Ryan Locate’s apology demonstrates that he has no clue…

20 Aug

Ryan Lochte

Having lived in Brazil for two months in 2003 and visited there several times prior, I gained an enormous amount of respect and affinity for the people of Brazil, their culture and their hospitality. As with any country, it has its share of struggles with social, political and economic issues. But the overall sense I got was that the people there were some of the warmest and most genuine people in the world. There is an authenticity in Brazilian culture that is truly unique. It is one of the most welcoming societies I have had the privilege to be a part of.

So when the news of Ryan Lochte and his merry band of over-indulgent ruffians made the headlines of every media source known to mankind, my first reaction was the veritable “oh geez” facepalm of incredulousness…. “Really? I mean, REALLY???” As the truth of the events continued to unfold, I became increasingly vexed with the response from not only Ryan Lochte himself, but with the IOC and USOC. The actual incident itself can best be summed up as a reckless set of behaviors and circumstances brought on by some drunken, overly festive party beasts out for kicks. If it had stopped there, then the whole scenario would have been pernicious, but not unforgivable. But then the silver-tongued (and haired) Ryan Lochte, still basking in the glow of his gold medal success and seemingly the ringleader of this assembly of flippant imbeciles, decides to concoct a lurid story of crime and mettle in the face of potential death. With all the grandeur and foolhardiness of an attention seeking narcissist, he decides to double down on his idiocy by reiterating this fabrication on worldwide television…. BRILLIANT!!!

Now, if Lochte were a teenager, this would be more certainly more understandable and I believe the public at large would have taken on a more sympathetic tone. However, Ryan Lochte is 32 years of age! He’s a grown assed man….. HE KNOWS BETTER!! Then, as if things couldn’t get any worse, in his cowardice he hastily makes a quick getaway before the authorities in Brazil have an opportunity to seize his passport and bring him in for questioning; leaving three of his cohorts to take the fall. The proverbial “icing on the cake” is his adolescent mea culpa on social media, which only served to show his callous and impertinent attention to the matter. The lack of accountability being demonstrated by the IOC and the USOC with their indolent reactions wreaks of double standards and privilege. This is the basis for the much of the disdain shown towards Americans in foreign nations…. and rightly so! Repeatedly, we have seen incidence of arrogant and “affluenzic” behavior by Americans of virtually all genders, social classes and racial backgrounds.

In the end, this really comes down to personal responsibility. But if Americans want to be held in high regard by those who live in other parts of the world, then a sense of kindness, humility and respect for others needs to be fostered by all of us. When you walk into another one’s home, you follow the standards and customs dictated by that person. So my fellow Americans, as you travel to foreign countries, bear in mind before you board that aircraft or cruise ship, the traditions and customs to which you cling to so dearly need to be left on the nightstand next to the alarm clock and pocket change. And if you can’t behave with common decency, then you would be better off staying at home or be prepared to take responsibility for your actions and face the expected repercussions.

As for Ryan Lochte, his career is toast. His name will be forever etched into that plaque of “Men Behaving Badly”. Is he a criminal? No…. but he is another in a long line of disgraced liars that had their lives ruined because they couldn’t control themselves because of substance abuse and they thought more highly of themselves than they should have. A perpetual social outcast? Perhaps. I’m sure he’ll be able to find some Charlie Sheens, Dennis Rodmans and Tanya Hardings to hang out with. But his reputation as an U.S. Olympic athlete has been permanently undermined. He’s an adult, so his lack of character and integrity are already set in stone.

I know, I know… you’re probably thinking “Well Tony, don’t be so harsh with the man. You’ve already written him off as if he can’t overcome this. Don’t be so judgmental… give the guy a chance!” Well, here’s a little morsel for you to chew on for a moment. He HAD his chance….. and another…. and another. But he willfully chose to not only behave like a childish frat boy, but he lied about it; not just to cover his ass, but to exalt himself into some Clint Eastwood-like lionheart. Don’t get me wrong… I am a stalwart believer in forgiveness. But I also believe that before forgiveness, there must be contrition. If Ryan Lochte wants redemption, then half-hearted expressions of regret won’t be satisfactory. Only full acknowledgement of his transgressions and humble articulation of remorse will lead to any absolution. He will still live with the stain, but at least he will live with a clean heart.

The Frailty of the Trump Candidacy…. is the unrelenting American Spirit!

