O no-no’s: ten things black people shouldn’t do to celebrate Obama’s victory (Repost)

10. No uncontrollable giggling.
9. No naming babies “Barack” or “Obama” or any mash-up of his name.
8. No changing your e-mail to Obama_Mama@yahoo.com
7. No smugly walking up to white people and saying, “Boo-Yah!”
6. There will be no “Hustle,” “Running Man,” “‘Electric Slide” or dances inspired by Soulja Boy.
5. No Negro Spirituals or suggestions to change the National Anthem to “Lift E’vry Voice and Sing.”
4. No quoting Wesley Snipes from the movie Passenger 57 — the part when he said, “See? I told you. Always bet on black.”
3. No taking a day off from work… this isn’t a holiday!
2. Do not refer to the president-elect as “My Nigga.”
1. And no expecting that forty acres and a mule.
— Elena Brown (Forst published in Westword, 2008)

Published in: on 11/06/2012 at 23:13  Leave a Comment  
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Documentary uncovers scars of Vietnam

It’s well after midnight by the time Oscar Soliz clicks off his lamps and shuts down his computer. His brown eyes are strained, his neck and back are stiff, his hands tingle. He rubs his salt-and-pepper beard; it’s time for bed.

He’s just finished another 13-hour day producing a documentary about four local Vietnam vets and how their powerful memories have barely diminished with the passage of time.

The hour-long documentary, titled “Deep Scars,” features retired Staff Sgt. Edward Brown Jr., retired Sgt. Trini Cruz, retired 1st Sgt. William J. Johnson and retired Sgt. 1st Class Dion Soliz III. The veterans, all Purple Heart recipients, recount their struggles on the battlefield and off.

“I’m showing the feelings and fears of being in combat as well as its affect on their lives after returning home,” says Soliz, a self-taught videographer and owner of Ozman Visual Media Productions. “There are so many stories. So much had happened to them.”

The documentary opens with images and narration explaining the politics of the Vietnam War, the lives lost and the toll it took on men such as Brown.

“Hmm, lemme see, I’ve been recovering from my injuries for 44 years and counting,” Brown, 63, says with a chuckle. “Physically, I spent 32 months in various hospitals.” Brown was injured on May 14, 1968, in Binh Duong Province, Vietnam. In the uncut version of the film, Brown recounted how his fellow soldier Ron E. Clark fell into him after being hit by a grenade from a rocket-propelled launcher. “I looked into his eyes as he died,” Brown said. “His death was fast, and his survivors should know he didn’t suffer (alone).”

The documentary also recounts the hostile reactions many returning vets received from their fellow citizens.

Cruz spent 39 months in different hospitals recovering from his injuries. In the film, he tearfully recounts arriving back home in the United States still in uniform and walking with a cane. Cruz wanted a cup of coffee but he had no money. “I gave [the man behind the counter] one of my medals and said I’ll come back and pay for it. The man said, ‘We don’t take medals. We take cash here. I can’t give you a cup of coffee.’ We’re over there fighting this war, and nobody would give me a cup of coffee.”

Soliz is seeking a distribution deal for the film and, in the meantime, hopes to show it to various local veteran organizations. For now, he’s working on it primarily for the men featured in the video.

The documentary has been a year in the making, the last three months on editing alone

“You can get lost in editing,” he says. “Sure, I get tired and frustrated but that’s nothing. It’s a difficult documentary.”

“Deep Scars” had an effect on the subjects of the documentary.

“Being a part of Oscar’s movie is the first time I ever talked in-depth about my experiences in Vietnam,” says Dion Soliz, 64, Oscar’s brother. “And now I want my daughters to see the movie and understand what the nightmares and screaming at night were all about.”

It’s also had an effect on its director, who did not serve in Vietnam.

“I have a good life, but I still think I should have been over there,” Oscar says. “I have guilt of not going to Vietnam. But since my brother was enlisted, I couldn’t go; he wouldn’t allow it.”

Soliz’s only sibling served three tours in Vietnam (1967-1971) and was awarded the Purple Heart and four Bronze Stars.

“No need for mom to lose us both,” says Dion, explaining why he wouldn’t allow his younger brother to follow him into battle. “It wasn’t the politics so much as I felt it was my duty. But once you’re over there, family is all you live for. It keeps you going.”

Funding for the film came from $5,000 in prize money Soliz, 63, won in the 2011 Pepsi Challenge Grant. The program awarded grants for projects that benefit the community, environment and schools. While $5,000 is a pittance compared to what most films – even documentaries – cost, Soliz spent carefully and stayed within his budget.

“I bought the things I truly needed, like the green screen and software and some things I bought at a discount, like the Sony mc2000 camera.” Soliz said.

