I’ve been teaching my adult students about The Civil War. They learned about the Lincoln Memorial and saw a play about Cathay Williams. Cathay, was the first African American female Buffalo Soldier. Cathay was a freed slave who first worked as a cook and laundress for just pennies for the Union Army. After some time, to earn more money, she disguised herself as a man in the all African American unit the Native Americans called Buffalo Soldiers. They marched for 2 years throughout the South doing mostly clean up and guard duty and other jobs the white soldiers wouldn’t do. They never saw a battle. Williams became ill many times with cholera and smallpox. She was hospitalized but she was never discovered to be a woman. She finally revealed herself and got an honorable discharge from the army. She died young and her family never received the pension she worked for. We all learned so much from the actress who played every part in the 45 minute show.
Now we are studying the causes of the Civil War. We are beginning our study of slavery. The students are reading about the Middle Passage and its aftermath. Since I love history, I’ve been able to supplement the book that we are using with my own knowledge of the subject. What I tried to explain to them is that although the war ended in 1865 and slavery was abolished, that it really hasn’t been that long since Black Americans have had all the same rights as White Americans.
Using myself as an example, I said that many of the civil rights we gained occurred only one year before I was born.
“The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the civil rights movement.”
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 happened the year I was born. The students were really surprised to know that women couldn’t vote until 1920. More history lessons about that are forthcoming.
I brought current events into the discussion. I often do this so they can relate the past with the present.
They easily understood and agreed that all the recent happenings of the police being called by white people on black people, for no good reason were examples of white supremacy which began over 400 years ago.
In the last few weeks , we’ve seen black people, just living and also being seen as threatening .
We can’t go to The Waffle House for food without either being senselessly murdered by a racist or the cops are called for minor infringements (questioning or disagreeing with staff). Three officers assaulted a woman on the floor, exposing her breasts.
We can’t depart an AirBnB, packing luggage into our car to leave. The Mrs. Kravitz of the neighborhood waved and smiled at them through the window. The young women didn’t acknowledge her. So, of course, she called the police who detained them when they were on their way to do a show. That department is being sued by the young women.
One of my students asked me, Why do they treat us like this? I didn’t even speak for a few seconds because, I didn’t have a reasonable answer. I still don’t have a reasonable answer. However, I said white slave owners felt that we were less than human. We were property. We were not their equals. We were beneath them just because of our melanin. Today, some people still hold those mindsets.
We should not have to continue suffering the humiliation and pain that racism brings. Yet, somehow we still do. I feel there are people who would love to see us back in shackles without any rights.
We need to stay out of Waffle House. We need to frequent food and coffee establishments owned and operated by people of color. Let’s hit them in the wallet. Let them lose business and dollars. That’s what they understand. Black people boycotted buses in 1955. They walked and car pooled for over a year. The bus company went bankrupt. We have the ability for that to happen to all types of establishments. We have to be unified for this to happen. Our ancestors did it, why can’t we?
So, as my students and I drift deeper into the Civil War discussion I’m sure I won’t have all the answers. I’m hoping these current events will calm down. With #45 and his ilk in office and being supported by the Fox News loving fan base, it will be some time before we feel and experience the change.
Old behaviors are new again. But did they ever really leave?
I can’t believe this 30 Day Challenge is almost over. The days really flew by.
Today’s topic- What are your goals for the next 30 days?
This challenge has shown me, I can be more consistent with my writing. I know I can write off the cuff and within an hour if I have to. Writing more often is one of my goals. I will post as often as I can. Thanks to everyone who has offered encouragement and began following the blog during this month.
Since spring has decided to show up and stay around, I’ve gone back to tutoring adults twice a week. It’s fulfilling and gets me out the house for four hours every week. I really like my students and want to help them reach their personal goals of getting their high school equivalency diplomas, getting better jobs or just being able to read to their kids. I’ll do my best to assist them. Juggling multiple health conditions can be a challenge but my goal is to tutor everyday that I’m scheduled to be there.
I recently re- joined Weight Watchers to keep my weight under control. I’ve eaten healthy but I gained back some pounds I lost last year. I’m not happy about it. Taking medications with side effects of weight gain and not moving enough has been an issue. Tracking what I eat allows me to see when I’m about to overindulge. I can also see when I can give myself a treat. Over the next 30 days, I plan to adhere to the program.
