Definition of the word "hero:" [he – ro noun – a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or notable qualities, Steve Gleason.]
The word "hero" should be reserved only for those who truly deserve it. Former Saints player Steve Gleason is a hero.
Six weeks after being diagnosed with ALS, Steve's wife, Michel, found out she was pregnant. As a father, Steve immediately thought about what he could do to ensure that his son knew his father. Steve realized that he would be losing his ability to talk about the time his son was learning to talk. While he still had the ability to talk, Steve Gleason began a video journal that would document the father and person his son should know.
As parents, we teach and influence our children through our words and actions, but that is a process that spans a lifetime. Steve Gleason took on the challenge of defining the person he is over a short period of time. His goal was to simply pass on as much as he could to his son, and lamented that maybe that's better than having a father around for 50 or 60 years. He was saying that fathers can be present in a child's life, but that doesn't guarantee they will take advantage of the opportunities to be a strong influence in the lives of their children.
As he literally talked to the bump in his wife Michel's stomach, Steve said, "I'm having a conversation with someone I may never have a conversation with." Moments like this in the movie were enlightening for every parent. How many times have we missed opportunities to have meaningful conversations with our kids?
As Steve was documenting his life on video so he could pass on as much as he could to his unborn son, Steve decided that he needed to inspire others with ALS to live their lives. Team Gleason was born and the slogan was "No White Flags."
The movie "Gleason" is also about Steve's wife, Michel, who personifies the definition of a "saint." Michel hurts for Steve and her son. She sets a great example of what it means to be a giving person. But Michel rejects the idea of calling her a "saint." There are moments when she is tortured because she's human and doesn't always feel like she is doing all she can for Steve and their son, but there is no doubt she is doing as much as any mortal human could be doing.
Steve Gleason is doing more than inspiring those with ALS, Steve is inspiring all of us. Steve accepts his challenge of dealing with ALS in a courageous and dignified way. He shows us that we should all realize the power we have to touch and influence our children and others.
Doctors told Steve he could live as long as he wants to, and many people do not want to go on with their pain and struggles. There are moments in the movie when you feel Steve's pain and that only leads you to have greater respect for him and anyone dealing with ALS or any other illness.
There are heart-wrenching moments dealing with Steve's relationship with his dad, which was not always perfect. Their main conflict was Steve's father's concern that his son was not a saved soul. Like so many parent-child relationships, Steve wanted his father to accept who he was even if he wasn't just like his dad. Before the movie ends, there is the moment when Steve's father accepts Steve as his and breaks down as he hugs his son.
"Gleason" is hard to watch at times, but it's impossible to ignore. And through his challenges, Steve still manages to make us laugh. Some in the theater had tears in their eyes when Steve made them laugh.
The message of the movie, "Gleason," is a message of awareness. With a limited amount of time to let his son know who he is, Steve Gleason shows us how important it is for us to tell our stories – to our children and to others. We all have the power to inspire and influence others and Steve is setting an example of how important that is in life.
There's a Tim McGraw song that reflects much of what Steve Gleason stand for – the song is titled, "Live Like You're Dying." Like the song, Steve Gleason shows us how to live each day of life to the fullest, regardless of our mental or physical state. We owe it to ourselves, our children and those around us to give all we can every day and to be positive and optimistic about life.
When Steve said, "My future is bigger than my past," he is expressing the ultimate optimistic view of life.
When Steve Gleason blocked the punt by the Atlanta Falcons on September 25, 2006 when the dome was reopened after Katrina, Steve personified the optimism and spirit of our great city's future. In the movie, "Gleason," Steve personifies the optimism and spirit of humanity.
"Gleason" is showing now at movie theaters everywhere.
After Donald Trump appeared to set a new tone for his often-radical style of campaigning, did he actually suggest that conservatives assassinate Hillary Clinton?
During any other presidential campaign, that suggestion would seem to be completely absurd, but during the campaign of 2016 such a comment is not beyond the realm of possibility. But did Trump really suggest that Hillary be assassinated?
During a rally, Donald Trump was talking about how a Clinton presidency would allow her to appoint liberal justices to the Supreme Court and that there's nothing you can do about it, but maybe the Second Amendment supporters could. Many have interpreted Trump's comment as his suggestion that Americans with guns kill Clinton.
One of the most important things I learned in my Communication Theory class was that there are two parts to every communication. There is the intent of the communication and there is the reception of the communication and the intent does not always match the reception. Only Donald Trump knows what his intent was and the rest of us are left with how we interpreted the communication.
