Monday, September 21, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Shoulders to Tiny for Such a Large Burden (Part 1)

Authority “Baby Boomers” The birth of rebellion This chapter is about authority, understanding authority and how it affects you and your personality. First let’s look at the meaning of authority: the right and power to enforce laws, exact obedience, command, determine or judge. Our first encounter with authority is parental. This includes the balance of a mother, or feminine, and a father, or masculine. If you have this as a positive experience you are off to a great start. If not, you will probably have issues with authority. If you had both parents in your life, and if it was a dysfunctional situation, whether it was alcoholism, drug abuse or sexual immorality, you may have issues with some type of authority. As a child you absorb your environment and the things you experience. So if your childhood was dysfunctional and off the hook in a negative way, those experiences become part of who you are, and manifest themselves as part of your character and personality. They will become part of your core principles. Your judgments and decisions will come from those experiences. Take time to examine yourself as it relate to authority. It can affect you in the workplace, the home, in business, and day- to- day decision making. How do you handle authority? Do you pick apart the decisions of those in authority? Do you love it when they make mistakes? You can’t stop focusing on their bad decisions. You may even live in fear of authority. You are so intimidated by authority that you can’t look a person in authority in the eye. If you relate to any of these examples, you need to try to understand why. How did you get where you are? And if you are not pleased with this part of you, try changing. In extreme cases you may need to seek out professional help, like a psychotherapist. For more clarification let me tell my story. I hope you can learn from my experience. If you were raised without the father figure in your life I’m sure you will be able to relate. This example is also to target young black, fatherless males, who may not understand how authority relates to them. To others that don’t posses any of these issues I’m sure you will gain insight into those who are influenced by these negative events that have accrued in their life. I was born to a teen age mother of sixteen. Who had turned sixteen two weeks earlier. There was no male influence in her life. Her dad was absent from her upbringing. What we have here is a baby having a baby. I was born right in the middle of the Baby Boomer generation. The generation that caused a pivotal landmark in our country’s history. I remember that from the age seven or eight, there were sit-ins, rallies, bra burnings, the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, and of course, the Black Panthers Party. Out of all of these activities that were going on, the one I related to the most was the black panthers. Black Panther Party(BPP) was, a militant black political organization originally known as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. It was founded in Oakland, California. The BPP advocated black self-defense and the restructuring of American society to make it more politically, economically, and socially equal. Their goals were in a ten-point platform that demanded, among other things, full employment, exemption of black men from military service, and an end to police brutality. They summarized their demands in the final point: “We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, and peace.” They adopted the Black Panther symbol from an independent political party established the previous year by black residents of Lowndes County, Alabama. The BPP were influenced by the Black Muslim leader, Malcolm X, who called on black people to defend themselves. They also supported the Black Power movement, which stressed racial dignity and self-reliance. The BPP established patrols in black communities in order to monitor police activities and protect the residents from police brutality, and I loved it! .I was raised in the West Oakland neighborhood where the BPP evolved from. The young men that were part of the BPP were the only male figures in my environment. As a young male kid growing up in the hood, these were the guys that everyone looked up to, and wanted to imitate, similar to today’s neighborhood gangs. So when I saw them being killed and beaten up, I imagined the same things were happening to me. There was one instance that involved my aunt and cousins. Who were caught in a cross fire gun fight between the Panthers and police. It led to a chase, with the police chasing the Panthers into the basement of the neighbor’s house next door to my cousins. The police broke into my aunt’s house in full attack gear while they were sleeping. They were told to get back and down on the floor while they went to the windows adjacent to the house where the Panthers were hiding, and began shooting. (Remember, I’m telling this true story from the eyes of a seven year old). When all was said and done, my aunt was left with a shot up house and a totally destroyed old station wagon. This was a devastating event in our family. This was the first time we came face to face the events of our times. At this time, me being the age of seven and the oldest male in our family, I had already developed the sense of being the protector of three families. The family was divided into three segments: First my immediate family, which included my 3 siblings; (Gail, my only sister was 6 yrs., Jerome was 4 yrs. and my baby brother Gregory 3 yrs.) My Grandma’s family now included a young daughter that was younger than me. My aunt, who had four girls and one baby boy all younger than myself. I carried more weight than any seven year old kid should have to carry at this age. But it was my life and it was real. What made the destruction of the old station wagon so devastating was that it was the only transportation, and all three families had to share. I took this personally. There was nothing I could do at that age. This was the beginning of my storing up anger hatred with a cry on the inside for revenge. The police refused to have my aunt’s car repaired; this was a total loss for all three families. The anger from this stayed bottled up in me throughout my adolescent and young adult years. This could be the very event that started my issues with authority.

