Race Relations? Are We Making Progress… or Making Problems?

Race relations is a very complicated issue… and we have made it even more so by allowing our government to put into our culture and our more vulnerable trains of thought and action and working the idea of demographics being so important. Well, perhaps “demographics” are important but only if the methods lead to actual, real, and tangible actions being done for those who are really in need of certain things being funded or built or done for a community.

But what is “good” and who is doing the “good”? Truly it should not even matter, but these days when Americans are so rude and crude in their manners that they are coming out and DEMANDING things, and DEMANDING this or that, and thinking that they are the only important factor because of their skin color or their ethnicity that they can push others out of the way and get in the front of the line, we need to be more on our guard than ever.

Race relations will not make progress until we lessen the role of the Census Bureau and wake up to the fact that it does not matter what you look like, “where you are from”, what your ethnic background is, or what you do for a living. People need to realize that the government is not really doing the average citizen any good at all.

Witness the recent talk of school segregation. Who really is at fault? Everyone or no one or the government or school officials? Is it the false idea of the “neighborhood” school that prevents  people from growing up and out and expanding their trains of thought and branching out? Is it the fear among these “neighborhood” people that if “someone does not look like me that they will have a bad influence on my family”? What kind of silly thinking is THAT?

Who cares about what the person looks like that is teaching your kids or treating your for a disease or selling you that house? And anyway, NO ONE looks like anyone else, so get that into your unique heads right now! NO ONE looks like anyone else, and we all think about things in different ways and see things in unique and variable ways. Someone can say there are “identical” siblings, but that’s not the real issue here. People vary in their coloring, in their hairstyles and hair coloring, in eye color, in a thousand different physical variables that push the idea of “looking like” another person completely out the window with the rest of the demographic garbage.

Think about this, a thought inspired by something I heard on the radio this morning, to wit that there are not enough “African – American” doctors in the “underserved” areas of Chicago, and no doubt other major cities. And then someone thinks the resources are not there to train and get these doctors -to -be, those “black” and “brown” children mentioned in the report on News Radio 780 WBBM in Chicago, out to those areas where the need appears greatest. Bologna.

Have you ever heard of a medical school, Mr. WBBM Reporter? Yes, there is actually something called a MEDICAL SCHOOL, folks. Just in case you in those communities are not aware, there have been doctors of every “race” and background for decades in America. Anyone, yes anyone, can go to a medical school, get the proper training, get incentive, and get to the business and the study of becoming a physician. Then they can choose where they want to go, and the choice is based on those variables such as where they will feel comfortable or needed or what kind of money they will make.

Well if the money is all that matters the doctor will not be a good doctor to the point of seeing the patients as people instead of as payments. If the doctor wants to get out there and serve the populace that is the target of the policies that have cause that population to be inadequately served and thus in need of care and comfort, then they will do so. An episode of the popular television show EMERGENCY! had a physician who put his private practice way out in an area of desert and scrub and no one around for miles, at least not another doctor who could provide his skills. The small office had a nurse, a couple of nice clean patient rooms, and a surgical suite.

Now in early parts of the episode there is a bad accident that the main EMERGENCY! characters come upon as they return from a vacation. They must get help for the victims since they cannot practice their paramedic skills in another state, so they eventually get help and race the mother and boy to that small clinic in that small town area. The nurse is the only person on staff there and so they must wait for the doctor, who eventually arrives and sees that there is need for his services. The paramedics are expecting to see an old man, the proverbial lovable old country doctor but instead a younger man with a thick mustache and in very casual clothes, comes in and assesses the scene. After the victims are treated the paramedics and the doctor talk about why he has put his practice in that part of the state. He says something to the effect of, “Well I just wanted to practice where I am most needed. That’s why I stayed here.” Marvelous. EMERGENCY! as a 1970’s television show had a cast that was wonderful in its professional presentation and diverse nature, and this one episode is only one demonstration of what happens when need and service and consideration outweigh “government” policies and separatist attitudes and action takes over and someone has the courage to establish that practice where they really are most needed.

Now think about this: when it comes to “race”, what someone looks like on the outside, what would you do if your house caught fire and you were trapped on a higher floor with no way out? The only “race” you should then be concerned about is the dash of the fire department to your home to save your life. Would it really matter to you who was first up that 100 foot Pierce Aerial in that basket to rescue you from the burning bedroom? I think not. If you looked out that window at the firefighter who came up in his or her heavy gear to get you out, what would you see – someone with a face that “does not look like yours”, or someone who is there to save your life, with arms at the ready to carry you down and get you some help? If you took one look at that firefighter and back at the flames coming through the bedroom door, I suspect you would reach out and let the firefighter carry you down that latter, with his or her words of reassurance as you go down to the ground, safely away from the flames and smoke.

There is next the issue of this stuff about “neighborhood” schools, especially in Chicago. A neighborhood is made up of people who can be of the same background or can be made up of a lot of different kinds of people. So what does it matter what the teachers or the officials “look like”? Goodness gracious, what digression… what aggression… what stupid trains of thought! “I won’t let you teach my kids because you don’t look like them!” Come on, folks. If the teacher is qualified, if the school system is providing qualified personnel and proper facilities, then there is nothing to worry about. People are letting words and concepts such as “charter” and “selective” and “magnet” and “private” and “public” get in the way of seeing that the students are provided a good and proper and higher education. We are being taken away from the real issue: EDUCATION.

My teachers were very diverse when I was growing up and attending public schools in Nashville. I didn’t care a bit what these ladies and gentlemen looked like: I respected them each and every one, I sat and listened in class, and I was respectful of the principals and other school officials and bus drivers. Had I thought, “I’m not taking math from him because he’s not from my neighborhood” or “I won’t listen to her because she has a different skin color from me” would have gone against the very principles of what education is meant to do and what its purpose is. Education is meant to challenge us to grow and expand our horizons, to get us to put different skill sets together and continue to learn and work with others, to make out the map of our lives and careers and our plans for the future. If we do not draw out the talents we have or that others have; if we do not march out and away from the ideas and thoughts that impede progress in the sense of us working together with others for success; if we do not lead others out of the mental captivity our government officials have chained many of us with, then our education system has failed.

