Most Americans are Immigrants…and Could Be the ‘Other’

The only Native Americans in the CONUS are the American Indians, and OCONUS are the Aboriginal peoples of the Hawaiian Islands (Kanaka Maoli), and the Indigenous peoples of Alaska (Inuit). Most Americans are either immigrants or descendants of immigrants who came to America to begin new lives. Sadly, American immigrants include descendants with ancestors who were brought to America against their will as victims of the global industries of slavery and/or human trafficking.  Without the uniqueness of all American peoples whose ancestors are from everywhere, America would not be what She is, and our collective lives would lack diverse enrichment. We are a young Republic of immigrants.

Ancient Europeans’ (and others’) History has restated itself here in America, uplifting the supremacy of white patriarchal society, whilst suppressing and targeting those perceived as lesser beings, the ‘Other’. In particular, hate Crimes against the ‘Other’ continue to tear the fabric of America. These are our fellow human beings and hate crimes must be addressed from the grassroots local levels through state to national organizations and government. Why is it so difficult for too many people to simply be good humans and realize that we are a human collective on our beloved Earth Mother together, each of us living, loving and trying to do our best in life? When an individual or group behaves in a racist manner and conducts violent acts against innocent beings of the same race…the human race…it impacts everyone whether they realize it or not. It makes the oppressors, who are cowards, feel powerful when they attack vulnerable people. America has fallen into ignominy as a segregated and divisive Republic, one who was a pillar of promise for all peoples. We the People can restore promise.

My Afghan Girl Who Touched My Heart

One of my favorite photos from my US Army career is one that a friend took of me with the young Afghan girl who came to me the handful of times I got to visit Kabul, Afghanistan whilst deployed there in 2002. I came to call her “my” Afghan girl about whom my daughter asked me, to include would I have adopted her if that had been possible, gifting her a sister. She was about my daughter Alex’s age at the time. I would have brought her home if I could have, and of course asked her politely if we could take a photo together. Even in war-torn Afghanistan, I got the feeling that she was a gentle and kind little soul.

I gave her $1 or $2 for new shoes on my last visit and told her to keep it hidden from her father and brothers. I knew they would take it from her and she needed new shoes, probably sandals. She had a scar on her pretty face – probably abuse/torture from male family members. Perhaps it was a scar of the fighting. I will never know but often wonder how she is doing now and if she is even still alive. She sought me out as a female figure. I respected that and in my own way, came to care for her although I never knew her name and never asked, to protect her.

We never know who, when, or where someone may place a indelible imprint on our hearts and minds, one that we live with good, bad, or indifferent. My meeting of this young girl was a positive experience, one that left love in my heart amongst so much bad. I can only hope that she is doing well and thriving on her own accord, in her own right. She is one of too many little girls around the world that do not get a fair chance to excel and live in their own rights…to be free of oppression. We must lift them up and continually hope that the lives of such innocents will get better.

Audre Lorde

I completed Sister Outsider – Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde. She delivers to the reader honest and raw truths with nothing held back. I appreciate her bold, intelligent approach to speaking out for black women and others who society perceives as the ‘other,’ and has throughout the history of most of the world. I consider myself to be aware and receptive. Ms. Lorde broadened my insight and opened my mind and heart to the degree and methods of racism and classicism that fellow humans enact against people of color. The issues surrounding women rights and inequality and loving women resonate with me; however, her powerful words about the struggles against and among black women disturb me. They disturb me in the sense that with my mere glimpse into black society I cannot fathom how our fellow beings of color have struggled and continue to struggle in this day and age with racism and classicism. It is disgraceful. It is inexcusable. It is cowardly…those who feel insignificant harbor the need to exert some sort of power over others who they perceive as essentially lesser beings, when in actuality the oppressors are the lesser beings.

Within many of my books I read, I take notes and/or highlight and earmark chapters/pages that contain passages that leap from the paper into my being. In her paper entitled “Age, Rage, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference,” which was delivered at the Copeland Colloquium, Amherst College, April 1980, Ms. Lorde succinctly defines conditional racism/classicism, a global issue.

MUCH OF WESTERN EUROPEAN history conditions us to see human differences in simplistic opposition to each other: dominant/subordinate, good/bad, up/down, superior/inferior. In a society where the good is defined in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, there must always be some group of people who, through systematized oppression, can be made to feel surplus, to occupy the place of the dehumanized inferior. Within this society, that group is made up of Black and Third World people, working-class people, older people, and women.

Audre Lorde, “Age, Rage, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference,” in Sister Outsider – Essays and Speeches (1984; repr., New York: Crossing Press, 2007), 114.

