Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dick Gregory

Dick Gregory may be the only person on the planet right now who I can listen to talk about the current state of racism and oppression in America. It's just too late to discuss being a victim or to pay too much attention to the illusionary, "Oppressor."

If every human being is a spiritual being having a human experience, then being a "victim" ... or a "perpetrator" are merely roles we either choose to play or "attach" to and have difficulty letting go of. (This is only background babble because by now, most folks know this already... at least intellectually, if not emotionally.)

Dick Gregory has worn many hats. Among them being, social activist, comedian, writer, and entrepreneur, grandfather, and spiritual adviser ... but the thread that weaves them all together is that he is a healer. A "social counselor" that tells both the emperor and the field hand that they have no clothes ... that they've forgotten who they are ... and like the father, chides them to the point of awareness that yes, they can and must ... do better.

Please play the video below. Like Dr. Phil, John Bradshaw, and Jesus Christ, I too agree that the burden of unnecessary guilt and shame lie at the heart of America’s ills. I hope you’ll "YouTube" all his videos. He speaks to the healing heart of us all ... black, white, yellow, brown, red … male, female ... et al ...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Black Renaissance on Pine Street

So I'm eating breakfast at this cafe on Adeline in Berkeley. The guy at the table next to me has just finished a bowl of something ... some kind of greenish cooked cereal or some sort of Split Pea soup. A short stack with home fries follows. (Hmmm ... interesting. Either this guy is from some Eastern European country or he's just a very hungry fellow who knows how to eat.)

So I strikes up a conversation. Turns out the couple are far-left Berkeley types. Not many left these days. I tell him a bit about me, and then he pauses, and tells me about this brother down in the Lower Bottom (a.k.a. "West Oakland") who is creating this whole movement around black art, music and writing.

It takes me a week, but I find the scrap of paper deep in my pocket, and read, "Marcel Diallo's" name on it, along with the words, "blackdotcafe magazine".

Google then name in, and BaM! There's all these stories and links about a new urban revival of da creative arts in an area once labeled Oakland's Buttermilk Bottom. West Oakland. Once home to Pullman Car Porters, Southern Pacific and Sante Fe trains, Chinese Cleaners, and a strip of African American bars and night clubs linked to the infamous "Chitlin Circuit" that ran under the South's Cotton Curtain, up to Harlem, across the Midwest, and even out to Northern and Southern California.

So, here's this Marcel Diallo sitting next to actor Don Cheadle. (Ya gotta click on some of these links and read this stuff..) They're talking about how developer Rick Holliday came up with the idea of renovating the dead heart of West Oakland's 7th & Pine Street area. The surprising part of all this to me is that this has been going on for some time ... and like the West Oakland Farmer's Market, far too few people know about it.

I'm sooOOOOoo glad to read about all of Diallo's work ... even though it's a bit too urban for me. But it's important ... because like the cliché says ... "the artist, the poets, and the musicians create the consciousness of the race."

We've had 30 years of Korporate State control of the music. Started in the 70s actually ... when they took the stage out and this thing called, "Disco" suddenly appeared. All that great, REAL, music ... gone. The Great Communicator (Ronald Regan) came in and university scholarships began disappearing. A tragic thing called, "Homelessness" appeared in both America's cities and its rural areas. Drugs began pouring in from "no where" and high school drop-outs were suddenly getting all the contracts that people like Aretha Franklin, O.C. Smith, and James Brown once had. The Giants of Rhythm and Blues suddenly couldn't BUY a job ... but high school drop-outs like "Too Short" and "Snoop Dog" couldn't find pockets deep enough to hold all the money that was thrown at them.

Like Aristotle once said: "You write the laws, but let me write the songs because the youth will act out the songs."