The source of origin of any message can direct intent. The many controversial and off-the-wall comments Trump has made throughout the campaign made it obvious to many that Trump was suggesting that some gun owners in America might want to kill Hillary because that would be the only way to stop her from appointing liberal justices.
However, others interpreted Trump's comment as an appeal to the strong voting block represented by those Americans that strongly support Second Amendment rights. That was Trump's explanation of his comment. He said it was about keeping Hillary from becoming president by appealing to conservative constituents.
Trump's comment about those who support the Second Amendment stopping Clinton from appointing liberal justices can be taken two ways. Trump insisted that no one in the room thought he was talking about the use of guns to kill Clinton, but when you watch video of the moment Trump made the comment and you focus on the man sitting in the crowd to the right of Trump, you get the feeling that someone in the room did think that Trump was talking about someone killing Clinton. In the video, watch the gentleman to the right of Trump – he has grey hair and a grey beard and is wearing a red shirt. His reaction and the reaction of the woman next to him appear to the a reaction of shock, like "Oh my God, I can't believe he said that!" And that would be a more fitting reaction to a suggestion of assassination than an appeal to a voting block.
Those who believe Trump was simply talking about appealing to the vote of those who support the Second Amendment were quick to blame the media for assuming and promoting the most negative thing about Trump.
Whether it's fair or not, the media will always look for opportunities to interpret comments made by any candidate to either blow up or create a story. And the headline of Donald Trump saying that Hillary Clinton should be assassinated is an attractive headline.
When I first heard Trump's comment, I honestly thought he was talking about the voting block of Second Amendment voters, but I can also understand how Trump's comment could easily be taken as a threat, especially considering the many unorthodox comments Trump has made throughout the campaign.
The challenge for all of us is to think about how we first received the comment before the endless analysis of the media pundits and commentators. Once you hear an explanation and analysis of what was meant or what some thought it meant, you forget about your original reception of the comment.
Before over-analyzing statements by the media, the way we initially perceive something is the way we should interpret intent. It's one thing to appreciate how others may have received a comment – but it's another thing to change the original meaning you received.
Another example of how comments can be interpreted differently by people is the controversy over whether Trump threw a crying baby out of a recent rally. I saw the moment Trump commented on a crying baby and I thought he was joking with the woman when he said like I really want a crying baby in my rally. Others thought he was maliciously demanding that a woman remove her crying baby from the rally.
My honesty about how I perceived Trump's comment about Second Amendment supporters and the crying baby opens me up to criticism that I am promoting Trump for President. And this is also part of the communication process.
Those who hate Trump will say I'm defending Trump. I cannot always control how someone perceives my communication, but my intent is to maintain integrity on the air by not being hypocritical and by focusing, not on the ideology of the candidate, but on an honest analysis of what is said and what my initial reaction is to the candidate. I am representative of everyone who has an initial response to something that is challenged by the mainstream media.
I have often explained that I'm not defending a candidate or a politician as much as I am defending my credibility as a talk show host that is willing the openly fight the hypocrisy that is dividing America.
If Donald Trump loses the presidency to Hillary Clinton it will be because he was defeated by his ego.
A powerful ego is a positive characteristic in highly successful people, but an ego can be a destructive force. Throughout the campaign, there have been countless moments when Trump's ego diverted what should have been a more disciplined strategy.
At the end of the Democratic National Convention when both candidates should have set their focus clearly on each other, Donald Trump's ego led him astray. Rather than capitalize on the negative news that surrounded Hillary Clinton, Trump insisted on retaliating against a personal attack from the Muslim-American father of a fallen Muslim-American soldier killed in Iraq.
Trump's tendency is to cease the appeal to a mass audience and focus all his attention on the heckler in the audience. Addressing the heckler is often, but not always, a good way to appeal to the crowd. But the audience is not always entertained by the constant focus on the heckler.
Trump's image of being the attack dog candidate worked and he won the Republican nomination, but at some point, Trump needs to show that he is above his egotistically-driven desire to snipe back at every criticism. Trump needs to prove that he can take a hit and keep his eye on the big picture.
When Trump chose to attack Mr. Khan, the father of the fallen Muslim-American soldier, he was perceived as bullying the proud family whose son died defending America. The fact that he was Muslim contradicted the stereotype that "all Muslims are terrorists." However, Trump's ego took over and the end result was the perception that he missed a message about Muslims in America that a great portion of America wanted to hear.
