Everything in it’s right place

Yesterday afternoon as I was on my way to picking up our oldest from school, another parent got my attention in the parking lot:

Hey.  I was behind you as we pulled in.  It looks like your rear passenger break light is about to go out cause it was cycling faster than the driver side.  Just thought you should know.

Thanks; I’ll make sure to get that taken care of before i’m pulled over.

Light banter was exchanged as made our way to the school lobby as we waited for our children to be called out.

Today as I was out and about running errands, I decided to stop into an Auto Parts store to get a replacement bulb for the light which was on it’s way out.  I had looked up a Youtube vid earlier.  Complete removal and installation in 2 minutes and some change.  Piece of cake.

I purchased the bulb and came back to our Honda.  I forgot that the job required a Phillip’s head screwdriver, which I did not have with me.

Most Auto Parts Store parking lots i’ve observed tend to have at least one or two Do-it-Yourselfers working on their vehicles on site.  It makes sense, since you never know what part/tool you’ll need.  Today was no exception, as I surveyed a pair of fellows working under the hood of a Chrysler Minivan.

Hey man; would you loan me a Phillip’s Head screwdriver?

Sure; it’ll cost you $28 bucks though.

I chuckled.

No problem; I’ll put a deposit on it.” I retorted.

After wiggling the break light assembly free, me and my Campus Ministry Leader inspected the bulb.

Looks good to me.” he remarked.  I concurred.

We decided to test the lamp and observe it’s functionality ourselves.

Turn signal, break light, left and right side were A-ok.

Huh.”  I pondered allowed.  “I wonder what the lady behind me was looking at yesterday afternoon?

I contemplated returning the new, un-opened bulbs to get my $6.96 back, but thought I better hold onto them incase what the other parent saw really was the case.

As I went to return the Phillip’s Head, the Good Samaritan said, “I take cash.” with a smile.

I have something better than cash” as I fished out a business card with our church’s contact info and particulars.

“Oh ok; Church of Christ.  That’s alright.  Do you guys have a food pantry or anything like that?”

Not yet.”  I replied.  “We’re a small fellowship now, but hopefully we grow to that point where we can offer food to the community.

We continued talking.  Apparently this kind stranger has been living out of his van for the past 8 months.  He’s been trying to get on his feet, but his A/C pulley assembly has seized up, so he and his buddy Dave under the hood were attempting a work around.

Have you eaten yet today?” I asked.

Oh yeah; I have.  I’m good.

I haven’t.”  said Dave from under the van.

I reached into my wallet and took out the little cash I had on me and handed it to him.

It’s not much, but hopefully you can get yourself a burger or something.

Thanks man; I really appreciate that“.  As Dave beamed.  “Can I get one of those cards too?” He asked.

Sure.”  I wrote my number on Dave’s and the Good Samaritan’s cards.

We talked for a few more moments and then we made our leave.  Before going, the Good Samaritan gave me a firm handshake and thanked me again for my kindness.  I smiled and returned to my van.

As I sat there with our Campus Ministry Leader, I said:

“Now I know why that parent told me about my break light going it bad; it was so we could come here today and meet those two men.  Nothing is by accident or coincidence”.

We drove off.

 

Are you sure you want to do that?

Over this past week my wife has witnessed two apparent crimes, or at least incidents that looked like something was awry.  Both times I was with her but not paying attention or looking in the direction she was.  Both times her first inclination was to call the Police, and both times I cringed and cautioned her to think carefully before acting.

The first time we were on our way home from church when my wife witnessed what she described as a carjacking.  I was driving, my wife was next to me in the passenger’s seat, with our three children in the 2nd row of our minivan.  I heard tires screech and looked in the rearview mirror just in time to see a woman standing in the road looking visibly shaken and exclaiming that someone just stole her car. Her vehicle did a 180 and drove full speed against traffic in the wrong direction.  One of the nearby motorist invited the woman in, and they sped down the road in pursuit.  All of this took place in the span of 10 seconds or so. My wife, who saw more than i did, brought out her phone and cried out “Someone just stole that lady’s car!  I’m going to call the Police!”  She repeated it two times afterwards, which got our oldest son anxious.  He said he was scared and started crying.  Now I was upset because he was now effected by this incident.  I’m trying to calm him and my wife down, without conveying my growing anger towards her at the moment (we talked it over later on that day and I apologized for being insensitive at the time).

