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Doing Our Part: Support Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

5 Nov

Hello Pack Faithful!  It seems like ages since real life has afforded me the opportunity to take time to sit and indulge in what has always been for me, the pleasure of sharing my thoughts, concerns and general musings with each of you, but I honestly had to make the time to talk with you guys about Hurricane Sandy.

Let me first say that for any of you who have been affected, I am praying for your peace of mind and that you find swift relief and recovery in your circumstances.  For me, although I can say how blessed I am to have heard from so many of my family and friends up and down the East Coast who survived through Super Storm Sandy last week with only minimal damage and a few days’ inconvenience as it related to power outages, food shortages and the like, I am still wholly mortified by the images that I continue to see from as far south as The Outer Banks to the heavily hit northeast region of the New York/Tri-State area.  It is for that reason that I wanted to use this platform to encourage each of you to do something.

While so many of us don’t have the necessary training or resources to assist in clean-up efforts in areas like Ground Zero or the New Jersey Shore or across the Mid-Atlantic, it is good to know that we are not helpless.  If like me, you find that the daily news stories of damage assessments, the rising death tolls or coverage of images like the ones below tend to leave you in a state of unrest, then please donate to The American Red Cross on behalf of the victims of Sandy.

As a nation, lets prove this November that a contentious election is not the only time we can mobilize in full force for a worthy cause.

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America’s War on Terror: The PISS de Résistance?

14 Jan

Graphic: Scroll to the end of this post  for video of Marines caught urinating over Afghan bodies. 

Upon first hearing of this defilement and having since had several intense conversations with friends, family and social media followers alike, I could not help but to be sickened by the alleged actions of members of our otherwise highly regarded armed forces, and even some of the commentary which has teetered almost on excusing said behavior.

For those not familiar with the story, an anonymous source posted a video to the internet which depicts four members of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines out of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, in combat gear standing over three Afghan corpses with their genitals exposed as they relieve themselves.

While the men aren’t readily identifiable in the shocking viral spectacle, they can be heard joking and making statements like ‘Have a great day, buddy’, ‘Golden like a shower’ and ‘Yeahhhh!’ as they moan in apparent relief and release.

From the White House to local barbershops, within hours of the video’s release, most anyone with a heart, conscience, a moral compass or a at least a modicum or respect for humanity had been vocal in speaking out against this disgusting display.  Not surprisingly though, there have been those who were equally as vocal in (almost) defending the alleged actions of these soldiers.

Though speaking from a place of experience and understanding, Ex-Army Lieutenant Colonel and current Florida Rep. Allen West insisted that the Marines were wrong but angrily defended:

“As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth.  War is hell.”

 The “everyone else” that Mr. West referred to included (but was clearly not limited to) political pundits who he deemed over-emotional, self-righteous and armchair quarterbacks over their opinions on the future of the men and the disgrace that they’ve brought the armed forces.

One media pundit not fitting into Mr. West’s mold however is CNN correspondent and conservative radio host Dana Loesch.  Sharing her views on a St. Louis radio station this week, Loesch made her opinion clear:

 “’C’mon people, this is a war.  Do I have a problem with that as a citizen of the United States? No, I don’t.”

She also said that she would give a million cool points to these guys and would be willing to join them.

Classy lady.

Realistically though, I do get it.  Though never personally having had the remarkable courage or desire to serve my country in the armed forces, I have had family to serve in Vietnam and even members who’ve done multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The horrendous stories I have been told of survival and daily life in those war-torn regions are cringe-worthy tales that I still cannot even wrap my mind around, so yes, I am sympathetic.  Living through an ordeal like that; I am sure continues to be a nightmare within itself.

In that regard, Mr. West is absolutely correct.  It is easy for civilians to pass judgment and make baseless comments about behaviors enacted in war when they have never stared death in the face or had to decide between their lives or that of the insurgent trying to blow their heads off.  Still, like I tweeted earlier this week, I honestly do understand the whole “psychology” of a solider and cringe at all they are liable to see and required to do, but the standard of The United States and that of our Marine Corp. is just too high for that behavior.  In this country, we cannot insist that we be recognized as beacons of the free world, yet relegate ourselves to urinating on people…dead people, for kicks.

