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Protecting your kids during the holidays

Posted Monday, October 24, 2016

With all of the running around we do during holidays, finding costumes, buying candy, cooking, baking, and juggling the pressure to do these things with our daily routines, it is easy to let our guards down and toss young ones into the care of whomever is available without full investigation.

We also tend to let our guards down around the holidays because we tend to get into the spirit of the season and presume that others have to. The parties, the drinking, the food, the music, the lights, and the contact with loved ones we haven’t heard from all year can be intoxicating. Yet, it is precisely this spirit evil-doers take advantage of.

As the Season is upon us, now is a good time to review some safety tips.

Trust no one.  Keep your eyes and ears open. Be leery of individuals that seem eager to please, or who seem particularly interested in caring for your children or others. Whether or not a person has children of their own, or are caretakers is not necessarily an indication of their evil intent. People who have, or care for, children should not automatically be trusted just because of their status as parents. Some perpetrators intentionally choose to harm others’ children.

Plan in advance.  Haste makes waste. Securing child care at the last minute limits your options and may force you to hire someone you have not fully considered.

When you attend an event that involves multiple children, events, travel to different locations, and other adults, think before-hand about which adults will be responsible for childcare and protection.

Talk to your children—of all ages, and gender—about safety.  It should now be common knowledge that little boys need protection, too. You should already be unashamed about accompanying your little mister into a boys’ or girls’ bathroom. You should also be constantly reminding your female and male children about stranger-danger, trusting their intuition, strategies for alerting others that they are in danger, and situations to avoid.

Also, specifically discuss holiday-related scenarios that could involve perpetrators. For instance, discuss scenarios that involve a perpetrator claiming to be shopping for a loved one, or a perpetrator claiming to need help choosing a gift or help carrying shopping bags. Have your children think of scenarios, too.

Teach your loved ones to be leery of people who are very talkative. The longer a conversation persists, the more comfortable we tend to feel, and the potential for our guard being let down increases. Perpetrators con with their mouths and can be very charming.

Remind your children that they need not be afraid if a perpetrator instructs that a loved one will be harmed if what occurred is repeated, and that perpetrators say this because they are really afraid of getting in trouble for doing something they know is wrong.

 Teach your kids the buddy system.  Teach your children to always know where loved ones, such as their siblings, are. If there is a room designated for children at a relative’s house or other holiday event, teach older siblings to check in periodically on younger siblings, and to let younger siblings know where to find their older siblings.

Only-children may use this plan with peer cousins.

Evaluate your children’s interactions with others.  Perpetrators are very manipulative. They can appear to be very fond of the children they commit evil against. You might even think that based upon how much they appear to care for your child, they could or would never hurt the child. Don’t be fooled. Perpetrators often show special affection to their victims. They may be very playful with them, or appear to extend the time they play with their victim.

Teach your children that when they make anyone—their peers and adults—aware that they are done playing with them, or have tired of a particular interaction—they are entitled to the interaction ending. In other words: “Stop” means stop!

Do not let your children think that it is rude to not interact with others, or to limit their interactions with others. Sometimes children sense things about people and situations that they cannot or do not explain. Teach your children to trust their intuition, and that they do not owe anyone any level of interaction.

Give your children language for ending interactions, such as “I’m done playing now,” or “I said ‘stop’!” Role playing that includes your child saying what may need to be said exactly the way they might say it, should make them more comfortable saying the words in real-time.

 Talk to your children about their experience at events, after the event.  Parents often complain that their children do not talk to them. But could that be because you don’t talk to your children? Initiate conversation with your children about what happened at events they have attended. Ask if anything happened that made them uncomfortable. Ask if anyone or anything seemed strange. Abuse of any kind is difficult to discuss, and is especially difficult to initiate conversation about. Children, especially young children, tend not to have vocabulary for certain experiences. They may want to tell you that something happened, but lack the words or courage.

Finally, observe your children’s mood and behavior after events. Abuse or intimidation is typically unsettling, and may manifest as a change in behavior or functioning.

