Monday, February 19, 2018

Why The Black Panther Is Important

I went and saw The Black Panther with one of my twins. I was going to take both of them but at the last moment, one went with his friends. Never forget, they're 14. So it was me and one of my sons.

Great movie. Smart, funny, and the audience applauded at the end of it.

Along with popcorn, previews, and spending, what do they call it, quality time, with one of my boys, the movie itself was a sight to behold.

Why? First of all, it was an all black cast. Oh, there was one white guy, but it was set in Africa, ergo tons of black faces. Intelligent, classy, royal, badass, black faces.

I thought it was important for my kids to see that.

When I was growing up, there wasn't that. If there was a black guy in movies, it seemed there was always just one. And he was either crazy, a criminal, a wide eyed what do we do now, or he was killed off.

Early.

You never saw black people fall in love, kiss, pay mortgages, or struggle with everyday life. You never saw black people just be people. It seemed like they either were speaking very proper or the music was always welling up to let you know you were seeing something important.

Raisin in the Sun anyone?

Then came the single black Mom raising kids in the projects. As we all said, "Dynomite!" I remember thinking that we don't live like that, in fact I didn't know anyone who lived like that. Not to say there weren't folks who did but I thought you should show the whole spectrum of black life. You saw that done for white people.

By the way I had a mother and a father and my Mom wouldn't let me stay out past 11.

Just saying.

People only know what they see.

My kids have no idea what I saw when I was younger. They think what they see today, is what was always shown.

Not true.

It wasn't until Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop that I saw a change.  It was the first time, ever, I saw the black guy be the smart, savvy, center of the universe and have white people turn to him for the what do we do now?

That sounds ludicrous now but I had never seen that before.

So cool.

My daughter turned me on to Scandal. It was about a black woman who was in love with a white guy, who was underwater in love with her. And he just happened to be married and, oh yeah, he just happened to be THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!

Can you say, "Oh my?" I think you can.

I told her that I never, ever, saw anything like that when this guy was younger.

Back to The Black Panther.

I feel it's important for my children to see black faces they can look up to in movies. To see noble black faces, to see technology savvy black faces, to see black super heroes. And don't get me started on Africa. When I was little every movie I'd ever seen set there was about savages in huts. To see a story set there that is all about quality, brains plus add in a storyline I've never seen before...

How does that line go? Priceless.

I have spent my whole life trying to show white people that we are just people. Intelligent, classy, loving, people.

Who are also black.

I used to be a rock and roll deejay and I used to always hear, "What kind of music do you really like?" Uh, rock and roll. It's okay if you're white and like jazz. But not the other way around.

I could go on and on. I'll just say this.

Go see The Black Panther.

It's rare that you can say, "It's a whole new world."

But it's a whole new world.







#MarkMcEwen
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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Shootings Shootings Shootings

I wasn't going to write this one. I'll tell you why in a bit but let me start off with we live in a Bizzaro World.

Reading the news and watching the television, it's all full of dazed, crying kids and you know why. Yep, another mass shooting, another in a school, another where lives are changed forever.

I have twins, they're fourteen and they are so deep in my heart... I've been upset, I've been shaken and I've been crying. What if it were them?

I'd be devastated.

Back up.

It happened at Marjory Stonemason Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 dead and what's so weird is Parkland was named, in 2017, the safest city in Florida. You read that right- the safest.
Some kid, whose name I won't print, had been expelled, came back with an assault rifle, pulled the fire alarm, and as they say, it was on.

Remember Columbine?

I was on the air at CBS when that happened. I remember all of us trying to wrap our heads around it and getting nowhere. I also remember the shock, the sadness. It was the first time I'd ever seen that now all too familiar single file line of students, kids, being led out of the school. It was the first time we had seen that.

Now? We're used to seeing something we should never get used to.

Cut ahead to today.

Same single file lines. Same crying faces. Same moms and dads whose faces register that they can't believe their sons and daughters are gone.

If I were to say, "Thoughts and prayers," would you have heard it before? How about, "Now is not the time to discuss this?" Lips move, we've heard those two phrases so many times. Tell that to those kids, tell it to people whose lives will never be the same.

Gun control, people.

It's harder to get a Drivers License than it is to get a gun. Think about the insanity of what I just wrote. In this case it was an AR-15. There was a time we had no idea what that was.

We do now.

Okay, why wasn't I going to write this? We are in the age of opinion news. We are in the age of round table/shouting talking heads. I wasn't taught that back in the day. I was taught to keep your cards close to the vest and to keep your opinions to yourself.

Sounds quaint, doesn't it?

But.

I'm a parent now of two of the sweetest boys you could imagine. They need to be protected. We need to protect them.

Now before you get your back up, I'm not advocating taking guns away but we have to do something. You know that old saying that every journey begins with the first step? Well, I'm old enough to remember before there were seat belts in cars. That changed and last I checked the streets are full of automobiles. Heck, there are three at my house and I bet you have one, too.

We still lose too many people in auto accidents but not as many as we used to. And there are folks who will tell you that their seatbelt saved their life.

Watching the students of Douglas High School on the news will make you cry. Hearing them say things like, "We're kids, you adults are supposed to protect us," will make you cry.

They are angry, they are scared. They don't want this to happen ever again.

Something has to change.

Parents know exactly what I'm talking about.

God, I love my boys.






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Friday, February 9, 2018

Going To LA

I went to Los Angeles to speak at the International Stroke Conference which was hosted by the American Stroke Association.

First things first, I went to the airport here in Orlando to fly west. The flight is five hours long and I thought I'd read a couple of things on my iPad to pass the time.

Not so fast.

I sat next to this very nice character who proceeded to regale me with stories all the way there.

People who fly a lot know this is a good thing. A great conversation makes the flight, well, fly by and before you know it you're there.

That's what happened.

I land, check into the hotel and get this, the front desk was on the 70th floor. I'd never seen that before and since my room was on the 38th floor, down I went. Normally you go up to that level but hey...

I'm boring when working, always have been, and I'm fine with just going over what I'm going to say and watching teevee in my room.

The following morning found me in the gym then perusing the room service menu. There was a hamburger on it for 45 dollars! I laughed out loud and thought two things. Who would buy a burger at that price? And who would sell a burger at that price?

I wanted pancakes and bacon and cookies and ice cream but had salmon and vegetables instead. I've learned it's more important to be healthy.

This speech was also the first time my Maya would see me talk. I was a proud father who wanted to do well for his daughter.

That evening she came into the ballroom, sat in the front row, I hugged and kissed her and off we went.

The audience was full of people who helped stroke survivors. People who were on the forefront of helping to mitigate the damage that a stroke brings and to help find a better way to spot one coming. Also, how best to deal with the aftermath.

They're the ones making the future bright.

In my speech I told them many things including the fact that my neighbor didn't have a stroke, my co-worker didn't have a stroke, my father didn't have a stroke, I did. And I said that when I speak to other survivors I tell them that I may be further down the path but that we're both on the same path. I tell survivors to not give up.

Speaking about stroke is a furrowed brow kind of thing.

Getting the audience to laugh while talking about serious things is what I try to do. As Mary Poppins said, "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down."

I had a Power Point and at the end there was a picture of my twins and then Maya. I had her stand up.

The sound of hands clapping.

It was great.

She and I hung out and the next day I went to LAX to fly back east.

I landed.

It was good to be in my house, good to sleep in my own bed.

Good to be home.

And good to be, like Johnny Appleseed, helping to spread the seeds. Different seeds this time.

This time the seeds of Stroke Awareness.






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