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March 27, 2017


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This Week’s Guest – Monday, March 27, 2017

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March 27, 2017


March 27, 2017


Dr. Maxine Thompson
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Maxine Thompson Literary and Educational Services
Author of
Affirmations and Essays for Melanoid People



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The Power of Voice II: An Artist in the Midst of War

By Dr. Maxine Thompson

“A time comes when silence is betrayal.’ Martin Luther King, Jr.”

“Those who commit the murders, write the reports.” Ida B. Wells

Here’s a Twitter post I tweeted on 9-24-16, which tells a story.

#TerrenceCrutcher #KeithLamontScott #TawonBoyd #RIP vs,#TheNewYorkBomber Still Alive #DylanRoof Terrorist Still Alive.

Malachi 4:1

Now a week later, 10-1-16, I retweeted filmmaker, activist, Tarique Nasheed’s tweet.

The LAPD just killed a Black man and wounded another, & now they immediately put on riot gear. But no one is rioting

Ida B. Wells was an activist and a journalist. According to Wikipedia: She was born into slavery in 1862, but as an adult, she documented lynching in the United States in the 1890s, showing that it was often used as a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites, rather than being based on criminal acts by blacks, as was usually claimed by whites. Needless to say, she had a voice at a time when it was dangerous for a black person, a woman at that, to have a voice.

In that vein, I never realized how important my voice was until I lost mine after a thyroid surgery in 2008….

So I must speak out. Now we are living in an even more treacherous time, much of which is being documented through technology and social media. We can see the backlash that followed NFL player, Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem in protest of the oppression of our people.

Whether the media forgets, we should never forget. Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Alva Braziel, Delrawn Smalls, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and on the anniversary of Sandra Bland’s death, everything is the same. Let’s not forget Trayvon Martin, either. Do you recall any convictions for these murder victims? Do you expect to see any convictions for the more recent murder victims, Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile, which were captured on video and live streamed for the world to see? Charles Kinsey, a behavior therapist, who was shot by police Monday, 7-18-16, with his hands held up in the air.Twenty-three-year-old mother, Koryn Gaines, and the shooting of her 5-year-old son? Since then these police shootings/beating/murder: Terrence Cruthcher, Keith Lamont Scott, Tawon Boyd. And, most recently, here near my home, on 10-1-16, the officer-involved shooting of 18-year-old, Carnel Snell, Jr, in Los Angeles. Just before that there was the shooting of a mentally ill Black man, Reginald Thomas in Pasadena. Also the shooting of another mentally ill, homeless Black man, Joseph Mann, in Sacramento, and another Black man, Alfred Olango in El Cajon, California. Will there be any convictions?

This is beyond unjust. What should we do as writers? We write. My business philosophy, taken from my former job at the Los Angeles County Department of Children Services, (and my 23 years experience as a social worker) is, “If you don’t write it down, it didn’t happen.” For example, if a child was injured or killed in a foster home, or in its parent’s home, and the authorities couldn’t find any documentation in your case, indicating you had made all reasonable efforts to supervise and protect that child, you were in deep trouble.

Likewise, if you don’t write or speak out about what you are seeing happening here in the United States, you are just as involved in the complicity of these crimes we see around us.

Our job, as a writer, involves taking a stand. What is going on in America is wrong. Systemic racism is wrong. This involves all of its offshoots—mass incarceration of Blacks, poverty, redlining, racial profiling, police brutality, miseducation, and lack of reparations for our ancestors who provided the free labor which built the wealth of this country.

As writers, we need to document. The power of the pen still reigns.

Let us never forget. If you don’t write it down, it didn’t happen. I always see it on a deeper level. Without writing our passage down, “we,” as a people of African descent, didn’t happen.

