Joyce’s Book Blog

Across that Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America by John Lewis

Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why.’ I dream that never were and say ‘Why not?’ — Robert Kennedy

John Lewis, a staunch civil rights leader and a United States Congressman (D-Ga.) opens his new  book with Kennedy’s quote. No doubt that Lewis is a man who asks why not? Why not a safer, more cultural diversity, more respect for humanity and opinions, more equality, more equal justice.

Without harsh attacks on America’s conscious or unconscious lapses, Rep. Lewis with moral courage has tackled voting rights abdication and gun control inaction with the fervor of a poet in a poetic mood and with gymnastics energy, but he’s a methodical stepper with all-night Congressional sit ins for gun regulations, campaigns for change candidates, champion for voting rights restoration and for the ballot box as a schematic to continue progress in civil rights.

“Across the Bridge” is a strong, clever, and catchy title — lyrical symbolism for the Selma, Ala., march five decades ago. This book defines Lewis as a literary voice of reason: “Dreamers young and ever young” must avoid getting “lost in a sea of despair.” With urgency, the incomparable Rep. Lewis, implores the next generation to never give up and to never lose focus on the tenets of humanity: freedom, justice, and equality. It’s a phenomenal visit to values and principles for a civilized nation and democracy.

As a civil rights foot soldier, Lewis paid the ultimate penalty in the battle when  police beat him to a heartbeat from death. He was not alone, and uncounted spirits of warring, lost souls left footprints on hollowed ground and imprints that led a nation from civil unrest and oppression to dignity, civility, and human rights. (The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., slain civil rights leader)

And this surviving rights advocate and U. S. House member still accepts that nonviolence ranks at Mount Rushmore height above a worrisome time of violence. There’s gratitude that comforts us though “Across the Bridge” is a clarion call for caution, and concern for complacency about where we stands when negative signs deny a post-racial nation.

Lewis wrote, “One movement will never offer all the growth humanity needs to experience. To expect so is to build your hopes on a puff of smoke, on a whispered breath; it is … an illusion.” Indignation for the unexpected or, just plain o’ bad behavior run rampant.When a U. S. House member called President Obama a liar at the State of Union address, Lewis was appalled, discouraged, and disturbed, saying it was “probably the lowest point of decorum I’ve seen in more than 20 years in Congress.”

“Across the Bridge” isn’t an in-depth history of the past civil unrest but acknowledges a chaotic world from intentional and unintentional misgivings. One critique that stands above the rest is Trump’s rhetoric to “Make America Great Again” that some political analysts bluntly encode as “Make America White,” but Lewis thinks: “It was as though diversity has damaged not uplifted our civilization.”

“Across the Bridge” calls for change with bold lessons for freedom and meditations in the next phase toward progress of a nation at the cross road — all worthwhile and necessary reading and a blueprint for these unsettling days. It’s rated four stars.


“I Pray You Enjoy Your Retirement”

#PollPower I pray NRA-backed politicians become ordinary citizens, job holders, hobbyists, travelers. What they do is their own business, but without those seats, their fundamental power and control would rot like a prune — in most cases. They’ll escape the rath of justice, but a survivor of Pulse Nightclub said: “I pray you enjoy your retirement.”

#NeverAgain Students at Stoneman Douglas High School, but, make no mistake, where 17 died in a massacre, turned their anger and pain against weapons of war and a push for school safety. These Parkland, Fla., students targeted power at the polls. “Vote them out,” students yell at legislators in Tallahassee, Fla.

School shootings and gun violence in the nation are epidemic with the highest gun violence in the world. But @realDonaldTrump called for arming teachers, most of whom are women, and teachers’ primary responsibility is to educate students. I lived and worked as a journalist in Broward County, and I cannot imagine teachers packing heat, and I would not send my child there. The endless dangers of this controversial scenario stand high above any imaginary benefits.

“Teachers are here to educate students,” said David Hogg, a senior and an activist leader. “They (gun lobby and politicians) want people to forget this happened.” He stressed that this is not a partisan issue.

The thought of teachers packing add to mourning fearful teens, teachers, and parents have another level of inepitude that doubles, and it sidesteps what schools and the community can expect from responsible politicians. Douglas protestors eloquently stated that these politicians supported by the National Rifle Association choose “money over our lives.”

