God Privilege: Recognizing & Utilizing the Neon-Colored Knapsack
May 14, 2004

I was never taught to see the favor of God as superceding the systems of men

From the time that I gave my life to God when I was 16 years-old, I've always felt different. I knew I was marked, I knew my life was branded forever, I knew I wasn't like the average person. I have often noticed that many Christians do not have the proper perspective on their rights and privileges as sons and co-heirs with Christ. It is interesting that "privilege" in this country is often assumed to be a negative thing. People scoff at those who've had the descriptor "privileged" bestowed on them. I've never quite understood why we've built up such an animosity for the "privileged". I spent most of my entire scholastic career amongst privileged individuals and even they began to despise their own privileged-ness. Most people in the United States of America are of the persuasion that certain people in this country are where they are today because of some nepotism, their race, their gender, their class, their educational background (which is usually dictated by class and race), and many other things. I can't say I disagree with that theory. What I will say is that I believe there is privilege in belonging to God that supercedes all other privileges and some.

Being that I am a black person, I can take this a step further and say that many black Christians have come to have more distrust in corrupt socially-generated systems than they have trust in the almighty God. Collectively as a people, we have turned to the government and other social institutions to meet many of our needs, and then turned around and placed blame on those very same institutions when they weren't doing what we thought they should do. Somehow the favor of God gets left out of all this. Speaking for all races, it seems we have come to be a nation of victims in many respects. We point our fingers in a number of different directions, blaming others for our present condition, or the choices and privileges we were denied. I am often bothered by Christians who spew this mythology of blame and dependence on "hand-outs" to rise to the proverbial top.

Every day I am becoming more aware of the always present reality that being a child of God has more rights, privileges, and responsibilities than anyone could ever imagine or keep track of. Not only do we not have to be subject to many of the corrupt schemes and systems that are holding so many back, we have power over them! We carry on our backs, a knapsack of favor and privilege everywhere we go. This knapsack we have isn't invisible; it's neon yellow, plain for the world to see. The favor of God on a person's life is perhaps the most beautiful thing. This knapsack isn't to be shown off or flaunted. It's to give God the glory and draw others to him.

Having this privilege as a child of God is definitely something we are accountable for. In fact, I think it's a travesty when we don't exercise our influence and keep that knapsack closed. I decided to take some time out to think about all the glorious privileges of God I've experienced in my life. In listing some of these out, I realize these are situations and certainties to which many others cannot lay claim. This is the essence of true privilege.

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May 11, 2004

It's what I feel every single time I have to fill up my gas tank. Does ANYONE else think it is a horrible travesty to driving-kind that gas prices have sky-rocketed to the insane and gut-wrenching price at which they presently exist? Don't let me get started on gasoline. Everyone and their mother has their theory on why gas prices are so high, and you better believe they'll blame it on George W. Bush, his entire administration, and this "dang" war. I mean, doesn't everything trace back to that "evil wretch" of a president? Well, in fact no. Oh but wait, President Bush isn't really our president right? I rekon that even if we had a Democratic administration, Republicans would still be blamed for everything. We're a nation of victims I tell you. I have my theories around why I can feed a small village with the money I use to fill-up my tank. Most of my theories center somewhere around wicked people in low places, BET, Proctor & Gamble, Feed the Children, Bill Clinton, Al Roker, and the entire cast of Friends so let's just leave it at that. It's funny, I remember back in January when gas was around $1.65/gallon and I thought that was expensive. I vowed that if gas prices ever got to $2.00, I'd surrender my driving privileges indefinitely and take up public transportation (as crappy as it may be in Seattle). Well, gas is now about $2.05 here in Seattle and I can't say I've stopped driving much less. It's amazing how little we're willing to sacrifice for the things we say. Still, my wallet feels the agony.

More in the news of agony. Reporting to an employer. Call me rebellious, but I'm currently at the point where I am offended at the notion that even have to ask permission to go on vacation. Excuse me? Only two weeks you say? Pishawwww. This feeds right back into my plan of being in the financial position to retire (yes, I said retire) from working for another human being by this time next year. I am desperately in need of a challenge. This job is too dang easy and these people aren't paying me what my brain is worth.