We have failed, we have then wasted money and energy and resources, and we have not done our best.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

 

 

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Chicago: Tired of the Violence? DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Look, folks, the ATF and FBI and Chicago Police and First Responders can’t do all the work of prevention… so it is time for citizens to step up, speak up, and speak out, and do so every day, with as much force as it takes to counter what has been going on ever since the weather started to warm up around here.

OK, people, time to take back the streets that are YOUR streets, in YOUR communities! These are the places you bought and built to raise your families in, to plant your gardens in, and to have a place to sit down to dinner or on your porch after work and enjoy the privileges of working hard, paying taxes, and living in America.

Time to show those gang people and gun and drug runners that, simply put and stated, THEY ARE NOT WELCOME!

You have to show that forcefully and physically when necessary. Do you know of someone with illegal guns or sources of them? TURN THEM IN! Know someone running drugs? TURN THEM IN! SNITCH ALREADY!

And quit calling it “snitching”- that’s so negative and so  childish. These are not video games where people get a second chance to come back. Once someone is shot, THEY ARE SHOT, and they are in pain and wounded and could be dead. This is not some pixelated stuff someone puts on a screen; these are real people in the line of fire and in harm’s way.

And they are innocent children who are in some sort of area labeled “gang turf”. What? WHAT KIND OF SILLINESS IS THAT? GANG TURF? Indeed! Blame the media for continually talking about our communities in this manner. The more we allow the media to talk about “gang turf” or “gang violence” or “gang related” or “shootings” every day the more power they are giving to the gangs. Just talking about the problems is not going to do anything; there must be action. And right now.

That turf, that land, was the land of law -abiding American citizens before some idiots who are part of a gang decided to bring their unwelcome crop of drugs, guns, prostitution and other crimes into the area and begin to terrorize people with guns, graffiti and threats. YOU DARE THREATEN? Well then the people who have to endure your stuff can fight back.

There is strength in numbers; we can fight back. Use Biblical methods if necessary – come at the interlopers with sticks and stones, beat them out of the neighborhood. Ostracize them as though they have some kind of contagious disease. Tell them their drugs are not needed or wanted around there, and to move on. GET OUT OF HERE! Shout it right in their ear if need be, and come at them and drive them off the corners with your two -by -fours drawn and ready to beat the life out of them.

“That’s good riddance for all you have done in this area, you nasty gang banger! Get off my street and leave the kids alone! GO AWAY and DON’T COME BACK! EVER!”

Do whatever you must to show them that they are nothing but flies that can easily be swatted away and sprayed with bug killer. The killer is the lack of interest you can show for what they are offering.

Conquer your needs for drugs and violence! You can do better if you are depending on the drugs and the means of escape that are so violent and useless; you don’t need to encounter others and life in those ways. Drugs do no good for you- they can be deadly, they can cause you to hallucinate, to lose sleep, to lose appetite, to become very sick, and to become abusive. Violence is not necessary, either against yourself (needles, drugs, alcoholism, fighting) or against others (abuse, fighting, shouting, terrorism, prostitution), so turn the heat on those who have seen fit to turn the heat up in your communities.

When those who have suffered realize who has been fueling their suffering, they will wake up and realize, “Hey, I can do something about this. I can choose other ways and methods and means of feeling better, of taking daily life, of living with my family and of being a productive citizen. I don’t have to be treated like a loser… and those drug people are seeing me as vulnerable, a target. I CAN TAKE CHARGE! And I don’t need those drugs anymore!”

Once you understand that the drugs only offer short -term effects and are terribly expensive, and illegal, and can get you into deep trouble, you will no longer turn to the gangs. You can free yourself from their grip, and you can help free someone else from their poisons and toxins. You can turn away, and that’s the best approach of all. You can show them, “I don’ t need you, and our families don’t need you either, so get out and get lost!”

Besides, gang people are nothing but cowards. Who else would engage in drive -by shootings, wear dark clothes or masks, make silent signs, and deal stealthily on street corners? They are cowards, I say again, and cowards do not deserve anything but to be driven out of the community and consigned to solitary confinement and wandering in the deserts of their own dementia and troubles, as punishment for the troubles they have inflicted on others.

Gangs, go away. We are tired of you! Let me emphasize, along with the Mayor, with the police department, and with the families, with all the first responders who have to see the tragedies and who are put in danger every day, and with all of us who are tired of the “if it bleeds it leads” headlines, WE ARE TIRED OF YOU GANG PEOPLE! Keep your junk and your online arguments and your other behavioral problems to yourselves already.

The Mayor is fed up and who can blame him – who wants to have to talk with families when their children are caught in the crossfire of gangs who feel the need to take their junk out to the streets and terrorize others? And since this can plainly be called terrorism- that’s right, gangs promote TERRORISM and don’t forget that – now the Feds have to step in and see what they can do to reduce the violence. The gang people need to be rounded up, arrested, and thrown into jail with the key thrown away. The time for talking with them is done, the time for patiently waiting for them to reform is over, long over. We are sick of them, we are tired of them, we are fed up with them and we want them out.

Far as I am concerned, the mayor and the governor need to call out the National Guard, SWAT, and whomever else can help solve the problems, to take control and bring order to the streets again and be there till the gang people realize that they are not going to get any more ground and that their efforts are wasted, their battles are lost, their resources are not going to match up, and that they may as well dry up and blow away like chaff in the winds of change.

Gangs, get lost and stay lost!

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

Photography, not Demography: The Arts Bring Us Together

PHOTOGRAPHY… NOT “DEMOGRAPHY”: Art Brings Everyone Together

Sometimes we like to say or think, “Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could get along, if we could communicate easily all we say and think, our hopes and dreams and plans?” We can communicate in spoken and written words and in other ways as well.

ChiCOMMU

 

Communication Manhole Cover”. Divi Logan, Chicago. 2013.