Audre Lorde was a brave and intelligent woman – a poet, a writer, an activist, a black, lesbian, feminist with two children whose partner was a white woman. Now think about that for even just a second, if you can about how society to include her own, and I mean her black society and sisters, considered her and her family. Yes…surely as the ‘other’ – bad, down, inferior – less worthy than the good, up, superior oppressors. Who do we think we are as a society of such rich global culture to sit in judgment of our fellow humankind, people who are trying to make a life for themselves? We are supposed to be in this thing called life together because it is not easy for everyone and I would argue that even the wealthy who grew up knowing nothing about poverty, racism, classicism, bias and more, have indeed had times of unhappiness. Happiness is inside each of us and we hold up and are held up by our fellow humans, or put down by them. It is a choice, to be a good human, and it is not…should not be so difficult to understand.

Thank you Audre Lorde for helping me view the world through an enhanced, clearer lens. I am a good human but like all of us, not without faults, and when pitted against those I perceive to be bad humans I can run into trouble. Thinkers like you help me to seek what is inside and really study myself and others, to be a better human and continue to improve myself.

Note: The photo of Audre Lorde from the Poetry Foundation website,, accessed 9 March 2021.

The Celtic Circle of Belonging

The title of this post is taken from a section heading in Anam Cara – A Celtic Book of Wisdom by John O’Donohue. Since my childhood I have been one with nature and animals. Later in life I finally learned why and am now on the path of my choice…my destiny. My ancestors are the Celtic peoples – primarily Irish, Scottish, and Belgic. Belgic Gaul was comprised of tribes of Celtic peoples, Celtic-Germanic, and those who were primarily German, and the Belgic Gauls were among the first to immigrate from Continental Europe to the southeast coast of Britain when fleeing Belgic Gaul during Caesar’s conquest of Gallia Belgica (58-55 BCE).1 The Celtic peoples have a rich history that is replete with the arts and scholarly learning, among other traits, honoring of Earth Mother, the waters, trees and sacred spaces via which to practice rituals to honor our ancestors and God/desses.

The Celtic circle around the well, the fire and the tree is something I have understood at my core but was unable to realize fully due to various life circumstances. It is in this circle that I can now be comfortable, belong…be myself and understand who I am and have always been. I find the freedom to practice what I believe and continue to take action to protect our natural resources. I share a poem from a book my Irish Mom gave me and that I also gave to my own daughter – Anam Cara-A Book of Celtic Wisdom.

I arise today
through the strength of heaven, light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

(Trans. Kuno Meyr)

John O’Donohue, Anam Cara – A Book of Celtic Wisdom (1997; repr. New York: Perennial, 2004), 3-4.

The citation is from my recent MA thesis entitled Revisiting Ancient Celtic Civilization: Threat to Roman Supremacy? (Oct 2020)
1 Maureen Carroll, Romans, Celts & Germans: The German Provinces of Rome (Gloucestershire, UK: Tempus Publishing Ltd., 2001), 17; Julius Caesar, The Gallic War 2.4/Edwards, 93-95; ed. Jeffrey Henderson, trans. H. J. Edwards (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, Loeb Classical Library, 1917).

Some days it is difficult to rise out of bed and greet the day. Everyone is unique with her/his/their own beliefs and religion. Whatever your religion is get up, be thankful, honor it, live it, and devote yourself to virtuous action in our shared society.

Find your own circle…Blessings…

Gwendolyn Brooks and Her “Anniad”

I bought three new books, selected to honor Black History and enrich my perspective. I just read through The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks edited by Elizabeth Alexander, American Poets Project, The Library of America, 2005. As with all poetry books I read, I ran straight through it and will return later to focus on the contents and Ms. Brooks’ words more closely. Her work is raw and revealing, especially to a white woman. Yes, I have experienced prejudice based on my gender (ignoring and/or countering my expertise in being technically correct), and who I love (cannot simply hold the hand of my wife in many places). Yet, it does not compare to the racial bias and violence deployed against our Black friends and neighbors that enrich every aspect of our collective human experience called life – if we enable them as equal members of our society – which is who they are by our given rights.

One epic poem that stood out based on my concentration and interest in Ancient & Classical History was “The Anniad.” The similarity of the title and thematic narratives should not be lost on those familiar with The Aeneid by Roman poet Virgil (T. Vergilius Maro, 70-19 BCE). To read Virgil’s Aeneid online, a scholarly-sanctioned Loeb translation, go here: Gwendolyn Brooks gives the reader a view of feminine sexual idealism and the struggles in a world focused on patriarchy, to include love, imagined and real, warfare, and other tangential scenarios. Dr. Ann Folwell Stanford, professor of multidisciplinary and literary studies, provided a detailed analysis of “The Anniad,” in her article “An Epic with a Difference: Sexual Politics in Gwendolyn Brooks’s “The Anniad.” Dr. Folwell discussed not only “The Anniad,” but also the underlying currents running throughout its cover volume Annie Allen (1949).

