Tuesday, November 22, 2011

John F. Kennedy

President Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy arrive at Dallas Love Field Airport, November 22, 1953. He was later shot to death as his motorcade rode through downtown Dallas in an open convertible. It was a sunny day.

John F. Kennedy

I cried when John F. Kennedy was killed.
Slain by a gunman named
Lee Harvey Oswald. An American.

A strange fellow, hell bent on committing the ultimate crime.
        Political disagreement with the president?
                        Maybe. There were rumors.

    I hate violence, disruptions and death.

When the media
Said President Kennedy had been shot in my
Part of the country: Texas
        I felt ashamed that it occurred in Dallas.

               The date was November 22, 1963.
I remember thinking: Violence is so intentional.
So evil. So distracting. So aimless.

Death should be natural.
Not forced by a killer’s bullet.

I was in downtown Austin
     The day it happened:
    The assassination.
I was waiting to catch a bus,
Smiling behind my lips, being
Flirted with by passing men.

Hearing about death was not on
        My to-do-list.
    The day was too sunny and
    Pretty to ruin with that kind of news:

    The fatality of a president.

I heard a man or woman
Say Kennedy had been shot.
His condition was uncertain. Everything was crazy.
The news was traveling at record speed.

I was surprised for some reason.
I don’t think I believed it.

I was not close to a radio
Or TV. I had to wait
Until I got home.

        It was a long bus ride.
            A very long ride.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

They said the shots rang out, 

Annihilating a life
That had a right to be lived in full.

        My mother greeted me at the door
            With the tragic news.

    I didn’t want to cry.
        Not for this man,
        The president of the United States.
        He was a stranger to me.
    Nonetheless I had voted for hm.

The bothersome knot settling 

Deep in my throat.
Was preparing to strangle me.
The need to cry can be stifling.

My head and chest were heavy,
Each breathing and beating to its own rhythm.
I thought each would
        Burst under the pulsating pressure:
            Beat. Throb. Beat. Throb. Beat. Throb.

Things got better after letting
Go the tears.
Private tears I had saved and packaged
For a different occasion.

I teetered between sniffling
And crying out loud when Kennedy’s
Funeral was televised.

Watching it with the
Rest of rest of the world
Was harder than when the
    Assassination was first announced by
        A tearful media.

That was the first and last time
I  cried for a white man.
His death has been a lasting memory.

The assassinator of President
John F. Kennedy was gunned down
By a hat wearing
Little man named
         Jack Ruby,  
    A night club owner in Dallas.
Lee Harvey Oswald
Was in police custody
When the single shot was fired.
Police and detectives stood still as cement,
Their mouths and eyes
Propped open in total shock
        As a “distraught” Ruby delivered
        A fatal bullet to Oswald’s belly.
                  Point blank.

    The hefty little shooter surrendered without incident.

Ruby was able to get close to
The captured suspect because
He was a familiar face
At the Dallas Police Department.

Familiarity bred justice outside the courtroom
        That bright sunny day.

It’s true the brain is a filing cabinet.

This retrieved file helped me write this poem. 
It helped me remember
That November day in history,
When sunshine, bullets and tragedy
Controlled the world’s attention.

The retrieved file
Helped me recall that
Solemn day.

It was the first and last time
My mother held me while I cried.

I was a grown woman with daughters of my own.
Daughters that I held whenever they cried.
Copyright by dorothy charles banks

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hate is a festering sore that cannot heal itself

First Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden promoting support of veterans at NASCAR, where they were booed by some disgruntled individuals attending the race.

Hate has no limit, neither does its second cousin, Ignorance. Individuals who booed the First and Second Ladies at NASCAR were limited in their knowledge about what the two have done to benefit veterans and their families. Fighting for veterans and their families has been a nonstop project for Michelle Obama and Jill Biden.

I am elated to see that these educated, talented, hard working women are able to rise above quibblers. Hate and whining is time consuming. It eventually destroys the individual  accepts it as an important addition t0 his or her life. Hate eats you alive. It smothers the senses. It festers like an incurable sore. Those who booed Michelle and Jill cannot let go of their rancor and that festering sore. These personality downfalls have resided in them too many years. They are not willing to let go.

Confucius said: "Ignorance is the night of mind; a night without moon or stars." Confucius did not know these MASCAR folk but he was right on the money about who they are.

How sad it is that disgruntled NASCAR fans did not realize they are shutting out the moon and stars, two of the freest gifts in life. Michelle Obama and Jill Biden are trying to give both of these to the troops and their families. Our soldiers deserve the moon and stars and more, because their lives have been uprooted by two deadly conflicts in the Middle East. Their lives have been changed for ever. Their peace of mind is walking on egg shells.

