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The First Pitch

“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me. All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.” – Jackie Robinson

April 15, 1947 is a date that all baseball fans know well. On that day Jack Roosevelt Robinson – Jackie Robinson – became the first African American to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Today is also “Jackie Robinson Day” at tonight’s Texas Rangers game at Globe Life Field in Arlington. Even more fitting is the fact that Ms. Opal will be throwing out the first pitch at tonight’s game! Tickets are still available through the Rangers box office.

Come out and enjoy the Spring Texas evening, watch the Rangers play the Los Angeles Angels, and cheer on Ms. Opal!

Ms. Opal’s Ranger Jersey for tonight
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“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” – Madeleine Albright

Madame Secretary Madeleine Albright passed away Wednesday from her fight with cancer. She was the first woman to serve as Secretary of State during the Clinton Administration. She was an astute diplomat and taught the importance of diplomacy and listening to others. I did not always side with her position but she was a virtuous diplomat in a troubled world. Her memoir, Madame Secretary, is a great read. May she rest in peace.

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4th Annual Erma C. Johnson Hadley Awards Banquet

I am deeply grateful to be named an Honoree at the 4th Annual Erma C. Johnson Hadley Awards banquet on November 5th, 2021. Ms. Hadley was the first woman and first African American to serve as Chancellor for Tarrant County College. She was instrumental in helping TCC grow and become one of the finest community colleges in the country during her 47 years there. She was an incredible educator and trailblazer.

I am honored to be recognized with my fellow honorees, Commissioner Devan Allen, former Fort Worth City Councilperson and Aids Outreach Center Executive Director, Kelly Allen Gray, and one of my favorite people, Rev. Ryon Price from Broadway Baptist Church. Please join us at the banquet.

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The Same Old Same Old

I don’t watch the news as much as I used to. That’s a big step for a news junkie. I don’t want to bury my head in the sand, mind you. It’s just watching history repeat itself over and over again gets old. COVID restrictions ease and ICU beds fill once again. A black man is murdered by the police and the streets fill with protesters. Everyone says they’ll reform the police and studies are done (anther way of saying nothing happens). Then another black man is murdered by police. The cycle starts again…

The last few days it’s been the news out of Afghanistan. Two pictures keep coming to mind. One was taken when I was in High School in 1975. The other taken last weekend. The buildings have changed, the helicopters may be different, but they remain the same picture. One is the fall of Saigon. The other is the fall of Kabul. Both represent fear, wasted lives, and wars that never end…

My heart is sad. I lost friends and family some fifty years ago in Vietnam. I lost friends in Afghanistan. Both were wasted under the guise of patriotism and “America’s interests”. I’m not sure what either means. Nothing has changed. It’s back to business as usual. I wonder if we’ll ever learn. It’s just the same old, same old…

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When is Enough, Enough?

My friend Tquan called me yesterday afternoon just to check on how I was feeling after the events of the past week – the murder of Daunte Wright in Minnesota and the NBC 5 story about virtual “slave trading’ by ninth graders in neighboring Aledo ISD – https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/carter-in-the-classroom/students-of-color-slave-traded-by-other-students-in-online-game-at-aledo-school/2603399/.

I’m so grateful for Tquan and the other members of the Be the Bridge group I’m a part of. Be the Bridge is an opportunity to address issues of racial reconciliation with other folks seeking the same end. I’m grateful that my church has begun to speak openly and more frequently about race and racism, and more importantly, to listen and value the diversity of God’s kids. The relationships that have begun to form are a blessing.

Feelings are still difficult for me to figure out – at least on the spur of the moment. All I could tell Tquan is that neither incident surprised me but left me feeling a deep sadness and perhaps a bit numb – so much so that I’d taken a break from the news for the last two days. However, I hadn’t yesterday…

I hung up the phone and the NPR story came on about Daunte Wright. His mother and his grandmother were speaking. “You took him away from us.” Their words of unspeakable loss and cries of anguish broke my heart and feelings erupted like the explosion of a long dormant volcano. I began to sob uncontrollably as I barreled down I-30 toward home.

I know what it is to lose a child. The pain is indescribable. It cuts so deep that words cannot convey it, nor can the real damage be visible. It slices to the very core of your being. The thought of one’s grandkids without their father, of the coming Christmases, Thanksgivings, and birthdays steals all joy and hope. It leaves you permanently scarred and broken. A piece of your life has been taken away forever.

Still, I can’t even imagine what it’s like to lose a son to murder – especially murder at the hands of those who claim to serve and protect. They call may try to call it an accident, but it is murder plain and simple. The traffic stop itself was an intentional act. The racial profiling and treatment of People of Color by the police was, and is, an intentional act.

News reports have differed on the reasons why Daunte was pulled over. Many are saying it was because of an air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror. The ACLU reported last night that the stop was made because of expired registration. It doesn’t matter. The real reason, the one unsaid, is far more insidious – being pulled over for driving while black…

An air freshener hangs on the mirrors of many of the vehicles I pass every day. I’ve never been pulled over for it. I have been pulled over twice for expired registration. I had simply forgot about it. I was told to go get it taken care of and let go without a ticket. Then again, I’m white…

If Tquan called today to see how I was feeling it wouldn’t be difficult to name the feelings – outrage, anger, and furious. When is enough, enough?

I’ve already begun to hear the excuses made by many of my white acquaintances. “He should’ve just cooperated”. They wouldn’t have pulled him over without good reason”. “He shouldn’t have resisted”. Such responses are expected. Systemic racism runs deep. White privilege can’t possibly understand what systemic racism inflicts on People of Color.

The bottom line is a gun never should have been drawn in the first place. Had Daunte been white it would not have. There couldn’t have been an “accident”. Besides, if a twenty-six-year veteran police officer cannot tell the difference from a 9mm handgun and a taser, they have no business serving as a police officer.

There are no excuses. Enough is enough. Call it what it is – murder. Daunte died less than a year and only a few miles away from where George Floyd was brutally murdered by Derek Chauvin. There have already been over 230 people killed by the police since January 1st, 2021. How much longer, Lord?

Photo by Jakob Rosen on Unsplash

Yes, Tquan, I’m mad as hell. That’s how I feel today. Somewhere, buried deep in my spirit is hope that maybe we’ll realize enough is enough. Groups like Be the Bridge are moving in the right direction but there’s much to be done. Ms. Opal Lee, my mentor and friend, reminds us “that if hate can be taught, a person can be taught to love”. I hope and pray that the feelings of anger I have are felt by many others. I hope they’re channeled into positive action that teaches all of us how to love God’s kids better. I hope and pray I don’t hear the anguished cries of mother, grandmothers, and families because another child was taken by police violence.

“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” – Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train (1994)