About the Blogger: Dr. Maxine Thompson is a novelist, poet, columnist, short story writer, book reviewer, an editor, ghostwriter, Internet Radio Show Host, and a Literary Agent

The Katrina Blues

Love Story

Blog: Hurricane Katrina: 11th Anniversary Revisited

By Dr. Maxine Thompson

http://www.maxinethompson.com

http://www.maxinethompsonbooks.com

Today is the 11th anniversary of #hurricaneKatrina; copy of The Katrina Blues by Maxine Thompson. http://amzn.to/2byNB57

My novella, The Katrina Blues, was written about 10 years ago. I was deeply disturbed at seeing people who looked like me in a flood on roofs, thirsty, and being treated like Third World refugees. I’ve witnessed racism all of my life, but this was an event which struck a chord. What a precarious position my people live in. And what an omen of things to come.

As a writer, I wrote “The Katrina Blues” as a love story against this backdrop in Black American history. It was published, even made a Best seller’s list as part of an anthology on the now defunct Black Expressions’ Book Club.

The 11th anniversary is here. Things have gotten worse. Black lives matter, yet Black/Brown blood is running in the street. Trayvon Martin. Mike Brown. Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Alton Sterling. Philandro Castille. Koryn Gaines. Charles Kinsey.

How do we establish a system of justice? This is a question that we, as Black writers, need to explore.

Here’s the back cover.

Meet Deni Richards, a Los Angeles attorney, who appears to have everything. She has an expensive Mercedes, a condo in an exclusive neighborhood, and a job at The Los Angeles Children’s Court. But after a public disgrace at the altar, she is left heartbroken, bereft, and lonely. Her professional titles and material possessions do little to heal her heart.

In the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, a talented Jazz saxophonist, Coleman Blue, is getting his heart smashed in one of the most unspeakable betrayals a man can imagine.

Fast-forward one year later, on August 29, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, it affects people throughout the United States.

Follow the journey of two unlikely people who meet, and, although they are complete opposites, tragedy brings them together in a common ground of love.

Sign up for the free newsletter at http://www.maxinethompson.com or http://www.maxinethompsonbooks.com.

About the blogger: About the Blogger: Dr. Maxine Thompson is a novelist, poet, columnist, short story writer, book reviewer, an editor, ghostwriter, Internet Radio Show Host, and a Literary Agent. As an editor, she has edited numerous best-selling books for African Americans, including many books for men and women who are incarcerated in the prison system. In a down economy, as a literary agent, she has negotiated over 100 book deals for African Americans. She is the author of Novels, The Ebony Tree, Hostage of Lies, LA Blues, LA Blues 2, and LA Blues 3, A Place Called Home (A Short Story Collection), a contributor to bestselling anthologies Secret Lovers, (A Black Expression Bestseller) All in The Family, and Never Knew Love Like This Before, (Also a Black Expression Book Club best-seller, and Kindle Bestseller).

She is also an ebook author of The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell 1, 2, The Hush Hush Secrets of Making Money as a Writer, The Hush Hush Secrets of Creating a Life You Love, Novellas, The Katrina Blues, and Capri’s Second Chance, contributor to Proverbs for the People, and Editor/Contributor to anthology, Saturday Morning.

Her novels, The Ebony Tree, (Won a small Pen Award in 1997), Hostage of Lies, (Voted a Best Book of 2009), LA Blues, (2011), and LA Blues II, (2012), which were featured in Black Expressions’ Catalog in August 2012. LA Blues 3 was published in August 2013.

The Power of Voice: An Artist in the Midst of War

By Dr. Maxine Thompson

“Those who commit the murders, write the reports.” Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells was an activist and a journalist. According to Wikipedia: She was born into slavery in 1862, but as an adult, she documented lynching in the United States in the 1890s, showing that it was often used as a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites, rather than being based on criminal acts by blacks, as was usually claimed by whites. Needless to say, she had a voice at a time when it was dangerous for a black person, a woman at that, to have a voice.

In that vein, I never realized how important my voice was until I lost mine after a thyroid surgery in 2008…. We’re not talking laryngitis, either. Have you ever tried to ask for directions when you sound like a fog horn, and the mailman can’t understand you? Or, have you tried to order a fast-food take-out over the drive-through window speaker when your voice won’t go up enough decibels for the person on the other end to hear you? Or, better yet, have you ever hosted an Internet radio show where you sound horrible, and you know it, but you have to move on because this is part of your calling? Talk about frustrating, and that was only my literal voice. How about my voice in the world?

