Archive for June, 2008

23
Jun
08

Can we stop thinking of Senator Obama as “the Black guy who might be president”?

I had been kinda holding in my less popular political views for some time now – particularly those that pertain to people of color.  (I have a tremendous amount of respect for Bill Cosby and his accomplishments.  I think his indictment of Black fathers and whether our priorities as they pertain to education are probably the right message, but delivered in the wrong forum.)   I received an e-mail recently that sent me over the top.  In the e-mail were several animated images (GIFs) of popular Black actors dancing.  These are actors that you might see in sitcoms (George Jefferson from The Jeffersons, Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Whitney Houston had one from one of the many embarrassing moments in Being Bobby Brown.)  The subtext of the e-mail was that it was time to sing and shout because, “Obama got the ticket”.  (Meaning that he’s become the apparent Democratic candidate.)  And that was all I could take.

Please don’t misunderstand my sentiment.  I’ve been a fan of Senator Obama since reading a story about his life in a men’s magazine (it was either GQ or Men’s Health) a few years before the John Kerry endorsement speech.  And then when I heard him speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, I thought, “Whoa.  This is the guy who I might be able to get behind!  Let me stay tuned!”

Since that moment where he spoke so passionately at the DNC four years ago, he’s had a similar impact on many other people.  My dear friend at work (who happens to be of Korean descent) and I talk all the time during our much treasured lunches about the fact that he’s peaked our interest.  Very early in January, before Obama-mania hit, he went to a rally to hear more about his policies and where he stands on certain issues.  And despite my respect for Senator Clinton (although that respect has been tested over the past few months), I felt that Senator Obama represents a segment of the country who hasn’t been heard.  He represents a compassionate way of dealing with the problems that we’ve inherited.

All that said, please understand: I’m a huge Barack Obama fan and I anxiously look forward to his career, whether or not he becomes President of these United States.

So what’s so unsettling about this e-mail?

In a large part, I think it represents an apathy on the part of my people (people of color.)  Now, I do love my people and I have a tremendous amount of pride about where we’ve been and our road to citizenship in this country – including the part that it has played in allowing people from other ethnic backgrounds who are also dark in complexion to participate in our freedom.  But I’m starting to reconsider whether Bill Cosby’s tactics, as mean-spirited and as accusatory as they may have appeared, might not have been right on time (as Michael Eric Dyson debated in his book.)  The truth is that our priorities are completely in disarray.  I’m including myself in this indictment.  We often complain about not being business owners of the restaurants that we patronize or the business in which we shop, but we don’t seek the power through business ownership ourselves.

Continue reading ‘Can we stop thinking of Senator Obama as “the Black guy who might be president”?’

Advertisements
23
Jun
08

The Eyes of Ms. Welch

As part of my church fellowship, I serve as a deacon.  (Usually when I say that, it either elicits one of two responses: First, no response – as to comfortably ignore it, thinking about whether or not I’m judging every contrary word that’s been said before.  The other reaction is respect for the calling.)  Truthfully, I didn’t want to do it.  I’d be comfortable just sitting in the back row, doing whatever was required to make things easier on the fellowship.  Having entered into my second year (after three years of intense training), it is different than what I imagined it would be.  I attend meetings.  I try to avail myself for events.  I sit closer to the front of the church.  But overall, the responsibilities are far from overwhelming.  There is one area where my willingness is sometimes tested…

As part of the diaconate responsibilities, every month set aside a time to deliver communion to members of our fellowship who desire it but cannot physically come to church.  (For those who don’t know, communion as we practice it is very simply put this: we give bread and wine (usually a wafer and grape juice) as it is symbolic of the dinner before Christ’s sacrifice where he asked that we do this in remembrance of him.)

There is one lady that we visit who looks around forty-two years old or so.  She can’t speak, but she smiles so brightly when she sees us and through moans, we understand her feelings.  She can’t walk and you can tell that she isn’t quite in control of her muscular functions.  I don’t know what she suffers from, but her presence alone shames me for any time that I’ve ever felt ‘tired’ or ‘too busy’ to help out the fellowship.  Her ability to smile, as if she had just heard the sixth number called out in the lotto drawing and looked up from an arm attached to a hand holding the matching ticket, is a tribute to Christ’s desire for us to live more abundantly (regardless of our infirmities.)  She doesn’t get served communion, but our fellowshipping with her and singing makes her heart glad almost as much as it does ours.

