On FOX News Pontificating About “Black Culture”

On FOX News Pontificating About “Black Culture”
M.D. Wright

Oh the irony.

I haven’t written an op-ed social commentary piece in a while due to about 150 pages worth of theses, final reports and proposals due at two universities in the past six weeks, but this is one of the more irksome phenomenae in recent history: castigating an entire diaspora of people (particularly those in the United States) on the part of the very ones who are the descendants (and often still the perpetrators, although not knowingly, in many cases) of those who created the intricate labyrinth of a system that is designed to marginalize — and keep them there — Black people.

Experience is the best teacher.

Some things can be learned only through experience.

Right, no?

So why then, are people who are not Black, will never be Black, and (often) don’t even try to listen to those who ARE Black regarding what it is like to live in this nation as a Black person, always the ones opening their mouths first, and most vociferously about Black people? The proverbial “they” say that racism is taught and learned, and is not innate. “They” are correct. The thing is, the overt racism of yesteryear has been replaced by a covert, more insidious and dangerous latent, covert form of racism: a racism that is veiled in coded language, euphemistic inferences and, most criminal of all, blame-shifting many of the nations ills onto a people who not only had a major hand in building this country into what it became, but are still marginalized to this day by the very system that is designed to ensure that should they ever succeed in life, it is only in certain arenas, and not without possessing the perseverance of five men just to stay afloat until they reach the apogee of their life’s plans.

It will never cease to amaze me how Milton Milquetoast, encaged in their intentionally-secluded, extra-suburban environs for their entire lives can even begin to properly assess the ills (and causes of those ills) in an area where poverty, crime and survival mentality reign due to being choked off from most opportunities to achieve. No, this does not excuse Black people who take the coward way out of life by looking for shortcuts (as this is obviously not a trait endemic to Black people — people by NATURE look for the path of least resistance, until they realize that the road less traveled is that which provides long-term fulfillment and success). They choose to be criminals, sell poison to their neighborhoods, have no ambition in life but to have multitudes of children that they don’t train properly, only to gain a welfare check. Nor is this a put-down of those who even decide to live that way. Life is full of chances for redemption and a change in path, should it be taken. That’s not what any of this is about.

This is about the pent up angst, the misguided arrogance and unfounded  contempt on the part of people whose ancestors are robber barons who lied, cheated, deceived, stole, gained due to governmental policies that were put in place specifically for them to gain, while also ensuring that others (read: Blacks, and recent immigrants) remain on the front — in many cases — are the very people who are most vocal against Black people. And do not mention “White Privilege” to these people. They may as well be doing 90 down the highway and shifting lanes without checking their blind spots. Except the scepter of White Privilege is in that blind spot without them bothering to look. Discussions about race make those who benefit from the structural racism that continues to exist in this country feel guilt, a conflict in conscience, anger, and even the urge (or unmitigated gall?) to rebut the facts regarding the multi-layered issue that is racism in the United States. Any valid mention of racial bias in action is met with “you’re playing the race card” (which one of the stupidest lines in the history of Western Civilization, and probably of all time, but another article for another day). Such people don’t want anything to stand in the way of them enjoying the privilege that they have inherited over decades and centuries of hoodwinking and bamboozling many nations and ethnic groups in this world for their current gain.

“Don’t bother me with facts, I need to hear both sides of the story before I comment!”

An officer of the law, who used to be called to “protect and serve” is now about “controlling the unsavory, protecting the interests of those who crow about paying high taxes, while finding every loophole (created for them, by them) to avoid HAVING TO PAY TAXES” and “maintaining order” (that is, the new Jim Crow establishment), can shoot two unarmed, non-threatening people (Black is only relevant here, because outside of an FBI’s Top 10 Wanted Cartel member from the Caribbean or South America would face anything similar) are shot 50 times apiece, and fired upon at least 137 times, and not be held accountable? This has become a seemingly weekly occurrence. Of course those who don’t want their “peaceful enjoyment of willful blindness to very serious issues that don’t direct affect them” disturbed will want to “hear all sides” despite having more evidence than the prosecution given the murder weapon by the perpetrator himself, to begin with. They don’t want to hear both sides. They want to find any minor thing they can in order to dispel the notion that the officer committed the acts with contempt and not acting within the purview of his position. Then, when they can find the slightest thing to possibly do so, they take it and run with it. Hence the pithy response on the part of the officer’s union who claims the car of those two people killed in Cleveland, Ohio “backfired.” The officer, the police department and the union know they can’t use the old standby “well, I thought they were reaching for a gun” excuse, since there was no weapon and it was an alleged car chase.

I will not go any further on this, because it can spin off in another 50,000-word article in and of itself.

Every time one of these situations occur, the same rhetoric comes from FOX News (and the brainless idiots who parrot what is spoken on those airwaves) about Black people — paraphrasing:

1. “They’re responsible for the ills of this nation.”

2. “They’re all lazy and don’t want to work.”

3. “All they want is entitlements.”

4. “This is where our tax money (many of these same people are tax dodgers, the nerve) goes?”

5. “Lock them all up, they’re nothing but animals.”

6. “That damn rap music is what causes these people to act this way” (while depictions of violence on TV shows and movies that Black people often have no hand in from acting, producing, directing and writing are just as influential, if not more so, than rap — or deathcore metal, if we want to play that game).

7. “Why can’t they just go back to Africa?”