Trump said he backs stronger background checks, although his 2019 budget proposal would slash the background check system by $12 million for states to improve comprehensive background checks. That plummets from $73 million to $61 million. Students are leery about their government’s priority, and rightfully so. And a bill for comprehensive background checks is stalled in Congress where House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remain suspiciously quiet.

Congress has duties to act and power from the second arm of three separate powers in a Democracy. Gun supporters rabidly protest stricter gun laws, citing Second Amendment rights. Hogg, a young journalist, told TV journalists that absolutists refuse to realize that there can be limits in the First Amendment.

“You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater,” he said. Keeping guns out of wrong hands could bring freedom from fear and safer schools and communities across socio-economic backgrounds, race and ethnicity, gender and ages.

#MeTwo Revolution Rolls into Political Backlash

Women have lifted the veil of silence and sharpened their oyster knife for a battle at the ballot box. It started with Donald Trump Inauguration Day with a global march and millions of protestors taken control of the streets.

They are taking charge by pulled out the clipboards for voter registration, and plunking their names into races like gamblers plunking cards on the table. It’s a renewed battle for women, and the right course to taking charge of their own destiny.

For they decried sexual misbehavior against powerful, rich, and prominent men who fell from lofty perches, but exposure by calling them out Does nothing for anxiety, depression, shame, and buried anger, but the harmful effects on equal rights, human parity, and upward mobility: comfortable in their body, becoming a whole with rights endowed by the Constitution and the Creator.

It’s the cutting-edge by outing men whose power is entrenched in a generational culture of acceptance. Bad sexual behavior against women is like a Die-hard battery, and for intelligent women with a xxx, it’s not about a vendetta against men losing power, money and reputations. A change is attitude is necessary, but as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Time is of the essence.

Bravo for an extraordinary victory on rising up again after nearly a hundred years after the women’s right to vote. It’s time to galvanize success of #MeTwo into an interrelated direction, demanding gender parity and detaching their welfare from patriarchy and voting women into office, following blueprints from Virginia and NorthCarolina voters wield power at the ballet Box. Danica Roehm, the first transgender woman unseated her GOP contender for State Assembly, and Charlotte, N.C., elected its first African-American woman In New Jersey xxx unseated a white male opponent who denigrated her.

“Women’s rights are human rights,” said 2016 presidential contender and the first woman to cross the threshold to become the leader of the free world.on another layer: activism for women’s rights — human rights, went from raging fires of broken silence to voter volleys assuring a path to an unhindered raison d’etre (reason for being) and credit without discredit, disrespect, or dismissal.




(Congress abdicated its highest responsibility — keep the government — but leadership vacuums and poor prioritizing that put deficit-raising tax cuts for wealthy corporations out front) Male domination in all three branches – President, Senate, and House of Representatives – a majority rule sans bipartisanship proves a “fair accompli” for democracy in a society striving for freedom, economic viability, justice, and fairness. The Washington Post reported that for every woman in political office, there are three men.

More women in That international Women’s March a day after Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential oath, even novice marchers in solidarity for the world’s largest protest.



The Equality Struggle is Eternal

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Martin Luther King Jr., slain civil rights leader

Three days before King Day on Monday, Donald Trump signed a proclamation for the anniversary with a hypocritical posture just eight days before his one-year inauguration, airing veiled bigoted and crude remarks that demean countries of majority people of color.

Trump’s response: “I’m not a racist.” An unusual and flip response that dodges his immense legacy of racially motivated behavior. What if he had, instead,invited low-income and children of color to his golf course for inspirational exposure to elevate their mindset that they can rise above their birth status. It could’ve been a phenomenal King Day community service to reduce Trump’s deafening bullhorn and democratic bulldozer. Instead he introduced a flip flop of all that King espoused: economic viability, equal rights and opportunity, freedom and justice.

I’m not appalled, stunned, or amazed that doubters who claim Trump’s outhouse ditty was rejection of impoverished nations, not race-based, but the denials and criticisms de-oxygenized media and the international environs responded to his maligning Africa and its progressive, upscale Nigeria, as having huts, dismissing the nation’s rich natural resources — diamonds, the uncaged habitats of animals enticing world tourists, and wealthy African people, and their contributions to America or of Haiti with vast contributions to America and ubiquitous natives from many foreign countries came, saw, and conquered success as doctors, lawyers, educators, journalists.