There are those who cannot speak, and those who cannot write, at least in the conventional methods most people understand, with the computer or with pen and ink and pencil and paper. When language is a barrier, when we cannot understand the standards of Sign Language, and when music appears as foreign as a tongue with which we are not familiar, we can use other ways to get our message across.

One way is art, and what a broad range of expression that covers! We think of painting, dance and music; we think of sculpture, architecture, bronze casting, batik, and skywriting. We see people in the studios dreaming up ways to hack into the marble block or figure out which line to put in next on a drawing; we think of designers of cars and planes looking to the future, and we can envision the astronomer pondering ways to use the space telescopes to image distant galaxies and stars. We can follow the lead of that astronomer and, in our own special ways, “write with light”, which is the fine art of photography.

The arts transcend every barrier humans can create, any of the nonsense of demographics, of census bureaus, of departments of commerce and of those who wish to lead our nation in Congress by those very examples of separation and division, which in the long run do much more harm than good.

Why would anyone want to do more harm than good, or any harm at all? Those are subjects for another time; for now we want to concentrate on the good that “the arts” can do for us and for our nation and our world.

“The Arts” are so elemental, so basic to us that we wonder how schools can cut such programs even in the most budget -strapped of situations. We need our artistic forms of expression in order to release stress, in order to focus on the special gifts we have, in order to share our talents and our unique natures. Those arts listed above are fine ways to tell others what we think and how we feel when words escape us.

 Writing with light is a special art form; photography has been around for more than one hundred years and it is an art in which anyone can participate. In photography, all the demographic lines are erased; the person holding the camera is not “black”, or “white” or “man” or “woman” or “ethnic” or “income”. The person is a photographer, and they have something to say.

With that camera in your hands- be it a SLR, a DSLR, or a rangefinder, with whatever film format you choose, or with memory cards ready for video or for a few hundred photos of special occasions, you are prepared to tell the stories of others or your own special tale. You have the means of helping others speak. You can express thoughts and plans in your mind that you might not be able to put words to but which the image, which what you see can tell. The person on the street, the landing plane, the dragonfly on the tree or over a pond, the incoming storm and the building being constructed speak to people in different ways, and anything can be used to help express something in the brain.

What do you want to say that perhaps cannot be said with ordinary words, but which a photo can say? The picture is worth a thousand words, goes the proverb, and by taking one simple photo you can look at it and write about what it says to you.

Look at the photo – what are the elements in it?

 

redwingbird

Here is a photo I took at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The dominant feature is the Red- winged Blackbird, a standout with its distinctive colors. It is on a rail over a bridge that overlooks a pond where other birds feed and nest. But there are other things you see in the photo besides the bird. What about those flagstones, or the metal of the rail, or the grass, or the branches? Might those things say something to your audience?

interiorcolor2

Here is an interior I photographed. There are many things here, and what might the picture say? What is special about the room- the chandelier, the furnishings, the drapes, the lighting, the way items are placed on tables, or the dividing column on the right? If you photograph a home, inside or out, professionally or casually, some element you see might just speak to you in a way you did not expect, and it could be very pleasant and enlightening.

Use your camera to help someone else tell their story or stories. Is there someone in your home or community that cannot speak or walk, an older or disabled person that wants you to take pictures of memories in their home or business, a person that is unable to take photographs? Offer them the use of your hands and eyes and camera gear; tell them you can help out and will gladly photograph for them. Perhaps they want to make an album to share with relatives or others that will factor in their later lives. Offer to use any artistic talents you have to help them create an album or scrapbook.

Naturally you can use your photographic skills to branch out and start your own business or work for a media company. You can do events such as weddings and holiday parties; you can become a field photographer for a news corporation… there are so many things you can do, including photographing sports, working for transportation companies, and working for interior design magazines or architects. Combine the skills of photography with other lines of work, such as going into the military or the fire department or astronomy, and the horizons will expand.

As you take your camera up today and think about how to use it, consider the good you can do with that specialized equipment.  How will you “write with light?”

Divi Logan for ®EDUSHIRTS, Chicago, ©2013.

Holy Name and St. James: Churches of a Cardinal’s Feather

HOLY NAME AND ST. JAMES: CHURCHES OF A CARDINAL’S FEATHER

English: Steeple of St. James Catholic Church ...

English: Steeple of St. James Catholic Church in Chicago, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

See them both for yourself and you will get more of the picture than is being put on the news. The parishioners of St. James’ Church have a legitimate beef against the Archdiocese of Chicago and have every right to be heard in their efforts to keep this wonderful church open and the area around it thriving.

I had to go see what the real issues were behind just the talk of demolition, of the transit lines being here and there, of the area around the church and of the demographics (a nasty word at times and in this case the real problem, I think) to gauge the situation. The photos I have of this day speak to more than we have so far heard.

There are hidden gems to this beautiful structure, and the area around the church has its ups and downs just as any area of a major city does, especially when there has been neglect and racism and gerrymandering and politics getting in the way.

Now let us compare the areas around Holy Name Cathedral (the “Cardinal’s Church” as a friend of mine put it today) and around the magnificent structure of St. James’ Church at 29th and Wabash. I noticed a problem right away when I went into the area for the photographs. After a few minutes it hit me: this area should be just as thriving and prosperous as the area of the Gold Coast where Holy Name Cathedral is, just as beautiful, as clean, as preserved, as lovely, as safe, just as glorious, as televised and as touted and as visited by tourists and native Chicagoans alike. What is going on behind the scenes then, that has the diocese wanting to demolish St. James’ and be in such a rush to further destroy that area of the city?

Seems to me that demographics is playing a role, but to use that as a lame, corporate and vague and arrogant and authoritarian excuse to further the demolition … now that is about as false as any lie anyone has ever told- and to hear such a thing from the Church, the oh –so- holy high and mighty Catholic Church with its corrupt Curia and all –male official roster, and its priests and its prejudiced laws and rules is only to say, “Hey Cardinal, what’s wrong with this picture? What is going on, man? Why are you not owning up to admitting to playing the race card and wanting to see this area, Bronzeville, suffer as you talk of taking away this church?”

