“Birthing Pains”

birthing pains

 

It’s Monday, All!
It’s the last week in June 2015 and Summer 2015 has officially begun!
Do you think that last week was probably a big moment in this nation’s history?  There were many changes in law as decided by the U S Supreme Court to allow same sex marriage in the entire United States as well as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) being considered constitutionally legal contrary to the “richer” haters who could afford their own health care.  President Obama gave quite the moving speech at the funeral of the Reverend Senator Pinckney, RIP.  The Confederate flag is being taken down permanently from the building at the State Capitol there also in Charleston.  Donald Trump finally proved what many of us have already known … he is a rich, conniving … probably racist idiot.  I wonder where all of his supporters who wanted Obama to produce his birth certificate to prove he is an American citizen who happened to be voted two times into the office of the President of the United States are NOW?!?  A lot of changes in a short time … but this all came about because of “a process”, much like child birth.
As I gathered my thoughts Sunday morning and enjoyed a light breakfast, a cup of hot tea and some televangelists, I noticed the theme of “God giving us painful experiences” or … the simple fact that we must experience difficult (painful) times if we are to “give birth” to a new season in our lives, maybe a new event!   As I look at my own life, I often anticipate the “light at the end of the tunnel”, hopefully being something “good” to which I have been looking forward.  Though many many lives have been lost with the activities represented by the Confederate flag and the legacy of the Confederacy, changes have come full circle, though painful for many people.  Is this “just”?  How can we best handle similar situations in our own lives??  Does “No Pain No Gain” become a part of our daily mantras, too?!?  It is not so comfortable, that pain … those challenges we face.  Yet, it seems it is part of the “birthing pains” that come with the birthing process.  Be aware of when you’ve got to give birth to some “new” things in your life … and in others lives!
Peace,
John I. Cook, Director
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Stick to the Point, Please!

point taken

 

Happy Friday, Y’All!! So … uhhh … T.G.I.F.!!!
I  had to get it in there!  Tradition!
It indeed has been an interesting week.  One thing I always try to do is “gain” something …  knowledge, wisdom … people-wise … to help make my life a bit more the way I would like it to be.  There must be a whole field of “self-psychology” in some form or fashion.  I know, that’s a crazy comment.  Wide open for discussion!!
Have you ever experienced engaging in a discussion or conversation with someone, maybe attempting to illustrate or demonstrate a point?  Maybe defend yourself or something you said or did?!?  It’s normal to disagree, but how about Donald Trump’s capricious comments about Mexican and people who ” … come from all over South America!”?? Does that sound like a racist comment to you??  Can you see “it” – the racism – through all of his money and business investments?!?  Isn’t it amazing how “some” people think … even the wealthiest and purportedly “brightest business” person!?!
When I taught at City College here in Ft. Lauderdale, FL – a career college with various associate’s programs and several BA programs in business – I  had the privilege of teaching/facilitating the debate class!!  What a blast, watching those minds hold on to or even attack a “position” or “point of view” of their opponents.  That course, in addition to “Personal Development”, was amongst my favorite to teach.  You kind of learn to stick to the point, chart out your argument or position, and gather and illustrate information supporting your position or point of view.  Now, I always tell folks that I may not be the “smartest” person you know, but I attribute much of my happiness, equilibrium and “success”, if you will, to being organized.  It’s in the self-training for me, especially dealing with the “unfairness and injustices” in life.  The point is, I am a wonderful human being … doing this thing called “life”!
Just around the “bend” is July 4th … next weekend … so as summer sets in and the temperatures rise, enjoy the journey … and stick to the point!
Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

“Fatherly Feelings”

the meaning of children

 

