Netflix’s American Son is an American Fail

Netflix’s American Son centers around an educated Black mother and her estranged white FBI agent husband and their son who is in trouble with the law. For the most part of the film, the audience does not much more about the son’s whereabouts other than he was pulled over by the cops with two other Black friends. Written by trial lawyer Christopher Demos-Brown who is a playwright, the film is less a movie than a too-generously funded play.

In trying to attack stereotypes head-on, the story of this film only furthers them. For instance, this film is based on the myth of the single-Black mother raising a troubled son whose father isn’t around for whatever reason. The myth of the single-Black is not busted in this film, only seasoned with a different form of bias and perpetuated.

From the beginning, Kendra, the mother, has a falling out with the sole cop helping to give her information on her son. While some of the dialogue feels real, most of it seems forced. Instead of coming off as a concerned mother aware of a biased policing system that does not value the lives of Black men, she comes off as a person looking for any opportunity to use the race card. Everyone knows the culture of law enforcement inherently denies Black men equal protection, but this film does not approach the issue in a manner consistent with that lack of equal protection.

Moreover, Kendra spends over half the movie arguing with her estranged husband. He comes off as a jerk who may be a little racist. She comes off as too racially aware to have ever dealt with a man such as him. Yet they stayed together for almost 18 years? How? There is a weak attempt made to explain their union when the two discuss the things they like such as hard work. But is the love of hard work enough to bring together an educated Black woman who is aware of racism and a white FBI agent who is racially indifferent, if not outright racist? That would be a stretch.

While arguing with her husband, Kendra goes off when he uses what she calls “white trash” language, bemoaning the fact that she did all she could to keep her son from using “slang.” She basically contends that she whitened their son up so the world could accept him. Their son is rebelling because he wants to be some sort of artist even though he’s basically a genius and his father wants him to be more practical. It is an age-old tale of parental oppression, and it fails here.

The writer is attempting to point out the prejudices in America that makes being Black a hazard. The writer attempts to raise a play to the level of motion picture. The intentions are there, but they lead to a hell of racial biases and failures.

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Amber Guyger, Joshua Brown and the Thickening Plot

Days after testifying against murderous white former cop Amber Guyger in her trial for her slaying of innocent Black man Botham Jean in his own home, Joshua Brown was gunned down. So far, no one is in custody for the slaying of the witness who was also Botham Jean’s neighbor. This is how forgiveness ia repaid.

Botham Jean and his family have roots in St. Lucia, a tiny island. In a show of compassion like the people of that island are known for, Botham’s brother hugged Guyger after her conviction, and Botham’s father said days later that he would like to one day be her friend. Though this is part of the healing process for Botham’s family, make no mistake: Amber Guyger is a murderous demon.

White nationalist operatives, likely Dallas, TX, cops who served alongside Guyger, are murdering in her name. They are killing anyone who dares stand up against the oppressive white America.

Also, it’s important to note that another witness, a Black woman, has been fired in retaliation for recording the aftermath of the slaying of Botham.

Black America, you must open your eyes. White nationalists have begun a call to arms.

Amber Guyger Got Away With Murder

Much as I predicted, the Dallas, TX, white former cop Amber Guyger who murdered an innocent, unarmed Black man named Botham Jean in coldblood in his home allegedly thinking she was in her own home has been sentenced to just 10 years in prison. To put this in perspective, the girl who licked the ice cream in the video that eventually went viral is facing 20 years in prison. So, a woman who murdered a man in his home faces less time than an accused ice cream licker. Black lives matter less than ice cream, at least in Texas and maybe throughout the entire United States.

Black Americans have been subjected to every type of discrimination and racism than one could name. At one point, they were sold and valued as property no higher than a chair or ink pen. This is why Black people chant “Black lives matter.” It seems that the system has never valued Black lives but has never been afraid to put its boot on the neck of innocent Black people under the guise of justice.

Amber Guyger, with good time, will serve less than 5 years total. She’ll get out, have her record expunged and likely become a cop elsewhere. No one will hold it against her that she murdered a man in his own home for no reason.

Guyger’s trial was nothing more than a political show meant to calm Black people while protecting the white girl who murdered a Black man for no reason.

Black lives do matter, just not to America.

Ex-Officer Amanda Guyger Will Get Away with Murdering a Black Man in His Own Home

After a hard day of working in his community, Botham Jean, a 26-year-old Black man and pastor of a sort, was gunned down in his own home seven months ago byAmanda Guyger, a white former Dallas officer who had been distracted sexting with her married partner.