8. “Where are Rev. Al and Jesse?”

9. “Why is there never any airtime for Black on Black violence?”

10. “Have they ever heard of contraceptives and abortion???”

You name it, it has been said, one of the aforementioned forms. Then you have those with this Shangri-La, ostrich mentality who love to try and spin the whole matter on its head by taking a Universalist approach to racism.

Such people need a refresher in racism and understanding how to differentiate between racism and prejudice/preconceived notions/engaging in the use of stereotypes. A group that has been systematically oppressed by design for centuries, comprising 12% of the nation’s population and possessing an even lower percentage of the nation’s economic wealth, resources, political clout, power to assemble and affect change (without COINTELPRO and, its successor, local police actively seeking to destroy whatever Black people create when they DO assemble and organize movements to help pull people out of everlasting poverty  and ruin in the ghettos designed by redlining and intended to keep them there), CANNOT oppress anyone outside of his or her home and immediate family. That is simple math, and not up for discussion. Racism (in the United States) was systematically woven over a period of generations, intricately layered over time to buttress obstacles in any way that can be constructed in order to ensure that Blacks do not succeed without yeoman’s effort. This is not opinion, it is fact. The experiences of tens of millions prove this daily.

There is no need to go recount the number of Black people with A1 credit, collateral, liquid assets and supreme creditworthiness get denied for home loans or small business loans, while Whites with subpar credit and unsubstantiated means are getting mortgages that they would have to earn three times what they actually earn to secure the loans had the lenders abided by the same policies enacted against Blacks (and now, more recent immigrants from Central and South America). Do we even need to address redlining policies when it comes to housing? Levittown, New York (on Long Island) was created with that entire mentality in mind. Then you have this story — JUST PUBLISHED TODAY, MAY 23, 2015: http://7online.com/news/you-dont-belong-here-said-racist-letter-sent-to-long-island-family/736945/

People often bitch and moan about how Black people “didn’t take advantage of the opportunity” to buy buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn that they had inhabited for generations, in some instances. It may be so black and white (pun intended) in your world, but when meetings to make these sales are done in secret, without the involvement of those who are having the land under their feet sold right from underneath them without warning or notice before they can take action, that is what you get. Some took advantage, others knew and ignored, but the great majority had no idea that you could buy a brownstone (now valued at upwards of $2 Million in some instances) for $1, provided that you had the credit and ability to secure a loan from banks to renovate what had become shells of buildings during the crack epidemic (that is another subject for another day as well, but I have written on this in previous articles years ago). Never mind discrimination in hiring practices on jobs, those who attempt to start businesses find far more hurdles in securing small business loans than any other group of people. This is also fact, not fiction. Until people who find obstacles such as these at every turn are able to maneuver through life without these obstacles being placed in their path by those who have the power, clout and numbers advantage to do so (and continue to propagate this activity), then nothing will change. The worst part of this is those who benefit the most from this structure nowadays are the most blind and abhorrent offenders when it comes to speaking with condescension towards Black people. They have exercised and benefited from the unspoken privilege that the structured system of racism has afforded them that they have become willfully myopic to anything that exists outside of the bubble in which they live. And any mention of those things that occur outside of said bubble are grounds for fighting, bickering, arguing, reckless bandying about of “you’re playing the race card” and other idiocy.

I’d rather have the enemy that I know and see, than the enemy that I can’t see and don’t hear.

Political correctness is another lie that just further shrouds racism (along with all other social ills, for that matter) in this country. As racism went from being proudly overt — without any entity in place to challenge, and thereby refute or defeat it — to covert and latent, it became more dangerous than ever. You have people who will smile in your face, boast about the one Black person they are friends with (who just happen to share the debaucherous vices with them, or else they have no other connection, in many cases), want to hold hands and sing Kumbaya — until shit pops off and then the stereotypes, myths, angry slurs fly. If they are really savvy, they will encase those sentiments in newfangled euphemisms such as “thug” (instead of risking being ostracized by liberal society for being heard calling people “niggers”), and “these people” and other sentiments that shed light on the truest feelings about Black people.

I am no apologist for the scourge of society, regardless of what color or shade they happen to come in. But let’s not sit here and act as if Black people are the reason the United States is fucked up and gone to shit. We do not have any power, authority, clout or control to do so. In fact, many of the social ills that exist in layers now (going well beyond racism) are spinoffs of racist practices originally intended to maintain the “class structure” that involves Blacks at the bottom, with only a few making it through the proverbial door — and so few that they cannot affect any change to the establishment, and ultimately acquiesce and do nothing but become another member of the group who does the oppressing: just with more melanin.

Example: Charles Barkley.

He is not worth the keystrokes, however. That is another topic altogether. I could write all summer, but I shan’t.  The issue at hand is most disturbing, because it is just as hilarious as it is sad. People who understand the least (but benefit most) how the social dynamic in this nation has become perverted and warped as a result of racism are the most vociferous in delivering their misinformed (at best) opinions. And worst yet, those who strike back by emoting, “Well, I’m not rich, I live in a trailer park, and all of my family is broke” still don’t understand how pervasive White Privilege is. Material wealth isn’t a measure of privilege, the extent to which one receives the benefit of the doubt in a number of scenarios while lined up against a Black person with the exact same background, experiences and outward appearance, however, IS a more accurate measure. And even then, it does not stop there.

