Thursday, September 5, 2019

Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir On the Craft of Resistance by Harold Michael Harvey

I am a beacon of light in this world--Silent Unity

"He had in his soul all that went to make a fanatic,
a knight errant. Ready to sacrifice himself, fearing
nobody and nothing, strong in body, study in
commitment, full of unending belief."
--W. E. B. Du Bois



Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. Harvey, author of Paper Puzzle and Justice in the Round, is an award- winning journalist and political pundit.He has a B.S. and a JD degree. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Medium, and Black College Nines. Contact him at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com.

Any book that has the title Freaknik Lawyer deserves some immediate attention for potential readers. For me, the title represents recognition and honor given to the author for handling nearly 200 individual pro bono cases for students who were unexpectedly caught up in what was considered spring break for Black students in surrounding areas of Atlanta.Working your head off free...Now that's what I mean by getting your freak on! Respect and thanks goes to Harvey when he stands by his promise, even when nobody else followed through as planned! You are one cool Dude!





Reading the third book by Michael Harvey, for me, was an honor and privilege. It was the sub-title, A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance, that literally shocked me... We are about the same age, but what I learned about Harvey's early life, in no way related to mine, I was poor white and my mother worked "all the time" to keep four children fed and clothed. But my life was fairly normal for us...

There was no way for me to know up north that a young Black boy was, at the same time,  experiencing so much pain--just to get an education. My opinion and respect for Michael Harvey increased about 100% through reading this latest book, Freaknik Lawyer. Mr. Harvey is known to me only through his books and his online presence. But, after all he has gone through, he still has the character and respect to write in my copy, "I hope you find this memoir worthy of some of your reading time."


When I consider the divide in America right now, it is knowing the author and his books, which helps me have hope that this administration will never be able to incite those of different races that can share lives together, learn from them, and realize while we are different, we are so very much alike in our basic moral character.

Michael Harvey attended segregated schools in his early life.

In this age of social media intimidation and bullying, name-calling is at a new level. At the beginning of the 2020 Presidential Election cycle, I wrote a piece pushing back on people who debated whether Senator Kamala Haris was Black enough to be a Black candidate for President...Damn, a life dedicated to serving others at great sacrifice to myself and my family, and after three scores and nearly ten, I come down to "Acting White...bastardized by Black Right-Wing shills, for White Likes." This description from a young Black woman who was not born when I committed my first act of resistance against tyranny and injustice...(this) caused me to reflect on a life dedicated toward the abuse of American democracy in the affairs of my community. And Freaknik Lawyer was born...


Readers will read and learn about Plessy and Brown, perhaps like you've never read about it. The life that was affected by both is one that must be told from one who first broke through into a segregated school, but also was faced with and learned how to begin to deal with the Craft of Resistance.

Imagine, if you will, that the law has been changed and children were allowed to pick what school they could attend. Harvey was one of the few who chose a better white school, in order to ensure he would learn all that he can... And was bullied and tortured by white students every day...

Education was important to the family and choices were made upon that desire to do what was needed to obtain as much as needed to handle what your goals in life were. It was in the late 1800s when Paul Calvin Coley graduated by Meharry Medical College. Part of the graduation ceremony included: "If the prejudice of the whites against the negro was not dead, it was dying. You should meet prejudice in a Christian spirit. The future depends not upon the color of your skin, but upon the force of your brain, your capacity to toil and the comprehension you have of your profession... And one of the surprising factors that stunned the community was that the top scorer was a "colored man" named Paul Coley...yet prejudice and discrimination also affected this brilliant young man.

For Harvey, in 1964, an event impacted his life was when the students were first given the choice to decide whether to go to an integrated school. The white power structure had a hard time dealing with this change, even to the extent of trying to imply in the news,  what Negroes should do: "Self-respecting Negroes Don't Want Integration"... Michael found that he was then caught in the middle...shunned by the white students...and ridiculed by the Black students. Making it through high school in a integrated school was enough, he moved on to college in Black schools... Michael's one reason for trying different schools was his desire to be a professional ball player...no, he never made it...

The struggles of Harold Michael Harvey may have run parallel with other Black individuals who chose to resist...For me, a white reader, I have to say it was a stunning, perplexing time that I knew little about. Only one Black girl was in my junior and senior high and we became friends...Many whites have never known what was done to humiliate and denigrate those who were seeking education in the south.

Even as the book ends, Michael still wonders why he chose to act as he did and where did he find the courage to have met each trial as it was presented.


