Happy “New Normal” Thanksgiving!

Much gratitude to the Higher Power that most of the folks I know, among my family, friends, neighbors, and associates have survived this COVID19 pandemic, or plague, like some of us refer it as, with very few if any symptoms, especially if we have been making a strong effort to abide by the safety measures set forth by the CDC, CA Public Health Department and other experts. I, too, get “COVID Blues” knowing I must wear a mask (sometimes double, triple, etc. in some social situations!), be mindful of where I place my hands in public, wash and/or sanitize my hands often, avoid socializing in large groups (Zoom meetings, FaceTime, texting, emailing, etc. have taken the place of most social gatherings, whether it is church related, work related, social/civic organizations, or staying in touch with family and friends. Thank God for communication technology, even with all the glitches!!) , and all and any other common sense COVID safety measures , in order to avoid being very ill , confined in isolation, unable to receive visitors in a hospital, etc. Not to mention having to forego any travel plans oversees or even across the USA, if you are really trying to be diligent and prudent, until late 2021? 2022? or even later… Some of us may even know one, two, etc. people within our family, among friends, neighbors or acquaintances who succumbed to this virus, because of preexisting conditions, being 60+ years old (which seems to be the age range for most deaths in the USA, according to statistical data in the media), residing in a nursing facility, and so forth. We are All in this Together!! We just need to pray to God to be able to stand firm and continue living our life’s purpose the best we can under the circumstances. If the world has withstood many plagues and pandemics since Biblical days, we shall also. Like one of my favorite priests stated in his homily sermon message through the parable of the Good Samaritan last week: Always give Thanks to God for What He has Blessed this nation with. Stay on course, find inspiration through prayer & petition from your relationship with God.

I ran across the following First National Thanksgiving Proclamation in Congress, written November 1, 1777, that I found to be quite appropriate for these times we are living, in our country and worldwide. We have always been a country of deep religious Faith in the USA, shown in many of our government documents (our currency, The US Constitution, and so forth). I remember as an elementary school student through at least 7th grade, in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, that we always started the school day with the “Our Father” prayer and the USA “Pledge of Allegiance”…for several decades now, neither are recited by school children. For whatever reason, many believe to be an unwise decision by lawmakers, especially in light of the deterioration of our families with divorce, lack of belief in the sanctity of marriage or marriage at all (!) and the breakdown more and more of institutions of our USA society’s infrastructure (which is another topic for discussion, on another occasion). With a new USA Presidential Administration forthcoming this January 2021 and the hope & promise for a more just, fair and stable nation than what we have endured the past four years (!) , perhaps the Biden & Harris administration will bring forth some of the ideals mentioned in the Proclamation below, in order to re-establish us as a positive beacon of light for other nations to emulate:

Thanksgiving Proclamation 1777
By the Continental Congress
The First National Thanksgiving Proclamation
November 1, 1777
FORASMUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of
Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to
implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant
Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to
smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment
of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a
Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with
most signal success:
It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to
set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and
PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings
of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that,
together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession
of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest
Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive
and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the
Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire
our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude
which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these
United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE: That it may
please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the
Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education,
so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing
Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom,
which consisteth “in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.”
And it is further recommended, That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times
innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.

Peace, Love & Good Health,

BG Aucoin

FYI: My Favorite Social Justice Movies & Documentaries

Goal: To see one another as a dignified soul. Our duty should always be to identify injustices (do not simply watch them happen and do nothing!) and work to change them by helping to transform hearts through our words and actions, as well as try to change public policy in any way we can (influence politicians, be a social justice advocate in your church, community and so forth). We should always strive for racial harmony in society. Below are a few movies and documentaries to hopefully inspire you in this quest, like social justice activists such as Rep. John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Jr. , Ghandi, Mandela, and so many others lived until their last days on this earth. Representative John Lewis who recently passed away was memorialized by one of his wife and his close friends to often profess: “Find a way to right the wrongs of society…do what you can to bring equity (especially by exercising your right to vote!) , but just Get in Good Trouble!”