It's been a long, dark, night upon the land folks. We need visionaries of every hue at the table ... writing, sculpting, painting a path to a New Renaissance that will stop the killing, free some souls, and fill some hearts, minds ... and stomachs.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

An Argument For Black Spiritual Marriage

The state of relationships in America is bad enough, but in Black America, it's a train wreak. The Congressional Black Caucus produced statements that alluded to the numbers of African-American divorces being on par with the general population (about 50 per cent divorce rate) ... but the alarming co-statistic was that only about 75 per cent of blacks are even getting married in the first place. So, what's keeping so many black folks single?

While the stressors may be many, "the cure" seems to be all point back to issues of ethics, morality, and spirituality. In his book, "Blessings Of The Flesh, Sins Of The Spirit," esteemed theologian Matthew Fox correlates the Seven Major Chakras of the East with the Seven Deadly Sins of the West. Old news for spiritual seekers, right? Yes and no.

Lust simply isn't sufficient to carry an adult, mature relationship very far. Yet, within Black American cultures, the over-emphasis on sex and sexuality continues to be an over-value commodity. People still think sex alone will bring them happiness. While sex is an important piece to the human experience, determining what to do with that most sacred parts of our anatomies is best mapped out by centuries of spiritual exploration. (Notice my continued reference to the word, "Spiritual" rather than the word, "Religious.")

In their paper, "An Exploration of Factors Related to the Decline in Black Marriages," W. E. Harris, Jr. and Kelly D. Bradley assert:

When Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, married couples headed more than 70% of all black families. In 2002, the number had declined to 48% (Kinnon, 2003). One of the factors influencing the decline in Black marriage rates has been the rising rate of incarceration among Black men at all educational levels over the past 30 years (Kiecolt & Fossett).

It's odd, but when most people begin having in their relationships with others, they often first seek out the help of a therapist or a psychologist. But all of modern psychology sits on top of old world theology that it doesn't want to recognize. So why look to a watered-down set of instructions rather than seek out an experience in all it's fullness, it's majesty and its "AWE"?

The answers to that question are many. From, it's easier to take drugs to attempt to simulate a spiritual experience, to the willful decision to not be disappointed by one of the mainstream religions all too many have lost faith in. But spirituality involves our personal spirit along with whatever cosmology one finds faith in ... from Yoga, to Buddhist Mediation, to Greek Orthodox Meditation, Catholic Comptemplative Prayer, and on to religious metaphysical practices like the Jewish mysticism of the Kabbalah. Spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra enjoys using phrases like:

"We are literally made of start dust. Carbon. The process of photosynthesis nurtures us--is a part of us. We are essentially the eyes of The Universe in co-creation with God."

This is similar to fingerprints at the tip of each person's hand. We all have them, but each is different. Religion helps teach us the beginning practices that lead to spiritual experiences. But to be a Spiritual Warrior, one has to be willing to relinquish fear, and to relax in faith, surrendering every pre-conceived idea of what God the Spirit is. That can means work. But the work that we were born for. This fellow Space Travelers, is a of the journey too good to miss. May I leave you with this?

Anything you put in front of God, will either eat you—or you'll eventually lose it.

Meaning? In this alienated, pornographic age, we essentially have to even learn how to physically love our wives and husbands. To make an alter out of the body of another means creating yet one more "false god" in our life. One more demon.

Opening to spirituality means opening to a higher, deeper, richer experience in life than people who cling to crutches like alcohol, drugs, porn, and the delusions of power will ever achieve. We really are "spiritual beings have a human experience." Life is really amazing.

May you sincerely, be happy.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Post-Obama: Still Addicted to Negativity?

I left the room after hearing his first press conference, and breath an unconscious sigh of relief. For the first time in 30 years, I did not feel like my government was persecuting me. ("Phweeeph"!)

So it's been a little over a month, and there is still a lightness in the air. The California Bay Area hasn't felt this good since the 70's. Yet, already, the bloggers, writers, and media reporters are re-hitching up their little wagons to stars of hatred, fear and resentment.

