Questions

How long are you going to hide in the shadows? How long are you going to be afraid to speak up and speak out? Why are you afraid to show your face? Why aren’t you sharing your ideas? Your story? Your opinions? Are you afraid of being rebuked? Laughed at? Ridiculed? Don’t you know your opinion is just as important as the loudmouth’s next door? Don’t you realize we need to hear from you? If not now, when? If not you, who?

Why I Write

Article 94

I never really put much thought into the question, “Why I write.” Chuck over at terribleminds.com asked us all to come up with a 1000-word essay on the matter, and I must admit I was perplexed. I mean, why do I write? Part of it has to be I crave the attention that writing brings. Very few things are more satisfying than a fan recognizing me at an event and telling me how much he or she loves my writing.

Not quite the answer you were expecting, huh?

How does the Shakespeare quote go? “To thine own self be true.” I’m sure there are writers out there who write for pure joy, or to better humanity or some other such thing. I do enjoy writing when it’s going well, but I write to et those pesky stories out of my head. I write for me. If someone gives me money…

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The Iraq War Wasn’t A MIstake

Yes, you read that right. The Iraq War was not a mistake. I know the popular thing to say right now is that it was a mistake. That the reasons for going into the war were faulty. That the country didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction, i.e. WMDs, and neither did it have anything to with 9/11. Therefore we should have left Saddam alone and it’s because we didn’t that we now have ISIS to contend with. The conventional thinking there is that Saddam had kept the region in order and once we removed him, we created the path to the chaos we’re seeing today. I equate that kind of rationale to using silly putty to plug a hole in a dam, or keeping an old raggedy board in place because it’s holding up the old porch that’s about to fall. If this is your line of thinking, I got a little news for you: Whether you realize it or not, the silly putty isn’t going to always hold, nor will the raggedy board. Eventually, they’re going to give way and you’ll have the mess you’d been avoiding. Saddam Hussein was silly putty. He was the old raggedy board. We were going to have to deal with Saddam sooner, or later. And with the emergence of ISIS, I’m convinced that dealing with Saddam later would’ve been more catastrophic. Anyway, the case for war:

Let’s go back to 1998 when then President Clinton ordered air strikes against Iraq because Saddam failed to honor the UN agreement which allowed weapons inspectors into his country. And whenever he did allow the inspectors in, he hindered them so much that they weren’t able to adequately do their jobs. None of that had changed by 9/11, or by the time we actually invaded the country. Saddam was elusive, conniving, and dangerous. Bush, Cheney, and crew could’ve basically gone to war with the facts that Saddam was in violation of an international agreement, especially since we’d told Saddam continuously thru the years what would happen if he repeatedly disobeyed the UN agreement. Repeatedly Saddam thumbed his nose at us. Now after 9/11, the Bush Administration saw what could happen if we allowed Saddam to continue thumbing his nose at us. A dictator with a vast amount of oil riches could do much greater harm did a disposed Saudi Arabian like Osama Bin Laden. There was no way, we could let that happen. But the Bush Administration also realized that Americans are weary of war. They don’t understand the need of it. So, did the Bush Administration talk in absolutes when describing Iraq’s WMD program. Of course, they did. Did they lie? I’m not willing to say that. What they may have done was present the worst case scenarios as the absolute truth. But, if Saddam had done what he was supposed to have done in regards to the UN inspectors, then the Bush Administration couldn’t have used worst case scenarios in their argument for war. As it was, in my opinion, the case for war was legitimate. The only reason people are now saying it was a mistake is because of the emergence of ISIS. Still, I say that the emergence of ISIS is more a reason for having gone to war, then not. Can you imagine an ISIS being led and controlled by Saddam Hussein? Can you imagine the chaos they could cause with the legitimate backing of an evil dictator who has oil riches and a certifiable hatred for the US fueling him. It would have been horrific, more so, than it is now. But what about ISIS now you ask.

ISIS is a problem. But it was a problem we would’ve had to face later anyway, probably a more dangerous one with a Saddam at its helm. We helped create ISIS by not cleaning up the mess after we removed the silly putty and raggedy board. In other words, after the Iraq war, we dropped the ball. The Bush Administration let public sentiment dictate prudent policy. No one wanted an imperial US and staying in Iraq would’ve created the image of an Imperial USA, so we tried letting the Iraq people govern themselves. That was an epic, colossal mistake. You’d think we didn’t have a model to follow after the defeat of an evil-dictator led country. But we did: Germany. After the Iraq War, we should have set up Iraq as the allies had set up Germany. This is something we can and still should do. Germany was eventually given back to its people, but only after the world was assured that the Nazis were completely out of power and the German people were ready to govern themselves. Our presence in Germany thru the years kept the region stable. WE have to set up a base in Iraq, just as we’d done in Germany. Once the base is set up and ISIS knows and understands that we’re not leaving the region, then and only then will we be able to get that region under control. Whenever ISIS is defeated and the Iraqi people are willing and able to govern themselves, then and only then, will we leave and give them back total control of their country, just as we did the Germans. Whether that’s in five, ten, or twenty years or more, doesn’t matter. The Iraqi people and the times and circumstances should ultimately determine our complete exit.

