How would it feel if YOU were a slave?

It has been almost two months since the wreckage of slave ship Clotilda was found buried in murky  waters north of Mobile Bay.

And since then, the one burning question constantly posed to we descendants of those 110 Africans aboard that last – and illegal – slave vessel has been: “How do you feel?”

I’ve been asked it by journalists from The Americas, Canada, Europe, Africa, Australia and reporters from other places I don’t even remember.

But the one thing constant, no matter which descendant they ask, is their reaction to what they hear us say.

And when they hear it, their emotions range from amazement, to awe, to shock to downright disgust. 

I simply don’t think many … if any … are prepared for what they’re going to get.

Just the other day, a group of us were interviewing a lawyer our Clotilda Descendants Association was seeking advice from.

At the end of the session, and in her attempt to simply know more about us, again came those words:  “How do you feel?”

Now, I don’t know if it’s the detail in our answers, or the passion with which we say it, but the look on that attorney’s face was like so many others.

It screamed: Wow!

For us, the living, breathing extensions of those people thrust into slavery thousands of miles from the place they called home, emotions are raw and sincere. 

In so many ways, slavery in this country still exists, even though it’s nothing like it was when our relatives were in bondage.

But just the thought of what they endured, not only for those two months on the boat, but in the next five years of slavery … toiling for wealthy white men and being treated like animals … is enough turn a simple question into a vivid 20-minute description of unthinkable atrocities committed by one human being upon another.

I KNOW there’s disgust in my voice when describing how naked men, women and children were crammed into a dank ship’s cargo hold, then for the next eight weeks forced to sleep in the same place they deficated, urinated or even threw up.

They had no choice but to also eat in those conditions … filthy surroundings that weren’t even cleaned up by the ship’s crew until our relatives were allowed out on deck for just a few minutes at a time, about one day a week … FOR EIGHT WEEKS!!

Even then, they were only allowed brief minutes of daylight and a paltry form of exercise so their bodies wouldn’t become atrophied … their muscles wasting away, rendering them useless, and dead weight cargo to be thrown overboard.

And all for what? 

To settle a bet by wealthy slave owner Timothy Meaher and another man that a load of illegal slaves couldn’t be smuggled into the country, right under the government’s noses.

Still, if only somebody from their family would say the words, “We’re sorry,” it would go a long way toward healing this town and the entire country.

So, I ask YOU now … the reader … this question: If those were your relatives, how would YOU feel?

Problems? Of course America has its problems, but one person will never make it what they want

From the time we were young our parents either told us, or non-verbally got their point across (if you know what I mean), that ‘Whatever happens in this house, stays in this house.’

But, what’s openly happening in America for the entire world to see now … the racism, petty in-fighting by the president with athletes voicing their opinions, strippers coming out of the rafters claiming they’ve slept with him, cowardly congressmen who don’t confront him for fear of being voted out of office by the very people he tricked into voting for him, folks on his own staff trying to keep him from starting a war, AND his attempt to wipe out anything done by the previous president (who just happened to be African American) … is beyond embarrassing.

And, worse, its feeding right into a playbook so many other countries just love: Watching America eat itself alive.

Too bad our president cares more about himself than he does about the picture he’s painting of America for the world to see.

But what’s happening now isn’t all completely new.

I mean, there’s always been … and will always be … racism.
After all, our country was built on it, and I’ve said forever that it should be taught in schools so kids growing up here know its origin, why it’s been able to survive so long and how to deal with it.

I mean, people of color are the single reason for those first 10 amendments to the constitution (i.e. the Bill of Rights, that assures equality for citizens), which had to be fixed when slaves were legally freed.

Now, every president has had their detractors, but realized they somehow had to try and unify the entire country.

But never have we had THIS …  a president many in his own employ think is so mentally unfit that they’re secretly hiding things and keeping information away from him they think could hurt this nation.

Man! This is NO way to run a country!

I’m sure my father and mother never thought they’d see something like the attack on Pearl Harbor in their lifetime, just like none in my generation probably never in their wildest dreams thought they’d see 9-11.

But what we’re witnessing now is a full-out division of the races either wittingly or stupidly being fueled by the President of the United States, and is rising to very dangerous levels.

He blows dog whistle commands to constituents by using phrases like “if I’m impeached there will be violence,” and plants fear in others by saying “if I’m removed from office the stock market will crash.”

But I think he is missing a critical point. He is not a King nor dictator (something he openly admires in Putin, Bashar al-Assad and Kim Jong-un, who played the president like a video game in Singapore).

America, with all its faults and racist divides, WILL survive without the president … which some of us only hope isn’t too long from now.

Blacks, whites and the multitude of races which now dot the American family-scape, WILL go on surviving right alongside each other.

