The Critical Eye

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Dear Mr. Sterling aka Owner of the Clippers

Dear Mr. Sterling or should I just refer to you as Donald?,

Out of respect for a real noble black man -Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda's birthday- I have chosen to write to you with decorum and kindness. See, he would want that, even at a time when quite honestly, you deserve otherwise (if it is you on the tape of course). See I'm actually going to give you the benefit of the doubt because unlike you, I don't make broad, sweeping, unjustified statements.. So as I write, we'll assume all my comments are hypothetical, as if you COULD have said what is being reported, okay?  I'm also channeling my inner Nelson Mandela, who if you don't know -after he became President- treated his captors with respect and benevolence even when he could have had them all secreted away somewhere and flogged or worse.

Thing is, in listening to all the commentary about the ugly racist comments made on this tape, I am still not hearing any vehement denials from you. One can only assume it was 'you', ranting and angry at your 'girlfriend' for posting pictures of herself with black guys on her Instagram account.

See I think we all realize that -in your case- this is a domestic dispute gone bad, real bad. One minute your rich old wrinkly behind is risking a cardiac with some young Mexican-Black, gold-digging heifer and the next you're all over the news, like a little love-sick puppy. What confuses me though is your reasoning and let me quote;
 "I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have—Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?"
 Let me get this right, all of a sudden you're some benevolent benefactor?  What happened to the fact that it's a business. "You support them?" Last time I checked, the fact that these super-athletes sign contracts to work and put money on their and your table is not considered support. It's a mutually beneficial relationship in which you quite evidently have prospered, until now. Quiet frankly there's a long line of capitalist hawks behind you who would love the opportunity to own an NBA team, so this is a privilege that you have chosen to dishonor. Again, like I said, this only applies if that's you on the tape Donald.

"It's the world! You go to Israel, the blacks are just treated like dogs."
You would know wouldn't you Donald? Somehow, you find comfort in this and that's what worries me most, your casual comparison to the mistreatment of black people is casual, like saying "It's red!" Somewhere in that warped brain, hidden behind a face that only a gold-digging, botox face filled bimbo would love -no offense to your wife- you have the gall to differentiate and make comparisons for your racist views;

"The white Jews, there's white Jews and black Jews, do you understand?"

Yes Donald, we have the white dogs and the black dogs and  we give bones to one and trash to the other. I can imagine Moses when he was speaking to Pharaoh saying, "So I'm only here for the White Jews! Keep the rest!" What's sad is not only do you seem delusional but this girl must have done some serious damage to you, for you to be so pathetically asinine.  It's amazing what one 'female body part' can do to a man with millions upon millions of dollars in the bank account. Then again, you white guys with power always fall for the ol' okey doke, just ask Bill Clinton. So I am waiting with baited breath Donald, what exactly is the difference between these black and white Jews? They walked seven days instead of forty? They didn't create idols out of gold/ When Moses came down the mountain they were already across the Jordan? What? Whoever this little girl is, she must have rocked you geriatric world. The very same world were you have chosen to take a very mute stance based on your comment;

"It isn't a question—we don't evaluate what's right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture."
 Okay so let's live there for a moment Donald, in the culture your mind created where it's okay to sleep with a black girl and then go on a tirade. Yes Donald just in case your Alzheimer's has you confused, she's black according to your neanderthal ancestry. According to your ancestors any drop of black, means the whole thing is tainted, feel free to refer to any of your slavery manual which I'm sure you can resource with your money. Too bad for you I just finished watching, "Twelve Years a Slave," so I have quite a few visual and mental references. You seemed to be okay with parading her in front of the world and your family or was that just because she was female jewelry that your money could buy? She didn't look black but she is Mexican or Latina as you said. Which makes her what? Better?

Quite frankly, I'm not sure what's worse; the fact that an old crustacean like you would be allowed to touch a young woman or the fact that she let you. Then I read the transcripts of your last deposition and realized that you're just a horny old man. Word of advice? Tell the doctor to stop prescribing you Viagra, it's obscene for anyone like you to still have any ounce of libido. So do us all a favor and deflate gracefully, you're giving players a bad name because you do it so tastelessly.  You're lucky you're rich and from the sounds of it, that you made your money being a slumlord to the very people that you can't seem to stand being seen with your black girlfriend. The arrogance of money is that you can assume that you're immune from facing your prejudice until someone exposes you. Well, the jigs up Donald, we know!

