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Granddaddy’s Lessons

just a season book cover.One of the books I’ve published speaks to a subject rarely explained to children of this generation concerning the African American struggle. “Legacy – A New Season” is a stand-alone story rich in the history of the African American Diaspora. It is the sequel and the continuation of the novel “Just a Season”.

This long awaited saga to the epic novel “Just a Season” will take you on an awe inspiring journey through the African American Diaspora, as told by a loving grandfather to his grandson in the oral African tradition at a time when America changed forever. I wanted to share this particular excerpt from “Just a Season” that I hope it will enlighten, empower, motivate, and touch your heart.

Today we live in a world where there is no Granddaddy to share that precious wisdom necessary to guide our young men and women into adulthood. I was fortunate or maybe blessed, to have had a loving grandfather who shared many valuable lessons with me.

These lessons formed the foundation of my very being…

Excerpt from “Just a Season”

“Granddaddy would say if you really hear me, not just listen to me, you will inherit life’s goodness. I would hear him talk about things like “God bless the child that’s got his own.” He constantly reminded me that everything that ever existed came from a just-single thought, and if you can think it, you can figure out how to do it just put your mind to it.

I would also constantly hear that a man must be able to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done regardless of the circumstances. “I raised you to be a man and as a man, you don’t know what you will have to do, but when the time comes, do it.” Granddaddy drove home the point, the difference between a man and a boy is the lessons he’s learned.

Granddaddy would also say you will always have an enemy. Your enemy is anyone who attempts to sabotage the assignment God has for your life. Your enemy is anybody who may resent you doing positive things and will be unhappy because of your success. These people will attempt to kill the faith that God has breathed within you.

They would rather discuss your past than your future because they don’t want you to have one. Your enemy should not be feared. He would say it is important to understand that this person usually will be close to you. He would tell me to use them as bridges, not barricades. Therefore, it is wise to make peace with your enemy.

“Just remember these things I say to you.” I certainly could not count all of these things, as it seemed like a million or more that I was supposed to remember. However, he asked me to remember above all else that there is no such thing as luck. The harder you work at something the luckier you get. I would tell him that I was lucky, maybe because I had won a ballgame or something. He would smile and tell me luck is only preparation meeting opportunity. Life is all about survival and if you are to survive – never bring a knife to a gunfight. This would be just as foolish as using a shotgun to kill a mosquito. Then he asked me to remember that it is not the size of the dog in the fight; it is the size of the fight in the dog.

Granddaddy’s words had so much power, although it would often require some thinking on my part to figure out what he was talking about, or what the moral of the story was supposed to be. It may have taken awhile but I usually figured it out. For example, always take the road less traveled, make your own path, but be sure to leave a trail for others to follow. Life’s road is often hard; just make sure you travel it wisely. If you have a thousand miles to go, you must start the journey with the first step. During many of these lessons, he would remind me not to let your worries get the best of you.

Sometimes he would use humor. For example, he would say something like “Moses started out as a basket case.” Although most often he assured me that hard times will come and when they come, do not drown in your tears; always swim in your blessings. He would tell me he had seen so much and heard even more, in particular those stories from his early life when dreadful atrocities were done to Negroes. Some of the stories included acts of violence such as lynchings, burnings, and beatings. He would make a point to explain that the people who did these things believed they were acting in the best interest of society.

He would tell me about things he witnessed over time, that many of these atrocities were erased from the memory of society regardless how horrible the event was. Society’s reasoning would make you think their action was right, fair, and justified. Granddaddy would add, if history could erase that which he had witnessed and known to be true, how can you trust anything history told as truth? He would emphasize that I should never, never believe it, because nothing is as it seems.

I would marvel at his wisdom. He would tell me to always set my aim higher than the ground. Shoot for the stars because if you miss you will only land on the ground and that will be where everybody else will be. When he would tell me this, he would always add, please remember you are not finished because you are defeated. You are only finished if you give up. He would usually include a reminder. Always remember who you are and where you came from. Never think you are too big because you can be on top of the world today and the world can be on top of you tomorrow.

I think Granddaddy had the foresight to see that I could do common things in life in an uncommon way, that I could command the attention of the world around me. Granddaddy impressed upon me that change is a strange thing. Everyone talks about it but no one ever tries to affect it. It will take courage and perseverance to reach your place of success. Just remember that life -is not a rehearsal. It is real and it is you who will create your destiny don’t wait for it to come to you. He would say, can’t is not a word. Never use it because it implies failure. It is also smart to stay away from those who do use it.

He would tell me that I was an important creation, that God gave a special gift to me for the purpose of changing the world around me. It may be hard sometimes, you may not understand, you may have self-doubt or hesitation, but never quit. God gave it to you so use it wisely. He would add often times something biblical during his teaching, or so I thought, like to whom much is given, much is expected. It is because we needed you that God sent you. That statement profoundly gave me a sense of responsibility that I was duty-bound to carry throughout my life.

Granddaddy’s inspiration, courage, and motivation still humble me, and I’m filled with gratitude that his example profoundly enriched my soul. So much so that in those times of trouble, when the bridges are hard to cross and the road gets rough, I hear Granddaddy’s gentle voice reciting words once spoken by the Prophet Isaiah: “Fear not for I am with you.”

