No. That isn’t true. I don’t know Radcliffe and I cannot mourn for her. We never really met. Really, I’m just a little perturbed that in my quest to collect pennants from all seven sisters, they no longer manufacture one for a school that was absorbed long ago.
So I settle for Harvard. Typing that phrase makes me smirk. So, like a suitor late to the dance, the music has already started, I see Radcliffe has gone off with another. I look a little to the left, “Sup Barnard? How you doin’?”
Magnolia trees and dogwood blossoms paint a grand southern picture, but sprinkle in some Spanish moss and that picture becomes a masterful portrait. In the heart of one such portrait sits Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, or FAMU.
FAMU is one of only a handful of historically black colleges or universities that are public institutions. This means they receive tax payer’s money. Recently they have also received a lot of publicity over a little hazing incident. The hazing was carried out not by the football team or even a fraternity… it was the band.
Now to be fair this isn’t just any band, it is arguably THE band when it comes to college marching bands. They aren’t limited to football games and local parades, they are more along the lines of presidential inaugurations and Superbowl half times. Some members of said band were dangerously foolish, but it would be foolish to forget how good these guys are.
Foolish to haze, foolish to forget, and it would also be foolish to assume that while history has proven that separate is inherently unequal, this does not mean that all black institutions hailing from the days of segregation were poor quality. The may have indeed been, and are, poor in funding, but not in product.
Headlines cry out about the education and performance gap between black and white, inspiring armies of experts to investigate why black folks lag. If these experts would rather look the other way, and find out why the black folks who succeed do so when so many others don’t, they would do well to look at FAMU.
Founded in 1881, a time when neither women nor Black people were encouraged to pursue higher education. This sort of one-off origin, the kind of historical consolation prize that would lead one to think less of a place, does not apply to Spelman. It lists among the top 50 producers of Fulbright Scholars, second in production of black bacheloriates who go on to med school, and is the Alma Mater of the Dean of Harvard.
Because there are so many White Americans that what we/they (white people) think or do automatically affects everyone else.
A lot has been said about our recent presidential election and how the Republicans lost because they had failed to recognize the growing number of minorities in America. These messages are normally coupled with population predictions that tell of a non-white American majority in the not so distant future.
It shouldn’t. It shouldn’t really worry the white masses for two reasons: A) because white people will still be the largest single population group by far, and B) so what?
Lets look at A. In the 2010 census, the one from which all these alarming demographic trends derive, white people outnumbered everyone else by 136 million people. Stated another way, if you lump together every non white person in America, there will still be 136 MILLION more white people. The myth of the coming white minority is in fact a myth. There will surely be a day when all the “others” outnumber white people, but that is not the same as being a minority.
Being a minority means being outnumbered or isolated. If you are Vietnamese, it may be possible to find a neighborhood where there are more than three other people sharing your nationality, but really… there will be some white people there too.
If you are Latino, you may find places to live that have thousands upon thousands of Latinos… but there will still be white people. The relevance of this becomes even more apparent if one looks at California, Texas, or Arizona, places with large Latino populations, and do a racial survey of their state governments or national representatives. White people? Yessir.
If you are Latino, Asian, or Black in America, your life will always be affected by the actions of white people… They/we are the majority group.
Now B)… what would be so bad about white people being the minority? Is it assumed that the non-white will automatically begin oppressing the white folks? Perhaps. Do you white people who fear this think that white people oppress minorities now?
If no, then why would you assume “they” will oppress you?
If yes, then isn’t it only fair that “they” get a chance to be on top for once in a thousand years?
Both of these are admittedly problematic statements but they illustrate the point. The point being that if you have reservations about being the new minority, what exactly is it about this that bothers you? Get to the heart of it and deal with that, not some other surface distractions.
Because what the rising minority populations DOES mean, and the recent elections proved, is that minorities can no longer simply be a distraction.
Historically, when we teach or learn of history, minority populations are treated as a distraction. The problem with this, especially when learning history, is that the idea that race, especially African-Americans as a group, is just a distraction or footnote, is factually wrong. It is not true. It is not factual history.
When the majority population get the history wrong, they make poor decisions regarding the future.
Brigham Young University and I have a history. No, I never attended the school, but you can’t be what I am, from where I am from, without BYU being in your life. Sort of like a cousin, or a not-so-drunk uncle.
Speaking of uncle’s, my niece is a sophomore there. That is not why I went. I went for work.
BYU is a great school. I will even admit it is an absolutely top academic institution. While studying colleges, while I was in college, I realized again how different this school is from every other school in the country and cannot be honestly considered when doing national comparisons. This sign is a prime example of why.The bathrooms is the student union have diaper changing tables. I will wager big money a sign like this has never been posted at any other American college.
Last year they won the National championship in rugby. the college rugby team I played for has only beaten BYU once. I played in that game. I cannot take credit for the victory. I didn’t even know we won. I was simply running around confused and battered when a whistle blew and the BYU guys all walked to their van and went home. They did not shake our hands.
Its Okay though… we were very poor winners.