Well, it started me to thinking about how so many African American authors, who weren’t given a chance to get published back through the years, even up through the 80s, and early 90s, (I was one of them), have now been given a voice. Many have self-published to get their words, their voice, so to speak, out to the world. I know I did. Eventually, I sold 6 books to other publishers, but now I’m relaunching my books under my own company.

Anyhow, some African Americans have been published through traditional, mainstream publishers, but the point is, we now have a voice. The Internet and social media have opened a lot of doors, too. Over the past 8 years, with President Barack Obama as our first African American Chief of Staff, we saw how important the voice of the people can be when we united.

Now we are living in an even more treacherous time, much of which is being documented through technology and social media. But as writers, we need to document. The power of the pen still reigns.

Whether the media forgets, we should never forget. Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Alva Braziel, Delrawn Smalls Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and on the anniversary of Sandra Bland’s death, everything is the same. Let’s not forget Trayvon Martin, either. Do you recall any convictions for these murder victims? Do you expect to see any convictions for the more recent murder victims, Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile, which were captured on video and live streamed for the world to see? Or more recently, Charles Kinsey, a behavior therapist, who was shot by police Monday, 7-18-16, with his hands held up in the air. Will there be any conviction?

What should we do as writers? We write. My business philosophy, taken from my old job at the Los Angeles County Department of Children Services, is, “If you don’t write it down, it didn’t happen.” For example, if a child was injured or killed in a foster home, or in its parent’s home, and the authorities couldn’t find any documentation in your case, indicating you had made all reasonable efforts to supervise and protect that child, you were in deep trouble.

Likewise, if you don’t write what you are seeing happening here in the United States, you are just as involved in the complicity of these crimes we see around us.

Our job, as a writer, involves taking a stand. What is going on in America is wrong. Systemic racism is wrong. This involves all of its offshoots—mass incarceration of Blacks, poverty, redlining, racial profiling, police brutality, miseducation, and lack of reparations for our ancestors who provided the free labor which built the wealth of this country.

On my last radio show, 7-18-16, where I interviewed 21-year-old author, Terrence R. McCrae, who penned the book, “What Should We All do After the Trayvon Martin Trial?” I’ve cited other books which, (along with the Underground Railroad, abolitionists, and the fact slavery was morally wrong,) helped end slavery. These books include, but are not limited to, David Walker’s Appeal (written in 1829,) Frederick Douglass’s narrative, My Bondage and My Freedom, and even a white writer’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. In the 20th century, another white writer, the late Harper Lee, addressed racism in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, in the brilliant summation given by the attorney’s character, Atticus Finch. One of the best books of the 20th Century, which addressed the internal devastation (yet the triumph of the human spirit) of slavery, was Pulitzer Prize-Winning novel, Beloved, by Toni Morrison.

Let’s face it. We’re in a war. A war on our community. As artists, this is definitely a time that the power of the written word is just as powerful as YouTube, Periscope, and other social media outlets.

Let us never forget. If you don’t write it down, it didn’t happen. I always see it on a deeper level. Without writing our passage down, “we,” as a people, didn’t happen.

About the Blogger: Dr. Maxine Thompson is a novelist, poet, columnist, short story writer, book reviewer, an editor, ghostwriter, Internet Radio Show Host, and a Literary Agent. As an editor, she has edited numerous best-selling books for African Americans, including many books for men and women who are incarcerated in the prison system. In a down economy, as a literary agent, she has negotiated over 100 book deals for African Americans. She is the author of Novels, The Ebony Tree, Hostage of Lies, LA Blues, LA Blues 2, and LA Blues 3, A Place Called Home (A Short Story Collection), The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell, a contributor to bestselling anthologies Secret Lovers, (A Black Expression Bestseller) All in The Family, and Never Knew Love Like This Before, (Also a Black Expression Book Club best-seller, and Kindle Bestseller).