The film includes both comedic and painful recollections, such as Cruz’s having a tailbone removed, Soliz’s encounter with an elephant, Brown’s blown eardrums and the time Johnson was shot twice in two days.

Soliz says that for him, an unforeseen benefit of his working on the film is that he is now closer to his brother because he better understands Dion’s wartime traumas. “I’m trying to draw out the inner feelings of their reality. To understand how the wounded veterans survived during and after the war,” he says.

“I know my brother is real patriotic and feels plenty of guilt about not going over to serve in Vietnam,” said Dion Soliz. “But I tell him ‘Hey, I served your time and mine. I served for America, and that includes you.’ “

By, Elena Brown, Special to the San Antonio Express News

Elena’s Story_Doc uncovers scars of Vietnam

Blackhorse Essay


Field of Study:

The Blackhorse patch means something great. It means to be held to a higher standard. And while I may not have that patch on my shoulder the pride is in my heart. I aim to put the committed standard of excellence, seen within the men and women of Blackhorse, by achieving a degree in Journalism.

Worthiness of the 11ACVVC Scholarship:

My dad, retired Army SSG Edward Brown Jr., and I try to make the annual four-day reunion of the 11th Armored Cavalry’s Veterans of Vietnam & Cambodia
 every year together. It’s our father-daughter time. It’s where stories I never heard at home are shared. I was 13 when I went to my first reunion in Louisville, KY and since then I’ve attended 12 of the 25 reunions. I’ve watched men return and mourn the men that didn’t. The Vietnam reunion is intense and the 40-plus years of history is filling. There is a bond that defies race, religion, or personal politics. The 11th Armored Cavalry’s Veterans of Vietnam & Cambodia allows “outsiders” the privilege and opportunity to learn of what our dads, uncles and grandfathers experienced during Vietnam. This is an extraordinary reunion of men who became bonded by serving their country during an unpopular war. It is not special because I say it is special. It is special because of where it has been and the things it has accomplished, all because of the men and women who served, are serving or will serve and carry on the great legacy of the Blackhorse. The reunion is where people can sit at any table and look at pictures of teenagers in tanks thousands of miles away. Its where most stories start with “How about the time?” or “Remember when?” But it’s not just a time for them; the men at the reunion celebrate family.

Through the years, my dad’s brothers-in-arms became my honorary uncles. There’s something uniquely comforting about knowing I can be just about anywhere in the world and have a goodhearted man there to watch over me. That sense of security gives me confidence. It is with this confidence I am bolder, brasher and certainly more respectful woman.

The morals instilled within me gives me the confidence to interview the elderly lady being fined for “feeding the meters” on others cars, to speaking with a survivor as he recalls being shot at Columbine High School. I am direct, open and honest because my father, a man forged by the Blackhorse, taught me to be.

Currently I’m a jet-setting freelancing journalist with more than a decade as a flight attendant. It’s a job, a good job, but it’s not my passion. My passion is writing and reporting. And I would like the opportunity to further develop and hone the skills I have acquired over the years by obtaining a degree in Journalism. My articles appeared in The Denver Post, the Denver Business JournalThe Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs, both Denver and 5280 magazines and Thunder Run. I’ve won a regional Mark of Excellence Award for in-depth reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists and received the Colorado Press Association Scholarship. Recently I completed an internship with the award winning alt-weekly newspaper, Westword, thanks in part to my fellowship at the Academy for Alternative Journalism at Medill’s School of Journalism at Northwestern University. 

I am a hard working and motivated person with both short-term goals and long-range ambitions and when I set goals for myself I do everything in my power to accomplish them. If I happen to fall short of my goal then I pride myself in not how I fell but how I get up, which is something my father has taught me. Despite these tumultuously difficult economic times I know having a degree makes a difference. And, simply put, I need funds in order to continue the final years of my higher education at Metropolitan State College of Denver. It’s with the help of the 11ACVVC Scholarship that would take me one step closer to not just a dream but also a reality. 

Truth, honesty, and determination are some of the many slogans or mantras made up to inspire recruits, however, Blackhorse pride, a blazingly arrogant pride, comes from the heart. Therefore, I am worthy of this because I am an outstanding person who contains all the qualities a scholarship leader should possess. I respect all of our brave men and women that have served our country but the Blackhorse Troopers are family. And my family values education. It would be a great honor to be chosen to represent the men and women who have served our country in both Vietnam and Cambodia with award of the 11ACVVC Scholarship. And to make my family proud.



Bridging the Past

Bridging the Past

The day hadn’t been anything special as he sat and filled out the warranty guarantee card for the weed-eater he just bought in a local lawn care store. Another day, another errand, he thought.

