Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
Fifteen years pass by so quickly, time sneaks up on you. All of a sudden, memories enter your mind of what took place in a moment or two so long ago. Speaking for myself, that’s how long it’s been since my first book signing, one of the special moments I’ll always remember.
In that first book signing in Express Yourself Bookstore in South L.A., my publisher, her team and a host of family and friends heard me recite heartfelt poems from The Depths of My Soul. It was a day I had looked forward to for a long time, initiated a year prior with my asking a question in front of a book club during a poetry reading if anyone in the audience knew of a publisher for my work. One gentleman pointed me in the right direction and a year later on December 1, I held a copy of the Depths aloft proud of the hard work that it took to get it ready for production. I’ll never forget the feelings of joy and pride I had then, and still do today.
Fifteen years can sneak up on you so quickly, it’s easy to forget the days that followed of selling the Depths at book fairs, special events and on the train on my way to work. It was awkward selling my book to my co-workers, but I appreciate the positive comments for the work and what I’ve done. Wearing this name of ‘author’ is an accomplishment almost everyone can achieve, but as I’ve found out in my days as a writers workshop instructor, it depends on the inner drive people have to make their literary dreams come true.
There’s a lot more I could say and perhaps needs to be said, but for now I am thankful to God for this talent and I pray I use it to the best of my ability to exhort, encourage, rebuke, and inspire the readers of my works to whatever they provoke them to do. Least of all, I hope whatever I write makes them think.
Here we are in this brave new world of ignorance and division. Hope you enjoy it America! In the past days since election of Donald Trump as president, there are stories of Americans physically assaulting or nearly killing fellow Americans based on their gender, race or sexual orientation. Where is that ‘kindler, gentler nation’ now? It doesn’t exist anymore. It’s time for the adults to take over and show the rest of the world, we can come together despite our differences. Submitted for your approval; an idea I shared on social media recently:
The ‘Humanity Challenge’ I feel is an answer to the nasty rhetoric, name-calling, harmful acts towards other Americans by ‘Americans’. It’s mature, much needed for an increasingly immature nation. Social media is mostly to blame for this. When you have users who use profane terms such as B.S. or ‘I don’t care’ to an argument or point of view, it’s a sign of letting ignorance guide thoughts instead of using the conscience to make our life’s condition better. What we’ve seen since the general election is an attitude taken way too far by a few individuals who don’t see America as a diverse nation with a ‘melting pot, they have a narrow, isolationist view of this country. The Humanity Challenge I believe, is the solution to the racist and sexist crap going on right now. America has always selected bad presidents before. Time will tell if President Trump is one of those but based on the primaries and campaign, he has a long way to go to turn it around. As President Obama says, if he’s successful, then this country will follow suit. On the other hand, a nation can only be as strong as the populace within and if that populace decides to turn on itself for whatever reason, no measure of goodwill shall prosper.
I propose the Humanity Challenge because if we’re all God’s creation and there should be ‘no respecter of persons’, then why should I treat my brothers and sisters any differently because of an election? The side instigating this violence has waited for eight years to ‘take their country back’ and now that it has, it is showing how mean-spirited and divisive they can be. Hypocritical when it comes to respect and common decency, but don’t let the countless memes floating on social media benefiting that side distract them from the truth we as human beings are humane and should show that as much as possible.
Laugh, mock, doubt all you want about this Humanity Challenge but from the responses ‘down the aisle’, it looks like an idea both Democrats and Republicans, progressive and conservative can agree with. In the coming days and months ahead, we’ll need to return back to realizing our humanity and our place in the world in treating our fellow man and woman with the respect they deserve. Lord knows we’ll need it.
If you’re up to this, use the hashtag #HumanityChallenge and make a difference. Shake the hand of someone who doesn’t see ‘eye to eye’ on the issues you care about. This is how America can not only be great, but outstanding.
President-elect Donald Trump has floated this ridiculous idea during his campaign that the ‘inner cities’ are doomed to ‘hell’ and only he can fix the problems that exist. He has claimed over and over again residents get shot walking down the street on their way to the store. This is erroneous and way off target, but I can see the reason for these assumptions. Somehow folks like him have their mental time machines trapped to the 1990’s when the last great outbreak of community violence occurred. According to the same FBI who will be part of a conspiracy theory for their role in this year’s election, violent crime in major cities has decreased instead of the latter.
What does all of this mean? It means a continuation of the same mental script running (or languishing) in the minds of Traditionalists everywhere:
- The ‘inner cities’ are full of Blacks and Latinos.
- Ergo, this means more violence.
However, when you visit places such as South Central L.A. these days, you will find that it is changing – not for the residents who already live there – but for a future demographic. One that has money to spend, family-oriented and white. Since most the current residents of these neighborhoods are elderly and not expected to live much longer, a turnover in residency is expected. The L.A. Rams new Inglewood stadium is due to be built in 2019 while the rest of the Hollywood Park Tomorrow project which includes a movie theater, shops and stores, even an amphitheater for plays and the NFL Draft is scheduled to follow. In the heart of South Los Angeles, Exposition Park, the new Banc of California stadium replacing the Sports Arena should be completed by 2018, not long from now. With all these developments occurring within a six mile radius at least, is it any wonder that part of the President-elect statements regarding the inner city seem off? It hasn’t scared off hipsters moving into Harlem, West Oakland and other former urban areas in this country. Los Angeles is no different.
