R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

 

Happy Friday, Y’all!

I’m with it again . . . a hearty T.G.I.F.!!

These past few days, I have been thinking about some of the most important ingredients in my upbringing.  I don’t often mention my father, Isaac Henry Cook.  Yet, he was a gentle yet powerful force in our household.  He “let” my mother handle the discipline as she was much more diplomatic … understandably so … and I often recall stories of HIS childhood as he rarely shared stories of racial conflict and injustices.  He must have been holding in several “books” regarding the disrespect of African Americans in his community in the Florida of his time!  One thing he repeated over and over is that he and my mother, Marietta Dolores, didn’t want to raise their children in the same environment that they had grown up in … as it disgusted them both!  Their goal was to get married, get out of Florida, get to New York’s Harlem … and have some children, raise a family even.  Two girls, one boy … and finally me, we get to this point in our family’s history!

This is something that he always emphasized … respect each other … and respect yourself!!  Maybe I have the order reversed, but I think you catch my drift.  He commanded us to respect ourselves, and, that was the pinnacle of his child-rearing philosophy.  He never graduated from high school and I am not sure that he graduated from junior high school as it was called back in my day.  Again, he “let” my mother handle all of the administrative stuff in the household from paying bills, checking account management and credit card maintenance.  I never wondered if he could read or write because he was “my dad”.  Of course, I remember afternoons coming home after elementary school in White Plains.  Once he had gotten home from work and had taken off his work boots and sat down in his easy chair in the living room while my mother prepared dinner, I remember seeing his face immersed in the newspaper, “The Reporter Dispatch”.  I was a curious type of kid and often would climb up in his lap to see what was so interesting in those pages he held.  While I never questioned it, it was evident that he could read.  It wasn’t until later that I learned of the horror stories of so many African Americans who could NOT read and write … and who had been academically and systematically deprived of the opportunity of public education!  Yet, “Big Ike” had learned to read and write somehow because he spent hours with me reading stories and articles, comics and advertisements from “The Reporter Dispatch”!  It was just yesterday that I recalled how he used to chuckle after reading one of the popular comic strips in that section of the newspaper.  He would just start laughing, scrunching up his face, then arrive at the gut laugh until I asked him, “What’s so funny, Dad?”  He was compelled to tell me, so I climbed on his lap as he re-read the comic strip to me, explaining the funny parts of the comic strip.  Finally, I would join him in laughter once I understood the “punch line”.  In his own way, he showed us the importance of respect … and I still hold that dear to myself to this day.

What would make a Senator … from the state of Florida … who just happens to be a Republican … call a fellow member of Congress the “n”word followed by the “b” word during a session of Congress?!?  This wasn’t even in the bathroom … or in the hallway … but at a party in a private club frequented by members of Congress!!  The one good thing about this is that many many citizens of the State of Florida are calling for his resignation … his immediate resignation … and not accepting his “I’m sorry for what I said to you” story.  The citizens calling for his resignation were not ONLY African Americans either … there were also several white men who vehemently demanded that he go … no questions asked … just go!!  How do you think HIS parents raised him?!?  Do you think that he ever chuckled in his father’s lap about the “punch line” in a comic strip?  What makes people so morbid, hateful … and disrespectful?!?  I mean, damn … in this day and age … folks are still trying to get away with this type of behavior!  Not acceptable … at all!  And save those corny “sorrys” for some one ignorant … we don’t want to hear it!!

Teach mutual respect … it is one of our last human values!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director
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