no more silence.

being silent really hasn’t worked.

i took another break from writing the past few months because, silly as it sounds, i felt a little too worked up to write coherently.

funny thing is, now i’m mad as hell and i can’t help but write. if you aren’t mad as hell, then maybe you should just exit this post now.

for perspective as a black man, i’ve lived in predominately white culture my entire life. honestly, i’m pretty comfortable in this culture, because it’s all i know. i’ve gotten used to the way white people live. i’ve gotten used to how white, middle class people live.

i’ve gotten used to the comments and innuendos and the “i’m not racist… but…” type jokes. i’ve gotten used to people telling me that i’m too smart to be black, that i talk really well for a black man. i’ve been called nigger while walking down the street with my white wife. i’ve gotten used to people pointing out the color of my skin like i had a band-aid on my forehead. i’ve always thought… whatever, people are just dumb and moved on with my life because i know that i’m better than that or them. i have never had time to engage in ignorance.

i can sense the tide shifting.

it’s not just that i now have an infant daughter. it’s not just that i’m devastated to have to come to terms with reality that the world she will grow up in will not be much better than the world i grew up in. although that plays a huge part in my furious anger.

it’s more than that.

it’s that being silent doesn’t work anymore.

how can i be silent when police can execute civilians out of fear and without basis? how can i be silent when a simple traffic stop turns into murder in front of a four year old girl? how can i be silent when a man’s life is taken from him while screaming that he cannot breathe?

how can i be silent when the very same fears i have had, my daughter will most likely live with too?

 here’s the problem. i see a lot of white people saying, “let’s not jump to conclusions just yet.” that’s easy and convenient to say, but that simply doesn’t work today. i’ve lived in fear of “being black in the wrong place” my entire life. because of the events we continue to witness, my daughter may feel the same fears, and that just isn’t okay.

this is not an attack on white people. what it is an attack on is the culture that allows pervasive racism to continue. it’s an attack on the culture that is outraged by the death of a gorilla and cecil the lion (which i’m upset by too as an animal lover) but turns victims of violent police murders into the criminals by broadcasting prior records as if that has much to do with the actual incident. it’s an attack on the attitudes that have developed into saying “well, they must have done something wrong” to deserve being executed in the streets.

it’s an attack on a “justice’ system that time and time again fails to recognize that these acts are crimes. these are murders. yes, we know that these are murders by “bad apples”. we know that there are good cops. i know good cops. it doesn’t, however, excuse behavior. it doesn’t change the fact that men and women die at the hands of these “bad apples” without repercussions.

it no longer is an option to remain calm and keep quiet. it no longer is an option to look the other way and hope it all settles down one day.

being silent doesn’t work anymore.

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oh baby. (an expectant father’s thoughts)

expecting a baby is a phenomenon.

it really is.

the fact that my wife is growing a human almost leaves me speechless, which if anyone knows me, is hard to do. kelli is only about 14 weeks pregnant, but each week builds upon the anticipation of our little one’s arrival.

i also struggle with what to call this baby, since i don’t know whether it’s a boy or a girl yet. calling the baby… it… i don’t like that so much. so i guess i’m just gonna keep saying baby g. if it gets annoying, well… i’m sure you’ll get over it.

it’s funny the things i look forward to:

finding out baby g’s gender… the suspense is killing me.

introducing baby g to the world, and the world to baby g. i have high hopes for both and i expect them to be good friends

buying little things for the baby. i’m sure that my wife is thinking about all the practical things like changing tables and diaper bags and what color to paint the nursery. my mind is on making sure baby g is properly equipped with just the right amount of sports gear. baby g’s gonna have to represent our teams in style! yes, i have looked up pacifiers and onesies with my favorite teams logos on them.

on that note, is it weird that i’m already looking forward to watching baseball games and other sporting events with my kid asleep in my arms? k, i didn’t think so.

i think finally the overall realization that this is happening has sunk in and the excitement is starting to take over. i’ve waited a long time to become a father and when it became a real thing, all i could do was kinda freak out a little.