What we can never forget is the fact, we first came in chains."
--Muhammad Ali

The book closes with a "Prayer for Relief." I think about the realization that it is only in the last three years that I have seen such incitement of division, prejudice and disrespect for one another. And that, in fact, the Black race is still fighting something that has existed since they were freed from being slaves. I add my prayer statement to that ending of the book by Michael...Therefore, "Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord is with you wherever you go"...Joshua 1:9. 

May it be in our lifetime that there is no more division based upon the color of our skin...

A Must-Read recommendation from me...


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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Adolfo Caso Dedicates Poem, The Empty Nest, For Me -- Cool!

Glenda, I am dedicating the attached poem to you, because you have been a wonderful friend throughout my life. No poet has enjoyed a solidarity that you have given me










THE EMPTY NEST

 (Dedicated to Glenda)

Guided by its own internal clock,
The brown finch
Silently and covertly
Flies by different routes
With grass blades in beak
Into the thickest branch
Of my evergreen arborvitae,














Looming strong and impenetrable
In the corner of my backyard
As though it were holding up
The house walls on each side
And protecting against
Would-be intruders or predators
From the outside.

Through my kitchen window 
I follow each flight of the finch,
From many directions,
Carrying its precious cargo into the tree
To build its nest.

And I feel miserable
Not knowing
Whether it is only the mother finch
Building that nest
Or with the father too
As I wished it would be,
With my other wish.
For her to pause And,
To sing me A love-song.

(Adolfo doesn't see him but This is the male finch singing to his female)


II
The nest completed,
Evidence for a successful clutch
Was in the reduced number of flights
Into the arborvitae,
Now a surrogate
For new life-forms in the making.

I moved to my deck chair
Inconspicuously,
My back to the tree
To avoid perceived threats
To the emerging brood,
My heart in full wonderment
To see the fledglings--
As when I first saw
The beautiful face of each
Newly-born chick
And all the grandchildren
Together with
An indescribable expectation
Of the great-grandchildren
Yet to come;
My emotions are overwhelming
Over this deeply-felt
Non-duplicative joy!


III
Suddenly,
A tumultuous crowing
With abrupt churning in the branches
Brought me to the outside;
Two crows dove down,
Obstreperously,
From the edge of the roof
Into the branch containing the nest.


Before I could take any action,
They flew away with as much clamor,
My mouth wide open
As my eyes caught sight of the finch
In the nearby tree,
Going from one branch to another
Desperately waiting
For destiny
To reveal itself.

My eyes glaring
Between the finch
And the branch,
I ran to the tree.
In bringing the twigs down gently,
I saw the empty nest,
Its destiny fulfilled
To my consternation
Knowing that no amount of despair
Could mitigate my affliction
And the loss to the finch,
Already poised to depart
Without
Perhaps
Knowing
The ramifications of the crows’ action,
Except for me,
A member of my species
With eyes
To see more,
And ears
To hear more,
And a heart
To pump more blood
Through these weather-beaten veins,
Needing only
A small amount of brain
To perceive the pain
Of the mother finch
And to feel that pain
Deep inside my heart.


IV
With little comfort in knowing
That neither crow nor finch
Acted with the conscience of humans,
I am left alone in my solitary thoughts
To contemplate
That no action is without consequence,
That there is little
Counterintuitive
In the existentialism of Jean Paul Sartre
Except the utter nonsense of concluding
That after having done something,
What remains is nothing,
He being an avowed Marxist
A non-party affiliate,
Whose Soviet purges
Both within the party
And through its Gulags
Pitilessly
Executed countless people
And even used each victim’s soul
To define its wanton nihilism
Within the scope of their programmed nothingness.

After having killed the body
And wiped out the God
Of more than 100 million people--
Their souls turned to nothing
According to Jean-Paul’s existentialism--
Now emboldened by the collaboration 


Of Bertrand Russell--
English patriot,
Who demonstrated against an easy America
Not to side with England
Against Hitler’s World War II--
A champion of anti-Americanism
Bertrand also excoriated America
Over the victims of the Vietnam War
While saying nothing,
Not one word
Against the perpetrators
Of the on-going Pol Pot genocides
Within
The various sects of his United Nations’ body
And without one word of protest
From the followers
Of Confucius, or Mohammad,
Gandhi or Buddha.

Russell and Sartre:
Two Marxist would-be warriors
Joined together
On behalf of peace
Conditioned by their ideology
At the expense of millions
Of innocent victims
To grease the wheels of their un-feeling
Human-made killing machines.