It's like half the population is addicted to being the victim. Literally ... addicted. In his book, "People of The Lie," Dr. M. Scott Peck speaks to the fundamentals of "Evil."

I guess I'm alarmed at how quickly people can go from elation, hope, and joy ... to returning to the slop of their "Lazy Thinking" ... blaming others instead of getting to work on creating the society ... the culture ... and the individual lives we most want to experience.

It's been easy to point fingers at all the many sources of evil that has came at us these past 30 years. OK ... longer ... but there's been breaks... and it's during these "breaks" that the greatest change can occur. The 60s was a wonderful break. That decade gave us Dr. Martin Luther King, an end to institutionalized Jim Crow, and privileges like the right to vote. And now, as President-elect Obama prepares to enter the White House, we all stand, at a threshold of another unique time in history where great change can happen ... if we only become aware of how the trauma of racism has become a habit in our thinking.

"Since they must deny their own badness, they must perceive others as bad. They project their own evil onto the world. The evil attack others instead of facing their own failures. Spiritual growth requires the acknowledgment of one's own need to grow. If we cannot make that acknowledgment, we have no option except to attempt to eradicate the evidence of our imperfection. Strangely enough, evil people are often destructive because they are attempting to destroy evil. The problem is that they misplace the locus of the evil. Instead of destroying others they should be destroying the sickness within themselves."

I suppose what I'm challenging everyone ... blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, et al ... is to begin ... quickly... to think about what each of us as individuals can bring to the table to make this a better place to live. Stop looking at the faults of others for a minute, and begin thinking about what they need. More, what do I need to be fully happy, healthy, joyous and free ... and what am I doing to stop that from becoming reality in my life? That is the work and the great opportunity of this moment.

Here are some quotes by Dr. Peck ... food for thought...

Books by Dr. M. Scott Peck

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"The 100 best places to raise a family" Huh??

I just read the latest atrocious list put out by MSN's "Best Places To Live." The subtitle reads:

"Find out which American cities are the best, worst for you and your brood"

"Television executives seized the idea long ago: American families value where they plant their roots. The Cosbys had Brooklyn. The Cunninghams, Milwaukee. The Simpsons, Springfield. But fathers face reality when they're not in prime time. They want to raise their children somewhere safe, where they can attend good schools with favorable student-teacher ratios, above-average test scores and respectable budgets. Plenty of museums, parks and pediatricians also contribute to a good quality of life, whereas multihour commutes, expensive houses and divorcing friends and neighbors do not. Best Life editors used these categories and data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Education Statistics, the FBI, the American Association of Museums, the National Center for Health Statistics and the American Bar Association to evaluate 257 cities. Here are the best — and worst — places to raise a family."

Well ... I they may have input some data into somebody's laptop over lunch, but they certainly didn't take race or class into the equation.

5. San Diego, California
Yes, San Diego is a lovely place, IF you have the cash to live in one of it's better neighborhoods.

7. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Has anyone BEEN to Minneapolis lately? Another over-crowded city with all the problems of any large urban center ... and it's COLD. But my biggest gripe with this choice is ... well ... it's Minnesota. Both Minnesota and Wisconsin have cultures that drip with passive-aggression. They are the hands-down worst "lookie-loo" drivers in the country. They love to take their boredom and anger with them when they leave the house.

10. Santa Rosa, California
Gangs, drugs and classism.

11. Wichita, Kansas
One of the best jokes on the list. How did they miss all the crack/meth and alcohol abuse in Wichita??

12. Los Angeles, California
I cannot figure this one out. L.A. is Porn Nation's Headquarters. Gangs, crime and random violence ... THIS is a greater place to raise a child than (Number 50) Fairfield, California?? Hmmm ... I guess it would be if you had several million dollars in the bank...

If any of you have any better suggestions about good places to raise working and middle class black children, PLEASE send in YOUR list.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hip-Hop Going Green??

Al Gore's, "Inconvenient Truth" turned Hip-Hop artist Jennifer Johns Green.

