“Cat got your tongue?” a smart-talking blog follower asked.

“I like to depend on getting a dose of what you’re thinking, but you’re pulling the same old trick from before,”  said an irritated correspondent.

Since cliches are in order, I’ll throw in “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say  anything.”

My mother tried teaching me that one but it didn’t work.  From my early days, life programmed me to live by the code that not only recognizes, but points out, that the “Emperor is not wearing clothes.”

In Iraq, children with their parents are fleeing to the mountains in order not to be massacred.  In Palestine, children are a high percentage of the civilian death toll brought on by the war between Israel and Hamas. 

Nothing good to be said here. Nothing I can say about the savagery.  Even with an in-depth knowledge of Middle East politics, which I don’t have, there is nothing to be said.

Central American children fleeing to America?  Politics?  War? This isn’t what I envisioned when I determined to focus my writing on parenting.

Ah, it’s back to school time.  Where are the best places to shop for those bargains that will keep Deondre, Jose, and Michael dressed in style and  keeping  in step with the rest of the student crowd?

Is it time to remind Deondre’s older brother that his parents can’t really afford these latest $400 Nike Red Carpet sneakers he’s got at the top of his shopping list? jordan-shine-1

Michael Brown, shot dead by the police in Ferguson, Missouri, won’t ever have the chance to shop. 

Other young Black men who are now part of the civil unrest in that city are going to, as always, have their chances lessened.

Writers block?

During my days as a columnist for the Pasadena Star News I took my weekly writings seriously.  My mother passed away and I met my deadline but the editor didn’t run the column that week.

Respect – he called it.

There’s plenty of space here for readers’ comments.  This week, it’s your turn to talk back.

You tell me!

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Jean Troy

    The one good thing about the unrest wiht in our communities is that I’m finding people like myself who wonder when the cruelty will stop. When Robin Williams daughter grieveing for her father has to quit twitter and other social media for the horrible responses she recieved. When people decide to loot and pillage instead of mourning a young man’s death, I understand some of the reasons but still didn’t Micheal deserve more respect from his fellow citizens? Why do the police feel this need to shoot young men instead of trying to talk them down. What could Micheal have done in the middle of the street in broad daylight that would cause an officer so much concern that he had to kill him. Or the young man with mental disabilities who was on the ground why did he need to be shot point blank? We are so upset when the terrorist groups cause people to flee to the mountains to save their lives, and Isreal and Ahamas can’t seem to stop killing their people.we need the voice of sanity it comes in small amounts but it needs to get louder so we can get off the merry go round. As far as the children from South America I feel we need to take the plauque off the Staue of Liberty it no longer applys. From the uproar we have become this self centered group of people who want only for ourselfs and care little for others. And the statue needs to reflect our new perspective.

    1. Shirlee Smith

      Makes me think the powers, that vague concept, don’t see anything new with the way America operates. And thinking of what happened way back in 1492 to our Native Americans, I’m not too convinced that what the statue is supposed to stand for – ever stood for.

  2. DeJa

    The Ferguson, MO. story is still unfolding. I ask: Where’s the outrage about the countless numbers of Black on Black killings and other crimes? When are Black young men going to get a clue that it is time to get serious about getting an education and jobs and contributing to our society in positive ways?

      1. -Nate

        ” When are Black young men going to get a clue that it is time to get serious about getting an education and jobs and contributing to our society in positive ways? ”

        When YOU , the PARENT stand up and stop acting just like the other dead beats on MTV , BTV etc. and SHOW THEM what it means to be a Man .

        Black Women are so strong , working their so fine behinds off to support the family whilst all to often the Males sit in the garage playing plonk with a jug at hand , showing the wrong road to take by example .

        Never mind ” contributing to our society in positive ways ” P.C. bullshit , just getting them to go to work and succeed will do the trick , the rest will come .

        Education is a plus but one _can_ get by with due diligence ,


  3. Walt Haddock

    Rodney King said it so well, and it applies to everybody, although he was talking about the riots – “Can’t we all just get along?” But there are always people who chose to hate, to despise. It doesn’t matter the reason, although race, religion, crime, and culture are often claimed as the core reason. The real reason is that people just WANT to HATE someone. I have always respected Rodney for that comment. We all have our faults; we often do things that others don’t approve of, but disapproval shouldn’t go to HATE! Far too often that hate turns to unnecessary violence. In Ferguson, it appears that a white minority cop exhibited such hate turned violent, resulting in the death of a young black male, just because he was walking in the street.

    1. Shirlee Smith

      Unfortunately, Walt, we can’t get along thanks to the system that rules and influences our lives!

  4. Greta Pruitt

    Americans, as a whole, have forgotten their obligation to children, whether it be within our borders or beyond. How can we do less than care for them? I believe we are a nation of self-centered bewildered people who have lost our way. Read up on the history of the Ferguson police and cry for the inhumanity within our own borders!

    1. Shirlee Smith

      I hope a reader will follow your suggestion to read up on the Ferguson Police Dept. and tell us all! I just completed reading The Bosket Family and the American Tradition of Violence which focuses on the southern area where the Black family settled.

  5. ivan

    He cannot afford and does not need them (the shoes) . Of course, need is subjective. He thinks he needs them because he’s been taught that the right shoes are essential to any teenager’s self-esteem and dignity.