But,
Luckily,
The survivors continue to seek salvation
Through their religion
And a God
That can be temporarily denied but not suppressed,
Like the souls of men!

This kind of philosophy
Has always given me pause--
A bewilderment deepened
By my inability to understand
The behavior of the crow and of the finch
Let alone that of my fellow men
Bent on manipulating everything
Including our dreams
Be they a presage of happiness or anguish
Life or death
Or whether dreams are generated
Biologically or chemically
Without answering the basic question
Of why we dream in the first place!

V
Oh, Freud, such a misguided prophet
Using Eros and Thanatos to explain man-made wars
Or repressed sexual drives to explain our dreams
Or drugging his patients and self
In search of convenient man-made personal truths
Not found in nature
Without the scrutiny
Into his self-inflicted enslavement
And to that of his patients
Without ever a word on Hitler’s ultimate solutions
Or of Stalin’s raging the land,
Or of Mao’s ubiquitous purges,
Or on Einstein making decisions against Hitler--
No!
Not one word
To preserve his people and fellow man!

Dying from self-administered drugs
Freud never knew he was discovering the means
To assure his and his patients’ bondage,

And not knowing, when he should have known,
He was void of either Eros or Thanatos.
He was sexually barren!

What am I to think and feel about a philosophy of life
That misses the point on every crucial issue
Of human behavior and solidarity?

Is it not possible that dreaming
Is a physiological necessity that keeps us alive
Each dream reflecting a phase
Of our physiological evolvement
As biological and social entities?
We respond to the stimuli
Of our pre-existing floating formulae,
As did all three men
Coming from the same area,
From the same people,
And from the same time:
Why did Hitler inherit his irreversible DNA?
And Einstein a different one?
And Freud still another?
Why mine!
Why your DNA?
Why the crow’s!

A perfect example of Sartre’s existentialism
Is in Freud’s irreversible behavior of self-destruction:
Which,
Neither ended in nothing
Nor filled the nothingness of phenomenology
Nor alleviated the suicidal pain
From life-afflicting drugs
Administered as wonder drugs
From Eros to Thanatos
As though life-forms could be explained
Through convenient formulae
As in Sartre’s existentialism.
Dreaming and dreaming are two different things,
The one,
A desire of what should be and is not
The other,
A chemical reaction
Of endless single or morphing frames
Without relevance to each other,
But interpreted
By Freud’s self-imposing personal relevance.

VI
I sit in a triangle on my deck
Directly opposite the house
Whose walls enclose the arborvitae.
I look into my own mental images
Of  waves smashing ashore
Scattering untold and countless drops of water
In every direction and just as quickly disappearing.
Which drops are carrying the DNA for new life-forms?
Which drops are destined to enhance those now living?
Which drops are rushing back
To recycle the remnants
Of those of us who have just died?
In my dreaming,
I see the Spring of next year,
The branches greener, more full and vibrant
And as an ever-inviting tree
Waiting for the finch
To make its first pass
To renovate and renew its nest,
To bring its hatchling to their first flight
And to perch on the extreme end
Of an undulating branch,
To sing the love song
Of my life.






Wow! Extraordinary poem which include the greatest twist of all! Life then Death!
We are all so involved as we grow older with how long...will it be... And, yet, that is not something that normally would be on my mind. For the first time, physical problems have affected my daily life...and yet, it is something that shall pass, I believe... The stark movement from watching birth happen almost immediately followed by death is more real than most of us want to see or even contemplate. Yet it happens.

Death has become a predominant issue in today's world, as so much is happening at the government level that forces us to contemplate whether death shall come naturally, as intended, or because of the maddening issues that arise almost daily, sometimes hourly. I have no answers... Just as, perhaps, others are facing the same feelings. Questions seem to become larger, more important when chaos occurs. 

Yet, for many of us, there is a certainty of life after death, when we shall all meet again... Until then, my friend, Adolfo, thank you for dedicating your thoughts, your hopes, your internal, endless questioning... That we two do share...

And then I shall give you a love song... Agape, philia...the greatest loves of all!

Glenda




Saturday, August 24, 2019

Readers' Guide to Those Who Dwell Upon The Earth by James D. Sanderson



After I first read the book, People Who Dwell Upon the Earth, I was going to ask the author to write an article to tell us why he had written the book. After I had looked through the Reader's Guide, I asked if I could just share the entire chapter, "A Novel of Social Protest." For me, this answered the question of "Why?"