There are a few others that have unfortunately become regulars.  One gentleman that we visit used to stand almost a foot taller than me when I used to see him in church services (and that’s not hard to do).  Now he stays in a veteran’s hospital and he’s lost his sight.  I remember how he played the harmonica for our congregation a few times.  Now he’s in a wheelchair — head hanging down as if it weighed a hundred pounds.  He probably doesn’t recognize my voice even though I took him home once.  What I notice most about seeing him unfortunately isn’t the man in the wheelchair himself.  The fact that he’s in a veteran’s hospital causes my mind to go back to all of the footage of Saving Private Ryan and other such movies as I pass the faces on the way to see him.  I wonder about what each man must have seen with eyes that gaze back at me as if to say, “If you only knew, son.  If you know knew.”  Most of them kind of smile and nod when you greet them in kind with a showing of the teeth.  But some are just staring off into the abyss.  Thankfully these men all appear to be living in the twilight of their lives.  However, I shudder to think that the average age of the men in those chairs will start to decrease if we continue on our current course as a nation.

Continue reading ‘The Eyes of Ms. Welch’

14
Jun
08

The Incredible Hulk (2008) – Review

Incredible Hulk - 2008You know that super hero movies are on the rise when you get a complete ‘do-over’ re-cast version of the same super hero.  Well, maybe not exactly.  The 2003 release was entitled “The Hulk” and this film is “The Incredible Hulk”.  But there are several other differences.  If one really stretches the mind, they can envision this film being a sequel of the first, only with a different cast.  This iteration does not re-tell the origin of the Hulk – only shows flashes of it during the opening credit sequence and during flashbacks that Bruce Banner (the Hulk’s alter-ego) has during the film.  I choose not to believe that this is a sequel – well, because it isn’t.  They just chose to focus on more than the origin of the character.

Let me interject before diving into the review that I actually liked the first Hulk film.  I didn’t love it.  If I were forced to give it a rating, it wouldn’t get more than a 6.5 out of 10 or 2.5 out of 4 stars.  It got ridiculously wild at the end of the film (Nick Nolte – ugh) and it wasn’t exactly the most engaging cinema experience (I think we waited almost an hour into the film to see the first appearance of the Hulk.  However, I felt that it was an accurate depiction of the character that I loved as a kid.  And not just the damn television show.  One thing I did agree about was the fact that Eric Bana wasn’t right for the role.  I don’t believe the casting had to go as far to the right as this 2008 iteration did and get a huge star like Edward Norton, but I thought that even an unknown has to be more engaging and has to have a much greater on-screen presence than Bana.

Edward Norton stars as Bruce Banner and he does a fair job of portraying the role.  He’s certainly more likeable than Bana, but I don’t know why I felt that the Banner character should be more believable as a scientist.  Norton works in this role, and he’s someone I enjoy watching.  I just don’t know if he was the best choice.  But he does add believability to the story.

Continue reading ‘The Incredible Hulk (2008) – Review’

14
Jun
08

The Happening – Review (Spoiler Free)

The happening Say what you will about M. Night Shyamalan, but few can question the impact that he’s had over the past ten years in the genre of suspense films.  I’m not even that big a fan of The Sixth Sense, but rarely will you come across a person who has seen the film and who doesn’t have some polarizing reaction to the film.  Sadly, the most common reaction I come across are from people who want to debate when they ‘figured out’ the big reveal of the movie.  Ironically, it’s this unfortunate angle that has Shyamalan painted in a corner.  He followed up TSS with Unbreakable, and then my favorite Night movie, Signs. Although The Village received a lukewarm reception, I feel as if people are really missing the most entertaining aspect of an M. Night Shyamalan film.  While most people are trying to play mental chess with the movie and searching for clues and answers, the best part of these films, regardless of how clever (or not) the ending may be is the suspense that he’s able to generate.  And while The Happening is probably one of his weakest films plot-wise, it manages to keep it’s audience engaged and in suspense from the opening credits until the closing curtain

The Happening stars Mark Wahlberg as a New York high school science teacher who, along with the rest of the world, learns that there has been a supposed “chemical terrorist attack” in Central Park.  Wahlberg’s character (who’s name is Elliot Moore, but the fact that I had to look it up on imdb.com should tell you how memorable it was) along with his wife and teaching colleague (played by John Leguizamo) decide to make their way as far from the Northeast (where the ‘attacks’ seem to be concentrated) are taking place.  And honestly, this is all you need to know to understand what you’re getting into.  To tell anything more would be to ruin the best (and only redeeming) part of the film – the discovery.

Continue reading ‘The Happening – Review (Spoiler Free)’