I had a few listeners call and text the show with the argument that Trump had no choice but to attack Mr. Khan because he was "baited" by the Democrats. If Trump can be that easily "baited" then will he take the "bait" of every foreign leader in the world? Taking the "bait" of a foreign foe could lead to all-out war.
I'm not criticizing Donald Trump for having an ego because Hillary Clinton has an equally massive ego, but with no experience as a politician, Trump has not understood how to keep his ego-driven instincts in check.
During the Republican National Convention, Patricia Smith, the mother of a son killed in the Benghazi attack passionately and personally blamed Hillary Clinton for the death of her son. Clinton did not respond the way Trump responded to Mr. Khan's personal attack and the attack against Clinton never became an issue.
Trump has reached numerous plateaus where he should have transformed from the attack dog candidate to a more measured politician. The strategy to win among 17 challengers is different from the strategy needed to defeat a single opponent, but it has been the business-cultivated ego of Donald Trump that continues to help him defeat himself.
The question is – does Donald Trump have the ability to control his ego long enough to become President of the United States? If he doesn't, then he doesn't deserve to be the President.
Watching Trump's ego at work is relatable because most of us can think of the times we allowed our egos to drive us in the wrong direction. We had to learn our lessons and change because we had no choice. But Trump's financial empire does not require that he play by the same rules the rest of us are forced to follow.
Trump is now losing to Clinton in most national polls by about 10 points, but it's August and history shows that candidates who have been down significantly at this point in a campaign have gone on to win. If may not be too late for Trump – but it's getting late and now Trump has reached another plateau that he must take advantage of.
The non-politician approach that got Trump to this point will not take him to the presidency. Donald Trump needs to stop allowing his ego to be his main campaign advisor.
Guns N' Roses were not just back in concert last night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome – it was as if they were never been gone!
The band inspired the passion and emotion of raw rock in a big arena setting fit for rock gods. First of all, this is a band that still has one of the best names for a rock band! When the band formed in the mid-80s, the word "gun" did not have the negative connotation it has today, but the contrast of a gun and a rose perfectly defines the violence and sensitivity of rock.
The stories over the years of an unwilling and disgruntled Axl Rose and glimpses of his weight gain only added to the drama of who would be on stage for the big reunion tour of 2016. Would fans see and hear a memory from the past - or would they relive their past in the present? There is no doubt that Guns N' Roses did not show the scars of time. They were awesome!
Axl Rose hit the screeching high notes in every song and gave little indication that he had spent years in performance reclusion. Not only did his voice survive time passed, but he was active on stage and engaging with the massive arena crowd.
The wild, often crazed look in the eyes of Axl Rose in the years Guns N' Roses ruled the rock world, was still there and even better because there was an air of sheer confidence that was added to his eye contact with the audience. No, Axl didn't lose his on stage magnetism – he only made it more engaging. Axl showed that a degree of maturity can bring confidence to that innate look of mischief in his eyes.
In perfect contrast to Axl Rose was the ever-stoic presence of Slash, railing a lead guitar as if he were a god among guitar greats. Through the pulsating rock of "Welcome To The Jungle" to the more passively-aggressive lead in "November Rain" to the audacity of "Paradise City," Slash's seemingly emotional void was enhanced by his signature top hat, sunglasses and black curly hair the shrouded his face. But there was no mistake that Slash channeled his rock emotion through the guitar he treated as an integral extension of his mind and body.
The stage was massive and covered the width of the football field. There were steps and risers, but the stage was clean with nothing to distract from the playful charisma of the characters.
Axl went through a few outfit changes during the show, but there was always the common denominator of the bandana and the plaid shirts tied around his waist.
And it was that early grunge look that was reflected in so much of the fashion of the crowd. Some fans may have found applicable fashion items deep in their closets, but some fans were young enough to make it seem as if the way they dressed for the Guns N' Roses concert the way they also dress to go on a date.
If the core demographic of the crowd was 30 to 40 - equally male and female, the 50+ crowd and the teens confirmed the force that is Guns N' Roses' broad appeal. There were even families with preteens and walking out last night I saw a father holding hands with his young daughter who might have been 4.
The twentysomething couple in front of me last night was worshipping Guns N' Roses as if they were preaching their gospel and they sang every song, often directly to each other, and playing air guitar and head banging throughout the concert. I would be surprised if they aren't dealing with neck or spinal issues today and the way he was flinging his long hair around while head banging – if the guy had head lice I'm sure he gave them to half of the section he was sitting in!