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Playing the demographics card is worldliness and falsehood and pride, and can lead to real trouble. Get over this demographics, racial gerrymandering and race card –playing, folks! Everyone lives everywhere, so do not come to the news people and say some area is “predominantly” this or that; every “race” lives in every place. Incomes and lifestyles are changing and with those changes people are looking for alternatives to living and working and moving to parts of the city that suit their need and their means. I don’t give a flip where “blacks” and “whites” and “Asians” and “Hispanics” live- that kind of talk does not fly with me and it should not fly with anyone who considers that they are educated. To speak in such a flippant and ignorant manner is an insult to everyone, Monsieur and Madam Politician.

Answer the people of St. James’ Parish about THAT one if you can, Your Eminence and Your Holiness; what is the problem  with that area that you cannot give them the same rushed consideration you gave to the rebuilding and preservation of Holy Name Cathedral? From what I gather it would cost no more to rebuild and preserve St. James’ than it did Holy Name.

And please do not use the “transit system is so close to it” lame excuse any more, please. The Red Line runs under Holy Name and you can hear and feel it when it does. Busses and cabs and planes roar by and over that church all the time, so mass transit is alive and well in the Gold Coast and around the school, rectory and cathedral. So what if the train lines run behind St. James’s? Just soundproof and shore it up somehow –certainly there are people who can do that and the money would come out of the woodwork if the project goes forward for the salvation of St. James’. Ask anyone who lives around the historic Gold Coast and I’ll bet those homeowners have found companies who can soundproof those older buildings so they are suitable for families and businesses and shore them up against the rumbling of subways, busses, trucks, jets, and the everyday traffic between Chicago Avenue and North Avenue.

The area around St. James’ Church has residents, businesses, and schools; it has bus routes and roads (that granted do need some fixing up and some cleaning up, but make the diocese alive and relevant and Streets and Sanitation would have to come out and do the jobs), so it is far from deserted and down-trodden. So there are some bare spots and trash that could be cleaned up, but then in a city this large there are bare spots and trash all over the place; vacant lots and dilapidated buildings and such exist even in the Gold Coast. On the bus ride back into the Loop and into the Gold Coast and through Lincoln Park the changes became apparent.

North of where it seems the diocese might end its borders (but then again if people can get to Holy Name from other nations they can get to St. James’ from anywhere as well), things turned more active and seemed cleaner and better maintained overall. People were milling about and folks were walking dogs and sporting their jogging togs as they exercised, and walking with their young children. People were shopping, going in and out of businesses of every caliber and every item from food to clothing, apartment finding to beauty supplies. Though the day is overall gray and damp, the spirits of the people north of 29th and Wabash certainly had a livelier flair than what I saw in the area around St. James’ Church. West of State Street there came a few people around the housing complex, and some walking about, and there were trains and busses passing regularly. But east, there came a couple of people and a few cars.

A couple of cars pulled up in front of the church as I took photos, but I waited till they left to continue taking pictures so I could get the buildings without too much modern interference. And there is more to that church complex than just the cathedral itself.

There is a hidden gem, a large stone structure that must at one time have been a very grand home indeed.

Take away the church and most likely the diocese would have to remove this gorgeous building as well which is in perfect condition from what I can tell gauged on this view. The architecture is magnificent and it should be preserved and used as a music school or some kind of learning center for the diocese.

People have been commenting left and right about the real issues and it is time the media stepped in to tell the whole and the true story about this demolition versus preservation beeswax. To do anything but preserve it and restore it would be an insult to the parish, to the diocese, to lovers of landmarks and history everywhere, and to everyone who has a history connected to St. James’ Church.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2013.

Chicago Drug War? Call Out the Guards!

Well, all right… OK, it’s in the news every day and every week, this gang turf and drug war of ours. When it is in the mass media it is not just in the neighborhoods that are affected; it becomes OUR issue and OUR concern and OUR problem, everywhere in Chicago. Because such events as gang shootings, retaliation shootings, drug corner selling and open-air drug markets, and turf wars (really now, whose turf is it but the good citizens of this city), could happen anywhere in Chicago, anywhere in Cook County, anywhere in this country.

SWAT Truck

SWAT Truck (Photo credit: Just Us 3)

So, what is the first solution? Our police force is all ready taxed to the max with this city to take care of. They cannot devote half their force to taking care of a couple of problem areas, Englewood and West Harrison districts that are so full of crime and traumatic happenings and “high crime areas”. They have others to see to as well, other things to do.

These kids, as one of my colleagues said, NEED TO BE IN THE HOUSE. Between the ages of 10 and 19? BE IN THE HOUSE when you are supposed to be. What do we need to do- impose curfews on you every day and all the time until you get the drift of how important and essential discipline is and when you are ready to go to college? You darned well need to learn that before you consider college, kiddo. BE IN THE HOUSE, be doing your homework, be cleaning up your streets and parks and schoolyards and community centers, and be in the habit of doing good and right things. SIMPLE.

Meanwhile, what do we need to do with you? Need we call out the Illinois Guard? Need we put SWAT on your streets to make sure you don’t go out and cause trouble for yourself or someone else? Do you want tanks and armored personnel carriers on your streets 24/7 until the problems are solved? Want the National Guard to solve them for you? You can make it difficult or easy; and the National Guard and SWAT can make it difficult for you if you want them to. And I don’t think you want them to. Don’t test the concept- trust me on that one; you don’t want to make it complicated.

Of course there is another positive and better solution, and that is to catch the kids early on, those first days that they are capable of learning right and wrong, good and bad, what is harmful and what is good and decent to do and try. We have to get the concepts into them very early, making those concepts basically a part of pre-school learning and drilling in the principles throughout school.

