Monday, January 11, 2021

HOW TO CELEBRATE THE DR. KING HOLIDAY

The angst and anxiety that so many people have been feeling the past several months is understandable.  From an unrelenting pandemic that has taken so many lives, to the plague of social injustice that continues to challenge the lives of Black people in the United States, it has been a difficult time in America.  How fitting it is, then, that the first major holiday of the year that we celebrate is the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr holiday.  At a time when we need all the hope we can get, honoring the legacy and dream of Dr. King offers us some comfort.

Dr. King was the dreamer who believed that America could and would be better.  He understood that changes would come, but they would not be swift.  And indeed, Black Americans have progressed over the past fifty years in ways that even Dr. King would find encouraging.  From political power in Georgia, to unprecedented  entrepreneurship and business ownership, to reaching the highest levels in education, Blacks have pushed, pulled, and moved in whatever manner necessary to achieve their dreams.  And while Dr. King might applaud the progress, he would make it very clear that there is more to accomplish.  That it takes conviction, faith, hope, and continuous and consistent effort to prevail against those evil forces that would conspire to deny us fair opportunity in this land.

In pursuit of the dream, Dr. King probably had few days off.  Fighting for civil rights has no “down time”.  Discrimination and bigotry don’t take vacations.  Dr. King’s dream was for us to have freedom of opportunity in America.  The opportunity to elect those who would serve us best.  The opportunity to be educated at the schools of our choice.  The opportunity to live where ever we wanted to live.  The opportunity to have our own businesses.   The opportunity to pursue our own dreams.
Celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King is not a singular event.  Instead it is a reminder that pursuing one’s dreams is a 24/7/365 endeavor.  It does not begin or end on January 15th.

So as we celebrate the Dr. King holiday in these troubling and unsettling times, let us be comforted and encouraged by the vision of the Dreamer.  The best way to celebrate Dr. King is to pursue your own dream everyday.



Tuesday, December 22, 2020

SPIRITUAL RENEWAL AT CHRISTMAS

    The story of Christmas has always been about spiritual renewal, but in today’s tumultuous world, the need for spiritual renewal is so urgent that the story of Christmas holds more significance today than at any other time in our existence. The troubles that besiege the world in 2020 are well documented: the pandemic; social injustice; racial discrimination; environmental devastation; political corruption; economic destruction. All of these issues have made it difficult for many to keep the faith, yet that is the very essence of the story of Christmas.  Christ’s advent to earth was based in Faith, Hope, and Love. Faith…the assurance that no matter how bad situations may get, the Spirit will always be our guiding light. When we are unsure that trouble will end, faith comforts us and allows us to understand that the plan belongs to the Master. Hope…that internal desire for something better that propels us to never give up no matter how daunting the challenge. Love… the ultimate gift that binds us together as humans even when evil tries to pry us apart. It is love that prompts our compassion, caring, and concern for others.

    It has been written that faith is the substance of things we hope for and the evidence of the things we can’t see. It has also been written that we should love each other; a simple command that is so important in times of trouble. As you read, hear, or see the story of Christmas this holiday season, may your spirit be renewed with Faith, Hope and Love.







Tuesday, October 6, 2020

BLACK MEN HAVE TO "SUIT UP" FOR THE 2020 ELECTION

          We keep hearing the persistent proclamations that the 2020 United States elections are the most important elections of our lifetime.  I suspect that depends on your perspective.  Black Men, historically, have not given much credence to the electoral systems that shape U.S politics.  If you consider the history of the Black Man in America it is understandable that Black Men, generally, might not get too excited about participating in an election.  When one’s mere existence has historically been disregarded; when you have been treated as disposable; when there are those who would just as soon eliminate you instead of letting you peaceably vote, then it becomes easy to understand how Black Men might find it difficult to trust the validity of any political system.

          But 2020 is different.  There is a whole lot of mess going on in the U.S. that needs the wisdom, innovation, courage, insightfulness, strength, and determination that Black Men bring to the table.  Black Men are problem solvers and have an innate ability to filter through bull.  There is an abundance of problems that need to be solved and there are women and men running for office at all levels who want to fix those problems.  Black Men participating in the voting process is imperative to the success of these candidates.  That means Black Men cannot sit on the sideline and spectate.  They have to participate in getting these candidates elected.  The “my vote won’t count” attitude has to be discarded.