Bottom line, if you are not Black, you don’t get to talk first about this matter. And until Black people have finished talking and sharing their experiences, you still do not get to talk. You have experiences to share, to be sure, and obviously those experiences are paramount to reconciling this issue for everyone. But the core problem is that it is a heart issue. This piece isn’t addressed to any one person, and no one person should go and individualize this article and think that because they are not guilty of the aforementioned actions, that somehow it is invalid — because again, these are facts, not opinion, and therefore not open to discourse; civil as it may be.

We do not live in Utopia. Stop with your “I was raised colorblind” diatribe. You can afford to be colorblind when you are on the “other side” of the Affects of Racism Spectrum. When you’re on the other side, the antithesis is true. No, racism isn’t gone because Barack Obama is President of the United States. No, racism won’t go away by simply avoiding the discussion (to mollify and assuage your guilt and desire to avoid having your milquetoast life from being disrupted). No, racism won’t go away by just talking about it. Racism won’t even begin to subside until people put aside xenophobia, arrogance, misplaced ideas about superiority, and unfounded egos.

And knowing human nature, that would suggest that this will never occur. But these police officers getting away with blatant murder with impunity BETTER stop soon. Black people are not bootlickers as they were early in the Civil Rights era (not all, but some went along to get along). Cats are ready to kill (and die) if it means putting a stop to it.

Conspiracy theorists are having a field day thinking that all of these things are done to incite racial war and have an excuse for further militarization of police and the ushering in of a police state, but whether that is true or not, cops have to be held accountable for killing Black people in cold blood for absolutely no justified reason — except the fact that the fear and hatred in their hearts push them to do so.

Then again, I would be fearful of the always-potential for retaliation from a group of people that I know deep down have been done more foul than any group of people hieroglyphic times; knowing those people have every right to be angry, and knowing those people could explode at any time, as a result, knowing deep down that if roles were reversed, you would have revolted in a fashion that made the departure from Great Britain and the Declaration of Independence/Revolutionary War appear like a friendly game of horseshoes, by comparison. I’d be fearful, too.

But to shoot a man in a dark stairwell (Akai Gurley) because you were petrified of the neighborhood to begin with, and an unarmed man who you couldn’t see — much less to determine whether he was of any real or perceived threat to you (granted that officer was Asian — and that is yet ANOTHER discussion for another article), or to shoot a couple 137 times with no real imminent danger to your person at stake… and countless others… enough is enough. Deal with your heart issues. All this rhetoric and dialog is good for TV ratings, but the bottom line issue is people have misplaced arrogance, bloated perception of self, and ill-placed contempt for people based upon the very nonsense that FOX News and other entities love to spew for the sake of aforementioned ratings.

Don’t be a sucker to the scheme. And last, but not least, no one is better than anyone. Do not get me started on people who have come here from certain areas in Europe where they KNOW they were treated like utter garbage when they first arrived here, until they assimilated and then could halfway get the benefit of the doubt because their hue was somewhat similar to the propagators of the racist structure of this nation. Some of the worst racists are those who have come here from southern Europe and areas along the Equator (those with less  melanin, that is) when they were castigated and pushed to the fringe when they initially arrived because of the differences in their tongue, culture, religion, etc.

I could go in on a multitude of matters at this time, but I do not need my blood pressure elevated. However, I would have been remiss had I not finally expressed my thoughts about this most recent tragedy, as well as addressing this irksome mentality that has pervaded society for decades and has pissed me off for most of my life, once I became aware of how insidious it has become.

I don’t care who is offended, you will get over it. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. I will sleep well tonight, whether you cut me off or go and attempt (keyword) to trash me behind my back for saying what needs to be said. Now govern yourselves accordingly.

OMW’s I-95 Adventures, Vol. LXX

OMW’s I-95 Adventures, Vol. LXX
M.D. Wright

Well, it wouldn’t be worth writing if nothing occurred, right?

This was somewhat whimsical, as I am in the final stages of handing in all my work for the semester. I have completed all of my work at Seton Hall for the semester, so that left me with a good ten days to put the finishing touches on my thesis at Mercy, ahead of commencement on May 20.

I felt as though this was a good of a time as ever to get away, as I will be full speed into my next business venture, while also going head-first back into corporate with the aid of a pretty well-connected contact. Even though Mother’s Day was looming, I was not going to be able to spend the day around my mother. I did give her my regards face to face as I was leaving to head back home on Sunday, however.

The pieces all laid out perfectly for me to make this trip, though. I needed to make a run for Newports, get some fresh hardbottoms, and see some relatives who whined, complained, bitched and moaned about me never coming to see them whenever I came south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Aside: Funny, no one ever comes to New York or Jersey, unless there is a death in the family, and even then, they skedaddle out of town as quickly as they get here, as if they are on the run from the cast of “Manhunters” aka U.S. Marshals.

I had to pick up my cap and gown for commencement on campus up in Dobbs Ferry, which is never a fun drive for me. Traffic is an utter nightmare for a 25 mile radius around Manhattan nowadays (worse than normal), and I will get to that shortly. But after leaving Westchester (had to make a quick pit stop in Yonkers), I was planning to head to Staten Island to see my cousin one more time before he went away to do a 3 lb bid. Seemed simple enough. I have commuted to and from Staten Island to every borough, throughout Jersey, Long Island, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess and Putnam counties, and have a pretty good handle on how long it takes to reach Staten Island from Yonkers, even in the early afternoon.

