“Why Ferguson Is Not My Reality” :My American Experience Part 3

When I started writing this 3 part piece it was right after the Ferguson Missouri shooting. I had been watching the news while away on vacation. I don’t often watch the news or check emails nor my cell when I’m on vacation with my family. But it had been about 2 weeks since the story broke.
I was flipping through channels, it was cable TV, we don’t have cable at home and I am glad for that.



I watched scene after scene of police in riot gear and protesters yelling, screaming and throwing things at the cops. Then there were the people being interviewed.


One guy had the audacity, to have his hands full of stolen loot, to say he doing it because of police brutality. As the camera turned I saw young and old black men with handkerchiefs over their faces shouting about there being no peace.


There was another group of people with arms locked slowly walking forward, asking people to move back behind the lines. They were also asking people to go home. They meant the non-residents who came and agitated things…
I didn’t understand it then or during my parents young days neither do I understand it now! Why is it, that when things go wrong in mostly poor and predominantly black areas of a city, do people rob stores, damage property not owned by them and expect the outside viewing public will be sympathetic?
People destroy the very business creating an opportunity to work,  they destroy the people, family…businesses that service their underserved neighborhoods. Personally, I would close my business and take the financial hit. Because if you’re mad at someone, then you should take the fight to them. Not to the guy standing next to you ordering dinner for his family. But that’s not what happens….People destroy their own homes! “Stupid is as stupid does”- Forest Gump
Then folks like


Sharpton roll into town chanting that ol’ negro spiritual “No Justice,  No Peace”. Poor guy, he’s shuck with Jackson (and others like them) In a Star Trek like “time bubble”…1960. Their “dead language” tactics cause more harm than good,



Yet family after family are suckered in by their foolishness.


You see, I grew up, as well as many in my generation; in a less exposed and much more free time in America. Now, isn’t ironic that, that generation is in charge of squeezing out most of our freedoms. The very kids that grew up riding bikes without helmets create laws and such, that today’s kids not only ride on the sidewalks! But they dress like NFL players to do so.
We were less exposed to the rape of “little Ann” a block away. Our parents were responsible for relaying the message to us and were in complete control of our safety/well-being. We kids & teens may not have known about it for a week. But by then someone had the actual facts and the parents knew who the rapist on the block and in the area was. Leaving us to be free to play, fight, laugh or go see a movie (in groups).
Today, however, everything both good and bad is sent instantly to everyone…kids, teens, adults and seniors unfiltered.  It’s interesting how the World Wide Web was supposed to bring the world closer. Too many times dangerous, damaging and negative information is regurgitated. Causing the massive American populous to be discontent, angry, rude, un-American,  unsympathetic, so on and so on. Not too long ago people read reputable newspapers and asked the people “in charge” to get their facts. Now, far too many have a Restless Leg Syndrome reaction to the beep and vibration on their phones, tablets etc.
I had no reaction to the events in Missouri around my children, save to point out the foolishness of the looters and so-called leaders.  Even though shootings and such happen in this country. It is not the whole of the American experience. It is not like that in “Every” state,  county, city or town. Not every cop is sadistic, though too many give the great ones a bad name. Just like saying “All” blacks listen to and like Rap. It’s just not so. But movie after movie, tv show after tv show and YouTube clip after clip show it… so it must be true!
This is the same process that fuels the unfiltered passion and rage of our youth. I am in constant battle with the pop culture to instill a “critical thinking” mind in my children.  As well as a sense of a larger world. All but one has a passport (we have 6), 2 have traveled to foreign countries to help others, 4 have traveled to different parts of America to help others. My youngest son (now 16) at 13, spent his summer vacation on a Native American Reservation in Arizona building porches. Next year, he’ll go with his school to New Orleans to help there.
I told them to keep their passports current just in case a job opened up in another country. We also save and taught them, those with children, to save through out the year for a vacation outside of where we live…why? To experience other people, cultures and different parts of our country. The same way my mother did; pre-internet 60’s and 70’s.
It paid off, I have a broader view of the world. It started with a library card…I’d ride my bike (no pads or helmet) about 8 blocks away, obeying traffic rules and using my hand signals daddy taught me; I didn’t read much then but I rented “Big Band” records to hear my daddy’s music.
When you only see one representation of yourself, of your community, of your country and if it happens to be a constant flow of negative images, messages and information you’re bound to hate yourself…
That’s why Ferguson is not my reality, not my American experience…