And while we're on the subject of agony, let's talk about my impending wisdom teeth removal (a procedure I have put off about 4-5 years and for which I have still yet to make an appointment). All four of my wisdom teeth are in, visible and brushable. They are not impacted, they are not hurting me or anyone else, so let them be. I am certain God gave me them for a reason so stop trying to take them out!

Okay, enough about me and my problems. Funny thing happened today. It seems my website is the #2 search result (next to oprah.com) for any one of the combonations of "Marcus Dixon" "Kristie Brown" or "Rome, Georgia", referring to the widely publicized rape charges between those two parties and the recent release of Marcus Dixon from prison. This fact has left me with an inordinately high amount of first-time vistors who I'm sure were disappointed to find my ramblings on the state of education in our nation, birth control and Jesus Clothing. If you're here for that reason by the way, let me just be the first to welcome you and say you're truly welcome here today. I'd hug you if I could, but they haven't taken computers that far yet. Incidentally, I'm much nicer than I may sound on this website.

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How I Almost Killed a Telemarketer
May 10, 2004

What is the weekend anyway? At one point in my life, I looked forward to these blissful two-days of sleeping in, pigging out, and doing absolutely nothing. Nowadays, I venture to say that my weekends are generally more busy than my weekdays. I sometimes have to get up on the weekends earlier than I do to go to work. This weekend was no different as it was packed with meetings, church and a host of other responsibilities. This didn't even account for the fact that mother's day was coming up.

(Caveat) I have a bone to pick with Hallmark, Shoebox, Dayspring and all the other greeting card manufacturers. CAN YOU GET ANY MORE GENERIC AND SAPPY? I had a doozy of a time locating a mother's day card that even fit my personality. I'm thinking of starting a greeting card company called "Sarcastic Greetings : for the person who just can't be serious". (By the way, that's intellectual property so don't you dare steal that idea). I'm all for sap but goll-y these greeting card writers are just horrendous. "Dearest Mother, for everything you've ever been to me, caring, sharing, throughout the years, I cherish you this day. Happy Mother's Day" Blah blah blah, excuse me while I go vomit. Then there's also the Christian or, excuse me shall I say "Religious and Inspirational" cards, which I swear aren't even written by real Christians. Someone picked a random Psalm or Proverb, slapped it on a greeting card, called it "Inspirational", and charged $4.99 for it. We've got work to do in the greeting card industry. (end Caveat)

As I was originally stating, this once again proved to be a busy weekend for me. Even though I had a Saturday morning meeting, I was looking forward to sleeping in until a comfortable time of 9:00 am. I'm certain you can imagine my excitement as I never get to sleep in this late. I was nestled under my very nice down comforter, enjoying that sweet, perfect, rest; we're talking good sleep, like in Jesus' bosom, like better than popsicles, never-wake-me-up rest. It was heavenly. So imagine my dismay when at 7:45 am on a Saturday morning, my phone rang. Surely I thought that someone in my family must be losing blood and on their way to the hospital for my phone to be ringing that early on a Saturday morning. Instead I hear,

"Hi this is Josh calling from the Fireman's Fund, how are you today?"

Anger. Rage. Fury. Irritation.

Me: I'm asleep
Josh: Oh really?
Me: It is SEVEN FORTY-FIVE on a Saturday morning, I'm ASLEEP Josh.
Josh: "Yeah I've gotten that a lot this morning."
Me: Maybe it's because you're calling people at the buttcrack of dawn on the weekend.
Josh: Oh well, I apologize for that, what I'm really calling you about today is...
Me: Save it. I'm not interested.
Josh: Well you don't even know what I'm going to ask you!