It took me about 45 minutes to get everything handled at Mercy, since I also had to get my guest tickets for commencement in another area of the building following the $100 (!!!) purchase of my cap and gown. Maybe the sash that Masters candidates wear pushed it to $100, but whatever. I did not go to commencement when I finished my first Masters; eschewing the ceremony for Happy Hour down in the East Village back in 2012.

Once I left Dobbs Ferry, all hell broke loose with traffic. I made it through Yonkers on the Deegan just fine, but once I hit the Bronx down near University, and met that converging Cross Bronx Expressway traffic, I was bumper to bumper for nearly 30 minutes before I even crossed into Harlem. I had hoped to catch the FDR down to the Brooklyn (or Manhattan) Bridge and take the BQE to the Verrazano, then the Staten Island Expressway down to South Avenue, as we used to back when I lived out there, but the FDR was jam packed and not even moving, so I thought I would take the back way, using the West Side highway to Warren and cut across City Hall to catch the Brooklyn Bridge.

Bad idea.

I sat at the same light for six cycles down at City Hall, and there was construction on Ann (when is there NOT construction at all vital points in this city?) which made even getting to the bridge a hassle. Traffic was bumper to bumper, 20 MPH all the way across, including the entire expanse of the BQE until I got to Bay Ridge, just a couple of exits away from the Verrazano. Mind you, I had passed three major collisions, and one of them was due to someone driving while texting in heavy traffic (saw them fumbling with their phone after having passed them on the Brooklyn Bridge).

I am usually in the clear once I cross the Verrazano, because EVERYONE speeds on the Staten Island Expressway. And it would have been the case yet again, except some fool in a moving truck had also been driving and fumbling around on his phone when he cut off someone in one of those little buggy cars like Fred Flintstone bought Wilma thinking she wouldn’t be able to fit too many items from going shopping into such a small car. They were disabled in the middle lane just past Wagner College, and it backed up traffic all the way back to the toll booth exiting the bridge. By this point, what should have been about an hour or so trip turned into two and a half hours. My cousin said he would be in and out, but most likely home by the time I got there. The thing is, that was with the expectation of my arriving around 4 PM, not 6 PM. I get all the way out there, and no one’s home.

Not only does this prove to be a futile exercise, I hadn’t eaten all day, and had developed a headache from yelling at motorists while running on fumes literally all day. Hindsight is always 20/20, but had I known it would have gone down this way, I would have just hit the road once I left Westchester, and arrived in Raleigh by about 10 PM, instead of the 2 AM Friday that I actually gotten to my destination.

I did my normal fourscore and change down the Turnpike, and, because it was well past rush hour, cruised through Maryland and Virginia. The rest of that evening was uneventful (thankfully, unlike the return trip home), so I had just hoped to get enough rest to prepare for what would be a day of nonstop running on Friday.

Once I got up, I had a hair appointment at my cousin’s house. That meant about a 35 minute drive from Cary to the far north end of Raleigh. While I was getting my locs touched up, my mom texts me saying that her half-sister was in home care and wanted to know if I wanted to go visit. I have only seen her about three times in my life, and appropriately, she didn’t recognize me when I got there. Nevertheless, it was good to visit. Since we were in Oxford, we went to Henderson to visit my uncle, who is one of the best storytellers in the history of Western Civilization. I had nearly nodded off several times during the day, because I had only gotten about three hours of sleep the night that I arrived in North Carolina, and that was after driving for about 14 hours on Thursday.

Once I left my uncle’s house, I went to get food and reached out to one of my cousins who lives in Raleigh, since I don’t get to see them much at all. While waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more for an address to come across the phone, I had pulled over to the parking lot at McDonald’s so that I could track the 3rd period of the Rangers vs. Capitals Game 5. I saw that a garbage 4th liner had scored for the Capitals, and then took to Twitter to see my Ranger fan followers’ responses. There was tons of “oh well, break out the golf clubs guys, this is over” and other sentiments along those lines. I have learned all season with this team to never count a game over until the clock hits 0:00. Indeed, before I left the lot, the Rangers tied the game, and nearly won it in regulation before sending it to overtime. Once I didn’t hear back from my cousin that night, I drove back to Cary, and tried to catch overtime. Because I was on Capital Boulevard in Raleigh, that was about a 30 minute drive, and literally as soon as I walked into my friend’s place, Ryan McDonagh had JUST put the puck into the net to seal the Rangers win (Rangers would also win Game 6 to push the series to a deciding Game 7 back here in New York on Wednesday night), so I was feeling good, despite being DEAD tired after running around and driving about 400 miles and making numerous stops that day. Within an hour of the game’s conclusion, I was asleep.

On Saturday, I had a plethora of errands to run in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Greensboro. I went to see my sister and sent off some important documents to my tia who lives in Winston-Salem. I pretty much zig-zagged Greensboro three times that day, and, in the midst of it all, got caught up with the traffic outflow from UNCG’s commencement (which I was unawares of) trying to get back to the highway to go to Durham, where I was going to see if my sister was coming with me to visit the cousins who say I never visit them (sarcasm). After about an hour of being there, I drove over so I wouldn’t be out too late, and serendipity: I catch them just as they are heading out. It had been my cousin Siobhan’s birthday a couple days prior, and I literally hadn’t seen her in about three years, so that was a treat. My cousin Danielle, after hearing I was heading to my hangout spot, Triangle Town Center Mall, perked up and finagled her way into coming with me. I have a couple of contacts at Saks Fifth (I be in Bergdorf, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Five also, like Mr. Giles once said) so I went to utilize my discount. She wanted to get a few things from Victoria’s Secret, so, since I was in a benevolent mood, I let her pick what she wanted. It is good to give, although the intent isn’t to ANNOUNCE doing so rather to just explain what took place during the trip, which would have been erstwhile uneventful, as most of my mall trips are. I am always trying to negotiate and get everything for less than sticker price (and am usually successful in doing so).