My American Experience: My Reality Part 2

Television:   As a kid we had 3 major TV networks, ABC, NBC and CBS…then there were WOR 9 and WPIX 11 (in NYC).  Most of what I saw was channel after channel of white people having white peoples’s problems (In hindsight). What my sister, mother and I saw, was good quality television. There wasn’t cursing, kissing, sex, half naked teenagers or  parents. There was always a mother and father and if one of the parents weren’t around, an extended family member was around to help.  Even the Sitcoms (Situation comedy)were wholesome there was no laughing at Sin or things considered distasteful for a family to sit down together and watch.
In terms of “white people’s” problems, there was an episode of The Brady Bunch where the kid didn’t want to eat his dinner. He was allowed to waste the food and leave the table! This was unheard of in my house! You ate what was in front of you and you didn’t leave until you were done. Again, in hindsight, it had nothing to do with being white and everything to do with being wealthy.
Mike Brady was an architect who built his own house and lived in the suburbs. He also remarried after the death of his wife. He could afford a housekeeper, so he had plenty of help.
In contrast, James Evans of Good Times, was a blue collar worker who loses his job and struggles to find and keep employment. He’d work low paying, often minimum wage jobs. The family battled with poverty and lived in the city. Unlike the Brady’s, they didn’t always have enough food to eat. What was obvious though, was that both sitcom families had a lot of love. Whether they lived in the Suburbs or in the poorest section of the City.
The Waltons, were another family where the value of love and working together was a message that rang though every episode. John and Olivia Walton were raising 7 children on a farm and lumber land during the Depression years. The family mostly ate what they grew and owned a lumber business. The kids were often barefoot and rose early to do house work/chores before going to school. This was not a sitcom, the family dealt with homelessness, crime, death, being a good neighbor, separation, loneliness etc. But there was always plenty of laughing, singing and playing. Each night the show would end with everyone saying goodnight to one another…

Many of the television shows in the 70’s were still crafted using the formula of the 1950’s as well as the 1930’s and 1940’s radio theater. It was about creating and maintaining a wholesome family environment. Some didn’t come close to reality, others did. The result was a generation that valued helping others, playing outside, family, friendship, knowing right from wrong and learning life’s lessons from home. If you lied or stole something, you apologized and replaced what was stolen, you confessed to the wrong doing even in the face of a “spanking/beating”, because it was the right thing to do. Then…
The Networks multiplied and opened Pandora’s proverbial box….


My American Experience: My Reality Pt.1



As a child, I heard James Brown (in my aunt’s house), Marvin Gaye, the Temptations and Four Tops, Gladys Knight. Driving with Daddy I heard Doo Wop and Soul. In my aunt’s house I heard James, Funkadelic, The Bar- Kays, Earth Wind and Fire,The Jacksons
In my teens, my sister Donna introduced me to health food, herbal tea and yogurt…her boyfriend Wayne introduced me to Jazz, Spyro Gyra, Earl Klugh and George Benson to name a few. He also introduced to designer colognes, some of which I still where today. During Block parties I always heard and saw live music being played by local bands. By my mid-teens block parties had been taking over by local Disc Jockeys (Djs) These guys weren’t on the radio, they took their stereos from home to the street and kept the dancing going ALL night long. The Master of Ceremony’s (M.C) was NOT the star of the party, in fact he/she didn’t exist yet…it wasn’t long before the GAP band followed by The Sugar Hill Gang took the park’s music to the radio.
My late teens was singing to girls songs from the Spinners,” I’ll be around”,”Could it be I’m falling in love” etc. By the time I was 19 Hip Hop (Rap music) had made it’s mark on American music…in the mid-80’s I was in my middle 20’s and the west coast exploded with their own style of angry Hip Hop “Gangster Rap” but by this point I was so fed up with the language, empty messages and battle between east and west coast, that I pulled away from Hip Hop and ran to the arms of Rock…

The music of my 20’s was a somewhat delicate balance between the classic rock of Jemi Hendrix, The Doors and the new rock of Bon Jovi, The Police and Prince. Every once and a while I searched for Jazz to cleanse my palate…Chuck Mangione worked wonders for the ears. The movie Mo’ Better Blues opened my ears to new artist like Branford Marsalis and Terence Blanchard. Shorty before the movie as I was sliding away from Prince (now with The New Power Generation) and closer to more Jazz, I discovered this young cat playing swing! by the name of Harry Connick Jr. 