Very young children can make amazing contributions to society. They can perform work in community gardens, sweep and rake, and help in planting trees and shrubs. They can learn about participating as good citizens as they get older and stronger. We can teach them that just because they see it or hear it does not make it right. Just because “someone else” is doing it or because they “saw it on TV” or “it was done by a celebrity in a movie”, that does not mean it is right, proper, decent, honorable or good to do or say.

Now you can make it easier on the children so they can talk to you about anything. If they have something to ask, let them ask it. What they have to say might include a “bad word” or two, but be patient. If you know they cannot have learned it and must have picked it up somewhere else do not be angry with them for saying it but sit them down and explain it. Ask where they heard it, who said it, when and in what situation it was said. Ask if anything was done when the word was said. Did the person show them a picture or make a gesture or touch the child in any way whatsoever? Take what the child says seriously- they should have no reason to lie to you and should feel comfortable being completely open and honest about such things that can be very troublesome. Once they tell you what happened, then act appropriately. If something bad did happen, the child should not be around the person or place until you see to the happening.

Do everything possible to protect the children but not to shelter them; in other words, be careful of extremes. We must use every positive initiative, be it faith-based, be it corporate, we must put it together before one more pre-teen is gunned down or otherwise traumatized in their yard or on their porch or in their bedroom. It is one too many that has been shot and killed in Chicago this year, one too many kids that have seen a friend or relative shot, heard of the funerals, been to a funeral perhaps, seen the gore on the sidewalk, seen the police presence, heard the gunfire, seen the bullets on the pavement.

Surely they wonder when their family can move. Surely they wonder, “Why can’t I go out and sit on the porch with a lemonade in the evening?” “When is this going to end so I can go out and play again?” “Why isn’t my brother coming back?”

What can we say to them?

In the meantime, we are all ready in some areas at the level of going to extremes- calling out the police, calling out SWAT, maybe calling out the Illinois Guard to clear the streets.

We can continue to make it difficult and complicated. Or we can make it easy.

Divi Logan for EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2012.

Judgement Calls: What Right Have You to Call Me…

Every time on the news that I hear some politician or official call some group or person “ordinary”, “average”, “commonplace” or  “everyday” I wonder who these folks think they are. What ivory tower did they emerge from; what kind of sheltered environment or spoiled household did they come from?

English: A composed satellite photograph of No...

English: A composed satellite photograph of North America in orthographic projection. The observer is centered at (40° N, 95° W), at Moon distance above the Earth. Español: Imagen de satélite de América del Norte (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hey you, don’t call me average or ordinary, everday or the common person! Dig this, arrogant official- I’m your fellow citizen and taxpayer and your constituent.

And everyone is special, has potential to do great and wonderful and spectacular things; so is that “ordinary” or “everyday” or “common”? I think not.

Be careful too when using racial or ethnic terms. Not everyone with dark skin is “African- American“, or “black”. In fact I see very few people who are so dark of skin that they migh actually just about fit the description “black”. Not everyone desires to be grouped with one of the trite ethnic or racial groups, so do not be so hasty to call someone something or group them with another set of people who might look the same but who have very different lifestyles or other habits. And the term “Caucasian” is historic and should not be used for describing “whites” alone. And the Caucasus is in another part of the world anyhow, certainly not in North America. In my mind only someone from that region should be designated as a “Caucasian” if it is so important to some demographer that such a category be used.

(Just think as you look at the photo of North America to the right- see any borders or lines or separations of people or neighborhoods or other society divisions here? Nope.)

Far as I am concerned, the Census and any similar program or listing on anything like a job application is only good for dividing people. None of that is good for unity, strengthening a workforce or a nation, or bringing those groups closer together. It is time we stop looking at the outside of the person and just take “diversity” as a given of the human race and nothing to write home about. People look and act differently and express themselves differently- get over this divisive junk and the damping down of what makes people special and unique and able to contribute to the greater national experience.

Come on, folks, grow up all ready. It should make you suspicious enough the fact that the Census Bureau is part of the U. S. Department of Commerce- that got my hair raised the closer a look I had at the logo which is pictured here. So how did this Census junk get twined up with the Commerce Department? Does this make you just a little bit wary and concerned about where advertising goes, who sponsors ads and products, who is in commercials, what is shown on job applications, and perhaps attitudes seen in or around your workplace?

It is time for change… many a change at many a level. Let’s wake up people- we need to work togegther, set aside the differences, and look to re-building a stronger and better America. But remember, we cannot do this if separate and divided and in derision or in doubt; such a mission can only be done by WORKING TOGETHER and LOOKING TO GET THE JOB DONE TO THE BEST OF OUR ABILITIES.

Seal of the United States Census Bureau. The b...

Seal of the United States Census Bureau. The blazon is defined here as: On a shield an open book beneath which is a lamp of knowledge emitting rays above in base two crossed quills. Around the whole a wreath of single leaves, surrounded by an outer band bearing between two stars the words ‘‘U.S. Department of Commerce’’ in the upper portion and ‘‘Bureau of the Census’’ in the lower portion, the lettering concentric with an inner beaded rim and an outer dentilated rim (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Caucasus. Qasara Gorge

Caucasus. Qasara Gorge (Photo credit: paukrus)

Divi Logan for EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2012.

Mayor To Be? What Would You Want Me to do for You?

For years I thought about running for Mayor of Chicago. I have learned more about the election process, watched the process, watched candidates come and go, seen the parties and the media coverage, the talks and the conferences, the photo-ops and the celebrities surrounding such elections.

English: Source: http://www.chicagob2b.net/lin...

English: Source: http://www.chicagob2b.net/links/pages/CitySeal1.gif This image is a copy of the official seal of the City of Chicago, Illinois, as designed and adopted by the City in 1905. As such, it is a work authored before 1922, and is therefore in the public domain. A 1895 edition of the seal can be seen here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But there is another side to the hoopla and the parties, the photographs, the lights and the glory of the position. And that side is WHY someone really would run for such a position, being Mayor of America‘s third largest city and of the city that contains what many people call the most beautiful lakefront in America.