America is a country of immigrants, lest we forget that all of our ancestors arrived on their own except slaves who came kicking and silently screaming and landlocked Native Americans, Indians, whose numbers declined through unorganized genocide. Immigration is the glue that binds us, and still immigrants build new lives and contribute in every way, but naysayers verbally assassinate the latest waves of non-whites as detractors accusing them of gaming the system. Explosive, derogatory comments about these unsung heroes while drooling for inhabitants of majority white culture is un-American and straight up racism by die-hards.

King day is once a year, but immigration’s political grandstanding and blackmail attempts to erect a wall  prolongs the fate of Dreamers, 800,000, who came as children or were born here. Trump killed Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, reneging on our government’s promise is blasphemy against righteousness for those who play by rules in the agonizing struggle for equality, justice, and the pursuit of happiness.

Congress lacks moral courage to change these God-awful Trump policies, and King would be disappointed at this devaluing of humanity and America’s proud achievement. The callous and inhumane political wrangling against Dreamers and others who migrate to America undermines the tenets we hold dear. But King would proclaim that the power of equality rests in continued struggle and remind us: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

It’s a chronic reminder that the struggle for equality is forever. If we don’t rise up and fight back, the threatened, power holders will trample all that’s great about a progressive and diverse America, which means putting love of people and country above party. Onward.

Perspective: The biggest problem with racist tone or verbiage is racial behavior through policies dictated by action through a bigoted prism of policies. This POTUS’ action is more dangerous than spoken words, although speech or tweets are a barometer of closed door democratic disruption and destruction.

Silence in the GOP and defense by surrogates or supporters of this president are unnerving. As Eldridge Cleaver, American author of Soul on Ice said: “You’re part of the problem or part of the solution.”
And King said he’s not concerned about enemy’s acts against him but is more “disturbed by the silence of friends.”

I call politicians whose silence is complicit in a dereliction of duty to the Constitution and people they represent. But change in culture and discrimination and the current crisis cannot be fixed by politicians. Only people can effect that change for keeping human rights in progress and to protect the gains for which dedicated and courageous activists and leaders died.

 Hence, people have to rise up to protect the American way. Going back to dark days is unacceptable.

Joyce’s BOOK BLOG No. 4

Political, Historical, and Cultural Books for Gifts

The Soft War on Women: How the Myth of Female Ascendance is Hurting Women, Men and Our Economy
By Caryl Rivers, Rosalind C. Barnett

Michelle Obama In Her Own Words
Michelle Obama

Chasing Light: Through the Lens of a White House Photographer
Amanda Lucidon

A Collection of Poems — Gwendolyn Brooks
By Gwendolyn Brooks, A Myers

The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010

The Complete Poetry — Maya Angelou

Incendiary Art — Poems
Patricia Smith

Collected Poems — 1950-2012
Adrienne Rich
Introduction by Claudia Rankine

Joyce’s Book Blog No. 2

Franklin: Queen of Soul
Celebrating 50 Years of R-E-S-P-E-CT: By Essence Editors

At the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Aretha released the album Respect, her best-selling album, and this is its 50th anniversary coinciding with five decades of the movement with the Respect boomerang with rock and roll through civil rights marches and in homes where tortured souls and foot soles relaxed. You could say it was the bugle call for freedom and justice resounding today, rejecting the hype of “we have overcome.”

This masterpiece with historical, illustrious, and memorable photographs and essays from long-time, writerly friends and fans of Aretha is a keepsake. Those original fans range from civil rights activists to baby boomers who grew up with Respect. All races and ethnicities worldwide know Respect, and it is the song for all times.

To Aretha with love and respect from young and old music connoisseurs, including President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, my baby sister, Renalysis, and, of course, me. We will run to the bookstore or race through new releases from electronic books or Kindle Readers for this must-have.

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Aretha and R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Respect and love for humanity and your higher power. Mine is God.

Joyce’s BOOK BLOG No. 1 

Political, Historical, and Cultural Books for Gifts

Be Fierce: Stop Sexual Harassment and Take Back Your Power and Getting Real. By Gretchen Carlson who writes eloquently about the harrowing sexual harassment upstaging her life and about the cruel after effects from unsuspecting reactions.

With the recent outings of sexual harassment and rich and powerful men falling down from lofty ladders and reputations busted, Carlson’s memoirs are timely, essential, and a need-to-read.

