Marion Brothers

Marion Brothers

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dr. Schlessinger: Free Speech or Racist Psychology

Why must we learn the same lesson over and over again? I thought radio talk show hosts had learned from the Don Imus affair. There are some things radio personalities should not broadcast over the airways. People are sensitive in the area of bruised nerves, and racial sensitivities are on edge as it is.

Don Imus’ blurt about “nappy-headed whores” set off a flurry of outrage and allegations of racism across the nation, forcing him briefly off the air. Where was talk show host and psychologist Dr. Laura Schlessinger at the time? Didn’t she know that racial epithets were taboo over the airways? Nevertheless, her racial tirade in repeatedly using the N-word to a call-in listener was an unwanted and unwelcome attempted to force acceptance of a loathed word we have all since rejected.

As in the case of Don Imus, Dr. Schlessinger claimed impunity because she heard black hip-hop artists use the N-word on the airways all the time. And after being rebuked, she plans to end her radio program and become a martyr for free speech.

Schlessinger can have her free speech, but she must realize that speech brings with it a consequence. That is to say, can she accept the consequences provoked by her chosen words, seeing that nobody forced her to say what she said?

The U.S. Supreme Court also recognizes a person’s free speech right to yell “fire” in a crowded theatre. But the Court also holds that person responsible for whatever harm caused if someone is trampled in a stampede to the exit.

But the real question is this: Does Schlessinger have the right to free speech, considering the that she is a professional psychologist, and her on-the-air responses to callers actually constitutes psychological advice?

The caller in this case was an African-American woman, grappling with an interracial marriage problem. Dr. Schlessinger’s response was like the drill sergeant therapist on the GEICO television commercial who calls his patient a “Jack-wagon” and suggests that maybe he ought to chug on down to “Namby Pamby Land” where we can find some self-confidence.

The commercial commentator asks: Does a former drilling sergeant make a terrible therapist? Maybe the same should be asked of Dr. Schlessinger who suggests to her on-air patient that if she is so “hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor” then she should not marry out of her race.”

What’s love got to do it?

When the caller attempts to explain or clarify, but Schlessinger rudely cuts her off and chides the woman not to “NAACP” her. [I wonder what NAACP means as a verb. I wonder where “out of your race” is. What race, if not the human race?]

I do not have a problem with Schlessinger’s freedom of speech. I have a problem with the psychology that she studied in school. We have always contended that psychology, as a pseudo-science, was never created with African-Americans in mind.

Also, we contend that racial categories are artificial, and identification by skin color is more a psychosis than a fact.

If Schlessinger wants to be a martyr, it would not be for free speech, but for a faulty psychology for which we are all enslaved. If she wants to be Joan of Arc, then go ahead and light her butt up.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Turning My 10-Year Old Grandson into a Man

By Eddie Griffin

Monday, August 16, 2010

As I sit on a park bench, hedged about, I am unperturbed by the bees and wasps that came to gather nectar among the bushes. I meditate, remembering Sunday with my 10-year old grandson. He has recently attempted suicide, on several occasions. It makes me pondered why a child is so miserable that he would attempt to take his own life at such a tender age.

Maybe I already know.

He, and his two sisters, were taken away from their mother by the courts and given to their father, my son, who already has three kids, two of which are stepsons, ages 7 and 9. The baby girl is one. Altogether, there are now eight of them living in a two-bedroom apartment, and it is hard to find larger accommodations on a single low-income budget. Grandpa’s fixed income covers some of the gaps, but not the whole.

I sense that there is something void in his life.

This Sunday, he just wanted to hang out with Grandpa all day. He wanted to get out of the crowded apartment. He wanted some individual attention, which was hard to do when he was the oldest among the six kids in the house. But hanging out with Grandpa was not all fun and games, as he would discover.

But where would I take a troubled child after church, on a hot Sunday afternoon in August? There is one place.

We first visited the Huguley Nursing Home, where he heard Grandpa delivered a sermon to a group of elderly seniors, who suffer various ailments of aging. They are usually heavily medicated and deeply depressed. And when I did not see Glenn, our resident centenarian, I was concerned, as always, whenever a regular church attendant in the nursing home suddenly disappears. But one by one, they trickled in, including Glenn, peddling his wheelchair with his feet.

My grandson had been here before, singing Christmas carols and passing out gifts. But this was a different mission. This was about a spiritual transformation.

As I preached, the audience faces came to light and a gleam returned to their eyes. But my grandson had dosed off and slumped over in his seat. All the more, I felt unworthy as a preacher, not being able to keep my own child awake. And, here I was an overworked teacher and mentor, stretched between the extremes of this generation, with a 10-year old on one hand and a 100-year old centenarian on the other.

Afterwards, we visited the Michael Jacobs Jr. National Memorial, named in honor of a mentally challenged young man who was tasered to death by a Fort Worth police officer. I was compelled to be here because here were some of the young men whom I had mentored over the years: men like SCLC President Kyev Tatum and Success Movement motivational speaker and author Junichi Lockett.

My hopes would be to someday entrust my male children and grandchildren into the hands of honorable men like these.

At the same time, we fellowshipped with members of the Nation of Islam, New Black Panther Party, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, LULAC, Rainbow P.U.S.H. Coalition, and other community groups who came together to form a coalition and fight to save the Michael Jacobs, Jr. Memorial. These, too, I could rest assured would have my grandson’s wellbeing at heart, for the simply fact that he was a young black man, imperiled by a cruel and dangerous society.

In the end, my grandson took pictures of the Memorial field with its erected 465 crosses, each representing a taser death victim. Then, it was time to go back to church for evening service. At last, he was tired, sleepy, and totally exhausted from the 100-degree heat.

It reminded me of the days I shared with my own grandfather, a preacher in the dusty backwoods of East Texas in the 1950s.

Back to the old man’s morning bench with the bees and the wasps swarming about, I feel like a beekeeper with the ability to summon the bees upon my fingers and hold them in my hand. It is a paradox that a man can be so at peace with nature and yet so at war with the world?