THE WHEEL SPEAKS 2013 – Respect When Respect Is Due

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THE WHEEL SPEAKS 2013 – Respect When Respect Is Due

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THE WHEEL SPEAKS 2013 – Respect When Respect Is Due

  1. 1.   1     THE  WHEEL  SPEAKS  2013  –  Respect  When  Respect  Is  Due   Today  I  just  wanted  to  reflect  back,  back  on  my  personal  upbringing  in  particularly   when  I  was  a  high  school  student  in  Jersey  City  at  Lincoln  High  School.  I  came  up   through  the  years  1974  through  1978  a  transitional  time  in  this  country  following   the  1960’s  where  civil  rights  was  the  catalyst  which  initiated  change  throughout  the   country.  A  change  in  which  many  of  my  generation  benefitted  being  we  during  the   70’s  were  suddenly  allowed  to  do  many  of  the  things  our  parents  and  especially  our   grandparents  couldn’t  do.  And  with  this  independence  many  of  the  kids  my  age  also   were  very  guilty  of  being  unappreciative  of  struggles  that  particularly  African   Americans  had  to  endure  in  order  to  make  the  lives  of  generations  to  come  like  my   generation  comfortable.     I  wasn’t  a  role  model  student  as  a  teenager  I’ll  be  the  first  to  admit  that  but  the  one   thing  I  did  appreciate  during  my  high  school  years  was  the  teachers  who  I’d  come  in   contact  with  who  possess  a  certain  characteristic.  And  that  characteristic  of  course   retrospective  I  can  describe  it  now  but  back  then  in  was  something  I  needed   particularly  at  that  point  in  my  life.  And  that  was  discipline  for  some  reason  instead   of  being  scared  or  shying  away  from  the  disciplinarians  during  my  era  I  would  seek   them.  I  had  some  great  women  in  my  life  who  didn’t  play  and  made  it  clear  they   were  not  my  friend  and  loved  me  with  all  their  hearts  even  though  they  absolutely   never  said  it  aloud.    
  2. 2.   2   And  in  those  days  not  many  parents  did  but  my  mother  and  my  grandmother  were   very  stern  and  didn’t  take  any  mess  and  as  the  person  who  held  my  entire  family   together  my  mothers  mom  Nancy  Sue  Rogers  demanded  and  receive  respect   everywhere.  But  along  with  my  brothers  the  three  of  us  had  gotten  to  the  age  where   we’d  no  longer  be  around  mom  every  day  and  would  be  spending  majority  of  our   awaken  hours  in  high  school.     Being  athletes  and  at  the  same  time  especially  speaking  for  myself  starting  to  as  my   mother  would  say  “feel  my  oats”  getting  a  little  cocky  it  had  gotten  to  the  point   where  it  was  necessary  for  someone  to  put  me  in  my  place.  And  that  person  caught   me  exactly  at  the  right  time  I  can  remember  like  it  happen  yesterday  and  it  happen   in  1974.  I  was  walking  in  my  high  school  corridor  wearing  my  mustang  hat  which   was  not  allowed  in  school  and  bopping  a  big  time  freshman  or  at  least  I  thought  and   then  out  of  the  blue  this  man  appeared  and  literally  grabbed  me  physically  by   armpit  and  brought  me  into  a  neighboring  office.  I  had  no  idea  who  he  was  then  I   begin  to  look  on  the  walls  of  the  office  and  begin  noticing  pictures  of  the  football   team  all  around  the  room  then  upon  his  desk  I  saw  the  name  tag  that  read  “Dean   Harry  Massey”.     Harry  Massey  the  legend  himself  Mr.  Massey  was  the  face  of  Lincoln  High  School   himself  having  had  attended  and  being  a  superstar  athlete  and  becoming  the  coach   of  a  widely  respected  program  in  the  city  having  coach  some  players  to  division  1   prominence.  But  more  so  Mr.  Massey  was  known  as  a  disciplinarian  who  quite   simply  did  not  play.     I’d  already  been  aware  that  along  with  Mr.  Massey  in  high  school  my  uncles  actually   starred  on  the  football  team  years  ago  with  him  and  I  knew  the  last  thing  I  wanted  to   say  was  my  last  name.  Being  that  he  went  to  school  with  my  father  and  all  my  uncles   and  why  would  that  be  a  problem  you  ask?  