My immediate neighborhood has a huge Black-Latino population, so no signs of hipsters yet although I am seeing old buildings razed to make way for new developments. Plus, I am beginning to see signs from the landlord who owns at least three properties but I don’t expect movement until the Rams new stadium is erected. Please don’t tell the Traditionalists about these changes though. Let them continue to believe our neighborhoods are in such a state of no return they fail to see health food stores open up where liquor stores once stood, or shops and stores meant for these hipsters alone that no bullets would dare touch their personage. No, the change we feared in this inner city has arrived and there’s no way the President-elect, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Johnson or Ms. Stein can do about it…..nor would they be bothered to do so since it doesn’t concern them at all.
It is now November 9th.
The day after America elected Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Yes, despite all of the polls, the predictions and projections, he beat challenger former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in what pundits would call a sobering upset. I voted tonight, expected a different outcome but then again….perhaps this is the exact outcome we as a nation deserve.
This election was a clear message that the dominant society in this country was fed up with certain people on issues of marriage, their existence, etc. The dominant society was not satisfied with the current president despite his pleas and work to bring about ‘change’ in the seats of power. They despised a certain ethnicity gathered together in ‘formation’, disliked the forms of social protest of Black lives mattering and knees bowed at sporting events. President Trump – yes – get ready to say that for the next four years – President Trump was that message sent loud and clear by an electorate chomping at the bit to make sure it was received to this new generation.
This election was a failure of this generation – the millennials – who thought so much of themselves with their online hubris, their proclamations of ‘diversity’, their probing questions to changing the status quo that they succumbed to that same multitude who reminded them it’s not about the speeches, marches, and think pieces, definitely not about the protests. It was about the same country they felt slipping away under the stewardship of this new generation.
You will hear a brand new tone by the dominant society after this historic win. It’s just as before after political and court victories by candidates representing them; arrogant, condescending, rude and insulting. However, their side won so they have the freedom to gloat, to brag, to express however they want to feel. They will also insist men like me shouldn’t exist in this Brave New Country, that I’m a ‘thug’. They will continue to look at the color of my skin and see nor feel anything past the outer layers of my human body. The dominant society will tout a different kind of ‘ism’ that is nationalist and extremely traditional. Tonight I fear I may have lost friends, good people over our political differences. It should not be thus in America, but this is the hand we are dealt.
Tonight we’ve entered the beginnings of an era of the weeping and gnashing of teeth in America (as if it didn’t exist before). We will resume our mundane lives until the imaginary musings of the dominant society affect folks just like me, actions that might be considered brutal. Until that time, life will go on. We have no choice but to accept the moment as it is this late in the early morning….and for the next four years.
I think it’s about time to call this election what it officially deserves to be named; the scorched-earth election of 2016. Everything is talked about except the issues that matter. In the past months since the primaries, We The People have been forced to witness:
The issues of police brutality, the need to overturn our justice system, terrorism, the wars overseas, a state government poisoning its citizens with tainted water? Forget it! You stand a better chance of learning how stars can get away with groping women in their genitals or hearing stories about deleted emails than hearing about the challenges that will continue to disturb this nation long after a new president is sworn in.
This is the future, 2016 A.D. except you won’t find any crumbling metropolises as a disheartening reminder of a nuclear holocaust, the nucleus of American society is doing that well all by themselves. This election year has unveiled so much hatred, so much animosity between human beings of different backgrounds, religions, etc, that even now I’m beginning to see students exhibit behaviors immature adults have displayed for the sake of voting their candidate in office.
This nuclear holocaust began eight years ago when America had the audacity to vote a half black man into the highest office in the land. In that time, we have seen Americans dress up in colonial garb in an effort to invoke the words of their Founding Fathers, yet move further away from those principles by insisting their way is the only way. None other. The poverty bomb exploded as the rich became even richer and the middle class who deserved a ‘fair shot’ was being fired upon by its centurions. Speaking of which, from a man called Oscar Grant to the hashtag of the week, it has become commonplace to hear news story (or in this case read a tweet) after news story of yet another senseless death of a black person by law enforcement. Day after freakin day it seems to occur with no stoppage in sight.
Wasn’t America at one time considered to be a ‘kindler, gentler nation?” Wasn’t that the one thing that made America great? Didn’t we at one time consider the well being of our fellow man and to make sure justice and equality were ensured for all instead of a privileged few? Perhaps our technology exploded much too rapidly, our ‘toys’ too distracting to see the larger picture? Maybe in becoming our ‘brother’s keeper’, we suddenly or refused to imply what this means and the spiritual benefits one receives for caring about someone instead of ourselves? This nuclear holocaust ended like all other fictional accounts; a society where the only thing that matters is ME, everyone out for themselves lest the ‘mutants’ or OTHERS invade and ruin our way of life.
Lord, help us. We know not what we do or say.
No matter who becomes president in a few days, this nuclear holocaust has ripped America asunder. You may quote Jefferson, Adams, and Washington, urge peace and demand equality like Dr. King, but I say to you America has reached a tipping point in our world in this, the future of 2016 A.D. We live in a nuclear holocaust of our own doing, one of hate, indifference and insensitivity. This scorched earth election leaves us to answer two questions:
The end……or the beginning?
Hopefully reason and common sense prevail. Watching events unfold in this country, it may already be much too late.