"My fears for bringing life into this world prior to seeing this film were based more in the violence in urban streets of America - I had no real understanding of where we were and how far we had to go to get to a safe space again with the environment. I began to think about Katrina and the Tsunami and why there had been snow in the Bay sent me spinning..."

As the shadow of the Green Movement inches closer, the wisdom of Van Jones echos like a freight train approaching from a canyon. " In Jones thinking, if only white middle and upper income people buy into reducing green house gasses and leave out the vast majority of lower income people of color around the world, then all the hoopla and business strategies just won't work.

Jennifer Johns has teemed with a long list of others on an 8 week tour to raise awareness and get the word out that, "there are no disposable people and this is not a disposable planet."

The Sustainable Living Roadshow Johns will be a part of will tour across the nation, reaching out to all parts of society. "All of us come from different backgrounds and will focus on different ways we are BEING THE CHANGE."

I invite you to look at the "Green For All" website and familiarize yourself with as much of it that you can. Change is the only constant ... and here at the beginning of the worst economic melt-down since 1929, opportunities for sustainable living and Green Career opportunities hang like ripe fruit waiting to be plucked.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

What Constitutes, “Home”?

I heard an interview on New Dimensions this morning about the concept of "home." Writer John Lane lives and teaches in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Prior to meeting and marrying his current wife, his life was spent in between a series of basement apartments and his pickup truck. Not finding home until his late 40’s prompted this college professor to look deeper at:

• The "time and space" of places we attempt to make "home" in
• Persistent issues disruptive to creating sustainability
• Why understanding the history and topography of our home place is important
• How to explore your own home place
• Why it is important to learn the dreams and deeds of the ancestors of a home place
• How a community turned tragedy into a blessing
• What it took to build a sustainable house

Below are links to his websites. Read about how a small group of people got together, and created a literary community where there was none ... and in the process, found home.



Quick Poll on Palin Qualifications

PBS has an online poll posted asking if Sarah Palin is qualified. Apparently the right wing knew about this in advance and are flooding the voting with YES votes.

The poll will be reported on PBS and picked up by mainstream media.

It can influence undecided voters in swing states.

Please do two things -- takes 20 seconds.

1) Click on link and vote yourself. Here's the link:

2) Then send this to every single Obama-Biden voter you know, and urge them to vote and pass it on.

The last thing we need is PBS saying their viewers think Sarah Palin is qualified.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Green Movement Reaches For The Rainbow

Overwhelmingly White, the Green Movement is Reaching For The Rainbow.
(Reposted from, "The Seattle Times, Published on Monday, March 10, 2008, by Paula Bock.)

"What's a nice black guy like me doing in a movement like this?" Van Jones strides the stage at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, a charismatic lawyer who grew up in rural Tennessee, graduated from Yale Law, and founded the Ella Baker Center for jobs and justice in Oakland, California.

Tall, 39, his pate shaved, he cuts a striking silhouette in a black turtleneck and blazer, but it's his daring message that electrifies the crowd. He's in Seattle to talk about "The Unbearable Whiteness of Green" and how the environmental movement needs to include people of color and the poor if there's any hope of slowing global warming.

All 250 seats quickly fill: Boomers wearing fleece, techies fiddling with gadgets, eco-chic in ethnic garb.

On an ordinary Wednesday night on an ever-warming planet, this is clearly Seattle's coolest spot, and for a predominantly white city, the crowd is remarkably racially diverse.

"The Prius people, the polar-bear crowd are great," Jones says. "We're not mad at them. We like them! At the same time, if the only people who can participate are the kind who can afford to put solar panels on their second home, the green movement is going to be too small to fix the problem. If we want to beat global warming, there's no way to do it without helping a lot of poor people. If you design a solution that does not do that, it's a solution that's too timid."