In a rare move, Amanda Guyger took the stand in her own defense and used what white girls have always used to overcome the hurdles of justice: Her tears. On the stand, Guyger sobbed as she told how she walked into the wrong apartment thinking it was hers and slayed Botham after he supposedly refused her orders to freeze. From what I’ve read, it was a riveting tale from her perspective, the only perspective we have.

Guyger took a man’s life, did not do sufficient CPR and failed to use the first-aid kit in her backpack to help the victim. She did not follow protocol. If she suspected someone had broken into her apartment, she was supposed to back out and call for backup. Instead, she erroneously murdered a man.

And what will happen to her?

Guyger will not be found guilty of murder, even though she committed a home invasion and committed a murder in the course of that home invasion which would make her eligible for felony murder and the death penalty. No. This crying white girl with blonde hair will either be let off the hook or found guilty of some other lesser charge and serve hardly no jail time.

Put the shoe on the other foot. Imagine a Black man creeping into some white woman’s apartment and slaying her. Imagine the outrage, the unforgiving jury and the unrelenting media. Not once would anyone take his story seriously that he had thought he was in his own home and had killed this woman in self-defense. He would promptly be put on trial, found guilty of murder and thrown into a cell to rot for the rest of his life.

I say, this is America, and for Black men, it will most certainly never be his country.

Dave Chappelle’s Hilarious “Sticks and Stones” Stand-Up May Break Some Sensitive Bones

Dave Chappelle’s Hilarious “Sticks and Stones” Stand-Up May Break Some Sensitive Bones
Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix special “Sticks and Stones” is a rude knock on the door of political correctness and a sizzling challenge of America’s casual socioeconomic racism that has thwarted Black progress for generations. Standing on a stage emblazoned with his “C” logo, Dave Chappelle is as comfortable in his green jumpsuit as an comedian about to ruffle every feather of sensitivity they can.
Touching on the fiery issue of race, Dave Chappelle digs his heels into what he calls “drug-addicted whites.” With a smile on his face, he delves into America’s opioid epidemic, an epidemic crushing the white community as crack did to the Black community.

After laying out the facts about the fateful ripples the opioid crises in America has caused in the white community, Dave says, “I even have insights as to how the white community must have felt watching the Black community go through the scourge of crack, because I don’t care either. Hang in there whites.” Dave says in a mock white, nerdy voice, “‘Just say no. What’s so hard about that?’” This is a hilarious direct calling out of the slogan “Just say no to drugs,” a slogan used to fuel the racially-motivated war on drugs that ripped the Black community to shreds.
At one point, Dave recalls a time when he was called into the Standards and Practices office of Comedy Central about using a slur in relation to gay people. When Dave asked why he could say the N-word and not the gay slur, the person in charge told him, “You’re not gay.” And Dave retorted, “I’m not a n**** either.” Through his sarcasm, Dave subtly points out that his fellow whites thought of him as the N-word.

With an ear-to-ear grin as he covers “drug-addicted whites” and gun violence, Dave encourages every able-bodied Black person to get a legal firearm, warning that they will need guns to survive in this faltering white America. He even relays a side-busting fictional anecdote in which he kills a “drug-addicted white” who had broken into his house to rob him.
Dave Chappelle’s “Sticks and Stones” is a must-see. If he makes you uncomfortable, he has done his job. Dave is back, funnier than ever while telling truths that many chose to so conveniently ignore.

An Ode to a Frenemy of Mine

Tom Deriggi and I came from completely different backgrounds, but, as the universe would have it, our paths intertwined. He was a heavyset guy with bright red flushed cheeks that seemed to accentuate his greyish blue eyes. Politically, we were on two opposite spectrums: Tom on the far right, arms folded, chest out; me on the left, feet set and ideas ready to pour from me like fire from a dragon.

Today, I found out that Tom is dead. I do not know what led to his death or even the specific date he passed away. What I do know is that he’s been gone since at least June 2017. As I read the FB post “Rest in Peace” underneath his photo and saw the same words emblazoned over a picture of Tom posted by his brother, I felt a deep pang in my chest.

Tom and I built a close relationship rooted in arguments and different ideals. He challenged me as much as I did him, and he offered me a different perspective from my own. Him being nearly three decades my junior, I respected how he apologetically held his ground. Even in the heat of our debates, we found time to laugh and relate.

Without a doubt, I will miss you, Tom. Our brief friendship faded as quickly as it came. There is so much I do not know about you, that I want to know about you, that I will never know about you, not on this plane. You will continue to be a mystery to me, one that drives me to do better and learn what everyone thinks.

I am glad to have known you, Tom.

Falling Out of Love

One of the most foolish, foolhardy things we can do as people is fall in love with someone we do not know. As much as people show us who they are through their actions, we tend to mitigate those negative actions with false ideals created by what that person tells us. It’s like a relationship where your partner consistently punches you in the face and says, “I love you.” Is that really love?