on a little more serious note, i’m pretty sure that i won’t always be the world’s best dad, or even the coolest one. at some point baby g won’t be a baby anymore and won’t even want to hang out with me. but i’m pretty sure that even if my kid doesn’t like sports or maps or writing or panda bears and is into things i have no clue about, i’m going to be a proud dad. i’m pretty sure that writing about my kid will be the easiest topic, and maybe the toughest too. i’m sure i’m going to be tired a lot and there will be plenty of nights when i lay awake wondering when this kid will come home. i know that because my parents did the same thing. i know that starting in about 6 months i’m going to start appreciating my parents a whole lot more than i do at this moment, and i’ll have a deeper admiration for mothers and fathers who have been doing this for a lot longer than me.  i’ll probably finally start asking for advice on things because baby g will get the best of me at times.

i’m excited about being a father, it’ll be the most important task ever given to me. someone asked me the other day if i’m ready for it, well, i don’t know that it matters if i’m ready for fatherhood. either way, it’s happening.

the best thing is knowing that no matter what, it’ll always be okay. even when things aren’t going the way i would like, it’s always well with my soul. it’s a motto i try to live out and now i get to pass that down.

loud noises.

there is so much commotion in the world these days.

sometimes it seems like the world has turned upside down. you know what i mean? we are living in a world where donald trump is a front runner to lead the free world, the gun debate rages people more and more and the water in flint, michigan has potentially destroyed the lives of many of its citizens.

there are so many lies to be told. we hear them everyday.

“obama is coming for your guns”

“only those who deserve healthcare should receive it”

“i’ll make america great again”

“(The water) is coming out of the plant in great condition…It’s clear and drinkable.

it’s just a bunch of loud noises.

we are even to a point where donald trump is more accepted at a christian college than a tenured professor expressing her beliefs.

loud noises.

i’m sure you’ve picked up my opposition to the trump campaign. for me, i guess i assume it’s an obvious choice for all of us. clearly it’s not. but what i have a hard time deciphering is the idea that christians are more accepting of someone who has been documented speaking against other religions, races and economic classes than someone who wishes to stand in solidarity with those different from her.

what i don’t understand is how loud the clamor to fight for the ability to carry a gun is, despite the main point being that no one really wants to take away guns from people who carry them legally and responsibly. it truly is amazing that we can be a society that ignores crucial elements of a text or story, just to bend the narrative the way we want it to be told.

i’m tired of the loud noises, even if right now i’m heaping coals onto the burning embers.

the loud noises scream for freedoms, even at the expense of freedom for those different from them. does that make sense? christians want freedom to discriminate against other religions. that’s essentially what it boils down to. instead of understanding the narrative, many christians have decided that all muslims are bad and shouldn’t be allowed into the country.

gun owners, terrified of losing their guns, are willing to let innocent people die in the streets, as long as their guns aren’t taken away. though that option has never been on the table, nor has it really ever been discussed.

loud noises discourage an appropriate discussion. loud noises distract from the truth.

in flint, political authorities decided to save money and draw water from the flint river, instead of from lake huron treated from detroit. since then, high levels of lead has seeped into the water. this is water that men, women and children drink, bathe in and cook with. despite tests proving otherwise, officials insisted that the water was safe.  now, it’ll cost over a billion dollars to correct the problem and the city is under a state of emergency. was it worth it?

instead of blustery speech and blowing smoke, we should be able to have transparent and honest discussions. differences in opinion doesn’t mean we can’t work together for effective solutions. even if we don’t have the same religion or agree on all topics doesn’t mean we have to be on separate sidelines. we all have our beliefs and it’s good to stand firmly with them. but we shouldn’t be foolish about it.

instead of the loud noises, maybe we just need to quiet down a little.

whoa. baby.

i can study maps for hours, and sometimes i do.

i love how it’s not just about the destination, but the routes we can take to get there.

there’s never just one way.

and sometimes the rockiest roads are the quickest, and sometimes the safer routes take longer and you have to be patient and enjoy the scenery. sometimes there’s exciting cities to pass through, and sometimes there is nothing but plains for hours. you can make the most amazing memories in places no one has ever heard of and the most anticipated destinations don’t always live up to the hype.

life is like this. life is like a map.

lately, i’ve been trying to map out my life. i want to figure out not just the destination, but what roads to take.