The  bugle call of a  culture clash between genders, but women are below their rightful pay grade. Rich men reached the pinnacle of success while women’s careers are often stalled or in abstentia. They clawed for ecomonic viability but lack parity with salaries of  77 cents on the dollar of the average man. 

Nevermind that arrival of women with a seemingly cultural shift is a drip in a dipper after eons of gender bias and sexual misbehavior. Without an attitude reversal, lasting change in culture is unchangeable. Carlson acknowleges that #MeToo is a start.

What next? Carlson’s lumnious and insightful account is based on firsthand knowledge of aforementioned hidden horrors crossing every corner of society, and she circulates protective steps in the uprising of exposed gender violence.

Gender violence — misogyny and sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence — a broad threat to gender equality. Carlson recognizes that this debaucle of power and control reaches far and wide from boardrooms, media, business, from Hollywood to Congress to construction bosses to bar owners…on and on. 

Women and supportive men are fighting back.  Carlson got off the political foot stool and stepped across the runway like a Super Model, emerging as a leader putting truth to power. She empathizes with pain and courage for women. She knows that  education and understanding are vital along with “how and what to do if…”

Ever woman and ever man who loves her needs to read Carlson’s memoirs. She unburdens her soul and unchains the gender bender and bashing, and sorts out a roadmap.  Anyone who wants to know more should read her illuminating word.

Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America
Edited by Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Kate Harding

Twenty-three feminists who’re successful writers voiced protest and solidarity in essays on Trump’s America and the danger to women’s progress. Yes, the election is over, and distraught not anger is the outcome. The discomfort and agony still dig deep into the country’s psyche, of voters who caused Hillary Clinton to win the popular vote. Hence, a logical question is where to now, and the response is to wield power in the backlash. I call it the Beat Back.

 But I’m still bewildered about 53% of white women who voted for Donald Trump and proud of the 94% of African American women who voted for Clinton.So are the diverse group of writers who personalized the disparaging and exhausting election. It’s unquestionable to them that when Clinton, a qualified political veteran, lost the highest glass ceiling, all women lost, and bravo to African American women for their much-needed, valuable stance for women’s rights. 

The rest of Clinton voters know they aren’t anomalies in disgust, agony, and concern about the Nasty Woman tag Donald Trump pinned on Clinton. In response, the writers defined Nasty Woman that then-presidential contender Trump called Clinton a Nasty Woman in the third debate, the epitome of emotional abuse, albeit, and mysogyny, the fallout against womanhood and feminism in the 21st Century. 

Nasty Woman demeans women for being aggressive, disagreeable, challenging, or occupying the ultimate high position of power. The presidency is the highest vestige of the challenge. They observed that Trump was so angry they feared he’d slug her after looming over her like a stalker.

The writers suggested a teachable time about where America stands in equal opportunity and encourages a turn from discomfort into comfort in pushing the revolution and forging a new struggle against inequality for “equality and justice.” If anyone is left out, everyone loses — a tenet of equal rights. That’s the lesson from the book Nasty Woman. But if nothing more, the meaning of these two potent words could be reminders that more work is necessary in the 21st Century.

 “We have an opportunity, and obligation, to ensure that the next wave of feminist activism is so clearly defined that it will be impossible for conservative women to ignore…” The feminine voting gap is about how women and men should behave with norms to achieve good and respectable qualities, said M. Talusan, an immigrant and trans sexual woman of color. Neither of these detractors want to disavow that men are privileged power players forever, and too many Americans believe that president is for men only.

The essayists didn’t elaborate, but hinted that the old traps of subordination is unacceptable for women in high-profile careers — especially presidential contenders. These modern “feminists” are persumed to reject their rightful role of homemaker, bottle and dish washer, cook, and for bedroom duties. Black femmes and trans women don’t fall for treacherous tricks, aging fundamentals, and haven’t forgotten their greater burden of fighting oppression, she said.

I read this book with intensified joy and a desire reread it again and again.

Am Woman: Impact of 2017 International Women’s Day Marches. By Sarah Sutherland

The largest march ever with millions of women in a global march on inauguration weekend, putting threats against equality before the world, since women’s right to vote approved in 1920. A shock. They weren’t about to turn back. Some veteran feminists, lesbians, and other first time protestors walked in cold clime. Others in hot weather. Others in snow.