Finally, I want to give the 2016 politicians the correct answer to the ‘should we have gone to war with Iraq’ question, since so many of them are getting the answer wrong. The correct answer is yes, war was necessary. Saddam Hussein had repeatedly violated the terms of an original international agreement, and therefore he remained a threat to us in the region, more so after the events of 9/11. We see today that the men who make up ISIS were always present in the region, waiting for an opportunity to unite under a vengeful leader. It was too dangerous to have such men being led by an evil dictator such as Saddam. Our mistake was not going into war in the first place, but rather not securing the region after the war as we’d done with Germany after WW II. I know this is not the popular response at the moment, but it’s the right response. Can we leave Iraq now? No, we can’t, just as we couldn’t have left Germany to some left over Nazis after WW II, we can’t leave Iraq in the hands of left over terrorists today. We will stay in Iraq as long as necessary, with the goal of one day returning the country to its people, just as we did with Germany.

In case you’re wondering, no I’m not a right wing, war monger. I tend to vote Democratic. I don’t like going to war, but when it’s necessary, it’s necessary. That my dear friends is a hard truth.

The Amazing Life & Death of Karyn Washington

I discovered Karyn Washington yesterday. I was surfing YouTube, and just happened to stumble across a video about Karyn’s suicide from April of last year (2014). The particular video I saw was all about how Karyn had killed herself because she was a dark-skinned black girl who suffered from the affects of colorism. For those of you unfamiliar with the term. Colorism is discrimination in the black community based on one’s skin tone. Here’s a old childhood rhyme that pretty much sums up how deep the problem with colorism runs in the black community:

If you’re black, stay back.

If you’re brown, stick around

If you’re yellow, you’re mellow

If you’re white, you’re all right

The seeds of colorism were originally planted in the days of slavery and the aftereffects of it are still being felt today, particularly amongst African-American women. Here’s what Denzel WashIngton told his daughter in preparation for her entering show biz. It’s from  a 2012 segment of The Hollywood Reporter “The Actors” series,”You’re black, you’re a woman, and you’re dark-skinned at that. So you have to be a triple/quadruple threat. I said: ‘You gotta learn how to act. You gotta learn how to dance, sing, move onstage.’

As a dark-skinned child growing up in the seventies, I experienced colorism all the time. I’ve been called by other black folk: darky, tar-baby, blackie. Sometimes the words were said in jest and sometimes so as to hurt my feelings. Regardless, they always hurt. For dark-skinned black males, the tide started changing in the eighties with the emergence of several superstar athletes and performers like Michael Jordan, Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, Bobby Brown, and Big Daddy Kane. Suddenly it came became quite fashionable to be a dark-skinned black male. Society, particularly black society, okay the females, began seeing us in a different light.  All was now right in the world, right? Wrong! As Denzel’s quote demonstrated, there was no such evolutionary moment for our dark-skinned black sisters. The dark-skinned stigma for black females marched on, unchallenged for the most part. Enter Karyn Washington.

Karyn was a dark-skinned sister. But she didn’t want to remain a second-class citizen within her own race. She built up her own self-esteem, recognizing her beauty inside and out. Then, she set about helping other dark-skinned girls see their own inner and outer beauty. To that end, she founded the website, For Brown Girls. The website, aimed at dark-skinned African-American women, had a central theme of being proud of the skin you’re in and seeing the beauty of it. For Karyn it seemed that the dark-skinned issue for black women was twofold and needed tackling on two fronts. One, dark-skinned black women had to work on their self-esteem. They needed to see, recognize, and believe in their own beauty. Secondly, society had to see, recognize, and believe in the beauty of the dark-skinned black woman as well.

One needed only to witness the online onslaught of vicious innuendo following Karyn’s suicide to understand the battle she’d faced in changing society’s viewpoint, especially within the black community. With no basis in facts, since Karyn did not leave a suicide note, most people claimed that Karyn had killed herself because despite her website and writing and talks to the contrary, Karyn still couldn’t handle or accept being a dark-skinned woman, and therefore she killed herself. Now, let that sink in for a minute. She killed herself because she was dark-skinned was the first thing that came to a lot of people’s minds, namely black people. One very popular online blogger ranted nearly an hour about Karyn’s so called fake self-esteem. The haters underlying message seemed to be: you’re dark-skinned, You can’t possibly be that together. To me, that speaks more to the thinker of such thoughts than it did to Karyn. I don’t know why Karyn killed herself. My thoughts are that it most likely related to depression brought on by the recent death of her mother following a long bout with cancer. But regardless of the real reason, the initial black community response was telling. Our mental psyche is still fragile. Most of us still have self-esteem issues. We self-hate. I hope more people discover the life and death of Karyn Washington. Her 22 years of existence can help others dealing with a variety of issues, including, low self esteem, grief, depression, and self-hate. To me, she epitomized self motivation, self-love, and self-inspiration. She saw a societal problem and set out to do something about it. What an amazing life!