So here's where we are, my best advice, get out of the basketball game and buy something else, like a chain of Taco Bells in Mexico. I think your girl's from there, no?And in the words of MY MAN Snoop Dogg, "You $%^&&* *&*^&(()* &**(((^^ $$#%^&&* racist %$$&** redneck %&**990%&&**(!  Of course, only if it's you on the tape Donald!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bring Sense Back!

If you're like me, then you sometimes find yourself amazed at the impudence of ignorance. It doesn't really matter the occasion, location or time, it seems that one can be assured that ignorance will have a  'neon light' and be on full display. What's interesting is that it will always be loud, boisterous and confrontational. Whether you're minding your own business in a store, restaurant, at work or riding the bus. It's intruding, obtrusive and unapologetic. 

There's something to be said about the bravado of a fool. Something in the human characteristic that places the chemistry of stupidity higher on the scale than the neuron movement of sense. Maybe it was meant to be a safety mechanism, one that allowed at least one human to be eaten by prehistoric beasts so the rest could escape.

Don't get me wrong, ignorance can be innocent too. Unknowing, demure, scared and ashamed, but this is not the type that mesmerizes. No, we are drawn to an effusive ignorance that reeks of blatant disregard. The curse filled rantings of a marijuana laden rapper, who's song chorus always seems to rhyme with itch. The dalliances of some ill clad woman who has done absolutely nothing to achieve her fame except make a sex video. To the banter of politicians whose greatest achievement is they have managed to turn us into the same ignorant cacophony, as we join their congress. Which by the way, is another name for a group of baboons.  

I'm amazed and amused at how society seeks out these people. How news reporters will hone in on them and get that life long soundbite, "Nobody got time for that!" We've been immersed into this cesspool of mediocrity. It's in our offices, our schools, on the train, at the bus stop, at the grocer store. Ignorance is becoming harder and harder to escape. Our minds are programmed to look for it, to troll the news like zombies looking for duplicity in its ignorant wardrobe. 

The scent of sense bears no attraction. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. For it has no scandal, no noise, no sense of raucousness, it's mundane, unobtrusive. It's too polite, asking for permission and with perfect manners. "Excuse me, thank you, please." Who needs that? We are literally a click away from our brains being fried with nonsense, yet we're just as many clicks away from enlightenment. It's all available, sense and foolishness, ours for the taking. What we choose unfortunately is being decided by people in an ivory tower somewhere who are  deciding on what it is we will hear or see. They engineer, they steer. As our eyes gaze at the television screen, the computer, the iPhone, the iPad, they flash, "ignorance, ignorance, ignorance," it's imbedding deep in our psyche through images, music, words and billboards.

We're zombies to this ignorance, transfixed in the infernal dance of the digital age. We're surrounded by robotic people who hold their devices tight in their hands like another limb. People don't talk anymore, don't make eye contact. We're oblivious, ignorant to what's around us, bumping into each other and always listening out for that one always obnoxious voice in the crowd.That's what gets our attention, anything that we can film and upload to YouTube. Maybe we'll get a million hits. Like a crackhead we're addicted to the 'likes' on Facebook, the more hits the better.

Escape is hard to come by. How do you extricate yourself from this cycle of foolishness? Transfixed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, there's an app readily available to take us all away from reality. Many are useful, but we've become the Anhedonic set, addicted to being distracted, with our senses tuned only to raise our heads at sensationalism and ignorance. Time to dust myself off, and get on the walk back to sense. If you happen to meet her before I do, let her know I'm looking for her, urgently.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Prayer: "Lord make me an animal!"

Lord thank you so much for waking me up today. My prayer is that you take the disobedience of being a man out of me and make me an animal. I want the loyalty and faithfulness of a Dog. I need you to make me like a Cat, and give me calmness and the ability to be totally still to hear your voice. When faced with insurmountable obstacles, I want the courageousness of a Honey Badger.  As the forest of problems looms tall ahead of me, give me the strength of an elephant to push through.

Provide the quickness of the Hummingbird  and the keenness of an Eagle so I keep my eye on the prize. The agility of a Gazelle so I can escape those that would set to lay traps for me. Give me the stealthiness of a Leopard, so I can set my own. Endow me with the eternal relational love of a Swan and the paternal instincts of a Penguin. Let me watch over my children like a Sea Horse and allow me to teach them and guide them like a Cheetah.

Teach me how to live and share like a Lioness and to lead like a Buffalo. Give me the ability to sniff out trouble like a Rhino and the ability to flee danger over tough terrain like a Mountain Goat. Let me seek your word like a thirsty Baboon and soar when it fills me like an Albatross. When popular choice stands against my convictions, allow me to stand alone like a Polar Bear. Endow me with the tenacity of a Wildebeest as I cross the river filled with Crocodiles of doubt.