You can GOOGLE any of the following social justice movies or documentaries to get a synopsis and to see how you might want to view any of them…there are options such as streaming on Amazon Prime, Kanopy, iTunes rental, streaming Tubi, DVD rental or purchase, etc.

  1. “Just Mercy” (2019; starring Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan)
  2. “I Am Not Your Negro” (2017; starring Samuel L. Jackson)
  3. “Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 (Director John Ridley; documentary)
  4. “Support the Girls” (2018; starring Regina Hall, Shayna McHale, Haley Lu Richardson)
  5. “BlacKKKlansman” ( 2018, starring John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier)
  6. “The Hate U Give” (2018; starring Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby)
  7. “Fruitvale Station” (2013; starring Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Chad Michael Murray)
  8. “Do The Right Thing” (1989; starring Spike Lee, Ossie Davis, Danny Aiello)
  9. “Selma” (2014; starring David Oyelowo, Oprah Winfrey, Carmen Ejogo, Common)
  10. “Milk” (2008; starring Sean Penn, James Franco, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch)
  11. “Dear White People” (2014; starring Tessa Thompson, Tyler James Williams, Brandon P. Bell, Teyonah Parris)
  12. “Time: The Kalief Browder Story” (2017; Director Jenner Furst, co-produced by JayZ; documentary)
  13. “Short Term 12” (2013; starring Brie Larson, John Gallagher, Jr., Kaitlyn Dever)
  14. “Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004; Director Michael Moore; documentary)
  15. “Central Park Five” (2012; starring Antron McCray, Kharey Wise, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam)
  16. “Dark Girls” (2011; starring Viola Davis, Soren Baker, Joni Bovill)
  17. “Do Not Resist” (2016; Director Tani Ikeda, Natalie Johns, Mobolaji Olambiwonnu; documentary)
  18. “The Murder of Fred Hampton” (1971; Director Howard Alk; documentary)
  19. “The Spook Who Sat By the Door (1973; Writer Melvin Van Peebles; Director Ivan Dixon; documentary)
  20. “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners” ( 2013; Director Shola Lynch; documentary)
  21. “Bamboozled” (2000; dramedy by Spike Lee)
  22. “Get Out” (2017; docudrama by Jordan Peele)
  23. “Les Miserables” (2019; starring Damien Bonnard, Alexis Manenti, Djebril Zonga, Issa Percia, Al-Hassan Ly, Steve Tientchen, Almany Kanoute, Nizar Ben Fatma)
  24. “The Best of Enemies” (2019; starring Taraji P. Henson, Sam Rockwell, Wes Bentley, Babou Ceesay, Anne Hecha, Bruce McGill, John Gallagher, Nick Searcy, Sope Aluko, Carson Holmes)
  25. “Harriet” (2019; starring Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, Janelle Monae)
  26. “Gandhi” (1982; starring Ben Kingsley, Daniel Day-Lewis, Candice Bergen, Martin Sheen, Roshan Seth, et.al.)
  27. “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” (2013; starring Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, et.al.)

These are just a few of my favorite and most inspiring…you may know of others.

PEACE & LOVE, B.G. Aucoin

Where are we going from Here America with Race Relations?: We’re inching along!

The U.S.A. has never been a place to take change easily, even a slight change of the status quo. I am a 1950’s baby who experienced a lot of backlash under Jim Crow Laws in Louisiana until age 12, the turbulent 1960’s-70’s with peaceful (that turned violent with “law enforcement intervention”!) Civil Rights protests/demonstrations , under Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokley Carmichael, Angela Davis, to name a few of the Civil Rights Leaders of that time period I respected and, more or less, followed by attending some of their events and read literature they wrote. I was not a participant in protests by the Black Panthers (of Oakland, CA area, even though I was a student at UC Berkeley at the time, 1968-76, and many of my acquaintances participated. I am more of a meek, mild, humble Southerner, who advocate freedom, justice for all!)