Easy  to  explain  basically  my  father  and   his  brothers  all  have  the  last  name  Thomas  like  mine  but  what  would   instantaneously  ring  a  bell  in  Mr.  Massey’s  memory  would  be  that  like  them  my  first   name  started  with  the  letter  B.  And  of  course  when  Mr.  Massey  began  questioning   me  I  tried  to  be  cool  and  immediately  he  dedicated  that  and  verbatim  here’s  our   conversation.     Mr.  Massey:  The  bell  rang  where  are  you  going  walking  down  the  hall  way  not  only   late  but  wearing  a  hat  on  your  head  like  your  Super  Fly  or  something?  Oh,  you  think   you’re  cool  right?  Hmmmmm  a  cool  freshman  I  got  here  sitting  with  me,  what’s  your   name?   Me:  Basil   Mr.  Massey:  Basil?  What  kind  of  name  is  that?  Ok  what’s  your  last  name?   Me:  (reluctantly  and  under  my  breath  I  said)  Thomas   Mr.  Massey:  Thomas!  Thomas!  Thomas!  Hmmmmmmmmmm    hmmmmmmmmm.   (Now  I  am  confused  and  don’t  have  a  clue  what’s  happening  then  Mr.  Massey  begins   looking  on  a  calendar  in  his  office  and  we’re  in  the  month  of  October…then  he  begins   to  speak  again)  
  3. 3.   3   Mr.  Massey:  Ok  Mr.  Thomas  today  date  is  October  2nd  and  I  don’t  want  to  see  you  until   October  17th  and  bring  your  father  not  your  mother,  your  father  if  you  don’t  bring  him   don’t  come  back  understand?   Me:  I  said  that’s  2  weeks  I  am  excluded  for  two  weeks?   Mr.  Massey:  (He  then  said)  and  you’re  now  trespassing  if  you  don’t  get  out  of  my  office   I’ll  have  Mr.  White  (the  resident  police  officer  on  school  grounds)  bring  you  to  the   precinct  and  book  you.     Of  course  I  was  in  shock  not  only  because  I  was  scared  to  death  at  telling  my  mother   but  how  was  I  going  to  tell  my  father?  Honestly  I  just  decided  to  tell  my  father  right   away  because  I’d  rather  have  dealt  with  him  then  my  mother  back  in  the  days.  I  gave   him  the  entire  story  and  told  him  the  date  being  two  weeks  away  and  he  told  me  to   immediately  get  dressed.    We  proceeded  to  the  school  going  directly  to  the  Dean’s   office  (Mr.  Massey)  and  right  as  we  turned  the  corner  down  the  corridor  Mr.  Massey   and  my  father  spotted  each  other  and  at  the  top  of  their  respective  lungs  shouted   each  other’s  names.     Mr.  Massey:  Ben  Thomas   My  Father:  Harry  Massey   Me:  (to  myself  of  course  I  “said  oh  my  god”)   And  as  we  sat  in  the  office  after  the  small  talk  about  old  times  and  families  which  of   course  which  immediately  led  into  a  conversation  about  yours  truly  started  very   sarcastically  by  Mr.  Massey.   Mr.  Massey:  Basil  –  Basil  –  Basil…yeah  I  see  Basil  everyday  walking  down  the  hallways   with  his  hats  on  bopping  and  hanging  out  with  the  seniors.  Hmmmmm  hmmmmm  I  see   him  only  a  few  weeks  in  school  and  always  cool  wearing  that  hat  like  he’s  doing  right   now.   My  Father:  (My  father  immediately  smacks  the  hat  of  my  head  and  of  course  the  smack   wasn’t  just  on  the  hat  it  was  the  first  and  last  time  my  father  had  ever  hit  me  too  then   he  said)  Harry  do  me  a  favor  let  him  back  in  school  today  because  I  am  not  trying  to   explain  this  to  Georgia  at  all.   Mr.  Massey:  Oh  I  know  that  (as  they  both  laughed)   My  Father:  And  if  he  does  anything  out  of  line  I  am  giving  you  permission  to  do   absolutely  anything  you  want  right  in  public  in  front  of  the  entire  school,  you  can  beat   his  ass.   Mr.  Massey:  I  got  him  Ben  don’t  worry.     That  was  classic  old  disciplining  and  there  were  many  of  kids  my  age  who  benefited   from  the  same  exact  treatment  we  weren’t  pacified  and  especially  knew  better  than   to  even  try  those  who  were  the  stern  disciplinarians  of  there  time.  It’s  real  different   now  and  every  damn  bodies  crying  about  what’s  immoral  or  what’s  politically  not   correct  in  the  way  kids  are  treated.  But  here’s  the  problem  that  we’ve  created  in  the   decades  that  has  past  since  these  days  we’ve  literally  entrusted  kids  to  do  a  job  that   many  of  the  parents  themselves  have  not  a  clue  of.    