Let the voices of my detractors become like the sound of Hyenas angry at their inability to steal a kill. I want to gnaw on their heels like a Rat bent on getting to food. When surrounded, give me the relentlessness of a Warthog protecting its young. If overcome, I want the skin of a Porcupine, so that their attack leave them injured and remembering never to try again. Let my enemies smell like a Skunk so I can recognize them at a distance and steer clear.

Give me that arms of an Orangutan so I can hold my wife and children close. The voice of a Robin, so I can sing love songs and lullabies. Give me the sacrificial heart of an Octopus and the courage of a Meerkat in my will to die for them. Surround my family like the Bison protecting its young. Chase away evil and harm like a Rattlesnake's warning sound. Sound the alarm like a Howler Monkey when duplicity is in the midst.

Most of all Lord, just make me the best MAN I can be. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Diversify

Recently I got into a very determined economic discussion with one of my MBA, soon to be PhD buddy's whose mind rotates on a swivel.  Our discussion -animated at times- revolved around the importance of having a diversified portfolio and never placing all your eggs in one basket. We were in perfect agreement understanding the fiscal and financial sense of spreading your income and revenue potential across multiple channels. This is not a trait that is taught in African schools nor are these lessons picked up in bars. These are the secrets long held by the consummate capitalists who have mined and refined their search for fiscal gold. 

In Agrarian Africa it could be akin to planting only one type of crop in your field. Your family will hate the singular diet and the soil abhors it, eventually sapping itself of nutrients and yielding nothing. So in retrospect, it makes good sense to diversify friends, food, finances, and interests. What is a solid financial lesson, has really been a tenant for a fulfilling life and one that ensures stability, but who starts off young thinking they will need a friend in all professions? Always a step ahead the financial commandos who have known that lemons equal lemonade, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon extract and any other financial opportunity you can squeeze out of bitter fruit. 

In order to combat the pervasive leg drag that seems to be the inherited handicap of Africa, there is an astuteness lacking amongst our older leaders. This generation of  men and women who can remember a time of no telephones or televisions proudly fail to continuously assess our importance in the global economic spectrum. What has become evident is that the recognition is more related to immediate gratification, not long term production, manufacturing and industry consolidation.  The economic myopia on the part of our leaders underestimates the leverage that they have to dictate terms. What is clear is that there has to be a point where political nonchalance borders on criminal negligence.

We have been raped and continue to be raped as the very people who performed the crimes against us have now become our debtors. We walk into meeting with our hands open and our hats upturned. Unfortunately, the collective might of an Africa, rich in resources has been negated by decades of uneducated and misaligned leadership. We are still in the mindset of voting on our feelings and not facts. Of putting people in seats because of what they have put in our stomachs and being led by vitriol and fast mouths. Until such a time as this becomes a thing of the past, we will always be begging.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Destiny - Zambia Wins

Zambia has won the Africa cup! Those words sound magical, a fictional line in some science fiction plot. Yet there are no Harry Potter illusions here, no mythological beast that has been slain. Zambia beat three African soccer giants to lift the cup, Senegal, Ghana and Ivory Coast and the cup will no longer reside north of the equator.  The tide has changed. The constant stream of images being posted by Zambians of the Lusaka celebrations are making me nostalgic. I would give anything to be at home right now, side by side with my country men dancing and singing. Alas, it is not to be, and all we can do on this side of the Atlantic is bask in the glory that is emanating from nine thousand miles away. 

 The day of the final, I bundled up my teenage daughter and we trekked 32 miles into Silver Spring, Maryland to join about seventy Zambians at the Nectar Grill on Georgia avenue. We had to find a group of Zambians watching the game, somewhere, anywhere. At this restaurant/bar/night club, we found a mass of Zambian revelers dressed in whatever version of green and copper they could find. Images of the Zambian national flag abounded and  Nyanja and Bemba greetings and questions reminded you of a typical day on a Lusaka street. This was the atmosphere necessary for such and occasion, win or lose I wanted to be with my people to share in the joy or pain of the moment.

As we nestled in, I engaged in a conversation with the Nigerian husband of a childhood friend who noted just how calm Zambians are, and paid homage to Dr. Kaunda as soon as his face flashed on television. He spoke of how growing up in Nigeria, K.K. was the face of African peace. A Ugandan seated nearby joined the conversation, commenting on how -given the technical difficulties which made us miss almost 20 minutes of the game- the Zambians in attendance where as calm as ever. "If this had been West Africans, there would have been a riot in here!" he exclaimed. I told him that as far as I can remember it has always been our way, this passive strong resistance which prefers compromise over conflict.