She is also an ebook author of The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell 1, 2, The Hush Hush Secrets of Making Money as a Writer, The Hush Hush Secrets of Creating a Life You Love, Novellas, The Katrina Blues, Capri’s Second Chance, and Summer of Salvation, contributor to Proverbs for the People, and Editor/Contributor to anthology, Saturday Morning.

Her novels, The Ebony Tree, (Won a small Pen Award in 1997), Hostage of Lies, (Voted a Best Book of 2009), LA Blues, (2011), and LA Blues II, (2012), which were featured in Black Expressions’ Catalog in August 2012. LA Blues 3 was published in August 2013.

THE REAL KILLERS OF THE FIVE COPS IN DALLAS TEXAS

BY AN ELDER, DR. ROSIE MILLIGAN

The persons responsible for the loss of lives of the five policemen in Dallas, Texas are as follows: Those who continue to perpetuate institutionalized racism throughout America—in its schools, universities, legal and criminal justice system. This also includes every law enforcement officer—black, white and others—who stood by and said nothing, and did nothing, while white officers beat or killed black men unjustly. The racist defense and prosecuting attorney, every juror who stood up for the policemen who were guilty in taking the lives of black men—yes, you are the guilty ones. And if you have any conscience today, you should be haunted by the trigger pulled by the gunman on that dreadful evening July 7, 2016.

I have lived seventy years in America, and I am a third generation removed from slavery. I experience the past, the present and the future all in one. I have a glimpse of the future, which is based on the facts that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The black man/woman is just as enslaved today legally as in the past. The criminal justice system upholds the law when it comes to disregarding the black person as a human being—which appears to be legal.

My question to all non-blacks is: what if your men were being brutally and unjustly murdered at the rate black men are being murdered, how would you feel and what would you do? When I saw those cops on top of a black man—who was in a helpless position, then shot, I had a flashback. Pain gripped my abdomen. I thought about when I was young, living in Mississippi when white men would roll up on horses to a black person’s house and call for a father or a father’s son to come out the house so they could either beat him in the presence of his family, or kill him. Nothing was done to the killer then, and nothing is done, in most cases, now. After witnessing the black man, Alton Sterling, who was killed just recently, I cried, I cried and I cried.

We must all stand up, and speak up when injustice is done. Here is a good quote I read online. “The only thing necessary for the Triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Remember, the crop we plant today, our children will be the reapers of it tomorrow. Is it the masses who want a race war, or is it just a few evil ones who are trying to ignite a race war? You may not witness a race war in your time, however, if things do not change, there will be one. Is this what you want your children to inherit from your wrong doings? Think. If you have any doubt about what I am saying to you, you had better ask your young people how they feel about what’s going on. You will be quite surprised.

Here is another quote I read online:

“Young whites do not ascribe to the notion ‘We want our country back.’ It’s the old evil power thirsty white folks. Young whites know that you evil ones have lied to them. Their association with blacks in school, in sports, etc., they know truth. And they want to be like blacks, they want to sing like us, dance like us, dress like us, preach and praise like us—don’t you get it? They want to live in peace as God would have it to be—can’t you see how many of them are marching in the Black Life Matters Movement? Does that tell you something?”

America, you have pushed blacks against the wall, and they have two choices: give in to the ills of society, or stand up and fight for themselves and for their children. You have created a monster in your own back yard. Many black men are in prison unjustly. They pled guilty to a felony because they did not have the money to hire an attorney to represent them. Upon their release, due to a felony, they cannot obtain federal/state assistance such as: low-income housing, food stamps, federal grants for education and cannot be caught in the presence of another felon—Oh, America, America the beautiful, what are you doing to black people? Where there is no justice, there will be no peace. Young blacks will not continue to take, and to put up with, the injustice and do nothing; they have been placed in a positon whereby they don’t have much to lose. The new culture, the new crop, would rather go down fighting than to stand still, do nothing and be killed.

Let me leave you with these words of wisdom: A house divided, cannot stand. An enemy inside of a house can destroy you quicker and faster than the enemy on the outside. America, we have enemies all around the world. If we are to survive, we must come together as one race. We can do better, and we must do better, starting today and henceforth.