And that is a Thought Provoking Perspective from a loving Grandfather…

Praise for Just a Season

This Must Read Novel can be purchased through AMAZON

All Rights Reservedbook 1

www.johntwills.com


HOW SOON WE FORGET

I was the keynote speaker for a Black History Month luncheon – invited by an organization of prominent successful African American business people. It was less than a month after President Obama had been sworn in as the first Black American President. During the speech I said in spite of this “we are still a nation of people, living within a nation, searching for a nationality”. A lady seated near the front spoke out, loudly I might add, saying “I am an American – I know my nationality”. I looked in her direction, noticing not only was she rude, but that she appeared offended by the remark.

It seemed as if the entire room of several hundred people in this very elegant downtown Washington, DC hotel emptied and there was only the two of us in the room. I moved from the podium in her direction and said, “You know, in my lifetime I have been colored, a Negro, Afro-America, Black, African American, and many things I won’t repeat. Nonetheless, thank you for making me aware that we are now Americans. Would this be the result of having entered an era that’s being called post racial?” She replied “Yes”. Hmmm.

I asked her, “Can you meet me later, say about ten o’clock, in front of this very building and let’s try to catch a taxicab to go to your neighborhood?” In this city that some would describe as the capital city of the free world; you will find out very quickly how much of an America you are when the cabbie refuses to pick us up. I assumed this black woman, as well as many black people believe that just because we have a black president that somehow something magical has happened where racism has ended and all is right with the world.

Now, fast forward to last Friday when I received a twitter message about an incident where Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested for trying to break into his own home near Harvard Square. Dr. Gates is a renowned Harvard University Professor, a preeminent African-American scholar, editor-in-chief of TheRoot.com, and one of America’s foremost authorities on race – among many other accolades. More importantly, he is the very best of us – not the least of us. Therefore, I was drawn to this story immediately.

Details about the story were slow to become available, at least for a few days, but as the story began to unfold, as with any situation that involve “Black and White” there were two distinctly different accounts. The officer was there because of a call from a neighbor reporting “a black man breaking into a home” in the white neighborhood of Cambridge, Mass. According to the policeman Dr. Gates was screaming the word “racist” for no apparent reason other than he was a white cop who showed up at his home. The officer also indicated that Gates told him, when asked to step outside, “I’ll speak with your mama outside” and threatened to go after his job. Before I go any further, this incident occurred in one of America’s northern most cities and not Mississippi. However, in America “anywhere south of Canada is in the south”.

According to Dr. Gates, the cop mistreated him because he is black man. The professor asked the officer for his badge number and identification, which is his right as a citizen. Published accounts say the police officer refused to comply with this citizen’s request. At this point both agree that Dr. Gates did produce a driver’s license and his Harvard University ID, when asked by the officer clearly indicating that this was indeed his home. And yet, the police officer arrested Dr. Gates for disorderly conduct because the officer felt threatened, (wink) which is the all too familiar theme or codeword used for justification.

Dr. Gates is a 58-year-old slender built black man who requires a cane to walk. The officer, from the pictures I’ve seen, is a substantially larger and younger individual with a gun and a license to kill. The officer claims that had no choice but to use the four worst words in the English language to a black man “you are under arrest” basically for being home and black. Many people of the other hue are saying the officer’s story must be true because he is the police and Gates shouldn’t have said that to the policeman, who was only doing his job. In addition, they say that Gates’ position as a college professor with no criminal record should not be a factor at all in the story. Wait a minute, haven’t we seen this movie? It’s called, “The Uppity Negro Syndrome” where the black man has not committed a crime but has a big mouth.

By Tuesday, the charges of disorderly conduct against Professor Gates were dropped. The police and Dr. Gates issued a joint statement calling the incident “regrettable and unfortunate.” Because the charges were dropped tells me that once again overreaching by law enforcement was the reason – otherwise Dr. Gates would have to appear in court to face the charge. It also tells me (MESSAGE) that no matter how much education you have as a person of color, you still can’t escape institutional racism making us keenly aware of how many people every day experience abuses in the criminal justice system; a reality for many people of color and black men in particular.

We might be able to understand the reasoning for this philosophy that is the foundation for institutional racism from someone who knows; a well-known cable TV pundit Pat Buchanan. On the Rachel Maddow Show last week he was talking about the Senate Judiciary Committee GOP members who opposite to the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor. Although it was a different topic, it is the same basic theory used to reinforce institutional racism and their inner sense of racial superiority that is viewed systematically as their God given right. And I quote:

“White men were 100% of the people that wrote the Constitution, 100% of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, probably close to 100% of the people who died at Normandy. This has been a country built basically by white folks, who were 90% of the nation in 1960 when I was growing up and the other 10% were African-Americans … That’s why. Damn straight! And what were all those black people doing at the time when heroic white people were setting about the important business of founding this great nation of ours? You guessed it! Hanging around fields, picking cotton, like bone idle jerks! None of that ever contributed anything to the common weal, of course! I mean, what is “cotton?” Not exactly THE FABRIC OF OUR LIVES, right?”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/17/rachel-maddow-takes-on-pa_n_237146.html
– Source (Huffpost)

I wonder if the lady from the luncheon, wherever she is today, is aware that this incident, aside from the many others tragic and unnecessary situations that happen to African America’s everyday is a reminder that for all the racial progress she feels the country seemed to have made with the election of President Obama – not much has changed in the everyday lives of most people in terms of race relations.

To be continued – I am sure…


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