We have a strong national identity buoyed on the shoulders of a nationalism indoctrinated by UNIP and Kaunda. We are a proud people, knowing and recognizing our heritage.  You will rarely find Zambians involved in some international internet scam trying to 'make your money disappear'. We watched the second half of the finals on a small Samsung smartphone, no loud grumbling, no chair throwing or fighting. Huddled together at one corner was a large group watching on a laptop.  Music started playing and  Zambians started to dance as the technicians tried to fix the problem. During this time, we missed Drogba's penalty and as the phone died and relocated to a freezing SUV outside to charge and watch catching part of the overtime.This experience was about more than the game, it was about camaraderie, national spirit, community. We needed to be with other Zambians, who had felt the same scorching sun on their backs, walked on the same dirt, knew what town and flats mean. I needed to meet Vincent and reminisce about Munali, when Katongo almost scored. It was important that even in America, I was in a Zambian room, if but for the moment.

We would eventually get to see the penalty kicks on the restaurant big screen. The air was palpable, throbbing with anticipation. Unfamiliar people holding onto each other, screaming at a wall. When Toure missed, we almost lost our minds. When Mayuka missed it was no different. As Gervinho walked up to the ball, I waved to the DJ to cut off the music. This was no time for dance-hall reggae, it was a moment of silence. Gervinho missed and in that moment, I knew in my heart it was ours. Sunzu scored and the place erupted! Tears of joy, screams, chants of "Iyeee Chipolopolo!" Deep in my heart, I felt the collective sigh of over eight million people. The dreams that have floated and dissipated on the shores of Gabon finally lifted and started making their way home. "It is finished!" I heard them say, "We are going home now!" Home, for that is where the cup was headed, to a place that has needed it for so long. A place where the healing of wounds inflicted by neglect were sutured by twenty three young Zambian players who were but babies when that plane went down that fateful day in 1993. Our dream is now a reality, we are the African champions, Zambia and Southern African soccer will never be the same. Most of all, the pride we have always felt, just got a whole lot stronger.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Zambia's Tragedy - 20 Years Later

The Zambian national soccer team is heading to the finals of the Africa Nations cup on Sunday. The roar of triumphant voices all over Zambia as the team beat Ghana in the semi-finals could be heard almost ten thousand miles away in America. Facebook streams, twitter tweets, texts, emails, the internet went crazy as we all soaked in the reality. Our boys are in the final! Representing our nation on the very soil where our lost heroes last touched earth. It seems to be a fitting scenario, a choreographed routine, as if the very hands of our lost players are somehow participating in this healing. In 1993 , trying to heal from the tragedy that is still fresh in our minds, I wrote; The Death of a Country . A story that eventually was quoted in the book, The Ball Is Round: A Global History of Soccer, by David Goldblatt.


In that article I stated; "Imagine loosing all the Red Sox players. No more Rocket, Pena, Vaughn, Fletcher, Greenwell, nothing. All gone. All at once. The budding Charlotte Hornets, pride of North Carolina. Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning primed, ready for the playoffs. Beating Boston, then gone. All in the blink of an eye. On April 27th, 1993, a military plane carrying 30 passengers crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Gabon. John Starks head-butting of Reggie Miller during the Knick-Pacer series received more media attention. The crash killed 18 of Zambia's top football (soccer) players as well as the hopes and dreams of 8 million people. The tragedy can be likened to the Peruvian plane crash that eventually became a movie. The difference is, no one survived. In Africa, death is viewed with reverance, so you can be sure there will be no movies. This was the team Zambians felt would; for the first time in its 29 year old history; take itself and the rest of the country to the world cup. The blend of international and local players was perfect. Kalusha Bwalya, Charles Musonda, Johnstone Bwalya, Kenneth Malitoli and Gibby Mbasela are the internationals that make-up the fulcrum of the team. I speak of them in the present tense because they, unlike their comrades, will play again. Local players like Derby Mankinka, Timothy Mwitwa, Samuel Chomba, Efford Chabala (once voted Africa's best goalkeeper) and Eston Mulenga all perished." (Click link for full story)