In Jones' eyes, the first wave of environmentalism, led by Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir, focused on preserving the nation's natural beauty in parks. The second wave, led by Rachel Carson of "Silent Spring," concentrated on federal regulation of toxics. The third wave, he says, is about investment. Initially, that meant individual consumer choice: hybrid cars, organic food, energy-efficient light bulbs. Now, it's evolved into major public spending and community-wide action.

Jones' grand vision? Think New Deal and civil-rights movement combined with a clean-green industrial revolution. The nation needs to train masses of "green-collar" workers to conduct energy audits, weatherize and retrofit buildings, install solar panels and maintain hybrid vehicles, wind farms and bio-fuel factories. The icing? Wiring buildings and installing solar panels can't be outsourced.

"Brother," Jones says, "put down that hand gun and pick up this caulk gun."

(Click on title link to read the entire article.)

First Day Back

Okay ... I've been talking about quitting for some time now, right? So I took a short load up to Dallas after I dropped in Laredo, Texas last week. Thought about it for a few days ... and on Wednesday, I gave Arrow back the keys, cleaned out the truck ... and on Thursday ... I caught a plane back to the California, Bay Area. Got here last night.

Yes, California is no longer California. Yes ... people are driving themselves (and others) CRAZY from competing with each other over NOTHING. Mindless competition-with no prize! Quality of life continues to nose dive... but it's where I grew up and it seems it’s the best place for me to prepare for Phase II of my plan to move to a small farm in the country.

Logistics was a major issue. When you drive a semi … that truck is your life. It’s your home. It's where you have much of your stuff stored. It’s your place of work. It's what's keeping you eating. So, I was glad when several things just "fell into place" (with the help of God, of course).

Two friends had a bedroom ready for me. So I had a clean house, use of the kitchen and one of his cars when needed. (I gave my sister my old Honda before I left. I want to buy a used truck or van before I leave and head south with it.)

A recruiter already promised me a job as soon as I bring in a copy of my DMV (it's clean).

So the problems of shelter, employment and transportation in an area where those three are often difficult to obtain where solved enough for me to resign from my OTR trucking job.

So I arrived, called up one of my "Bible Go-To" partners ... and he tells me to slow down, take a week off. Needing exercise, I started walking down University Avenue feeling so good about not having to drive today .. no chains to throw ... no heavy tarps to wrestle with ... no straps and binders ...

I see this brother walking towards me that looks vaguely familiar ... we start talking ... and guess what? As of this moment ... in the hard to live-in, over-crowded Bay Area ... the place where 15 months ago, I had leave and travel to Oklahoma just to get a job just 15 ...yeah ... suddenly on the first morning back, I have:

1. A new job I start on Monday (The brother owns a Body Shop in Alameda)
2. A good wage driving ... and going home every night
3. I have a new apartment he's throwing in FREE above the shop
4. AND I have a "new" van that he had the court take from a customer who wouldn't pay ... for only $500.00!!!

I can now take some of those free classes I'll need later, along with the Horticulture classes. Then to South Carolina where I’m already making contacts in agriculture, small farming, and funding.

Peace and blessings to all.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Urban Farming?

Food prices soar ... and will continue. Even if you have a tiny backyard, you now have a defense against supermarket bankruptcy. 'Yall going to eventually learn the truth in what I'm saying. As a truck driver, I travel from New York City to Crystal Springs, Mississippi, and the signs are everywhere ... GET YOU SOME LAND.

I don't care if it's that vacant lot next door, or 100 acres in the country, buy something as soon as you can! The most recent word is that housing prices will continue to deflate as foreclosures increase. Then, about two years from now, prices are going to rise again.

Right now, Real Estate Speculators are doing with farm and country land what they did to home prices in urban and suburban areas all over the country. DO SOMETHING.

A friend of mine just sent me a link to a site called, "Little Homestead In The City." Have a look. It's chocked full of ideas about how to live self-sufficiently while living in the city.

What We Believe:

"Every problem is an opportunity in work clothes."
~Henry J. Kaiser