Guns N' Roses are still rock aristocracy and in many ways are even better today. It's one thing to be extraordinary the first time around, but it's quite a phenomenon to return adding confidence to the original innocence of pure talent.
For those who went to the Guns N' Roses concert last night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to revisit their past and emotionally return to a time when life was less stressful – the concert was so much more. Those who hoped to time travel back when rock music was the soundtrack of their lives, Guns N' Roses brought you there, but what you also got from the concert was the idea that if they can still be great, then you can still be great.
If Guns N' Roses can show little signs that time has stolen their passion, last night's show was proof that time never has to steal the passion of who you are and who you still want to be.
The spectacle of Guns N' Roses reuniting for a tour in 2016 is set in a time when America has been burdened with turmoil – from politics to racial tension to the threats of terrorism. One of the functions of rock music has always been to provide a momentary escape from reality.
Time and place have as much to do with the making of a "great concert" as the music. Considering the time and the place in our world in 2016 and the incredible music of Guns N' Roses – I now list the show last night at the top of the list of the many concerts I have witnessed over the years!
Guns N' Roses was more than a concert – it was meaningful event.
Anyone at Guns N' Roses last night did, indeed, escape the reality of the stress and tension of America in 2016. In fact, one of the reasons this tour is so huge is the desire to escape reality and seek an outlet for our frustrations over the things we can't control.
Bernie Sanders was right! DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was a Clinton supporter during the primary season.
Months ago, Sanders called for Wasserman Schultz to resign her position as head of the Democratic National Committee because he claimed she helped “rig” the system to assure that Hillary Clinton would win the Democratic nomination.
It has now been revealed that there were, indeed, emails from Wasserman Schultz that prove she was actually working behind- the-scenes to discredit the Sanders campaign in favor of Clinton.
Whether you are registered Democrat, Republican or Independent, this is further evidence that the two major political parties are more interested in protecting their power structure and control than in listening to the voice of voters. The Republican establishment fought to keep Donald Trump from winning the nomination in favor of a Republican candidate that would protect the establishment, but failed. The Democratic establishment fought to secure the nomination for their establishment candidate and won.
In the aftermath of the scandalous revelation that emails damning Bernie Sanders were sent by the DNC, reports indicate the Russians are responsible for leaking the emails and further say this was done because Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to influence the presidential election in favor of Trump. In other words – Putin wants Trump to be the next President of the United States.
Now, leaders within the Democratic Party are trying to deflect from the new email scandal by blaming it on the Russians. By pointing the finger at the Russians, many Democrats are trying to make the Russians the focus rather than the obvious inappropriate behavior of the head of the DNC. Regardless of who leaked the emails, the damaging content of the emails does not change.
If Russia is behind the email leak in an attempt to influence the U.S. presidential election, then that is a huge story. But that is a completely different story from the evidence that as head of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz was working to make certain that Hillary got the nomination.
This information hurts the Democratic Party – at least in the short-term. If you’re a Saints fan you definitely have your suspicions about biased officiating against the Saints. Now, image if it was revealed that the head of the NFL sent emails to some of the game officials directing them to look for ways to call more penalties against the Saints than their opponents because they were working to make sure that a particular team made it to the Super Bowl?
While many believe the NFL does have manipulative powers, no hard evidence, like the emails from the DNC, has been discovered supporting the charge that the NFL is biased. The emails from the DNC show that the committee that was supposed to fairly represent ALL Democratic candidates was actually pushing for Clinton to win the nomination.
Suspicions that the political establishment on both sides are more interested in protecting their power than promoting a fair election process have led to the popularity of Donald Trump and contributed to the popularity of Bernie Sanders.
A new CNN poll shows that a whopping 68% considered Hillary Clinton not trustworthy. Nearly 7 out of 10 Americans – not just Republicans – say that Hillary cannot be trusted, yet, she is still in a close race with Trump. And Trump also has a very high untrustworthy rating.
The election of 2016 has been highlighted by voter contempt for the political establishments and the latest email controversy to rock the Democrats proves what an outsider has been saying – the system is “rigged” to keep the powerful in power and that is exactly what frustrates many Americans.
The shooting of six police officers in Baton Rouge Sunday morning would have been horrific no matter when it happened, but in the wake of the police shootings of two suspects and the shooting of 12 police officers and two civilians in Dallas over the past two weeks, the shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge creates a disturbing trend in America.
