Playground or Politics?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

As I shared here, I have been entrusted with a weekly column in the prestigious Southeast Missourian, with my first one in the January 12, 2016, newspaper.

My second column was published on January 19 and is available online for your enjoyment and reflection--or read it right here:

Playground or Politics?

For months, Americans have tuned in to watch the Republican presidential candidates gather on stage to answer questions crafted to reveal who is most qualified to lead the nation. Because the field is the size of a small army, these debates have been divided in two -- undercard and main -- based on polling.

I watched the JV team members swallow their pride and mount the stage each time. Those debates gave us some of the best exchanges and revealed some of the most talented candidates in the entire race. Carly Fiorina, for example, emerged after the first undercard debate as a force with whom to be reckoned. Granted, I doubt she actually has a shot at the Oval Office, at least not at the top spot, but no one can credibly deny that she has a commanding grasp of the issues, is articulate, and is undaunted-- particularly as it pertains to taking it to Hillary Clinton. Her impressive performance garnered her a main stage podium in subsequent debates.

Which brings us to last week and the Fox Business Channel debate. Sen. Rand Paul did not qualify for the main debate and responded by announcing he would not participate in the undercard, either. He disputed the accuracy of the polling used to determine which debate candidates qualified for and accused the powers-that-be of trying to mute his message.

"We will not participate in anything that's not first tier," he said, because he has a "top-tier campaign" and deserves to be on the main stage with the varsity team. Translation: "I'm taking my toys, leaving the playground and going home." Yes, his decision was childish at best, and he followed it by sticking his middle finger up -- literally -- "at the media" during an interview with ABC Radio.

Really, Rand?

Though Paul used this perceived slight to "take his message directly to the voters of New Hampshire and Iowa" and to fundraise, he has done the American people a disservice.

The proper response, even if he really were the "top tier" candidate he fancies himself to be, would be to behave like a top-notch diplomat. The proper response for someone who wants to be the leader of the free world would be to humble himself, show up on stage with the others -- Sen. Rick Santorum, Gov. Mike Huckabee and Carly Fiorina (who, once again, found herself in the undercard debate) -- and answer the questions that matter to Americans. We already have a president whom many feel is afflicted with a severe case of arrogance; we don't need another.

Truth be told, this is not Paul's time. If ever it was or if ever it will be, I do not know. But I do know that at this time, when national security is the No. 1 concern among voters, Paul's message is not the message people are embracing. If the NSA is the first thought that comes to mind when your name is uttered, now is not your time. If your picture could easily be in the dictionary alongside the word "isolationist," again, now is not your time. Americans are craving safety and security, and we want a leader who will do what's necessary to provide and protect that. It will take more than the "Stand with Rand" mantra to drag Paul's "top tier" campaign to the top of the pack.

Had I been considering casting a vote for the senator from Kentucky -- which I was not -- his behavior last week would have put the kibosh on it. It revealed deep disrespect for the process by which we weigh candidates who want our votes, and it was a slap in the face of the other candidates, who found the humility to appear on the lesser stage because they recognized the American people deserve as much.

Fiorina disputed the polling also, but what was her response? "In the Fox News poll, I'm in sixth place, which would qualify me," she said, adding, "But hey, I'll debate anyone, anytime, anywhere. I'll be in South Carolina, and what I know is that polls don't win elections; voters do."

Fiorina demonstrated leadership. Leadership demands a willingness to do what's necessary -- as unpleasant or humbling as it may be -- to get your message to as many as possible. Paul could learn a lot from her. His decision to skip the debate reveals an inability not only to lead in this most crucial time in American history, but to follow, as well.

Adrienne Ross is an editor, writer, public speaker, former teacher and coach, Southeast Missourian editorial board member and owner of Adrienne Ross Communications.

Read my first column, "Obama's Empty Chair and Sincere, Empty Tears," at the Southeast Missourian here.


My Take on #OscarsSoWhite and Call for Blacks to Boycott Oscars

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Jada Pinkett Smith and others are calling on blacks, using the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, to boycott the Oscars and perhaps break from mainstream entertainment. Their beef is that black actors and actresses are being overlooked for Academy Award nominations. I was asked for my take on this.

My response is rather simple. I do not know the inner workings of the Academy or Hollywood. I am not entrenched in what those who are complaining may be entrenched in. I am not even a movie buff. That being said, I believe that Dr. King's dream was that no one would be judged by color. We should all be judged by the merits of our characters--and our abilities. People should not be given a nomination just to fill a quota. If the Academy is playing dirty, then by all means, call them out. However, if folks just want a nod because they feel entitled or are playing the victim, that's not cool.

When I score big, I want to score big because I earned it, not because I complained and made others feel guilty that they didn't pick me or someone who looks like me. I am confident enough in my abilities to believe that they can stand up to anyone else's abilities--be they black, white, male, or female. Judge me on that.