That side – the important side of why someone ideally runs for office – is helping the people who really need necessary, urgent, and life -saving help. It is lowering tax rates, keeping communities safe, lowering the crime rate, improving the job market and “the economy” for more than just the big businesses/ corporations who plaster their names all over the parks, hospitals, donations rolls, educational institutions and street signs. It is doing all in one’s power to extend a hand to the single parent, the child who wonders why their school is not as safe as another school, who wonders how the environment can be made better so everyone can learn, the laid-off folks who wonder why their jobs are being taken to other states or countries.

I have asked people what they would want to see from a mayor. Some have said getting rid of the gangs is priority, and the gangs and their turf wars certainly are a big problem. The murder rate rises, evidence of drug use is all over those areas where gangs have their presence, and the use of guns is blatant. Innocent people suffer where gangs thrive, children are gunned down in parks- and all they are doing is playing or just hanging out with friends. Some idiot comes out with an assault rifle and, through a case of mistaken identity, guns someone down and sprays the area with bullets, not caring who is in the way, not caring whether young families are out trying to enjoy bonding time, not caring about the kids.  They do their thing no matter what, and that has to stop.

And then there is the issue of what to do about the teachers, the “neighborhood” schools, the education budget, the school board, the longer school day, demolition or refurbishing of other buildings, charter schools, library hours…. EDUCATION! What are the real budgetary needs, who deserves the big pay, what should be done about the school board? What would YOU as a non-board citizen like to see from the next mayor?

Then there is the issue of businesses, small family-0wned and -run businesses, local specialty businesses tired of government red tape, talk of health insurance, talk of this and that regulation, talk of corporations outsourcing jobs to China and Mexico and India. As a small business owner, what have you asked mayors and aldermen to do that they seem not to hear or want to hear? What would YOU want a listening, duty-bound and honorable person to as your next mayor?

What would you like to see done about dilapidated buildings, run-down houses, trashy and vacant lots, run-down playgrounds, schools without air conditioning? What do you want done about potholes on your neighborhood streets, lighting on your streets, flood zones in your community, building code enforcement, adding more fire departments or police protection? What would you want done about dogfighting or cockfighting, stray or hazardous animals? Do you want chemical contamination cleaned up? Have you tried and failed with the present old-school, old-boy network, are you tired of the rubber-stamp city council?

What about transportation, the bunched busses, the CTA stations? What do you want- lower fares, better services; are there regularity issues in your neighborhood? Maybe you need more service? Maybe you need a safer area for the busses to have stops and so the organizations will build nice stations and so that the appearance of your area will improve and then jobs, businesses and other services will come in.

Maybe a lower tax rate is in your radar, and so it should be. Too much money in the coffers seems to give the present officials the mind to think they have it to waste. WASTE? It is not their money to waste. It is the money THEY have taxed out of YOU and with the claims that they need that money for services and other projects. But what happens? They give themselves hefty pay raises, fine office perks, travel, rented luxury vehicles. They tell YOU to tighten YOUR belt while they do the opposite!

As mayor I will NOT do that. If anyone need to tighten their belt, it is the city council, the boards of the city, and the leadership. If I ask for something such as reduction of a budget I will adhere to those cuts and would not ask anyone to do what I would not do. Reduce pay for the boards, sure! AND hold them accountable for every action. Hold the power board accountable for every outage, every transformer blowout, every street light, every time a crew comes out to repair after a storm. Hold those people accountable to give reports of what is going on and see the evidence. I want to know the people who work for me REALLY ARE WORKING, and not sloughing off in their desk chairs or having some expensive lunch on the clock.

Citizens, I WANT YOU to talk to me. I want to know what is going on, to see what is happening, to see if the officials who say they will do something really follow up on it for your community, school, church, streets, etc. I want you to write, to respond, to call, to come by my office (I think I will call it the “Duty Hut”), and sit and chat. No big fat parties for THIS Mayor, no way, not until my constituents, the “regular”, “everyday”, all-around working taxpaying citizen is satisfied with the services, the officials under my command, the appearance of their streets, and the safety of their schools. No celebrities in my office during working hours, no corporate lunches, no luxury vehicles in my city fleet, no way- not until everyone else is satisfied, as happy as people can be, as well-fed, as well-educated, and as well-housed as Americans should be.

My slogan: NO SIDES CHICAGO! My vision: A United Chicago for a Stronger Nation! My “STEM”- satisfied and loyal constituents, and my roots, a fertile area for people to prosper, for families to safely live, work, play and have fun together; a safer place for businesses to prosper and grow, a safer place to learn for our students at all levels, and fairness for everyone. I will be a listening mayor. One cannot learn anything unless one listens to others. I will be an acting mayor and hopefully those who work with me will be of the same set of mind.

Everyone is on my team- that is my “sub-slogan”. You can be… YOU CAN BE on my team too. The Mission Control Mayor… think of that.

The essential question is this: What do you want your mayor to do for you?

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

It is a lot to think about, isn’t it? Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012. Writer, designer, and web developer for ®EDUSHIRTS.

Mayor Minimalizes Marijuana? What Will This Cause?

Minimalize the small to focus on the large… think again. The consequences could be worse than the possession of the minimal amount of marijuana, such as 15 grams.

English: Four ounces of low-grade marijuana, u...

English: Four ounces of low-grade marijuana, usually referred to as a quarter-pound or QP. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is said that one does not build the roof before building the rest of the house first. You do not start with the windows; you begin with laying out the land and constructing the foundation. Starting with the small and the basic is the essence of learning anything. In the case of troubles plaguing communities in and near Chicago, where do we begin to solve issues such as poverty, the presence of powerful and invasive narcotics, guns and gangs and litter and graffiti, run-down structures that are very dangerous, and streets that need potholes repaired? Where to begin? With more police presence? With grass roots efforts, with marches, with family talks and stable households?

In the Bible, remember, Joseph did not get his start in Egypt right in the royal court of the Pharaoh. He began by doing small household tasks, by concentrating on the basics of the daily doings of the home of an official. He did not get his first offering being second-in-command in the country; he began work as a servant. Only after extreme difficulty, only after much testing and trial, did he get the calling to come to the royal court and end up preparing Egypt to endure years of famine. He did not start out wearing the fine linen and the golden chains of power and authority; he had to work, endure, and patiently wait for his calling, his chance.

