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Monthly Archives: May 2008

Refer to the first post on this subject.  I had coffee with a dear friend this morning and he told me that he enjoyed my first post on this subject.  He is from Chillicothe, MO.  With gas prices escalating, he now rides his bike 6 miles (one way) to work.  His older daughter is driving now.  Like most families, money is being stretched and he suggested to his two youngest daughters that they can walk to and fro because Chillicothe is not very large.  According to their website (www.chillicothecity.org) and the 2000 census, their population is 8,898.  (The population of Livingston County is 14, 558.)  So, Dad is right about Chillicothe not being very large but the entitlement pollutant is in the air because when he suggested to his daughters that they walk he was met with one of those stares that communicates, “Dad, are you crazy.”  Every parent recognizes this ‘stare.’

I love my kids; I really do.  Both are out of school.  A daughter is home from college; a son finished his 7th grade year.  I must admit something: I think the best age for kids is when they can not talk or walk or use appliances.  This reminds of some dear friends.  One day the wife/mother was driving home.  In fact, a mile or so from home she saw a bright candy red firetruck.  The firetruck turned left; my friend turned left.  The firetruck turned right; my friend turned right.  She then thought to herself: that firetruck is traveling on my street.  Both my friend and the firetruck stoppped at the same place.  Yes, her house was on fire.  The oldest daughter had forgotten to turn a burner off on the stove and the rest is history.  Needless to say, when I am on my way home and I see an emergency vehicle traveling ahead of me, I get nervous and I remember this friend’s house burning.  Well, since my kids can not resume the age when they could not talk or walk or use appliances, I will be glad when school is back in session.  This reminds me of a commercial where the dad is buying school supplies for his kids.  The kids are sad and somber; the dad is jumping with joy.  Most couples are like this dad (I certainly am); I am elated when my kids go back to school: less worries about fires, food is preserved, and electricity bill is less.

My daughter who is 19 years old is home from college.  Most parents of adolescents who return after their first year of college knows or expects fireworks.  My lovely daughter landed a job yesterday at K-Mart.  Hallelujah!   Fortunately, the store is less than 15 minutes away by car (depending on traffic).  I mentioned to my daughter yesterday; some days you may need to work an half a mile to the bus stop and catch the bus to work.  And we will pick you up after you get off.  I was surprised by my daughter’s response: “I am not riding the bus.”  I did a whip lash.  Are you kidding me?  I went through my past: I rode the bus to downtown in Kansas City; I rode the city bus to work; I rode the bus to a girl’s house.  I told my colleagues this morning and they verified something I already knew: there is an insidious pollutant in our culture among the young – it’s call entitlement!

I participated in my first baccalaureate and graduation commencement services at Lindenwood University (St. Charles, MO) this past weekend.  Patient volunteers tried to get us faculty folks lined up; it’s like herding cats.  As we neared closer to going into the venue to take our seats, I heard some ‘noise’ around the corner.  I thought initially it was the sound of water in the pipes over neath us.   But it wasn’t noise but it was clapping.  As the graduates paraded pass us to enter the venue to take their seats, I noticed faculty members clapping for the graduates.  The graduates were just as surprised as I was.  Yet we clapped and clapped and clapped and clapped.  Once the graduates entered the venue, we entered and this time the standing graduates clapped for us as we were led to our seats.   Then a replay happened following the official ceremonies – the address, awarding of diplomas, etc.  As we (the faculty) joined in our processional, the graduates once again stood and clapped for us.  Then we lined up in the halls outside the venue and you guessed it, we clapped for the graduates once again.  I asked one of my colleagues, is this a tradition?  He said yes.  What a wonderful tradition it is: both professors and students commend it each other for it took each other to get to this point.

Postmodernism and globalization are two key words for understanding this post.  Postmodernism is a fancy term for our society’s intellectual mood.  Some ideas of this mood include: pessimism, all religions are equal, non-confrontation, embracing multiculturalism, and the uncertainty about knowing anything with certainty.  Globalization is simply a word that illustrates how our world is getting smaller.  Technology, like the Internet, has not only allowed the transport of goods and services at fast speeds but ideas get transported too.  One consequence of the intersection of postmodernism and globalization is a blurring of cultural differences.  Here’s a case in point: do you see it?  Consider this example close to home: at one time mostly African American males turned their car radio volume so high that the decibels of the sound shook not only the car but homes as they passed; at one time mostly African American males ‘pimped’ their rides (=large silver rims, etc.); once upon a time, mostly African American males wore their pants hugging only their back sides; once upon a time, mostly African American males, wore their large baseball caps cocked to one side.  Now, I see Asian, white (rural, urban, suburban), and Hispanic young men blasting their radios, wearing their pants on their butts, and wearing the baseball caps cocked to one side.  When I was in Cape Town, South Africa – I also saw young South Africans males wearing their pants on their backsides and I also heard radios blasting hip hop music. 

Do you see it – this blurring of cultural differences among males of all cultures?  Is this good or bad?