As calmly as I could:

Me: “What are you going to tell the Police when you call them?”  Did you see the person who supposedly stole the car?  Did you see a scuffle or an exchange?  Did you get a make/model/tags?”

My Wife: “No”.

Me: “So what were you going to tell them?”

My Wife: “I dunno; just what happened.”

This afternoon, we were both sitting at our dinning room table which is adjacent to a large window which overlooks a major intersection in the downtown area.  Again, my wife sees something that I don’t.

My Wife: “Look at that!  Look at those guys running!  They came from that car, and they threw something over the tracks (train) and are running away from that red car?  I think the stole it!  I’m going to call the police!”

Me: “What car.  Oh I see.  Those guys ran from that red car?”

My Wife: “Yes!”

Me: “How do you know they stole the car?”

My Wife: “They left the car right there and ran.  The trunk is open!”

Me: “Ok.”

Half an hour later or so, the red car with the open trunk was no longer there.  Someone must have moved it.

I love my wife, and I trust her instincts.  She is more pure hearted and optimistic than I am.  But in these instances, I cautioned her.  Put aside the events of the past 24 months involving the Police.  As a person from Alkebu-Lan, I have always had to think twice before involving Law Enforcement in any situation I’m a part of.  I could only imagine the interview/conversation that would have ensued had she gone through with her intentions, with the little info she could provide.

The Police serve a purpose, just not in these two incidents.

Stan Brock – Remote Area Medical (RAM)

“36 (AO)Seeing the [ab]people, He felt compassion for them, (AP)because they were[ac]distressed and [ad]dispirited like sheep [ae]without a shepherd. 37 Then He *said to His disciples, (AQ)The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few“. – Matthew 9:36-37

I don’t know, or even know of, many people who are wholly dedicated to a singular purpose.  I like to think of myself as a devoted follower of Christ, husband, father of three, son, brother, uncle, friend, etc. but in reality I am often divided in my focus an agenda.  If i’m being really honest, the fact is I don’t care as much as I should about the responsibility given me in all of these different roles.

I first became aware of Stan and his work when i saw the 60 Minutes segment that was done on Remote Area Medical RAM back in 2008.  Not unaware of the plight of many Americans who have little or no healthcare, I was floored by the magnitude and scope of the problem.

People line up for hours, sometimes days, hoping to get seen for medical care.
People line up for hours, sometimes days, hoping to get seen for medical care.

I got the portion of the segment where Scott talks with Joanne, a woman who was lucky enough to get in to seen, only to find out that the vision care line had closed.

“The Lord will take care of me, the Lord will provide.  The Lord will provide.” – Joanne Ford

I broke down right there and started bawling.  I cried so hard that Monica was concerned, almost afraid for me.  How could we let this happen?  How can we live in a society where this is possible?  How can people who are working or trying to find work not have the access, the right to health and medical care?

Even as typed this, I re-watched the video.  I broke down again twice before making through the end.

I don’t know how many people will read this, or where you are in life, but a human beings we have to do something about this.  People are hurting; not just in some far away country but right in your city/town/neighborhood.  Do something about it; anything, it doesn’t matter.  We can’t sit back and wait for the government or anyone else to act on our behalf, we the people need to help those who cannot help themselves.

I thank God for Stan Brock, and the countless people out there like him who see the people, harassed and helpless, and have decided to act.  I too will act.

“You know…I am sad that we are the wealthiest nation in the world, and we don’t take care of our own.” – Joanne Ford

Alkebu-Lan (better known as the Country of “Africa”)

A few weeks ago I was having a casual conversation about what, I cannot recall at the moment.  What I do remember is an incident that occurred during the talk.

The topic of discussion was fairly random; from current events, to sports, to the going ons in our respective homes.  My acquaintance then began commenting on a colleague he knew from “Africa”.  Nowhere specific, just “Africa”.  This individual held some particular beliefs that my acquaintance found odd, to which he asked me, “But isn’t that how most African’s are?”  I looked at him, trying to hold back my incredulity and calmly responded, “How should I know?”

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a first-generation Nigerian, born and raised in the U.S.  Outside of a few stints here and there, I have spent the entirety of my existence in the U.S.  I do posses what many would call a “traditional Nigerian” name.  Regardless, I have come across this phenomena of People referring to Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) as a single country on countless occassions.

