Friday, July 17, 2015





            In the unlikely event you have been on vacation on a remote island somewhere, you may have missed one of the top media stories that have occupied front pages in this country. Just in case, Rachel Dolezal is the subject at hand. She is accused of denying her white heritage while claiming to be Black. That, in itself, may cause eyebrows to raise, but the realization she presided as president of the Spokane branch of the NAACP for several years and maintained a part-time position as an African studies instructor has resulted in seismic readings on the Rector Scale. Be that as it may, Rachel has resigned her position as president and has lost her position as instructor. In addition, she is being investigated by the city Ethics Commission to determine if she lied about her race on her application to Spokane’s police oversight board. OVER THE TOP? Stay with me on this.

            Rachel’s coming out party was initiated by her parents, who after several years of estrangement decided it time to expose their daughter. Obviously, things were not comfortable at home. The “why” to that question remains unanswered. But Rachel Dolezar must face the challenges that await her. “The furor has touched off national debate over racial identity and divided the NAACP,” as reported by Newsday. In addendum, a spokesman for the NAACP has admitted leadership positions within the organization do not require a person be Black. The drama continues.

            When quizzed on NBC’s “Today” show, Rachel described the discussion about her as “viciously inhumane.” When asked about her race, she said, “I identify as Black.” Case closed? Not yet. Kitara Johnson, a NAACP member who presents herself as a dissenter of Dolezar, successfully organized a petition asking for the resignation. Apparently, things are not that comfortable within the NAACP.

            Oddly enough, how one defines their place on earth, gender, race or otherwise, has become the object of public opinion. In an amazing coincidence, the timing of this episode could not have been more appropriate. Caitlyn Jenner? Simultaneously, the international community is confronted with a decision that’s not theirs to make. Upon further observation, trans-racial episodes are not unique. The more common agenda is known as “passing,” when a person of color passes himself/herself off as White. When exposed, this condition is usually looked upon as unacceptable by both Blacks and Whites. However, the motivation is usually not questioned. Quality of life historically favors White. It was precisely this imbalance that motivated the journalist, John Howard Griffin, to experiment in the 1950’s. His book, Black Like Me, became a riveting example of black life in the deep South as experienced by a white man who chemically changed his complexion and became Black. As might be expected, his work received mixed reviews despite a NY Times Best Seller listing.

            Perhaps the case of Rachel Dolezar does create a dilemma when compared with the American posture. This may be the source of her parents’ discomfort. They suggest she suffers a sort of mental imbalance to pursue her life in this manner. After all, what white person would normally trade their Caucasian heritage to become Black? The greater question is: Where do we go from here?

            Kareem Abdul-Jabbar does an excellent tongue in cheek analogue by making his confession. “I’ve decided to come out with the truth … Although I’ve been claiming to be 7’2” for many decades; the truth is that I’m really 5’8”.” He then proceeds to suggest Rachel get a pass for her “white lie” in light of the positive advocacy she is credited for. Bottom line:  Has this ‘white lie” damaged your quality of life?

Saturday, May 23, 2015





            For the loyal followers that held their breath since my last post, I apologize. I will not prolong the pain with excuses. Instead, I will stay true to What’s Up with a bit of information. The saying goes: You learn something every day.

            Recently, thanks to the Associated Press reporter, Michael Hill and Newsday, a special honor was announced on behalf of General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. The name is familiar to some, but I suspect obscure to many. Benjamin Davis entered West Point in 1932 as its only black cadet. My learning experience was discovering he was shunned for the next four years by fellow cadets under the auspices of the academy. He roomed alone, ate alone and no one befriended him. He labelled himself “an invisible man.” To quote reporter Hill, “Now, more than a decade after his death, the academy that allowed Davis to be ostracized is honoring him.” The honor: a new cadet barracks under construction among the impressive buildings of the U.S. Military Academy will be named for him. This honor is usually reserved for such graduates named Eisenhower and MacArthur.

            The belated honor is in recognition of two historical facts – West Point’s blemished record of racial endorsement and Davis’ unblemished resume that includes commanding the all-black 332nd Fighter Group known as the Red Tails, not to mention the first black general of the Air Force. The Air Force became the first of the services to fully integrate. Benjamin Davis retired in 1970 as a three star general. In 1998, he was awarded a fourth star by President Bill Clinton.

            Colonel Ty Seidule, the head of West Point’s history department and of the naming committee, acknowledges Davis as one of its greatest graduates. He also goes further to acknowledge, “This is not West Point at its finest hour … This is a chance for West Point to recognize one of its finest.”



            My loyal following will recall a previous post titled, An Afternoon with Dan Levin. The sad news is Dan passed away recently at the ripe young age of 101 years. The fact that Dan was born in Russia in 1913 and served as a Marine sergeant/ combat correspondent during World War ll, and was among the last living survivors of the battle for Iwo Jima, appears to go un-noticed in the media. I am still searching for an obituary.


            In response to my faithful audience, my second book, Twelve Fifteen, has been released. It is an adult suspense novel guaranteed to keep you on edge (I promise). Additional information is at your fingertips:





We strolled one midday afternoon,

Sun with unrelenting glare

Between the Eucalyptus and bananas

Black, White, Asian, Latino

Infections from birth on hold

Washed by fear.


How sweet the smell

Herb left in haste

Maybe closure will be made today

No matter, there’s always tomorrow

Believe you must

To greet sunrise.


Yesterday, we joked in ignorant pride

History exchanged like baseball cards

Values of my tree

Shortcomings of yours

Pick and choose

Who will say goodbye?


            Sunset’s beauty stolen by hostility

Closure arrives

One with each other,

Pray for another sunrise

Emerald green runs a new color