Stephen W. Browne Rants and Raves

June 28, 2015

Invasion of the giant beetle!

Filed under: Travel — Stephen W. Browne @ 12:45 pm

OK3

This Sunday morning I got up and went out in search of a plate of eggs benedict and an old Oklahoma landmark. Found them both!

On US 77 about nine miles south of Noble, Oklahoma is the VW bug. A sculpture made of a VW beetle body mounted on steel legs. It’s commonly called the Spider, but I’m going to be pedantic and point out that spiders have eight legs, so this is obviously and appropriately a beetle.

It’s been there every since I remember, but Sunday I determined to go and find out something about it. So I dropped by the Lexington Family Worship Center and asked Pastor Louis Bennett who acquired the property a few years back.

“I was going to cut it up,” Bennett said. “But it’s a landmark and I promised the town I’d leave it there. We get about 50 visitors a month.”

According to Bennett it was the project of one Leroy Wilson who put it up on June 3, 1979.

I hope to find out more about the now-deceased Mr. Bennett and his giant beetle.

June 16, 2015

The sad story of Rachel Dolezal

Filed under: News commentary,Op-eds — Stephen W. Browne @ 10:36 pm

The head of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP, Rachel Dolezal has resigned amid allegations she’s been “passing” for years.

For people with a sense of irony, this has been the gift that keeps on giving.

“Please know I will never stop fighting for human rights and will do everything in my power to help and assist, whether it means stepping up or stepping down, because this is not about me. It’s about justice. This is not me quitting; this is a continuum,” she said on the chapter’s Facebook post.

Oh “allegations” pfui! The lady’s parents blew the whistle on her, and they’re white. When confronted with the “allegations” Dolezal went all deer in the headlights and started blathering about how we’re all from Africa.

Well yes, Africa is the original home of humanity. But the term “black” or “African-American” has a specific meaning associated with ancestry from a specific part of Africa where slaves were captured, sold, and transported to the New World.

(A history which ironically, our first black president does not share. Barack Obama Sr. came from Kenya, on the other side of the African continent.)

In America, unlike France or parts of South America, society adopted the “one known drop” rule. ANY known African ancestry made you “black.” No qualifications, no gradiations of color that mattered.

In France with some African ancestry you could be the Chavalier du St. George, master swordsman. Or Alexandre Dumas pere et fils, popular authors.

In America you could be Frederick Douglas, but it was a lot tougher row to hoe.

Mark Twain wrote a whole novel, “Puddinhead Wilson” in which two children, a slave and the child of that slave’s master, are switched at birth. Since the blood quantum is so small, no one can tell the difference.

But Dolezal evidently does not have even that one drop. Photos of her as a teen show a blond light-eyed girl who needed hair dye and frizz plus what appears to be a spray tan to pass.

(Full disclosure, I have that one drop. It recently caused much hilarity in my family when my father contacted a distant relative revealed by the genetic testing service Ancestry.com. She’s an African-American lady whose privacy we will respect. She was evidently mortified by the connection and refused to talk to him.)

NAACP officials have put on the best face they can, correctly pointing out that the organization was never limited to persons of color and has always had white members.

Oh pfui!

Dolezal passed for black not only in the NAACP, but in the city of Spokane where she served as Chairman of the Spokane’s Police Ombudsman Commission, and at Eastern Washington University where she’s an adjunct professor in the Africana Studies program , teaching African and African American Art History, African History, African American Culture, The Black Woman’s Struggle and Intro to Africana Studies.

Dolezal coached her adopted African-America siblings not to “blow her cover.” She constructed an absurd back story of living in a tipi in Montana where her parents hunted for food with bows and arrows. She claimed to have lived in South Africa.

And she claimed abuse by her parents and her ex-husband. This is not a harmless thing.

The weird thing about all this is not just that it happened. We live in a historically odd time when the privileged desire to identify with the oppressed, and they’ll by God do it if they have to manufacture some of that oppression to do so!

It’s a nice, safe way to pat yourself on the back for your courage that involves no sacrifice of comfort or even popularity. Unlike say, speaking out about the ongoing slow-motion genocide of white farmers in South Africa or Christians in Africa and the Middle East. That could get you dropped from fashionable circles – or killed.

No, the strange this about this is how she got away with it for so long when the simplest background check, the kind you and I go through every time we apply for a job or a loan, would have blown her story into the stratosphere.

For heaven’s sake, this lady looks like a kid in a wig going trick or treating!

Why were people so easy to fool? Why did they take an absurd story on face value, told by a woman is so obviously a seriously disturbed person?

The only answer I can come up with is, because they wanted to be fooled.

And why? That’s the conversation we ought to be having.

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