It’s important to note that my acquaintance himself is the descendant of people taken forcibly from Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) hundreds of years ago.  To him, Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) is a homogeneous, unvaried region.  It is his fault that he holds such views.  The many cultures, societies, and people who comprise Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) is well documented.  My concern is that incidents like this are not isolated.  Read most articles or listen to most radio shows or television programs, and you will get steady dose of this narrative:

Africa = one big wild, weird, backward, tragic country. 

There’s almost a pride in knowing the least about it or being uninformed.  I’m curious as to how such an erroneous account became the standard.  Like all places, Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) has it’s share of problems.  Poor leadership, tension between ethnic & cultural groups, and difficult economic conditions have plagued the land.  But these are not unique to Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”).  All people, since the creation of time, have experienced violence, greed, poor governance, war, and economic hardship.   Like all places in this world Alkebu-Lan (the place most call Africa) is made of many different people with many different thoughts, views, and opinions.  I have yet visited or heard of a place where everyone though, felt, and acted the same way about anything.  Even here in the U.S., the bastion of all things civilized and well with mankind, you’d be hard pressed to find a state, let alone an entire region, who get alone and work together on a consistent basis.

So if it hasn’t been said, I’m saying it now:

Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) is a continent comprised of 54 sovereign countries, and Western Sahara, a member state of the African Union whose statehood is disputed by Morocco.  There are people of all shape, size, color, and variety.  The continent has virtually all the types of landscapes found on this Earth.  It is place where people love, live, and do the best they can with what they’ve been given, just like we all try to do on this planet.

Spread the word.

What I’ve been working on

As I’ve mentioned before, i like sneakers.  I like the sight, feel, and smell of them (no, I’m not one of the guys on YT and IG you see licking the outsole of my kicks, but you get the idea).

One of the reasons I began recording my thoughts here was to help figure out what now?  My background is in Civil Engineering (roads & bridges) for which i’m grateful, but not inspired about.  While pondering this question, i kept coming back to my appreciation for those foam, rubber, and leather articles that go on our feet.

After a few conversations with close confidants, i decided to run with an idea i’ve bounced around in my head for the better part of a decade.  The result: Footwear Commodities Exchange (www.footwearexchange.com).

So what?  An honest question.  Sneakers are a big deal, and have been for quite some time.  With all things good, come individuals who seek to take advantage and profiteer.  Gone are the days of driving to the Mall or your neighborhood mom and pop store to scoop the latest pair of Air Jordan’s or Dunks.  Re-Sellers (an individual who makes a living buying up all or the majority stock of a desirable item, only to “re-sell” it for a considerable mark-up.  Think 100% – 200% of MSRP) have ruined things, camping outside of said establishments for days on end.  If you manage to sidestep the Re-Sellers, keep a watchful eye for the exploding counterfeit market.  Due to the swelling demand and ever shrinking supply, our friends in the factories of these multinational corporations have taken advantage of a golden opportunity: make “Grey Market”, “Replicas” (whatever the moniker, they’re fake) shoes and pass them off as authentic.  Some of these offerings have come so close to the real thing that even the most experienced eye can be fooled.

Footwear Commodities Exchange (FoComEx) takes a different approach to this shoe phenomena.  Shoes are a commodity (no different from silver, corn, or natural gas) that bought/sold/traded just the same.  The problem arises in the fact that there has not been a regulated and monitored exchange where business can be transacted safely and securely,   until now.

FoComEx not only provides a marketplace for users to buy/sell/trade footwear related commodities safely and securely, it offers the following:

  1. Zero Tolerance of Fraud and Suspicious activity
  2. Authentication & Verification Services
  3. Commodities Insurance
  4. Market base pricing history
  5. Commodities Futures

If you’re into sneakers, or just curious what this is all about, come see for yourself.

http://www.footwearexchange.com

fo_com_ex (on Instagram)

Our Obsession with Zombies

A few years ago it was Vampires.  That’s not completely out, but today it’s definitely all about the undead.  Everywhere you look, they’re there.  Movies, TV, Video Games, even cartoons for the kiddies (what’s up with Monster’s U though?).  We can’t get enough of Zombies, and there appears to be no sign of it slowing down.

Most people will say it’s harmless fun.  Other’s will simply ignore it and wait for the next societal infatuation to sweep over us.  But wherever you are on the Zombie spectrum, the phenomenon has lead me to think about why it has struck such a cord with so many.