Dr. Rosie Milligan, minister, author, senior estate planner, credit consultant, talk show host of Express Yourself Hour, owner of Professional Business Consulting Service, 1425 W. Manchester Ave. Ste. B, Los Angeles, CA 90047, 323-750-3592, drrosie@aol.com, www.Drrosie.com

Blog: The Promise and The Peril of the American Dream by Dr. Maxine Thompson


(The Promise and The Peril of the American Dream: Going to See Misty Copeland in the American Ballet at the Los Angeles Musical Center in the midst of a holocaust; the most recent two murders of black men by police)

These two subjects almost seem incongruous: Misty Copeland and the murder of two Black Citizens. However, I see this paradigm as the Promise and the Peril of Black Life/the American Dream.

Last night, July 7, 2016, because of a ticket my daughter, Tamaira Johnson, bought for my 65th birthday last month, we both had the honor of witnessing the gifted hurricane that is Misty Copeland, the first African-American Female Principal Dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, at the Los Angeles Music Center. She danced as “The Firebird,” and she was the consummate performer. In fact, she was fierce. As I watched in awe, I saw the promise of the American Dream.

But there was also a shadow overcasting my pride for our young African American sister. Before the performance, Tamaira, a registered nurse, related how she’d cried when she saw the video of Alton Sterling, with his heart pumping as he bled out, after being shot in the chest by white police. (At the time, I was sequestered in the cocoon world of writing a novel, which is why I hadn’t seen the videos. I’d heard about both shootings on the Internet, though. I’ve stopped watching a lot of the biased news on our American networks.)

Anyhow, when I got home last night, I watched both videos of Philando Castile (killed by the Minnesota Police in front of his fiancée,) and 24 hours earlier, the videos of Alton Sterling, (killed by the Police in cold blood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.) Like many Black people, I am numb, appalled, upset.

Come on, America. What is it going to take to stop this holocaust? Isn’t this the same political climate of Hitler’s Germany before he started his genocide campaign against the Jews, gypsies, and other groups of people? Similarly, when the government withdraws its support from a people, are the people being set up for extermination?

Another question. When will these racist police officers be educated to cultural sensitivity to Black men, in particular? (Actually, they have started killing Black Women, too, such as Sandra Bland who died under suspicious circumstances when she was arrested July 13, 2015 in Texas.) Not to mention, our mass incarceration of Blacks as a new form of holocaust.

Sad to say, this is nothing new. The attempted extermination of Black people has been going on since we arrived in this country in the fifteenth century as indentured servants. Even with the Middle Passage and Slavery, we have been a resilient people.

Looking back in history, we know the flagrant lynchings of Black men, women and children took place in the nineteenth and twentieth century, many of which went unrecorded. Ironically, a book I paid $40 for (around 2002) shows some of the lynchings recorded by whites themselves. The book is titled: Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America Hardcover – February 1, 2000 by James Allen (Author, Editor) http://amzn.to/29GAUnZ

However, the twenty-first century has added something new to the mix—technology. The videos that are showing up now are much clearer than the grainy filming of the now infamous Rodney King beating, which sparked the April 29, 1992 uprising.

But when the police now have a license to kill based on the color of our skin, and the courts won’t take any action against them, what can we do? What steps can we take to turn this tide of mass murders around?

It is time for us to take action. As African Americans, we need healing from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that goes with a five-hundred-year history of abuse in this country. We also need reparations. We need to hold accountable the systems, which are supposed to protect us as American citizens. The courts have to be held accountable. The politicians have to be held accountable. The government has to be held accountable. We need to practice boycotting and do business with our own community.

This is a perilous time we’re living through. Look at all the talent being taken before its promise can be reached, such as in the young Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice’s murders?

Black lives Do Matter!

My heart and condolences go out to the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Let’s wake up, America.