the route just got a little more interesting and much more adventurous for us. a couple of months ago my wife showed me a pregnancy test with a plus sign on it. because i’m pretty smart, i looked at it and said… what does that mean? so baby g is on it’s way and will make a july entry into the world.

so yes. now we have a new map to discover. i’ve imagined this many times before, even tried to create a map, a timeframe, for this type of event. but when it’s real, it seems so different. i’ve realized there isn’t really a map that charters this whole thing.

it’s amazing we even have the ability to create life. it hit me when we saw baby g on the ultrasound, we created this life. with maps, someone else made them, we just follow them. in this case, we created it, now we are responsible. we are in charge of creating a path for this little one.

someone told me the other day to make sure i started buying all the books about having a baby. i just shrugged. i’m sure we will, but at the same time there is something comforting about knowing that this is a new road for us. that we simply don’t know what we don’t know. i’m okay with that.

we get to travel this new road together, for the first time.

Bye Felicia. I mean… 2015. 

i’d like to think i’m a glass half full type of guy.

then i realize that i’m probably more of a glass half full but wish the glass was completely full type of guy. you know what i’m saying? how come no one talks about the glass actually being completely full? what’s so bad about that?

yeah, it’s cool to be positive, but why not have it all? it’s lame, i know.

anyway, here’s the thing. 2015 was not my favorite year. at all. looking back, i can see that pretty much the entire year was filled with wishing i had something more than what i already did. i wasn’t unsatisfied with what i had, i just wanted more. it’s the basic “lose perspective” situation that we find ourselves in every once in awhile. sure i have an amazing wife and a house and puppy that’s basically a human to us and a decent car and a job with benefits and something like 6 weeks of paid time off… yeah i guess for me that wasn’t good enough. pathetic right? i want to take solace in knowing i’m not the only one but, whatever. i’ll own my patheticness

this year was rough for me in so many ways, and not just because of donald trump. he’s not the issue, at least not in this post. unless we are talking about how he’s seemingly the only person who can get away with saying sexist, racist and completely ignorant things on a daily basis. somehow there are people who still think hillary is worse. but we aren’t talking about trump. not today. this year was rough and that’s okay. i grew a lot. i learned a lot. i’m a much better man for it. that’s the benefit of seeing the finish line. you start to get some of that missing perspective back.

going into 2016, i doubt i’ll do any resolutions. they don’t really work anyway, not for me at least. what i do want to do is look back at this past year and remember the good and the bad and even all of the ugly. i don’t want to forget the lessons and the laughter and the moments that stopped me in my tracks. i want to remember that every moment is part of the journey. yep, it’s corny and all, but sometimes corny is cool. i don’t know if 2016 will be the year dreams are made of, unless trump finally disappears, but i’m hoping that i keep perspective the entire year this time.

outsider.

i should probably be considered an outsider in my family. i’m different from them in so many ways.

i mean, that’s to be expected when you grow up in a very conservative family and vote for obama twice, register with the michigan democratic party and overall be fairly liberal. (though in my younger years i did vote for bush twice as well. we all make mistakes here and there.) oh and i’m black and most of my family is white. there’s that too. i should expect to be shunned right?

but that’s the beauty of this nation. we are not all the same. we can’t hide this fact. we don’t all look the same and believe the same things and that should be okay.

somehow the narrative has fallen off the rails. we’ve developed an “us vs. them” mentality.

the funny thing is, i’m probably a liberal thinker because of the values my parents instilled in me. they taught me to care for the people around me, not build walls to keep them away. though conservative, my parents are the most caring and loving two people i have ever known. still, i am very different from them in how i approach my thoughts and values. but should that separate me from them?

i worked at a church for five years (where i became a bush lover) and i heard more hate speech there than i ever have anywhere else. one of the colleges i considered going to after high school was liberty university. now their president wants to “end those Muslims”. this is just another example why i have such a difficult time identifying myself as a Christian these days. i just don’t believe this is how Jesus would approach the situation. it’s not us vs. them. at least it shouldn’t be.

we fight with each other. we fight against everyone else. we think it’s supposed to be an exclusive club and you can only get in with a special invitation. the only thing is, religion is not a country club.