Should North American Blacks be more elitist?

Posted Tuesday, September 5, 2017

One of the experiences that often makes being “Black” so lonely is the fact that dissention seems to be everywhere. We are at risk of being discriminated against by “White” people and by other Blacks. I call this the “Blackened Blues.” My experience with this phenomenon began in junior high school, in the 8o’s—when all of a sudden, it became en vogue to be anything other than a “Black American.” Suddenly, people starting “coming out” as being “Jamaican.” In the 80’s, all Black immigrants were thought to be from Jamaica. A few years later, people started realizing that all “Black immigrants” (more on this term later) weren’t from Jamaica.

People that I had been friends with for years suddenly revealed they were not “American.” It was crazy. Then, the trend of referring to North American Blacks—Blacks whose parentage and direct ancestry is not related to the Caribbean and Continental Africa—as “Black Americans” began. The idea behind referring to North American Blacks as “Black Americans” was West Indians’ first attempt at disassociating themselves from “other” Blacks. This lasted for a few years, before West Indians discovered that they looked and sounded silly calling “other” Black people “Black Americans,” when they too were Black and in America.  Prior to this, “Black” people in North America were referred to as “Black,” “Afro-American,” or “African-American.” In fact, I recall that in the 80’s, Jesse Jackson led a campaign to refer to “Blacks” as “African-Americans.” If my memory is serving me correctly, a movement began at this time to make “American” the suffix of nationalities for people who reside in America.  So we started calling people “Caucasian-American,” “Asian-American,” “Italian-American,” and so forth.

Now, I find that some Blacks—West Indians and Continental Africans—have commenced a campaign to convince White people that the term “African-American” only refers to North American Blacks—Blacks born, and, or, raised, in one of the 50 states.  This campaign is ridiculous for a number of reasons.  First, all Blacks whether they want to be or not, are descendants of Africa. Many Blacks are ashamed of their African heritage, and go to great lengths to convince others that they are “Black—but not that kind of Black.” Before any “African-American” was American, they were African—and are only African-American by way of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, which most believe occurred between 1525 and 1857.  Similarly, West Indians/Caribbeans are West Indian by way of the Slave Trade. To be clear: Enslaved Africans were taken from Africa and dispersed and brainwashed among North, South and Central America (which makes them “American” too, doesn’t it?) The only true West Indians—if that’s what they even called themselves—are the indigenous people of the Caribbean, such as the Arowaks and Tainos—just like the only true Americans are the people who inhabited America before it was colonized and named America. How silly people look calling themselves “Jamaican,” “Trinidadian,” and using other such ethnic labels to identify themselves, when those labels came about as the result of historical circumstance. I just chuckle:  Colonization has not been kind to the Black mind.

And while we’re on the topic of silly, what should continental Africans—Blacks born and raised in Africa, and who can trace their immediate ancestry back to Africa simply because the Slave Trade slowed down and, or, ended before their ancestors were forced to live in North America—call themselves after they are naturalized as American citizens? Wouldn’t the correct name for them be “African-American?” Should it be “African-African-American?” Should it be “Continental African-American?” Or should we take the time to learn our history and about why we want so badly to dissociate ourselves from one another?

A while ago, I was watching an “African” comedienne do a stand-up routine. She introduced herself as being “African—and not African-American either. I’m African African,” is what she said. I turned the channel after that. What is “African African?” Had it not been for her going through such lengths to make sure the audience knew that she was not a North American Black, her ethnicity would not have been known. She had no accent or other identifying features. She looked like she could have been from anywhere—the Carolinas, Compton, Chicago—anywhere.