What message, the news media and concerned citizens have every right to ask, will this minimalizing of possessing certain amounts of marijuana, will this statute send to those who have it? Sure you can fine them and use the money for community programs and drug or gang reduction, and leave the police to pursue those who are committing larger or more violent crimes, but the message you send is the same. You can do something small and essentially get away with it.

What happens then when you have to do something big, or get into a situation greater than those you have met with in the past? What happens when you neglect the small and the basic in favor of looking just at the larger situation or the big picture? You will find the obvious- that there are pieces missing from your tapestry, that characters are missing from your painting, that something is not in the photograph… that an important feature is not in your story or your view. You will find that you have been concentrating on the completion of the big project without looking at the smaller threads… the building blocks, the basics of what makes the project work and what will make it a success.

Simply put, you have put the wall before the bricks that make up the wall. That’s not the proper approach to making a plan work.

Having marijuana is a crime, no matter the amount, and that is how it should be. Possession is possession- of one gram or a thousand grams, of a few dollars’ worth or a few million $$$ worth. A crime is a crime- murder is still murder no matter what ‘degree’ the legal system places on it. A life is taken; a life is destroyed by violence or drug addiction or the use of drugs.

The possession of narcotics must not be made a trivial matter. When something is trivial, you can look at it literally in three ways (tri + via= three ways). Any way you look at the problem of strong drugs and illegal narcotics and the abuse of these drugs, it is drugs+ gangs+ guns and taxes+ death+ troubles. Serious troubles all around for everybody, whether directly involved by seeing the situations, knowing someone on drugs or dealing them and not saying anything to the proper authority, or indirectly involved by having to pay taxes for first responder overtime, downgrades in revenue for productive purposes, and lagging community development.  Trivializing so hot and potent and troublesome an issue is sure to lead to more difficulties for everyone. Besides, if you need to get the police involved, go the distance- arrest, read the rights, take to prison and give the offenders a taste of that side of the life of crime. Otherwise you get a few hundred dollars out of someone and they can continue to use and abuse.

Minimalize the crime and punishment, you minimalize the sense of harm, danger, trouble-rousing, and community service and personal responsibility.

The 15 grams or less of marijuana the police find on someone could still be used later in an act that results in someone being shot, killed, injured in a wreck, or otherwise violently harmed in body or spirit. A fine of $100 to $500 is not likely to be missed by a dealer or a heavy user- if they want the drugs or money badly enough they will find ways to get it and replace what was confiscated. The point must then again be emphasized:

Minimalize the crime and punishment, you minimalize the sense of harm, danger, trouble-rousing, and community service and personal responsibility.

Marijuana Seed on Fingertip

Marijuana Seed on Fingertip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divi Logan for ®EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.

Chicago Police Alien to Patience?

CHICAGO POLICE TAKE HAIR-TRIGGER RESPONSES TO PROTESTING POPULACE

English: Chicago police officers

English: Chicago police officers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those familar with many episodes of Star Trek know that a lot of the populations the crew of the USS Enterprise encoutered had terrible and mighty ways to subdue their opponents or force those whom they encountered to do things with their bodies and minds otherwise impossible through ordinary human faculties.

The alien races could get the fallible humans and even on occasion the strong and brilliant Mr. Spock, to fall to their knees in agony, perform unusual dances, engage in sex acts, perform acts of worship, or disappear, or even become paralyzed. With the instruments at their disposal, which could be found on wrists, belts, and even by advanced uses of the mind, those aliens could do those things, yes, but it is why or how they did them that is the curiosity and the common point between them and what the Chicago Police have been doing lately.

Those alien peoples would instantly go to those devices the moment the Enterprise crew would make a move toward them. Now their movements could be either in peace or potentially for hostilities… but could anyone really be sure? It was the cowardly hair-trigger response to any movements by the humans that forced the hands (or minds) of the aliens to go to their buttons and levers and gadgets in order to subdue their opponents, force them to divulge their reasons for being where they were, and anything else the aliens wanted to know.

Now this week in the local Chicago news came a disturbing report. The details are not completely clear yet and no doubt will become so when surveillance tapes are looked at and the investigation continues, but a pregnant woman (and how can someone not tell a lady otherwise in good shape, not obese, not large, and otherwise healthy is eight months pregnant?) was tasered by a police officer. Naturally both sides have their stories but I am definitely inclined to believe the story of the woman who was so treated.

Did not the officer think of the potential harm that incident could have caused the mother and baby? The lady could have fallen, passed out, started early labor, any number of things. She could have been severely injured by that act, so why on Earth would the officer be so tempted to go for that taser? Was his life so deeply in danger from a pregant woman’s actions that he felt he had to go to the taser instead of making everyone comfortable so they could talk, so that the incident in question could be worked out, and so that everyone could go on their way without further incident? I feel very sorry for that mother-to-be and hope she is going to be all right.

Are our tough men in blue so tense and worked-up and hard against even a little bit of leeway that they must go for the tasers right away? One little move towards them, one little touch, one little tearing up of a ticket, one move here or there and everyone suddenly is potentially one to assault the officer, to make a move for a weapon, to cause further trouble or harm to the police or to others in the area. It is sad that technology has become something we can go to instead of taking a slower or more logical kind of action. Cowards go for their weapons first or mass in groups to subdue others by threats or force or psychology. Cowards dress in masks and powerful gear and carry high-powered weapons, and they feel threatened by anyone who does not look or think or act as they do.

