(Originally published May 12, 2010; edited and republished September 6, 2020)
As she thumbed through our passports with her practiced fingers and keyed the necessary data into her computer at Miami International Airport, the pleasant, Latina U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer was all smiles, the perfect blend of professionalism and “welcome home, cherished and valued citizen” hospitality.
I was looking directly at her when she came to my name and her face suddenly darkened. She knitted her brow and tapped a few more times on her keyboard, double-checking, perhaps hoping to stem the flow of bad news that was appearing on her screen.… Read the rest
(Originally published August 4, 2011; edited and republished August 27, 2020)
It all started because the highfalutin Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Clayton, Missouri, a well-heeled inner-ring suburb of St. Louis, didn’t have any Diet Coke in the house.
Hard to believe, I know, but true. All they had was Pepsi. I’m a Southern man, and I don’t cotton well to Yankee pop (HQ in NY), its North Carolina roots notwithstanding. I blame my mama. She filled my baby bottle with original Coke so she could get some precious sleep (pretty sure she didn’t read Dr. Spock).
It worked. She caught some Zs, and I caught an addiction and a mouthful of cavities.… Read the rest
Well, they passed a law in ’64 To give those who ain’t got a little more But it only goes so far Because the law don’t change another’s mind When all it sees at the hiring time Is the line on the color bar, no, no
That’s just the way it is And some things will never change That’s just the way it is That’s just the way it is, it is, it is, it is
When Larry Bills, Harding College Class of 1958 music education major, stood to lead all three stanzas of the school’s Alma Mater near the conclusion of the school’s annual Black and Gold Homecoming Banquet in 2018, it was the realization of a decades-old dream birthed by the disparity between the way it is and the way it should be.… Read the rest
“That the story has had such long legs says something about how Churches of Christ teach their own history (or willingly and quickly forget about it), and at the same time about how much hunger there is for exactly that history.”
Greetings from Alabama, where we strive to not only be #1 in college football, but new coronavirus infections per capita as well. Roll Tide.
I imagine Mark or “JN Armstrong” have already sent you this, but I thought I would pass it along just in case: https://harding.edu/benson
Of course it could never be otherwise. I find it all very wearisome. However, I did take note of McLarty’s dismissive description of my literary quest for truth as a mere “newspaper article,” the subtext being, of course, “Fake news!”
The word, appropriately enough, came to me through a text message on my iPhone, one of dozens a day. It was from Number Two Son in Pensacola: “Hey what’s up with your blog? I tried getting on and there’s this weird face and it says you’ve been hacked!”
I was close to a computer, naturally, and even if I hadn’t been, I had my “device” tucked in my white clinic jacket. I clicked on the link to Ocular Fusion–what I saw widened my mouth and caused me to inhale sharply, like a fish out of water, gasping for air.
Instead of seeing 7 years and 75MB worth of middle age angst, I beheld the emerald-eyed, pallid face of a corpse, its mouth covered with strips of tape like a sealed crime scene.… Read the rest
If you could walk in my shoes, and look through my eyes, as I daily fight the good fight in the trenches of primary care in America, you might see something like this:
It would begin with a fight between two homeless men, probably over some spare change or a scrap of food, under the I-565 bridge. One of them, a 61-year-old black male, would get the worst end of the exchange–a fist fit neatly into the orbit of his right eye, his assailant’s bare knuckles impacting like rocks from a slingshot.
The concussive force of the blow would send a shock wave through the eye and crystalline lens, which is about the size and shape of a plain M&M candy.… Read the rest
“There’s a story called the ‘Cowtail Switch’ from Liberia that states that as long as a person’s name is spoken, they are never truly forgotten.”
–Laconia “Lott” Therrio, therapist, chaplain, professional storyteller, first African American student association president, Harding University
From the beginning, I believed that my story about a large group of white, Christian college students in the 1950s protesting racial segregation, at the same time as, and in the shadow of, one of the American Civil Rights Movement’s early battles at Little Rock Central High, had the “legs” to travel far.
But only now, three months after publishing my story ‘Distinctions Which God Has Not Made’ in the Arkansas Times, can I truly see just how far–and deep–it ran.… Read the rest