Saturday, December 13, 2014

It is time; And speaking of bulls-eyes; It's sentimental; And worn well

MICHAEL B. THOMAS / Stringer / Getty Images

 by Bernard J. Tyson Influencer

Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente

It’s Time to Revolutionize Race Relations

Dec 4, 2014

With the entire country seeing demonstrations following the Ferguson decision, I’ve had colleagues and business partners ask me my thoughts — not from my perspective as the Chairman and CEO of a $55 billion organization — but as a black man in America.
You would think my experience as a top executive would be different from a black man who is working in a retail or food service job to support his family. Yet, he and I both understand the commonality of the black male experience that remains consistent no matter what the economic status or job title.
This post is not to complain about what is, but instead offer hope that we can harness the positive energy from the demonstrations for change and start a new chapter in America based on better understanding of race relations.
As Americans, we must deal with behavior that is unacceptable in today’s global world. The first step in changing negative behavior is to understand the underlying imagery of the black male, which doesn’t represent reality. Whether it’s Michael Brown in Ferguson, Trayvon Martin with his Skittles®, Eric Garner who died after a chokehold, or the 12-year old killed because he was waving a toy gun, when you see a black man killed, the imagery is more complicated than one might think. For example, words used by the white police officer to describe Michael Brown included adjectives such as hulking and demonic — words that bring up images going back to the days of slavery.
If you’re not black, it’s hard to relate to situations as a black man might. So you know I’m speaking from a realistic rather than theoretical standpoint, here are a few personal examples I’ve experienced in the past couple of months:
·         Recently I was shopping in an upscale store and I was being watched and also followed by an overly anxious person. This was not someone trying to be helpful, but someone who was assessing why I was there. Other shoppers did not have “help” following them throughout the store.
·         I have gone to dinner at fine restaurants and had the food server explain the tipping program, since apparently black men don’t understand this concept.
·         Sometimes I observe two or three white customers ahead of me and after me pay by credit card — and I am the only one singled out to provide proof of who I am before I can make my purchase.
·         Most CEOs don’t leave their corporate offices, change clothes, and have car doors locked as they walk by or women move to the other side of the street hugging their purses as they see me out exercising. Even as a CEO, the black male experience is my reality.
Years ago, my father taught me explicitly how to behave myself if ever confronted by a police officer and I experienced being disrespected in my early twenties by someone who was supposed to protect my rights. I hold to this day that the biggest battle within me was the rage at how I was being treated while having to do what my father told me and respond appropriately. If I acted out how I was feeling at the time, I might not be here today.
So where do we go from here? In the Ferguson situation, we need to disregard the small percentage of criminals who are getting publicity for their destruction of property and instead pay attention to the sincere marchers and protestors who are voicing their demands for change. This is our opportunity to focus on improving race relations for the future, especially for young black men and also for those picked up to be deported based on their race. A few ideas have great potential to revolutionize race relations:
·         I endorse the idea that every police officer videotapes interactions as the first major step to protect both individuals and the police officers.
·         We must engage community activists to sit down with police, the government and local businesses to work together in different ways. Over time we will see the current environment of police officers going to white neighborhoods to “protect and resolve issues” and going into black neighborhoods to “combat and control” change to become a culture of police officers being in all neighborhoods to protect and participate.
·         We must collectively support local school and church leaders as they reach out to youth and adults to start a more positive dialogue to make all our neighborhoods safer.
·         We can ask businesses in our communities for their support as we build a greater sense of community, both locally and nationally.
The pursuit of life, liberty and happiness can become a reality for everyone if we eliminate issues standing in the way of improved race relations. I love this country and we’ve made so much progress, but we're not there yet. With deeper understanding and thoughtful and positive participation, America — and Americans — can live up to our full potential in a country built on diversity of thought, spirit, race and experience.

B. Tyson, author of above

And speaking of bulls-eyes:

See this:

( 5 minutes)


Jim Harrison (poet) said: "Life is sentimental. Why should I be cold and hard about it? That's the main content. The biggest thing in people's lives is their loves and dreams and visions, you know."

