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It’s Been A Long Time… I Shouldn’a Left You…

I promise, I only left because… because… let me do this right. 

I’d love to say that I left because our Ruthless Leader decided to take a different path, but that would be a lie; I was mostly MIA quite a while before that happened. Y’all know I’m not much for lies, duplicity, or feigning optimism, so I’m going to apologize in advance if I shatter any false ideas you’ve cultivated over the years. The simple version is that I was pulling my life together. Unfortunately, the simple version never quite does it for me, so here we go:

I was busy being depressed. I couldn’t keep telling you to “Do More. Require Better.” when I barely wanted to do anything at all. I’ve been open about my depression, specifically because of what I believe to be my 50 percent, but I haven’t been open about how useless and ineffective the proverbial voices in my head tell me my writing is. I recognize that maybe once upon a time I had a legitimate following  before I started slipping. I also understand, or believe, that in all things, there must be balance. My depression makes it so I can’t see how anything I do means anything. Regardless of my efforts, there will still be pain, suffering, malice, disease, famine, poverty, discord, racism, sexism, and all other forms of unpleasantness. I was left asking “What is any of this for?” The only logical answer I could find: “Naught.”

So what’s a Reign O’Change to do?  I certainly couldn’t keep writing things I no longer believed. There was no Change on the horizon. I was incapable of believing that Justice would actually prevail. Thus, I stopped. It really wasn’t a conscious decision. I kept thinking, “I’ll come back to this one…” or “this issue doesn’t need my voice…” and “Do I really want be one more person blogging about Donamir Trutin’s ineptitude?” Lots of things to write about, but no drive to lend my energy to what seemed like yet another unwinnable battle.

So why are we here today? We’re here because I lost a friend. He’s still very much alive. He’s just not invited to the table anymore. Now, let me be clear: this young man literally came to the cookout. He brought deviled eggs and they were delicious. He tried to teach me how to play HALO. I promoted his craft as a Tattoo Artist. I defended him in public forum against an overzealous supervisor. So when I tell you “I lost a friend.” I mean I lost someone who I thought would be a permanent resident in the complex place that is my heart. How? It all started because of this story I shared on Facebook.

Truth be told, I didn’t even read the article. I figured the least I could do was continue conversing about things Requiring conversation. It’s yet another example of Hollywood deciding that Brown people are better represented by artificially tanned white people.  #RepresentationMatters is a battle cry for those of us who remain unseen and misrepresented by the media. How was I supposed to know it would devolve into “a friend” accusing me of hating white people. If anyone had told me that he would conclude that I was one step away from being a terrorist, I’d have laughed them to scorn. We had Jon Snowed our way through our friendship: we knew nothing about each other.

In my anger, I wrote this entire post, and in doing so, I realized that I needed to come back. That should’ve been–and might still end up being–an addition to The Letter Series. It could’ve been a head-first dive into Decorum Deficiency Disorder. I would’ve gotten so many more hits and shares if only I hadn’t forgotten the purpose of my mission.

#DoMoreRequireBetter is about me doing my #50percent more often and better. So, here’s how this is going to work: I’m back. I’m not mincing words, holding hands, faking the funk, or coddling Anyone. I won’t promise to be here every week, but I’ll be here with all the passion and vigor I can muster… because the conversations still need to be had. We will #RESIST and continue #NotBackingDown because the Cheeto in Chief has earned my wrath. In short: I’m here to Do More & Require Better.

“Fear And Loathing in Saint Louis” or My trip to Ferguson Part 2: Fear of a Reasonable Black Planet

We were somewhere near the McDonald’s on West Florissant, when the tension began to take hold. My buddy was of course filled with a bit of dread from the moment I parked and we started walking around down there, but I of course had no similar mentality. It wasn’t until I was keenly aware that the crowd down at the QuikTrip had become loud enough to hear where we were(And between us and the car), that I thought the day might begin to turn. Still even at this time we were seeing protestors talking to te few police that were there. We were hearing talk of people in and out of the McDonald’s hoping for peace. And I got to meet a couple of journalists including a wire reporter who clearly was dealing with a photographer on her first true assignment.