I have met many people in my life and no matter how influential or meaningless those people are, I learned something from each one of them. What I have found is that I cannot vibe with a person who shifts blame, denies and lies. I cannot take seriously a person whose actions so vividly belie their words when the two forms of communication may very well be night and day. 

Not too long ago, I expressed to my cousin problems I was having in a recently-ended relationship before it ended. “Give her a chance,” my cousin said, and I did. Still, this person lied, denied, misinformed and misdirected. Even when she was wrong, she found a way to shift blame or redirect the blame. For some reason, she could never fully own her mistakes or bad decisions. 

Recently, I had been testing her, asking her questions to see if she had grown because she told me she had. However, from the answers she gave me, I know she hasn’t changed. She is not ready to accept her actions as her own. She is looking to shift blame and not say, “It was me. I am to blame, but this is why it won’t happen again.” She is still at the “It could have been my fault but I won’t say it was because it may have been something or someone else’s fault.”  

Firmly, I am a believer that people do not change people. People change themselves. Dealing with the aforementioned person could have been a case study to prove the previous saying. She proved to me that no matter how nice I was, no matter how much I tried to reason with her, no matter how much I attempted to meet her in the middle, she could not be a trustworthy person who owns her mistakes. 

Looking back on this failed relationship, I realize I too am to blame for it failing. My biggest mistake was getting into a relationship with a person who constantly demonstrated that she was willing to lie and deceive, even when caught red-handed, to make things go her way. My worst decision was choosing to ignore those red flags for what they were. What can I do? Nothing but live and let live. 

This is my advice to you. Love is temporary. It is not permanent. It changes, grows and even fades away until nothing is left. If someone shows you who they are, believe that person. Do not make excuses or think they can change. They won’t change. They are not to be trusted. Run before it’s too late. 

#relationship #relationships

Your Manuscript Has Been Rejected. Now What?

You’ve spent 100 million hours writing, rewriting and editing and proofreading your novel and then BOOM! every agent and publisher you sent it to rejects it. Now what?

That question could be a hard one. Some writers would just move on to the next project. Before doing that, I ask, what did the rejection letters say? Were they automated, prewritten generic responses like, “At this time, this novel isn’t for me” or were they personalized rejection letters that cited specific reasons for rejecting your manuscript? Maybe the agent or publisher said your sentences were too choppy or it was hard to connect with your protagonist for whatever reasons or your exposition revealed too much. If any of these specific complaints or any others were cited, there’s still hope.

Earlier last year, my novel Operation Soul Cast was turned down an agent who gave me a personalized rejection letter. The agent told me to cut some of my exposition. I followed the agent’s advice and sent the story out again, and it was immediately picked up by Solstice Publishing. Rejection letters can hurt, but if you get a personalized one, follow the advice or consider the critiques. Whatever issues the agent named, even if you don’t believe they are issues, consider revising. Agents are agents for a reason. They are gatekeepers to the publishing industry and more likely than not, if they complain about something in your manuscript, so will the next agent.

Personalized rejections are gold. Sometimes, they’re only a sentence or two, but within those sentences are keys to getting your manuscript accepted for publication. Give your work a chance. Just because it gets shot down doesn’t mean there’s no hope. It simply means you must work harder on fixing your manuscript. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was the publishing industry and neither should your manuscript be. Invest time and effort in your manuscript, and I guarantee it will be published.

The Mortality of the Writer

Last night, I saw two people die in a car accident. Their car hit a pole, splitting the hood in two. I opened the driver’s side door to see if I could help, but the interior was so mangled, I knew he was gone. I went around to the passenger side and saw a guy I had known in passing, that I hadn’t seen in years, and he too was gone. This morning, I logged onto Facebook, and the passenger’s sister and also my Facebook friend was mourning the loss of her brother. My heart is shattered.

Being a father, an author and MFA student, I sometimes live my life fast and full of anxiety. If there isn’t one thing to do, there is another. I hardly have time to breathe, let alone decompress. What I witnessed last night reminded me of my own mortality. Someone can be here one moment and gone the next.

I write because I will not live forever, but my thoughts, words and ideas can. Even from beyond the grave I can put a smile on one child’s face, give one person the courage to go on or touch someone in some profound way. If there are no other rewards to penning novels and drinking 8 cups of coffee a day, the things I previously named are enough.

I saw two people die last night, and it hurt me to see people in such a way, their lives snuffed out so instantly and permanently. I hope they find peace beyond the stars and enjoy the afterlife even more than they did here on Earth among us mortals. I hope to find a similar peace when the time comes.