Archive for February, 2016

poem for Zakiah

February 28, 2016

Running Free

The sun shone hot and bright

on the field stretched large before him,

The urge was uncontrollable,

The desire undeniable,


the sounds of other children

who were playing at their games

became muted in his brain

as he stared outat the grass.


Briefly, he considered what would happen

If discovered,

there would be a price to pay

if his teachers were to see him,


Slowly, he removed his socks,

put them deep inside his shoes,

then he took off running, running,

free across the field!


The excitement spilled into his veins

As he ran like a Kalenjin,

sprinting as an African,

barefoot across the field!


The wind blowing in his face,

kindred spirits with him whispered,

Run, child, run as fast as you can!

We are the best runners of the world!”

a poem for Zakiah, after he got in trouble at school for running barefoot across a field







Sociological observations of a Hillary Clinton visit to my college

February 28, 2016

I am a sociologist. As a sociologist, I observe. I observe human behavior and interactions, symbolism, nuances, eye movements, facial expressions, who sits w/ who, who moves for who. Everything means something, everything tells us something. This is why I don’t mind sitting in court for 45 minutes before the judge decides to appear. We know who waits for who, we observe who is in power and who is not.

This month I observed a political rally for the first time in my life up close and personal. Hillary made a visit to my college. I was 20 feet from her while she spoke. I vote in the later election but not in the primaries. That is a subject for another blog post. I do think I will vote for Hillary in Nov.2016. But for now, these are some of the sociological observations of the night.

We gathered 2 1/2 hours before the event was to start, and waited at the door. People were excited. Slowly, a crowd gathered and the line grew longer. A C-SPAN bus sat nearby. News crews trucks were abundant, as were law enforcement officers. But all in all, it was a jovial crowd. Doors were to open at 3:00. At 3:00, someone opened the doors but it turned out, the Clinton people weren’t ready for us yet. (That is what we were told.) The doors went shut but some secret servicemen handed out chairs for the older ladies in the crowd. We waited.

Around 3:30 the doors opened and we went in. A radar machine checked for weapons and any bags or purses were searched. Other than that, anyone could come in. No IDs had to be shown. Once in the gym we saw the rows of chairs and a small stage in the middle of the gym. No bleachers would be opened for seating. As the people came in, all chairs were taken. Those who arrived after 4:30 were to stand around the edges for the next 2-3 hours. I heard someone say, “That makes the room look full. They don’t want any empty seating.” Aaah, that makes sense. I get it now. Near the time for the talk, I looked back and saw students had climbed the closed bleachers and were sitting along the top of them, like birds on a wire. This was tolerated.

I took a seat in the 2nd row facing the stage. Good seat. There were small sets of bleachers BEHIND the stage, and to each side. To the left, they had a group of students seated, who were given Hillary signs that read, “Hillary South Carolina,” “Women for Hillary,” and “Fighting for Us”. A photographer with the campaign took pictures of them, asking them to hold up their fists (like the Black Power sign) just before he snapped. He said, “That gets people excited.” All students being black, it made an impressive shot for getting the black vote out for Hillary.

To the right, they sat board members and other dignitaries and their family members. Children were put in the front row of any section. Shortly before the talk, suddenly people were seated behind the stage. These seats would be highlighted as Hillary talked. A row of white people were seated in the back in the highest level seats. We wondered who these people were. As the talk progressed, it was obvious these were plants. They raised their signs and cheered all through the talk. In front of them, various other students were seated and a few staff. I was happy for the students, as they were excited to be there. At one point a young boy about 10 was asking a campaign worker if he could sit up front. The campaign worker, a pretty young woman, asked one of the students if he would give up his seat. The student said no. The lady talked to the boy and shrugged her shoulders. He had a seat on the right side bleachers anyway so he was close.

News photographers squatted in front of our rows of chairs. They would come & go throughout the talk. Their space was crowded. One student next to me gave up his seat to an older woman (my age). That was very sweet.

The President of the college appeared and went to the far right, saying something to secret servicemen. Soon, someone sat him in front to the right. A few minutes later, one of them came and escorted the President behind the curtain, I assumed to meet Hillary. After he was gone, the Sheriff arrived and sat in the chair the President had been sitting in. I noticed later in the night that the Sheriff was gone and the President was sitting there again.

It was scheduled to begin at 5. Before Hillary emerged, our President came out & announced he would vote for Hillary. I thought that was surprising. She didn’t come out until at least 5:30pm. By that time, I had been there 3 hours. Then the Jr. class president came out with Hillary, they said a few words to each other, then she spoke. Secret servicemen stood all the while, peering over the crowd, the whole time. I took a few pics of them & they noticed. There were no black secret service. There was one woman. I took pictures because I want to show my students in criminal justice. Jobs at the Federal level pay best.

Points in her talk were about refinancing student debt to be the same as what we can get for a house; not having the Fedl govt. make money off of student loan interest; the Charleston massacre of last summer; the Flint, MI disaster where she said it would not have happened in a white, affluent neighborhood; she mentioned something about her grandmother’s humble beginnings I believe; the advancement of women; how Obamacare must be kept and Bernie wants to scrap it and start over; she doesn’t want to argue through the entire process of government healthcare all over again; she *will not raise taxes for the middle class* (what is middle class?); and the audacity of the Republicans telling Obama not to even SEND them a candidate to replace Scalia on the Supreme Court. She also spoke to improvement of education, especially early childhood education “so a child doesn’t go to the first day of kindergarten already behind”. She was purposeful, succinct, directed at a predominantly black audience, and determined to make progress in a “red state” like South Carolina. She ended quickly and on time, as I remember, around 7. The crowd then closed in on her & the secret service, & I know many students got selfies with Hillary. I was going to try but then just let it go. Too much crowding and it was more important for the students.

For her to come to a small HBCU in rural South Carolina was big. This is big for this population. It meant a lot to them. One student told me afterward that “she got my vote”. It was an interesting night and fun to be there.