Category Archives: Politics

Sherrod Charade

As I have thought about the unfair treatment of Shirley Sherrod, I remembered my post on Equality vs. Fair Treatment. In white racists and angry white male sympathizers’ attempts to show that they, too, are not racists, both groups immediately condemned Sherrod for what they believed was equal to the discrimination some whites have been guilty of. Every situation is unique. That’s why I believe being treated fairly, not equal, should always be the goal. Read this Continue reading

Day 13: History Shaping You

Every society has myths that either makes the society famous for being archaic or heroic in a supernatural way. Whether folklore or tradition, many myths become so entrenched in society that they are hard to distinguish from reality. What’s more is people unknowingly perpetuate myths, and, unfortunately, continue a cycle of abuse in the process.

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Day 9: History of the Strong Black Woman

Clearly when we look at the history of our families we get an understanding of why we act the way we do. I know I have the tendency to OVER-administrate because my grandmother, mother and my aunt did this. And I know that I gravitate toward the intellectual and cultural arts because my daddy was an intellectual genius and loved the arts. Family, of course, is just one influencing factor on our thoughts and behaviors. As a (recovering) strong black woman, I realize that I exerted my own strength based on what I saw my foremothers doing, but there were other factors, too. Continue reading

The USA: An Unrequited Love

I simply love “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” the patriotic song I had to learn in kindergarten. This song by Samuel F. Smith (1831) speaks of beautiful people and bountiful land, and the music gives me goose bumps every time I hear it. This is America, the way it was meant to be. But in too many ways and for too many people, the United States of America never became Smith’s “My Country ’Tis of Thee.” Proverbs 14:34 tells us why: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Lack of morality, particularly acknowledging that God-given ability to discern between right and wrong, has brought disgrace among us. Our history and the continuance of racial and gender discrimination, monetary greed and unrestrained sexual appetites cause those of us who see these as problematic core issues to seek change. This is why an abolitionist in 1843 rewrote “My Country ’Tis of Thee” and why Henry Dumas couldn’t bring himself to call the United States his country in the poem ’Tis of Thee, his tale of unrequited love. And this is why I seek for people to give their lives to Jesus Christ, making Him their Savior and Lord. Jesus is righteousness and having Him not only as Savior but Lord (master) of their lives can bring about the change we need so that our nation can be exalted the way it needs to be.

Copyright 2010 by Rhonda J. Smith

My Country, ’Tis of Thee
By Samuel F. Smith, 1831

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountainside
Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.

Additional Abolitionist Lyrics
By AG Duncan, 1843

My country,’ tis of thee,
Stronghold of slavery, of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Where men man’s rights deride,
From every mountainside thy deeds shall ring!

My native country, thee,
Where all men are born free, if white’s their skin;
I love thy hills and dales,
Thy mounts and pleasant vales;
But hate thy negro sales, as foulest sin.

Let wailing swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees the black man’s wrong;
Let every tongue awake;
Let bond and free partake;
Let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.

Our father’s God! to thee,
Author of Liberty, to thee we sing;
Soon may our land be bright,
With holy freedom’s right,
Protect us by thy might, Great God, our King.

It comes, the joyful day,
When tyranny’s proud sway, stern as the grave,
Shall to the ground be hurl’d,
And freedom’s flag, unfurl’d,
Shall wave throughout the world, O’er every slave.

Trump of glad jubilee!
Echo o’er land and sea freedom for all.
Let the glad tidings fly,
And every tribe reply,
“Glory to God on high,” at Slavery’s fall.

‘Tis of Thee

From my tirade about how my countrymen are treating President Obama you can probably tell I have been thinking about the United States a lot lately. And though this is the land of opportunity and I’m so glad to have been born here, I realize that the country’s foundation is uneven. For instance, on one slab the United States was built on Judeo-Christian values and on another slab it was built upon the backs of enslaved Africans. That’s an uneven foundation because Jesus Christ does not approve of the type of slavery that our ancestors experienced. Certainly there are other events that have contributed to our country’s foundation being uneven, but the promotion of Christian ideals while promoting something opposite of a Christian ideal is a standout contradiction for me. Anyway, when your foundation is unstable, there’s going to be a lot of quaking going on, literally and figuratively, both of which we now see happening in the United States. To call more attention to this uneven foundation and the quaking it’s causing, I want you to let my literary love speak to you through his poem “’Tis of Thee”:

You are oversized, you are overrated, you are overblown,
fat and filled with hardened rocks.
You are sick and stumbling like an old man without
a stick in the mud.
You make me sick to my stomach, and I am sad
that I have to look at you.
You have eaten too much garlic
And drunk too much beer,
And built too many empty churches.
You are fat with starch and lies.