But, I guess I should clarify the shame. The shame is being an “American” Black—even though many of the Blacks who want to dissociate themselves are more “American” than both American Whites and Blacks! So, nowadays, you’ll have a Black person whose parents were born in the Caribbean, who identify completely with “African-American” culture from their modes of dress and speech to their taste in food and music—who will claim not to be “Black” or “African-American” simply because they want to leave a certain impression with a particular audience. Similarly, people who “look Black” are coded as being “Black,” “African-American,” or “Black/African-American,” so the statistics about “African-American” literacy, birth, social service involvement, and incarceration rates, and socio-economic status—just to name a few—include data about “other Blacks” as well. It is therefore unfair and insulting for a group of people to be allowed to add to the statistics of another group, and then dissociate from that group when it becomes convenient to do so.

For example, the doctor that is accused of “killing” Michael Jackson, Conrad Murray, is West Indian. Yet, when statistics are recorded about doctors in California that have lost their license, he is likely to be recorded as “Black/African-American.”

I wouldn’t have a problem with some Blacks wanting to dissociate themselves from other Blacks if a distinction really deserved to be made. But, the fact of the matter is that Blacks as a whole have not recovered from the psychological damage we experienced during the Enslavement Process, and the subsequent ills play out in all Black communities—not just those that include North American Blacks. When the mug shot of a “Black” person is broadcast on television, you do not know if that person is a North American Black, West Indian, or Latino. All West Indians do not have accents. Some Latinos are dark-skinned, with tightly-curled hair. It is not uncommon, for instance, for the mugshot of a “Black” person with locs (dred locks) and dark skin to be broadcast, and for the suspect’s last name to be something like “Mendez,” or “Rodriguez,” which most people associate with being Latino. There is no way to distinguish between North American and South and Central American Blacks by way of their last names, since the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade resulted in North, Central, and South American Blacks having last names that reflected those of our European captors, and Blacks transported from various regions having the same last names. Our first names aren’t telling, either. I’ve met just as many West Indians with names that rhyme with “eesha” and “eeka,” as I have met North American Blacks with such names.

The term “African-American” is now the same as saying “Bad Black Person.”  There used to be a time when certain attributes were associated with “Blacks” in general—attributes like chastity, discipline—now I’m hearing people attribute these qualities to so-called “immigrant Blacks” only—and suggesting that North American Blacks are the reason for everything that is wrong in Black communities and North America. Having all Blacks’ shortcomings coded as “Black/African-American” statistics is not fair and frustrating. When Caribbeans, continental Africans, dark-skinned Latinos and other people that “look” Black show up to meetings late, perform below standard on standardized exams, get involved in the criminal justice system, use public assistance, and engage in dysfunctional behaviors, they are coded as “Black/African-American.”

Blacks are the only ones with this problem:  I never hear Whites going through such pains to distinguish themselves from one another. I have never heard an Italian, British or Irish person, for example, insist on being called their ethnicity over being called “White.” Some Blacks think that being something other than “African-American” makes them more special, or that they are viewed differently or more favorably by Whites. Yet, when Abner Luimer, a Haitian—dare I say—immigrant—was sexually assaulted with a plunger by White police officers, clearly his status as a Haitian was not significant. When a comment was made about dropping a bomb in the middle of the Labor Day Parade in New York City—also known as the West Indian day parade—due to the large concentration of “Blacks” known to attend, there was no courtesy or consideration given to the ethnicities of parade participants or organizers.

Now let’s discuss their “immigrant” status. When White Americans refer to immigrants, they are generally referring to White-skinned people who had to learn English upon arriving in North America. Generally, the reference is to Eastern Europeans, Asians, and white-skinned Latinos. People with “Black” skin who arrive from another country are referred to as “Black/African-American,” especially those that simply have an accent. Continental Africans who have to learn English upon arrival have a better chance of being classified as “immigrants.”

So the question posed is:  Should North American Blacks be more elitist? Should we turn our noses up at immigrants the same way they do, at us? Is it fair that after all the strides we’ve made that benefit us and them that we should allow them to disrespect our legacy by pre-judging us, calling us “lazy,” selectively forgetting that our ancestors literally bled and died for civil rights that they take for granted? We allow them to join our Black greek letter organizations and secret societies, to take advantage of our legal defense funds, to apply for scholarships and opportunities for “African-Americans,” while they set up organizations and scholarships from which we are excluded. Can “African-Americans” be eligible for the scholarship superstar Rihanna set up for Caribbeans? Are African-Americans eligible for a Golden Krust Bakery scholarship?