Me: Yes I do.
Josh: No you don't. Well then tell me?
(freeze frame) Now I know this monkey-fool is not trying to argue with a complete stranger who he JUST WOKE UP about what I do and do not know. (continue)
Me: (in a half-dazed slumber) You're going to ask me to give money. The answer is no. Good-bye
Josh: You don't want to support your local firemen?
Me: No Josh. I don't. Good-bye (click)
Dear Firemen's Fund:

Please inform your volunteer staff that if they desire any sane citizen to donate their hard-earned finances to your organization, it advisable that your staff not wake them up by calling early on a Saturday morning or any morning for that matter and proceed to heckle them about their giving. Most people won't be as nice. Neither will I next time.

Kindly Pissed-Off,
A Concerned Citizen

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No Plan B...For Now
May 7, 2004

It has been in the media for quite some time, but yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration rejected over-the-counter sales of the "morning-after pill", the latest emergency contraceptive also known as "Plan B". Interestingly enough, the FDA added the two words, "possibly reconsider" into their statement. The FDA rejected the proposal merely on the grounds that there was "no evidence teens younger than 16 could safely use the pills without a doctor's guidance - and it thus was rejecting the move until Barr (the company behind the pill) could provide that evidence." Though they were charged with not having done enough research, the company is planning on coming back stronger next time. The FDA left the door open for Barr Laboratories to try again, which means this case is not closed in the least. This is about money and let's not think for one moment that Barr is going away with their tail between their legs.

From its inception, I knew the "morning-after pill" would spell trouble. It was only a matter of time before they'd lobby for it to be easily placed in the hands of the average Joe-sette.

The market for making Plan B over-the-counter is undoubtedly the teenage population. The average adult would have no problem getting a prescription from their gynecologist or a local clinic. The main group of people who would benefit (and I use that term loosely) from this proposal are teenage girls who want the pill but don't want their parents to know. I usually red flag anything that attempts to usurp the rights of parents.

This whole concept just has "evil, greedy, bastards" written all over it. I don't say that to be flippant. When I say "bastards", I mean it. These individuals who think up these schemes to further advance the moral decay of our society are nothing more than illegitimate children. One of the major arguments of Plan B proponents is that it will "significantly reduce the number of abortions each year". Help us sweet Jesus! This is just disastrous. I cannot believe that sane people actually follow this logic.

Let's all go back to kindergarten concepts for just a moment. Babies are made when a man and a woman have sex. That is the only way babies are made. Invetro fertilization, artificial insemination, and all other forms of impregnating women are generally procedures performed on women who assumedly want to become pregnant and are therefore void in this reasoning. Based on this logic, it would seem that the best way to reduce the numbers of abortions is to reduce the number of unmarried people having sex. A preschooler could figure this out.

Teach young men to exercise a little self control. Teach young ladies to keep the nickel between their knees. If you want teenagers to stop having abortions, teach them to stop having sex. Teach them to choose Plan A. This concept is so overly simplistic and basic and it leaves lots of room for creativity so let's think beyond just "Abstinence Education". The Judeo-Christian ethics sure do lack innovation as of late. Since it seems humanity is intent on trying to come up with every way possible to not not have sex, can we think out of the box as well?

Perhaps even more "coincidental" is the fact that last night's episode of ER highlighted this very issue on the very same day the FDA rejected the proposal. Gee what are the chances? I smell hot conflict of interest cooking in the oven.

On the show, one of the teenage characters named "Rachel" traveled to the state in which her former doctor/step-mother was located just to get a prescription for the pills. She did this because she didn't want her real mother to find out. And get this, the doctor wrote the prescription! It was a sly attempt to brainwash the viewer into thinking that legalizing the pill over-the-counter is really the right thing to do. I wouldn't be surprised if Barr Laboratories paid a hefty sum of money for that plug. Is it just me, or do pharmaceutical companies have a huge propensity to be horribly wicked?

I wrote a few months back on how "Jimmie Hatz" are planning on pushing out "hip-hop" condoms to the urban masses. This is a downward spiral folks and I plead that we not see the day when the morning-after pill is being packaged with glossy pink and polka dot wrappers or being given as a "gift with purchase" when you buy the latest Christina Aguilera album. I don't want to see "Pro-Choice Barbie" or "do-it-yourself abortion kits" in the store. Planned Parenthood must be licking their lips over this issue.

