Sunday, February 26, 2017

Is the media REALLY the enemy of the American People?

I've been trying very hard not to watch the news as intently as I have been over the past year.  It's not that I don't want to be well-informed about the issues that we as a nation are facing.  It's more around the fact that what I am seeing in the news bothers me to the point where I have to tune out as opposed to tuning in, allowing myself a fast from politics...at least for a day or two.

The president has officially declared war on the media by stating (rather repeatedly) that they are the enemy; not of him but the American People.  And unfortunately, some will buy into that logic even though the ones that do believe and subscribe to that ideology should be able to see what is going on right before their eyes.

Mr. Trump caters to his fan base...the people that voted for him and hang onto his every word whenever he speaks or has something to say.  And right now, he is playing a dangerous game by declaring war on the media by calling the news reporting outlets that are critical of some of the things that he has said and done since he assumed the role of commander in chief fake.  The danger is in discrediting highly respected news reporting outlets that have never been labeled the enemy of the American people until now.  In fact, the only thing that these agencies have done is report the news; regardless of whether they are in praise of Mr. Trump or not.  It just so happens that they don't have much room for praise because Mr. Trump has not done anything of late except attempting to keep the promises that he made to his fan base which is not the vast majority of the American people.  Mind you, while that may be of significant importance to him, the role of commander in chief is to govern for all of America and not just the few that put him in office.

What worries me is that while he is attacking the media for doing their job, I have to wonder what else is driving his behavior.  While I am sure that part of it is because he loves to be praised (which will explain why he adamantly supports Fox News) there may be a more nefarious reason as to why he is attacking the media with such fervor...and that reason may be his possible ties to Russia.

What better way to dismiss the claims that his presidency may not be legitimate by attacking the media that would report what took place if it is established that members of his campaign had been in collusion with Russia to help him win an election which he might not have won otherwise?  It's a thought.

But the bigger threat is by silencing the media, he places the very people that put him into office at risk.  God forbid if anything catastrophic should occur and the attempts to warn the American public would go unheeded because the trust had been eroded by the president.

The news is meant to inform.  Our democracy was built upon the idea that freedom of the press comes at the expense of anyone or anything that is doing wrong as much as its to the glee of someone or something that is doing right.  To silence that voice would be of serious detriment to our society.

The following is the definition of the first amendment:

Amendment Text | Annotations. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As I stated before and it bears repeating;

The president does not have a problem with the media as much as he has a problem with the truth.  To attack the media that does not praise him is unfair and therefore a threat to our democracy and his job is to enforce and adhere to our constitution.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Saturday, February 18, 2017

In the current age that we are in, can we unite a nation?

Politics has been keeping me up at night.  I have been watching MSNBC, CNN and Fox in an effort to understand our political system more and more.  I wonder what is the driving force behind the diehard Trump Supporter as well as the ones that don't believe in him.   Admittedly, it's been hard if not downright perplexing to understand until I realized one proverbial thing:

People have a tendency to get behind and believe in a candidate that speaks to their immediate need and once that candidate has done that, very little can be done to dissuade them.  People have an emotional tie to the person that they feel represents them.  They feel this deep personal sense of loyalty to that individual which may explain why some Trump supporters will dismiss the president's missteps; in essence giving Mr Trump a free pass whenever he does or says something that may offend and/or alienate another group of people from a different demographic.  They are willing to overlook the presidents mistakes because they want to believe that he is the person that will right the wrong that has been inflicted upon them.

The want to believe may be so strong that they will believe at all costs; and the only thing that will shake that belief is if the president does something so catastrophic that it severely impacts them negatively.  The keyword of course being that it impacts them, because the true Trump supporter/follower does not care if the president does nothing to help Muslims, People of Color, Jews or Women.  The concept that a president is supposed to govern for all, not a few is somewhat foreign to them.  Therefore, they take it personally when you don't support Mr. Trump.

I suppose the same can be said for my support of the former president.  I take it personally when Trump supporters attack him and him alone for not getting anything done from a congressional standpoint when the larger part of the blame rests with the Republican Congress.

So can we unite as a nation?  Eventually, but now is not the time.  I would love to be able to say that we could be united under our current president, but that's not going to happen because he has successfully widened the divide.  Never have I seen the rift between Americans so great than it is currently.   And that is sad because our enemies know that a nation divided against itself cannot stand...and they are waiting.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Good News Is...

Underneath the surface of our current political climate runs the pulse of regular America.  By regular America, I mean the hardworking men and women of this country that are comprised of many ethnic backgrounds, races and cultures.