After leaving the mall, I wanted to visit my cousin Davielle and my cousin Candece. No dice, but the effort was made.

By this point, it was time to eat, so I went to my go-to spot, New Bern Subs, which is fantastic; with their dirty drive-thru menu and rather shoddy appearance. These are the best places to get good-tasting food, by the way.

I had a couple of things to take care of at my parents’ house, and my dad and I watched some of the Golden State tent-folding routine in Memphis before I wiped out and went to bed. Alas, the “adventures” part of the trip was lurking as I hit the road first thing Sunday.

Because the Rangers had won on Friday night, it meant that their season would continue and there would be a Game 6 on Sunday evening. That meant that I would need to leave Greensboro no later than 9 am in order to get back in time (while planning for inevitable traffic tie-ups). I got out of town before 9 am, and stopped by my sister’s house before making a Starbuck’s run in Raleigh on 540 East.

Just as I had gotten back on 540 after getting my coffee this lunatic performs a heavy merge from an off-ramp, clearly not using his/her mirrors, and was doing about 75 mph (speed limit is 70 out there). I have this sixth sense when people are about to do dumb shit, and I had already checked each mirror on both sides for anyone in my blind spot or near me in case I had to move. All of the driving I have done over the years up and down the highways has prepared me for this. I was doing my normal fourscore-plus in the middle lane, while the person who was on the left lane was about three car lengths behind me.

This particular merge, at or around Exit 10 (can’t remember exactly where this was, but it was the exit following the exit for Route 50, Creedmoor Road) is a two-lane dump-off onto the highway, and this fool not only jumps into the lane nearest to the merge, but cuts ACROSS that lane into mine. It is as if I wasn’t even there. He could have lost his life (I doubt this was a woman driving like this unless she had just been the driver for a bank robbery, which I SERIOUSLY doubt), and I could have lost mine also. But quick thinking allowed for me to swerve  into the left lane without losing control. I was incredulous, even to the point where I couldn’t perform my normal road rage antics by tailing them and giving them a piece of my mind. I was just glad I had avoided that fool, because my focus was just getting home in time to catch puck drop around 7:11 PM.

After this, I finished up 540, merged with Route 64 and then went to my normal spot where I get my smokes for about $45 (they are $90 per carton in Jersey, and as high as $120 for the same exact carton in areas of NYC and Long Island). I got an extra carton for a friend of mine, and then it was hauling ass time. I was doing quite well (hit triple digits a few times for a sustained period to make up time), but once I got to Fredericksburg, there was wreck after wreck, which held up traffic on what was already going to be a rough day on I-95, as Sundays tend to be; even more so on a holiday.

I saw no less than 20 people looking down at their phones doing 70+ mph from that point, and nearly got run off the road twice in Virginia because idiots are so busy on social media on their phones while driving — and talking about nothing of any substance, mind you — to realize that they are drifting into another lane. My horn got a workout yesterday, to say the least.

Traffic was pretty normal in Maryland (that is to say, there are pockets of heavy traffic where the morons who designed the roads have constant “This Lane Ends in 1500 Feet” areas, which cause heavy merges, which lead to traffic jams, while there are stretches where you can speed. Maryland drivers may be the best in the contiguous U.S. They drive like New Yorkers. They drive as if they have someplace to go, unlike Virginia’s drivers (arguably the WORST drivers in the nation), who act as if everyone they see is a state trooper driving an unmarked vehicle. Rampant driving below the speed limit on the left lane, leading to having to pass everyone on the right, which, if you paid attention in driver’s ed, can lead to more traffic collisions.

Whatever, I got through Maryland, after stopping in Jessup and Columbia (as I always do), while making a quick stop at Houlihan’s in Elkridge, then the slither of area that is Delaware along I-95, before encountering that nightmare junction where 95 meets 295, 495 and the road toward the Delaware Memorial Bridge and New Jersey Turnpike. The traffic was backed up to a dead standstill all the way back to where the road splits (that is over two miles, if you are scoring at home), and I had already gotten forced to the left by one of those typical half wits who treats driving on the highway as if it is a video game — acting as if they are going to lose a life on the game if they miss an exit, hopping across FOUR LANES in heavy traffic in the process — so I just cruised onto 495 and decided to go Philly-Betsy Ross-130-90-Turnpike. Although I hate all of Philadelphia’s sports teams, driving through there is pretty easy. I did not get my normal nausea while passing Lincoln Financial Field at Broad Street Exit 17, so that boded well.