So what does the counter-culture do? I certainly propose we do something different than what's currently being done. People like to sit on their high horses and talk about Christians shouldn't be bringing the gospel through media and other forms of mass-commercialism, but I say we need to get in the game. Sit on the sidelines of the culture war if you like, but this is a multi-sensory generation, and if we're not infiltrating mediums with a contrary message, then we will do ourselves a huge disservice in battle. If ER can push their message, we sure as heck can push ours.

Posted in Abortion, Culture, Politics, Sex/Purity | Permanent Link
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The Friendless and the Mindless
May 5, 2004

Tomorrow night NBC may see some of its highest ratings yet as once again, tissue sales should rise around the country as another pointless television show about silly white people bites the dust. That's right, it's the "Friends" season finale. I can imagine that since "Friends" shares some of the same viewers as the equally if not even more pointless show "Sex and the City" did, a huge percentage of the mindless American public has taken a big blow over the last four months with the cancellation of both these shows. For me, bidding adieu to "Friends" will be slightly more difficult than "Syphilis and the City" since I never watched the latter. Do realize that I am currently talking out of two sides of my mouth because I myself have indulged in an episode or twelve of "Friends". Blame it on my predominately white high school. I do. Normal, healthy, black people just do not watch "Friends". I think it deals with cultural relevance. I even have a favorite episode or two.

The reality is, you can't engage me into a debate on how relevant "Friends" is to real life, because I know it's not. How on earth can six people manage to all maintain jobs, yet never go to work and spend most of their time hanging out in each other's apartments and a coffee shop? I'm sorry, but that behavior is just not a part of my culture. We're not just talking Tulsa, Oklahoma where rent is $300 a month. The setting of the show is New York City; where you need a broker to even get an apartment. Just how can these people afford $2500 rent when they never go to work? I think it's safe to say that all the "Friends" must have trust funds. Yep, that's it. They're just rich. Well, for $1,000,000 an episode, I'd be rich too.

There has been much talk, many articles written, and lots of theorizing around how the show "Friends" has impacted "the culture". Well, I'd say friends impacted the culture about the same way that "Seinfeld" did. It successfully showed the world that you can waste 30 minutes of your life doing and talking about absolutely nothing and manage to laugh at the same time. I think we are missing out on the days when television shows were actually worth something. The only hole that will be felt when "Friends" goes away will be in the wallets of NBC executives.

One of the shows I miss most tremendously is the "Cosby Show". From the time that it began, I have been an avid watcher of the Cosby show. Yes, even at age three, I never missed an episode. In fact, when the show moved to Thursday nights, my family went to evening Bible study and I insisted they tape it in our absence. My family calls me the resident Cosby Show expert because I probably have every single episode memorized verbatim. Not only that, I can extract and analyze just about every truth and life lesson possible that can be learned from every episode and apply it to daily life.

From my perspective this was one of the best shows of the last 20 years. It was a show that transcended culture. This was a show with staying power that did more than just make us laugh. I miss the days when sitcoms served a purpose in our society beyond entertainment.

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Marcus Dixon & Kristie Brown: A Moral Case Study
May 4, 2004

I started writing on the Marcus Dixon case months ago with an attempt to point out some similarities (and not so similarities) with the Kobe Bryant trial. I have since stopped because there's just too much to say. However, in light of recent happenings in the Marcus Dixon/Kristie Brown case, I thought I'd throw around some ideas. Yesterday, Marcus Dixon was freed after serving 15 months in a Georgia prison for having sex with an underage girl, Kristie Brown (she was 15, he was 18). Dixon was convicted of aggravated child molestation. Georgia state law is very strict when it comes to sexual activity and minors. State law carries a mandatory prison sentence of 10 years for those convicted. The News-Journal.com reports:

In a 4-3 ruling Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the child molestation conviction. Dixon remains convicted of misdemeanor statutory rape, but he has already spent more than the required year in prison for that offense.