  4. 4.   4   And  that’s  to  basically  discipline  them  selves  a  job  that  as  mention  some  parents  not   only  aren’t  equipped  or  experience  enough  to  consume  but  some  quite  honestly   couldn’t  care  their  to  damn  busy  trying  to  do  themselves  quite  sadly.  But  the  last   thing  I  am  trying  to  do  is  point  a  finger  of  any  kind  I  am  just  strictly  trying  to  make  a   point.  And  the  point  is  right  about  now  it’s  totally  gone  run  a  muck.  And  in  my   opinion  it  just  seems  that  maybe  the  kids  aren’t  really  being  dealt  with  as  if  they’re   kids  and  the  responsibility  of  rounding  or  totally  developing  a  child  was  once  more   of  a  concentrated  effort.     I  can  remember  having  men  in  my  life  who  dealt  with  me  as  if  I  was  truthfully  their   own  son  there  weren’t  excuses  or  explanations  for  or  about  anything  it  just  had  to   be  done.     I  had  a  physical  education  teachers  Coach  Franklin  Walker  who  when  he  gave  his   test  instead  of  collectively  doing  the  personalized  exercises  as  a  unit  he’d  walk  to   each  individual  one  at  a  time.  You’d  be  tested  doing  windmills  jumping  jacks  sit-­‐ups   and  of  course  the  dreaded  pushups  no  excuses  no  if  ands  or  butts  it  had  to  be  done   so  you  prepared  and  got  yourself  physically  together  rand  ready.  I  have  a  question   though  how  many  of  these  kids  could  even  drop  and  give  you  25  push  ups  today?   You  had  to  do  at  least  25  push  ups  just  to  pass  Coach  Walker’s  class  and  I  am  talking   real  push  ups  too  and  it’s  not  a  wonder  why  most  all  the  men  I  at  least  went  to  high   school  with  even  today  could  stop  and  drop  and  give  you  25,  but  keep  some  oxygen   close  lol.     But  the  best  thing  about  people  like  Coach  Walker  or  especially  my  old  high  school   basketball  coach  whom  I  know  I  drive  folks  crazy  about  since  I  talk  about  him  every   chance  I  get  Coach  Charlie  Brown  is  this.  Even  today  as  grown  men  myself  and  each   and  every  one  of  my  friends  who  are  fortunate  enough  to  come  into  contact  with   these  great  individuals  which  should  included  one  of  my  idols  my  health  education   teacher  Mr.  John  L.  Hunter  still  address  these  men  as  either  Mr.  or  Coach.  There  is  a   protocol  that’s  been  establish  and  is  ritual  like  where  I  come  from  and  the  bottom   line  is  you  give  respect  when  respect  is  due.   Majority  of  especially  the  people  that  were  in  my  life  who  told  me  the  right  thing   today  usually  were  the  people  who  didn’t  want  to  be  my  friend  and  expected  one   thing.  That  was  completion  and  to  get  the  job  done  whether  I  wanted  to  do  it  or  not   because  as  an  adult  you  would  soon  find  that  you’ll  be  confronted  with  people  and   situations  where  your  character  would  be  sustaining  factor  not  only  in  what  allows   you  to  be  productive  but  it  will  make  you  the  person  these  people  envision  you  to   eventually  become.  Let’s  be  candid  straight  and  forward  not  everyone  in  your  life   wants  to  become  anything  and  will  do  anything  necessary  to  debilitate  you  and   possibly  the  potential  you  have  if  you  display  promise.  Jealousy  and  envy  can  be   disguised  at  all  times  it’s  safe  not  to  assume  that  these  doesn’t  exclude  even  family   members.  Sometimes  family  members  have  a  way  subconsciously  even  without   them  even  being  aware  of  being  guilty  of  suppressing  even  the  productivity  of  those   they  love  out  of  fear.  The  fear  of  losing  what  they  love  or  because  of  their   deficiencies  or  inability  to  be  a  bridge  of  nurturing  they’ll  break  or  burn  anything   down  that  can  potentially  even  grow  prosperously.  