Winter was rough on my body and I didn’t physically feel good or pain free enough to exercise. Yesterday, I got myself back in the gym and rode on the incumbent bike for awhile. I’m taking it slowly. I hope to get there twice a week over the next 30 days. I also walk 9 city blocks each way when I tutor. That’s a bit more exercise. I rest half way there, drink water and then start again.
Another goal is to meet up with a few people and catch up. It’s been awhile. I have also lined up a few “out of my box “ adventures that I’ll do by myself. I’m trying to have some fun, with little expense.
I joined a women’s study group in SGI-USA where we will be studying the history of our lay Buddhist organization as written by our mentor and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda. There so much to learn and so much guidance on how to handle situations and life in general. I’ve been part of this group before and it’s always rewarding at the end to see how in-depth study can change your perspective and understanding. We meet once a month, in addition to the other monthly activities that we have in the SGI-USA.
My practice of Buddhism has helped me learn and understand how to make myself better and how to help others. President Ikeda writes, “Altruism is the most effective means of self-realization and self-perfection. Doing good for others is the best way to develop one’s own character and find greater happiness for oneself.”
With this in mind I’ll do by best this month to attain my own goals and do good for others at the same time.
Tomorrow is the end of the 30 Day Challenge, the start of new goals and the continuation of challenging myself everyday.
It’s Day 6 and I’m pushing on. This is truly a challenge. I’m being inspired to get those creative juices flowing once again.
Today’s topic is:
5 ways to win your heart
1. Entertain me. Choose a play, movie, concert or comedy show. My senses of sight and hearing will be thankful. My emotions will be heightened.
2. Feed me. I mean a full plate of food and dessert with beautiful presentation. My senses of smell, taste, touch, and sight will be fulfilled.
3. Make me laugh. Life can be so difficult and complex. Its great to just be loose and laugh really hard. The kind of laugh that makes you cry at the same time. You don’t have to be a professional clown. Having a good sense of humor is essential.
4. Be kind and generous. What is in your heart? Let me see how you treat people. From the smallest child to an elder, how do you relate and communicate with the people around you? Are you genuine or trying too hard to look good in someone else’s eyes? Over time, I have discovered how to spot insincerity.
5. Have an open mind. How do you think? We are all different. We all like various things or carry ourselves in the world differently. Can you be accepting of people being true to themselves? Can you watch them be free to create their happiness and not be negative or judging.? Can you give constructive criticism and not be a soul or dream crusher? Can you see the value in other people and in yourself?
The prompt only asked for 5. There’s more, however, I can’t give all my secrets away.
In a few hours, we’ll begin the countdown to 2018. Here in the East Coast we’ll be having the coldest New Year’s Eve since 1963. I always chuckle on this night, as my family called it, Old Year’s Night.
People will be popping bottles, kissing those closest to them and making resolutions that may be quickly broken. It’s our mindsets that determine what we will do in the coming years. A few years ago, I started making themes for the coming year. Last year, it was the Year of Rebuilding. I aimed to rebuild my body, mind and spirit, after having a heart attack. All of it was difficult, but rewarding. I kept active as instructed. I kept up my weight and my eating plan right until Halloween…. Candy was my treat and mini Snickers was the trick. Kids didn’t ring the doorbell and I couldn’t resist. I kept eating through Thanksgiving and this month and gained a little weight back.
I aim to make myself better than the year prior. I would rather improve overall than make one shaky resolution. I’ve failed many times at those. Just ask the 20 pounds I’ve gained and lost so many times, I have lost count. Once again I will work towards a healthier lifestyle. I’ve got to be much healthier. I want to live longer and live well.
2018’s theme for me is The Year of Renewal. I’m renewing vows to myself. My health is number one. I’ve been fighting one health battle after another since my late 20’s. I can not keep living with this poor health karma. I will defeat it! I vow to be happy no matter what’s going on in my life. I vow to live with gratitude. I will be even more consistent with my Buddhist practice and just be a good person. I hope to travel, have better finances and live surrounded by the love of family and true friends in faith.