Because Dixon is black and his accuser is white, one can imagine this has turned into quite the controversy gaining attention by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and most unfortunately, the NAACP. If I were Dixon, I would have asked Kwesi Mfume and the rest of his cohorts to please keep my name out of their collective mouths. Notwithstanding the NAACP's involvment, this case has gained national attention from much of the media and has incited quite an interesting debate and once again surfaced a discussion around equity and justice as it relates to race.

I'll just put my opinion right out there. I don't believe Dixon raped this girl. I believe it was quite consentual (you don't just agree to meet in a classroom afterschool for the purpose of sexual favors). Nor did Kristie Brown trip and her clothes accidentally fell off. It is somewhat forgotten the fact that Kristie Brown initiated oral sex prior to anything taking place. However, I believe she became very upset at the fact that she lost her virginity (understandable), and then fearful that the rumor she was "with" a black guy would spread in their small, rural, and rather segregated town. This fear and trauma has caused her to not only fabricate this false perception of what took place, but she's also done so to the point where I believe she actually thinks she's telling the truth. If you've seen her interviewed and have a smattering of discernment, you can tell she is not telling the truth. My prediction is about 25-30 years from now, Newsweek will do some big article where Brown comes forward with a confession about how she really lied about the rape allegations and was coerced into doing so by her parents, namely her racist father. There is nothing new under the grand ole sun. It's a classic case of "he said/she said". The most unfortunate reality is that in those types of cases, it's all about credibility. If you had to choose a babysitter for your children, who would you choose? The nice 15-year old southern white girl or the 18 year-old black football player who admitted to having sex with a younger girl? If you've watched 30 minutes of television in your life, you'd have chosen the white southern girl. In my opinion, the fact that Marcus Dixon did in fact have sex with Kristie Brown completely ruins his credibility. Just as the fact that Kobe Bryant committed adultry rightfully vilifies him in the eyes of the general public. In the case of Dixon, a Georgia court thought so too and convicted him, although most on the jury didn't realize the sentence it carried.

In all honesty, I feel sorry for both Kristie and Marcus. See, they are the product of a moral breakdown. It is interesting that everyone has tooted the horn of Dixon for being a star athelete, great student with a 3.9 grade point average, and earning a full scholarship to Vanderbilt University. I don't quite see what this has to do with much of anything except to say that we put intelligence and accolades on the same playing field as moral stability when in fact the two are not related at all. That's a big mistake on our part. I wrote a few months ago on the Fallen Man about this very topic. To think Dixon blew all that for a few moments of self-gratification and extremely poor judgment is pretty disheartening. Then there's the fact that Kristie was a "nice southern girl" and supposedly an "unsuspecting sophmore". This got highly overplayed by the media as well. This is the same girl who clearly out of a lack of self-identity, offered her "services" to a classmate, and ultimately was in consent to give up her virginity on a desk in a classroom portable. How low can you go? Apparently in Kristie's case, very low. If we really want to be honest with ourselves, we will recognize that Dixon got himself in hot water not because he was black (although a white person may not have received the same backlash), but ultimately because he compromised in the area of sexual purity. There's David and Bathsheba, Sampson and Delilah, and now Marcus & Kristie. We're all living epistles and poor self-image it what's gotten humanity into trouble from the beginning of time. There are probably millions of teenagers all over the world who could have been charged with the same crime Dixon was. This however, doesn't preclude Dixon from being made into a prime example of what can happen when you think with your genitalia and not your conscience. To whom much is given, much is required. I can only hope that Dixon has learned the true lesson that can be extracted from this situation.

From a story on Oprah.com:

Some say the case is not about sex between two teenagers, but really about the racial prejudices that still exist in this small, rural town of Rome, Georgia.

Well I say it is about sex between two teenagers. In many ways, Dixon brought this situation onto himself. He was clearly a young man with a promising future and I still believe he was innocent of the charges against him (rape), but he put himself in a compromising situation. There was no good reason why he should have even been alone with Kristie in that classroom portable with the door locked and the blinds closed. I don't care if he was tutoring her in math. Perception is everything; especially in Rome, Georgia. It was her word against his and he admits that he did have sex with her. The question of whether or not it was consensual is what's really up for debate. And by golly, we wouldn't even be in this quagmire if we had just kept our pants up and our legs closed. I'm sure it sounds rather fundamental, but teenage sex causes more societal problems than most sociologists care to admit. It is interesting however, that throughout all the debate, there has really been no conversation around whether or not these two should have been having sexual relations in the first place.