Mankind inherently understands the concepts of good an evil.  No matter where you are from, what culture or society you were raised in, all humans know the difference between what is right, and what is wrong.  It’s what separates us from animals, the ability to reason and make judgments based on our circumstances and surrounding environment.  As we’ve gotten more “civilized” and “enlightened” as a people, the clear cut definitions of right and wrong have become hazy.  Is it right that I have the ability to run my children’s bath water for 5 minutes until it gets to the perfect temperature, or purchase a ridiculously inexpensive toy made by modern day slave labor?  Is it right that Geo-Political forces destabilize the governments of most of the World’s poor and disenfranchised, while the “developed” world lives relative stable and free lives?

But there’s no interpretation or rationalization needed when it comes to Zombies.  They are universally evil creatures with one purpose: predation.  It doesn’t matter who the Zombies were or what walk of life they possessed before they turned.  Once they transformed, anyone who is not like them becomes their enemy.  Zombies are relentless in their pursuit of their prey; anyone still living.  It’s no accident that virtually all Zombie premises take place in a post-apocalyptic world.  It is our presumption that all layers of society will have to break down in order for such a thing to occur.

What if that weren’t the case?  What if the resonance of the Zombie end times is due to society’s realization that things in the World are not right, and have not been right for quite sometime?  Maybe people yearn for a time when things were clear again: this is good, that is bad, and our focus wasn’t comfort, wealth accumulation, or success in our vocation?  What would it take for us to see things as they really are.

“Black” People can be Racist

rac·ist
ˈrāsəst/
noun
  1. a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another.
    synonyms: racial bigot, racialist, xenophobe, chauvinist, supremacist

adjective
1.having or showing the belief that a particular race is superior to another.
“we are investigating complaints about racist abuse at the club”
Let me start out by saying that I am a descendant of Alkebu-Lan.  I am proud of my Yoruba-American heritage, and feel secure enough to share these thoughts with you.  Despite what i’ve just said, there may be some folks who still believe my message is biased.
I want to refute the adage that “Black” People (I don’t use this term too often, but for the sake of argument I will) cannot be racist.  I’ve heard this for years and never really paid much attention to it.  But while watching Black-ish yesterday evening, lead character Dre and his mom (played by the delightful Jenifer Lewis) argued with Rainbow that they were allowed some freedoms when it came to making judgments based upon race & ethnicity because as they put it, “Black People can’t be Racist”.
This is simply untrue.  But not only is it untrue, it it dismissive, devise, and irresponsible in nature.
To be considered a Racist, one only has to believe that one race, or races, is superior or inferior to another.  This means that a White person can be racist towards other White people, the same way a Mexican person can be racist towards Koreans, and vice versa. Anyone can be racist against any race or ethnic group, including their own.
The fact that people of color have been systematically marginalized and disenfranchised in the Americas, and all over the world, doesn’t give us the right to mistreat others.  “Two wrongs, doesn’t make a right”.  Frustration, and a feeling of powerlessness may be the root cause of such behavior.  Because most people of color most often do not find themselves in an advantageous position in relation to the dominant race of that society (in America it is Caucasians at the moment; in other countries and parts of the world it is obviously a different race) they give themselves a pass to misbehave.
-When a Latino dude come to the park or gym to play basketball, but is constantly passed over for other “better” players, is this not racism?
-In a school project, students flock to the Chinese students because they “want to get a good grade” is this not racism?
-An airplane is delayed, and a few passengers begin to express there displeasure.  One of them happens to be a woman who is a descendant of Alkebu-Lan.  She is looked at as an “Angry Black Woman”, while the others are just “voicing their concern”, is that not racism?
-In the entertainment industry, a white artist is given more kudos for performing in a genre that was pioneered by people of color because they “stepped out of the box and did something different” when countless other artists who are minorities receive little or no praise, is this not racism?
I have experienced racism from other descendants of Alkebu-Lan (although removed by their ancestors being brought to the Western Hemisphere by force) just like I have experienced racism at the hands of people from the Domincan Republic, Korea, Pakistan, as well as from Caucasian Americans.  I have been racist towards other descendants of Alkebu-Lan, as well as every other race and ethnicity.  It’s is no different because the outcome is the same: fracture, division, and anger.
For there to be a legitimate discourse on the topic of racism and race inequality, we all need to be honest about what the issue is and how we have contributed in both good, and bad ways.