          That’s why Brothers have to “suit up” for this one.  Don’t fall for the old okey-doke that your vote doesn’t matter.  It all matters and this is a time when we can’t afford to be indifferent.  Yes, it just might be the most important election of our lifetime.

 S. A. Miller




 

Monday, June 1, 2020

HISTORY OF BLACK AMERICA AND THE POLICE


Once again we find ourselves at a moment where Black men and women have been killed by members of law enforcement.  It is not a new story in America, but it is a tired story.  I won’t spend time going over the latest transgressions as they have been well documented in the media. 

Much of the analysis has focused on, “what’s next?”  There is no argument that some members of police forces show little or no regard for the lives of Black Americans and particularly Black males. In many instances Black males are the “enemy” and some officers believe they have the authority to abuse, disrespect, and injure as they see fit.  The discussion then moves to, “how do we change this narrative?”  How do we get police to respect and protect the lives of Black people?

I submit that there has to be a dissecting of where this “authority” to treat Black people as less than comes from.  I suggest that police officers be exposed to the history of policing in Black America.  Candidates applying to be police officers should be taught lessons on the Slave Patrols.  While, historically, the mantra has been “to protect and serve” the real purpose of policing began as a means of capturing escaped slaves.  These patrols were given the authority to track down escaped slaves and return them to their masters.

Once slavery was abolished, the police department became a government sanctioned entity charged with enforcing the discriminatory laws of Jim Crow.  These forces were given domain over Black people in their communities and had the legal authority to treat Blacks in any manner they saw fit without the fear of repercussion.  Unfortunately that mindset remains entrenched in some officers today.  I believe police academies should make lessons about the history of policing and the Black community a mandatory part of the training curriculum.  There are plenty of books and articles on the subject, so resource material is not an issue.  It doesn’t guarantee that all candidates will be enlightened to the point that it changes the way they police, but at least they will be more cognitive of the genesis of the relationship between Black Americans and the police; and being more cognitive may tap into some level of compassion and understanding.

Of course there are other issues that have to be addressed in order to improve the relationship between the Black Community and the police.  There are administration and managerial reforms that governments, in collaboration with community leadership, have to address.  There has to be better psychological analysis of those who want to be police officers including a full vetting of an individual’s prejudices, biases, racist tendencies, and psychological deficiencies that might prevent them from performing policing duties appropriately.

There are multiple approaches and ideas that will have to converge if we are going to make the mistreatment of Black Americans by police the exception rather than the rule.  Yes, more tactical training and racial diversity training will help, but police need to understand the history; that their relationship with Blacks has been toxic from its inception.  The truth should be told.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

THE VIRUS DOESN'T CARE ABOUT YOUR IMAGE


The United States is in the midst of the pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus.  In some communities there seems to be a dichotomy between what is good for the health of the public and what is good for the health of the pocketbook.  In Atlanta several small businesses have opted to reopen their doors at the encouragement of the Georgia governor who has demonstrated a lack of understanding of the devastating impact this virus has had on human beings.

So why have these hair salons, nail salons, and fitness centers made the choice to reopen their doors and risk the lives of their employees and patrons?  Because there are people who value  image over the sanctity of life.  I’ve heard business owners lament about how they need to pay the rent, or need to pay employees, or need to make that car payment, but when does that become more important than life itself?  It does when your self-image is what you live for.  So Many people bathe themselves in status.  They live in a certain neighborhood; they drive a certain car; they have a certain “look” that has to maintained weekly.  I have no problem with people living their best life, but if the consequence is death, where’s the benefit?  I understand that some don’t see life as a journey and thus don’t dwell on longevity, but when your behavior endangers the lives of family and friends, that is the time to pull back from an “only me” mentality and take a broader view.

Covid-19 has killed thousands in the United States and more will die if business owners insist in their own vanity, defy the science, open up their doors prematurely, and invite death to come in and have a seat.