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One Big Kick in the Adult Butt
May 3, 2004

Oy vey. It's May 3rd and still no new weblog format and publishing platform. What in Sam Hill happened to the month of April? Is it just me or did that month barely take its coat off to stay awhile? No one ever tells you that life after high school is a downward spiral of time. For me, time is that carrot dangling in front of me on a string that I can never quite catch up with. I've actually started getting 5-year reunion notices in the mail (silly to come together after only five years before the kids, the marriages, the divorces, and the money) and it still freaks me out quite a bit. This adult stuff can be frightening at times to say the least. When I originally started this weblog, I wanted it to be a steroid injected version of my brain (which is very random and sometimes quite offensive), as well as a place for me to vent my daily discoveries of the reality of being a grown-up. Trust me when I say there are lots of discoveries I could write a rather humorous book about. There are the little things no one ever tells you like the perils of buying bed sheets. Whoever knew that there were 1,645 different kinds of sheets? There's flannel, jersey-knit, 200 thread count, 300 thread count, 600 thread count, Egyptian Cotton, satin, and even sateen. If you want to ruin a new adult's self-esteem, just send them to the store to buy sheets. It will singelhandedly send them crying home, begging for mercy. I don't know how men do this. I'm a woman, and I found it mentally taxing and rather expensive. Some semi-nice sheets will run you at least $50-100 easy (unless you're a savings sleuth like me). Part of me wonders how the Ku Klux Klan ever cut up all those perfectly good white sheets. Somewhere there was a mother who was not too happy with her white supremecist son. (This'll make for some interesting search engine boolean) I am now proud to report that I am a strict adherer to a sheet thread count of no less than 300. However, I had to sleep on sandpaper and wake up with rug burn on my face before I realized there was indeed a big difference.

Then there's this whole issue of co-habitation. My friends are starting to get married, and God help us all when they start having babies because that might be too much for me to handle. Last summer, I dropped a small fortune on wedding gifts and I'm not looking forward to doing the same again for the next 10 years of my life. Yes, I am coming to the realization that I'm getting old. I realize that I am young, and scoff if you will at my saying this, but I really am getting old. I say this with a great deal of pride and intrepidation. I'm never going to be one of those people who lies on their driver's license and hushes birthday well-wishers in an effort to conceal their age. In fact, I absolutely love birthdays and wear my age like a badge. This is mostly because many people think I am 12 years old and if I don't wear my age, they wouldn't let me register to vote. As every month passes by, it puts me even closer to the dreaded day when I shall turn 23; an evil prime number I've come to detest since my youth (I've always felt uneasy about the lack of wholesomeness in prime numbers). Call me crazy, but I'd rather be 24 than 23.

I'm living to learn that time doesn't just fly when you're having fun. It also flies when you're not having fun, when you're complacent, when you're bored, and when you're asleep. Time just flat out flies. I currently work for a great, reputable company run on some very sound and moral principles. I have a nice job with great benefits, 401(k), profit sharing, stock options, great stuff. To top it off, I work with a great team of people who more or less support my career goals (those they know of). More recently I've come from behind my desk and begun facilitating and training which is my true heart and passion and being the extroveret I am, I could do it all day every day, no complaints. But if you asked me what percentage of my skill, talent, and ability is in use at my current job, I'd say about 6%. In fact, most Americans would probably give a figure less than 30%. Now for me, 6% is just plain sad. That's 94% of me going to waste. Though by many people's standards, I have a great job, I just can't see being here 5 more years, let alone 35 years, climbing the nasty corporate ladder, all for a silly retirement package? Nice try. In my adult life there is one factor here that I don't like and never imagined: I work for someone else. That will all change soon. I had a big reality check when I met with my senior a few weeks ago about my yearly merit-increase. It seems in my class, I've topped out the pay. There's no more money for me to make in my current position. This is it. I've made it. The end of the line. You should have seen me in that meeting when she told me this.