It’s Wednesday … aka “Hump Day”, Baby!
Yes, many of us “gents”, at least those whom I spoke to or communicated with, had a splendid and unique Father’s Day.  Each of us are different and each of us certainly deals with different circumstances.  Needless to say, many of our fathers were as different as we are … one from another.  But right about now … just for today … I want to say that though “men” in general and “fathers” (especially the simply biological type) usually get a “bad rap”, our roles are very important.  Now I do know some gents that I could ONLY imagine being the best of “dads”, something I admire a lot amongst the dads in that group of “former students” and friends of mine from White Plains High School and White Plains!  People whom I’ve become friends with that were students of mine have some of the most beautiful families, something I can say that I personally haven’t been as accomplished in over the long term.  So, I just want all the guys to know that I admire and respect youse “guys” for holding down your role in one of the most important institutions in ANY society.
My Dad was a guy that worked really hard, liked to smoke a pipe and cigars and have sit down meals at our humble table in The Winbrook Projects … 135 South Lexington Ave.  Apt 5A.  He liked to hunt deer during the winter and go watch the Mets play baseball during the summer.  He knew a lot about cars since he worked in several garages in the White Plains/Greenburgh area before landing a job with Pinkerton Detective Agency and even volunteering as an auxiliary police officer in the City of White Plains.  He was a good dad … serious as “Cancer” with a birthday on the “4th of July” to go with it!!  My birthday is just a week and two days after his!!  We and many many others … are “summer babies”!!  He was a good role model for me as he had had enough time to get “the father thing” down with the help of my mother and 3 kids … two girls and a boy … me not included.  My mother had mentioned some challenges that my father had when it came to helping me and my “limited skills” at being a father.  The way I see it, since I only fathered one child, I didn’t have enough time “practising” to be a father … that’s all!!  There were some tough times for me and the family I had tried to create … and there still are some challenging times … trust me!  Yet, for others I’ve met in my life, I have been an important part of their lives … younger people in general.  I was elated to get so many “Father’s Day” well wishes.
So, here’s a little informal, after the fact, “I ain’t talkin’ bout you behind yo’ back” shout out to all the guys I know who are dads … and good ones at that.  Don’t be too hard on yourself … I know I ain’t … ’cause I’ve done the best that I can do … and then some!  When I browsed the social network(s) and see the many photos of dads with their kids … and … like I mentioned before … lots of women who play that dual role “rock” that role, I am appreciative!  Be sure to keep those “fatherly feelings” because it is an important role that, in this day and time, with so many continued episodes in our society demonstrating the importance of a “father” in our families … of all races!
Peace!
John I. Cook, Director

Take A Good Look at YOUR self!

happiness

Happy Monday, All!

Well, I don’t know about you all but I’ve had one emotional week … weekend … Father’s Day and International Day of Yoga … and a World Peace Meditation with my friends from the Brahma Kumaris.  The event that was held in Young Circle’s ArtsPark at 6PM yesterday was  helpful for me to put the things that have happened in our world and my world as well in the proper perspective for me.  In lay men’s terms, yesterday, the first day of summer, the Earth was the closest to the Sun as it has been this year.  Energy levels are at an all time high … it seems.  I know it was very warm outside … but I like it … I just think about all the days and nights I spent in freezing temperatures and snow!!!!  I am suddenly cured of complaining about the heat and humidity.  I just wanted to mention that … there were a few times that I actually had uncontrollable tears form in my eyes since that horrible massacre in the Mother Church, Emanuel AME there in Charleston, SC this past Wednesday.  I had renewed hope for humanity when I saw the faces and expressions … yes, and tears that fell from ALL people’s eyes there in Charleston as the entire City tried to heal.  I felt much the same as I do possess that sensitive side that feels things that others may feel  …    or a close proximity of feelings thereof …  I hurt a bit, too … Just thinking of what those wonderful people must have experienced … Peace be still …
Father’s Day started quiet for me … though I got a call from Natasha Carriles, a close friend whom I often called “my adopted daughter” since she had helped me through some challenging times a while back when I first came to Ft. Lauderdale.  Her’s was the first Father’s Day call Sunday, later followed by my sister Edna.  We wished each other a Happy Day since she is one of the women who plays the dual role!  Once I got up and turned on my computer, I noted an e-mail from Ayanna Belton, my daughter from my ex-wife.  It said, “Happy Father’s Day” … that was nice of her.  So, I was up and at ’em by then!  A good friend, Adonis Hoffman, lost his mother last week … I felt a bit of his pain … or at least, understood it as I (and he mentioned this, too, in an e-mail to me) have often missed and honored my mother … as a correspondence he sent me honors his.  Peace be with you Adonis.
As I go through this place … with a smile on my face, I seek ways each day to reach out to others in a very quiet way to encourage and nurture the case for peace.  When we each take a good look at ourselves, we can notice things that we can do better.  One of the speakers yesterday who is actually from Colombia and a member of the Brahma Kumaris said something very profound, as did “Kevin”, which we already knew.  Marco said, “A hug … a touch … even a smile … or the word “hello” transfer positive, peaceful even loving energy from one person to another.”  Kevin mentioned that we all “already knew” that there is a “supreme being” … call it what you will … but the energy that makes our universe function is created by an entity far greater than ourselves.  Imagine what we can do when we tap into that “divine energy”?!  Try it sometimes, there are many ways to take a good look at oneself.  Meditation and yoga go hand and hand … breath to breath … to balance our lives and help us find … peace!
Thank each of you for reading … have a lovely week!
Om shanti … shanti … shanti,
John I. Cook, Director