Healing in Haiti: Two Years Later

12 Jan

It is incredible sometimes how quickly time seems to speed past some, yet remains completely motionless for others.  The stunning, grotesque and heartbreaking images from January 12, 2010 have been so seared into my mind that they are as emotionally potent today as they were two years ago.  Seeing how a 7.0 magnitude earthquake could hit the island of Hispaniola; ravish the country of Haiti and demolish the City of Port-au-Prince not only left me physically and emotionally spent, but it showed how even as political rivals in this country have bickered across party lines about ideology and have continued to lay social and economic fault at the feet of one another (from their luxurious hills on high), thousands of people in a third-worldly region laid dead and dying; millions of their brethren suffering through lives irrevocably battered and broken.

With the anniversary of the earthquake that rocked Haiti (recognized by native Haitians only as January 12th) and the many news reports and features that are coming out of the Caribbean nation, it is reassuring to see and hear that so many people are making a concerted effort to rebuild their lives.  Unfortunately (and realistically) however, there are many more who are still struggling day-to-day to survive, just as they were two years ago.  Yes, humanitarian aid has continued to flow into the country and the national infrastructure remains a work in progress, but the sad reality is that for as much international assistance and political restructuring that has filtered through Haiti, the country has still been riddled with corruptness (insert various questionable foundations and funds misuse, missionary border-crossing fees and tenement land taxation for the homeless scenarios here).

Still, the resiliency of The People is not only encouraging, it seems addictive.  They are returning to work.  They are attending school.

They are adopting the children of the fallen.

They are mending families.

In many ways, they are embodying “community”.

January 12th was the great equalizer.  For all intents and purposes, it was as though the haves were introduced to a life just marginally worse than the one the have nots had been living previously, and in residing on common ground, forced both groups to become a village; impoverished and fragmented, but a village nonetheless.  Today, in the face of despair, dire straits and an unforeseeable future, The People aren’t waiting for what the rest of the world will do for them; they are figuratively and literally digging through the rubble left in the wake of January 12th and rebuilding their lives one day at a time.

Yes.  Even in a wealthy nation not used to suffering through an 8.5% unemployment rate, the plight of Haiti and her people still really does put “poverty” and “having a hard day” into perspective now doesn’t it?

 Listen here to Dick Gordon from NPR’s “The Story” as he travels to Haiti in this second of three-part special Re-Inventing Haiti.

Nuttin’ But Love for Ya Heavy

9 Nov

Isn’t it funny how there are so many music artists now a days with more criminal records than hit records, that we often times find it truly amazing (and if I’m being honest, a bit disconcerting) how the good ol’ days of Hip Hop went from rappers wearing polka dots, silk shirts, patent leather shoes and battle dancing to actually battling each other over trivial things like money, women and the ever elusive “respect”.

That is why, though decades removed from rocking the crowds and overweight loving the ladies, Dwight Myers aka Heavy D was always one of my favorite back in the day rappers.  A showman and innovator, Heavy D always seemed to have an easy demeanor, a smooth lyrical way and a smile on his face.  His bigger than life manner had more to do with his personality than his physique, and in embracing who he was, his fans loved him even more.

Learning Tuesday that Heavy had died and at an age not that much older than my own, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t moved.  While I had no personal connection to Heavy, seeing him looking happy, healthy and a little less heavy on shows like “Boston Public” and “Bones” and having had my West Indian sensibilities reintroduced to his craft with the release of his 2008 Reggae Fusion album, “Vibes”, I was truly reminded of what a classic entertainer and Hip Hop legend that Heavy truly was.

Reminisce with me back to 1994 when the Diddley-D  was loving the ladies…and the baggy vest/linen pant combo.

RIP Heavy D.