Blink. Blink.

All I could do was blink. And leave the room. This is the American Dream? Very funny lady. I'm so out of here. That was enough of a kick in the butt for me to stop being so comfortable in my cushy job and make it happen for myself. Thank God I had this realization at 22 and not 43.

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Our Very Own Washington (D) State Rep. Doesn't Believe in God?
April 29, 2004

Duh. So if you hadn't heard, I know it made the network news, our very own US Representative from Washington state Jim McDermott has been under fire since he left out the phrase "Under God" while leading the pledge of allegience on the House floor. While many are charging that he deliberately left those two words out, McDermott has claimed it was an accident to be blamed on the fact that when he learned the pledge, the words "under God" hadn't been yet added (they were added in 1954). In addition, a McDermott spokesperson noted that he was apprehensive about including a reference to God since the Supreme Court is currently reviewing a lower court ruling about the unconstitutionality of those two words being said in schools. Okay now wait a minute, did he forget the words, or was he worried about a pending court case. Which one is it? I'm a little confused here.

Jim, Jim, Jim, just tell the truth buddy. No need to dance around the issue. You forgot those two llittle words on purpose and that's okay. Let's just all be honest with ourselves here. Washington is a liberal state, you're a liberal, lots of liberals are anti-God (no not all), what say we connect those dots eh? I mean, Christians are all in uproar about this, I can somewhat understand their sentiment, but I'd rather have people just put the truth right on out there so everyone can see instead of hiding behind this facade of actually giving a care. I mean, let's just keep it real folks.

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The Pervasive Deification of Education in Black Communities
April 28, 2004

Like most middle-class black families, I grew up in a household where we were pretty much expected to go to college. There were really no other options. Community college was not an option. Trade school wasn't even close to being an option. The military was definitely not an option. A year abroad with a service organization wasn't even a close second. No. We had no other choice but to go to college, or be kicked out of the house. (The kicking out of the house threat was done in a very Bill Cosbyesque nature, and we all know how successful Cliff Huxtable was at kicking kids out the house).

My parents's expectations weren't unfounded of course. College would allow us the "most opportunity for success". In fact, we all (my siblings and I) had a pretty clear path laid out for us from birth. My parents mandated that we became successful in life, did whatever God called us to do, and were passionate about our careers. That of course, unequivocally, meant that somewhere in the plan was a college education; perhaps even graduate or law school. So you can imagine their disappointment went I told them three years ago that my elite university wasn't "teaching me anything" and was a "waste of our money". I said "our" because I too was footing some of the bill.

Then there was the time this past Fall when my sister decided she'd defer college in order to go into a 1-year intensive ministry leadership internship at the Honor Academy in Texas. These were of course horrifying words for well-educated black kids to even utter. College was the "Great American Way" and we weren't worshipping the idol as we should have. This is the story of my life.

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Posted in Culture, Education, Race | Permanent Link
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Graduating Slaves
April 27, 2004

I have once again come to the conclusion, that debt is a most horrific thing. I imagine that when I have paid off all my school loans I will do cartwheels from the rooftops and maybe even fly. At this point, flying is not an option, and I wish to inflict great bodily harm on Miss Sallie Mae. I don't think she's alive anymore, but I'm certain that if she had known the sound of her name alone would conjure up the sensation of dry-heaving by college graduates everywhere, she may have thought twice about establishing "college loans" in their family name. Now, color me silly, but there are certain things about this country that simply baffle me. The average college student has taken out some sort of student loan at one point or another in their college career. Even the cost of in-state tuition is rising for public universities. I was reading the Princeton Review's annual college statistics and my former university ranked as the number one private university who has the most graduates with the most student loan debt. A whopping 40% of the graduating class snagged a degree along with some serious baggage. The other 60% was just plain rich, had some nice college money saved, or earned a great scholarship. I can safely say that knowing our tuition was a sickening $36,000 a year (not including housing, books and other fees).