Right after the presidential election, I was uncertain as to how I was going to interact with white people that I didn't know.  With our country being divided because of the rhetoric that our president has espoused during his campaign, I didn't know if I would encounter someone that was filled with hate, hope or indifference.

As of late, I have run into white people that have looked right though me as if I didn't have the right to occupy the same space as they.  But I have encountered more white people that have gone out of their way to greet, engage and acknowledge me...almost as if they were silently saying that they do not subscribe to the ideologies that have divided our nation.

Some of my fellow African Americans may be thinking why I should care whether "they" acknowledge me or not.  I care because there are so many of us; black, white, Asian and Latino that are willing to be united into a world where no one race dominates and decides what the other races are entitled to.

In my very own church, I am seeing the call to arms to love each other just a little bit deeper and to care just a little bit more.  More importantly, I am seeing the call to action taking root in the actions of people.

We will never be a perfect society.  We will always have our flaws.  There will always be someone who will think that they are more entitled for reasons that may escape the rest of us.

But what this current administration is teaching us is that we are all challenged to do better.  We have to.  And as a result, maybe the world will gradually evolve into a better place for all of us.  With hope and action, we can and must do better by one another.  We must look out for our sisters to ensure that their rights are  not being violated.  We must care about other nationalities because as I've said before, when justice for one fails, it fails for all of us.  It will be a slow and gradual process, but it will happen because true change comes from within.

In the next few years, we will be tested.  There will be triumphs that will astound and bewilder us.  But we must continue to fight for the best in us because that is whats at stake.

Billionaires who know nothing about struggling are running this country.  They are making decisions that will impact all of us.  But we will survive and we will be better.

But it starts with changing how we first and foremost view ourselves and then morph into how we view others.

The good news is that we the people have a chance for a do over.  We know that the majority of us do  not subscribe to racist ideologies.  We know that other minorities are not the cause of our problems.  We know that the rights of one reflects the rights of all.

So take comfort in that as we move forward!

~ J.L. Whitehead

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

People STOP...and let's regroup!

It was one of those nights last night where I lay awake in bed staring at the ceiling.  I couldn't turn my mind off to save my life.  The inauguration is over and we have a new administration in place and for the first time in my life, I feel uncertain as to what the future holds for me, both as an African American and a member of the LGBTQ Community.  In many ways, it's like waiting for the next shoe to drop.

My country has been divided...polarized in ways that I have read about in history books and watched in documentaries.  People are hurt, disappointed...and angry.  Donald Trump coming to presidency should have never happened, and it could have been avoided if the government officials that we appointed to do the jobs that they were elected to perform on our behalf had simply did their jobs.

What is needed now more than ever is for leaders, young and old, to step to the forefront because this administration does not define who we are collectively as a people.  We all want the opportunity for advancement as well as equal pay for equal work.  A woman's right to do what she wants to do with her own body is not anyone's decision except for that woman.  Banning all Muslims from entering this country will not stop ISIS.  And while we are on the subject of terrorism, what about the men that have caused a senseless loss of life for a myriad of reasons from mental illness to white supremacy?

As I've watched our new president in action, I understand that by nature he is somewhat of a bully.  Those tactics work well in the business community but does not necessarily translate well to the leader of the free world.

Everyone is not going to agree with him nor will they always have praise for him...but sometimes that seems to be the expectation.  And if you don't provide either, you are branded "false news" or that somehow, you are a traitor.

I do not subscribe to many of Mr. Trumps ideologies because he has never addressed the concerns that directly impact me from both an African American and LGBTQ perspective.  Many of his supporters/followers (and yes, there is a difference) voted for him knowing that he will not govern for all of America the way that a presidential leader should.  They are primarily concerned that his decisions does not adversely impact them and if those decisions impacts another demographic group negatively, it's okay.  It will not hurt them in the long run.

Out of his supporters, there are those that are genuinely concerned about the restoration of jobs to America.  I get it.  People are concerned about the safety of the citizens of this country.  I get that too.

And while personally cannot change the disposition, defects of character or temperament of Mr. Trump, we as a people can change the way that we view him and hold him accountable to the policies that he is implementing because if those policies will do more harm then good, he is liable.

Our government works for us.  Sometimes, we forget that.  And the leaders of this country are held to a standard that they are to govern for the people because they were elected by the people. 

Now is the time for our voices to be heard.  What is needed now more than ever are effective orators, planners and leaders.  We need to get beyond riled up so that we can make this country what it has and always should have been.

Making America great again would imply that somehow, it wasn't great.  We have always been great, even if every race and ethnicity couldn't reap the benefits of that greatness based on something as simple as equality.  We are a nation that is comprised of a vast melting pot of cultures, backgrounds and skin tones.  Our differences should be celebrated, not feared.  Injustice impacts all of us.  Injustice will erode the fabric of who and what we are as well as what we stand for.