Acknowledge “Juneteenth” and Happy Father’s Day Weekend

the first juneteenth

Happy Friday, y’all …. and especially for the “fathers” who lost their lives in that church in Charleston at the hands of a social misfit … peace be still!   On a slightly more positive note before touching briefly on the history of that church in Charleston, SC, I wanted to wish a good friend and writer buddy of mine, Stokely Gittens, a Happy Father’s Day as his second son, Stokely Jr., was born just a few days ago!!  Okay, and while I am at it, let me wish all those biological mothers who play that dual role of “mother with father responsibilities” a Happy Day, too!!  And last but not least, though it seems that way for some of us … sometimes … Happy Father’s Day to all those genuine “fathers” in whatever shape or form you come in … as long as one is doing her/his best to play that “father role” when respected as such and allowed to do so.  That’s a wide range of options, purposely created so I could fit in there … somewhere!
The church where the tragedy occurred in Charleston, SC has a history deeply rooted in the African American’s fight to “become” equal citizens in a country which “they” helped to build.  I wasn’t there so I don’t take any credit.  Yet, I am proud of my predecessors and ancestors, and admire their fortitude, integrity and pure guts and courage in the face of horrid controversies!  The church itself was founded by Morris Brown in 1816.  Brown had tried attending the “other” MEC churches run by the whites in South Carolina.  He was frustrated from the racism he experienced when he tried to attend services at the white run churches.  So, as anyone with tenacity would do, he founded The African Methodist Episcopal Church there in Charleston.  The MEC was the model after which, in the late 1790’s, African Americans chose to model their African Methodist Churches after since the earlier MEC’s would not allow Africans to worship either!  Imagine, in the name of “God”, discrimination and racism stood firm.
This church in Charleston has come to be known as “The Mother Church” due to its historical relevance and core of what later became known as the Civil Rights Movement.  This “church” was the place where after being forced by fearful whites to stop holding services in public and whites who even burned the church to the ground once it was learned that Denmark Vesey had organized an aborted slave revolt there, the congregation continued meeting in “secret”.  This Church has been said to be a symbol of “Black Freedom” in this country …  In 1909, Booker T. Washington spoke there to an audience of black and whites, much like what occurred yesterday in the aftermath of the shooting of 9 church members during a Bible study on Wednesday night, but for a different reason.  In 1962, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke there and Roy Wilkins of the NAACP also spoke there around that time.  In 1969, Coretta Scott King led a march from The Mother Church aimed at creating a union for the black hospital workers there in Charleston.
On this Juneteenth 2015, which was first started in Texas on June 19th, 1865 when the “news” that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed by Pres. Lincoln, we must lay to rest still another generation of the congregation of Emanuel AME Church there in Charleston, SC.  Six women and three men lost their “Earthly” lives to the demonic behaviour of 20 year old Dylann Roof right there in that same church!!  Peace be still …. R.I.P. and in loving memory: Pastor and Senator Clementa Pinckey, 41; Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Ethel Lance, 70, who worked for 30 years at the church; Sister Suzie Jackson, 87; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; Myra Thomson, 59; and Reverend Daniel Simmons, Jr., 74.
This Sunday, I will be participating in the Brahma Kumaris of Hollywood’s World Peace Meditation at 6PM at  ArtsPark in Young Circle here in Hollywood, FL.  It is also the International Day of Yoga … and Father’s Day!