As we headed back to the car so I could reposition and we could get some better quotes. I wanted to see what things looked like. It was the first time the police had stopped talking to other folks to talk to me. So of course I asked a few questions about response, set up for the evening, and why they were set up in the fashion they were. But we also snapped some photos that of course appear below. Ones that show they had already planned to use tear gas or some other gas based “crowd control device” as one officer called it. Otherwise why have the gas masks at 5pm?

As we headed back towards the growing crowd, the car, and what was sure to be an interesting stopping point, some guys had gotten on top of what looked like a moving truck and were riling up the crowd. Nothing uncommon about it. Just chants of No Justice, No Peace, and similar mantras. But the mood was shifting. I wouldn’t know how much so until moments later as we neared the car and many of the comments of “I pray for some peace tonight during the memorial,” were responded to by someone saying, “What has peace gotten us? What did peace get Mike?”

We snapped some more photos and got a great story about the arrest of a protestor earlier in the week who had legitimately not even started protesting when she was arrested while being asked to leave. But we soldiered on. At first following what seemed to be a SWAT truck heading in a roundabout way for the same area we just left. And that chase turned into a convoy of 5 or so trucks heading into the area around 7pm. But 7:30, thanks to some google maps reading, we were staring at another block of the area and 5 more trucks clearly having just arrived. Positioned near the Market.

Something was up. And I wanted to get over to the small peaceful protest at the police trailer before we left town, or things got out of hand, whichever came first. Over there we found a much more calm and far smaller affair. But I couldn’t help but laugh in terror and surprise at something we found out. The Ferguson Police department was in a trailer. Yes a trailer, while they were building a brand new facility. A facility that looked close to opening. And I could not get over the sudden dread that this entire situation would do little more than speed that construction and the community’s demand for it, as well as potential expansion. Like I said. I laughed, in surprise and terror.

Unlike the West Florissant location it was a clearly small and peace focused location. A woman appeared with her gospel music pretty loud and was told to turn it off. “We aren’t trying to antagonise or have an agenda other than justice.” Is what one of the people there said. And then while my buddy was grabbing some additional quotes from folks, we were told there was going to be a short prayer rally at the site of the shooting itself and people were headed there. We took one more go at getting a look, and the crowd in the area was massive. While maybe 500 or so were on the street at West Florissant before it was clearly beyond doubled. And far louder, and the reactions on police faces, and protestors were far more strained and tense. When things were clearly headed to what we know now was one of the worst nights, I was on my way out of town, stopping for gas and food far outside the community.

But that’s my impression overall. And I know you didn’t come to read this for just that. I want tel you briefly what disgusted me before I get to the far more antagonistic portion of my commentary. I saw something at the church and at the various rally and protest points that screamed hypocrisy. It is a hot day in Missouri so I get it that businesses in the area are selling out on water and other things to keep cool. but I saw makeshift stands selling bottled water and food  40 feet from folks who were giving it away free. At the police station the snack stand was directly behind the protestors and we were asked more than once if we wanted to spend our money to “help them out.” I’d heard earlier about this from a couple of very cool journalists and these folks had no connection to the family or any of the donation raising efforts. Just opportunitists using tragedy to stay in the black.

BBQ stands, Ice Cream trucks, unofficial “#JusticeForMikeBrown” shirts. And did I walk up and talk to them? Absolutely. Only one, a guy who I recognized from the Trayvon Martin Rallies when I was in Law School, mentioned any plans to donate even part of the money made to the family. I trusted the local McDonald’s more than these other folks though.

And that brings me to the elephant in the room. The looting. The rioting. And of course, the interactions with police. Early on I said and still believe that the key to making a larger point is not destroying your own community. Why am I advocating the destruction of other community’s? I’m not idiot. I’m saying that if the point is you are angry and you think all you have left is violence, then making sure you can no longer live in your house isn’t a smart move. Whether or not I oppose rioting(I oppose rioting for a long list of reasons we’ll get into some other time), location wise tearing up the places you are most likely to use only says you don’t deserve them and makes businesses move out. Going outside your community says “You no longer are safe and free of dealing with the problems you bring into my community.” And yes that is a much more powerful message.

But the Riots I have thought for some time have been the work of some group that wants more inroads and control, as well as to swing the narrative their direction. Now I could be cynical and say the media, or republicans, but I’m not certain of that. Take a look at this video.