Why do we North American Blacks allow everybody to infiltrate our success, while no one allows us to infiltrate theirs? Our award shows, magazines, newspapers, and other publications that were designed to feature our success now includes them. Meanwhile, other groups establish organizations specifically designed to exclude them from us, and do not include us the same way we naively include them. Is this the same mistake the Native Americans made—giving too much and then being taken advantage of?

Now is the perfect time for us to re-examine our relationships with other groups. I can imagine that they may need our help given the hoopla about immigration status. They will probably start preaching that we all need to stick together, while crossing their fingers behind their backs until they feel secure enough to start outwardly sticking up their noses at us again.

I better not catch any North American Blacks helping with this immigration sh**, because if North American Blacks were the ones who needed saving, no groups would come to our aid. They’d be talking about how we deserve our fate because we’re lazy and didn’t take advantage of opportunities. Who would remind this country about our contributions? North American Blacks are therefore encouraged NOT to support the DREAM or DACA Acts. You wanted to be separate from us, now you’ve got a good chance at being separated from us!

Spent all that time disassociating from so-called “African-Americans,” and thinking that their immigrant status made them more valued, now they see . . . Clayton Bigsby Syndrome    has gotten them nowhere.

This is a great time for North American Blacks to mobilize and preserve our legacy.

The elephants on the field #NFL #Kaepernick #DownOnBendedKnee

Posted October 15, 2017

Last year, when Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick knelt down during the national anthem, they meant to bring attention to race relations in America, especially police brutality, social injustice, the bail system and the importance of local government elections, specifically with district attorneys, according to an article. Yet, there are two reasons their protest continues to actually not be addressing those issues, and two taboo thoughts people have but are afraid to say:  1) Blacks are not the innocent victims they claim to be; and 2) We now live in a hypersensitive, politically correct, society where it is no longer safe to disagree or discuss uncomfortable topics.
Blacks are not the innocent victims we claim to be. At least one article I read about the Kaepernick situation suggested that Reid and Kaepernick’s original intention was to bring attention to slavery and race relations. Well, let’s talk about that:  We helped with the Enslavement Process. We led European colonists to villages to capture slaves, helped them capture slaves, and led captured Africans to the slave ships that sailed across the Atlantic to the Americas. We had also been enslaving each other for years before the Europeans introduced chattel slavery. And don’t hand me that “Yeah, but our form of slavery was different; It was more humane,” crap. Slavery is slavery. To force one’s lifestyle on others is wrong, even if the intention is to upgrade that person’s standard of living. People should always be free to choose their lifestyle. So: As there is plenty of blame to go around, we would be better off taking responsibility for our respective roles and focusing on rehabilitating our minds. Let’s just focus on unlearning the inferiority complexes we have developed and perpetuated from then until now.
While most of the problems Blacks face in this country are directly related to our not having recovered from the Enslavement Process, it is way past the time for us to have at least started rehabilitating. Our progress has been stagnated by useless church sermons and a lack of family planning–habits we learned from the Enslavement Process that we have yet to kick. A lot of our problems stem from the poverty that Slavery created. Poverty breeds contempt: Many of the crimes that cause urban Blacks to interact with police today are a direct result of the poverty that slavery created.
Further, police like many others in society are reacting to the image we perpetuate in our own communities. Think: Movies like “Ride Along,” where a Black man may be deemed to not be “tough enough” and has to prove his virility. Blacks are quick to label each other as “soft,” or “not Black,” or “not Black enough.” Then, when people treat us like we’re “bad,” or expect the worse from us, we complain that we’re being targeted. Blacks are the least diverse group of people in America, with all of our intracultural judgments about what people are supposed to do and when they’re supposed to do it. So we look kind of stupid bringing attention to a thought process and subsequent behavior pattern that we perpetuate in our own communities.