As you can research and read yourself, often times law enforcement arrived at these peaceful, fully protected by 1st Amendment Rights (for all?!!) protests, often times resulting in bloody arrests, and sometimes even death. It’s a wonder Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had his life up until age 39, with the numerous arrests of humiliation he endured as a God fearing minister and advocate of freedom and justice for all! They (his enemies!) had to have him assasinated, preparing to leave for one of his many Civil Rights Protests for marginalized people of varying issues, instead of being outright horribly lynched like was customary during that time (Black male victums were often times found beaten, blooded, and lynched from a tree, across the U.S.A.!)…at least he was allowed some dignity! Thanks for small favors, enemies of justice.

In 1969, I experienced police harassment first-hand, myself, even as an African American female…during that period of time it was unusual for an African American female to experience police brutality or harassment, unless they were apart of, as I recall and can imagine, a Black Panther Party Demonstration, which I still never got any first-hand information about. I lived in Berkeley and Oakland from 1968-1976. It always baffled me that the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) never ever, in my recollection from media reports or otherwise, had not one bloody demonstration any where in the U.S. with law enforcement! Doesn’t sound like equal justice and protection under the law, to me!!

Anyhow, back to my experience with police harassment: I was about eighteen and half years old, a Freshman at UC Berkeley, living in Davidson Hall Dormitory on campus, minding my own business driving the new Buick Opel Cadet my parents had given me as a high school graduation present. I driving along Shattuck Avenue to go shopping, from my dorm on Haste Avenue, when lo and behold, a cop car with red lights flashing pulled me over to the curb. The cop came over to my driver’s side and demanded: “where are you going, boy?” I actually wore a short Afro haircut at that time, and in his ignorance and bias mind I was a “boy”, even though I clearly had on earrings ! (Guys didn’t wear earrings at that time.) Nevertheless, I responded that I was a girl and was out shopping from my dorm on campus…he seemed a bit embarassed, but not much, no apology , he just said o.k., and walked away! He probably wanted to initially say to me: “what are you doing driving this car, boy?!” He more than likely assumed I was driving a stolen vehicle! After that experience, I could certainly empathesize with the numerous African American male friends and classmates who shared experiences of police harassment (and physical brutality in some cases!) with me, whether they were from working class, middle class, or upper class African American families…whether their fathers were doctors, lawyers, small business owners, construction workers, or whatever.

These kinds of experiences are claimed by many African Americans, even more so since the 1970’s…it’s gotten increasingly worse, for either gender, male or female! What’s the old saying: “Stopped while driving Black!” (whether you are driving a vehicle, jogging, walking, in your own home, etc.) It’s another story, to be discussed another time, how and at what age African American families of the past thirty-plus years, until nowadays, have to counsel their young boys and girls how to behave and what attitude to maintain when approached by law enforcement!

Like many of us Civil Rights Advocates believe: you can change policies and laws a lot easier than hearts! We’re for sure and most definitely inching along…

Recent Police Brutality Protests: Deja Vu…

I couldn’t help but notice as I watched news reports about people all over the world, young and older, of all and any ethnicity, loudly and angrily protesting in the streets of various cities (Minneapolis, Washington D.C., New York City, San Francisco, London, Paris, Atlanta, etc.), after the insanely brutal behavior of Minneapolis police officers towards an African American man (George Floyd) on May 25, 2020, who had allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a liquor store, resulting in the homicidal murder of Mr. Floyd by these police “public servants” who are paid by our tax dollars to uphold the law, protect citizens and their constitutional rights, etc., that this whole tragic unfortunate situation reminded me of first-hand stories I have heard throughout my life about police encounters of male friends and family members. This situation was also a deja vu for me of the turbulent ’60’s when I was a teenager. Too bad, so sad that marginalized people (particularly African Americans, people of Latin descent, Native Americans, the homeless, the mentally challenged, etc., and in perhaps that order!) in the USA, in particular, are still struggling with equal protection and equality of rights as citizens, since the inception of this country…

