Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Dividing Nation (Part II)

       The last part of our Pledge Of Allegiance states, "...with liberty and justice for all." Most of us have been saying this pledge since entering school, but how many of us have really taken the time to consider what these words really mean? We get a certain status in life and all of a sudden, everyone else is beneath us. Or, someone rises to the top in life, and all of a sudden we declare them to be uppity! If we're up, we look down on those who are down; if we're down, we look down on those who've risen up! If we see a teen dressed a certain way, he's either a prep or a hoodlum...why can't he/she just be a teen trying to fit in? It's like, we no longer remember when we were kids; when it was us! Now, we're policemen, social workers, Judges...and we're the BIG GUYS, we're IN CHARGE...and we want everyone in the world to know it!
       When I watched the Fruitvale Station (Oscar Grant) movie a couple of weeks ago, I was outraged at how those policemen treated those kids. I'd like to go on record saying that how they were treated was no less than a crime! And, I'm not going by a movie: I did my research before seeing the movie! I saw the actual clips of those policemen man-handling those kids. It was no surprise that one of the kids ended up dead at the hands of the police. And, yes, I said police--not policeman, because none of the policemen there put that policeman that was out of order in check; therefore, making them all at fault. In fact, two of them was completely out of order. The public outcry, even before the killing took place, was proof of that! The sad thing is, the very person that was looked upon as a criminal ended up dead for no criminal reason, and the one perceived to be the protector of the people ended up killing for no reason!
       We say "liberty and justice for ALL!" Where is the liberty when someone like Trayvon can't walk down the street--minding his own business--in his own neighborhood, without fearing for his life from an over-anxious wannabe-cop, because his skin isn't the right color and his clothing isn't the right style; and, who indeed, ends up dead!
       I've worked as a Juvenile Crisis Counselor, as a Corrections Officer, and as a Social Worker--to name a few. All these positions gave me a certain amount of power over others that I could have easily abused, but I didn't take those jobs for power; I took those jobs to help change lives! Yes, even in the prison system. You'd be surprised at the people who'll listen to you when you treat them with decency and respect! Unfortunately, a lot of people go into these very jobs on a power trip, and the system doesn't care enough to weed them out! God help us!
       What's even sadder about all this, is that we're blinded enough to think that it can't happen to us: We're good people, we're honorable people, we're church-going people...we follow the rules! America, open your eyes! When the police decides to pull you over--for whatever reason--and you as much as ask why to the wrong policeman, you're already on the wrong side of the law. Anything you do besides exactly what you're told can land you in a casket, and that policeman can pull something from your record you did when you were 10 years old and make you look like this horrible person, walking away--himself--with no more than a slap on the wrist! This is the America we now live in! The question is...What are we going to do about it?!
       When are we going to stand up and say, "We've had enough!"

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Dividing Nation (Part 1)