9 Aug

Trump pondering
The verity of Trump’s popularity with many in this nation should not come as a surprise to us. There are scores of people that have been made to feel as though they have been painted into a corner by forces (real or imagined) that are beyond their control. Trump, being the arrogant mastermind of situational exploitation and grandiose self promotion, has managed to effectively prey upon the fears of those who have harbored aversion of those they deem to be unlike them. The fanaticism being displayed at Trump rallies clearly indicates the efficacy of Trump’s bravado and superfluous vitriol, with his conjuring of doomsday scenarios, which only he, in his chevalier gallantry, can save his impuissant minions. All of this hostile bombast creates an illusion for his followers that America is impotent and anemic. The problem with this country is not weakness. The problem with this country is mismanagement by those who favor the status quo and a capitalistic economic infrastructure that bespeaks lack of compassion for those in the lower echelons of American society. When you combine an increasingly beleaguered group of people (many of which have a minimal amount of formal education), with religious hysteria, xenophobia, racial bigotry, threats of Islamic extremism, the systemic oligarchical dominance of wealth and white privilege, then you have the makings of a Hitler-esque, Third Reich type of crusade. Trump has deftly tapped into the desperation of those who have clung to their deeply rooted convictions and ideology like an infant to a pacifier. Draconian nationalism, wall building, marginalization of other cultures and gunboat diplomacy is not in the best interests of this country. It only manages to isolate and sequester us from the world.

The United States still has a lot to answer for, particularly in the realm of civil rights. The continued violence, disenfranchisement and mistreatment of those of color, non-Christian beliefs, the LGBTQ community, women and others underscores the appalling history of a white male dominated society. Nevertheless, in spite of its malfeasance over the course of its existence, this country has the potential to vanquish many of the abhorrent and contemptible elements of its legacy. Once we recognize that each of us is an essential part of the human thread, then our potential for creating a nation that is upright, caring and equitable for all is limitless. Regardless of who your God might be, we are all inextricably linked by the universal principle of “love thy neighbor as thyself”. 
However, we cannot delude ourselves by becoming Pollyannaish about the healing of a nation. It will take an unprecedented amount of goodwill, hard work, dedication, foresight and sacrifice of the attachments to the limiting and prejudicial convictions that have shackled us within the confines of negligence and mediocrity. And it is going to require an extraordinary amount of courage for us to be completely honest with ourselves about the injustices we have inflicted upon ourselves and others. But I believe that if we are committed to the concept of a free and just society, then there is nothing that we as a nation can’t accomplish. Only then will we be able to truly declare our nation as being free and GREAT!

Image

george-zimmerman-eyes-closed-jpg.jpg

14 Jul

My message to George Zimmerman:

Well sir, a jury of your peers has found you not guilty. I expected as much. Be that as it may my message to you is very simple: Young Trayvon Martin’s life is over and so is yours. You took that young man away from his family, his friends and his dreams. And because of that, you, George Zimmerman, have become a prisoner of your own reckless behavior… And whatever you want to call the Higher Power; God, the Creator, Karma, the Cosmos, whatever… IT is watching! You will have to live with your actions for the rest of this earthly life and whatever life there is to come. And YOU will have to answer for your actions at the end of your life! That reckoning, young man, is unavoidable! Parts of me actually have sympathy and compassion for you. I can’t imagine living the rest of my life with the eyes of the world upon me… mostly with disdain and loathing. You might have been better off having been found guilty and sent to jail. Now, nothing can protect you from the court of public opinion. So farewell Mr. Zimmerman! The court may have redeemed you, but your life in hell has just begun!!!!

An Ode to Our Favorite Southern gal, Paula Deen entitled, “When Southern Chefs Go Bad”

22 Jun

Paula Deen

Paula Deen, Paula Deen… have you no clue?
You used the “N” word and exclaimed “what did I do?”
You thought you were cute with your sly southern wit
You had no regrets then, huh? Not one little bit!
But now your big ass has been called out and it has caused such a fuss
I thought we told y’all racist crackaz to stop fuggin’ wit us!
Oh Paula Deen, Paula DEEN… child, you are oh so misguided!
And now you sit and wonder why your career has been blighted?
As you can see, my southern belle… fat and fluffy as a hen
It will be a cold day in hell before the south rises again!
Your apology today was so pathetic and so lame
I expected so much more from such a “fine southern dame”
You tried SO hard to be genuine, so veritable and true
Without the faintest notion that it’s not about YOU!
We could care less about your family’s belief that all should be defended
It’s about the people who helped create you, whom you so viciously offended
So in closing, Ms. Deen, I hope you have learned
It’s been on the backs of many colored folk by which your fortunes have been earned
Bite your tongue next time, Ms. Deen… don’t let that “N” word slip!
Lest one day you find YOURSELF on the wrong end of a whip!!!

Is He for Real?