Whatever happened to the presumption of innocense under the U.S. Criminal Justice System and Laws, until proven guilty by Due Process?!? When it comes to African American males (and in the past ten years or more: African American females! But, far more frequently: African American males, which has been the case since our ancestors were first brought to these shores of the USA, unwilling and in chains from our homeland of Africa, all the way to present day, over 400 years ago!!), the rule has been “shoot to kill” for African American male suspects in far too many police departments and trainings across the country (I have in my memory first-hand statements of this kind from young police cadets of other ethnicities in training as well as male family members who once were, or still are, police officers in California and Louisiana!), therefore, African American male suspects relative to any and all criminal activity are presumed guilty, whether innocent, false identity or not, forget about Due Process!! Far too often , African American male suspects are unemployed, underemployed (like Mr. Floyd reportedly was in the wake of being layed off from his job during this 2020 Cornovarius Pandemic, which hit USA shores and spreaded throughout this country by the middle of March of this year) and can not afford decent, fair, and just legal representation from a criminal attorney. Plus, often times, most African American criminal suspects are unaware of their right to request legal representation for criminal cases from a Public Defender, provided by tax dollars. Even if an African American male suspect manages to receive fair and just Due Process, it is very rare, if ever, (which is true for any marginalized suspect regardless of ethnicity, social status, economic status, etc.) he would be offered support services for mental health issues, education needs, employment, housing, and the like. We definitely need modifications of our Criminal Justice system to really meet the needs of all citizens who could benefit from additional resources support, in order to be functioning contributing members of society, instead of winding up as a statistic and a detriment to society.

George Floyd ( and so many other George Floyd(s), from the time of Reconstruction, and arguably beforehand, until present day!) was a victum of not only the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic to loose his job and apparently taking on a lesser paying job(s) to support his family , but he lost his life and a chance to revive his life after COVID, like many people throughout the world hope for right now, and ultimately to live his life fruitfully as a brother, friend, father, and so forth. Unfortunately, he was also a victum of an on-going Pandemic of Racism in the U.S.!! (What a tragic and totally stressful commentary, for Mr. Floyd’s family and friends to have to undergo not just one, but two, pandemics at the same time! Stressful and demoralizing for the African American community in general, for that matter. Although many of us African Americans have good coping skills to racism and stressors of life we face each and every day, we are still only human, like anyone else! Contrary to the mindset of many bias folks: African Americans are not made of steel to let all this negativity just roll off of us!!). Mr. Floyd was apparently attempting to start his life over again in Minneapolis, after experiencing several years of bad luck with his life in college at South Florida State College (as well as Texas A & M University, Kingsville campus) and in his hometown of Houston, Texas. He had a rough and challenging life growing up with his mother as a single parent, similar to alot of people, but he also had to cope with being an African American man in the U.S. A tall order to fill for many African American males! Accounts show that Mr. Floyd actually contracted COVID-19 Pandemic in early April this year from which he recovered, and he moved to Minneapolis to try to start his life over again (trying to escape his demons in Texas) in a positive vein with a new job and so forth, but to his demise he contracted the Pandemic of Racism about a month later, in the very city that brought him hope for a brighter more stable future for him and his children (his family).

It is my hope and prayer, similar to so many other folks of all races, religions, and social/economic standings throughout the world, that this recent revitalization of the Civil Rights Movement for African Americans and other marginalized people with the “modern day lynching” of George Floyd will bring about, at the very least, a change in how the police in our cities are “policed” themselves, monitored for compliance to fair & just police policy, made accountable for their lack of adherence to police policy therein and therefore professionalism, and on top of it all, neglect to follow established policy (through local, state and federal mandates) up to three times (at the most! after all, we all are human, but let the punishment of the offending law enforcement officer fit the crime!) resulting in lost of job, immediate jail time when appropriate, Due Process under the law, and so forth, of course. It is probably far easier to change and/or modify police policy and the criminal justice system across the USA (and the world!), than the hearts of those who are bias (to put it lightly) towards African Americans (and other marginalized people)!! Far too many times, for over 400 years, law enforcement officers have gotten away with brutalizing, and in most cases, throughout this country, murdering African American males, which is also a loss of a son, a father, an uncle, cousin, friend, etc. for community members. An upsetting tragedy, demoralizing, and often times, outright loss of faith in our Criminal Justice System…