Now I cannot substantiate this claim. But I present you with the following correlation that may not be causation, so I am NOT calling this the truth, I’m saying it should be investigated.

Throughout the day the largest media presence were multiple teams from what they called themselves “The Socialist News Network” Now, I’ve not seen them on any of the websites that claim to be socialists. And none of them would produce a business card. But they were keenly interested in talking to folks of the far more revolution ready set. And when they talked to me? Well I can’t get across the point better than the white guy with a fauxhawk blazer and dockers with boat shoes said it. “We’re here because we want to show that the system is broken and that we should start getting rid of the corrupt US government through armed rebellion. Starting right here in Ferguson.”

Am I saying they are there causing violence in an attempt to make inroads into the black community, as well as prove that they can stir people into armed rebellion? NO. Am I saying they are actually the socialist news network? NO. What I am saying is someone is manipulating things to get the message, direction, and actions of people who want to legitimately protest a legitimately fucked up situation for their own ends. And you can’t trust most folks who are around.

We ran into many folks who also felt like people were pushing for things to happen as a point of something larger. I couldn’t have been happier about things than when the protestors kicked Jesse Jackson out for trying to turn things into his own personal “Hey I’m alive and need to be relevant” campaign. But I want to end by talking about this bigger idea I have. What if the point is to keep things stuck in a post civil rights area tension instead of addressing racial issues and moving forward as Americans.

What are you talking about Ruthless?

I’m saying this exactly. What is scarier for racists, bigots, idiots, asshats, and of course redneck, inbred, methhead shit hook misogynist homophobes, the groups they hate being wantonly violent and confrontational, or organizing power and influence in immediate fashion to bring about the things that they want? If suddenly everything is moving in a positive way with frightening efficiency and promise? If everyone involved has moved things the direction of justice? Suddenly all the talking points of certain Oxycontin addicted radio hosts have to get stuffed back down their fuckfaces doesn’t it? Suddenly “their kind” is being used to refer to those dinosaurs of the human age, that refuse to evolve like the rest of us. And it can’t be passed off as PC run amuck, or apologist culture.

All respect to Public Enemy but it isn’t just a Black Planet that is feared. It’s a reasonable Black population that solidifies its power into accomplishing things. It’s why Good men and women had to die in the civil rights movement. And I’m not saying violence doesn’t have its own place. But proportionality and timing are as important if not more so than the violence itself. Seems like an interesting finality to deal with does it not? A world where your antiquated thinking is what makes you inferior. Well the people who see that as an amazing idea. Congrats, you are a higher thinking being worthy of being called a Human. The ones that don’t or immediately started thinking of ways to disagree with the statement with overtly showing your internal biases that I called out. get back down their with the more animalistic bigots you decry or are a part of.

Justice for Mike Brown comes with the use of more than more force. And takes far longer than some hashtag activism on Facebook and twitter. See you when the trial starts. For now. I’ll leave you with the photos we took.

I’ll let you react to the photos as you chose. Because I didn’t just take shot of people who’s message I agreed with. I didn’t just take shots of people I thought were taking the wrong tactical approach. Because I’m not beholden to any agenda here than making you think and bringing more light and perspective. Because in the end…Words Don’t Do It Justice!

– THE Ruthless Wonder

Driving While Black

Captain America is the ideal American. That is the primary mantra that the creators seem to say about him. That he is an embodiment and living example of what every red blooded American should aspire to be. In essence, the best person he or she possibly can be. Before Cap was Cap, he was a small, underwhelming boy who was nothing less than desperate to serve his country. It was really just that simple. And complicated.

Enter S. H. I. E. L. D.

They convince poor Cap to do more and more. And to do it covertly. Cap often said to the baddies, “…these colors do not run. Why are you?!” But S. H. I. E. L. D. did it’s level best to get him to push the envelope of what is good and upright and discernibly honorable to the ideals of this great experiment we call The United States of America. What’s a boy to do? Well, C.A. did what he felt was best. He followed his own heart. It hasn’t led him wrong yet, right?