Three of the police officers shot in Baton Rouge and five of the police officers in Dallas were killed. In both cases, the gunmen were black males and expressed motives to retaliate against law enforcement for the shooting deaths of two black suspects by non-black police officers.
These recent tragedies have only added more passion to the heated debate about race relations in America. As a talk show host, I hear from both sides of this debate. Many talk shows on black radio and conservative white radio take advantage of tragedies to incite and feed strong rhetoric to one side or the other.
Over time, I have established a tone of openness to both sides on a powerful radio station that is built on inviting all opinions. From my perspective on the air, I hear both the frustration over unfair treatment by police from black listeners and the anger and fear from many white listeners. Both sides have legitimate points, but neither side makes an effort to “hear” what the other side is saying with the hope of resolution.
On a special Sunday afternoon show on WWL just hours after six police officers were shot in Baton Rouge, LA, I heard from listeners on both sides, but lost in the deep passion of the two distinct sides were the voices representing those who make an effort to understand that there are two sides to the race debate in America.
Several callers into the show yesterday stand out as examples of both the hate and the attempt to understand on both sides of the debate. A female caller opened the conversation by saying that she had been listening and taking notes of what she wanted to say. In summary, the caller’s calm tone explained that the shooting of police officers by a black gunman in Baton Rouge and Dallas demonstrates that for every action there is a reaction. She then went on to explain that the unfair treatment “we” (African-American community) have dealt with from police officers over the years has led to a desire to kill police officers. The caller again said that for every action there is a reaction. I asked her if she was justifying the shooting of police officers and she quickly said that is not what she said. I then pressed her on the fact that she pointed out that for every action there is a reaction and if the action is the mistreatment of African-Americans by police and she is saying the reaction is killing police officers, then she is implying that the shooting of police officers is justified. She refused to accept what I thought was a logical deduction from her argument. Our conversation ended calmly and I thanked her for calling.
Another caller that stands out was the black male that implied the police had what was coming to them for murdering black males. I pointed out that in some cases, white officers were not convicted because they acted appropriately in situations with suspects that threatened their lives during a confrontation. I mentioned that even the Obama Administration could find no evidence to support the indictment of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, to which the caller insisted that 18-year-old Michael Brown was “murdered.” We all have to challenge ourselves to see and hear beyond only that which supports our preconceptions.
There were angry white callers expressing the simple idea that if you comply with police you will never have problems with the police. In theory, that’s true, but we have all heard of enough cases where compliance did not necessarily protect one from aggressive police actions.
Some black callers admitted they are afraid every time they are pulled over by law enforcement, but said that they complied with police.
Every current debate over race relations now includes a debate about Black Lives Matter. The retort from people on both sides is that “all lives matter,” but there seems to be a great misunderstanding about the people who are part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Black Lives Matter seemed to begin on the idea that a disproportionate number of black males were being killed by white police officers, which fit a perception throughout much of black America. But it seems the movement has been hijacked by more militant individuals pushing an aggressive agenda against law enforcement across America.
The tendency to judge all members of Black Lives Matter may be convenient for those who wish to condemn the movement, but that is as wrong as judging all white police officers as “racists.” And that’s the problem on both sides.
Shooting and killing police officers to protest violence against black males being killed by police officers epitomizes hypocrisy.
Raising the issue of past injustices to explain the shooting of police officers is a subliminal justification for the action. As long as there is any acceptance of any excuse for shooting police officers we will not feel safe in what is supposed to be a civilized society.
People see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear, rather than hearing and trying to understand what both sides are saying. As this continues, we can never unite as a nation deserving of the name “The United States of America.”
As soon as I arrived at the fundraiser in memory of Taylor Friloux, the white 21-year-old female stabbed to death by a black male at Raising Canes in Kenner early June 29, I was led to the stage and asked to say something to the packed crowd at the Speakeasy on Williams Blvd. in Kenner. Totally unprepared, I spoke from my heart and what came out seemed to touch the many of the people gathered in honor of Taylor.
For nearly two weeks, tragic events in the New Orleans area, Baton Rouge, St. Paul, Minnesota and Dallas, Texas have dominated conversations in the media, on social media, in bars and family gatherings. These tragic events have also touched our hearts in such a way that reminds us that race is a divisive issue in America, even though we are all part of the human race.
My first thoughts as I stepped to the microphone on the stage at the fundraiser for young Taylor Friloux was how the unity of those who came together on a Sunday afternoon said a lot about who were are as people, but the recent events played out through mass media force too many Americans to take sides.