There will be tense moments, and some people … sadly … might even die at the hands of misguided souls like Charleston bible study shooter Dylan Roof, who thought he could provoke a race war.

But for every act of evil, there will be many more of love … across many races.

And no ONE person will ever be able to kill THAT America…


Ohio State: Domestic violence is OK as long as you win football games

The two meaningful relationships I’ve had in my life came with an added component: A step daughter.
And along with the responsibility of being the new man in their mother’s lives, also came a commitment of being the best guiding force I could be to them.
So, when the time came, the one thing I told both those girls was the first time a boy puts his hands on you in an abusive way should be the last time.
Too many women, young and not so young alike, overlook the signs of a bad relationship in the making. They stay too long, then try to get away after it’s too late.

Some make it, but … sadly … others don’t.
To quote John G. Taylor, MA, in his Psychology Today article, Behind the Veil: Inside the Mind of Men That Abuse … Domestic violence and unmasking the terror of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:
“Domestic Violence is the leading cause of injury to women, sending over 1 million every year to doctor’s offices or emergency rooms. This violence isn’t occurring from the hands of a stranger, but from the hands of the man that has said ‘I love you.”’
Taylor says there are three important phases that lead to abusive relationships:
Phase 1: Tension building (Usually begins with arguments between the batterer/abuser)
Phase 2: Explosion (Where the assault happens);
Phase 3: Honeymoon Phase (Where the batterer/abuser apologizes for his behavior buying the victim gifts or flowers).
I’m saying all this for one reason: Ohio State Football Coach Urban Myer.
His three-game suspension for looking the other way about abuse former assistant coach Zach Smith brought on his ex-wife Courtney is a joke, and shows how “the privileged” in America walk by a different set of rules.
According to a university investigation, Myer didn’t follow proper procedures by not informing administrators about Smith’s conduct, which included:
A 2013 charge of drunken driving;
Running up a $600-plus bill at a strip club on a recruiting trip;
Failing to show up at scheduled high school recruiting visits;
Taking sexually explicit photos of himself during a team visit to the White House;
Addiction to prescription drugs that resulted in admission to a drug treatment facility;
Having a sexual relationship with a secretary on the football staff.
Oh, and let’s not forget abusing his wife as clearly illustrated in pictures she took of her injuries for police.
Myer finally fired Smith on July 23, but only after his wife filed a Personal Protection Order with police.
Did Myer overlook ALL these things because Smith’s grandfather, former Ohio State football coach Earl Bruce, gave Urban his first coaching job as a graduate assistant in 1986?
Did the OSU Board of Trustees fight like mad dogs for no Myer suspension or outright dismissal, against the objections of university president Larry Drake during a marathon meeting that began at 8 o’clock Wednesday morning and went well into the night?
Kudos to Drake for not wavering on the suspension, despite loud cries … and threats … from Buckeyes football faithful, who obviously put Myer’s 73-8 seven-year record (that includes a national championship in 2014) over that of a battered woman.
Unfounded reports say Myer, who makes $7.6 million a year, bucked hard for no suspension at all … saying he hadn’t done anything wrong.
Hadn’t done anything wrong?
Well, I guess if Myer overlooking abuse of a woman because of some misguided football loyalty to her abuser’s grandfather is OK, and the OSU board willing to forget about it, too, then this country is even more worse off than I thought.

Need a bad example of crisis communications? You don’t have to look any further than “45”

There’s no magic to effective crisis communication.
It’s a forthright, up-front approach to talk about what happened, how it came about and what you plan to do so that it never happens again.

With the reputation your company has hopefully built over time is why customers do business with you. One misstep shouldn’t wipe out months and years of trust.

But the one thing that’s a sure nail in a company’s coffin is believing you’re smarter that everyone else, can tell your customers anything and try to talk your way out of a bad situation.

One of the best examples of horrible crisis communications I can think of right now is what’s going on with the Trump White House and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

It’s no secret the 45th President has made mistakes, but the name calling, contradictions of fact and outright lies only play to a certain segment of his “customers” … NOT the entire American public.

A more effective way to combat the issues surrounding him are well-placed “mea culpas,” sincere talk about what he learned from those mistakes and what he plans to do going forward.

A great segment of this country knows what “45” is … a brash talking, controlling egotist.

I’m only stating the facts that are obvious to not only his detractors, but his supporters as well.

But this isn’t about what he is. This is about the great example he is of how not to win over those “customers” … a good portion of the American public … who’re just waiting for a reason to like and trust this man.

One of the most important things in effective crisis communications is to assemble a team of people who will give you straight answers and not feed you a ton of horse … well, give you bad advice.

And upon assembling that team, you MUST trust that they have you and your company’s best interest at heart.

To do anything less is company suicide.