I recall two muzzle loaders kept in sleeves in the back of Dad’s closet, I’m guessing the 30.06 was back there too. There was also a child’s sized rifle kept under their bed. This was the one I remember best. Not because it fit my shoulder better but because its dark cherry stalk was beautiful. It also had a tendency to just go to half-cock rather than firing when you pulled the trigger. It exposed me as a horrible flincher. For a while there was a flint-lock pistol that lived in the gun chest, the chest filled with led balls, canisters of powder, and ripped up cotton patches. I hated the sulfur smell when we sat in the kitchen swabbing out barrels and wiping them down with oil. I fancied myself a good shot.
I can still hear Dad’s humorless voice ordering me to keep my finger away from the trigger unless I plan to fire, never under any circumstances point the barrel towards another person, and don’t dry-fire, even if you have already inspected the chamber. Always set up the range toward the side of a hill, inspect it for metal or other rick-o-shay hazards, and wear ear protection. These were all non-negotiable. Guns are tools not toys.
Venison was our winter staple. The family got three “tags” every season. Dad got a buck permit for the regular hunt, then grandma and mom each got a doe permit for the black powder hunt. Dad used all three, the doe permits were to make sure we would have something to eat, the buck permit was in hopes of getting the “big one.” Sitting still in the snow with my father is where and when I learned you don’t always have to talk. It is okay to just sit there. It is also the first time I threw a rock at a bull moose in hopes it would go away.
The guys and I used to drive out to the west desert on Saturdays. Most all of them carried semi-auto .22s, except Trevor and I. I used a .22/.20 over under shotgun, Trevor brought a Mak10. That thing never hit a rabbit but it was very fun to fire. I’m pretty sure that out of the ten of us who went out regularly, I was the only one to ever hit anything. A rabbit would pop out and make a break for it, and despite all the noise, it would just zig zag off into the distance. I remember walking next to Mitch. As he was emptying his magazine I calmly lifted the shotgun to my shoulder and and squoze. “I think it was me who got that one,” he would say time after time. I would just nod and pump the empty out of the chamber.
The first time I heard a bullet in flight. Jimmy Cowley was about thirty yards to my left, my dad about thirty yards to my right, and the rabbit popped out of the sage about thirty yards to my front. Jimmy had a semi-automatic .22 with a forty round clip and he opened fire on the mangy jack rabbit. Rather than running away, it ran right for me. Jimmy was not looking at me, he was looking down the barrel toward the rabbit. He kept pulling the trigger as the rabbit ran between us and by the time he and I realized what had just happened, my father’s barrel was pointing at Jimmy. We were both about 12.
The second time I heard a bullet in flight was while riding a bike in Atlanta. My missionary companion and I were pedaling down the street when I heard a whiz then a slap against the wall behind me. The two of us froze in place while people scattered in all directions. A teenage girl ran by with her coat pulled up over her head. I saw a man crouched behind a half wall with a silver revolver in hand. From somewhere else I heard the “pop—-pop–pop.pop.pop” of return fire. We turned the corner and just kept going.
Most all of us “inner-city” missionaries had tape recordings of machine gun fire made on the fourth of July. I never knew people fired guns on the fourth till my downstairs neighbors made it obvious. His was obviously a shotgun.
We were already married before my wife ever fired a gun. Under close supervision she shot a beautiful Smith & Wesson chrome revolver at a dirt clod. She pulled the trigger, handed me the pistol, and walked away shaking. She says she was unprepared for how violent it was. She has no desire to ever fire one again.
We don’t keep a gun in our house. I would love too. I miss that part of my life but not enough to make my wife uncomfortable in her own home. I suppose she could learn to get comfortable but that isn’t on her to-do list. I guess there is some irony in that I lived in a house full of guns in one of the safest neighborhoods in America, but lack firearms now that I live in one of the most dangerous. Maybe it is ironic, but it is exactly this situation that has taught me a few things.
Safety and rights are relative.
One of the major hurdles Martin Luther King Jr., SNCC, and other non-violent civil rights organizers faced was convincing the general Black population to put away their guns. For Black people in the rural south the danger of a lynch party showing up on your doorstep, often led by local authorities, was very real. Most every home had a shotgun behind the door as a Black family’s only possible defense. The courts and local laws would not help them. Non-violence was not only a public relations victory, but a daily life miracle of self restraint on the part of an oppressed people.
On the other side of the country, and the tactical spectrum, other Black people took the opposite tact and began carrying guns out in the open. The White establishment would have none of this. The self destruction and implosion of the Black Panther Party has made most of us forget that these were not just a bunch of leather clad fools. The Panthers not only organized a militia and bore arms but crafted a constitutional argument defending their right to do so. The idea that the only thing that would stop a bad guy with a gun was a good guy with a gun, was preached by the Panthers. They also happened to believe that a large majority of the bad guys were wearing badges and the good guys were wearing black berets. And really, if one looks at things through the historical lens of a Black American… they had a lot of evidence to prove their point. The Panther’s guns were confiscated. The NRA did not defend them.