  5. 5.   5   My  beloved  uncle  David  Lee  Rogers  always  would  preach  to  me  not  about  what  was   right  and  what  was  wrong  he’d  preach  to  me  about  location  basically  being  in  the   “wrong  place  at  the  right  time”  and  the  people  you  choose  to  be  around.  I  always   took  his  advice  to  heart  and  kept  I  felt  myself  to  be  in  the  company  of  friends  who  I   trust  my  entire  time  while  I  was  growing  especially  as  a  young  man.  Coming  up   everyone  who  knows  me  would  remember  I  was  particularly  close  to  basketball   legend  and  star  of  my  team  Tommie  Best  a  great  all  around  guy  as  well  very   trustworthy  and  still  a  great  friend.       We’d  often  travel  the  city  together  to  of  course  play  basketball  never  getting  into   mischief  at  all  just  to  respectable  young  men  balling.  One  night  when  coming  from   playing  ball  we  saw  a  group  of  our  friends  loitering  in  front  of  a  local  community   center  unbeknownst  to  the  both  of  us  the  police  had  just  requested  the  guys  moved.   They  circled  the  block  and  of  course  when  they  saw  the  kids  hadn’t  moved  had   gotten  upset  and  I  think  they  have  notice  me  and  Tommie  to  be  out  of  place  being   we  had  on  basketball  uniforms  and  requested  we  both  came  to  the  car.  As  we   approach  the  vehicle  Tommie  turned  around  and  told  the  guys  “we’ll  be  back  in  5   minutes”  and  of  course  remember  being  it  was  about  1978  we  were  dealing  with   some  who  still  had  a  racist  mindset  one  of  the  cops  got  pissed  off.  Saying  “oh  you’ll   be  back  in  5  minutes  we’ll  see  about  that”  then  made  an  announcement  they  were   taking  us  to  juvenile  booking  downtown.  As  I  sat  in  the  back  with  Tommie  I  got   immediately  nervous  he  said  “take  it  easy  they’ll  let  us  go  right  away”  I  had  to   remind  Tommie  I’d  just  turn  18  years  old  a  month  earlier.  And  of  course  after  they   found  that  out  the  took  me  to  the  precinct  up  the  block  where  I  was  taken  and   luckily  release  on  my  own  recognizant  but  with  a  desk  appearance  for  court.   Once  again  scared  to  tell  my  mother  I  told  my  father  after  agonizing  about  going  to   court  with  the  desk  appearance  I’d  receive  for  loitering  by  the  racist  police  officer   basically  I  was  in  the  “wrong  place  at  the  right  time”  something  my  uncle  talked   about  often  as  mention.  When  I  went  to  court  as  I  sat  in  the  courtroom  with  my   father  I  was  literally  in  shock  when  the  judge  who  presided  was  a  woman  and  then   almost  instantly  my  name  was  called  by  the  bailiff  in  the  court  and  the  arresting   officer  was  called  as  well.  Soon  as  I  rose  to  my  feet  the  judge  notice  how  young  I  was   and  ask  me  if  my  parent  was  with  me  my  father  stood  and  once  again  it  turned  out   he  was  friends  with  the  Judge  the  Honorable  Shirley  Tolentino  they  exchanged  some   brief  pleasantries  being  court  was  in  session.  Then  she  directed  her  attention  and   venom  on  the  arresting  officer  she  reprimanded  for  his  actions  after  hearing  my   testimony.  And  as  I  sat  down  feeling  a  bit  full  of  myself  because  the  judge  had  taken   my  side  of  the  story  she  immediately  looked  at  me  and  said  “Basil  Thomas  if  I  ever   see  you  in  my  court  room  again  for  any  reason  it  makes  no  difference  what  it  is  I  will   lock  you  up  no  if’s  butts  or  maybes  with  out  a  question,  is  that  understood”.  My   comply  was  immediate  and  that  situation  not  only  change  my  life  but  confirmed   everything  my  mother  and  what  other  adults  who  cared  about  me  always  said  about   accountability  and  my  personal  actions  or  lack  of  it.  
