“How do you tell your all-white mother that your all-white “friends” just dragged you into their big all-white house in all-white Southampton, past an untouchable all-white room, just to corner you and call you the dirtiest thing in their all-white world? Nigger.”
— The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey
I’ve long been a fan of Mariah Carey. I remember I was driving home from graduate school when I first heard “Vision of Love” on one of the local radio stations. There was a unique quality to her voice and reading this book about her life has that same spark. She is a great communicator. The book provides evidence of the ever present racism that pervades our culture even today. The debate in our nation rages over how to honor our past without glorifying the scourge of racism and misogyny.
Recently there has been discussion of removing the statue of Thomas Jefferson from the legislative chamber of New York City. Does the removal of the statue solve the problem. How about saving the statue but sharing the history of Jefferson and others who raped their slave mistresses and fathered children whom they also enslaved?
Our one dollar, two dollar and twenty dollar bills bear the images of men who supported the institution of slavery. Both Jefferson and Washington had biracial children. There is no evidence of Jackson fathering any children with his slaves but he was a slave master nonetheless. Why is it so difficult to acknowledge that we are a less than perfect nation?
Can we get past the meanness of our past and provide some real meaning for our future? Can we heal the wounds of racism by acknowledging their presence in our present and past?
This week’s passing of Colin Powell invited me to reflect on the impact of him as an American icon. I strongly disagreed with the decision of the Bush administration to go to war in Iraq and I was sorry that General Powell gave testimony in the United Nations that provided the cover for that war. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein did not pose a credible threat to the integrity of the United States. I wrote letters to the Bush Administration at the time and at one point received a nice reply from the oval office.
Colin Powell became the first black Secretary of State on the United States on January 20, 2001. He became the first black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on October 1, 1989. Prior to that he was Deputy National Security advisor in the Reagan Administration. General Powell’s life was full of firsts. That’s wonderful to be sure. The larger question for me is why did it take so long for America to put a black person in those positions? Africans came to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. It took three-hundred and seventy years for one to ascend to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Surely General Powell was not the first African American to serve in our military. Why did it take so long for Black Americans to rise to general officer ranks? Who were the Buffalo Soldiers? Who were the Tuskegee Airmen?
Jackie Robinson broke the ‘color line’ in 1947. Why were there ‘Negro Leagues’? Why are there no women’s faces on our currency? Why were the original owners of the America’s denied citizenship until 1925? Why did we need a Fourteenth Amendment? Why no people of color on currency, stamps and national emblems. Slaves built the White House. Is that fact taught in our schools?
Lately there’s been lots of discussion of ‘Critical Race Theory‘ and the ‘1619 Project‘. There are folks in this country that still have a problem acknowledging our history as en-slavers and murderers of Africans and Native Americans. Those are not pleasant memories nor should they be. Acknowledging and accepting our past is the pathway to a hopeful future.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Well written and read. This puts flesh and bone on American history. The Underground Railroad is as much a metaphor to me as it is to Colson Whitehead. His use of metaphor in the novel had me seeing the ‘railroad’ from a different perspective. His metaphor was well constructed and brought the horror of the real ‘railroad’ to life. So little is known and learned by the average white American about the horrible institution of slavery and the suffering of our black sisters and brothers. Not knowing our history and theirs too is an epic crime.
Today I decided to give Windows 11 a try. I downloaded the ‘iso’ from Microsoft onto my Linux laptop. My System76 Darter Pro is an i7 with 16 GB of RAM. I decided to try to run the new operating system in Virtualbox. I gave it a 64GB disk and 8 GB of RAM. I got a message that the configuration wasn’t going to work. I have an extra Dell Vostro 3560 with i5-3230m and 8GB RAM. I created a USB boot drive with WoeUSB and the Vostro booted okay and I began the installation but it halted and gave me the message that my computer didn’t meet the requirements for Windows 11. I was merely curious about the new iteration of Windows. I have virtualized Windows 10 on the Darter Pro before and have installed Windows 10 in Virtualbox on that same Dell Vostro before. Windows 11 is different and it’s a difference I’m not prepared to take. I’m glad I use Linux Mint. I don’t see any good reason to change.
I’m blogging tonight using my System76 Darter Pro which is now nearly three years old. The laptop came with Pop!_OS installed on it and I kept using that Linux distribution for much of the first two years. Last year I made the switch to Linux Mint and I enjoy that very much. Whether I’m running Pop!_OS or Linux Mint my computer runs as well as it did when it was new nearly three years ago. Linux and free software provide the best value for most users and yet daily I encounter folks who have never heard of Linux or free software. Last week I helped a friend access their inaccessible Microsoft Word and Excel files by installing LibreOffice 7.2 on their Windows laptop. I hoped to encourage this person to upgrade their Windows 7 operating system which is out of date with the Linux option. Their computer which is a Hewlett-Packard DM4-2070us is an excellent candidate. It has an i5 processor and six GB RAM. One of the impediments for my friend is the need to edit PES files for a Brother embroidery machine. I found an open source workaround using the Inkstitch extension with Inkscape. I wish I was more proficient with that application than I am.
Peril by Bob Woodward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Excellent book with lots of keen insights and interviews with individuals involved in presidential politics in the past five years. The book confirmed for me the grave danger our republic is in from the forces of evil that have come to dominate the Republican party in the United States. I wasn’t initially in favor of a Joe Biden presidency. I didn’t think he was progressive enough to lead the country forward. Now, however after seeing him in action of the past nine months and learning much more about his history and character through this book I am convinced that he is the right person for the job.
The Reckoning: Our Nation’s Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal by Mary L. Trump
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was an exceptionally well researched and written book that I stumbled upon. It was not on my radar but I am so glad that I borrowed it and listened to it on Libby from our public library. Mary Trump is a bright spot and atones for the indelible mark that her surname has had upon the American psyche.
I’m listening to a book by Neil deGrasse Tyson on astrophysics. It’s extremely interesting and mostly over my head. Last year I took a course on “The Bible and Science.” It was a Christian college and though the professor was very open minded many of my fellow students clung to the belief that the Bible is literally true.
I’m a long time fan of Ilia Delio’s writing too and she frequently writes about how we need new thinking in the church vis a vis the discoveries of quantum mechanics. Tyson’s book has confirmed for me that the Bible is mythologized history. It was written by ancient writers whose grasp of the cosmos was limited.
There are lots of solid principles in the Bible. Universal truths like treating others as we’d like to be treated. Giving gifts and being repaid many times over. I accept that as I’ve witnessed it in my own life. Our concept of a supreme being and it’s expression must be revised in light of what we now know.
General Milley is being pilloried in the press for allegedly talking to his Chinese counterpart in the crazy days after the January 6, 2021 insurrection and prior to the inauguration of our current president. Some say the general committed treason. Treason is attacking one’s own country. It’s attempting to overthrow the government of our country. General Milley was merely living up the the oath of allegiance which all members of our armed forces and members of congress, members of the judiciary and executive branch take upon entering service.
“I, __, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/5/3331
General Milley was living up to that oath of office by refusing to cooperate in the invalidation of the 2020 presidential election. It is not treason to support the rule of law in this republic. Fomenting an insurrection on January 6, 2021 and endangering our elected representatives and the capitol police comes closer to the definition of treason. Thank you for your service General.