Peace be with each of you,

John I. Cook, Director

Isn’t It The Content of Your Character That Counts Most?!?

character chart

Happy Hump Day, Y’all … ALL Y’all!

That’s what I’m talking about! … the content of ones character should “trump” all “things” … I’m just sayin’!  Our world … the one “we” made … by me I mean us “humans” … is not a world of perfection, and it (our world) too is subject to change, as are “we”.
By now, the media has thrust another “image” that they want to engrave in our minds … the image of Rachel Dolezal, the dishonest white woman who pretended to be an African American/bi-racial woman.  There are probably hundreds of versions of what she did and who she “is” as a result of it.  Don’t forget, it is important to the media that you “tilt your interpretation to ONE side” … the bad side of it!  Even her parents and little brother are jumping on the “she lacks integrity” wagon.  Let’s ignore all of the things she accomplished as the head of Seattle’s chapter, turn our heads to focus on the “evil” side and condemn this person for siding with … or better yet … wanting to BE considered African American …  In her words, “That’s what I identify with … Black people.”  Do any of you know white gals … and guys … with dreadlocks who listen to reggae music?!?  Do they lack “integrity”, too?  I know, perhaps we should “judge” her for “passing for bi-racial” so long, after suing Howard University … for being “white”!  Confused, maybe, trying to live out something in her heart?  Trying to make meaning of this life … and finding her own purpose in life?!?
Have there ever been eras in “human history” when people changed their names so as not to be recognized by “the oppressor”?  Hundreds of thousands of immigrants did this when “Coming to America” in their efforts to disguise who they were from birth to avoid the potential discrimination they might face “here” in the ” … land of the free, home of the brave …” and in “the melting pot” of the world’s cultures?!  Yet, here is someone who could pass “for black”, as outrageous as it might sound!!  Okay, I won’t go on and on trying to illustrate in words that people can choose to be who they want … and believe they are … inside.  Our world has a lot of people in it who wear masks or who have an identity that “they” weren’t born with … just sayin’!
Indeed, with other “whites” having served in leadership positions in the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), this may not come as a surprise to some.  But to WANT to be considered “black”????  Now, THAT is certainly against the “status quo” … and “you” might not be strong enough to do that!!  Just keep in mind, it IS the content of your character that is MOST important.  “Know Thyself” … Controversial enough … indeed!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director

Homicide By Electrocution

Calvon Reid

 

It’s Monday … I am not sure about you but I know what I’m gonna do!  Keep it movin’ … forward!

