Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Never Forget

I will never forget.

It is a day etched in my memory.


I awoke after a night of drinking and sex, dazed and running late for my theater class at USF. I rushed to class noticing the lack of students out. When I arrived in my class the television was on and the class, usually full of energetic dramatists stood silent as they watched the horror unfold on the screen.

I thought of my friend, Justin, who lived in the city and my grandfather, aunt and cousins who lived in Harlem. I was afraid. I was angry. I was sad. But even more than that I was determined to do what I could to ensure that America stood strong.

I had a roommate who was in the Air Force who was immediately recalled and prepared to go to war. I had friends who were in the marines and the army who I can no longer speak to because their lives were lost. I have friends who fought, a stepfather who fought, in the military who will never be the same again.

Those acts of terror had far-reaching and permanent effects upon this nation and yet, even in our most difficult times we are a nation who will continue to persevere. We are a Phoenix rising from the ashes of despair, pain, fear, and grief to be a nation forged by fire, made of steel and wearing the beauty of our scars with honor and dignity.

My thoughts today turn to those who lost their lives on that day and days following on a day of terror. I remember and honor the officers and firefighters who jumped into the fire to rescue all that they could, many who ended up losing their lives. I offer comfort to those whose lives were affected and changed by the events of that day. I stand with the soldiers who took an oath to protect and defend America at any cost. And I join hands with a nation too strong to buckle or fall to terrorists.

We will never forget.

Where were you on 9-11-01? And how will you remember those who were affected?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

L'shanah tovah tikatevu ve techatemu

The One Where Vic Blogs About A Time To Kill

This is going to be a tough post to read and may trigger those of you with a history of abuse, rape, assault and/or racism.

Have you all seen the movie A Tine to Kill? It stars Matthew McChonahey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, and Ashley Judd. It's a hard hitting, emotionally wrecking movie about the trial of Samuel L. Jackson who is facing murder for killing the two men who brutally beat and raped his eight year old daughter.

The first time I saw this movie I was young. It made me angry. It made me cry. It made me want to become a lawyer so that I could help to change the world for the better like Matthew's character did.

Listening to the movie now as an adult it just makes me sad. Why is it that now in the year 2013, this stuff is still happening? Children being beaten and raped, parents put on trial for defending their children.... Black men put on trial for something that a man of another race would have gotten away with?

I don't want to make this blog a "race card" one or one where I bemoan being a gay, black man in America, but the reality won't go away even if I stop talking about it. I have had people who have turned their backs on me for whatever reason only for me to find out from someone that it was really the whole "black thing" (and I'm quoting one person here). And I could put those people on blast here, but I won't. The main reason is that I hate gossip with a passion and that's not really my personality. But I think that when you don't really want to be in someone's life it's easy to walk away from them. Especially if you were looking for a reason to do that anyway. When you're uncomfortable with someone or an aspect of someone's life then the smallest thing will give you that "out" you've been looking for.

In the movie A Time to Kill the city in Mississippi where this took place was looking for a reason to explode. Racial tensions were high for a long time and while blacks were persecuted and attacked for the most part it was looked over, one of the police officers was in the KKK, for fuck's sake. That isn't uncommon it happens a lot, especially here in the South. While many of us would be appalled if something like that happened today, we've become desensitized to other atrocities and horrors being inflicted upon others. We've stopped gasping and crying when we hear about a rape, about a woman or a man being in an abusive relationship, about a child being molested or kicked out of their home for being gay, or someone being murdered.


Is it all the violence in our movies, our books and on our television or are we like Samuel L. Jackson in the movie and are so jaded by the justice system that we no longer have any faith in it?

Or maybe it's because it's not personal to us anymore. There used to be a time when we imagined ourselves or our loved ones in every situation, it made us compassionate, it made us loving people full of understanding and willing to forgive and help others. Have we stopped doing this? Why? And how do we get back to being a people who are affected by the world around us and compelled to make it a better place?

Maybe we should do as Matthew McChonahey said and close our eyes and imagine the person hurt, killed, raped, assaulted, on trial, abused, or kicked out is white or in my case, black. Maybe then we will go back to being affected by the news stories of real life events taking place around us and not just the movies based on them.

Some of my favorite parts from the movie:
Jake Tyler Brigance: We're going to lose this case, Carl lee. There are no more points of law to argue here. I want to cope a plea, maybe Buckley will cop us a second degree murder and we can get you just life in prison.
Carl Lee Hailey: Jake, I can't do no life in prison. You got to get me off. Now if it was you on trial...
Jake Tyler Brigance: It's not me, we're not the same, Carl Lee. The jury has to identify with the defendant. They see you, they see a yardworker; they see me, they see an attorney. I live in town, you live in the hill.
Carl Lee Hailey: Well, you are white and I'm black. See Jake, you think just like them, that's why I picked you; you are one of them , don't you see?. Oh, you think you ain't because you eat in Claude's and you are out there trying to get me off on TV talking about black and white, but the fact is you are just like all the rest of them. When you look at me, you don't see a man, you see a black man.
Jake Tyler Brigance: Carl Lee, I'm your friend.
Carl Lee Hailey: We ain't no friends, Jake. We are on different sides of the line, I ain't never seen you in my part of town. I bet you don't even know where I live. Our daughters, Jake; they ain't never gonna play together.
Jake Tyler Brigance: What are you talking about?
Carl Lee Hailey: America is a war and you are on the other side. How's a black man ever going to get a fair trial with the enemy on the bench and in the jury box?. My life in white hands? You Jake, that's how. You are my secret weapon because you are one of the bad guys. You don't mean to be but you are. It's how you was raised. Nigger, negro, black, African-american, no matter how you see me, you see me different, you see me like that jury sees me, you are them. Now throw out your points of law Jake. If you was on that jury, what would it take to convince you to set me free? That's how you save my ass. That's how you save us both.

Jake Tyler Brigance: [in his summation, talking about Tonya Hailey] I want to tell you a story. I'm going to ask you all to close your eyes while I tell you the story. I want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to yourselves. Go ahead. Close your eyes, please. This is a story about a little girl walking home from the grocery store one sunny afternoon. I want you to picture this little girl. Suddenly a truck races up. Two men jump out and grab her. They drag her into a nearby field and they tie her up and they rip her clothes from her body. Now they climb on. First one, then the other, raping her, shattering everything innocent and pure with a vicious thrust in a fog of drunken breath and sweat. And when they're done, after they've killed her tiny womb, murdered any chance for her to have children, to have life beyond her own, they decide to use her for target practice. They start throwing full beer cans at her. They throw them so hard that it tears the flesh all the way to her bones. Then they urinate on her. Now comes the hanging. They have a rope. They tie a noose. Imagine the noose going tight around her neck and with a sudden blinding jerk she's pulled into the air and her feet and legs go kicking. They don't find the ground. The hanging branch isn't strong enough. It snaps and she falls back to the earth. So they pick her up, throw her in the back of the truck and drive out to Foggy Creek Bridge. Pitch her over the edge. And she drops some thirty feet down to the creek bottom below. Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl. Now imagine she's white.