The current protest is not fair to those who gave their lives fighting in the original Civil Rights Movement. The issues we face now are not to be compared to our experiences in the 60’s and prior. True:  Some racists have always remained, and Trump’s presidency has put some Whites under the belief that it’s okay to be openly racist, or to express the ideas that had to be suppressed while liberal Democrats seem to rule the day. But we are not being fair, or honest, if we act like things haven’t changed at all, especially given our tendency to accuse Blacks who try to do anything worthwhile as “not being Black.” Often, when a Black person tries to achieve and overturn a stereotype, that person is accused of “acting White,” or “trying to be better,” or my favorite–“bourgeoisie” Go figure:  Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do–try to be better? We have to make up our minds–in our own communities–and treat each other fairly before we require fairness from others.
It is not fair to portray the interactions between police and some Blacks, now, as racist police officers picking off innocent Blacks one by one. These interactions are not the extension of lynching they are being portrayed to be. They are the result of unresolved poverty–the petty crimes that poverty provoke that cause police interactions. Kaepernick and others, therefore, should concentrate their efforts on resolving the poverty that causes police interactions.
We now live in a hypersensitive, politically correct, society where it is no longer safe to disagree or discuss uncomfortable topics. Some sports teams opted not to come out of the locker room during the national anthem, presumably to take the pressure of off people to kneel or not, or to show some gesture of support and risk offending one way or the other. I feel sorry for Black athletes and celebrities who think kneeling is unnecessary, but who are worried about maintaining their fan base. Some players and coaches compromised by locking arms to show “unity.” They had to do something, right? Or else they would be perceived as agreeing with President Trump; which goes right back to that hypersensitive, politically correct thing I was talking about–where in order to please people and not be called a racist, you have to show some sign of submission to that which will keep hypersensitive people happy. Some have commented that this kneeling situation has put people in the position of having to choose:  If you kneel or lock arms, you’re okay because it shows support; if you do nothing, you’re racist. This thinking perpetuates a dangerous dichotomy that prevents honest conversation and analysis, because it leaves everyone afraid to say how they really feel. And it prevents honest dialogue and critical analysis because it allows people to avoid addressing pertinent issues, or fault, by claiming to be offended–even by constructive criticism.
President Obama handled a question about whether refusing to stand during the national anthem is disrespectful brilliantly when addressing a veteran’s question about Kaepernick kneeling. Obama urged Kaepernick to consider the feelings of veterans and service families, and encouraged service members and their families to consider Kaepernick’s pain. That’s how you stay sane when someone’s conduct is not aligned with your expectations or desires:  You critically think about their motivations and move on.

I wish celebrities would be more careful about supporting protests. They’re in a tough position: They have to be careful not to offend their fans, and want to seem interested in the same issues as their fans, but they also have employers to please–and they have their own views which undoubtedly get suppressed between trying to please the two. Black celebrities are being put in the position of kneeling or showing some other form of support, or being a called a sellout; worrying about how many social media followers they will lose, or how many less tickets they will sell if they do not appear on the “right side” of the controversy. Where is the diversity in demanding that someone agree with you or be labeled your enemy?

The current protest and so-called Black Lives Matter movement is corroding the relationship between Blacks and law enforcement, and is making race relations difficult for all Blacks. And it could not happen at a worse time–when there are natural disasters demanding the resources and attention of people and organizations in the best position to share. Biting the hands of potential allies could backfire miserably.

Kaepernick and others would be better off using their celebrity to start conversations about the root cause of issues, or using their foundations to help cure poverty. Here’s a novel idea: How about Mr. Kaepernick advising little Black boys and girls against engaging in behaviors that destroy our communities and ability to relate to each other, such as advising against engaging in irresponsible sex, and gossiping. How about Black celebrities focus on promoting family planning and birth control, as many of our problems stem from the dysfunctional families that are created when do what we were taught to do during Slavery?



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