In short, it is not about "me" and "mine" as much as it is about "we" and "unity."

Never forget that!

~ J.L. Whitehead

Monday, January 9, 2017

One in Six

I've just completed the first draft of my next book.  It took me several years to write it even though the actual page count is a little less than two hundred pages.  The reason why it has taken me so long to write this book is because it was painful for me to recall several low points in my life that I have struggled to forget.

My initial target audience for this book was for gay men, whether they were young or old, black or white.  I thought that it was so important for them to know the true down and dirty that entails sex abuse as well as what constitutes a victim.  There are more of us than we as a society care to acknowledge.  The only problem is, I realized relatively early on that most gay men wont read it.

They wont read it not because the content isn't worthy of reading, but because the subject matter has been done before; maybe not by an African American man, but done all the same. 

After completing the first draft, I thought who would want to read this work and what purpose would it serve?

The content of the book is heart breaking at times, written from a truthful and honest perspective.  Who better to tell my story than I?  It wasn't until I wrote the book that I realized that not only had I been molested, but that at one point in time, I had been raped which is something that still doesn't sit well with me because I still subscribe to the ideology that men cannot be raped.  I still subscribe to the thought process that somewhere, the boy must have wanted it otherwise he would not have put himself in that position.

But it's that same thought process that buys silence.  It's the reluctance to say what really happened that empowers a pedophile.  Initially, I kept that part out of the book.  I did until someone who read the manuscript said to me that I was holding back...she could tell.  And then I had to talk it out with my partner and found that in talking about it, I was still, after all this time, upset about it and didn't understand why.  I added the piece into the story line because it, regardless of how painful it was, is part of my truth.

In order to help someone else, you have to get into the down and dirty.  You have to let the "ilk" rise to the surface so that you can set it free. 

I wasn't sure that I could do this.  I wasn't sure that I could bring myself to talk about a chapter in my life that I fought to leave behind. 

But I'm breathing now...a little bit deeper and my head held just a little bit higher.  It will be okay because it has been okay up to this point...even if being okay was just a facade.

I realized now that the importance of the book isn't just for gay men.  The importance of the book is for any single woman who has a child.  I tell the story from the perspective of both a 13 year old boy as well as an adult man.  Both of these people are me.  I describe what happened, what was going on in my head and what happened to me after the incidents transpired.

Hopefully, it will give a mother something to think about if she suspects that something is going on with her child.  Because statistically, it happens to every sixth boy.  That's one in six.

I hope that I'm getting all of this out right.  After all, these are factual events, but just because they are doesn't necessarily mean that you will have a happy ending.  Sometimes, you just have an ending.

After all, we're all works in progress.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Saturday, January 7, 2017

"Untitled" by Brian Stark

This one goes out to all the slaves of all form and size.

Not those slaving away--that is a poem for another day. 

Not those whom enslave--that's a poem for Tuesday and every, other day. 

This one goes to out to the most suffering of any one of us. 

And I am saddened to exclaim---people don’t even know you! 

I get messages on Facebook about does child sex slavery really exist! 

I speak about such things and in real life I have Zero friends! 

This one and every other one goes out to them--in hope of Freedom for you.

That the people stop electing corrupt puppets to lead us through these lands! 

O! No this can not be Reality---where could be yet not all free, fed, sheltered---- 

Yet it is---for all---those in bubbles, those who hide, those who cause, and those that die.

Brian Stark

Everyone needs to stand for something.  Everyone deserves the right to be heard as long as the message does not infringe upon the dignity and rights of others.

To read more of this artists work, click on the link below:


~ J.L. Whitehead

Monday, January 2, 2017

Paying it Forward!

Good Evening Authors and Poets ! This message is aimed primarily at the members of the Literary Community. I decided that in 2017, I would pay it forward and list your information on my FB Page, Four Brothers FB Page and on my website.

Here is my disclaimer:

I am providing you basic information. I do not guarantee the results of your interaction with anyone listed. I simply provide their information.

As someone in the business, it is up to you to do your homework, ask the appropriate questions and then ultimately make the decision in regards to conducting business with the contact.

The first contact of the year is as follows:

Cora Bratner

Author and Ghost Writer for Christians who have a story to tell but may not know how to go about it.

Email: cleeowen@comcast.net

I highly recommend that you ask two questions:

1. Do you have examples of your work?
2. Do you have verifiable references?

Any additional questions that you can think of to assist in the vetting process is up to you!

~ J.L. Whitehead