Gwendolyn Brooks’s second volume of poetry, Annie Allen (1949), furthers a resistance to white racist hegemony begun in A Street in Bronzeville (1945) but extends its analysis to the confining ideology that (mis)shapes gender and distorts sexual relationships. Many of Annie Allen’s poems interrogate femininity and romantic love, looking at how such constructs restrict women to an oppressive and ultimately unworkable notion of love. Annie continually experiences conflicts be- tween opposites within herself: realism/idealism, assertion/submission, and expression/repression. These dialectical terms dictate struggle, and that struggle inheres in many of the volume’s best poems. Feminized both by title and subject matter, Annie Allen foregrounds a resistance to male co-optation and female passivity and offers a critique of sexual politics focusing on the imbalance of power that frequently characterizes relations between the sexes.

Ann Folwell Stanford. “An Epic with a Difference: Sexual Politics in Gwendolyn Brooks’s “The Anniad,” American Literature 67, no. 2 (June 1995): 283, accessed 18 February 2021,

I share below the opening lines of Brooks’ “The Anniad” to wet your appetite to engage her work. I will be reading more of her work, which is beautiful in its complexity and simplicity, and raw portrayal of life impacted by gender inequality and racism.

Think of sweet and chocolate,
Left to folly or to fate,
Whom the higher gods forgot,
Whom the lower gods berate;
Physical and underfed
Fancying on the featherbed
What was never and is not.

Gwendolyn Brooks, The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks, ed. Elizabeth Alexander (New York: The Library of America, 2005), 36.

With this brief introduction, I now challenge you, dear reader, to explore the world of not only Gwendolyn Brooks, but of other black and female authors who bravely broke the codes through their artistic expressions. We are bound to honor and thank them.

Death Comes for the Archbishop

I vaguely recall that I read something by Willa Cather…decades ago. Like many of us, my life became focused on other missions and their recommended or relevant readings. Furthermore, I generally have not been focused on American literature. That is changing as I continue to evolve and broaden my scope. I will read all of Willa Cather’s books in due time as her work is revealing and so descriptive of the Native American Southwest and other adventures that pioneers endured in settling America’s breadbasket, where I grew up.

Within a few phrases I realized why Claire Messud referenced Death Comes for the Archbishop in her book that I briefly discussed in a prior post. I was hooked and could not wait to keep turning the pages. Those of us who have visited our American Southwest, especially New Mexico and Arizona, understand the awe of the desert landscape and its reverberating energy…Native American spiritual energy that is unmistakable in its mystical, pure, and raw forms. When I visited the Grand Canyon in 2002 and arose early with my friend to watch the sunrise, it was a priceless moment, an exquisite example of nature’s splendor. More recently, when my wife and I visited Sedona, and when I visited Taos, the energy was ever-present, tingling one’s senses with its wonderful vibrations. Each time I go to the Southwest, it calls me to be there and live among the ancestors.

Willa Cather paints a beautiful and picturesque scene with her words, strung together like an artist, perfect in their description and ability to transport the reader into her book, a vibrant movie reel in one’s open mind. I share a passage below that popped out when my book simply fell open to its pages. Cather painted the natural yet deliberate array of the vast rock mesas, the grandeur of the Indian pueblo at Ácoma, New Mexico.

In all his travels the Bishop had seen no country like this. From the flat red sea of sand rose great rock mesas, generally Gothic in outline, resembling vast cathedrals. They were not crowded together in disorder, but placed in wide spaces, long vistas between. … The sandy soil of the plain had a light sprinkling of junipers, and was splotched with masses of blooming rabbit brush,—that olive-coloured plant that grows in high waves like a tossing sea, at this season covered with a thatch of bloom, yellow as gorse, or orange like marigolds.

This mesa plain had an appearance of great antiquity, and of incompleteness; as if, with all the materials for world-making assembled, the Creator had desisted, gone away and left everything on the point of being brought together, on the eve of being arranged into mountain, plain, plateau. The country was still waiting to be made into a landscape.

Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927; repr., New York: Vintage Classics Edition, 1990), 94-95.

Come one, come all and join Willa Cather to vividly explore the adventures of America’s construction. Through her illustrations, find rays of light and rainbows that shone and glittered, in the bitter and destructive wake, of those who were strong and fought for the right to live, and the missions who understood, respected, and supported their way of life. Reminisce in the stars that shine down upon us in our own worlds.