I’d falling in love with an AM radio station that played Frank Sinatra almost all day…I would tune in when I was writing. Jazz still remains to be the only music I can write to. Harry lead to Wynton Marsalis and the two sparked a revolution in my ears. I left all other music behind, save, Sting but eventually even he was left in the wake of the Jazz revolution.  Harry took center stage, I bought everything he made!  But Wynton, was a very close second. 

As I grew, so did my taste grow with me. The 90’s reignited my tasted for country music, with artist like Garth Brooks, which begin in the 80’s with Kenny Rogers, like everybody else back then. I listened to Jazz exclusively until I became a Christian. As a new believer I didn’t know what to buy.  There was this christian bookstore on 43rd St. in Manhattan I used to go to, my method was to buy what looked good. Christian Hip Hop was growing, so naturally I was curious since I’d turned my back on Rap music. After a few hit and misses I settle on The Crossmovement, a group that brought authentic east coast Hip Hop favor, style and sound to the church. I branched off to Rock from there with Third day, Salvador, Newsboys and D.C talk...

Today, my Zune, that’s right I said…Zune! is filled with hundreds of Jazz, Rock, christian Hip Hop and some country music albums. Most times I’m listening to a worship album or Diana Krall and of course Harry.   What’s my point to this long story? In-spite of resent events, I wanted to share a bit of my world. You see, if you saw me on the street where I live, you might want to put in a box. “He lives in the ghetto” there for, I must be into Jay-z or his wife. Wrong! People from my own cultural background might think the same thing. “What’s the name of that song by jay z?” My response is, “I don’t know!” “How can you not know?”…”Do you know that song by Florida Georgia Line “This is how we roll?” To farther make my point, all black people, like white, native, chinese etc. are not the same….

To be continued…

On Holiday

It’s that time of year again! You’ve worked hard and enjoyed the extra free Monday’s off. But a 4 day weekend doesn’t quite cut it. Especially when everybody else is off too, it just doesn’t seem that special. So what do you do? You take off a week or two and you vacate your home!
Turn in your papers, call your travel agent, click on Trip Advisor, search for that “All” inclusive deal and get as far away from home and your boss as possible…
Psst…I’m doing right now, shh… don’t tell my wife that I’m working though. We needed this time away from the city. Unfortunately, we brought the entire clan with us, so we’ll have to wait for a winter weekend getaway, to be alone. We have decent kids, however, there’s 6 of them and 2 grand kids. I know what you’re thinking, we had too much alone time, so it’s our fault it’s a little crowded. Oh be quiet….
In Deuteronomy, a book in the bible, parents are instructed by God to teach “our” children about Him…

“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” Deuteronomy 6:6,7 (NLT)

Walking with the Lord or should I say, having a daily relationship with Him is difficult in a crowded and noisy city. We New Yorkers, tend to rush around a lot. You tourists can make things worse at times…you hear stories about the big city and think that rushing about, pushing your way on to a train is what we do here. Sorry, it’s not. Our rushing is more about navigating through hordes of people going to work at the same. At the end of the day, we are tired and just want to go home! We really don’t like being cramped but most of the offices and jobs are on a tiny island called Manhattan.
So, we city Christians, pop in our ear buds for a quick time of worship, we whip out “Our Daily Bread” for a quick quiet time alone with God and while we’re looking out the window for our stop, we are also praying for our family, friends, coworkers, boss and other things. That’s all done in a 30 – 60 minute ride to the office. So, we really don’t get the time we need to sit with our family and talk about Christ. You do the best you can on the weekends…
Then once a year you get a vacation from daily life…but you’re never on vacation from God! For us, right next to that great summer read is our bible or bible app. Before or after breakfast is our family quiet time…a time to draw close to Jesus. Then off to the amusement park or whatever the plan is. As instructed in Deuteronomy, our talks don’t stop there, they continue throughout whole day, the whole week. It’s like refueling your gas tank after a long trip…we live in a busy city with a busy life, so any vacation away from busyness where we can refocus our attention is a good vacation.
Though we are away from home, On Holiday…we are never far from God.