Many of us have been watching the streamed games on our computers. No major networks, not ESPN, ABC or NBC are carrying the Africa cup in America. We have not seen the customary sob story play itself out as an intro to competition. Some fervent journalist following the story of our team, recalling the tragedy, the hope and dreams of a nation, nothing. There is no ESPN cover story as we slay another West African soccer giant. There are no marines - having persevered some tragedy- taking the field before our games. No Bob Costas pre-game interview to wrench at our heart strings as he asks the deep penetrating questions. Just plain unadulterated competition and the silent breathing of people who can barely watch, as the minutes tick away. Over twenty years ago, off the coast of Gabon our dreams sunk into the Atlantic Ocean. We were left to reminisce and imagine just what could have been. That 1993 team defined a generation, and brought hope to the nation. We saw the World Cup in our sights being carried by a team we believed would walk American soil as the first Southern African nation to reach the cup. Alas, it never came to pass, we were robbed, our hearts ripped from our chests to float as bits and pieces of debris collected on a sandy beach in a nondescript West African country. What happened?


You see, this has been a long and painful truth, our unfinished business. We have never truly healed from what happened. In fact, playing in Gabon simply gives us an opportunity to look them in the eye for the first time in decades. We have held unsaid enmity, and they having never fully answered our questions, and they still don't get it. We are not content, we are not satisfied, we have unfinished business. So over the years we have developed conspiracy theories and the legend has grown. Was it a rocket propelled missile or did the Gabonese tamper with the aircraft? So as we sit here at the precipice of something we already consider an over-achievement, we are left reflecting, wondering what comes next? No one thought we would beat Senegal or Ghana, and we did. No one, including us, expected to get past the quarterfinals, yet here we are. There will be no sleeping Saturday night, no church Sunday morning. Whatever is on the agenda just got wiped off, win or lose, we will be watching to support our boys. I do not intend to hear a peep from my wife or kids. If the spirits of our lost lads are walking anywhere, let them come and take their rightful seats in the stadium, they deserve to witness this. They are represented by Kalusha Bwalya our legendary soccer god who has always reminded us of the potential of the 1993 team. As he utters small words for them, he speaks giant words for our nation. We are not afraid, we are not scared, in fact we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Ivory Coast or as they are now known Cote D'Ivoire, should be afraid, very afraid because WE BELIEVE! We are here to finish what we started.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Challenge to "RE"

I am at that transitional stage in life, where I am re-evaluating my purpose. Maybe it’s the fact that my work has become a story of corruption, working tirelessly to line someone else’ coffers. There is something about maturing and wanting to have value. I think it hits all of us, these second stage jitters. We can’t hang out in clubs all night anymore, or chase girls under the guise that we are drunk. We don’t have any excuse to blow money on drinks, nor can we bounce right back from a hangover. Our bodies don’t react as quickly and things we could do very easily, now require stretching and preparation. At this stage we are expected to be ‘doing’ things with our life, supposed to have accumulations of some sort. Yet what starts to happen slowly, like a creeper making its way up a wall, is the lingering feeling of regret, something left undone. It’s an innate human condition, the need to give back or do something that will leave a legacy. That’s the thing that nags, continues to yip at your heels like a puppy in the yard. It doesn’t quite impede your walk, but once in a while the tug at the cuff of your pants is just enough to make you look down. So working in a job that does not feed the nagging feeling is beginning to become cumbersome. It’s not like my resume of deeds is short, nor can I ignore the accomplishments and strides made over the years. However, it is hollowed by the next memo, the next conference call, all of which serve only to prove that, “We the willing, led by the unknowing are willing to do the impossible for the ungrateful, and we have done so much for so little that we are now prepared to do anything for nothing.” – Nurse’ credo. We recently had a family moment where we sat and watched CNN Heroes, people who are out there, changing the world around them, little by little. There was a Ugandan guy that collects the discarded soap from hotels and recycles it for distribution in his homeland. I was touched by not only his inventiveness, but the fact that such a simple gesture goes miles in the scope of changing someone’s life. Who would have thought cleanliness, which can be a national crisis in many a country could be attained by so simple a mechanism. So in 2012, the year I have coined “RE,” I am looking to re-invigorate my own desire to change the world. I want to re-establish the artist in me, and re-affirm my cultural identity. I want to require those around me to respect my boundaries and re-examine their motives. I want to re-connect with meaningful friends and recognize their value. I seek to resign myself to my passion and resolve to be dogged in its pursuit. As a requirement of my labor the by-product of my remuneration will be love. I will re-state my proclamations to reinforce my determination. I won’t be redundant in my riposte; rather they will reverberate with renown. I will not relinquish my power to be relegated to obscurity. I will stand stoic and resolute. I will recommit to God's plan for my life and respond with vigor. I challenge you to RE!