Gang members are that way, cowardly, in groups, with their signs and lingo and markers and colors, with their weapons and drugs and threats. They are cowards and that is all they are, and nothing more or less. Cowards, and would you let them take over your neighborhoods that you work hard to keep up, to live and work and play in? They are on that hair-trigger edge too, stressed and tense and upset and worried, just like our police officers. Poor folk- how terrible such a lifestyle must be- for the gangs the thought of keeping up the greed, the strong-arm tactics, the drug running, the turf wars, pitting neighbors against each other, pitting families and schools against each other, and pretending they are so high and mighty. And then there are our police officers- tensed, stressed, worn out, tired, worried and armed. But it is their job to train to use those tactics and weapons. Our police officers are not cowards- they have chosen their profession thinking they might do some good or make a difference, and most of them do. Their work is hard, tough, and hazardous; they have to go up against those gang members who terrorize people for their selfish intentions. They have to make traffic stops, serve warrants, chase bank robbers, catch rapists and child molesters, work traffic incidents, patrol for parades and work during natural disasters.

The important thing is that they use those tactics and weapons properly, not the instant someone makes a move until they can discern what that movement is for. It is a sign that they are on edge, those hair-trigger responses to the protestors and the pregnant woman. Our uniformed law enforcers have the respect from law-abiding citizens, and no doubt  most of us are, and not likely to cause trouble. We can be patient and obey the law; we can walk by the police and wave and speak and say hello. We should be able to come up to them in their vehicles or on their horses or when on street patrol or bike patrol, and say what we see and be comfortable around them. The motto “We Serve and Protect” is exactly what they shoud remind themselves of every day, saying it, repeating it, almost as Mr. Spock does his Vulcan greeting of “Live Long and Prosper” (“Peace and Long Life”). We should work together with them to keep the city safe and free of trouble, and the police need to know that most people, I believe, are good people and follow the law.

But we know our first amendment rights too, such as freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the right of the people peaceable to assemble. No need for the police to be pulling people off the sidewalks as some of the Michigan Avenue protestors claim they did. And was there a need for the young man to be beaten with batons or others to have other bodily harm inflicted by the law? Sure we can take the advice of the police to disperse when asked, and we can do that in an orderly fashion, but then there is that right to PEACEABLY assemble, and we don’t need a permit issued by some city official to do that. Our permit is IN THE CONSTITUTION!

Are we all to be considered guilty before innocent? Isn’t is supposed to be innocent before being proven guilty? The TSA sure thinks so, our own government sure thinks so… do our law enforcement officers need to think so, too?

Divi Logan and ®EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.

Chicago Families and Children Be Wary of Your Surroundings

Residents of Chicago’s best and worst and every one of our neighborhoods, you think there are problems from the drug dealers and users, alcoholics, weapons runners and teens who rob stores and are part of gangs, there is another problem to add to the mix. You need ever more to be aware of homegrown predators and terrorists: the child molester and abductor.

Recent news of a man in a neighborhood attempting to get two children, ages 7 and 4, into his car by luring them with candy, emphasizes the need to review safety rules and teach your children and others in your area about these problems. Candy luring is one of the old ways to attract the attention of kids, and some may be easily attracted to the sweets and treats they might not have access to at home, during the day, or even at all if home rules or their health rules are against having sweets.

Be sure to sit down and talk with your children, of any age where they can understand you and follow verbal instructions, about the people they can and cannot trust. The old rule applies: DO NOT TALK TO STRANGERS! Tell them about the people they can trust, such as police officers, fire fighters, ambulance personnel, doctors, nurses, pastors/priests, people you know and see regularly. Introduce the child to these people and explain the reason for your wanting them to get to know these folks. Also tell them there are places they can go if they are in a state of being threatened. They can go, for instance, to a fire station, police station, hospital, church or synagogue, and tell someone there what is happening.

It is a good time also to sharpen visual skills. Many times it is not possible for a child to give a good description of a molester or someone following them- the child is frightened or rushed or hurried or troubled and they might have to run away when the sense of being threatened is upon them. They could tell the police that someone in a blue car with white stripes may have been following them down a certain street, or it could be a for-sure description as of that given of the tear-drop tattoo suspect that followed those two kids in the past few days. Naturally it is not good to wait long around such situations, and many kids cannot give good descriptions. At such times, you can tell them they can run away, scream, fight back against the aggravator, anything to attract attention and drive the suspect off. But you might give children a chance by asking them to practice describing people or other things they see as best they can within a few seconds of looking at something.

Aside from enhancing the young one’s perception of color, shapes, and appearance of things, they can learn how to be polite to the police officers and firefighters in their area and get to know them and trust that they can ask those folks anything and discuss important things or something that bothers them. Now as relates to descriptions, the child should be able to tell the trustworthies that it was a “red car, two doors, with a scratch/dent/rust/missing mirror” and it went down that street.” Some kids might be able to tell the officers that it was a certain model or make of car, and some might even be able to remember a license plate, but a simple description should be enough to get a search started.

More safety tips include: do not let your child’s name be seen on anything exposed to general view, such as a backpack, sweater, jacket or bookbag. A stranger could easily call out from a car, “Angela, come with me to your mommy’s house,” giving the child the impression that the person knows them or their family. Tell them to refuse the offer and run away instantly and quickly to seek help. Do not let them walk alone even around the block and especially toward dark. Ensure they are with someone familiar and that you know where they are going and the errand to be done. Make sure that any toys or a bicycle or tricycle is not left exposed outside- child molesters and sex offenders might be searching for homes where children are present and playing or where they live or are even visiting. Do not give any impression, if possible, that there are young children in the household. Watch at night in the neighborhood and report any suspicious vehicles or people wandering around your home, in an alley, or standing on a corner near where young children walk or gather or catch the bus.

The important thing is to instill a sense of safety and trust in the children, to let them know they can trust you and those people you know and the first reponders in the area. Teach them to take active roles in community service and cleanup days such as those the Chicago Park District is offering during spring and summer. This will help them get to know people in the area and know who lives there, the streets and numbers and directions, and take pride in their communities. These are lessons they can share with others.

By following basic and logical practices, you can make your family, young relatives and visitors, and the community a safer and better place to live, work, and play. Take pride, take heart, watch out for each other, and enjoy life!

Divi Logan and ®EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, ©2004 -2012.