College was my first exposure to American Black culture. I’m a far better man for it. Moody was less than a block from Cabrini Green. I taught Pierre how to swim and he taught me how to forgive. My room mate, Ronnie, was president of African Awareness Fellowship. Three years, he tried to tell me that the problem was with “the system”. “It’s the system, Jesse. It’s hidden in the system. I know you don’t see it. But, I see it every day.” I listened, but I still couldn’t see.
Ten years in Taiwan opened my eyes. Ronnie, I’ve seen it. I haven’t just heard about it, I’ve finally seen it with my own eyes. Others don’t see it, especially if they’re part of it. I’ve seen that too.
If a man thinks his unjust actions are acceptable, there is no way to tell him that he is unjust in a way he will find acceptable. · · · →
I was talking with a random guy on the street, somewhere in Asia. English was clearly his second language, though my Mandarin clearly had no comparison to his English. He didn’t speak Mandarin, though. Things got interesting when he used the word “oftenly”.
“I skate oftenly,” he said.
Technically, oftenly is not usually a word, but technically it is, but technically it’s the wrong word. The word he meant to use was “frequently”. If he wanted to say that he skated from time to time, specifically times that are so frequent that they “occur oftenly” (proper usage because the verb occur is about time), it would have been proper to say, “I skate often.”
What’s the difference and who cares, anyway!?
English speakers love to argue about grammatical distinctions that clearly provide no further clarity—and may even be right—or even wrong and right differently—and to make such arguments about these clearly unclear differences about right and wrong usage differently, even though they have nothing to do with the difference between right and wrong. · · · →
Sometimes in Asia, dogs have the run of the town. They don’t really have dog catchers like in the West. Many consider it cruel to neuter pets. I mean, lots of homeless cats and dogs, no animal control to catch them, let them roam the streets and starve, get hit, or get attacked by other stray animals—so much more “humane” than neutering pets, right?
That’s the world in which Bogo and I met. I named him “Bogo” for this article because, frankly, he didn’t have a name. “Bo” is a manly name for “love” and “go” sounds like the Mandarin word for “dog”. The name sounds right for an Asian pet. So, this is a story about Bogo, the black mutt who lived on the streets in Asia.
I first noticed him at local convenience shops. He was young and, for whatever reason, never got acquainted with the other dogs. He had no pack. · · · →
It was at the North-South Korean border. An American military official approached the line, accompanied by one or two South Korean officials. He held a megaphone. Stopping just before the line, he aimed the megaphone over the border and explained that South Korea had found the body of a dead North Korean soldier and wanted information on how to turn it over to North Korea officials. As he spoke North Korean soldiers looked at him through binoculars and scattered about like flies until they finally went inside their building and closed the door.
It is difficult to take it all in. Normally, when you try to talk to someone, they listen, receive your message, and pass the message on. But, the North Korean officials seemed to assume that South Korea had some other intentions, as if the South wasn’t saying what the South was saying. That’s not to mention that the South had to communicate with a megaphone because no one in the North would receive a simple message. · · · →