Traffic on the Turnpike was worse than a normal Sunday evening. In fact, it seemed as though I had brought a lot of those morons from Virginia (except they had NJ plates) who drive below the speed limit on the left lane (where most people are doing 90+ in the Cars Only section of the Turnpike), and it took me a good 45 minutes longer to get through to Exit 14 than normal. I had actually left NC in enough time to get home, unload the car and even take it back to Newark Airport and get home just as the puck dropped. As it were, however, I got home with about seven minutes elapsed in the 1st period, and Chris Kreider had already scored the first goal of the game inside of the first minute of the game for the Rangers. I brought up the rest of my stuff after each intermission and then sped off for the airport and caught my taxi home, famished and exhausted.

Rangers won, Big Mike Pineda wove a classic for the Yankees, so I was tired and slept well. Another adventuresome trip in the books. Until next time (in July) for the next installation of OMW’s I-95 Adventures.

ESPN: A Tale of Hypocrisy

Originally posted on Hashtag Facts:

Every day it seems like another ESPN talking head has something to say about an athlete and their activities off the field. With the NFL Draft inching closer and closer, many continue to discuss the saga of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and his NFL future, especially now with his accuser, Erica Kinsman, suing him in civil court which has since even the earliest days of the accusation and Winston likely to be the first pick in the NFL draft later today.

Another Florida State athlete ESPN on-air personalities and writers have discussed in the past months have been Karlos Williams and Dalvin Cook. You may notice the reporter of both of these cases were none other than ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, the same reporter who was the ESPN “insider” throughout the entire Jameis Winston case while he was being accused of sexual assault and never charged with a crime.


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Sports Clichés: Enough is Enough

Sports Clichés: Enough is Enough
M.D. Wright

No, this is not an April Fool’s Joke, either. Some of us are really sick and tired of hearing the same retread sports clichés over and over (especially when they are affixed to players when they couldn’t be any more inaccurate). Even when the clichés fit the person/player, we have heard them so frequently that we just roll our eyes and wait to hear something of substance come from the mouth of the speaker.

In not necessarily sequential order, here are the most irritating sports cliches:

“It is What it Is.”

Blame John Fox for this. It started when he was the New York Giants defensive coordinator, and really became part of his regular parlance while head coach of the Carolina Panthers. While the connotation simply means, “What can you do about it? The outcome is what it the outcome is, no sense in rehashing it now” (or some variance of that sentiment therein.) But some things can actually stand to be explained further. Whether the speaker lacks the capability to convey those thoughts is another matter.

“He’s a Great Player, But an Even Better Person.”

The first few times this was uttered, and considering who it was spoken about, you thought, “Okay, yeah, that’s actually true.” Now this is even being said about guys who are known to be assholes off the field/court/ice. More jockeying is done to avoid alienating players for interviews and inside information, now talking heads are resorting to saying it about any and everyone; particularly if a player is battling an illness or some sort of loss in the family.

“He/She is So Humble (Unlike ________)”

What is with the infatuation of (appearance of) being humble? Humility doesn’t show in being coached by public relations gurus on how to make non-threatening and vague comments or erstwhile non-aggressive shows of confidence. Simply doing so — which startlingly fools naive viewers at home quite often — does not make someone humble. How they act when they don’t know they’re being watched (which, in several players’ cases is anything BUT humble) is a better indicator of humility. And regardless of that duality, who cares if a player is humble or not? Because some insecure oafish couch potato is further reminded why they lose at life, while someone excels at what they do, are seen by millions on TV doing so, while being paid more in one game than said doughboy will take three years to earn? It isn’t anyone’s job to humble someone who we perceive to be “cocky” or “arrogant”, except that person (and, if he/she fails to do so, his/her God). Most of the time, people most bothered by those who are perceived to be arrogant or self-centered (when they’re probably anything but when the cameras are off) are insecure and fail to realize any connection between themselves and the player at the mention. Oh boo hoo.

“We Beat Ourselves.”

There are times when this is absolutely true, and the objective viewer of games where this is accurate can honestly agree with the player who utters it. More often, however, it is sour grapes.

“Refs Don’t Swing Games, Look at the Number of Free Throws X Team Shot vs. Y Team!”

This is probably the dumbest, and most increasing sentiment (and variants of the sentiment in not so many words) nowadays, with the proliferation of social media. First of all, people are generally naive and would buy the Brooklyn Bridge if they had the means to do so, and found out it was up for bids. Secondly, in that vein, these same people live in something of a Utopian reality where they don’t believe that greed and the lust for money does not pervade every sport that can be gambled on. Women’s basketball, for instance, isn’t heavily wagered on by most bettors. It isn’t just because there are only a handful of very good teams, versus a bunch of church league-level stiffs. The games are allowed to mostly be played out without a ton of galling and suspect calls, leading to free throw parades. Officials are crafty, just like a journeyman who spends 14 years in the NBA solely because he plays defense. They know how to massage games by calling inconsequential nickel-dimer type fouls for the team that they will later slant the game for, knowing that Box Score Vultures will point to total fouls and free throws shot as some sort of rebuttal to what any viewer without severe cataracts can see as the officials blatantly favoring one team over the other. There are people who genuinely believe the Miami Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals fair and square.

Ignorance truly is bliss, in this case.

If certain entities were not in line to make (or lose) hundreds of thousands or millions by posting and wagering on games, it would be a different story. Then again, there are people who swear that HAARP doesn’t exist and engage in the practices that it does, and will write off those whose eyes are open as “whackjob conspiracy theorists.”

Tons of people have already ruined your childhoods by “pornifying” the cartoons that you grew up formulating this detached Utopia which you now live in, sorry to break it to you in the same vein regarding sports betting and officials cheating for certain teams in a given situation.