Sutherland brought readers behind-the-scenes insights and profiles of some marchers, and her perspectives about the goals and impact. She enhanced TV footage and soundbites of a day in vivid color and insightfulness.

The march challenges us all to consider gender successes and the potential of a new presidency, expecting progress not regression and stay inspired and focused.

Get This

Health care isn’t about politics. Health care isn’t about money. It’s about who or what America is. It’s about security of life. It’s about value of humanity. It’s about you, your family, your friend, your co-worker with cancer. It’s about you, your family – children, mother, father, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend – your friends, your neighbor, or your co-workers with cancer standing in the wing, waiting to pounce without warning. Money won’t matter because even the richest Americans will take a meat cleaver blow to their bank account. Riches won’t save your life if money is more important so you hang on to the purse strings too long before diagnosis. Disease outbreaks are like bullets, they have no names on them.

Health care is about disabilities, Alzheimer’s, HIV, Opioid or drug overdose, and other long-term, catastrophic costs.  Heath care is about nursing homes with people like my 52-year-old sister who’s been there for nearly three years; it’s about those in need of at-home nursing care; it’s about the mentally ill. You get the point, I hope. If not, health care needs don’t have to knock on your door today, but who knows what tomorrow may bring. If my sister had had health care for basic treatment she wouldn’t have had that massive, near death stroke because the underlying cause was treatable.

Ask any used-to-be healthy person who got slapped with an unprovoked severe illness or death threat if they could’ve predicted that heart attack, that breast cancer diagnosis (a life-saving mammogram has reduced the death rate}, and the babies born with heart defect. We know where we’ve been, but, I guarantee, we don’t know where we’re going.

As President Obama said, health care speaks volumes about who we are as a country. I say, also, it’s about who we are as humans and what blood of love runs through our veins. We fought and died to bring America into the country we are today, but equality of living, and equality and justice for all, is a never-ending struggle and sacrifice.

We can wake up in the morning in need of the basics or have an abundance of gifts like those who’re already well known, already comfortable, and already successful. Most of us are NOT. Somebody has been there to catch us in a fall. They had to because that’s who we are as Americans. Being cavalier and about me-me-me is not who we are as a country.

Things You May Not Know

Barack Obama was criticized by African Americans as many others declare he wasn’t. There’s an entire book by a powerful, respectful black writer, Eric Jerome Dyson, who says the former prez didn’t represent us or do enough for us. And worse, he accused Obama of demeaning us.

Other African Americans complain of the same issues though he rightfully committed himself to represent all citizens. The critics continue to assail the first president whose black, and they expect much without paying homage for what he’s accomplished on the national and world stage.

Obama had a heavy burden not to exclude the most vile and racial discrimination he endured. Just imagine being the most powerful leader in the free world fighting inner and outer worlds — racial on one front and intra-racial demands from blacks on the other and nary a scandal without praise.

Meanwhile it was erroneous for blacks who say he neglected us, and of whites who accuse him of being president for blacks.

“You’ve had the president for eight years now it’s our turn,” says some Caucasions. Yeah like 200 years? White. White. White and vice presidents.

You don’t miss your water till the bucket is empty.

Oh, by the way, Mr. Dyson could have and should have had something positive about “Yes, we did” like the 15 or other white writers. I’m not going to trash Dyson’s book. I think people should read it and “like it” or not.

When Loving You is Right

Say you love me, and I’ll release 100 doves from my window in your honor.

Say you love me, and I’ll buy you a dark chocolate Dove and fan you while you eat it.

Promise me you won’t croon for another, and I’ll write you a poem…buy you a beer.

If you don’t dream of dancing with Denzel and tell me with glee, I’ll buy that red dress and we’ll dance all night.

I won’t give you that Let’s be Friends excuse if I can brag about your booty. If I can brag about your tight buns and chiseled chest.

If you’ll go cruising with me in my Classic Thunderbird, I’ll run with you through woods at night, or if you go to Wrestle Mania with me, I’ll teach you to swim.

I’ll skip band practice if you’ll watch an action movie with me. I know you don’t like violent movies but we’d be together.

If you’ll hike with me in the Himalayas, I’ll take you to the Bahamas on vacation.

If you’ll spend the night with me, I’ll make breakfast for you. But you must promise not criticize my cooking.

If you’ll love me, I’ll love you back. Requited love is the ultimate ride through life.