By disrespecting Michelle and Jill, the booing fans disrespected deployed troops, veterans, the wives of soldiers, the husbands of soldiers, their children, and their service to America. The booing was tantamount to stomping on the graves of men and women who lost their lives fighting for America's freedom. A freedom that allowed NASCAR fans to boo two women struggling to fulfill a promise.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Larry Elder vigorously questions Chris Matthews about details in book on John F. Kennedy

Below is a heated exchange between radio host Larry Elder, and MSNBC TV host Chris Matthews, who has written a book about Robert F. Kennedy and his presidency. 

Elder's attack is angry and ferocious. Matthews doesn't sound ready to strike back. He defers to Elder's mockery. Ironically, Matthews has taken the same tone with some of his guests that he disagrees with. I guess he was taken aback to hear himself in the likes of Elder.

Elder said on his radio show afterwards, “You know things didn’t go well when, a few minutes after the interview concludes, Matthews’ booker emails my producer." The email read: “I wish you would’ve let me know that Larry was planning on attacking Chris. Chris is always up for a good, healthy debate, but that was really not professional or cool.”

Tuesday’s interview was hostile from the get go as Elder, who has hosted a show on KABC Radio for more than 10 years, tried to establish Matthews as a biased journalist who unfairly attacks Republicans. (Yahoo News)

Larry Elder

Chris Matthews

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Repulsed by one; enthralled by the other

Enthralled by Herman Cain
Repulsion for President Obama
It is now way past common knowledge that Barack Obama is of mixed heritage. He has a White mother and a Black father from Kenya. He was raised by his late mother and White grandparents.

During Obama’s run for the presidency he was demonized and scandalized by southern-raised yahoos. When he won the presidency their open contempt flowed like a polluted river from one red state to the other. Monied organizations like Americans for Prosperity financed anti-Obama protests. Participants proudly displayed signs and banners communicating old school emotions and fanaticism. 

Republicans were empowered by their own agenda and spirit of repulsion for Obama. Their pre-election animus boiled over, spilling into Obama’s presidency. They declared before the campaign began that Hillary Clinton would get the Democratic nomination; Rudy Giuliani would get the Republican nomination. Giuliani was favored to win the presidency against Clinton. Pollsters and the media predicted he would prance to victory. In the meanwhile, the
media complex and prognosticators treated Obama like a sideshow that would be laughed of the national stage in 2008.

Herman Cain, on the other hand, in 2011, has a devoted following among the same people that loathe Obama. Inasmuch as Cain is not garnering fevered love from the majority of elected Republicans,  a few of them are in his corner. At least they pretend to be in public. Republican rivals who bash Cain have been measured in their language and criticism. They do not want to alienate his supporters, most of whom belong to the tea party club, and are vocal in their dislike of President Obama.

At a recent Americans for Prosperity Foundation conference in Washington, Cain got thunderous approval when he introduced himself as "the Koch brothers' brother from another mother."  Nothing original but his supporters ate it up.

Charles and David Koch are multi-billionaires who  are buying politicians and the offices they want them to win. By the way, Cain lifted that “brother from another mother” line from Rush Hour 1,  delivered by actor/comedian Chris Tucker. Another by the way--the Koch brothers will not be spending millions of dollars on Cain's campaign. They know he will not get the nomination. Tea party support for Cain will falter before election day.

This week Cain mentioned Bill Ayers in the midst of a speech. Ayers is a favorite bogeyman for Republican candidates.  In 2008 the GOP used Ayers like a pin cushion, hoping to needle punch the air out of Obama’s candidacy.  I suspect Cain will rehash this old and trite tactics, using  Ayers, Rev. Wright, Obama’s birth certificate and legal citizenship to appease his base. 

As an African American who follows Herman Cain’s candidacy, I see the historical aspect of his running to defeat a sitting president, who is Black. We have never had that happen in America, and it will probably be many more decades to come before it happens again. Despite Obama being a historical first in America, I  do not think Cain will become the second Black president. He confirms my observations each time he participates in the Republican's debates. I sense that he is controlling and short-tempered. He has a mean streak that cameras cannot hide.

There is an old adage that says, “seek and ye shall find.”  After a couple of hours of searching the Internet I found my answer  on the
American Thinker, where I read an article titled “10 Reasons to  Support Herman Cain for President” by C. Edmund Wright, July 18, 2011.