A NOVEL OF SOCIAL PROTEST

There is really no understanding the poor, the homeless, the disenfranchised of American life. On the one hand there would seem to be enough for everyone – enough opportunity for all – we would only need to divvy it up properly. Because of this, there is a great distance between the wealthy, who believe everyone should work hard and pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and those who ‘are’ working hard, often two or three jobs between a husband and
wife, and yet who are unable to ever pull themselves up. Medical bills wipe out their meager savings. The car breaks down. They get stopped without insurance because they cannot afford insurance this month. They have to choose between light, heat, rent, food and a hundred other things that are getting more expensive all the time.
The distance – the lack of understanding - exists on the other side too. On the side of the working poor. They can’t see how they will ever get ahead. They know the game is rigged against them but they can’t figure out how. When the rent is due they are just as likely to buy a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of wine, or a big old birthday cake for their precious six-year old daughter. Their frustration with ‘the system’ grows until it erupts in anger – often directed at
each other – or ends in defeat and despair.
No one should have to live this way – too rich or too poor, because either extreme is bad for the soul. Yet a point seems to have been reached that leads to greater control of markets by corporations, by wealthy investors, by government cronies. By the capital class. While the working class is squeezed more and more and is in jeopardy of being crushed out of existence.
When the developers and speculators can reap obscene profits, while the butcher at the local grocery store cannot pay his bills, something has gone terribly wrong.
No one seems to know what to do.
‘Those Who Dwell Upon The Earth’ is a novel of social protest much like John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’. One of the primary criticisms of ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ was that it presented a philosophy of communism. 
It is that same criticism that is likely to be leveled against ‘Those Who Dwell Upon The Earth’. When, in the extreme case of corruption, violence,
and oppression in a government, the common people are forced to rise up and take control of the mechanisms of power, some form of communism may be the result.
There are several differences between a communist state and a church community. First and foremost is belief in God and the Bible, and a commitment to following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. There is a huge difference between a totalitarian police state and a loving and benevolent Father God.
The second difference is found in the voluntary nature of giving and sharing in the Christian community as found in Acts 2:42-48, and other places, and the mandatory ‘sharing’ that is found in a communist system. Being forced to contribute does not lead to loving care for one another. It leads to deceit and fear and anger.
The third difference between a communist state and a Christian community is the general sense of wanting to comply with God’s will, as opposed to being forced to comply with a central committee or power, or a single dictator. There are many other differences as well.
‘Those Who Dwell Upon The Earth’ anticipates what it would look like for a small Christian disciple group to act and lead in a world that has suffered the great agony of financial collapse, nuclear bombardment, and another world war. How would their way be different from the way of the world?
What we see in this novel is not a turn toward communism, but a way for people to move forward in the loving embrace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is truly a different kind of Christian fiction. It is literary, intelligent, action-packed – being thrust forward by a sense of
community movement – and very important for today’s Christian trying to ‘make it’ in the real world.
~~~




A Readers Guide - a Study Guide means that you wish to spend more time with understanding about the book, Those Who Dwell Upon the Earth, by James D. Sanderson. And this guide is one of the best I've seen.

Not only does it contain a synopsis, but it reviews each and every chapter telling you what is covered during that part of the story. Reading the study guide, I realized just how much is covered in the book. Of course, just too much to mention in my review, but it is also a simple way of searching for and finding a specific chapter which you might want to review or share with others.

For instance, I realized that I had not one mention about a most significant thrust of the book--that of nonviolence. For someone who totally agrees with the need to move in that direction, I was gratified to see and read how to deal with the elimination of guns in today's world. Even in the book, it was not successful in action scenes. But was quickly reviewed and taught further in the church, classes, and more

Research of related books were reviewed to illustrate the difference between other similar books. Utopia versus Dystopia, noting that this book was written with a utopia futuristic life. While, at the same time, providing a little about each of the references so that further discussion can happen.

Yes, the guide is for both individual as well as group discussion. I suggest the latter since there is so much to explore and think about...what you might want to do to start living a nonviolent life and one that follows the teachings of Christ. Particularly the Sermon on the Mount.



One of the questions covered is one that haunts us these days. Can we, as Christians, really follow the words of Jesus?

There is also a list of ten questions for discussion or further individual study. Style of writing and format is also discussed so that the book itself can be understood from all angles.


Whether you use the Readers Guide is your choice... You may decide to read the novel and allow it to speak to you, which is wonderful. But if you are a member of a book club, or enjoy further study of the scripture behind a book, then I highly recommend this one for your consideration!



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May This Book, and Guide, Fill you with Peace and Faith...