A research called the "Higher Education Project" noted that 39% of students graduate with "unmanageable" levels of federal student loan debt. "Unmanageable" meaning their monthly income, along with other living expenses barely allow them to make their monthly payments. A student's monthly loan payment shouldn't exceed 8% of their monthly income. In addition to that, the percentage of students who borrow Federal Student Loans has risen upwards of 64% since the early nineties. Let's not also forget the barrage of Visa and Mastercard applications that come the way of the average high school senior, and the Chase Manhattan people who set up "information stands" on the University lawn during move-in day. My brother is 15 years old and he's already begun to get credit card solicitations in the mail. In fact, I'm pretty much certain that "The College Board", the company behind the SAT, sells their list of those who've recently taken the SAT to credit card companies among others.

A Tufts University Newspaper Notes:

U.S. secondary education tuition rose 32 percent between 1992 and 2002, according to nelliemae.com. In 2002, according to National Center for Education Statistics, the average undergraduate graduated $18,900 in debt, an increase of $7,500 in just five years. Thirty-nine percent of undergraduates receive some sort of federal financial aid. As college becomes more expensive, the student body is becoming more homogenous by category of class.

The average U.S. medical student has $104,000 in student loan debt, according to the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and first-year medical residents earn on average $33,387 a year. What's say we do the math folks? Granted, yes, doctors increasingly make more money once they complete their residency, but my gosh, $104,000 is a house in some parts of the country. Now in Seattle it might buy you something size of Saddam Hussein's hole in the ground. The fact that the average undergraduate has around $18,900 in debt (and that's a conservative figure if you ask me), is just mind-boggling. I'm not really one to be gung-ho on statistics, but I know this is a reality. My friends and I sit around all the time and commiserate around our student loans. We compare whose are greater, and laugh at the little guy with a mere $2500 borrowed. Then there's graduate school, and that's an entirely different motherload of slavery. My mom got her Ph.D back in '92 and she's just now emerging from the clouds of shackles.

I think something is wrong when we are launching young adults into their careers and the world toting a small mortgage behind them. What we have is a generation that's already in debt at the start of their adult life. And yet we wonder why so many Americans are caught up in consumerism and debt. Generational wealth is really a concept only the wealthy understand. I think we do young people a disservice by promoting a system whereby the average 22-year-old can incur more debt in four years than some people can in a lifetime. College tuition rates are steadily rising. Part of this is an attempt to bring college back to the place of being only for "the elite". It is also clear to most that a bachelor's degree these days doesn't mean much more than a high school diploma since they are so common. There is quick action being taken to change that by eliminating the opportunity for so many to go to college. Lastly, the economy is showing us now more than ever that higher education does not equal material success, no matter how many degrees one has. The number of non-college educated millionaires and business successes being pushed out in the last decade has proved to be a slap in the face to so many who have championed the "almighty degree".

I count myself in the midst of all this craziness. Myself being one who countered the culture, I realize that many people don't feel my sentiment. I think we need to stop with this college=success formula that's so deeply entrenched into the fabric of our culture. I can speak more specifically for the black culture, who has somehow managed to deify education to a place that makes me very uncomfortable. We truly have made that college=success equation our mantra and it is sometimes to our detriment. I'll post on that topic tomorrow perhaps. I am bothered by the number of young people and older adults I talk to who went to college because it was expected of them, never really had a vision for it, graduated with a degree in a subject they don't even like, or never use, and managed to incur some major debt in the process. I myself intend to be debt-free by the time I'm 24, but not without much hard work and determination. Last year, my eyes were opened to much of what I'd experienced in college when I read Martin Anderson's, Imposter's In the Temple: A Blueprint for Improving Higher Education. It's a dated, however very relevant piece of work where Anderson explores the "country-club" like nature of many universities, the liberal bias of most professors, and the tuition money that's being wasted on professors who barely teach at all. It's a good read for anyone who can withstand lack of eloquence for truth.

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The Double-Minded Haters
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
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