The world needs renewal. America needs Renewal. It’s been a rough and depressing year.
There are people still suffering in the aftermath of the hurricanes this summer. There are still US citizens living in Puerto Rico without electricity. They need our help. Our government, their government is not doing all they can. Grassroots organizations are doing as much as they can handle.
Women’s voices are finally being heard about sexual harassment. They should have listened when Anita Hill spoke out and brought it to the steps of Congress, so many years ago. If they had listened we wouldn’t have Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. She’s about to head a task force on the subject. Now, they are going to listen to her.
We need reasonable gun control laws. Mass shootings are not normal. We have to shut down that narrative. We have to understand climate change is real. Our planet and our future is in danger. We can’t tell young adults that abstinence is real birth control. That doesn’t work. We need Planned Parenthood. America is not a solely Christian country. Coal isn’t coming back as an industry. America used to be smarter than this. Dumb is not impressive.
The GOP continues to discriminate against the poor, elderly, children and the sick. It is ugly. Cutting needed social services tells me, they don’t care about us. Their tax bill shows who is important to them. We can do better. We must do better. The midterm elections are coming, Please vote and take your friends with you. We can not leave it to other people. The last time we ended up with #45. We have an ignoramus, white supremacist and a bully in the White House.
With so much going on, I know that some days it maybe harder to keep my theme in mind. However, my Buddhist faith tells me, “When our fundamental mindset changes, we ourselves change. And when we change, the environment and the world change, too. The source of this great transformation is found nowhere but in a radical deepening of our own chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon. This sort of prayer to the Gohonzon is completely different from that found in a dependent, supplicant faith; we do not weakly and passively beg someone for salvation or assistance. Prayer in Nichiren Buddhism is fundamentally a vow. It is a pledge or commitment to follow a chosen course of action; it is a declaration to challenge a clear objective. (March 17, 2006, World Tribune, p. 3)
We’ve reached a place where we need to respect the dignity of humankind. I talk a lot about my Buddhist faith because it helps me to become a better person everyday. Here are some basics of of the SGI-USA and what we believe. These are tenets for all people.
My prayer is that in 2018, we all become renewed in one way or another. We can have an internal change and not just for a New Year’s resolution.
Daisaku Ikeda said,
“When we change, the world changes. The key to all change is in our inner transformation—a change of our hearts and minds. This is human revolution.”
Let’s have our human revolutions in 2018! Happy and Healthy 2018 everyone!!
Rest in Peace Reggie Osse’ – fellow Buddhist, district member and Myoho Brother #CombatJack #CombatCancer
I am drained. I didn’t sleep Tuesday night and I cried. I am concerned for all of us that are not the hue of he, who was elected into the highest office in The United States of America . White supremacy, hate, violence, bigotry, misogyny, were the winners this week. He will never be my President because he doesn’t represent me or people like me.
I voted at 7 am that morning. I’m never outside that early unless I have an appointment. I knew I had one job for that day; to defeat the orange one and his cronies.
Living in NYC all my life I knew so much about him, from his infamous marriages and divorces, to his call for the Central Park Five to be put to death (when they were exonerated he didn’t apologize),to his failed business and huge ego.
He politically came to fame by attempting to delegitimize the first black president, Barack Obama saying he wasn’t an American citizen and a Muslim. He even questioned President Obama ‘s education and intelligence expressing doubt on his ability to have been President of the Harvard Law Review. All total blatant,racist lies.
He kept demanding for the President to present his birth certificate, the way fugitive slave catchers asked for the papers of freed black people, in the 19th century. No other President had ever been asked that question. According to history books, this country was formed by people seeking religious freedom. There is no requirement that a person has to be a Christian to be the President, no matter what the Tea Party evangelicals say.
The election is over. How do we deal with the aftermath?
I’ve already read reports of Muslim women having their hijab pulled from their heads, Hispanic children being told by other children in kindergarten that they will be going back to Mexico. A black woman was told that now, she needed to sit at the back of the bus, it was now trump time. Another black woman was confronted by young men and they threatened to grab her by the genitalia. I saw a video in a high school where a few paraded around inside their school yelling white power holding Trump signs. All of this and more,in the first 48 hours and the inauguration does not happen until January 20th.