The “us against them” mentality exists on both sides. Both sides point fingers and defend their side with no regard for all we share in common. “If they would just do this” and “if they would just stop acting this way” are common threads that defend positions and suggest that everyone is talking but too few are listening.
There’s a overwhelming amount of rhetoric on both sides and people are talking, but they are talking to each other. Many say they are listening, but there is a big difference between “listening” and “hearing” what is said. That’s the problem. In passionate defense of their point-of-view, too many people hear words and before those words have ended the response has already been formulated. We can say we are “listening,” but we refuse to “hear” what is being said.
An African-American caller to my show might say, “As a black male, I have been stopped by police and mistreated or arrested for doing nothing wrong.” The immediate response in the minds of many whites and non-blacks is, “Just comply with police.” That is important advice, but what is not being heard is the ongoing stereotyping of all black males as criminals. You may not want to hear that, but that is a reality.
A white or non-black caller to the show might say, “If you comply and don’t have a confrontational attitude with police, then you have a better chance of not going to jail or not being shot.” But the quick response from many African-Americans is, “We are being stopped and targeted because we are black.” That has certainly been the case in countless situations, but there are also many times when a black male is stopped and treated a certain way because of their behavior and not their race.
Much is being said, but little is being heard. White Americans who fail to see the black perspective are as much a part of the problem as the black Americans that fail to recognize that often it is behavior – not race – that determines how a suspect is treated.
Each side of the debate over racial tension is using words and rhetoric to defend their turf. We somehow have come to believe that if we try to hear and appreciate the other side’s point, we have lost the battle.
There are very nice apartment buildings throughout the downtown New Orleans area. Some of these buildings have been renovated or built from the ground up using federal funds. The stipulation is that these upscale apartment buildings must include adjusted income residents – essentially Section 8 housing.
The rent of apartments in many of these buildings ranges from about $1,000 a month to over $6,000 a month. These are nice apartments in very nice buildings. Some residents may be paying as little as $200 a month. Is it an elitist attitude to resent some paying so little for the same type apartments in the same buildings?
The problems arise, not from a disproportionate number of minority residents living in the same apartments and the same buildings, but from the attitude of many of those who get something for practically nothing. In fact, many could be paying rent with money given to them from the government. If you don’t have to work hard for something, you are less likely to take pride in what you have. This is the type of opportunity that leads to resentment – not because of skin color – but because of behavior and attitude.
The resident who pays $2,000 a month in rent to live in a nice building downtown will likely be called a racist if he or she comments on the disparity of people living in the same apartments and the same building as someone paying $200 a month in rent. But the side that is quick to screams “racist” is the side that doesn’t want to hear the human sense of inequality. And yes, a sense of inequality can be felt by white America, too.
There also seems to be a disproportionate number of low-income residents who do not share the same respect for the common grounds of the apartment buildings. It does not take a certain amount of money to clean up what you spill or the trash you drop. Again, comments about the basic respect for shared property instantly bring cries of “racism.” It does not take money to have good manners and criticizing bad manners is fair – not racist.
Not everyone who has less and is given more is part of the problem, but it seems that we can’t even have an honest conversation that focuses on behavior without race becoming an issue if the behavior of an African-American is discussed.
The other major issue is our past. America’s past is scarred with slavery and blatant discrimination. Sadly, discrimination still exists today, but to blame the white America for the past is wrong. Any retaliation, physically or emotionally, against white America is unfairly labeling many white Americans as guilty of crimes they were never part of and have throughout their lives have rejected in the fight for equality for all.
As wrong as it is to assume that black Americans are criminals – it is equally wrong to assume that the majority of white Americans supported past injustices and continue to discriminate today. Both sides of racial tension are guilty of listening to things said, but failing to hear what is said.
Is it time to work harder at “hearing” and not just “listening?”
For the second night in a row, I have awakened at about 3 AM to breaking news about police officers shooting black males. And for the second straight day, America is reacting to two videos that fit an all too familiar storyline in the news.
Reaction to both of the videos ranges from 'the police officers were doing their jobs and protecting their lives' to 'police officers are too quick to pull the trigger when the suspect is a black male.' Complicating this debate is the reality that many police officers shoot suspects in a legitimate defense of their lives, but the other reality is that black males have been stereotyped by many Americans as criminals. Are some police officers guided by even a subconscious assumption that black males are criminals?
We don’t know all the details and no one can form a definitive answer yet, but there are aspects of both videos that strongly support the idea that police officers overreacted. If they did overreact, was it because they are prejudiced or were they not properly trained to deal with the situations they faced?
