American drama at its best: I wish it weren’t so

This past Saturday was one of those unusually warm, late November days in Little Rock. I felt a strong urge to get out of the house. I would imagine you can identify, since you’ve probably been trying your best to stay away from the Coronavirus, too. I just needed some time out to breath fresh air. So, I decided to let the top down on my toy that I keep in the garage and take a ride down to the 7th Street murals to look at the artwork that has taken over the place. The murals are on the walls of 7th street under the train-track overpass.

Bumblebee out of the garage @ Hallelujah Fest 10/2019

The area has had smidgens of graffiti on the walls for a few years that have probably meant more to the graffiti artists responsible for putting them there than anyone else. Since the recent incidents of police killings of young Black folk, protests in the streets for justice and peace, and the crazed political environment we currently find ourselves there has been a rapid growth of socially conscience artwork applied to the walls. Progressive minded people have felt a need to express themselves, using this public venue. The overpass is a few blocks west of the state capitol grounds, making an interesting juxtaposition for the artwork to occupy.

While viewing the artwork and snapping a few pictures, I noticed a couple of artists there applying their skills to the walls. With mask on and social distancing operational, I stopped to engage in a brief conversation with each. Both artists seemed to be folk of good character, troubled by all the social, political, and cultural conflicts that have troubled our society over that last four years. Of course, they both realize that what we’ve seen during this time hasn’t been a recent development, but a burgeoning of symptoms manifested from a disease that has lied dormant for decades.

As I left the overpass, I decided to drive by the capitol grounds. The overpass is at the bottom of a hill that rises to several acres of more level land where the state capital building, the state justice building, the state revenue office, and other stately looking buildings are located. As I approached the top of the hill, I quickly noticed a four-wheel-drive pickup truck coming towards me, with American flags and Confederate flags flapping in the wind. A glance to my left revealed several vehicles arrayed in similar fashion parked on one of the large parking lots. There were also signs which clearly indicated why these folks were there. These Trump supporters were making it known that they don’t agree with the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election. They obviously believed all the unfounded conspiracy theories that have been put forth by the Trump administration of how the election has been manipulated in favor of the Biden gang. I thought for a second about parking across the street to take a few pictures. My good sense quickly told me that that was a bad idea. My electronic version of the Sunday morning edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, our state’s daily newspaper, confirmed what I saw on this fine, autumnal day.

With all the bad stuff 2020 has visited upon our country, wouldn’t working together to bring about healing be a better kind of drama?

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Back to the Future: Diversity for Today from the 1960s

Here’s a blog I posted in February 2016. It was taken from a piece I wrote earlier for a news letter. I think it’s appropriate to reblog it at this particular time. I hope you find it interesting.

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A few years before I retired ( January 2013) from my position as associate vice chancellor for Human Resources at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, I  wrote a piece for the campus’ diversity and inclusion newsletter. I’ve had a strong interest in diversity and inclusion work since the late 1980s. I just ran across that piece from years ago in my archives…thought I would share it:

A few years ago, the Chancellor’s Diversity Committee invited Judge Wendell Griffith to campus to be our annual Diversity Week speaker. Being a Trekkie (or is it Trekker?) from the early days of the 1960s television show “Star Trek,” which aired with Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and crew, I remember being transfixed when Judge Griffith began his talk by describing the bridge occupants of the Star Ship Enterprise.
Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the “Star Trek” series, had a vision of what…

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We’re all just human: each just as imperfect as the other

Art put me on trajectory fifty-five years ago that has contributed to landing me at this point of being sick and tired of the world being hung up on the false construct of race. It was in 1965 when this TV show, called Star Trek, came out. I don’t need to tell you what it is. It’s become part and parcel of the very fabric of society. What started to change thinking about race was watching the image of the star ship Enterprise’s bridge. Each week I was carried 300 hundred years into the future when humankind had finally realized that life and all its imagined sentient representations was inherently valuable, each no more or less than the other. You might be saying right about now: That was a fictional representation of a world, a universe that will never be. If you are saying that I beg to differ. The older I get, the more I realize that anything conceived can be achieved. Doesn’t the mind create images from its inventory of experiences? I believe the expanse of thought is limited, except when seemingly unlimited parameters are brought to bear by innovative thinkers. Some of us can rearrange human experiences in our mental incubators to such a degree that the visual product looks like something that was delivered from some far-flung corner of the universe never visited. If you think of Star Trek as a metaphor for how we humans will get along with each other in the future, you might have less difficulty dealing with the concept of alien differences working together on the bridge of the Enterprise.

Recently, Chris and I were out and about on a beautiful fall day. It was one of those days when you just had to escape the self-imposed confines many of us live within due to the pandemic. I don’t remember the full scope of the conversation we were having; however, I do remember Chris referring to some celebrity as being bi-racial. Of course, that has become a commonly used term these days to assign a box for people of mixed-race to reside. For some reason, when I heard the term, I was bothered. My internal voice posed the question to me: Aren’t people in this box humans too? I tried to explain to Chris what I was feeling. I’m not so sure I did a good job. The point I was trying to get across is that I’ll be glad when we look at each other as one individual representation of all. Collectively, we run the gamut of colors, styles, models, as if we were automobiles. But when was the last time you saw people voicing sheer unadulterated hate against any automobile, except for the potentially explosive Ford Pinto?

This mess we’re experiencing now called 2020 has put many of us in the deepest of funks. The corners many have been backed into seem so deep and so expansive, that the idea of escape is a mere flicker in the dark. With all the challenges the world is facing now, why is race a major factor in the general elections in America. As I write this piece, it’s been three days since election day, and we are still waiting on a winner to be decided for our President of the United States for the next four years. News programs are saying this was an historic election, prompting rarely seen numbers to the polls to cast ballots for their favorite candidate, favorite doesn’t necessarily mean most qualified. Having been around for over seventy years and being familiar with human nature to a certain degree, I’m sure race, gender, age and a number of insignificant factors played a factor when each of us marked our ballot.

Being human has its limitations. God help us all.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.