Now, I saw the movie ‘Winter Soldier’ and I truly enjoyed it. It was a fantastic example of great storytelling, even with loose plot lines and shaky camera shots meant to make the film more accessible. Those same camera shots actually just made me slightly nauseous. But I digress.

As I said, I truly enjoyed the movie. But while the cinematography was amazing. The explosions plentiful. The costumes extremely well designed. And acting very expertly on display. What caught my eye was the omnipresent character Samuel L. Jackson portrayed named Nick Fury. Not all of his scenes, mind you. But one in particular.

Fury was driving to meet an agent and she had three hours to join him. As he came to a halt at a red light on the streets of our nations Capitol, the cities finest rolled up next to him. They did not go unnoticed by Nick. He hazarded a glance to his right and saw them with shades on, eyeing him suspiciously. Nick gave them a double take. When they didn’t avert their obvious glare, Nick glared right back with his one good eye and said, “.. You want me to show you my lease agreement?”

Funny. But oh so very serious.

I won’t spoil the scene for you, but let me say this. The scene was most likely intended to simply break the tense mood while setting up an even more intense one. To break the high level of stress most movie goers likely are in at this point with a bit of levity. I too chuckled. Until I realized the gravity of what just transpired.

America had just been intimately introduced to a very well known, seldom seen and all too common incident of D.W.B. Driving While Black.

You see Fury was driving in a VERY well apportioned SUV. All black, big strong wheels, fully loaded in ways most folks cars never will be. Clearly the vehicle of a wealthy American with power and influence. A vehicle that said to all who looked upon it, I am what you wish you were. I have what you dream of. I am greater than who you think I am. And it is that image that didn’t sit well with those policemen when they saw the person making such a nonverbal argument was a black man. Not even a light skinned black man that they might have shook their heads at and rolled on. Thinking that “…the system just let one of them slip in..” No, this brother is dark. Strong. Self assured. Obviously affirmed by others. Carries gravitas and a rather large stick to go with whatever carrot he may or may not have.

The look on their faces registered disgust, disdain and extreme disappointment. All in one 3 second scene as they pulled off activating their roof lamps.

I think of all the black and brown men and women of America who have had similar encounters that didn’t go quite so smoothly because Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus didn’t write their screenplay. I choked back my laughter and found that long before the upcoming plot twist unfolded, I was suddenly very disturbed by what I had just witnessed. My heart was a slurry mixed with painful emotions, forced laughter and a sudden awareness that I was glad no other black folk saw (or worse) white folks noticed in that darkened theatre that a black man had just laughed at himself on screen. Had given utterance of laughter to a moment that actually truly hurt.

As a very prominent black man said fairly recently, “.. That could’ve been me.” I certainly did not expect to feel so moved watching a comic book movie. I didn’t expect to see myself on the screen. No. I knew I’d see black men on the screen. What I didn’t expect was to literally see myself up there. To feel immediate brotherhood with a man who wouldn’t know me if I shook his hand and offered him a gin and tonic. I suddenly realized that brother Malcolm X was as correct then as he is now.

“What do you call a black man with a PhD? A nigger.”

Politics, Governments, & You… Oh My

Politics is everything. I’d end it there, but then that wouldn’t do it justice now would it?

The schools, the roads, minimum wage, medical care, personal freedom… everything we have and do as residents of our communities ‘is’ because one government entity or another allows it to be so. Extreme? Remember the other day when you had to wade waist-deep through garbage to get into your car that fell apart because it hadn’t been properly assembled, and then when you finally made your way to work, your boss told you that you’d be taking a 50% pay cut and working seven 8-hour days or he’d give your job to the 6-year-old who just shined his shoes and told him a good joke? No? Yeah, me neither.

We aren’t wading through piles of filth and garbage every day because the government-run waste management companies make sure that the streets get cleaned anPuppetsd that garbage is collected periodically throughout the week. The government also has quality standards in place that requires manufacturing companies to build and produce functional, safe, and relatively durable products in an effort to protect we consumers from potentially unscrupulous corporate entities. Legally, an employer can’t drastically reduce a wage and implement a 7-day work week without notice nor can they employ a child to work more than a specified amount of hours per day, per week.