Our law enforcement officers, our court system, not to mention our local, state, and federal governmental officials are suppose to uphold the U.S. Constitution for all, not just a selected few citizens and would be citizens of this country. Looks like this COVID-19 Pandemic has awaken a whole lot of folks to the fact that this country does not live up to its “truths that all men are created equally”…losing their jobs to make ends meet each month, no matter the skill or educational levels, has been a wake up call to millions of Americans (and other folks around the world, I am sure) that they can be negatively impacted once again, after the 2008 Recession was so devastating to their lives!! With the persistently angry demonstrations, protests, looting, taking rubber bullets to their bodies from law enforcement officers, and the like, young and older people seem to be saying: we deserve our needs to be met as members of this society and we deserve equal protection from unfair, brutal police and jails!!!

Many countries, particularly the United States, given our higher, than any other country in the world, COVID-19 cases and mortality rate to date ( currently around 2 million cases and 114,000 deaths) from COVID-19, certainly need to utilize Best Practices from countries like Denmark which, I understand, is experiencing far, far fewer cases and deaths due to COVID (about 12,000 cases and around 600 deaths to date) than any other western world country. (you can Google Denmark to get more details about the status of their economy and how they did it!) Furthermore, I understand from UC Berkeley economists, public health scientists, molecular biologists and other research scientists regarding this issue, through a recent webinar that Denmark’s economy has not suffered like ours since this pandemic or rarely ever, for that matter, because their government was established with the needs of the people of Denmark in mind: to meet their daily and retirement needs, relative to education, employment, housing, medical concerns, and so forth. Senator Bernie Sanders is considered a socialist, a leftist, and even a communist, in some folks minds, because he advocates for free education and free medical even during retirement! In addition, the labor unions in Denmark are considered valuable to assist employers with having fair employment conditions for workers. These systems even work in countries like Costa Rica and Canada! All of these vital and fair systems are considered taboo or not politically correct in the U.S., every since Ronald Reagan became governor and then president of the U.S. He was a “union buster” to boot! Too bad and so sad for U.S. citizens because these systems are proving to work around the world, especially during a pandemic like we find ourselves experiencing right now, in order to have viable functioning societal infrastructures , at any given period of time for a country. It is noteworthy to mention that Denmark has not had the disruption to their economy with employment layoffs, closing of businesses, etc., like we have had!! Check it out: Google Denmark and other countries who maintain a “people-centered” society…

Now look at the unfair, unjust, devastating , poor economical, political, and social shape the U.S. is in because we refuse to look at Best Practices for the benefit of the people!

Stay tuned…Be well, Be safe, Take care.

Mystory: Part 4B

I regret having to take off and not complete my thoughts about Mystory: Part 4, so here it is MyStory: Part 4B: I strongly believe it is one thing to be apart of the Democratic Process and U.S. Constitution as a citizen, with an opinion regarding various issues (thank God for 1st Amendment Rights!) , and it is another thing to persistently at every opportunity blatantly, loudly and aggressively go against the leadership (U.S. President, Congress, and other national, state, or local government leadership) of the country without our enemies (and others who may be more friendly towards us, as well, who probably are shaking their heads, going “tsk, tsk, tsk!”) taking notice, and perhaps even using it against us. Remember the old saying: “a house divided is bound to fall!” Or something like that…

I lived as a teenager and college student through the turbulent 1960’s in the U.S.A. with its political, Civil Rights, and war demonstrations. I can think of at least three U.S.A. Presidents from those times who I vehemently disagreed with, but I did not, nor anyone around me who agreed with me nor the media at the time (!) persistently and consistently were publicly saying negative things about each and every thing any of our leaders did…of course, there were Civil Rights Activists, Anti-War Activists and the like who spoke out in public forums about government leaders who they believed were unfair and unjust, but in all my years of living as a quiet, respecting but staying the course for FJFA (Freedom Justice For All!) proponent have I ever heard such outright persistency at any and every opportunity possible: disrespect, stretching of the truth, and perhaps anti-patriotism towards the current Presidential Administration of Republican Donald Trump.