African-Americans talk about being targeted by police, and unless you are an African-American you can only speculate. Sadly, some people who wear a badge allow their personal prejudice to guide their enforcement of the law.
Regardless of the perception of being targeted, or the sense of being caught in a system of justice that is not colorblind, the advice from numerous leaders and members of the black community is that everyone, even black males, should comply with police officers. Complying may not always work out, but failing to comply rarely works out.
Adding to the viciousness of the debate over police officers and black suspects is the tendency to label any criticism of police as being “anti-police” and any defense of police as being “anti-black.” We must be free to assess situations without the fear of being labeled.
The labeling of being “anti-police” or “anti-black” strips us of our responsibility to be honest about situations. There are some bad police officers and there are some bad black males, but that should never mean that all police officers or all black males are to blame for a tragic situation.
The three police officers involved in the shooting deaths of two black males may have honestly made a mistake and deeply regret their decisions to shoot. Under the advice of lawyers, I doubt any of them would admit that, but they could have deep regrets.
We all make mistakes in our jobs, but in some professions mistakes are not allowed. That may not be fair, but it is not acceptable for police officers to shoot and kill innocent individuals. Airline pilots and doctors are not allowed to make mistakes because their mistakes can lead to deaths. The problem is that if police officers take too much time to assess a situation, they could easily be dead. But police officers that do make the mistake of shooting when they did not really have to shoot should face the dire consequences of taking a life.
In the case of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, there seemed to be more evidence from the beginning that the officer was doing his job and defending himself than there is early evidence that both of these recent shootings were self-defense.
We hope and pray for the families devastated by these two shootings and we also hope and pray for an honest and transparent investigation into what happened. If the police officers acted in accordance with their training and defended their lives, then they are not guilty. If the officers were quick to pull the trigger, then they must be held accountable for taking a human life.
Baby Boomers are now the Establishment, achieving a status never envisioned by the generation that was known as “anti-Establishment!” And looking back on how wild and rebellious our generation was – we should feel fortunate that so many of us made it to this point! As a self-described “hostile witness to the Baby Boomer generation,” I often write about the hypocrisy and selective memory that is so prevalent today. When I talk about issues involving today’s young generation like the content of their music, the challenging fashion trends, and behavior that is deemed "anti-social," I am quickly reminded about what I witnessed with my generation. If young people, today, were part of a rock music festival where widespread drug use and total nudity were flaunted and I talked about it on “The Scoot Show” on WWL, I would hear from callers denouncing the young people who were part of a music festival that blatantly included such debauchery. And yet, many of those who would be complaining would be part of the anti-Establishment generation that exhibited the exact behavior they would be condemning. The anti-social behavior of the young generation at Woodstock in 1969 is well-documented, and included drugs, drinking, nudity and even sex in public view. But the wild behavior of that young generation, which is now the Establishment, was close to home during the “Celebration of Life” music festival on the banks of the Atchafalaya River in Pointe Coupee Parish in 1971. The scheduled 8-day music festival was shut down after 4 days. With temperatures in the 90's, a shortage of basic survival necessities, and behavior considered by law enforcement to be dangerous, the festival came to an early end. But it was actually shut down following a $700,000 Internal Revenue Service tax lien placed against the festival promoters, which prevented the festival from doing any business, including purchasing water for the hot, parched concert-goers. To survive the scorching heat, many teenagers took off all of their clothes and frolicked in the Atchafalaya River and in the mud along the river’s banks. The heat may have been only one reason for the “freedom from clothes,” because this was a young generation that promoted freedom in every way possible. Young people naked in the river and covering themselves with mud became a public spectacle, with locals cruising the river in their boats to get a close up look at the nudity. A few seaplanes landed on the river, and there is a photo of an airline flying very low over the river, giving anyone on board a clear view of what this young generation naked in the river! Flight regulations for the airlines were a lot looser in 1971! The governor of Louisiana, Governor John McKeithen, a Democrat, promised the citizens of Pointe Coupee Parish that he would personally throw out any “long-haired, dope-group anarchists” who attempted to put on a festival. Governor McKeithen represented the attitude of the Establishment about a young generation than many believed was completely “out-of-control.” Contempt for a young generation that was part of the “Celebration of Life” festival, Woodstock or any of the events that attracted a young crowd in the late-60s and early-70s is no different from the contempt that young generation – now the Establishment – has for today’s young generation and the music, fashion, drug use, drinking and behavior that challenges what is considered socially acceptable now.