Happy Monday to all of us who are able to enjoy it to its fullest.  Keep in mind, there are some folks who are just getting by … and others … I’ve heard them say … are just waiting to die! Peace be still …..
First of all, I wanted to wish all folks of Caribbean descent a “Happy Caribbean Culture” Month, y’all!  Many of the people of color who arrived in this country via either slavery or voluntary immigration “passed through” the Caribbean Islands.  The music, the culture even the languages spoken in the numerous Caribbean Islands vary and are particularly unique.  Personally, I have ONLY visited the Bahamas … in particular, Great Exuma.  As far as the other Caribbean islands, my exposure is limited to books or movies (documentaries) and friends!  For example, when I worked at City College as the International Student Advisor, I had the pleasure of meeting students from places like Turks and Cacos, Haiti and Jamaica.  It was a position I had at Fort Lauderdale’s City College Campus that taught me more about embracing diversity.  We even had an International Students Week during which the various cultures of the student body had an opportunity to be exposed to the school’s student body in the form of international foods and music … and of course languages.  We had empanadas, we had “grillo” (Haitian beans rice and meat) and we had Jamaican jerk foods, too!  So Happy Caribbean Culture Month, y’all!
One of the most disturbing stories regarding police misconduct actually occurred just a few miles from where I lived in Fort Lauderdale and is a town that I pass through en route to work each day.  It was the arrest of a man named Calvon Reid by the Coconut Creek Police Department.  It all started when Reid, who was a 39 year African American man who “floated” from place to place in the Fort Lauderdale area, entered a gated community’s walls and collapsed.  When he was revived, he asked for help from the passers by.  When someone called the ambulance, Reid refused treatment from them … but he was alive. Shortly after, the Coconut Creek Police arrived.  It was clear that Mr. Reid was either intoxicated and later determined that he was also high on cocaine … or both.  He also had a short “rap sheet” of minor arrests involving drug abuse and possession of controlled substances.  He worked off and on, apparently, as a meat salesman.  His father, Calvin Reid, lives in South Carolina but came to investigate his son’s “mysterious” death with his daughter, Calvon’s sister, who spear-headed the investigation with two reporters.  Whenever I mention a story with a person who was “on drugs”, I always like to remind people of Charlie Sheen’s escapades at a hotel in New York where he supposedly entered with two or three strippers and a briefcase full of crack cocaine!  And … he was never arrested, charged, handcuffed or anything else after so much drama went down that day when he accused the stripper of stealing his Rolex watch.  This all took place sometime in October 2011 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City … anybody remember?!  Yes, and he was NAKED and trashed his room.  I guess when you have that much money, nothing can touch your wrong doings!
Anyway, when the Coconut Creek Police officers arrived, they confirmed that Reid was having a bit of trouble handling his “high”, or lack of it, at this time.  Upon seeing the police, he decided to run.  They took chase after him and two or three officers took out their tasers to stop him.  While being … what do you call it … “arrested”, though he hadn’t committed a crime that the police knew of, they chased him down, tased him multiple times as he yelled in an audible voice to people near the location where he was taken down, “I can’t breathe!” and “They’re trying to kill me!”  The onlookers were in shock but as the “gang of officers” stood over him, sending their currents from their tasers into his body simultaneously, they stood by helplessly.  The medical examiner/coroner’s report stated that Mr. Reid’s death was “homicide by electrocution”.  The police chief resigned promptly after Mr. Reid’s death.  Two reporters led an investigation into the Coconut Creek Police Department’s records regarding training for taser use.   NONE of the officers, including the lead officer, a sergeant I believe, were properly trained NOR had certification for “taser use”!!!  Then, of course, in order to add insult to injury, after the Chief resigned, the Coconut Creek Police Department kept the public in “the dark” regarding the events surrounding Reid’s death while in police custody … not having been arrested for anything, the same officers returned to work WITH pay as Reid’s family members watched in disbelief.  Even some of the residents in Coconut Creek are concerned that “officers” who killed a man for no reason, with no arrest reason, in their custody are “back on the streets”.  A little reverse criminology here …. as thugs who senselessly murdered a man  using devices that they had NO knowledge of how to use correctly put back on their badges, guns … yep … and tasers!
There is more to come from the rank and file above these characters, as the investigation continues.  The coroner/medical examiner has shed some light on it …. “Homicide by electrocution” ….
Peace,
John I. Cook, Director

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