One can say, blame it on female activists resentful of their Democractic Candidate Hilliary Clinton not being elected four years ago, when she ran against Donald Trump. Or, one can also blame it on many female activists in the U.S.A. who consider Donald Trump a misogynist who sexually harass women (he has managed to keep his nose clean, if this is at all true, during his four years as President! So far, so good!). Whatever or whoever is behind this consistently loud campaign to “Dump Trump!” has most definitely influenced alot of other folks in the U.S.A. who would not otherwise be so blatantly public against the U.S. President in following this negative sentiment. I have never seen, in my lifetime, the news media, talk show hosts, and other public persons so blatantly public in putting a U.S.A. President down, as this “anti-Trump campaign,” to the point of being an embarassment to our nation , one can say. Do you blame any of our enemies attacking us with a virus if there is any truth to the statement emailed to me from that organization from back East I mentioned in MyStory: Part 4 ? “A house divided is bound to fall!”

I am a Non-Partisan voter, an otherwise Democratic voter most of my life until the past Presidential Election convinced me to no longer be actively engaged in the Democratic Party in California, locally, nor nationally, because of the way Bernie Sanders (I was a committed campaigner for Bernie Sanders at that time) was sabotaged in this election four years ago, with he and Hillary Clinton running against one another to be our Democratic nominee to run against Republican Donald Trump. The rest is history… we Bernie supporters have evidence to believe that Hillary Clinton supporters (perhaps not Hillary herself) outright sabotaged several Democratic Primaries against Bernie across the U.S.A., including in California! I know it is just politics and politics can be dirty, but it was very disheartening so I decided to leave the Democratic Party and become a Non-Partisan Voter…And, as it currently stands, I will probably never campaign for another candidate, nationally, statewide, nor locally. At least not for a very, very long time. That was very hard pill to swallow…after hours of hard work and sacrifice to campaign for Bernie, he, many of his supporters believed, lost, because of fraud from his contender’s campaign camp!! Whatever happened to losing fair and square with the voice of the people, the voters, deciding??!! Too much of an utopian concept? Probably…

MyStory: Part 4

I feel compelled today to write a bit about the global crisis looming over us: the COVID-19 or Coronavirus…I received an email this morning for a religious organization I am connected with back Eastern USA I am in disagreement with regarding how this pandemic started. The organization will remain nameless because they are having issues with higher ups and I do wish them well.

However, in the email it was stated “…is no ordinary disease. It has been created from human ingenuity to specifically target the elderly and physically challenged. This is the plan of future generations to purify the human race around the world. It was released into the general population ahead of schedule-by accident. Those in charge were waiting for less capable government officials in your country to be in office. Nevertheless, proposed harm is being unleashed on the whole human race.”

The main part I disagree with here “…waiting for less capable government official in your country to be in office.” Maybe so, but I believe if anything if the theory is accurate here, they seized the opportunity to chemically attack us because of the disrespect and dissension towards current the President of the USA.

Sorry, got to go to attend a webinar (part of our new normal…webinars, Zoom, etc.). Will give more of my reflections regarding the quote above in the near future. Stay Safe and Healthy!

MyStory Part 3: Education, Career (Part A)