Your steeled cities range like malignant cancers across
The belly of your land.
Your sons race death in metal machines that
defecate poison into the air.
Your ideas are machine made,
your values operated by machines
your truths nourished by machines,
your history written by machines,
your language sounds like millions of coins jingling
into an empty barrel.
Your heroes are dead.
Your wars are massacres.
You are an overkiller,
oversexed, overripe, overrotten.

You are a sinful old man who has no repentance
in his heart,
a lecherous old winebelly vomiting blood.
You are a murderer of your sons
and a raper of your daughters.
You are cold and filled with death.
Few flowers grow from your gardens
and the snow and the ice shall be your grave.

You are a despiser of black and misunderstander of white.
You are a mystery of yourself and a hater of that.
You once were a star that blazed,
but now you are overcivilized, oversterilized, oversated.
If you were a barren tree in my garden
I would come and cut you down.

By Henry Dumas
From Knees of a Natural Man
Copyright 1989 by Loretta Dumas and Eugene B. Redmond
Published by Thunder’s Mouth Press

Hecklers: The New American ‘Vision’

This may surprise some people, but I didn’t vote for President Barack Obama. I didn’t vote for John McCain either. But who I voted for is not the issue. Who’s in office and the respect due that office is. I have been utterly appalled at the blatant disrespect for the President and the office. I expect hecklers on the campaign trail but not from among US representatives or gay rights activists and to heckle the President in the middle of a presidential speech. Whether you are a Democrat, Independent or Republican, heterosexual or homosexual, you are obligated to respect President Obama and the office of the President of the United States of America.

Why is respecting Obama and his office so hard for some people? I especially don’t understand the disrespect coming from gays, with Obama being their greatest presidential advocate. Well, some people, like my girl Kim, say the heckling is based on racism. No other reason for the disrespect makes sense to me. Thinking about Obama’s political experience had me thinking about the experiences of other African Americans and politics, and what I found, as many of us know, is that race is always a factor. And too often people inject racism—“a terrible cancer eating at our hearts” to borrow the phrase from poet Nikki Giovanni, in the equation under the guise of family values and patriotism. I am pretty traditional in some of my views, but enough is enough. We can disagree without being disrespectful. Consider Giovanni’s take on Abraham Lincoln, blacks, and American politics in her poem “The American Vision of Abraham Lincoln AT THIS MOMENT” and let me know what you think about the poem and my view.

One Lesbian Speaks

On Saturday, April 10, 2010, Equipped for Life, the radio broadcast of my church, Evangel Ministries in Detroit, hosted Answering the Challenge, the broadcast’s evangelistic outreach ministry, with the topic “The Questions of Homosexuality.” It was my church’s attempt to reach out to the homosexual community in a civil manner, particularly offering hope through Jesus Christ to those struggling with homosexuality and wanting to change. Love flowed through the sanctuary of heterosexuals and homosexuals who all had varied stories. The event organizer asked me to deliver a poem. I prayed that God would show me what message He wanted me to deliver. He gave me a piece from a lesbian’s point of view. The gay community, like no community, is not monolithic, so this poem is Just One Story,* the name of the piece:

He beat me

And I scrambled, not wishing to handle the situation ever so delicately

So others could see we were the perfect couple.

He beat me so I ran to her and she cared for me, again, like when he broke that bottle over my head

Said he wouldn’t do it anymore

But there WAS more

More of his insecurity

More of his seeing me as the enemy

His trying to control me

His love shown in excuses and apologies.

He said he wouldn’t do it anymore.

But there was always more.

More of his lies

My cries

His drinking and stinking up the place

My seeking an escape in tiny corners, the small space under the bed, the clothes closet, against a door, a wall, a window, underneath the kitchen table.

He was always able to charm me back to him.

But he beat me again.

So I ran to her

And she held me close

She took me in

She let me weep

She let me talk

She cleaned and bandaged my wounds.

I stayed.

Though I wondered if I should

Cuz I never thought loving her would be right

But I prayed in the small spaces that one day I wouldn’t have to explain my face:

The shut black eye

The red swollen lip

The deep cut cheek

The bleeding mouth

When I ran to her

she held me close

She took me in

She let me weep

She let me talk

She cleaned and bandaged my wounds.

I stayed.

No more beatings

No more pain

No more apologies and excuses

The love here is sane.

I don’t have to explain anything.

She just knows.

Now I know what love really is

I know it didn’t start right.

I’m not sure that it is right.

I know it just feels right.

I understand the fight for gay rights

I hope the whole country changes its mind

Sees this lifestyle, my lifestyle, as just fine.

I hope they do cuz it’s natural for me.

I’ve never known a love so true.

I’m really happy.

And I know that God would have me to be happy.

Copyright 2010 by Rhonda J. Smith

*Listen to this on my YouTube Channel (though it looks like a badly dubbed foreign movie. I’m working on getting the video right, but the sound is great.)