To Be an Historian

I have always loved studying history and reading the classics, which I began exploring in grade school. However, I now understand that most of the classics to which I was introduced were a minutiae of the ancient and classical works with which I have fallen in love over the last few years. Even when growing up, I thought reading about and studying history was important so humankind would perhaps learn from its past errors in judgement and reflect on the consequences of subsequent actions. However, too often that has not been the case. As we have witnessed throughout time, humans have not applied lessons to promote positive change. Furthermore, some took history into their own hands and cherry-picked elements that suited their personal agenda and ideals to fuel their causes that aimed to stymie equal rights and target the other(s) not like them.

I had what I call the privilege to witness and learn from the destruction left behind the various wakes of human brutality throughout my 30-year US Army/DoD career. My assignment in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) from mid-1988 through late 1991 was a most exciting yet tenuous time. During my tour, which was fabulous by the way, I saw the reunification of the two Germanies – the FRG and the German Democratic Republic (GDR)/Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR), the fall of the Berlin Wall, and withdrawal of Soviet Groups of Forces from the Eastern Front back to the east of the Ural Mountains. Families separated by the border fences and walls that divided West from East were reunited and Germany began healing, albeit slowly. While stationed in the Republic of Korea (ROK) from 1995-1996, I came to understand why we still stand in defense of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the ROK and Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) to her north. Witnessing the violent ethnic cleansing/genocide when deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of Stabilization Forces (SFOR) 5/6 in 1998-1999 was a life-changing experience and drastically affected the context and manner in which I consider humankind in light of heinous atrocities inflicted on the other(s). Deployed in support of combat operations in Afghanistan (2002) and Iraq (2004, 2009, 2010/11) taught me more lessons about inequality and suffering. I consider myself fortunate to have had these experiences, and to have lived to recall them and apply their lessons.

I am ready to pursue my midlife adventure as an historian and independent scholar who wants to conduct research, apply long-practiced analytical skills, write, and teach. I know I have a lot to offer and also to learn, which is OKAY, as one should never cease learning along the continuum of life. So where does that put me within the continuum of history? Considering my concentration in ancient and classical history, one could propose a long time ago and irrelevant, which is so far from the reality of how important classics remain, now, today, in 2021 and the future. The writing…telling of history is ever-changing due to technological advances and multidisciplined, synthesized analytical methods. One must live in the present but have the agility to analyze history through a contextual lens of that time and piece together a likely scenario, which may readily apply to the present, our current modern history. History is alive and ready for the recipient.

What does it take to be an historian, and a history teacher, is a question that certainly elicits varied responses and lively discourse. I share below an excerpt from Professor Stephen Kantrowitz’s keynote address to graduating history majors at the University of Wisconsin in May 2020. Italics are as written in the editorial.

To think like a historian demands two contradictory things of us: profound humility, and overweening arrogance. Humility because we know that when we reconstruct the past, we are not actually putting the thing together as it was, not recovering a lost, eternal truth, but instead making meaning. And that’s why the arrogance: because even though we know the limitations of our knowledge, we try to tell a coherent story about the past. A story that fits the facts as we find them, that addresses the meaningful contradictions, that is frank about the absences and uncertainties without retreating into hopelessness. A story that acknowledges the limits of our knowledge and our perspective, but that does not throw up its hands.

In this way, the historian’s job is the same as that of the citizen.

“From the Editors’ Desk: Teaching History in the Time of COVID,” The American Historical Review 125, no. 3 (June 2020): xviii.

I am ready and willing…are you?

Note: For a seminal discussion of the West’s perceptions of the East, and concept of “the other” see Edward W. Said, Orientalism (1978; repr., New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1978).

My Passion

I am an historian. I love history and always have enjoyed studying history. My most recent degree is an MA in History with the concentration in Ancient and Classical studies (1 December 2020 conferral). I consider myself fortunate to have been stationed in Germany when the Berlin Wall fell and the FRG and DDR reunified, and Former Soviet Groups of Forces redeployed to the east of the Urals. History provides keys to our past, context to our present, and potential windows into our future. History must survive and neither be destroyed nor rewritten to serve the whims and wiles of governments, movements, politicians, and anyone who wants to erase the undesirable and uncomfortable. The past serves to remind us of the good, the bad, and the hideous atrocities so we can learn and perhaps choose to not repeat past transgressions. The hope is for us collectively to become better humans toward one another, our planet and her wildlife and natural resources. There is unending knowledge to be obtained from ancient times, if one is a seeker.