If next year, a dozen, five, one black actor receives a nomination, will the thought be, "They got that because they complained"? Will the nod be given because pressure was applied? That's not cool, either. We know there are many talented black actors and actresses; they do not deserve to have an asterisk hanging over their Academy Award. As for me, I want to be applauded because I deserve it--without threats of boycotts and bashing.

Janet Hubert, who played Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, blasted Will and Jada in a video on YouTube. It does include some profanity, so be advised:


Back Online

Saturday, January 16, 2016

MotivationTruth is back. We have been down for a while due to some technical difficulties I was experiencing. I think we're good to go now. So much has transpired in the months since I've posted, and I won't try to rehash.

One exciting thing I will share is that I have been given my own weekly column in the Southeast Missourian, where I freelance and am on the editorial board. This past Tuesday, January 12, was my first column. It is posted below and is also online.


Obama's Empty Chair and Sincere, Empty Tears

On Tuesday, President Obama stood before the nation and wept. He wept for the children lost to gun violence. Those who, like the Sandy Hook Elementary School students, were innocent and precious and deserved to be nurtured and protected, not gunned down. He stood at the podium in the same room as people who have lost loved ones in the cruelest of ways and announced his executive actions on gun control.

Who wouldn't understand the shedding of tears after such shedding of blood? But the second I heard his silence and saw his streaming tears, I knew what was coming: a plethora of comments about the sincerity -- or lack thereof, rather -- of the president's display of emotion: "political posturing," playing on fears," "empty tears."

One must wonder how we got to the place where tears about something that ought to choke all of us up became fodder for criticism. However we got here, whenever we got here, we've certainly arrived.

This president cannot do anything without being subjected to the scalpel conservatives across the nation wield. And I have been one of them. But as a patient's own behavior is often responsible for the condition in which he finds himself, so, too, Obama holds some responsibility for his. His penchant for being unmoved by things of incredible importance has garnered him the evil eye. No wonder his tears are deemed empty.

After announcing that the Islamic State (ISIS) had beheaded American journalist James Foley, the president of the United States returned to the golf course. While some called his golf game "bad optics," others called it unfathomable. How does one even stomach a game after someone's head has been severed from his body for all to see? Where were his tears then?

Where were his tears as we watched in horror as Planned Parenthood staff members appeared to discuss the monetary value of aborted baby body parts, all while swigging wine and indulging in salad at a restaurant? While they discussed employing "less crunchy" methods of the abortion procedure to procure "whole specimens," did he shed any tears? Did he seem even the slightest bit moved for the most innocent among us?

Unlike some, I do not doubt President Obama's sincerity as he shed tears contemplating lives lost through senseless acts of violence. Mind you, I don't agree with his use of executive actions to trample the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, and I know that not one of the actions he announced would have stopped one of the mass shootings or terrorist attacks he referenced, but I do not doubt the authenticity of his tears. His tears were real, and they reveal what he truly cares about -- what moves him to action -- just as they reveal what does not move him. But because his real tears do not lead to actions that provide real solutions, those tears are empty.

Obama's response to the deep concern Americans have about terrorism is to mock and criticize. His response to the belief that it is foolish to admit Syrian refugees without a proper vetting process is to preach to Christians about the "orphan and the widow." His response to law-abiding citizens who cling to their right to protect themselves and their families with firearms is to blow them off, using his pen and phone to override them. His response to those who want to protect the right to life, which includes, of course, the unborn, is to label them "right-wing extremists" and "radical domestic terrorists" -- all while refusing to apply the term "radical Islam" to the ideology espoused by avowed radical Islamic State terrorists.

Make no mistake: His tears were real. We should all cry as we think of those first-graders whose time on this earth was the blink of an eye. We need to cry, too, for efforts to infringe on our right to arm ourselves and protect such children. We need to cry for those who are never given a chance to be born and whose bodies are not even respected after that chance is terminated. Instead, Obama cries for things that don't offer solutions. He cries for gun control. He cries for law-abiding Muslims he believes will be mistreated, without evidence that this is prevalent. He cries for climate control, which, unbelievably, he deems the greatest threat we face. He cries empty -- albeit, sincere -- tears.

Tonight, during his State of the Union address, Obama will leave one seat empty in Michelle Obama's guest box to represent those lost to gun violence -- "to honor their memory" and send a gun control message to Congress. His empty chair this Tuesday and his empty, sincere tears last Tuesday reveal his agenda, which is empty of anything that will solve the problems we face. But they do reveal who he sincerely is -- both what he values and what he does not.

Adrienne Ross is an editor, writer, public speaker, former teacher and coach, Southeast Missourian editorial board member, and owner of Adrienne Ross Communications. She has been a speaker and panelist at churches, education forums, youth gatherings, school assemblies, and political events, and has written for politicians, public figures, newspapers, and websites. Adrienne hosts an online radio show, The Right Voice, which covers politics and national and global news. She has been interviewed on radio, television, and online about topics such as education, politics, race, and faith.


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