Beyond the hypocrisy and selective memory of the Baby Boomer generation, there should be the honest acknowledgement what we were really like as the original anti-Establishment generation. The Baby Boomer generation proudly invented the phrase “sex, drugs and rock n roll!” and boldly lived accordingly. But this is the same generation that as the new Establishment has condemned today’s young generation for its sexuality, drug use and rebellious music. It is acceptable and expected for the Establishment in any era to set positive examples and teach younger generations from their mistakes, but the Baby Boomer Establishment’s condemnation of younger generations lacks any real admission of wrongdoing – and that is hypocritical. The music that represented the young Baby Boomers was rebellions and filled with controversial lyrics, both sexually and politically. Fashion trends challenged the norms of “good taste” and sometimes even the law. And drug use and drinking were no different from what goes on at concerts today. It was reported by a journalist for Rolling Stone magazine that there were areas at the “Celebration of Life” named Cocaine Row and Smack Street where 30 different mind-altering drugs were available for sale – only two of which could be smoked. Plastic syringes were sold at $1 each. One of the obvious differences today, is that guns are a problem, and that was never a concern in large crowds in the past. But other than guns, Baby Boomers forget how much they challenged society - and the law. If you are a member of the Baby Boomer generation, challenge yourself to be honest about the wild, anti-social behavior from your youth, and don’t condemn today’s young generation as if they are the first to rebel against the Establishment! Many of those who were part of the drinking, drugs and nudity of the “Celebration of Life” are responsible businessmen and women. The lesson all this is that we think we became a responsible generation – and so will they! Were you at the “Celebration of Life” or some other music festival where young people exhibited wild behavior? What do you admit about your younger years? Give us your comments!
The debate has been so intense that it seems like it has been longer - but one year ago today, June 17, 2015, America reacted to the news that a young white male whose life was surrounded with imagery of racism murdered nine black Americans as they sat in a prayer meeting in a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina. Dylann Roof was arrested the next morning.
America both bonded and broke apart over the controversy that ensured about the Confederate flag and symbols from a segregated America. One year later we ask the question – has anything changed? Is America more or less united one year after a tragedy sparked a debate about race relations?
The battle to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol grounds was won, but not without great controversy. During the debate, NASCAR announced it would not fly the Confederate flag and its race tracks and went so far as to ask fans to stop any display of the Confederate flag while attending NASCAR events. Many fans rebelled and ridiculed NASCAR for bending to the recent controversy in the face of years of tradition.
One year after the young shooter acted on what appeared to be a racist motive, the debate over the Confederate flag and the debate over the removal of Confederate-era monuments rages on. It is one of the most contentious talk radio topics, with lines lighting up every time the subject is mentioned. Yesterday on the show, one caller made mention of the Confederate flag while talking about the mass shooting at the gay club in Orlando and another listener held on for over 40 minutes to support flying the Confederate flag.
The Confederate flag may be down in Columbia, South Carolina, but I see no signs that the battle over the battle flag has eased. It is almost as if the debate over what the Confederate flag stands for is another example of Americans “keeping score.”
There are two different views of the Confederate flag. One view holds that the old South’s history is represented by the Confederate flag, and the other view considers the flag a symbol of racism. In the minds of those who hold those views, both feel justified and passionate about their positions.
Like any symbol, the meaning of the flag is interpreted by ideology and personal reference to life in America. Both sides of the debate view the battle over the flag as a victory or a loss. This is how it can be reduced to the idea of Americans “keeping score.” One side believes that they are losing their heritage and displaying the Confederate flag is a victory in the fight to protect that heritage. The other side sees the flag as a symbol of hate and wants their feelings to be honored by the general removal of the Confederate flag from public places.
The truth is that neither side should put so much importance on a symbol made out of material. Flying the Confederate flag or taking down the Confederate flag has not and will not change what lives in the hearts and minds of individual Americans.
Out of respect for those Americans who are offended by the Confederate flag, I favor the removal of the flag. We should have reached a point where we no longer have to flaunt something in the face of others and while many truly respect the history relevance of the flag, many display the flag to reflect their racist views and only hide behind the guise of history.
One year after a young white male entered the sanctity of a church for the purpose of killing black Americans the deep debate over race in America continues. It’s 2016 and we have been “keeping score” on who gets what and why. We should all be embarrassed that we have not done a better job of trying to understand each other and how to better get along.