          When I first heard of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman situation, I wasn't sure whose side I was on; but, then, that was because I didn't have all the facts. It's easy to come to an arbitrary conclusion with preconceived assumptions, when one doesn't have all the fact. The assumptions being: "The kid shouldn't have been dressed like that in the first place. He was out looking for trouble!" Or, "You know he was a trouble-maker; he'd just gotten suspended from school!" "That's just another thug off the streets!" How about the assumptions: "Zimmerman was no more than a wanna-be cop, looking for someone to push around!" Or, "That toy cop was out looking for someone he could bully!" "He was prejudice, anyway! Everybody knew it!"
          The truth is, we tend to--in this society--assume to know everything about a person just by looking at them, or spending 10 minutes in their presence.  We assume to know why a person does what he or she does by the look on their faces, the way they dress, their status in life...even by their past history. In this society, being in trouble once or twice means you're a troubled person...period. Coming from a poverty background means you're low-class, and not capable of doing something so simple as commanding the King's English.
          I don't know much about either Trayvon or Zimmerman, aside from what the media says. But, what I do know is the automatic prejudices of people, and I know this from personal experience. Being an extremely light-complexioned, so-called "black" or "African-American" woman, I suffered prejudice--even from within my own household--at a very young age. It was said I thought I was better than others because of my skin-tone, when I wasn't even old enough to know the differences of skin-tones, or what it meant! I was called chicken-sh-t color by my step-grandmother whenever I upset her, and "high-yellow" by everyone else! By the time I was a teen, I was the "white" cousin or Baby Red! As I got older, it was said I talked too proper to which I tried changing my diction in an  attempt to sound more "black"---whatever that sounds like, in hopes of fitting in. I've always had a High IQ and was told because of it, I thought I was better than everyone else! Of course, I thought no such thing! Because of people's attitudes and statements, I've--to this day--never put my Degree on the wall. Not in 30 years!
          Now, as a disabled person on a fixed income (after having mastered several Professional jobs and two micro businesses of my own), I'm treated like an imbecile who don't understand basic English and/or can't fill out a simple form. It's not just frustrating, it's downright insulting! What does any of this have to do with Trayvon vs Zimmerman, you might ask? Everything!
          The first thing the media pointed out about Trayvon was the hoodie he was wearing, as though wearing a hoodie automatically makes one of questionable character, if not a low-life criminal or thug! It was February, a hoodie was appropriate attire for said month; not to mention, hoodies are popular with all teens, everywhere. The second thing mentioned was he had just recently been suspended from school, as though this automatically made him a problem person. And, yes, I know why he was suspended...for being young, impressionable and stupid! But, that didn't make him a bad kid, no more than showing extremely bad judgement on that fateful day makes Zimmerman a bad man.
       I did read somewhere that George Zimmerman had been turned down for the police department before, but who hasn't? Oftentimes, it's simply because one didn't pass the written or physical exam. However, it was noted (from prior police reports) that he had a history of a temper and violent behavior, which should have kept him from ever being issued a gun permit in the first place. I'm still not saying he was a bad person, as it was also reported how he worked with troubled teens and treated the African-American teens no different than the others. In fact, in early 2011, Zimmerman participated in a citizen forum at the Sanford City Hall (in Florida), to protest the beating of a black homeless man by the son of a white Sanford police officer. During the meeting, Zimmerman called the behavior of officers on duty "disgusting." So, what happened on February 26, 2012? How did these two people collide? I'll tell you how...via social prejudice! Determining a person's character, intentions, even their worth by how they look, act, talk, dress, and by where they live.
          It didn't matter that Trayvon belonged to a family living in the same "gated" community that Zimmerman also lived in. To Zimmerman, he was a hoodlum...plain and simple; at least, that's what Zimmerman saw. A young African-American man with a little swag in his walk--trying to look cool like kids do. Instead of a pair of slacks with a button down shirt and sweater--and, of course, the unsuspecting windbreaker--he had on a pair of jeans and a hoodie, of all things! Did I mention that he walked with his hands in the waistband of his pants? Kind of like cowboys do, but Zimmerman didn't see a cowboy, he saw a hoodlum...looking for trouble. Trayvon didn't "know" that he was looking for trouble that day, he just thought he was being himself; listening to his music, in his own world, on his way back home from the store. He thought he was just a cool kid with a little swagger!
          The problem developed when Zimmerman decided he knew more about Trayvon than Trayvon knew about himself, simply by the way he walked and dressed... and by the color of his skin. He was doomed from the moment Zimmerman decided he knew him...or rather, he knew his kind! The kind that drifted about the neighborhood, peering through windows, scoping out homes, seeing what they could come back later to steal! He was tired of Trayvon's kind...infiltrating, drifting through, and harassing his neighborhood. He had had enough! It was time to take action; time to make his community safe again! It was time to get "guys" like Trayvon off the streets! And that's when he decided: This time, the "guy" isn't going to "get away!"

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Ugly Truth About Indie Publishing

I have 13 days to go before my Kickstarter Project will be over.  Unfortunately, unless a miracle takes place between now and then, it will have been a total flop.  And, I honestly don’t understand why?  I’ve seen people on Kickstarter with some amazing products that deserves every bit of the support they receive and then some, but I’ve also seen some of the dumbest stuff up there receiving crazy funds beyond one’s imagination…for picture books, puzzle books…painted cards…painted posters…hundreds of thousands of dollars for these items!  And, I ask myself, what am I doing wrong?  I’ve checked and rechecked my post, tweaked and re-tweaked my videos;  I deleted 1/3 of my information, thinking I was overwhelming people with too much info, etc.  I even added a second video to explain why I was asking for the funds, which I also posted on my last post here!  All to no avail!

I’m not upset or anything like that.  I’m just…confused, frazzled, thrown-off-balance a bit.  Here’s why.  You start out writing and everybody under the sun says, If you need anything, And I Mean Anything, Just Let Me Know: I’M HERE FOR YOU!  I’M SERIOUS!  JUST LET ME KNOW!  You don’t call on them personally, but you set up this project and you let them know about it and ask them to spread the word to their friends and; suddenly, people (even, your immediate FAMILY) act as though you have the chicken pox.  They now want to keep their distance from you!  Even by email!  As though they can catch whatever it is they think you’re “spreading” via Twitter and/or FB and/or Email.

