July  2021

          In my beginning, God introduced me with two doctrinaire people.  A Father with the work habit of a mule and twice as stubborn. A Mother with the heart of a lion in her convictions, while undiscouraged in her faith and love. They both introduced me to Grandparents, landowners of the agriculture age, who introduced me to more than two dozen Aunts and Uncles with outstretching arms like the tentacles of an octopus.  They in turn, paraded me with an unadulterated number of Cousins, 2nd Cousins, etc. etc., all having a multitude of viewpoints, attitudes, and opinions, neat and pure. Outside of family, there have been many more who have touched my inner soul, relationships of endearing principles without ambivalence. In that sense, I introduce you to Chester A. Wright, the author of “Black Man and Blue Water.” Although he and I have never met, with him 22 years my senior, and an original resident of Hope, Arkansas, it seemed we emerged from the same egg. The age of enter the Navy, making it a career, the level of education and the racism that tended to stymie the ambition of many young Blacks was the yoke. After reading his book in 2010 a seed was sowed and “Guidance Against the Odds” was instinctively wrote. A seed in the amalgamation of being seen, heard, and understood as a Black Man. A seed pollinated by a military career, as I dwelled outside the bubble of a shielding family. Avenues traveled in darkness that led to light through the pages of a book.

         I showcase my shipmate in this sharing, as his book will be my recommended read from my library for the month of July.    www.bookmystory.net/MY-LIBRARY.html    A cumulative library I see as generational wealth. Tangible in nature, the epitome of knowledge, but useless if not read. “Black Man and Blue Water” is a perfect transition from this month’s read. "How the word is passed" by Clint Smith. “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” is mountain top faith, an educational slogan derived from the United Negro College Fund that should be a fact of life for everyone. How a person thinks, remembers, and understands has a huge impact on their lives. As we age, our brain begins to weaken, but our souls are forever. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. Proverbs 11:30 (KJV)

       Anthony Ray Hinton
             They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Recently, I read this quote by Nikita Gill, and it reinvigorated my sense that God has given us all a purpose in life. She wrote: "Some people are born with tornadoes in their lives, but constellations in their eyes. Other people are born with stars at their feet, but their souls are lost at sea." I believe I was born with stars in my eyes and found my soul at sea. For it was at the age of 18, serving my country at sea when the hand of God spoke to me.
             Although my journey started the year I was born, 1944, way before I could walk, these were years of innocence and darkness, as it were in the beginning. In 1949, I stepped into the life of my very first best friend. This, of what I wrote in chapter one of my book. Unbeknown, in real-time that my journey had already begun. Baby steps were being taken into the realities of conscious and unconscious bias— into the evils of humankind. From 1949 until 1961, there came trickling's of light as the hand of God spoke in tandem with my heart, and my journey became known in my soul.
        I share these thoughts from the seat of my soul because I believe it is a way of letting people into your heart and into your world. Shared passion, fear, guilt, a shared longing, or joy are gifts to the beloved. Places where people share their happiness, guilt, anxiety, and love are where the gospel will flourish. 
            Finally, I share a recommended read to the avid reader: ---"Revelations on the River: Healing a Nation, Healing Ourselves," by Matthew Dowd.         Revelations on the River visits key topics like love, fears and trauma, forgiveness and reconciliation, faith and science, interconnection, and legacies. It is an examination of values that bind us together, in turn, which may lead us as a people to a more enlightened place.
Nov  2021
       September 21th, 1917                                                                                        March 12, 1996

                                                               "Life in reality, is an open Book"

       In recognition of Rena Hurt Faulkner for this upcoming Mother's Day, my mother's words be told as self-evident. Motherly advice, words she spoke that will live in me for infinity. "Occupy your mind" go read a book." Words etched in stone, accentuated by love. Love that empowers the heart to share, to give in a non-braggadocious manner. One person's passion may not be another person's desire. But what binds one's heart to another is the sincerity in its sharing. The depth of empathy that migrates from the Seat of the Soul. A trait reborn in me, year after year from her legacy. The repetitiveness in the belief that it's far better to give than to receive. There be 14 Bible Verses in replication. One of her beloved verses was Luke 6:38. 

       Except for interpersonal feelings, life itself is an open book. How we live it in the word of giving determines the epilogue, the salvation of the soul. Another passage she would quote to me was 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. In that as much, I've grown to understand that love is not an acronym, simply spoken at will. It can be a verb, a noun, or an adjective; all in all, a persuader. Love is one of the most intense, most powerful emotions we will experience as humans. Therefore, I'm showcasing my mother this Mother's Day for what she has inspired in me through love.

      Besides the love for life, in marriage, love for family, my home, it is also the love of a book that completes the foundation. As with life, a book is divided into three parts. In life, we are born, we live, and we pass. How we live will be our legacy, as our souls are forever. Books are divided into three main parts: front matter, body matter, and end matter. The epitome, the matter of life. Based on its title, an unread book can be only speculative in nature, in the growth of the mind. Giving conjecture a chance to grow like weeds in a garden, inhibiting the fruit from being all it can be. We all have a purpose in life, as in Bishop T. D. Jakes' book "Destiny." I believe in destiny.