Wright wrote that the number one reason for electing Cain is: “It opens the door to a ticket of Cain and Haley Barbour in some order.  OK, maybe this is not earthshaking, but imagine the 'racist Republican Party' putting forth a national ticket including a drawlin' Mississippi good ol' boy and a black businessman who still speaks a smidgen of Ebonics.”

Wright cleared up the hate Obama, love Cain question for me. His number 10 reason for electing Cain dealt with race. He wrote: “A Cain candidacy not only takes the race card off the table -- it might in fact put it in the Republicans' camp.  Frankly, Cain is 'blacker' than Obama in every way imaginable.  He does not have a white parent.  

"He has a slight black dialect and does not ‘turn it off’ to impress Harry Reid or Joe Biden, nor does he ‘amp it up’ to impress Jeremiah Wright. As Obama's presidency has shown, America did not need a black president. What America needs is to just get over the race thing, period.  Cain is over it, and I bet he would flat-out tell Obama to get over it, too.”

Repulsion for President Obama 
Enthralled by Herman Cain
Enthralled  by Herman Cain
Repulsion for President Obama

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Your life, no matter how long or short, can flash in front of your eyes on the way to dying

dorothy charles banks
As a youngster I was not a follower. I would readily accept a challenge or dare if it wasn’t too dangerous. Dangerous or not, there is something mischievous about a dare. If and when I strayed from my usual posture, it because I wanted to experience something different, intentionally breaking away from my regular routine.

This afternoon (Sunday) I was watching a automobile commercial where the distracted driver quickly stepped on his brakes, avoiding a crash with an 18 wheeler. I think the purpose of the commercial, in addition to selling the car,  was to show the efficiency of the car’s brakes.

But that’s not what caught my attention.

Just as the driver was about to T-bone the 18 wheeler, his life flashed in front of his eyes. He time traveled  back to his childhood through a series of scenes. It was at that moment in the commercial that took me back to the day my life flashed in front of my eyes. Some people argue that this never happens when you’re facing death. Just like some argue that dying individuals never see a bright light. I don’t argue those points. All life threatening experiences are different. My mother and grandmother saw "the light."

I was about 14-years-old, in middle school. I remember it was a hot summer day, one of the few summer days my mother allowed my sister and I to go swimming at Rosewood Park. When I say swimming, the correct term would be more like “floating underwater." Nonetheless, I thought I was really swimming!

On this particular day the good to excellent swimmers were diving off the board into the deep water. I was hanging out in the shallow water. Sometimes I’d venture into five feet of water, clinging to the pool's edge. I felt safe as I held on for support. 

The experienced divers were much more fun compared to me. Somebody yelled at me: “Dorothy Charles! I dare you to jump off the diving board!” Everybody turned to look at me, waiting to see what I would do. With all eyes on me, including the life guard, how could I refuse a dare! Even knowing I couldn’t swim a lick, my youthful ego wouldn’t let me refuse this public dare. I’d show them!

Laughing, I walked up the few steps leading to the diving board. I didn’t know how to dive so I just jumped into the deep water, feet first. I surfaced from the water, screaming for help. I felt panic and fear overtaking me. Everybody starting laughing. They thought I was kidding.  Immediately after screaming for help, my short life began flashing in front of me with lighting speed, almost like an out of control movie reel.

The second time I surfaced the reel was moving faster. The bodyguard was watching me,  thinking I was playing as I screamed again. I was looking in his direction. He didn’t move. He probably thought if I was stupid enough to take a dare and dive into the deep water, I knew how to swim.

The third time I surfaced the reel was still rolling.  I can’t explain it but I had the sense of mind to notice the sun was brighter than I remembered.  It was blindingly bright. At this point the reel ended abruptly as I was about to go under for a fourth time. 

The bodyguard dove into the pool, realizing that I was not playing a game. Lucky for me he hit the water when he did. He pumped out the water I had swallowed. Later he tried to convince me to get back in the pool, in the shallow section. I was too embarrassed. Everyone was standing around looking at me, concerned. The life guard didn’t scold or lecture me. He realized how scared I was. I went home, not understanding the reel. I didn't tell my mother what happened.

After several days I returned to the pool but I didn’t take another dare to dive into the deep section. I had learned my lesson. I wasn’t going to push my luck a second time.I have never forgotten how my young life flashed in front of my eyes that particular summer. 

Oh, yeah. There is one fact I forgot to mention. By the time the reel stopped, and I was going underwater for the fourth time, I had returned to my mother’s womb, waiting to be born. This was a true experience.