Little Shoulders for Such a Large Burden Part 2

The police refused to have my aunt’s car repaired; this was a total loss for all three families. The anger from this stayed bottled up in me throughout my adolescent and young adult years. This could be the very event that started my issues with authority. I know for sure that at this time I rejected the doctrine of the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King. In fact I hated what he represented. He represented the non-violent approach. When I would watch TV and I would see them beaten with clubs, arrested, sprayed with water hoses at full blast, and police dogs chewing on them. I became the breeding ground for anger and rebellion. I couldn’t understand in my wildest dreams why they would not fight back. At lest the Panthers didn’t lie down and roll over. These experiences caused me not to trust the establishment, “the man” (white man), and authority. The intent of this book is not to undermine the accomplishments and works of Dr. King. His nonviolent approach was the only way to go. I could write more about the accomplishments of Dr. King, because there was much that he did. I found it difficult what to choose to write about. Too bad humanity didn’t really recognize the greatness of his contribution until long after his death I grew up a young kid with a chip on his shoulders. I adopted the sense of protector of my family, whether it was my immediate siblings or my girl cousins because of this I stayed in fights. I was small in stature born only a couple of ounces over six pounds. I wore the same size clothes as my younger brother most of my life, and I did not get taller than my younger sister until the eleventh grade. I had fights all through elementary school. My mom became so worried about the fighting that she decided to send me to the east side of Oakland to a better area and junior high school. Chapter three The fears, the nightmares, the sleepless nights, and the wetting of the bed This self appointment of protector, I believe, brought on the fears. The fear of being hurt. It was common in our neighborhood to witness violence. It was so common that it became entertainment for all the kids in the hood. There was a couple of cafĂ© speakeasies (a place not only where food and beer where supposed to be served, but also illegal gambling and drinking in back rooms). These cafes would open on Friday evenings, and would not close until early Monday mornings. It was pretty much a guarantee that every weekend there would be some type of violence, whether it was a fight, a stabbing, or a shooting. It was a way of life. Even though I witnessed these events firsthand, it all seemed so distant from me and my family. It was as though we watched these events in the living room of our home, on TV. No way could these violent events reach out into our world. Until the day a lady came to our house to fight my mom, over some man. I remember the door bell ringing. We kids were in the back of the house playing. My mom was in the front of the house doing whatever it is that moms do, when the doorbell rang. We could hear the loud talking, but it did not concern us. It was grown folks business, and besides we were too busy having fun. Suddenly we could hear a ruckus in the front hallway. We could not wait to see what all the commotion was about. We ran to the hallway from the rear of the house. What we saw was my mom tussling on the floor, with a lady we did not know. I remember my mom yelling at us to get back in the back room and stay there. As we darted to the back room, I remember thinking to myself, “What could I do to help my mom”? I then realized that I was too scared to do anything! In processing this event at the age of seven, I began to realize that our home was not the sanctuary which I had believed before, that trouble and violence can come knocking at our door, at anytime. As protector I had to be willing to meet it head on when it arrived. The fear of being hurt and the scariness gripped me even more than before, even though, I experienced nightmares in the past. They began to be more intense and more regular. The other event that had a bearing on me at this time was with my dad. My dad was about 5’10” and about 250 pounds. This information came from my mom when I would ask questions about him. I found out later in life that he was one of toughest guys in the hood, known for knocking out guys with one blow. All of this was kept secret from us, for fear of the Clifton boys would follow in my father’s and my three uncles’ foot steps. What