        It was long ago at sea when God's hand reached out to me, along with my mother's enduringness, empowering a need in me to give inspiration through sharing. Her legacy has empowered my accumulation of a library of over 500 books. Two hundred and one are listed on my website http://www.bookmystory.net/MY-LIBRARY.html with 136 being from Audible. The rest are in print, book-covered form, a part of the aesthetic bookcase philosophy of my home. This is not a brag but a dedication and recognition of her indelible love. Some may discern the purpose when there are free libraries available. I say to them. It accentuates the "me," a point of reference, embellishing the fact of discipleship, cultivating a path to generational knowledge.

       If you have read thus far, you are in the back matter of this reading. Hopefully, the front matter caught your interest, as the fruit was in the body. In an era of banning books, and equal rights put in jeopardy, I come with gifts from Audible. The first eight family member email addresses with full name sent to hlf072244@bookmystory.net   will receive an invitation to receive an audible book of choice.  A gift from the legacy of Rena Hurt Faulkner, a seedling from her love.  The gift can be for self or for someone else.  To be fair, the first 8 emails received between 9am - 12 noon on 5/7/22 will receive redemption by 5/8/22. All over eight, one by one each month until complete.    

Peace and the Glory Of God be with each upon all with the fertilizer of love!
     "From the Pages of My Diary" Written in 1976, two hundred years after the writing of The Declaration of Independence.   "Thoughts from the Seat of My Soul." 

     Becoming a Navy Recruiter in my hometown was a dream come true. But, returning to Baltimore after more than 15 years on the move brought about a rude awakening in my expectations. The city I cherished, the city that taught and gave me the foundation to go forth in the world, the city that I had left in my innocence, had molted into something I could not recognize. 

      The city hummed with energy as the Baltimore Inner Harbor became a National Tourist attraction. Neighbors throughout the city seemed alive and active but reluctantly held an abundance of inhabitants. My travels had taken me to many a city and towns around the country and even the world. I have come across many sights of intolerable endurances but never had I envisioned my hometown in such a downward spiral. Well! What was I to expect? After all, it was 1961 when I left, John F Kennedy had succeeded Dwight D Eisenhower as President, now it's 1976, and Richard Nixon was President. In fifteen years, a tremendous amount of Black coalition/disastrous history had been made: The integration of Ole Miss, The Birmingham church bombing, Bailey v. Patterson (DE-Segregation in Transportation), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr "I Have a Dream" speech, Equal Pay Act of 1963, NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers was assassinated, The Civil Rights Act of 1964, Freedom Summer and the "Mississippi Burnings," Voting Rights Act of 1965, Selma to Montgomery march, the Malcolm X Assassination, Watts Riots in Los Angeles, Stokely Carmichael and the rise of Black Power, The Fair Housing Act, The U.S. Supreme Court decision on inter-racial marriage, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; an assassination, that triggered the Baltimore riot of 1968.
      Simultaneously with Black History, there had been a facing down of my beloved city. A recking ball environment dominated my sense of sight with a resounding duplication as I traveled the east side of Baltimore. The metro subway construction had begun, and the Inner Harbour was bustling, with the white flight evident. Tourism dollars were needed because of a declining economy, and a redevelopment program started in 1963 expanded to include 240 acres surrounding the Inner Harbor. It had been eight years since the riot of 1968 and my first look at the east side. Traveling up Gay street to Central and merging into Harford Ave. As I surveyed my old neighborhood, I felt a deep, surreal sorrow and a more profound sense of helplessness. Blocks of houses were gone where I delivered and sold the News American and Afro-American newspapers. An empty lot with high weeds replaced many memories of the grocery store where I worked. So dismal was the corner of Preston and Caroline not far from Southern Baptist Church's old location where I stood and sold "The Afro American" as an eleven-year-old, now stood an adult doing the same thing to earn money. Southern Baptist Church (Bond and Preston), currently located at 1701 N. Chester Street, was where I was baptized. Nothing seemed the same, leaving me with one big question. Why? 
A multitude of thoughts abounded, coinciding with history and my physical absence within the same time frame: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Cuban Missile crisis, the escalation of the Vietnam War by President Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy's assassination, President Ford pardoned Nixon, Bill Gates founded Microsoft, the United States Navy had experienced a near mutiny on the high seas, and the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 was passed. 
      In my mind, I sandwiched African-American and U. S. History in as much as I had not seen things systemically. It was as if I had been living in a steady state of selective information. I had been employed by a portion of the government, the United States Navy, for fifteen years. Under oath to support and defend the Constitution. A constitution that begins with the preamble "We the people." Collectively, I was in obeyance with Vietnam, fighting a war, all the while a more significant battle was being fought at home. A disturbing fact of my naiveness. The War On Poverty was failing, and the evidence was glaring. Because the military, in general, promotes brotherhood, teamwork, and solidarity, systemically, you become your environment. 
Even after years of being a Minority Affairs representative, dealing with racial issues, and the facilitation of racial seminars, the forces of my environment blinded me. An environment that told me I could do or become anything I wanted. But I was living outside the virtual fences put in place by politics. Virtual walls that were holding Black Folks to a chalk line. Like an octopus, the long tentacles of politics, driven by money, run deep, carrying a realistic chain with links so thick, if not realized, will bring this country to its knees.