When people claim—usually with an air of arrogance and misplaced pride—that the government and politics has no effect on their lives, I am instantly forced to take a step back in order to stop myself from physically removing their sense of personal freedom and space while exclaiming “Who’s gonna save you fool? Who you gonna call?” Every time law enforcement agencies lose funding to some politician’s vendetta against protecting his constituents, and the crime rate mysteriously increases, and the same politician starts speechifying about society’s decline and the importance of cleaning up the streets, I want to shout “You mean you couldn’t see that coming?!?!” from the roof tops. Every time some talking head on Fox News has an oral shart about the government keeping out of their private lives and turns around to proclaim the evils of birth control while supporting some legislator who wants to require an invasive transvaginal probe to women seeking an abortion, I imagine both of my X chromosomes suddenly vibrating at a frequency high enough to make their heads explode… If only.

I hear you… “Reign… Why are you getting so political all of a sudden? You know it isn’t right to discuss politics in mixed company.” “Why?” you ask… because over the next eight, yes, 8 months we’ll be getting bombarded with political campaign ads, hot topics, budget talks, infrastructure improvements, and one scandal after another… And I want you to pay attention. I want you to make it your business to make sense out of what they want you to believe. I want you to require yourselves to get involved with the process that pulls the puppets’ strings. I want you to finally pay attention to the man behind the curtain. Most of all, I want you to exercise the little power you were given come November and vote based on all the shenanigans we’ll laugh at and logic we’ll slay. I want you to give a damn about climate change, health care, the minimum wage, legalization of marijuana (and all the other illegal intoxicants), foreign policy, the LGBT community receiving equal rights under the law, genetic modification of our foods, and the rising cost of living that none of we “Common folk” can keep up with. I want all of this, but more than anything, I want you to require it of yourselves because there isn’t one facet of our lives that can’t be managed or tampered with by a government that’s often more interested in what their corporate sponsors ask of them than what “We the People” need to keep this very tangled web from being blown apart by the winds of change.

Your homework: Pick an issue. Any issue. Get passionate about it, and share it with the class. Animals, education, entertainment, medication, new stuff people aren’t talking about, old stuff that people seem to have forgotten… whatever it is, I want to know about it…

Oh, and, if you haven’t already, Register to vote.

Work theif

It’s lunch time and it could not have come sooner. Work has been dragging on, more people clamoring about what they need, supervisor breathing down your neck because of it, and to top it all off there has been the dull ache in your abdomen for the last hour. So finally the breaker comes your way, and you in turn tear off towards the lunchroom into the fridge where your beloved nourishment has patiently waited for you to call upon her. Only to find that someone, some vile wicked being with an unseen face, has already whisked your food away, down into the depths of their gullet leaving nothing but the container, the once protector of freshness now left vacant.

You my friend, were just robbed. You might try to convince yourself that it isn’t really a robbery, the it could be much worse, but the sense of loss you feel as you close the door, the hunger that is still gnawing at your very soul is unfulfilled. yet now there is something else growing in you, something that turns your blood into acid, your eyes into steel. It is the righteous flames of justice that cry out to be feed, the determination that only revenge and hatred could mount inside you. There is a thief among you, a wolf in disguise pretending to be a loyal co-worker, a nice work friend who just stabbed you in the back with this act of greed and lust.

The list is drawn, the name of everyone with access to the break room is tallied up, a line through the people who’ve yet to eat lunch at all, but one can never be certain. But how to confront them? Boldly accuse them? Shake your finger in their face and demand to know why the swine has dared to eat YOUR food, to drink YOUR beverage?! Or perhaps you’ll simply ask if they’ve noticed lunches going missing, gathering silent allies behind your banner of justice so that with combined might you may weed out this troublesome parasite. Whatever you decide it must be done quickly and quietly, but don’t expect to end the case today. Rarely is the thief honest, he or she may never admit their crime. But fear not. You’ve shown them your seriousness, the line in the sand has been drawn, and now you are watching with the intensity of a hawk, circling your stake in life with the challenge left hanging for anyone foolish to take it.

You puff up your chest, the big boy pants firmly secure around your waist, and declare to the world “I WILL NOT TOLERATE THIS MADNESS THIEF!! I WILL FIND YOU, AND YOU WILL BE BROUGHT TO SHAME FOR YOUR CRIMES!!”