Where in the world is Pawnee, Oklahoma?  It is near Ponca City and Tulsa, OK.  I don’t know how to get there; my wife either drives and I don’t pay attention or we follow my brother-in-law.  Getting there is not as important as being there.  In Pawnee, everyone is friendly – whites are friendly toward blacks; blacks are friendly toward whites; whites and blacks are friendly toward Native Americans.  The majority of the residents are poor.  (This is probably one reason why everyone gets along relatively speaking: there is solidarity in the socio-economic arena.)  It is place where if you blink you will not necessarily miss the town, but you will miss quite a bit.  In Pawnee, I shopped for the first time at the Piggly Wiggly store.  Chester Gould, the originator/creator of the Dick Tracy comic strip put Pawnee on the map because Pawnee is his hometown.  Pawnee has a one room museum dedicated to him.  This did not impress my kids; but it impressed me.

Pawnee is laid back.  Cowboy boots, pick up traps, cowboy hats, long skirts, and plaid shirts are common.  However, I remember being there with my wife and kids for a holiday.  And right before a parade started, a pick up truck paraded alone down the parade route bouncing to hip hop! Hip hop music is ubiquitous.

I like Pawnee because no one knows me; I like Pawnee because no one is pretentious.  I like Pawnee because life is quite simple; no traffic and no one is in a rush.  I can sit on the porch in my pajamas and wave at passersby.  Everyone practically knows everyone.  This is life in a fishbowl to be sure.  I also like Pawnee because people pull over when they witness a funeral processional.  I like Pawnee because the local mortuary is willing to work with families who cannot pay all at once.  There are drug deals and drug pushers in Pawnee.  People are jailed in Pawnee too.  Pawnee is no utopia; it has fallen people as residents.

We buried my wife’s Aunt Lillie the weekend of Mother’s Day.  She was 88 years old and a long time resident of Pawnee.  Her house phone was the old fashion variety; it was mounted to a paneled wall.

There is another post on my blog entitled “cell phone etiquette.”  I just couldn’t resist posting this comment about cell phones.  I teach adults (emphasis on ‘adults’).  On Monday, while I was covering some material, two students were pre-occupied with their cell phones.  Both appeared to be checking their messages.  I commented later after a break, if you need to do something with your cell phone, be polite and leave the room; otherwise, you are being rude.  (What’s ironic about all this?  One of the students can ill afford to be distracted because she is failing the course at the moment!)

One colleague at my school often gives make up tests to his students.  These students sit at a table outside my office.  This morning, one of his students was reviewing some quizzes in preparation for an upcoming test.  I heard her cell phone ring.  She answered her cell phone (apparently it was her boyfriend because she used that ‘kind of voice’ which suggests a boyfriend caller).  I immediately went to my colleague and mentioned that his student was talking on her cell phone.  I alerted him of this because I thought she was taking a test and it may appear she was cheating.  However, my colleague told me that she was simply reviewing; so no harm, no foul.

Yet, this still brings up a bigger issue/question.  Why do we as a society seem to regard answering our cell phones at all times and in all places an inalienable right?

Call me curious George!

I am predicting gas prices will exceed $4 per gallon this summer.  It’s about simple economics; it’s about supply and demand.  The demand will be greater because many families will undoubtedly want to drive to summer vacation spots.  However, the supply will not keep pace; so in other words, we are at the mercy of the gas stations and there pricing.  Without someone establishing and enforcing price ceilings, fueling stations can charge us more because the demand will be there. 

I am more than feeling a pinch; I am being squeezed.  Now, the US Post Office increases the first class stamp prices by one cent.  I plan to write the US Post Office people and express my complaint.  You know if I received faster or better service at the Post Office, I wouldn’t complain so much but I don’t see how I am benefited.  Maybe others do?

Context: I saw an article in the St. Louis Dispatch Newspaper on Sunday, May 4 by Leonard Pitts.  In the wake of 3 New York City police officers being acquitted after firing 50 rounds of bullets at Sean Bell and his two friends, he writes how can he have faith in an unfair system?  Below is my response.
————————————————————————
Mr. Pitts,
 
I enjoyed your article, “Can anyone tell me why I should trust this unfair system?” which appeared in the St. Post Dispatch Newspaper, Sunday, May 4.
 
Several weeks ago in response to the words preached by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, I said (or wrote) this, “until white America is upset over such things (racism, unfair judicial system, etc.), it will be business as usual.”  I also alluded to a book by Drs. Michael Emerson and Christian Smith, Divided by Faith.  Here’s the scoop of their research: they found that our faith traditions actually perpetuate the racial divide.  They also discovered this: they found that white Christians said, “build friendships with blacks to eradicate racism, etc.”  The black Christians said, “build friendships but also reform institutions that have historically oppressed us.”  I find this very telling; whites have benefited from the same institutions that have historically been unfair to blacks; so this result is not surprising to me.
 
On a similar note, I remember talking to a friend who is on staff at Xavier University in Louisiana about raising our sons.  I told my friend, that I refuse to let my son wear his pants on his butt.  My friend told me that he refuses to let his son were those sleeveless tank top looking T-shirts.  Why?  We both agreed that blacks are suspects; it’s a given.  It does not matter that my friend and I are educators with several degrees between us; the harsh reality is that to the world, I am a black man first.  I am still looking forward to the day when I will be judged by the content of my character rather than my skin color.  Arthur Ashe was right when he said in his book, Days of Grace, “our black skin is like a curse.”
 
Thanks for putting it out there!
 
Warmly,
 
Luke

 

for more of this, see Audubon Society.

Check out the Audubon Society’s website (in my blog roll)