      Merging Black and U.S. History rhetorically speaking lets me give notice consciously to the semiconscious of my ignorance of issues that dominated politics which has affected Black folk for decades. So remote to the reality that I felt a sense of betrayal. Living and working in predominately white culture as a black man before 1973 altered my mindset. Up to this point, all my mentors were White. I believe subconsciously; I had taken on feelings and ideas ideologically thru consistent everyday communications. (Noted: wisdom from my Dad; "You become who you hang with.")
      The military structure with discipline had given me a safe haven and an avenue to escape the political shackles of a racist reality. Shielding me from the claws of those who would bear false witness, allowing me to function to my abilities—rising to a comfort level, with very little fear of retribution for being Black. Returning home was a cultural awakening; assimilating into a civilian environment was not easy, even with relatives. The contrast between Black vs. White was limpid. It required more awareness on my part—the consciousness of how I spoke, with the absence of any urban slang, became apparent. What I had become became astutely evident—not realizing that a most straightforward act could be seen as uppity or intimidating. 
      Becoming a senior enlisted and Black in a White-dominated environment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice was contrasted with political correctness. Military Justice in the sense of respect, honesty, and fairness did not coalesce unless there was a sense of "Uncle Tom-ing" on behalf of the Black. Subjugating to this reality, I tried to reminisce about my childhood on my first night home with my parents: the protection and the guidance they gave me under repressive conditions. Now the duty was on me. Where are we going to live, schools, recreation, church, etc.? Necessities that were taken for granted, living on a military installation. A challenge I had not contemplated. Being from Mobile and with different life experiences, my wife at the time seemed comfortable and excited about the new adventure. Her Southern manners in the heart of Baltimore City could be taken the wrong way. This was a defining moment. It seemed like I had to decide what side of the chalk line I wanted to live on. I had family members; my parents, a brother, and numerous other relatives living within the confines of a city in decay. I didn't want to act like I was better or that my kids were too good to go to the same schools. But from learned experiences, from a bird's eye view that the city was lacking in resources. "Politics 101" vs. "Racism 098"
March 2022
        A Role Model

  April 4th, 2023, The 55th anniversary death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr 

                       In the 60s I was in my 20s and very impressionable. Dr. King was at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement and his speeches were captivating, passive and aggressive. In life you become what you consume. And I engulfed myself with his wordology. The characterization of showing indirect resistance to the demands of others, and the awkwardness of direct confrontation became my inner being. 


     Creeping Authoritarianism

Supremacy to the illiteracy of history:
            The Past copies itself in such a cunning costume that 
           we never detect the alikeness until the wounds are real. 

       As Blacks, it was slavery. For the Native American, it was Forced displacement/ethnic cleansing, the trail of tears. The state of Georgia held some eight lotteries to distribute former Cherokee lands. With the Japanese, it was internment. The U.S. government forced more than 100,000 Japanese Americans into prison camps. After the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 came Jim Crow laws. Jim Crow laws were a collection of state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation. It was the 20th-century version of the 21st-century stand-your-ground laws. Gender bias laws, banning books, the frivolity of gun control, contraception, anticonception, abortion, and so on. What else could it be but Creeping Authoritarianism?  

       Slavery in Florida was more central to Florida's history than to almost any other state in the union. Florida's purchase from Spain was primarily a measure to strengthen the system of slavery on Southern plantations by denying potential runaways a haven of safety. To enhance the system of slavery, anti-literacy laws were passed between 1740 and 1834 in plantation states against teaching enslaved people to read.

       In 2023, Flanked by NRA lobbyists and other gun lobby allies, the Governor signed a dangerous permitless carry bill into law—behind closed doors—that will allow people to carry hidden, loaded guns in public with no permit or training. In the wake of Parkland and 146 mass shootings so far this year, defined by the Gun Violence Archive as an incident in which four or more victims are shot or killed. These mass shootings have led to 209 deaths and 563 injuries this year.
        The United States Supreme Court has taken a constitutional right recognized by the women of America. Here's the thing, one does not have to abandon their faith and their rights with deeply held beliefs to agree that the government should not be telling women what to do in decisions about what is in their best interest.
        This year, across the nation, there have been 498 anti-trans bills with a Republican-led ban on transgender student-athletes passing the US House, moves to Senate, and to beat all, Michigan Republicans Fight Lifting Ban on Unmarried Couples Living Together.

Creeping Authoritarianism:

        Patriarchal values with the harboring of alternative truths, with heterosexism added to the internalized hatred in the quest for domination.

        Call it Creeping or Snaring, but from my Soul I'll keep sharing!
Thoughts from the heart through God we must start.  
                                                                                    Henry Lee Faulkner  04/21/23