About the Blogger: Dr. Maxine Thompson is a novelist, poet, columnist, short story writer, book reviewer, an editor, ghostwriter, Internet Radio Show Host, and a Literary Agent. As an editor, she has edited numerous best-selling books for African Americans, including many books for men and women who are incarcerated in the prison system. In a down economy, as a literary agent, she has negotiated over 100 book deals for African Americans. She is the author of Novels, The Ebony Tree, Hostage of Lies, LA Blues, LA Blues 2, and LA Blues 3, A Place Called Home (A Short Story Collection), The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell, a contributor to bestselling anthologies Secret Lovers, (A Black Expression Bestseller) All in The Family, and Never Knew Love Like This Before, (Also a Black Expression Book Club best-seller, and Kindle Bestseller).

She is also an ebook author of The Hush Hush Secrets of Writing Fiction That Sell 1, 2, The Hush Hush Secrets of Making Money as a Writer, The Hush Hush Secrets of Creating a Life You Love, Novellas, The Katrina Blues, Capri’s Second Chance, and Summer of Salvation, contributor to Proverbs for the People, and Editor/Contributor to anthology, Saturday Morning.

Her novels, The Ebony Tree, (Won a small Pen Award in 1997), Hostage of Lies, (Voted a Best Book of 2009), LA Blues, (2011), and LA Blues II, (2012), which were featured in Black Expressions’ Catalog in August 2012. LA Blues 3 was published in August 2013.

THE MALIGNANT HATE CANCER TOOK NINE LIVES

Dr. Rosie Milligan, an elder

Deep-rooted hatred is a deadly poison. It’s hard for me to conceive how such deep hatred could fill the heart of a person who has only experienced twenty-one years of living. After the September 11 (9/11) tragedy, a little child asked the question, “Why do they hate us so much?” I asked myself the question, “Why do some white people hate black folks so much?”

Black people are America’s best friend. We are more loyal than any race. With our sweat, tears and blood, we built this country, and—even though we never got the forty acres and a mule as promised—we continued to love white folks. We nursed their babies from our breast milk. We took care of their children while leaving our little children at home to fend for themselves. We birthed babies from seeds their men implanted in our wombs, with no consideration given to that offspring. Black men accepted the white man’s seed and provided for the child, without complaint; he went along to get along.

Blacks were beaten and killed for attempting to learn how to read. The welfare system refused to assist a needy black family when the father was in the house, therefore forcing the black man to leave home in order for his wife and children to get a little help to survive. (Revisit the movie Claudine). Black men had to leave town, leaving their wives and children behind for merely talking back to a white man or for an accusation of looking at a white woman. Remember Emmitt Till, the young teen murdered in Mississippi in 1955. Many black men escaped the South because they feared for their lives. Some of them never got enough money to return for their families and they started new families, therefore causing fatherless children. Maybe Tulsa, Oklahoma needs to be revisited when black folks had an enclaved community with thriving businesses that was destroyed by a white mob.

Maybe America needs a review of black history, where black families, children, mothers and fathers, wives and husbands were separated and sold as slaves to new masters. Let’s teach on how white men have continued to perpetuate wealth from inventions they stole from blacks—inventions that changed lives for all Americans for the betterment. The list is too long to include in this article—Google “black inventions.” Let’s fast forward to the “NEW SLAVE SHIP” that does not sail—the prison industrial complex that separates black men and women from their children and families.

My point is simple. It is time that all races learn the history and conditions forced upon blacks in America. If the shooter had known the history of how America has treated the black race as a whole, I believe his hatred for the black race would not have been as such. Black folks’ condition is a by-product of the inhumane treatment and injustice served him by the establishment.

We cannot undo what has happened, however, we can all work hard on doing our part to ensure that this type of tragedy will never happen again based on race. As adults and parents, we must teach love in our homes and not leave that responsibility to our children to learn on their own. The love blacks have for white folks were demonstrated via the response that the victims’ families shared nationally toward the shooter when they expressed forgiveness.

I pray we all learn a great lesson concerning sharing our views with our children. They know how their friends feel about other races, they hear their thoughts, they see and hear the media’s perspective, but they also, more than anything, need to hear from us—their parents and elders. We must do a better job in communicating about social issues and we cannot omit discussing race in our homes, our churches and schools. I want to share much more, but I realize this is an article and not a book. I know what has happened is real; I still want to see it as just a dream/nightmare or something like that. This should not happen in America in 2015.