There are probably dozens of other cliches which annoy my readers, but for the sake of  sacrosance, I absolutely had to place these five here before going any further.

Life As a Book: Chapter and Verse

Life As a Book: Chapter and Verse
M.D. Wright

Life is one huge book. Well, for some. Sadly, for many, it is but a pamphlet. For others, it is just one long, unending, run-on sentence. For others, it is a sprawling, well-conceived and manifested epic novel. The beautiful thing about this life/book axiom is the fact that the great majority of us can dictate its contents. Even when life throws you a curve, you have the choice to decide how you deal with that curveball: bunt it, swing for the fences (miss or hit a sizzling double or home run), or just watch the curveball pass you by (along with precious months and years of life; which we can all agree in reflective tones, is SHORT). However, at the end of the day, when it is all said and done, life can often be described as a book, chapter and verse.

And in the spirit of reflection, most of us, if able to sit and contemplate, can carve out several explicit lines of demarcation: periods of perfunctory action, the halcyon days of youth when everything seemed utopian in restrospect, but wasn’t; zeniths of pleasures, triumphs, and “good times”, and the absolute  nadir of disappointment, depression, despair and dejection. It is what makes life worth living. It is what dictates that making memories is what makes reflecting upon life a pastime for some, and painful for others.

I challenge anyone who reads this to take some time out from whatever consumes you — sports, school, a 60-70 hour workweek, constant socializing, being consumed with ignorantly discussing “politics” despite not knowing what you think does not matter one way or the other and reflect on the distinct periods of their lives which can be codified into “book” form, with clearly defined chapters and segues. Not necessarily written, but ponder this. It can help restore an understanding of your individual purpose (if you have lost sight of it), and even help regain a passion for something which you once enjoyed doing in the days of yore, but life’s difficulties sidetracked you in the process.

Personally, I could neatly divide each chapter of my life to this point — as I embark on 36 years of age next week — into four to five year periods. Each of those periods contained apogees, nadirs, peaks, valleys, wilderness experiences which taught me life lessons which carry me to this day, and allow for me to dispense knowledge and wisdom to those who desire to obtain it, and so forth.

From the time I was born until I began college, my family literally moved every 3-4 years on average. My parents had high expectations for my sister and I to achieve academically, professionally and socially. As such, they made several leaps of faith and major sacrifices in order to put us in the best position to do so. The moves were always with an eye on reaching the point where we would be able to achieve and set us up for adult life. It worked. However, to delve even further, you can look at each of those periods before I began college (which then meant that I moved once again within a four-year period, as we had moved just before I began the 9th grade).

I was a bundle of energy, always smiling and a ham in front of the camera when I was little. But I was always studious. I have loved to read since I became capable of reading. It has never been a chore (until law school), and all of my grade school teachers were impressed and loved my desire to read. Not only that, the reading, and articulation of what was read, even to the point of explaining the nuances (obviously later in grade school), which hatched the desire to always be a teacher/coach/instructor/advisor of sorts; obviously one of my chief passions in life. This piece is just another instance of that desire and ability.

Once I hit kindergarten, I became sickly. I had chicken pox that year, and began developing harsh allergies to certain foods and respiratory irritants. I spent most of my 1st through 5th grade years dealing with these things.

From 6th to 8th grade, however, I hit a growth spurt and became athletically-inclined. From that point until I broke my back when I was 28 (“spinal, couldn’t ‘boxth’, play basketball, or even walk/run without significant pain, requiring surgery at age 29), I played sports year-round, either on a club team, city league or some church league when other demands precluded me from playing in other leagues. However, once I hit the 10th grade (1994-1995), I was stricken with a weird skin affliction. It lasted throughout the remainder of high school and into my first year of college. The problem was, it gave the appearance of poison ivy, yet none of the treatments for poison ivy served as remedies. This went on for nearly five years, but in the midst of those five years, a major cyst developed at the base of my skull, and I was bordering upon becoming gravely septic. The doctors were able to catch it in time, but it was not until after the fact was I informed that I had a severe case of Erythrodermic Psoriasis. After the doctors flushed my system and restored my skin’s integrity, I gradually got better, until any trace of the ailment mysteriously disappeared literally overnight in April of 1999.

High school was an utter waste, 1) because I couldn’t pinpoint five things that I learned which were worthwhile, in retrospect, 2) because I did not want to go to high school in the area that I did. I had planned to go to a specialized high school, which catered to my academic strengths in Manhattan or the Bronx, but that was squashed without any further discussion. Coupling that with the health issues, and not only was I angry and miserable, but I lost out on any chance of playing college football due to the illness and septic injury (which occurred just before I began the 12th grade in 1996).

From that point, some 18, 19 years later, you can almost perfectly write a chapter for each of the subsequent four-year periods.

From age 18-23, I flourished. I felt better than I had in years, once the ailment cleared up, I enjoyed the last few “REAL” summers in New York City (before 9/11/gentrification/paranoia, etc. basically, for all intents and purposes, destroyed the city as we previously knew it), bought and paid off two cars, was signing to buy my first house at age 20, before deciding at the 11th hour — just as I was about to sign for the mortgage — to not do so; as I felt deep down that I would be moving around a great deal both for professional and academic reasons. Along with an 800+ credit score, a decent (but boring) job which paid remarkably well for a college dropout (although the decision to leave school was not of my making in any way, shape or form), in the form of a nice base salary, tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of stock options given to us annually, bonus wages, and the ability to make a good amount in “light lifting” overtime, which was the least stressful overtime anyone may ever work. I shopped when I wanted, copped new sneakers literally every week for about two or three years, every designer cologne, jewelry, ate wherever I wanted, made spontaneous road trips and went anywhere I wanted for the most part. It was a good period of freedom.