11 Oct

Herman Cain’s collective of recent statements is really beginning to expose the character of the lone “African-American” GOP presidential candidate. His latest foot-in-the-mouth fiasco occurred Sunday when he stated “I don’t believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way. Are there some elements of racism? Yes, it gets back to if we don’t grow this economy, that is a ripple effect for every economic level, and because blacks are more disproportionately unemployed, they get hit the worst when economic policies don’t work. That’s where it starts”. I would love to find the location of this Utopian oasis where Mr. Cain appears to reside so I can experience some of this Kumbaya, colorless bliss.

The fact that this man is a graduate of an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) makes his statements even more of a travesty. While it is true that African-Americans are not being blasted with water cannons in the streets, not being forced to sit in the back of the bus and not being physically lynched with reckless abandon as in years past, the socio-economic playing field is far from being level. The racism that exists in this country, although not being as historically overt, is much more systematic, meticulous and exploitive of minorities. Just one look at the deterioration of public schools in urban environments is evidence enough of the neglect on local, state and federal levels. Unemployment for African-Americans has ALWAYS been disproportionately higher than any other ethnic demographic in this country, with a rate of 19.5% unemployment according to Bureau of Labor statistics. The only time in American history when African-Americans had less unemployment than whites was during the Slavery Era; which was “full employment” in its truest sense (facetiously speaking, of course).

What is less obvious and perhaps more underhanded are the practices of redlining and predatory lending. On the surface, they appear to be complete opposites, but in actuality both are two sides of the same insidious coin. Redlining, a term coined by Northwestern University sociologist and community activist John McKnight in the late 1960s, was a technique used by banks to delineate where they would not invest. The more accurate description of this practice is the demarkation of certain districts occupied by ethnic minorities in order to deny the infusion of money and resources by private institutions. The roots of redlining go back to the , which established the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The federal government contributed to the early decay of inner city neighborhoods by withholding mortgage capital and making it difficult for these neighborhoods to attract and retain families able to purchase homes. In 1935, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board asked the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) to look at 239 cities and create “residential security maps” to indicate the level of security for real-estate investments in each surveyed city. Such maps defined many minority neighborhoods in cities as ineligible to receive financing. The maps were based on assumptions about the community, not accurate assessments of an individual’s or household’s ability to satisfy standard lending criteria. Since African-Americans were not welcomed in white neighborhoods, which frequently instituted racial restrictive agreements restrict residential status, the policy effectively meant that blacks could not secure mortgage loans in any aspect. At various times the practice also affected other ethnic groups, including Latinos, Asians, and Jews. The assumptions in redlining resulted in a large increase in residential racial segregation and urban decay in the United States.

On the other hand, the most recent application of institutionalized racism are the predatory lending practices. Lending institutions routinely and deliberately targeted minorities and women by deceptively convincing borrowers to agree to unfair and abusive loan terms, or systematically violating those terms in ways that make it difficult for the borrower to defend against. Payday loans, title loans, overdraft protection and other types of consumer debt have been and continue to be used in targeting minorities and the poor in this country. The immediate effects of these racist tactics pale in comparison to the long term effects. Families who lost their homes due to the unscrupulous actions of these parasites face a multitude of financial difficulties; some of which many find it impossible from which to recover. Now, rather than appropriating resources to achieve greater prosperity, victims of these practices are forced to redirect their minimal resources just in order to survive.

These are just but two examples of the institutionalized racism that exists in American society. Failure to recognize the reality of this paradigm demonstrates either denial of the truth or just plain stupidity and ignorance. Capitalism, as successful it has been in augmenting economic prosperity for many in this country, has proven to an absolute failure in the protection and stewardship of the overall collective of humanity. It is fundamentally flawed from the viewpoint that as the progression of material gain and economic power increases, inevitably there will be an increase of those who will be left behind in its wake. As a result, increasing numbers of people become mired in poverty and hopelessness.

As for Herman Cain and his “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” attitude, That would be a nice sentiment if everyone had boots. For every Herman Cain that THINKS he worked his way up to where he is because of his own efforts, there is an exponential number of those who have worked just as hard and did not achieve the level of success as he… nowhere near that level. Herman Cain, in spite of his talents and abilities, did not reach that level of success without the blood, sweat and tears of those who laid it all on the line before him. Capitalism is a zero-sum game. It is not designed for everyone to achieve economic success. Some will win and some will lose. So, when you factor in racism and other types of socio-economic strategies in order to suppress the masses, not only do you not have a level playing field, you have a system that has been formulated to sequester the dominion of comprehensive power to a relative few. That having been said, we as a society need to make a decision as to whether we shall continue to accept the status quo that protects the affluent while leaving the remaining population to fend for themselves or shall we become a nation that sees each individual as being truly equal to one another and abandoning the absurd mentality of economic gain without restraint.