Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
Maybe this will attract a few supporters of this idea, but I have trouble following it.
My alma mater, Cal-State L.A. is offering ‘segregated housing’ to black students which the Black Student Union and the school president agreed upon. If you’re into ‘investigating’ this matter, the link from our local ABC affiliate is posted above detailing the topic of this day.
The conservative blogs and websites such as Breitbart had a field day with this issue, which is unfortunate. What’s even more unfortunate is the question why is this needed? Alumni such as I experienced racism in subtle forms while on campus. Trust me, after I was chewed out by a tenured professor or asked if I was a ‘gang kid’ in class, I had no ‘safe zones’ to retreat to except….the Black Student Union. To create another venue for students to connect takes away the very reason to have a BSU in my opinion. I will say I had no problems, no hesitations with the University Times when I submitted my two articles, “Life Goes On in South Central L.A.” and “Welcome to 1990”. You can find them in the Books section of my website to your right.
I will also say that as the only black student in a few of my English classes, I understand the awkwardness, the many eyes watching you to see how you ‘measure up’. This occurred during the Reagan-Bush years on campus where times were vastly different than they were today, but the thoughts were still the same. Oh, I wish I can share some stories with you but perhaps one day, I shall………
While it would be predictable to say, “I don’t see the reason for this”, I’m trying to see the view of the students. College as an institution with people from different backgrounds and ethnic groups is a challenge. There’s a reason why a BSU is needed, although folks who oppose the idea may see it differently. Life does not have a series of ‘safe zones’ to seclude yourself from, even as my own experience would indicate. The black students at CSULA were all very close with each other and it was during that time in the 1990’s where the Black Consciousness movement was very strong in movies, music, television and magazines. The early 2000’s has not translated into that same consciousness as it has been hijacked by the Progressive crowd who believes in the creation of safe zones and other thoughts and ideas they propose.
Tell you what; I will go on record in saying that this is not a good idea and just gives the Powers That Be an opportunity not only to mock, but celebrate segregation as a ‘positive’ thing. (this view is shared by the not-so Powers That Be as well). I will hope that students who feel as if their voices aren’t being heard or a need to band together should get involved with their BSU’s and work to create something which will give their voices more weight in conversations on and off campus. If one current student at CSULA(or anyone else) wants to offer an opinion, they have the right to do so in the comments section. I’m curious to know if this is a good idea or not from their own words.
Until then, I await your responses.
Charles L. Chatmon
English (BA) ’95 CSULA
The one thing about social media – is that everyone must have an opinion about something. Our multi-platforms are designed so that folks such as you and I can ‘chime’ in and express our displeasure or comment about a certain topic of the day. Allow me to humbly tell you boys and girls out there who use these services and/or created a ‘brand’ because of your constant presence on them…it doesn’t matter.
Face it, we’re living in a pop-culture driven society which means we 'believe' we are given the right to present a cause, start a ‘movement’, or be outraged over a story that offends our sensibilities. Even a candidate for president can type out a hastily, ill-advised ‘tweet’ and it becomes newsworthy. Besides the antics of one Donald Trump, you and I don’t have that much clout to sway the masses to what's going on our Twitter feeds or Facebook posts as Mr. Trump. I’m an ordinary writer, a scribe aiming to push a book I’m working on at the moment. Reader, you may be at your desk passing the time on your job, taking a look on your computer screen to see what’s ‘newsworthy’ with our pop-culture icons. When you and I post or tweet online about a 'hot topic', it doesn’t matter.
For example, we may be outraged or supportive of what Colin Kaepernick the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, has done by taking a stand for not rising during the National Anthem before games. Online, we have shown our anger, shared pictures or videos of former fans or current Niner fans burning his jersey, even taken time on our personal blogs to say a word or two about his stance.
Even then, it doesn’t matter what we say.
I find myself after absorbing story after story asking, “Who am I to share my views on this topic? What does it matter whether or not I agree with his stance/those two people getting married/this new social movement?” I’m only one of seven billion people on this crowded planet who has an opinion and a viewpoint that most will agree or will not agree with. I believe social media is a medium which depending on who controls it, tries to push as many of us as it can to their way of thinking, adhering to their philosophies. It’s where free will runs free to say what we want without consequence, or until a potential employer refuses to hire us due to an unfortunate comment posted on our timelines.
What does it matter what I have to say?
Our need to express ourselves comes from the fundamental need to say something, anything to share what’s on our minds. Police brutality, pollution, better wages and wars in other countries provoke conversation, thought, and the need to say what’s on our hearts about said topic. While it doesn’t matter in the long run as posts and tweets remain on our timelines without the responses we anticipated, it is the basic human need to ‘be heard’. As long as we have our social media, the same voices who have built networks, brands, gathering followers along the way are the ones who will always have something to say. You and I, who add a comment once in a while or perhaps a string at a time……won’t change anything much at all.
This is the perfect old school response to the 'talking heads' on social media today. From the superstar Twitter 'users' to the blog fanatics, this message from Run DMC.