Advertising the Signs of The Times

24 Oct

According to census data, about 7% of all married couples in The United States are interracial.  The once taboo (and illegal) union to many, appears to some degree, readily accepted in this more progressive, to each his own society.  Now don’t get me wrong; unfortunately, we still live in a hateful and ugly world where some people express their biases and bigotry in the form of nasty words and unimaginable violence, but the realization that just 44 years ago an interracial marriage between whites and people of color (namely, and specifically black people) was unconstitutional does seem to show a bit of the evolution that this nation has made since its exploitative infancy.

Even in government, media, entertainment and advertising, we’ve begun to see how interracial relationships and multiracialism have been embraced in our society.  In this political season especially, multiracialism has been at the forefront thanks to the circumstances surrounding President Obama’s heritage as well as the vastly changing demography of the U.S. in general.

Recognizing the reality of multiculturalism and multiracialism in this nation, businesses have even been catering their advertising to this small but ever growing demographic.  I noticed this recently when I did a double-take while watching an IKEA mattress commercial.

Now, I’m not sure about the anthropology or sociology in Sweden, but after rewinding and re-rewinding just to be sure, I found the retailer’s subtle use of an interracial couple who were creating a most excellent sleeper set, quite broadminded and forward thinking.

Libya’s Freedom, Qaddafi’s Fate.

20 Oct

BBC’s News Hour.  NPR.  The Tom Joyner Morning Show.  CNN. The Russ Parr Morning Show.

On the way to work this morning, I was inundated with bandwagon breaking news out of Libya declaring that the former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi was captured and injured by National Transitional Council fighters in his hometown of Sirte.  Libyan reporters also disclosed that Qaddafi was found hiding in a hole (déjà vu?).  Hearing some Libyans who were interviewed in both Sirte and the nation’s capital of Tripoli expressing their sobbing elation and relief in broken English as well as in their native tongue was not only moving but gave me a prolonged case of gooseflesh.

But for all of the excitement and celebrations surrounding the end of tyranny in Libya, the reports of Colonel Qaddafi’s capture have only been coming from Libyan news and state television, and unfortunately, independent reports have yet to be confirmed.  But that has not stopped the international wires from broadcasting news that not only was Qaddafi captured, but was mortally wounded and purportedly dead.

U.S. officials and senior Obama Administration reps have been hesitant to confirm or deny any of this information however, and have instead been working frantically to substantiate Qaddafi’s capture and/or death, a White House administrator stated this morning.

Still, with Libyans declaring October 20th as their new “Day of Independence”, I am sure that this is a story that will be developing swiftly and in more specific detail throughout the day.

Nicki + A Real British Accent = Sophia Grace

14 Oct

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Forget about these Mini Minaj’s singing The Alphabet Song or God Save the Queen.  This little diva and her honey hued hype girl have expended all their adolescent learning capacity by absorbing the lyrics to actual sized Niki Minaj’s “Super Bass”.

And while in my opinion it is a crying shame that any child could be this prolific in reciting such suggestive and age-inappropriate lyrics while not having yet mastered long division, it seems that Sophie and company have not only wowed the millions who viewed their original “Super Bass” remake video on YouTube, but also got the attention of “Happy Feet” talk show host, Ellen.

Invited to the show to discuss how amazing and talented the duo was in becoming a viral sensation (lyrics notwithstanding, Sophia really has a pretty pure and crisp voice, and her hype girl’s animated banging of an imaginary drum and shaking her…back is quite entertaining), they were  afforded the ultimate surprised when their multi-colored wigged idol came onstage to perform “Super Bass” with them.

Now, while all I’ve been hearing is how “adorable” and “precocious” the little girls were, and how their YouTube video and this Ellen performance was likely a catalyst to their future stardom, I can’t help but to remain perplexed.  I mean really, take away the tiaras and pink princess wear and let’s rename Sophia, let’s say, Sheniqua…think her viral video would still be a “hit”?  Would the masses still find her as cute? Would this even be news?

Hmph.


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