You attempt to put them at ease by saying:  “No, no…I don’t want anything from you (as though $5 would break their bank!), just spread the word for me.”  Retweet this for me or email that for me to your friends and all of a sudden, you hear:  I really don’t have too many friends or I don’t have those kind of friends!  I actually stepped out on the limb on New Years Eve (at our family gathering) and asked my oldest daughter to retweet my kickstarter “spill” for me, and she said (with a straight face, I might add):  “I don’t retweet.  I only retweet things that I like, like that guy you introduced me to…what’s his name, Deitrick Haddon?  Yeah, I retweeted a couple of things he wrote, but that’s all.  No, I don’t retweet.”  This is MY DAUGHTER SAYING THIS TO ME!  Needless to say, I was totally taken back by her nonchalant attitude while making the statement.  Like she was saying, No, I don’t like chocolate ice cream.  I couldn’t believe it.  I wasn’t even angry.  I was hurt!  It’s like, you’re trying to get your book out and the whole Universe is suddenly against you!  But, these are people you’ve done FREE Resumes, Divorces, Bankruptcies–you name it–for that would have cost them Thousands of Dollars with anyone else, but I did it for them for FREE!!!  And, thought NOTHING OF IT, AND DIDN’T HESITATE TO DO IT!

Within a few weeks of joining a new church and the Pastor finding out I was writing a book (and I didn’t tell him); all of a sudden, I’m getting a dig from the pulpit:  “These people got talents and gifts that God gave them and they’re just sitting on them. They could be making money right now singing, writing music, writing books.  In fact, people taking forever to edit their books and stuff, when all they have to do this day and time is write the book and upload it to the publisher.  The publishers do all the editing and everything and you’re done.  It don’t take all that stuff that people are doing holding up the book!”  This is from a person who’s never written anything in his life; who knows NOTHING about indie publishing or any other kind of publishing, for that matter.  He reads a little article somewhere or seen something on the internet and now he’s an expert on how MY book should be published!  But, did HE donate a dime to my kickstarter project?  I don’t think so! But, he’s waiting for it to be published so he can benefit from it like everyone else!  Needless to say, I’m resigning my membership!

The Ugly side of Indie Publishing is that you (on the most part) have to go it ALONE!  And, I mean ALONE!  You spend longs hours alone trying to create, long hours alone rewriting, editing, tweaking, always alone…no one as much as drop by to bring you a cup of coffee (except, my youngest son and his wife who keeps me in Barnes & Nobles gift cards…bless their hearts!).  But, when your book is published and it begins to creep, then crawl, then move, skip, climb, jump, and dive to the top of the bestsellers list, here they come!  They always knew you would do it!  They ALWAYS had your back, they were just giving you space to work!

Now, this may not be the case for all indie writers; in fact, I’m sure it isn’t.  Many have supportive spouses, cats, dogs, pigs…maybe, even, a few horses, turtles, spiders, snakes!  Others have their gourmet coffee, lemon tea, kettle chips, ice cream sandwiches, chocolate eclairs, and the list goes on.  But, what we really need are PEOPLE!  Without people, our writing and/or publishing isn’t worth the time it took us to do it, perfect it, and put it out there for your enjoyment!  And, if we need a little help along the way, so be it!  GIVE IT, for goodness sake!

We can give help and support for the dumbest stuff:  TRUTH!  We Americans will donate Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars for the dumbest stuff on earth!  Plain Truth!  Save the Alligators!  Money by the bushels!  Save the Crabs!  Money donated by the yang yang!  Let’s study how far the Butterflies fly?  Millions of dollars come in!  CRAZY!  But, ARTISTS…ALL OF US…We have to GIVE AWAY THOUSANDS OF FREE BOOKS AND CDs JUST TO GET YOU TO BUY A FEW!  HARD TRUTH!  We have to struggle, but we do it, because we believe we have something beautiful to offer.  And, we believe in it so much that if you aren’t willing to help us to get it to you, then we’ll struggle on our own to get it to you, even to the point of having to PAY OUT OF OUR OWN POCKETS to get it TO YOU FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT.

Now that I’m one of them, I totally understand the term “struggling artist.”  You struggle against your inner demons, you struggle against self-doubt, you struggle against systematic defeat (from time to time), you struggle against hindrances, your family, society at large; you struggle to get something passionate and beautiful into the hands of society; to share a little piece of yourself, and hope in the process, you’ve touched someone in some small, significant way…enough to be rewarded in return,  if only with appreciation.  I ask you:  Am I worthy of your appreciation?  Or, am I not?  I’ve given you several lengthy excepts of my writing to give you a feel for my talent, my style…what more can I give you to get your support for my book?  Is $5 or even $10 too much to ask for your help?  I’ve done my part, the rest is up to you.

So, there you have it!  My heart on my sleeve and the plain truth as ugly as it may be.
Now, if you’re interested in supporting this Indie Author, please go to http://kck.st/1017F2v
Your Help is more than Appreciated, and I can assure you: