We’re better than this.


Let me begin by saying this post has been several months in the working. In the spring of this year I had the opportunity to view the documentary “The Hunting Ground.” As I watched and listened to the stories of countless young women across the country who had been sexually assaulted on college campuses, I was overcome with emotion over how they were treated by college administrators, athletics fans, and even their peers on campus. There are several issues I have with how women are treated and portrayed when they report sexual assault.

College and University Faculty and Staff

In several of the incidents which were highlighted in the film, students who were sexually assaulted told of how they reported the incidents to staff and administration at their collective colleges and universities. In case after case they were rebuffed with, “Are you sure you want to pursue this?” and “What did you do to bring this on?” This type of victim-blaming and victim-shaming is at the heart of why many women decide not to pursue criminal prosecution and are left bearing the burden of these crimes in silence. Several of the university officials who were interviewed spoke of how their schools would be viewed in the light of sexual assaults on campus and/or those involving their students. My response to this is very simple: “What are you afraid of?” If administration, faculty and staff were more forthright in reporting these cases, they could have an open policy of ensuring the safety of all those within their academic communities. The unfortunate truth is that so many institutions of higher learning are so fearful of lawsuits that they have allowed their lawyers to convince them that what they are doing is in their best (financial) interest. Instead of doing what’s right, they’re doing what they perceive alleviates them from the greatest outflow of income — follow the money. I would like to believe that all incoming college students are aware of the danger of sexual assault. If colleges and universities would PROACTIVELY support a culture which works to end sexual assault instead of sticking their heads in the sand and acting like it doesn’t exist, I believe perspective students would find this honesty refreshing and be more likely to choose to attend these types of schools.

We have no other choice

Many students at schools across the nation were so outraged by their schools’ responses to sexual assault that they began legal challenges to the way their cases were handled by school administrators that they began challenging them on Title IX violations. Once again, had schools done the right thing up front, they wouldn’t be dealing with the legislation that is coming about because of their mishandling of these cases. As the saying goes, “the coverup is worse than the crime.” I applaud these students for their resolve in not allowing the inaction and negligence in the way schools have handled these cases at the university level to go unchecked.

The student-athlete angle

If you spend any time listening to Ben Maller, you have undoubtedly heard him speak of the term being something lawyers invented to avoid paying workers’ compensation to injured athletes. I am using the term here only to identify the students who are enrolled in colleges and universities and are involved in intercollegiate sports competition. From the film, several of the more disheartening stories came from the women (and their families) who recounted incidents of high-profile student-athletes who were accused of sexual assault. The university police departments, school administrators, and intercollegiate athletic officials in tandem have done a great disservice to students on many college campuses. The case involving former Baylor head football coach Art Briles, while only the latest is hardly the most egregious. It’s another case in which you simply need to follow the money. It’s not a good look for any school to have it’s athletes accused of a crime as heinous as sexual assault, so many try to put the squeeze on the women coming forth to report sexual assaults. Oftentimes these tactics have catastrophic results.

Sexual assault in the general public

One of the greatest problems with sexual assault is that so many men are so cavalier about it. As our current president-elect’s conversations reveal, many men do not view this as a problem. The fact that our culture has endorsed speaking of women as objects for men’s sexual gratification is horrifyingly indefensible. I blame men. All of us who have spoken about women in this way are to blame. The worst thing is this isn’t just about acquaintances. There are many among us who have been exposed to or are aware of cases of women who have been victims of sexual assault by members of their own families.

Healing and accountablity

But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.

Isaiah 53:5 NLT

I know the healing power of Christ to resuscitate and revive any situation. I am witness to healing by identifying with the brutality he faced on Calvary and taking upon myself the healing he so freely gives. I am also aware of the ways in which we desire to know and be known. Identifying with those who have faced similar ordeals helps many come to terms with their pain and realize that they are not alone and can be surrounded by those who wish to offer support. At the end of this post I will provide websites for a few organizations that are working to this end.

In the end, I just want to remind men “Our strength should be used to protect.”

http://itsonus.org/

http://endsexualviolence.org/

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Controversy…


I’d like to begin by saying I have not come to this view lightly or without considering its significance.

I believe the United States should repeal its current marijuana laws. I have been watching a number of documentaries and television shows which have detailed the horrendous failure of this nation’s “War on Drugs.” One of the most interesting things about this is the way in which our current policies were devised. In 1972, then President Richard Nixon ignored the advice of The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (a.k.a. “the Shafer Commission”) – which he appointed and decided that marijuana would remain a Schedule I drug according to the Controlled Substances Act. This decision and several since have done little more than help to imprison many of this nation’s citizens (primarily those of non-white ancestry). By imprisoning those who are found in possession of small amounts of marijuana, this nation has aided and abetted those who desire to imprison one of the most vulnerable segments of the population. In an episode of his Viceland Series Weediquette, Krishna Andavolu chronicles the case of Bernard Noble who was sentenced to 13 years in prison for what amounted to two marijuana joints… Krishna also points out how police forces across the nation are implicitly and in some cases explicitly sending the most vulnerable members of society to jail and prison for petty drug offenses. The prison industrial complex is benefiting the few at the hands of the many. It is unconscionable that this nation has the largest number of its citizens behind bars of any nation on the planet despite being only the 4th most populous worldwide.

Another unwanted consequence of the “War on Drugs” is the escalation of violence by those who are engaged in the drug trade. Looking at the statistics, there have been approximately 160,000 killings in Mexico since the beginning of 2007. Depending on who you believe, as many as 60% of those deaths are related to marijuana trafficking. One need only look back at how this country’s alcohol prohibition contributed to the rise of organized crime in this country to see the parallel.

One of the Schedule I arguments for marijuana prohibition is that “The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” I have to once again disagree with this position. Ask those who are using cannabis oil to treat diseases that would otherwise have them taking drugs with far worse potency for abuse and addiction and have even more harmful side effects. This is another case of following the money. Who has seen the greatest benefit from keeping marijuana illegal? Pharmaceutical companies.

In watching “The Culture High” one of the more humorous points was when DEA head was interviewed by a representative from Colorado about the danger of marijuana.

In my opinion, one of the greatest impediments to repealing current marijuana laws is all the national and international harm the US has caused with its draconian marijuana laws. This will not be a simple flip of the switch. By what we’ve seen in Colorado and Washington state, the tide is turning. What the King County DA did at the time of the passing of Initiative 502 in Washington is what could and should happen. Arresting people for possession of small amounts of marijuana is hideously oppressive because it comes at the hands of those who benefit from those arrests. The worst part about this and much of the ridiculously biased criminal justice system in this country is that those who wish to keep the status quo don’t realize that they are imprisoning those who would be of a much greater benefit to society on the outside as opposed to behind bars. They either don’t realize, they don’t care. Unfortunately, I’m betting on the latter.

As a final thought I’d like to post some links to some of the shows and docs I have reference in this post. I’d also like to point out that I was once a marijuana user. As one with some experience with the drug, I can negate the positions of those attempting to demonize the drug a la “Reefer Madness.” I’d also like to point out that it’s been 16+ years since I last used the drug, and I have had no such desire any time in the recent past. That being said, looking at all the ways that this “War” has become a tool to incarcerate this nation’s (primarily black) citizens, export violence to other nations, and keep people from medications which improve quality of life, I’m left raising my hands and saying “What’s the point?”

The Culture High

Weediquette – The War on Weed

Evergreen: The Road to Legalization

Denial of Petition to Alter the Controlled Substances Act

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#MallerMilitia


So I’ve been a regular listener of Fox Sports Radio Programming for about 13 years now. The local affiliate 1460 KXNO is one I would listen to as I was falling asleep at night or getting ready for work in the morning back when I didn’t work vampire hours (more on that later). Back then, the overnight show was called The Third Shift. It was Jorge Sedano and Karen Kay. My favorite part of the show was the call from Cowboy in Windsor. It was so funny because they would always play sound effects to throw him off his game of giving all the birthdays, deaths, and other information about different sports luminaries that occurred on that day. They would always end with The Jetson’s flying car sound which totally cracked me up.

As my work hours and sleep schedule changed I have continued to follow the show. It’s one of the ways I stay awake at night (I’m currently a 3rd shifter). I enjoy many of the shows on Fox Sports Radio, but Ben Maller is probably the show I listen to most often. In the aiirrrr Evvverywhere! There’s Big Ben, Danny G, Justin Cooper (Coop-a-loop), and Eddie Garcia.

One of the things I love about the show is the games and “other” segments. Every Monday morning there is the Insta-advice line (screener-free radio) where Ben invites the callers to give advice to someone in the world of sports. Usually every week there is someone who calls in imitating a famous call from “Mark the full name guy.” I would look (insert sports figure name here) square in the eye and tell him YOU HANG UP ON YOURSELF BEN MALLER!!! 😉

Speaking of Mark the full name guy, there are the cast of callers: Jeanie in Medford, OR, Tammy in Montana, Falexis in Rochester, Lance the bus driver, Judgemental John (Michigan homer and hater of professional football), Jason in Windsor (crushing on Tammy in Montana), Dick in Dayton (shoutout to the Kettering Banjo Society), Jack the Judge and Leslie (Fact or Fiction regulars), Jeopardy Balderdash Al,Slug in Vegas, Blind Scott (Boston homer), Real Talk (boom boom… never mind), Hollering James (insert snoring sound effect here), Andrew in Fremont (long time winner in the former game “Coach, Player, Entertainer” and supplier of one of the funniest moments in Maller game show history  😀 ), and the show curmudgeon Radio Rich who would like to tell you some interesting facts about someone from Wheeling, West Virg *dial tone*

 

 

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Men’s Tourney 2016


So I still have 2 final four teams alive. I have Carolina beating Oklahoma in the championship game. My other teams were Kansas and Michigan State, but oh well…

For all those who doubted Syracuse’s tournament credentials, I guess coach Boeheim and the Orange are having the last laugh.

Buddy Hield is really lighting the world on fire in his last few days off intercollegiate competition. Having seen him against Iowa State this year and in several other Big 12 games, I can attest that he is the real deal.

And then there’s coach Krzyzewski and his post-game comments to Dillon Brooks. Being a Carolina fan, I take joy in any opportunity to take shots at the Blue Devils, but I always thought coach K was above the fray. I’m glad he later apologized for the remarks, but I never thought he’d be so petty. I guess we all have moments we’re less than proud of.

And now a little Kurtis Blow

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Drumpf


In giving background, I am going to tell you how I’ve voted in presidential elections since I became an eligible voter 24 years ago. Clinton (twice), Gore, Bush, Obama (twice). If you look at that and consider me a Democrat, you’d be wrong. My political  leanings have generally been towards the center at times, to the right at others, even on the left depending upon the issue.

My greatest point of political frustration was in the 2000 election. I had the opportunity to attend the Iowa Straw Poll which was held in August of 1999. I walked through the tents and even had the opportunity to hear speeches from several GOP candidates. I remember being awestruck at the large amount ($) of support for George W. Bush. Until this time I had never even heard of him. I remember walking away being enthusiastic about John McCain. I couldn’t tell you the platform he was running on, but I had a sense he would make a good president.

When Bush won the GOP nomination, I remember thinking to myself, “What happened?!!!” If John McCain had secured the nomination I am sure I would’ve voted for him for president. I could tell by the size of Bush’s tent at the Straw Poll the year before that there was a great deal of money behind him. It was probably the first time my eyes were opened to the influence of money on our electoral system. I’m not saying Bush wouldn’t have won the nod without the money, but it was clear there was a ve$ted interest in him securing the nomination and going on to become president. With hindsight being 20/20 I now know the power Texas yields on our nation. Ask anyone from Texas they’d be proud to tell ya.

As I mentioned before, I went on to vote for Gore in the presidential election. And then the recount. I posted on my Facebook page about a month ago that I felt during the recall something seemed ‘unpresidential’ about Al Gore that I just couldn’t quite put into words. In some ways I regretted voting for him. It’s not that I would’ve supported Bush, but…

In the time since Donald Trump has announced his candidacy for the President of the United States, I have gone from laughing to wincing to gasping to thinking, “This isn’t really happening is it?” To a large degree I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. At some point he is going to say something so outrageous that that will end it and he won’t be able to continue. Psych! It seems the more outrageous, smug, pompous, arrogant, ridiculous the statements are that he makes, the more traction he gains. It all makes me wonder.

There’s a phrase Mark Jackson ESPN NBA color commentator utters from time to time that is fitting here. “You’re better than that.” This time I’m aiming this directly at the voting public. From saying he’ll defend supporters in court who attack protesters at his rallies, to disavowing even knowing who David Duke is, to supporting those who questioned President Obama’s legitimacy as president because… I can’t The interesting thing about Trump as a candidate is that he has emboldened a part of the core of the GOP support base that although previous candidates might kowtow to to a point, they would never publicly acknowledge. As Jamelle Bouie so eloquently stated here, “Trump is the result of decades of divisive politics—the inevitable outcome of a Republican political strategy that stoked white racial resentment to win elections.” Think Willie Horton and Michael Dukakis. All of that to say, he seems exceedingly, abundantly UNpresidential.

Some comic relief…

 

And some sad reality.

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Phife Di-Dawg


So it’s been almost a year since I’ve published anything, and a few days since the passing of Malik Taylor aka Phife Dawg. At the time of his passing I posted that A Tribe Called Quest is my favorite hip hop group of all time. To figure out how I got to this point I’ll have to give you some a lot of background.