This man has emboldened racist people who lay dormant, nursing the wounds to their fractured souls, because a black man was President. Times have changed. American demographics has changed. They are scared to lose their white privilege. That’s why the slogan of the campaign meant going back to the times when they had all the power and could treat “the other” any way they wanted to. Non college educated white men and women came out to vote in droves, to get their power back. Let’s never forget, he was endorsed by the KKK and the Neo-Nazi movement.
Everything we didn’t like during the campaign rallies may become our everyday reality. That thought puts knots in my stomach, pain in my chest, body and soul. He has no sense of the average person’s life. He has no human feelings,so Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, Muslims, Mexicans, LGBTQ, the elderly, the poor, the disabled, the disenfranchised, the ill are all in danger with his policy proposals. I fall into a few of these categories. It makes me uncomfortable when I know Medicare and other social programs may be in jeopardy. What will I do?
I know I’m not alone not liking this choice. Our entire government is now majority GOP thanks to this election. Since the days of their patron saint Ronald Reagan, they have never cared about the life of others.
Life goes on, but this is wakeup call. All the groups I just mentioned must find a way to come together and start building something new from the grassroots level. I’m not even sure what that is… I’m willing to be involved, however I can. The socially conscious millennial may have to take the ball and run with it. The rest of us can help.
I always have to rely on my faith to help me during times when nothing else can. We press forward courageously. I am a Bodhisattva of the Earth, my mission is to help each person to become happy. We must have unshakeable faith no matter what happens in our immediate and wider environment.
In our November publication, Living Buddhism, our spiritual mentor, Daisaku Ikeda says. ” The defining characteristic of bodhisattvas is their vow. The vow of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth is to propagate the Lotus Suta. That’s why it is important for us to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with this vow for kosen-rufu (world peace), resolving with all our hearts to help those around us to become genuinely happy”.
The book Introduction to Buddhism says, “Absolute happiness means that living itself is happiness; being alive is a joy, no matter where we are or what our circumstances. It describes a life condition in which happiness wells forth from within. It is called absolute because it is not influenced by external conditions. Attaining Buddhahood means developing absolute happiness. Beyond the troubles of just getting by in life, we often face unexpected problems. Happiness does not depend on whether or not we have problems, but how we perceive and deal with them. To cite an analogy, a person of little strength and experience who encounters a steep mountain path will view it as a daunting obstacle. But a strong, experienced hiker can confidently ascend a steep trail even while carrying a heavy backpack, enjoying the view along the way. In a similar way, one who has firmly established a life condition of absolute happiness can confidently face any difficulty. Problems can even become an impetus to bring forth a powerful life force, enabling one to calmly and confidently overcome any challenge.”
This is a daunting challenge, however, we may bend, but we won’t break. I have to believe we will get through this as hearts and minds change, as truths are exposed. They will be revealed on an international stage. A world wide audience is watching. We have some difficult times ahead.
2016 will surely go down in history. So many talented and creative people have left this earth. I have to wonder if they somehow knew what was coming. Brexit happened abroad and now the United States has elected a demagogue.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines that as a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power. The next four years will tell us how this plays out.
In the meantime I encourage you all, no matter your religious beliefs to go to this webpage http://www.worldtribune.org/ and read the SGI-USA’s online publications and gain hope, if you feel hopeless right now. You may be surprised that many of our humanistic beliefs are some you already have. There’s so much encouragement for everyone. My faith is for everyone who wants to feel confident and are fighters, filled with hope for peace.
I thank the President and First Lady Michelle Obama for the dignity, class and example they have shown. They gave us all so much to aspire to. They faced incredible obstruction and pure hate from day one, but always stood tall, never flinching.
They have been the most personable and fun First couple in my lifetime. Watch them interact with kids. Along with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr Jill Biden, they have been an awesome quartet. The Obamas have raised two beautiful well adjusted young women, one is headed for Harvard next year.
They allowed the White House to be the people’s house. Many who thought they would never live to see a black president had a dream come true. They were invited to come inside. They met and some even danced and sang with a President and First Lady. I wish them an incredible life after January 20th.
I think once the keys are turned over, the locks will be changed and things will never be quite the same.