Skipping forward to today, most of the Black people I know want guns gone. Gone from the streets, gone from their homes, just gone. I sit in church and listen as month after month someone from the congregation will stand up and tell of someone they love who has been shot, or about when they themselves were hit by flying bullets. I have yet to hear one of these people stand up and pray for more firepower.
My Facebook feed is alive with memes and sound bites taking this position or that on gun control. The newspaper and radio give arguments for restricting guns or arming more citizens. I have seen dozens of stories praising gun owners who have shot intruders in the act of invading their homes. I have also followed a story of man licensed to carry a concealed gun who shot and killed an unarmed kid who was walking home from the convenience store. Where I grew up Elementary school teachers are being taught how to use guns to defend their classroom. Where I live now, a police task force is going to trial for running its own citywide drug ring. A couple of years ago a cop in my neighborhood got drunk, got angry at some noisy kids, went inside to get his gun and killed someone.
I hear and read a lot of arguments, not normally about what to do, but about how the other side is stupid. I talk to people on both sides but I get the feeling they don’t really talk to each other. How does this help? Every kid I know in the city can get their hands on a gun if they want one. Many see guns even when they are trying not too. Would more guns really make these kids safer?
Do I think I have a right to own a gun? Yes I do.
Do I want everyone to own a gun? No I do not. I know plenty of people that would terrify me if they were armed. I know other perfectly law abiding people that I would not trust with a gun in a million years.
I’ll tell every bad guy out there right now, odds are, if you break into my home I will not shoot you.
I do not care how bad you are, I do not think my TV is worth your life.
If my wife were to ever relent and let me keep a gun in the house, it would be unloaded and locked away some place making it impossible to be of any use in the event some burglar comes a prowling. This is because I know I can only control certain things in my life and will do everything in my power to make sure no one accidentally, or intentionally, kills someone with a gun I own. But I can only control so much.
I can’t control others who may wish me harm, just like I can’t control an out of control car coming my way.
But I can do my best. I register my car. I get my car inspected for safety every year and get my picture taken at the DMV. I can keep my home gun free to keep my wife happy but mostly because there are no deer or rabbits anywhere near my door.
Lets go ahead and disagree. If you can show me where I am wrong, please help me out. If I think you are wrong maybe I should try to find a way to effectively communicate why. But please, lets do so in hopes of making things better, not in the name of proving a point. Comparing your apples to another person’s oranges does not make things better. Claiming to know what the other side “really” means or what their ulterior motives are is equally unproductive. Realize that for many people, mostly for the victims of violence, this is not a philosophical discussion. It is real life. It is too often real death.
One of my favorite memories from youth, one I fall back too when I’m feeling old and nostalgic, was the day Jake and I spent at the gun club. It was just the two of us, a .12 gauge, and about ten dozen clay pigeons. I don’t remember any real conversation, and I may have separated my shoulder, but I know I was happy that day. It was a good day, but not the only way to have one.
How do we ensure more good days for everyone?
I drive past the building almost every day. I walk right past almost as often. I knew it was there, I just didn’t know it was a clothing store.
I left the place with my socks still on without buying any new ones.
Now this is not to say I didn’t like it, a lot, but rather that I found no one item that I looked at, swooned, and walked away wishing the sticker price was lower. It was strangely a large collection of “meh” that when pulled together is both fantastic, but still… meh.
Now Mettlers does not just do clothing, they do design. Which makes more sense. They do great design with well informed clothing. The fact that I’m “meh” on Mettlers means it is probably well worth a visit.
But after some reflection I have decided what stole this visit’s fire, why I was underwhelmed. It was not the clothes or the building. Both were better than most. It was not the design, which was a sporting masculinity that I enjoyed, but it was something I like a lot, that disappointed me.
I once took an art class in college.
I was not an art major but having some artistic tendencies, I saw Drawing/Painting on the course list and decided to enroll. Besides, I had some electives to burn. I was foolish enough not to check those little numbers next to the course name, 5200.
It was for graduate students in art, not Sophomore business majors. The prof claimed I was fine and told me to stay. I’m glad I did because he made one statement that has stuck with me more than any other art lesson in my life.
When I submitted my project proposal he looked it over, shook his head, and said, “I can see what you are trying to do but you are simply not good enough to do it.”
A little stunned, I was speechless as he continued, “This is not to say you can’t produce great art, just don’t try to do things you aren’t capable of.”
I kid myself, no I believe, that I could learn to do what I originally proposed, but this was not the purpose of this class. That would be the purpose of getting a bachelors in art. But the utilitarian pragmatism of “do what you are good at” opened up unseen doors for me.
Now back to Mettlers.
I love Eakins’ artwork, especially the painting of a boxer being fanned in his corner. Mettlers had a fine hand painted imitation of that very painting. This was exactly my taste! But whoever the artist was that produced the imitation they were no Eakins. I could see what the artist was trying to do but they were not good enough to do it.
For me it cheapened everything else in place.