we cannot follow a man like Jesus if we only want people we like and understand to be given a fair shot at life. we cannot follow a man like Jesus if we want to disturb the peaceful lives of millions of people because it serves our own fearful and selfish impulses. we certainly cannot follow a man like Jesus if we openly discuss murdering people the way the liberty university president did.

a few years ago, i wrote that the streets are on fire. that we are just sitting here fighting with each other about stupid and irrelevant things while the world around us went up in flames.

and now donald trump is trying to be president? and i read on facebook that someone i know (from the same church from earlier) would “vote for him in a heartbeat”?  the man who wants to kick out millions of peaceful, law-abiding people because of fear? and people agree with that? wow. the same man who wants to kick Mexicans out of the country and makes faulty claims about black people and crime? that guy?

we are the most violent country in the developed world when it comes to guns. we have a mass shooting nearly every day. yet there are people in this country who continue to look the other way. the NRA has these people so riled up, i’ve never seen anything like it. people cannot think straight because they have swallowed the poison pills the gun lobbyists have fed them. i’m not a hunter, but i cannot imagine the need for handguns to shoot deer and turkeys. no one is trying to take away your guns. unless you think you need military weapons to shoot pheasants.

children are getting killed in the streets, being lured into allies to be executed. the police are shooting those they have sworn to protect. companies have to update their policies on workplace violence and what to do in case of a mass shooting.

but still the crazies think there is no problem. even worse, they think the solution to the “no problem” is more guns. really.

talk about the streets being on fire.

it gets tiring. trying to fight with each other about all of this nonsense is getting us nowhere. we hate having discussions about it. we hate even more when we disagree. these days, having discussions with people we disagree with is a sign of weakness.

and honestly, some who will read this are people i love who don’t think the way i do. you might want to vote for donald trump, and while i couldn’t disagree with you more, it’s alright.

it’s alright because we are all different. but being different should not mean we continue this barrage of attacks against each other. we just need to start working harder at accepting our differences. we need to realize, that as a nation of immigrants from all over the world, different is inevitable and amazing. pushing fear towards the masses is a horrible and dysfunctional tactic.

sideshow.

“can’t you see that all that stuff’s a sideshow?”

-let go- frou frou-

from what i remember about my childhood, not a whole lot mattered more to me than sports. collecting sports cards, playing sports, watching sports, listening to sports, reading sports… that’s all there was. i had one mindset. sports. well, and girls… but i never had enough nerve to actually talk to girls, so i just focused on sports.

then i got older. and more aware. i realized slowly, and with my mom’s insistence, that there was more to this world than simply sports. my brain was shocked.

i learned about politics and religion and that traveling is good for the soul. i learned in high school that girls could get me in trouble, as would lying to my parents and stealing candy from the gas station.

then 9/11 happened and i learned quickly that the world was full of hate. not just from those who hated america, but from americans who hated the outside world. remember “freedom fries”? we hated the french because they wouldn’t go to war in iraq with us so we took the one thing we know would get them to understand we were serious… how tough we americans are…we would call OUR fried potatoes “freedom” fries because…dammit…fried food is american and we stand for freedom more than anything. fried. potatoes.

i learned that people with power could and would go to great lengths to get what they wanted. i started to realize that the religion i had believed in was not what i thought it was. that jesus is somehow bigger than that religion.

i watched as obama won the election and for some reason i thought that would unite america. it did not. clearly.

i realized that there is a lot outside of my control, and what i cannot control doesn’t matter anyway.

how much of what is in our lives is just a sideshow?

how much are we influenced by what is around us and not what is in us? how much do we forget about the people who actually matter to us everyday?

there are all these factors competing for our attention. we live in a hyped up world. no matter what it is, it’s overblown. unless it’s about the good in the world. we don’t hear so much about that.

so much of what is around us is just a sideshow.

there isn’t much we can control these days. there never has been. instead of fighting about who should pay the most taxes and racial tensions and same-sex marriage and whether pete rose should be in the hall of fame, what if we started blocking out the noise? what if we started focusing on people and how we relate to each other? we spend so much time focusing on all the things that really do not matter and forget that what really does, people. maybe then we can start to see past different skin tones and religious beliefs.

when we start breaking down all the nonsense and leave the sideshow behind, that’s when we truly see the value of why we are on this planet.