Dr. Rosie Milligan, minister, author, senior estate planner/credit consultants, talk show host of Express Yourself Hour, and owner of Professional Business Consultant and LA Credit Consultants, 1425 W. Manchester Ave., Ste. B, Los Angeles, CA 90047, 323-750-3592, email:drrosie@aol.com.

When Art Imitates Life

When Art Imitates Life

By Dr. Maxine Thompson
http://www.maxinethompson.com
http://www.maxinethompsonbooks.com

According to Wikipedia, The quote, “Art imitates Life” “has its most notable proponent in Oscar Wilde, who held in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying that ‘Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life’.”

As an African American, I see things differently. I’ve always felt, in spite of having an African American President (President Obama) in the United States, racism is still like the elephant in the middle of the room in our country. We don’t want to talk about racism or deal with it—until something explodes.
Case in point. In my second novel, Hostage of Lies, (originally self-published as “No Pockets in a Shroud,” in 1997,) a white editor from New York challenged a scene that was clearly a case of racial discrimination. 

The year was 2009, and I was reissuing this same book (HOL) through a New York Publisher when this editorial comment was made. 

 She said that a black male being pulled over because he  was black and driving a Mercedes was out dated or unrealistic. True, I wrote this scene in 1996 in the original self-published book. I pointed out to her the scene was set in 1993.

 However, the word “racial profiling” wasn’t in our lexicon at that  time.

As a historical fiction writer, I was just capturing what happens to professional Black men, who were treated like criminals.

 Shortly thereafter, a high profile case where prominent Black Professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested for entering his own home took place. This incident hit the media like a tsunami.

 I sent the information to the editor, and the scene was left as it was. Racial issues had not changed much from 1993 to 2009.

When I wrote my urban crime novel, L.A. Blues, in 2008, I was perturbed about several murders of young Black teen athletes, which were perpetrated because of gang wars between the Blacks and Latinos here in LA.

Ironically, in my novel, the murder victim, 15-year-old basketball star hopeful, was named Trayvon. He was wearing a hooded black Starter jacket, and later, you find out why he was assassinated because of this outfit. Sadly, we now have the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s murder.

As I re-read the funeral scene from LA Blues at the Black Writers on Tour Conference (www.blackwritersontour.com) which just took place on this past Saturday, 4-21-12, a chill rippled through me. It was taken from my poem, “Son of God Called Home Too Soon,” which I’d originally written for my 18-year-old nephew, who’d been murdered the year before (2008) in Detroit. (Since then, another great-nephew was murdered in Detroit on 1-10-12.) I used the poem in the funeral scene in LA Blues. As I asked in my poem, SOGCHTS:

“How many more of our young men must we lose
To acts of senseless violence and rage?
When will we learn to love and not hate,
To cherish and not exterminate?
Let’s wake up before we lose our entire future Black Race.”

Although I live in L.A., and my other family is in Detroit, our family is still suffering the loss of these two young family members.

So here we are again, except this time,  it’s real life. The year is 2012. Another young black male gone senselessly. Only this murder has been widely publicized.

Reminds me of the Emmet Till murder, though, this dog and pony show and travesty of justice  that went on with the subsequent arrest, then release of George Zimmerman.

In my novel, Hostage of Lies, I dealt with the LA riots, which is now celebrating its twentieth anniversary, as well as the Detroit riots, (both civil unrests’ which I lived through). In fact, LA Blues opens with the LA riots. I drew on my memory of being out making home calls in West Los Angeles and almost being barricaded by walls of fire and smoke on every street I drove down.

I could have stayed home that day, but being a dedicated social  worker, I went out into the field. I guess it was the writer in me that wanted to bear witness to our explosive history. That day reminded me of what Langston Hughes called, “A Dream Deferred” in his poem. All the deferred dreams found their way into ignited gas cans and Molotov cocktails.

Today I write about things I would like to see changed. I’d like to see no murders among Black or Brown young men. I address this social problem  in LA Blues’s acknowledgment.

After all, isn’t that our job as writers? To bear witness to the truth.

  
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