Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Gates Affair

The Professor Henry Gates situation is a wild one.. I figure I'll weigh in with some thoughts, opinions, common experience and uncommon ground... First thing that came to mind when hearing about this was my own recent encounter, which wasn't at all like the good professor. Actually, my experience was a positive one... Maybe it was positive because I didn't over-react. I didn't display the higher than thou or invading my space posture. The police were recently called to my place, responding to an alarm that had gone off a little while before I arrived home. I had no clue. The alarm was functioning normal. When the police arrived, the lead officer asked for my ID and I like the good professor I had to go into another room to get it. The police didn't follow me but he asked for my name before I went to get my ID. I imagine he could see from my demeanor and non-threatening posture that I was cool. I made a joke that I was happy to see the alarm actually worked. Police laughed. Incident over. Police gone. Hmmm.. where's my invite to the White House now? *smile*

From what I can see with the Gates thing, it was a lot of overreacting going on from a lot of folks; Gates, the Prez, the media, and even the news conference holding police folk. And the media(the worse) has truly gone overboard with the coverage though at the same time, it's a good thing that the situation got folks talking. The only thing is, when race gets involved, people lose that part of the brain that holds tight to common sense. I was watching Rick Sanchez today on CNN. He's not one of my favorites but I do check him out from time to time. I think he half reads stuff and sensationalizes the most trivial things, mostly because it's his show and he likes to be in charge of the conversation. Don't upstage or look like you know more than him... Rowan Martin was on the show. He's funny. Makes good sense and has good common sense. There was also Bey Buchanon(probably spelling it wrong-yawn) who I totally can't stand and another guy who didn't really speak loud enough to get in between the semi-heated moments between the other three. After the segment was over, I could only shake my head and think how much of a waste of time that was. No one really providing any enlightenment upon the big issue because the issue is so much bigger than many are comprehending if they only focus on Gates and his moment in the police spotlight. It took this to get him to understand the vulnerable feeling that others beneath his blessed status in the world experience everyday... His first time, it appears...

I've had a few encounters/experiences throughout my life and know of others who've had it a lot worse. For me, most of my experiences in hindsight make me laugh or smile because the memory has lived with me for so long. Moments like when my mother was driving and in the back seat was myself and my uncle, both young teenagers at the time with afros. The police pulled my mother over and immediately asked if she was alright. My mother being such a light-skinned woman; she was mistaken at that moment for a white person. The officer had one of those classic egg on the face looks when my mother said we were her son and youngest brother.... Me and my uncle looked at each other in confusion like saying "uh, what did you do?" "Huh? Nuttin... what you do?" "Nuttin.."

Then another time during my Junior Highschool years, I was stopped by the police while walking home. It happened twice on the same day within a five block radius on the same street; Palms Blvd. At the time, this neighborhood was predominantly white. There were maybe three black families in that area. The first police said I fit the description of a liquor store robbery suspect. I shrugged. I was clueless and wanted to continue on home. They got in their car and drove off. No thanks, goodbye, apology or anything... A second police car pulled up a couple blocks later, questioned me and said I fit the description of a gas station robbery suspect. And I wonder what was the description? *smile* yep, my complexion was in demand that day. I shrugged again... And from that point on, I had loads of encounters, especially later on once I started driving and even though the encounters have ceased in one way, I still get the suspicious looks, stares and glares that's meant to let you know whose in charge... All that good stuff that Professor Gates has now discovered... So when I get my invite, tell the President I prefer Mountain Dew over beer. And if there's food being served then yeah, I'm like Magic Johnson; I'll have some grilled chicken.. *smile* I hope the hoopla is over...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Trip That Changed A Lifetime

Everything was packed, boxes were everywhere. I sat on the floor next to my dog. I imagine we both had a look of bewilderment; wondering what was going on and what would life be like in the coming months. My mother was sad because with the change of scenery came separation. She’d be miles away from her mother, sister and brothers and once we’d reach our destination, she’d live on the other side of town from my father. That alone made the move one of the worse events of our lives.

It was a strange drive from Los Angeles to Texas. For the most part it was very quiet with a lot of pretending going on. I can say that now in hindsight. I remember my mother always looking back to check on me and my father being extra nice. My dog sat quietly in the very back of the station wagon. That was a rare moment for him that lasted a couple days. When my father drove at night, the dark shadows of his silhouette played tricks on my mind. I would sink down in the backseat and stare at him. The shape of his head appeared to change; sometimes forming into the shape of Frankenstein. I stared at him for long periods of time before drifting off to sleep. In between that, all I can remember is that we drove and drove all night and day. I don’t remember us stopping somewhere to spend the night or stopping for food, though I’m sure we did, stop for food. I guess my mind chose to release some parts of the memory so that other images might linger a little longer or possibly forever.

The image that always haunted me was when we pulled into the Dallas airport. My mother and I looked around wondering what was going on. She started to tear up and to make matters worse, it began to thunder outside. The rain came down hard as my father announced he’d be flying on to Houston because he had things to tend to with the business. He said we’d be alright and we’d have only one hundred miles left to drive before reaching the small town in east Texas where his mother lived.

My father never looked back. He couldn’t sense that he had a son staring at him with his hand pressed against the window waiting for a chance to wave goodbye. My father walked faster so he could get out of the rain. My mother took a while before she’d move over to the driver side. She cried. There were three pairs of sad eyes sitting in that station wagon; her’s, mine, and my dog. All my mother could say was that she felt completely lost. She had no clue how to find the highway that would take us up the road to east Texas. We eventually found our way but it would be a lot of years gone by before we’d truly find our way in every sense of the word. That moment changed everything...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

40 already..

Time flies, especially when someone is no longer around. The 40 day mark after my mother's passing is already here. It's crazy. It's like the ten years that's already behind me since my father's passing. You look up and wonder where did the time go and revisit everything that's transpired since then; the ups and downs, highs, super lows, and the blessing of being able to find your way back better than before. I'm grateful but I sure miss my mom. I smile and feel joy when I think of all the memories and yet I ache when I think about those final months, seeing her deteriorate or the finality of watching her lifeless body being carried out the front door. Before this life forced me into adulthood, they never warned me about the images/memories that would be imbedded inside my head and heart as if branded with a hot iron. Again, it's not all bad but if you truly pay attention and appreciate your journey, it can be quite powerful... what's next...