Growing up in Atlanta in the early to mid-eighties, the only time you would actually hear hip hop on the radio was “The Fresh Party” on V-103 (WVEE) on Friday nights from 9 p.m. – midnight. I remember we were at my cousin Brian’s house on a Friday night and he hipped me to it. In those early days, there was a ton of Run DMC, UTFO – “Roxanne, Roxanne”, “Planet Rock” by Soulsonic Force, “Jam On It” by Newcleus and so on. I remember my first time listening to “The Fresh Party” and thinking man, I gotta tape this. That next Friday night I was sitting by my mom’s stereo with a tape and my hand on the record button. I was hooked. Instantly.

As my love affair with this new form of music grew, I was always looking for the newest, freshest deffest songs released. When Rap City or Yo! MTV Raps were on the air, I was parked in front of the boob tube. At some point Georgia State University student radio started a program called “Rhythm and Vibes” (on 88-5) that aired Sunday nights when I was in high school. I remember hearing cuts from De La Soul’s “De La Soul Is Dead” album for the first time on this show (still one of my favorite albums of all time). At some point I saw the video for “Jazz (We’ve Got) – Buggin’ Out.” My mind was blown. It was just a smooth (like me) laid back track over a jazz loop. I was really feeling it. The entire video was in black and white and then… Phife busts on the scene with his verse from “Buggin’ Out” and I flipped out. It was so hype! Yeah jammin’ so jammin’  – cue the skits on “De La Soul Is Dead” 😀

When I arrived on the campus of Iowa State University in the summer of 1992, that CD was one of the first I bought. “The Low End Theory” was in heavy rotation. “Buggin’ Out”, “Check The Rhime”, “Scenario”?!!!!  Awwwww mannnn!!!! This was the business. When “Midnight Marauders” hit the shelves I remember buying that one as soon as I could. ‘My lips is like a Oo-wop as I start to spray it.'”Beats, Rhymes & Life” was one that I picked up early as well. “The Jam” is one that had me rolling. “Stressed Out” with Faith on the hook. Everything they released I was all about it. When “The Love Movement” was released I didn’t pick it up right away ($ was tight) but it still had some gems.

Back to last Tuesday when the news broke I was shocked. Crushed. Later that day I caught “Beats, Rhymes & Life:The Travels Of A Tribe Called Quest” on Crackle. I had never seen the doc. At the time of its release it wasn’t playing anywhere near me and I never saw it on any video format (other than the bootleggers). It was an enlightenment. I knew about Phife’s diabetes, but I had no idea about the strife with Phife and Tip. That did, however get me to thinking about how I deal with my diabetes. It was June of 2000 that I was diagnosed and I had some early success with maintenance. Lately my control has not been as well as it should. I am still confessing my healing, but I still have to do what I know I should in the meantime.

Checking my sugar right now.

R.I.P. Phife Dawg

A little something from diggin’ in the crates…

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Just random


I’ve been pretty weepy the last few days. Nothing in particular; a Whirlpool commercial, a Facebook post. One post in particular is on my mind.

The story is about a wife who wanted her husband to spend some time with another woman who loves him as much as she does – his mother. He takes her on a date and they spend some quality time catching up on life. They promise to try and do it again soon, but before they can she dies of a heart attack. Not long after he receives an envelope with a receipt and a note attached saying I wanted to make sure you take your wife out this time, on me. Of course it was from his mother who purchased a dinner out for them on their night together.

I’m a pretty emotional person so it doesn’t take much for me to be in tears, but this story got me thinking of my own mother. She has requested that I call her weekly. I usually do this on my days off and sometimes I forget. When I called her this morning, she filed me in on what’s going on with the family in Atlanta as usual. Maybe it’s because I really needed it or am in a weepy state of mind right now, but I particularly noticed something she’s been doing more regularly. I told her about the ministry work I did last night at a local jail as well as a standing appointment I have with a gentleman God has placed on my heart to minister to. She spoke so highly of the work that I’ve been doing and is increasingly speaking well of it. She has also been increasingly speaking blessings over my life and prophesying of the blessings God desires for me.

I used to be annoyed by her request to call EVERY week. The way I (used to) see it, there’s not much that changes in my life week to week. When things change or big things happen, she’s the first person I call anyway. What’s the big deal, right? What I’ve come to realize (what God has shown me) is that these weekly phone calls are just as much for me as they are for her. I’m really on cloud nine this morning and all it took was a call to my mother.

Still learning, still growing…

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