Even with all this progress, with all the success you might have of alerting those watching, the pang of hunger remains evermore as you must endure a defeat before you can win the war.

Talk of Politics

Hello again readers of Justice, it is I the ever opinionated Rufus coming to you this monday morning with talk of politics. Now i’m not sure i’ve ever spoke much on politics, mostly because A) I don’t really trust the government. and B) Quite honestly I know little on the subject in general, mostly because of A. That’s not to say i’m an idiot when it comes to politicians, oh no i know about them quite well, but when it comes to who is doing what or who is causing what, i tend to hold my tongue. We all know Obamacare is great for the people, or that Obama is doing a bang up job but Congress is holding him back. For every complaint there is praise, but really what the hell do any of you know about anything they’ve been talking about for the last 5 or so years? Did you read bill? Have you sat down and determined if this was good or bad based on facts written and explained? I don’t think you have, and i’m willing to bet that everything you know is based of off hearsay. (Hearsay: information received from other people that one cannot adequately substantiate; rumor.)

Now i’m going to link you to…a couple of videos. One is Russell Brand on politics, the other is Dylan Ratigan i believe lets watch shall we:

 

 

Alright, now i’m going to be honest, that first video, i have little to no idea what he is talking about. Banks exporting money or some such, really didn’t get the whole meaning of that, but what i did get was that he is saying that so long as lobbyist are fueling our politics then we’re going to have a bad time. Now for those of you who don’t know what a lobbyist is listen up. Campaigns cost money, lots of money, lobbyist are people who work for either A) Corporations or B) very rich people, and what they do is offer politicians money to run their campaign so long as they lean their way when it comes to certain things. Tobacco industry, we know it’s a bad company, selling people death n such, but lets use them as an example anyway. Bill is running for senator of Ohio, and he needs some extra money to get his campaign up and running. Tobacco industry has that extra money, and wouldn’t you know it, Bill’s political opinions align with the tobacco industries so they give Bill money, and Bill wins that race. Now lets say two years into Bills term there comes a bill (ha get it?) that would make things better for people in poverty, maybe it would ban the sell of cigarettes altogether or something like that. Do you think, Bill, who might have wised up or like the idea in general, would be allowed to let that to pass without his ‘friends’ the Tobacco industries approval? No, or at least, it would be a fat chance.

So long as corporations have say so in our politics, i truly think things will never get better, because they seem (at least the majority) to only care about money. Making more money, spending less doing so, that’s why they outsource.

Now Russell Brand’s video is a bit simpler to understand simply because he’s talking about things that people such as I (lower to middle class) can understand. See I like to think that I can understand things fairly well just so long as I can take the time to look them over and/or see them in action a certain amount of times. What I’ve learned is this, there has been no good president in my life time, which started in 1989. I know, people are going to say Clinton, but look at what happened with Clinton in office: The Internet, Cell phones, and the raise of Video games. We’re talking an increase in jobs, more money, and prosperity, but did that have anything to do with what Clinton did? Then look what came after. Bush, need i say more? Hell the movie they came out with after his term W. was supposed to be a look into his time in office in a serious and dramatic light, I thought it was a comedy. Now we look to Obama, and the more time passes the less i like what i’m seeing. We got out of Iraq, which he said we would, but he didn’t bring them home, no instead we’re sweeping across the middle east like it’s our own backyard. Healthcare is still in shambles, and though i know little of Obama Care, I’m not sure forcing people onto insurance plans is going to be a better alternative than what we have now, but like i said before, i haven’t read the bill, nor do i intend to. I don’t know legal jargon and just attempting to read something like that would be a task bigger than my time would comfortably allow.

All in all I believe that no president will do good for the country unless it lines alot of pockets, and even then WE don’t see that money. That’s another thing, there is no WE when it comes to Government. If they say WE have over 10million dollars in profit, that check doesn’t come to your house for anything does it? But when they say WE are 500million dollars in debt and need help don’t they hike up the prices to try and collect? WE are always doing things but WE never see the profit, WE only see the hard times, so no there is no WE, just us who do the labor, and they who reap the benefits. But what do i know right, i’m just a man working the 9-5 and trying to eek by.