I attended kindergarten through seventh grades in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at a segregated (for Blacks only, Whites had their own schools at that time in the 1950’s) elementary (Arlington Elementary, one of about three all Black elementary schools in Baton Rouge at that time) and junior high school (McKinley Junior High was in our attendance area. There was about three other junior high schools for us in Baton Rouge). A big yellow school bus would pick up and drop us off on our street in a central location so we all would be in walking distance to our houses on West Grant Street. There were about ten streets in our segregated Black neighborhood, with a street to the west of the neighborhood named River Road, which ran alongside the Mississippi River with a levee (railroad tracks ran alongside the neighborhood to the east, isn’t that typical: railroad tracks separating the predominantly White neighborhoods from the Black neighborhood? Sounds like a scene out of a classic American movie!). The big yellow school bus picked up and dropped off children from kindergarten to sixth grades at certain locations on each of the ten streets every day, five days a week. I had several cousins who lived on at least three streets in this all Black neighborhood. The others lived across town to the east of us in all Black neighborhoods. When we graduated from Arlington Elementary School after sixth grade to seventh grade, one of my favorite first cousins and I had to walk about five miles to and from McKinley Junior High School, rain or shine! My mother’s older brother, this first cousin’s father, always reminded us that “it built character” for us to walk five miles each way in the rain…he would drive pass us instead of giving us a ride because of this virtue of his! This uncle was an officer in the U.S. Army during World War II. Many of we nieces and nephews (my maternal grandparents had over twenty-five grandchildren at the time, that number has multiplied two-fold or more with great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren) confess that his high standards and strictness towards us as youngsters in the family influenced our personal lives in a positive way, with regards to our careers and relationship successes. He was indeed a great role model as a husband, father, uncle, son, brother, small business owner and community leader.

Having to walk to eighth grade when we moved to be with our mother and her new husband in Richmond, California (Roosevelt Junior High School, near downtown Richmond, now an administrative office of some sort for the school district), consequently, was no big thing for me…what was walking five blocks from home each way compared to walking five miles to junior high each way in Baton Rouge, rain or shine? Nothing!! Ninth grade to graduating twelfth grade I was able to take the city bus to and from school, no problem because the bus stop was only a couple of blocks from our house.

It was amazing to me that my Roosevelt Junior High School teachers, as well as the principal and vice-principal thought so highly of me…they always commented on how bright (our southern teachers use to pile on the homework and research projects, they didn’t play around–they demanded academic excellence and exemplary behavior…back then, teachers, not just the principal and vice-principal, had the right and duty (?) to swat a misbehaving student or a student who did not do his/her homework, corporal punishment as it was called was banned in schools across the U.S.A. about the late 1970’s…that’s another issue to explore at another time!), polite, friendly and well-mannered I was. My History teacher quite often allowed me to conduct various lessons and I was voted Homecoming Queen in eighth grade. Being the southern humble person I am, I wouldn’t say I was popular…what is popular? All I can say is I had a nice group of female and male friends I hung out with in junior high in Richmond. It was nice, but no substitute for hanging out with cousins in Baton Rouge. It did ease the homesickness to a small degree. I am grateful that, back then, in particular, Richmond was a family-oriented town, like I was use to. I still have several guys and gals I keep in touch with from junior high and high school in Richmond, although some are deceased at this juncture. I am proud to say most of us had successful careers , businesses, or professions, mainly because of the role models and mentors we had with family members, friends, neighbors, and community leaders in mostly Richmond and Oakland. Our two Community Centers in Richmond were wonderful resources for us kids growing up there because we had after-school classes in sports, African and Modern Dance, arts and crafts, and so forth. We even had delightfully enjoyable week- long camping trips during the summer!

It wasn’t all a bed of roses growing up for many of us in Richmond because of divorces and some fathers drank too much on the weekends, or gambled at the Albany Race Track or at poker, far too much to our mothers’ distress, which was also the case in my mother’s second marriage, as well true for many of my friends. The husbands/fathers in our homes still maintained decent jobs to pay the mortgage, keep food on the table for their families, clothes on their children backs, and so forth. In spite of the dysfunction in our households, we, as children, worked hard in high school to graduate into a profession of our choosing. I suppose we were Blessed with resilience…I even was a Song Leader ( we danced to catchy tunes at football and basketball games played by the school band, while the cheerleaders lead the attendees in cheering on our teams!), in the Drama Club and on the newspaper staff at Richmond Union High School in the late 1960’s. We had dedicated, smart, and inspiring teachers at Richmond High, like we had in elementary and junior high in Baton Rouge. I was quite fortunate in that regard also…

MyStory Part 2

I remember just like it was yesterday: my little brother, Larry, (he was only two years younger than I, but I always considered him to be my little brother…I guess it’s because whenever he needed his bottle of milk fixed , I often insisted on doing it for him!) whose birth name was Joseph, and I took a Greyhound Bus from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Oakland, California, after school was out (I was twelve years old going to eighth grade and Larry was ten going to sixth grade), in June 1962, in order to join my mother along with her new husband of five years (she married him when I was about seven years old), where they lived in Richmond, CA.