I do remember is that when my dad did come around I could see scars all over his body. They looked so interesting to me; I would ask him about the scars. He would only say some were from a fight and some were from cuts. To me they were trophies, medals of honor, wounds from the battlegrounds. I have to admit, I really admired this about my dad. On my way home from Clawson Elementary School, (I attended), I had to walk by Poplar Park, the neighborhood park where all the kids came to play. I had a lot of fun there, as well as a lot of fights. There was a rare activity going on in the grassy field of the park. The adult men were having a tackle football game. This was an event that as kids we did not get close to. I saw it too many times, when curious kids got too close, they became collateral damage, either by getting run over, stepped on, or even ending up at the bottom of a tackling pile. Suddenly, I noticed what looked to be my grandmother’s car. This was very unusual, because we lived a block away, and she wasn’t parked in front of our house. Then I heard a familiar voice. My grandmother. Mary (my Dad’s mom) had an unmistakable voice that sounded like someone scratching a chalkboard (but I did love that sound.) As I walked towards the sound of my grandmother voice, I notice my grandmother standing in front of a woman’s house, speaking to her very frantically. I was still too far away to understand what the conversation was about. Usually when my grandma was this frantic she would be cursing. I remember as kids, when were being mischievous, her phrase for us would be, “little niggas,” “what are you lil’niggas doing now” or, “what are you lil niggas up to now?” she would say, laughing. This always made us laugh and feel important to her. I’ve been around a lot of cursing throughout my life, and there is no one that I have run across that could come close too her ability to curse. She could be so poetic with her phrases. She had words and phrases for every gender, race, creed, and religion. No one was safe, if you crossed her path the wrong way. She was a cursing linguist! This happened mostly while she was driving, (she was a horrible driver) and other times when she was returning thing she had purchased back to the store. My grandmother was a gorgeous- looking woman. Very light skinned with shoulder length natural black wavy hair. Her appearance was that of a person of Creole descent. Which she wore under a cloak if humbleness. I know this appearance had to throw her opponents off. I remember the time she took me to a retail store to return some items, in exchange for her money back. When the clerk would not cooperate, I thought to myself “this going to be bad”. All of a sudden,! she transformed from this nice old lady, to a rooster in a cock fight. The cloak of humbleness had vanished. This was an analogy of, ‘a rooster’s face off’. Especially when a rooster displays his authority by stretching his head high, his feathers raised around his neck that turns into a large fierce collar, with wings a flapping. Just as a rooster stretches his neck and began crowing, so did my grandmother. She never failed to amaze me, how she would rear back, and let the flow of words, motor out of mouth in such a flurry of cursing words and phrases, in an operatic style. It would hit the adversary with such impact, that they would be stunned and overwhelmed. It amazed me, how my grandma could turn this technique on at the snap of a finger. Adding her high pitched tone, never failed, I turned my attention to the clerk. I could see the blank face, ‘of this poor victim’ (the clerk). He was stunned, as if someone hit him from behind, and didn’t know what hit him. He had been knocked senseless, and didn’t know why this was happening. As I looked back towards my grandma, I knew she was on the verge of the final knockout punch. This was also when my embarrassment kicked in, it when the crowds would be to gather around to see what the ruckus was about. The results were always the same, the clerk reaching into the cash box, to get the money to give her as fast as possible. My grandma could not turn this off, as fast as she turned it on. It would take some thirty minutes, in this cooling off period. All the way home she would continue rehearsing this event, and every now and then, stopping, looking down at me saying “don’t you repeat these words” and I would say “I won’t.” Little did I know that some of these techniques would become part of my character later on in life.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009