  6. 6.   6   My  grandfather  was  my  favorite  person  in  the  whole  world  and  that  was  because   everything  just  seemed  so  honest  about  him.  His  was  very  candid  and  spoke  to  us   even  as  children  as  if  we  were  people  not  little  boys  (me  and  my  brothers).  He  spoke   quite  often  about  respect  and  what  it  required  in  order  to  get  respect  and  giving  it   was  priority  in  order  it  to  be  replicated.  I’ve  been  fortunate  enough  to  have  had  the   same  conversations  now  with  my  grandson  walking  the  same  streets  last  summer   having  them.  And  never  in  my  wildest  dreams  could  I  ever  envision  or  foresee  this   becoming  a  reality  having  been  able  to  live  through  times  where  not  everyone  may   have  wanted  to  see  me  make  it  through  but  I  had  help.     With  that  being  said  and  not  trying  to  make  this  into  an  extended  article  today  I’d   just  like  to  thank  those  instrumental  in  my  life  and  when  I  say  instrumental  I  am   talking  about  the  ones  who  wouldn’t  allow  me  to  be  caught  sleeping.  And  if  I  was   prepared  they  made  sure  I  was  whether  reluctantly  on  my  behalf  or  not  I  had  no   choice.  And  today  I  feel  as  if  there’s  so  many  that  need  to  be  reminded  that  the  most   effective  way  to  raise  a  child  as  well  productive  is  to  remember  this  and  don’t  forget.   Your  child  is  not  your  friend  because  the  last  thing  friends  want  sometimes  is  the   truth  and  your  child  should  be  exposed  to  nothing  but  the  truth.  Respect  when   respect  is  due  in  other  words  not  each  and  everyone  that  your  child  will  be   confronted  by  deserves  respect  or  especially  acknowledgement  and  that’s  when  as  a   parent  you’re  existence  has  more  to  do  with  what  happens  under  your  roof.  Because   in  the  real  world  some  have  a  difficult  time  in  believing  that  just  as  many  of  us  did   things  our  parents  may  not  have  had  a  clue  about  guess  what  your  kids  are  more   than  likely  doing  the  same  thing.  And  if  you’ve  never  instilled  in  them  how  to   rationally  make  decisive  choices  guess  who’ll  be  coming  to  rescue  sooner  or  later   and  unfortunately  in  these  times  you  might  not  want  to  leave  that  to  chance   anymore.   Respect  when  respect  is  due  and  the  best  thing  you  can  teach  any  child  today  is  to   respect  them  selves  because  it  seems  as  if  many  haven’t  even  been  taught  to  do  that.   Because  at  the  end  of  the  day  sadly  one  day  there  life  might  depend  on  it  and   everyone  that  I  am  associated  with  has  someone  somewhere  in  their  personal  life   whether  in  the  past  or  recent  who  wasn’t  taught  enough  just  to  have  self  respect.   Indecision  at  a  decisive  time  can  lead  to  someone  else  deciding  everything  each  and   everyday  of  your  life  whether  it’s  a  mortician  corrections  officer  police  officer  or   judge  basically  teach  them  now  or  they’ll  be  instructed  later  on  the  states  dollar  or  6   feet  under  the  states  land.     Respect  when  respect  is  due  basically  respecting  the  life  they’re  expected  to   hopefully  live……  respect  when  respect  is  due  recognizing  that  today  in  anticipation   of  tomorrow.     Respectfully,   THE  WHEEL  SPEAKS  ON  2013   (The  way  Humanity/Hudson  Expects  Everyone  to  Live)    
  7. 7.   7            

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