her even while she was still here, so in essence I lost her twice.

Now I keep Mother alive in my memory by thinking of her daily and talking about her with my sisters, relatives, and friends, sometimes with sadness but more often with affection and laughter. And always with love.

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              Lois Tabor Ice                       14 June 1921-              29 March 2015

 

 

 

Dallas Marches for Gun Sense

On Saturday, 24 March, I went to downtown Dallas to march with our young people and their families to demand action against gun violence and for stronger gun control. It was a beautiful day for such an action: sunny and in the 80s, but not too hot.

IMG_0497There were people of all ages and races, and the crowd was huge and friendly. Because it was on the move for the first hour or so, it was  hard to get a handle on the size of the crowd, but I am confident there were many hundreds on the move in downtown Dallas that day.

And signs! Lots of signs; here’s a tiny sample: “Students Demand Action,” “Moms Demand Action,” “Books Not Bullets,” “I’ve Seen Smarter Cabinets at Ikea Stores,” and my favorite, “Give Teachers a Raise, NOT Guns.”

There was lots of spontaneous group chanting as well. One favorite subject of the chants told the National Rifle Association to get out of the way. Another demanded, “Tell me what democracy looks like!” The shouted reply from the marchers was “This is what democracy looks like!”

The march was huge but it did not go a long distance — just a few long blocks from City Hall and then back. The march lasted a little over an hour and then there were speeches.

Because I had somewhere else to be, I couldn’t stay for the speeches, so I can’t say how long the crowd stood on City Hall plaza listening. Regardless, the march was a success in my estimation. If you live in the Dallas area and you weren’t there, you missed a great opportunity to support the Metroplex’s young people and stronger gun control. I hope it made an impact on our elected officials.

 

It’s Only 30 Days! How Hard Can It Be?

You may have heard of the Whole30, an eating regimen during which people eat whole fruits and vegetables, meats, poultry, and fish while eliminating four basic food groups from their diets for 30 days. The eliminated foods are grains, legumes (though sugar snap peas, green beans, and snow peas are allowed), dairy products (except eggs and clarified butter), and sugar in all its forms – honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, and, of course, granulated. Whole30 is not a weight loss program, but many people do lose weight during the 30 days. That is one of the things that drew me to it.

The purpose of the Whole30, according to founders Melissa (and Dallas) Hartwig, is to help people “put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal [their] digestive tract[s], and balance [their] immune system[s].” The foods Whole30ers eliminate might be “having negative effects on [people’s] health and fitness” without them realizing it.

I don’t generally believe in eliminating whole food groups from one’s diet, but after the 30 days, participants begin adding the eliminated foods back into their diets to determine if there are any adverse effects from any of them. So the only foods folks would permanently ban from their diets are those they learn are causing digestive or physiological problems. That makes sense to me.

So why am I telling you about the Whole30? Well, I planned to try it myself. Sadly, I have yet to get started. My first planned start date was Ash Wednesday, 14 February, but I was out of town and decided that would not be a wise start date.

My next planned start date was 1 March. Starting the Whole 30 takes planning and foresight. I was back in town and the 1 March date would give me time to get the things I wouldn’t be able to eat on the Whole30 out of my house. But I hadn’t felt well since I was out of town, so on 28 February I went to the doctor’s office only to learn I had the flu. Though it was the less virulent strain, I was foiled again because I needed comfort food, and I still had not purged the kitchen and stocked it with Whole30-approved foods.

Now Spring has sprung, and I still haven’t started the Whole30. I still want and I plan to, and hope I will, but I am a sucker for both bread and popcorn which aren’t allowed during the Whole30. Hartwig constantly reminds those considering the program that it is only 30 days that one needs to eliminate the four food groups, but I am very aware that it is 30 whole days!

As of today, I’m still working on ridding my kitchen of other Whole30 inedibles such as grits, Crunchy Cheetos, oatmeal, bottled juices, honey, sugar – and developing the discipline not to buy more forbidden foods.

I am determined (I think!) to do the Whole30, and I will let you know when I start. Meanwhile, wish me luck!

 

 

Gun Violence Is Everybody’s Business

It has happened again. On Valentine’s Day 2018 seventeen people died at the hands of a murderer wielding a legally purchased firearm in an American high school. This time the crime scene was Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a Miami suburb. The confessed murderer, Nikolas Cruz, took an Uber car to the campus and began his assault outside the high school with a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle. By the time he stopped shooting, 31 people had been mowed down; 17 of them died.

The 19-year-old Cruz is a former Stoneman Douglas student. After the rampage, Cruz was arrested as he walked down a street in an adjacent town after blending in with students fleeing the school he had just attacked. He has now been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

What in the world is to be done now?

On last Thursday’s Megyn Kelly show she suggested that President Trump divert the money he wants for his border wall to trying to solve the problem of gun violence. That is a good idea. According to the Brookings Institution, estimated cost for the border wall ranges between $12 and $70 billion. That should be enough money to put a dent in the problem.

But the things that will do most to stanch this murder epidemic do not cost money. They simply require backbone.

First, we must start calling these episodes what they are: mass murders. Although Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, the media insists on calling them shootings rather than what they really are.

Next, the state legislatures and the US Congress must strengthen the gun control and background check laws currently in existence and make it harder, not easier,  to obtain weapons. Yes, getting a gun should be at least as onerous as buying a car or truck, and it should require the of purchase liability insurance on each firearm.

Finally, a conversation about gun violence in our country – at the local, state, and national level – must commence.

I anticipate that Trump will say that now is not the time to discuss gun control and gun violence. He and other national “leaders” have called for unity and prayer.  He has already has laid the blame for Wednesday’s murders at the door of the mental health community. He managed to talk about the latest AR-15 rifle massacre without once mentioning guns. Instead, Mr. Trump plans to discuss mental health with governors and attorneys general by the end of the month.

Dare I say it? Unity and prayer alone have not staved off  additional mass murders in the past. It is unlikely they will this time.

Contrary to those who are afraid of the gun lobby, I say now is the very best time to discuss and to act on gun violence and gun control. We, the people, must do our part by communicating our points of view to our representatives and senators; and the Congress must do its part by passing legislation that strengthens gun control laws and background check requirements.

So, whatever your point of view or your age, it’s time to put pen to paper, begin an email, or place a call to your congress persons. Why not even send a letter to Mr. Trump himself? Gun violence and gun control is everyone’s business because gun violence is epidemic in our country, and that, my friends, constitutes a national crisis.