I recall that I did not want to leave my maternal grandparents (who raised my brother and I since we were toddlers after my parents divorce), numerous cousins, aunts, and uncles (we were a close-knitted family similar to most southern families at that time and many still are), even though I loved and missed my mother, every since she decided to move to California after divorcing my biological father when I was about three years old. I was very sad to leave Baton Rouge and my relatives, to say the least. A first cousin , my mother’s youngest siblings’ oldest daughter who was raised with us at my grandparents’ house confided to me during recent years, that she and the other cousins who lived nearby in the same neighborhood were very sad to see us leave and often cried for us to return…sad! Needless to say, that first year in Richmond, California, I came home from eighth grade (where my teachers adored me because of my Southern Charm and Manners…my History teacher would allow me to lead lessons and I was actually crowned Homecoming Queen that year!), did my homework, ate dinner, did my chores, and boo hooed (!) the rest of the night in my pillow because I was so homesick for Baton Rouge, Louisiana and my relatives! This was hurtful to my mother. She would come in my room at night because she heard me sobbing…I was comforted to know I would get to visit my relatives the upcoming summer, I could hardly wait!!

MyStory: First Blog Entry

I am slowly getting the personal interviews underway, for the firsthand accounts of my first unofficial titled realistic nonfiction historical book : Surviving While Living Black. My intention is to interview and include narratives from seven (7) persons (hopefully both female and male)…seven narratives because being a good Christian Catholic I expound the Symbolic Numbers in the Book of Revelation in the Bible wherein “seven” relates to: perfection, fullness, perfect orderedness, the completeness of creation, in order words, in Revelation. Today, I will begin below “MyStory” for the book in question here, using the questioning format I intend to use for my seven narrative interviewees.

I was named Brenda Gale Sands at birth, on June 14, 1950, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My parents were Annie Sten Carter (died December 1982) who was about fifteen years old at the time of my birth (it was not unusual for girls to get married as early as 12 years old back then in the USA) , and my father was Joe Sands, Sr. (died March 2005) who was eighteen years old at that time and enlisted in the military, whereupon he and my mother decided to get married. Because of Jim Crow Laws prevalent at the time, there was only one hospital in Southern Louisiana for African Americans and that was Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, about 100 miles south of Baton Rouge where we lived (the capital of Louisiana). According to tradition of the times, I was borned at home by a local Midwife and taken to Charity Hospital for a wellness check, my mother explained.

Update on non-fiction book in progress

This COVID-19 crisis has created a New Normal for me and all of us, I’m sure, therefore I’ve had to get the discipline once again to Blog. Thanks be to God I’m back with it!! I’m trying to connect over the telephone with some elderly relatives and friends I intend to chronicle in this book in question here, but Murphy’s Law: everytime I call one of them, the person is in a personal challenge to overcome. So, therein my delay in moving forward, besides this mini recorder I got from Walmart several weeks ago to record each person, is not cooperating! And, as we all know, it is difficult going out to shop with long lines, etc.

To add to my challenges of going out during this pandemic, my sinuses acts up causing me to detect something unusual in the air, even though I am wearing a mask, sometimes double masks, with a surgical mask plus a bandana over that as masking! I do declare and swear there is something unusually toxic in our air…consequently, I definitely try to Shelter in Place each week, this is the beginning of the 4th week since March 16th! Getting a bit stir crazy having to modify my daily activities—no working as a Civil Law Mediator at two courthouses once a week, no gym time 3x a week, and thinking twice or more before going out to run errands!!

But, better safe than sorry…I do my exercises in my living room every day, instead of at the gym 3x a week using Youtube as well, plus I get to catch up on reading, Blogging, and finishing my third handbook which leads to the nonfiction book mentioned earlier here.

My goal is to Blog chapters of my nonfiction book, leading to a hardcover. Until soon, CIAO!

B.G. Aucoin