From The Writers Almanac 12-11-14

It's the birthday of poet and novelist Jim Harrison (books by this author), born in Grayling, Michigan (1937). When he was 25 years old, he tried to decide whether he should go on a hunting trip with his father and sister, but in the end, he decided not to. They were both killed a few hours later when they were hit by a drunk driver. Harrison said their dying "cut the last cord that was holding me down," and he immediately wrote his first finished poem. He drifted around for a while, then went to live with his brother John, who was a librarian at Harvard. He published his first volume of poems, Plain Song (1965), and he thought he wanted to be a poet. He wrote two more books of poems, and then he was out hunting birds with his dog and he fell off a cliff and hurt his back and had to stay in bed for months. His friend Thomas McGuane convinced him to try writing a novel as a way to pass the time. Harrison wrote Wolf: A False Memoir (1971).But he didn't have an agent, so he sent the one copy of his manuscript off to his brother John, in the hopes he could find a publisher for it. Unfortunately, the postal workers went on strike and the manuscript was lost in the mail. Harrison assumed it was lost forever and that it was probably the end of his novel-writing career, but it resurfaced after a month, and his brother managed to find a publisher for it, and Harrison become a novelist as well as a poet. His other books include the novella Legends of the Fall (1979); the novels True North (2004) and The Farmer's Daughter (2009); and the poetry volumes Returning to Earth (1977) and In Search of Small Gods (2009). He published a new book of poetry, Songs of Unreason (2011), and a new novel, The Great Leader (2011).
Jim Harrison said: "Life is sentimental. Why should I be cold and hard about it? That's the main content. The biggest thing in people's lives is their loves and dreams and visions, you know."

by Elizabeth Bishop

For a child of 1918

My grandfather said to me
as we sat on the wagon seat,
"Be sure to remember to always
speak, to everyone you meet."

We met a stranger on foot.
My grandfather’s whip tapped his hat.
"Good day, sir. Good day. A fine day.”
And I said it and bowed where I sat.

Then we overtook a boy we knew
with his big pet crow on his shoulder.
"Always offer everyone a ride;
don’t forget that when you get older,”
my grandfather said. So Willy
climbed up with us, but the crow
gave a "Caw!" and flew off I was worried.
How would he know where to go?
But he flew a little way at a time
from fence post to fence post, ahead;
and when Willy whistled he answered.

“A fine bird,” my grandfather said,
“and he’s well brought up. See, he answers
nicely when he’s spoken to.
Man or beast, that’s good manners.
Be sure that you both always do.”

When automobiles went by,
the dust hid the people faces,
but we shouted ”Good day! Good day!
Fine day!” at the top of our voices.

When we came to Hustler Hill,
he said that the mare was tired,
so we all got down and walked,
as our good manners required.

"Manners" by Elizabeth Bishop from The Complete Poems 1927-1979. © Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983. 

as promised

A shirt well worn

I got me a shirt that's really well-worn
It is very well full of tears

(And not the crying kind)
I am loathe to follow my wife's advice
and throw it out
or convert it to rags with still some use in it

No, it continues to be worn and well
worn though I don't wear it out much
You see it's an Orvis shirt
that I painted a tie on back in the day

and I don't care that it is ragged
like me.


You have to be into such things
(see "Selected shorts subject" below, also
from a former day)

selected shorts subject

The cold season in Wisconsin sets in once more,
and still I wear my tattered gray short pants

the house and surround where my home office is,
though I know sartorially no great credit to me these bare threads

The hems dangle down. You say time has made my abbreviated trousers
unpresentable; yes, by some standards I am poorly

Just this very day a squad car passed while I in my shorts
raked leaves into a mound. The cops spied my special drawers and

But I don't seem to give a darn or a big rodent's posterior anymore,
if ever I did, how my own unpublicized posterior is clad. Perhaps I shed or add
a pound

now and then, but my shredded fading sheath is a forgiving shroud;
the waist is elastic, a yet strongly expanding and contracting heart. So

me if you will, washing after ragging washing, I just cling to
these pants the more, and they to me; I know how couthless that may

There may be a Lack of Fashion Statement in such die-hard loin clothing
but I don't intend to make it:

I too am fraying, but my pants and I, together, will hold our dear