From age 24-28, the stakes were raised. I (foolishly) turned down a full scholarship at St. John’s University, because I had developed an anti-college mindset, while hustling both at work and on the side and making near-six figures without more than a high school diploma for the previous half decade. I bought my first sports car, which I had desired to do years before, but my father thought it was best for me to build up to my readiness to drive something with 400+ horsepower. Once I finished with modifications on my Nissan 350Z, it had just under 400. I had that car for four years, before deciding to let it go and focus on college full-time, since I had been back and forth between New York and North Carolina often and obviously did not need the car in New York City.

I transferred from Long Island University in Brooklyn to UNC Greensboro, which is where I had lived before, and completed undergrad during this period. Socially, things were fine, although, as mentioned before, at age 28, things changed drastically when I broke my back. That period from age 24-28 saw my great aunt (who I was extremely close to) and my paternal grandmother (who I was just as close to, and miss her one-liners/wise axioms, etc.) pass away, from having the most money that I had ever up until that point, and achieving as much freedom as I could have wanted, to, by age 28, having suffered a debilitating injury — the pain from which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy — and rendered me a homebody for the following 10 months, before the pain became too great and no other remedy was available other than surgery.

However, once I had the surgery in September 2008 (at age 29), a new period began. The economic collapse made the prospect of returning to the workforce full-time upon graduation in May 2009 tenuous at best. Worse yet, as I would not find out until years later, a man with the same first name, middle initial, and last name, with the same birth year, had committed several felonies in the states of Georgia and Florida in the previous few years, which came up in lazy background checks conducted by employers. It baffled me, in one instance, how nepotism didn’t even get me a job that I was a shoe-in for; both because I knew the hiring manager, who was passing me through, and because it was the same job that I had done at my previous employer for seven years. Little did I know, this clown down south was the reason why.

Once I realized I was not going to have any prospects by hanging around after UNC Greensboro, I came back to New York and started the next chapter. For about five years, I moved a total of seven times, and had done some wild and crazy things with the fairer gender which shall not be printed here, and been in rich places, the worst of hoods, been the driver for a former drug kingpin, you name it. It was a period nonstop hustling, since full-time employment was a a curse word from 2009-2013. I did everything from real estate, to business development, some under the table work, some off the books hustling, while completing two masters degrees and starting law school. It was after getting to Charlotte (for law school) that I realized that the way I had been doing things for the previous four years was not going to serve me well in regards to achieving what I had actually set out to do when I originally finished high school in 1997. I had gotten so far off track, and it culminated with being caught out of place at that school, which was not worth ever attending, never mind draining myself of $35,000 of my own out of pocket cash (not loans), while also giving up my apartment back in Harlem in the process. If there was a regret in my life — and I admittedly don’t have any more than one or two — it was doing this. Whenever you leave New York City, it becomes extremely difficult to move back each time, because the cost of living skyrockets, while wages remain stagnant or even decrease. Add to it the dearth of employment opportunities, and it made moving back prohibitive.

I moved out to Long Island to live with a friend, hoping to jumpstart my career again, but without a car, and having blown through my entire savings in Charlotte, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place even when I had made inroads at North Shore LIJ hospital. Whenever opportunities arose, the lack of a car (which I had sold, as mentioned before) came back to haunt me. The entire year of 2014 was the end of that chapter, however, as it was a year of several transitions; going from Charlotte, to Long Island, to North Carolina and now back to being in New Jersey on a daily basis for the first time in nearly 20 years.

I had worked hard to put some things into place during 2014, that, while the skeptics couldn’t see the manifestation of the seeds that were planted at the time, now see the fruit, as I have turned the page and began a new chapter that cleanly began on New Year’s Day in 2015. Everything (other than my slumlord and disgraceful excuse for human beings/”neighbors”) is flowing; school is a breeze — despite my now full-fledged fatigue — I am finishing my second thesis, and have a pending application at Florida State University School of Law, and several options regarding my next major move, which will be on tap come June 1. I also have two business projects that I will be rolling out once I am free from academic obligations in May. The goal, in all of the quiet toiling and reaching out to several key people in 2014 was to have several streams of income before 2015 was over. With a now healthy savings and some side work ensuring at least one stream for now, the goal is to have two or three more of them in place by this summer, which will happen.

I cannot say, however, that I would have re-centered myself if I had not taken the time out to reflect upon what had taken place in the previous “chapter”, learned from mistakes, bad decisions, and seized opportunities that fell in line with my goals. Some people can spend years — even decades — flying by the seat of their pants, withering in the wind like chaff. I was taught early on to do everything with excellence and with purpose. I had a purpose to make 2015 — and beginning a new chapter in my life — a highly successful one. I would not have done so without purposeful reflection and then planning the best way to bring those plans to fruition.

I hope this time, however, that this next chapter is longer than four or five years, and ends up being a decades-long run-on sentence, because that is the pace in which I am running nowadays and I don’t plan on slowing down again.

Happy Reflecting.


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