It's all yours gentlemen..........
The Storm has been unleashed, which means it’s time to share what’s inside the much anticipated anthology coming March 2017.
Charles L. Chatmon, a refreshing new voice in the world of modern poetry and author of The Depths of My Soul: poems from a man ; The Voices of South Central is back with an anthology of thought provoking poems that challenge us to ask the same question asked many centuries ago, "What Is Truth?" in this brand new century and millennium. In "Bang! Bang!, the poem quoted above, Chatmon explores -and mourns - the violence that deprives young people of their lives. His love poems such as "An Unreachable Lady" is filled with love and yearning.
Chatmon also shares short stories from the heart. A widowed husband is faced with a difficult decision in “The Albatross”. Five young men and women discover their fates are forever changed in “The Party”, and in “Storm over South Central”, Rain falls on the troubled section of L.A., but what does it bring forth that will change not only the community, but possibly the entire country?
Read "Storm over South Central" and discover the thoughts Chatmon writes about in this volume filled with verses and tales of despair, stories of hope. It will also reveal a lot about American society - its strengths, its flaws and its people. This is a literary journey you will enjoy taking.
Note: this entry has never been posted anywhere on the web, but the date shows it was written in 2004 before the director of this film made quite a few ill-advised comments.
On Ash Wednesday 2004, an incredible thing happened. There was a fervor like never before not seen in years past. Multitudes of people gathered to witness a tale of suffering and redemption. It was church leaders and their followers viewing on many threatre screens a movie directed by ‘Mad Max’ himself, Mel Gibson. Scores of people watched with their own two eyes, “The Passion of The Christ”. Within the first week of the movie’s viewing, you might have seen the tears flowing from people’s eyes just walking out of the theatre. The emotional impact of Jesus’ last day on earth on film gripping patrons to the point of speechlessness. Even those who are not Christians had nothing but kind words for the movie. It was just that deep, it was just that real. Of course, you had factions religious and otherwise complaining about the violence of the film, the lack of dark-skinned people, etc. Yet you could not find one person who wanted the movie pulled off the screens unlike other films they may have found offensive. The earlier battles involving this movie had ignored and the movie was shown ahead of schedule.
The bigger question is not how much money The Passion made, but the investment it made in everyday people’s lives. How much of the message in the film did they take in? That question is one that will be answered for months and possibly years to come. This generation has suffered through the birth pangs of this new millennium and century. What started out as a time of hope, newness has been replaced with despair and sorrow. We woke up on January 1, 2000 dreaming of better days. Now we pray just to get by only one. We have seen the horrors of 9/11, the shock and awe pictures of the War In Iraq, the scandals of Enron and World.com, and in America, our surplus now steeped in a deficit which will our children will inherit. We have seen our political leaders lie, so-called role models commit crimes and even those things we hold sacred violated and diluted. For any one reason, this is the reason why millions are turning up in droves to witness The Passion.
Christ is the ultimate hero, the Savior of all. After all, those we have appointed to lead have failed us. Christ has never failed us and committed the supreme sacrifice for our sins. No question we live in a sin sick world and the influences that are being passed on to our children are overwhelming. I don’t know Mr. Gibson personally, but I do know this, through this movie he is satisfying the moral hunger desperately needed in this country. I have always believed as does many people that the Civil Rights movement wasn’t just for Negroes to be equal, it was also a spiritual movement that attempted to shake the core of Man’s ignorance. Towards his mortal end, Dr. King in his famous mountaintop speech admitted that he only wanted to do God’s Will. His death was a Christ-like sacrifice in that powerful forces conspired to do away with the man of peace. However, we as a people are always seeking ways to satisfy the soul, to do a good work. When the L.A. Uprising of 1992 calmed down, I remember seeing Edward James Olmos picking up a broom and mentioning to clean up the city. It was a gesture that led others to pick up their brooms and do the same. In the section of South Central that I lived in, a group of students from UCLA came down to our neighborhood and picked up the debris left from the fires. A church cooked a meal for the National Guardsmen patrolling the streets. I only mention these events because of the Christ-like lessons we can find in this: there is joy in sacrifice and in thinking of others more than yourself. The people who wanted to make a difference washed the feet of others, so to speak. I could go back to the USA for Africa ’We Are The World’ and ’Hands Across America’ efforts of the mid 1980’s in our attempts to further the lessons of two decades prior to help understand how it is truly better to give than to receive.
In an era filled with ‘me, me and me’, The Passion reveals stirs our own passions to strive like Christ. We will never fully get there, ever. However, it does show the need to go back to what is meaningful in life. Not just to us, but our fellow man as well. Again, Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live with Him in eternal glory. It is the hope at the very least The Passion will inspire others to shun the reality show spectacles of the world and to be real towards each other. If that happens, then Gibson doesn’t deserve an award; he deserves our deepest thanks.
But before all that, the One who deserves it most of all, must receive our deepest thanks first and our commitment to share in His passion to do the right thing in His eyes always. Only then, will we all know the investment He paid for us was worth it indeed.