    My teenage son used to complain (can you believe it?) that the 12-yr=old Volvo I lent him was not sufficiently pretentious for a person of his importance at Claremont High School.


  6. Shirlee Smith

    For those readers, like me, who foolishly thought this prestigious stuff was all about living in the hood – Claremont is an upscale expensive community!

    1. DeJa

      Prestigious community or not is not the point! Blacks vent outrage, anger and indignation by tearing down the very communities they live in (South Central Los Angeles STILL has not recovered from past riots). We have the constitutional right in America to air our grievances – that does not give anyone – Black White or otherwise – permission or excuses to behave badly – and sometimes our behavior is a disgrace! A pure misdirection of energy. I am very concerned that Blacks in America are not living better in this day and time, and believe the onus (burden) is on us to turn things around in our favor, which means we have to do things differently, turn the focus onto productivity and self determination through greater parenting, family involvement, better schools, and education and career goal setting. More of us should be effecting positive change by voting, running for office, serving on police and fire forces, school boards, city councils, becoming teachers and professors, working in technology, science, medicine, finance, real estate, etc. and reaching back to help those who have stumbled on the way. Let the dialogue on that begin and let it gain momentum nationwide with positive results. It is on us to make it happen.

    2. Samanyolu

      Please explain about the voeiding of the race. I noticed 2 different cameras focused on Michelle. Why was that? Did her parents hire someone to video tape their daughter for prosperity? None of the other runners were video taped. How did the taping come to be edited and plubished to the web? I am just curious of the process.Sincerely,Mike

  7. -Nate

    As a Parent of a mixed race Male Boy Child I am always unhappy to hear about yet another shooting be it the Police or a kid getting shot 2 blocks from me for trying to buy a bag of weed late at night .

    It’s all so unnecessary .

    Sadly fear mongering is used to sell us things we don’t need and to keep Americans in line .

    Your kids DO NOT need fancy clothes and shoes etc. ! my Son wanted a pair of $200 basketball shoes when he didn’t ever play ~ I said no , his Mother bought them behind my back , I came home to him wearing them with the laced dragging on the ground and the tongues pulled out in front of the laces ~ I told him this was a non – starter and the next time I saw him dis respecting his Mother’s hard work to get the $ he so foolishly wasted , I’d cut them up with my tin snips .

    He knew I wasn’t joking as the month before he’d come home from School with holes cut in the knees of his new jeans ~ I waited until he went to sleep then cut them off with scissors , when he complained I explained his Mother and I both grew up dirt poor so any pair of pants with out holes was a precious thing indeed and we’d worked far too hard to ever allow him to look like a vagrant no matter how fashionable it was .

    Oops , ranting again but that’s O.K. ! ” BECAUSE I SAID SO ” is always appropriate response from Parent to Child .

    Who raised this Boy Child alone in The Ghetto after his Mother bugged out when he was 12 Y.O. , my Son never once went to bed hungry , cold or unloved and managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA in spite of his poor Blue Collar Father not one buying him fancy junk and always driving a dilapidated car that never failed to arrive wherever he needed to be taken , on group dates when he was 12 , picking him up with his Date when he was 18 and they found out their ride was drunk , etc.

    YOU can do this ! .

  8. Bill Allen, Jr.

    Dear Shirlee,

    “From where I’ve been …to where I ‘be’—-I just want to live in peace, with respect and simple dignity.”
    —-Bill Allen, Jr.
    That excerpt was from a little poem that I wrote many, many decades ago, when I had to submit a small literary piece, for a community award competition. Needless to say, the profundity of my sociological symbolism was lost on the educational “committee” —-because of my “poor grammar” (as I was later secretly told). Lordy me, is there not anything more shameful to us Black folks…than using the infamous “invariant Be” in English (“he be, she be, and we be”). I purposely used “be” in the poem to show how arduous, gut-wrenching, resourceful, tenacious and courageous our journey has been in this SO-CALLED SOCIETY.

    But the many things that we should REALLY BE ASHAMED ABOUT ARE—-giving our children false values of “materialism” over prideful individualism; not teaching our children core values of self-respect, discipline, diligence, daring to set goals and work hard toward trying to achieve specific goals; r-e-s-p-e-c-t for our E-L-D-E-R-S; not focusing enough on alternative psychological strengthening…to off-set the many ways that our media and our educational institutions demean/dismantle/deliberately destroy the self-esteem of our children/young people and young adults; and finding healthy ways to vent our frustration/anger against systemic racism/disenfranchising by race, class, sexual orientation, ageism,and socio-economic status—-as opposed to bringing insidious violence and destruction to our OWN communities. We also have to teach our young boys how to stay out of trouble/and protect themselves against becoming perpetual “target practice” for our “law enforcement” officials. We must also teach our boys and young men HOW to protect, provide and respect our young girls and women. And last but not least, we must instill a sense of HUMANITY in our young people—-so as to curb/stop Black on Black crime. But the greatest human value is to have PARENTS… BE… PARENTS; AND FOR YOUNGSTERS TO KNOW THAT THEY ARE “CHILDREN” UNTIL THEY ARE OF LEGAL AGE OR OUT ON THEIR OWN. We must RETURN to teaching and supporting each other…by each other…for each other. Hopefully, we will then be able to survive, start to thrive and with a better quality of life—-truly be alive!
    Again, many thanks to you, Shirlee. You have the best blog on the Internet.
    Big Hug to You!

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