17 and Counting

A lady killer,  God’s gift to women…Player. Sounds good at first but then something happens.
James bond was considered a lady killer, a man blessed with good looks, charm and a sense of style. He’d attract the ladies, then “love them and leave them”. Of course, because he looked so good, the women didn’t mind being treated like trash.
Ah, the high school kid born beautiful. Perhaps he’s a jock, but for sure he’s self centered, over confident and annoying to many of the girls. Sadly, even as an adult his behavior hasn’t changed. Yet, surprisingly, he still attracts the ladies!
    “Don’t hate the player, hate the game” …in other words, don’t be mad at me because of what I’m doing, it’s the way things are. I’m not at fault because I’m good at what I do. If that was the sentiment of an upright business leader, it might be acceptable. But the guys saying such things are usually up to no good and wish to get away with the poor behavior. Like having multiple girlfriends and getting caught…”don’t hate the player, hate the game”…Once again, this guy attracts women; like stink of cheese!
The result of all of the above is a very long drawn out relationship to nowhere.  These guys don’t marry, they don’t become fathers to their children. They leave a wake behind them for the marrying kind to clean up (It’s a good thing we have staying power).  It all sounds good to Mr.Imintomyself, until he gets some bad news. Which girl will he call to come to his aide or to comfort him? Who will really care? Mom and Dad are in their golden years,  he didn’t invest in a relationship with his siblings…who’s going to care about him…?

On the 8th of August,  I celebrated 17 years of marriage with my wife. I can’t believe it’s been that long! If it wasn’t for the body aches and pains…and the children I’d swear we were just married. I couldn’t imagine her not being in my life. As a young fool, I couldn’t imagine being with one person for life. But…I enjoy knowing who’s in the bed next to me. I don’t have to fake knowing her name, search my address book or contact list to pick a name for a date. I don’t have to wonder who will visit me when I’m sick, who can I talk to, when I need a listening ear and I always have a partner for whatever I need and this sentiment flows in both directions…
Sure, there’s some debris left from the knucklehead that hurt her years ago when you first meet, but the fool through away a Jewel; that I was smart enough to keep.
“He who finds a wife finds a good    thing, And obtains favor from the Lord” Proverbs 18:22 (NKJV) 

I’m Blessed!


T. Anthony Bland

Pointless… It would seem, to get out of bed, or even to go to bed since you’ll just have to get up again. You get back up for what reason?  To go to work for someone else, to get a check to hand over to someone else just to have a ceiling over your head.

Futile, is the attempt to Face-lift, implant, inject and dye, all in the name of staying young. You’re old!  Lifting your skin to your scalp will not change that. Dying your hair while your eyes are gray and filled with cataracts is counter productive. It’s …a waste. To stockpile the last cell phone and electronic gadget is Feckless!

I watched a movie with my wife the other day, At Middleton, the characters kept saying feckless throughout the film. It clearly was a running gag and after laughing I decided to look up the meaning of…

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Pointless… It would seem, to get out of bed, or even to go to bed since you’ll just have to get up again. You get back up for what reason?  To go to work for someone else, to get a check to hand over to someone else just to have a ceiling over your head.

Futile, is the attempt to Face-lift, implant, inject and dye, all in the name of staying young. You’re old!  Lifting your skin to your scalp will not change that. Dying your hair while your eyes are gray and filled with cataracts is counter productive. It’s …a waste. To stockpile the latest cell phone and electronic gadget is Feckless!

I watched a movie with my wife the other day, At Middleton, the characters kept saying feckless throughout the film. It clearly was a running gag and after laughing I decided to look up the meaning of the word, which means useless, pointless…meaningless. Long before the film King Solomon penned Ecclesiastes 1 where he declared that “Everything is meaningless” and I agree with him. But I also agree with his conclusion of Ecclesiastes…

If we spend our days trying to stay young, by dying our hair and nipping here and tucking there; after years of wanting to be an adult, then yeah, that  is feckless. But when you pour into some else’s life, then your own existence has meaning. We can not stop the aging process or retard our death, but we can live with purpose, we can live for others.  A parent becoming health conscience can not prolong your life, they have no control over living and dying. But they do and can control the quality of that life. Instead of watching the grand children, they are able to lift and play with the child. That child grows to have fond memories of  love and playing with you, then in turn passes that love on to someone else. Whether it be their child or a co-worker is unimportant, the point is, when we live in such a way that brings Joy to others we live eternally…most importantly, life is no longer pointless, futile, a waste, meaningless or feckless. It is massively valuable…

Remember the last time someone smiled at you? or helped you? Do you remember the last time you did something really cool for someone else? Remember that feeling? Yes, it did feel good, didn’t it?  The next time you feel like you’re living a pointless life, remember Solomon’s words..

12 But beyond these, my son, be warned: there is no end to the making of many books,and much study wearies the body. 13 When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.  (Ecclesiastes 12:12-14, HCSB)

The Lord freely gave us Jesus and told us to freely give as it was given to us. The “giving” part benefits all humanity, you don’t have to be a Christian to understand that, you already know that good feeling…

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