The salesman looked at the card. A rush of recognition, a wide smile and a hint of sadness flashed across his face.

“Oh wow, I used to know a Ron Clark back in high school. One of my best friends. Died fighting in Vietnam,” said the salesman.

“Yeah,” he said nodding his baseball-capped head. And with a simple smile he stated, “That was my dad.”

Ron K. Clark, 43, is the only son of Blackhorse Trooper PFC Ron E. Clark. Clark senior was 22 years old when he was killed in action on May 14, 1968 in Bin Duong Province, Vietnam and is buried in Indianola, Iowa. He died three months before his only son was born. Clark’s name is located on panel 60E line 009 of the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C.

Ron didn’t know too much about his father and his family didn’t talk much about him. His mother remarried when Ron was a year old. It wasn’t until he was well into adulthood that people began to open up to him about his father.

“They’d tell me I have the same personality. That I’m quiet and laid back just like he was,” he said.

Gerry Costa served with Ron’s father in A-Troop. They were friends and even shared a birthday. Costa frequently writes memorials on the Virtual Vietnam Wall to his fallen friend. One entry from May 15, 2001 states: “[sic] Hello again my friend. Just wanted to let you know that after all these you are not forgotten. I toasted you yesterday at 4pm just like every year. I will never forget you or the time we spent in Nam. I am very, very sorry I could not have protected you better and kept you from harms way. Allons always.”

Costa visited the Clarks in Iowa in 2003. They went to the grave site and placed a Blackhorse patch on the headstone. Ron could sense the visit was a part of a real healing process for Costa and chose not to bring up many battle memories. “I know Gerry carries a lot of Vietnam on him,” Ron said. Even though they didn’t talk much about the war, Ron didn’t mind. “He’s a good man, and I’ve made a dear friend.”

Having met Costa, Ron was invigorated and motivated to learn more about his father, the Blackhorse regiment and, most importantly, attend a reunion.

The Blackhorse 11th Armored Cavalry Veterans of Vietnam and Cambodia is a non-profit corporation that aims to honor those that fought and died during Vietnam. They were founded in 1985 and began having annual reunions in 1986.  In 2006 Operation Embrace was formed. Operation Embrace strives to locate, notify and welcome the family members of the men killed-in-action to the reunion. This year, Ron was just one of the 11 family members of KIAs that came and joined the 1,063 people, which included surviving soldiers and their families, at the August reunion in St. Louis, Missouri. Some of the men he met included Edward Brown Jr. and James “Jim” Sowinski, men that served with his father.

Retired SSG Edward Brown Jr. served with A-Troop from 1967-1968 and had been in touch with Ron through Costa for about four years. They had spoken on the phone and thru Facebook but had never met face-to-face. Brown was nervous and delighted when he was informed Ron would attend the reunion.

“I know he wants to know more details of the day his dad was hit. It’s hard, reliving that— And to share that with him,” Brown said with a heavy sigh. “But I will.”

Brown recounted Ron E. Clark falling into him during the fight. Clark took a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. “His death was fast and his survivors should know he didn’t suffer (alone).” Brown said. “I looked into his eyes as he died.” While Clark died during that fight, many were injured including Brown. The blast perforated his eardrums and he received injuries on his right side, with wounds in his shoulder, chest, liver, hip and leg. Brown’s recovery included 14 surgeries and a skin graft that took nearly three years in the hospital to recover.

“I owe Young Clark and his family. To answer any questions if I can, and to let them know he did not die alone.” Brown said. “God left me here for a reason. It’s my responsibility to share that Clark died a hero. He had a cause.” For his ultimate sacrifice Clark was awarded a Bronze Star with Merit, a Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service and Vietnam Campaign medals.

“I always wanted to know if there was something significant on the day my father died. But I learned it was a typical day in Vietnam. Sometimes people died and sometimes they didn’t,” Ron said.

The Army was hit hard in 1968 reaching more than 10,500 deaths that year, according to statistics founds on The Wall-USA.com, which is a 15 year old website dedicated to honoring those who died in the Vietnam War. Like a weighted backpack, many survivors carry the Vietnam experience with them in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although PTSD is often associated with Vietnam veterans, it appears in veterans of all wars and eras. Once known as Battle Fatigue and Shell Shock, PTSD symptoms may include intrusive thoughts, distressing dreams, flashbacks and irritability. It can also mean a reduced ability to concentrate, experience pleasure, feel tender emotions or imagine a positive future. Many vets are finding support when learning to cope with their Vietnam experiences. During the reunion psychologist Dr. Candace Drake and daughter of a Blackhorse trooper, Dennis Drake (HHT 3/11), hosted a veteran’s seminar explaining PTSD and the options available for veterans. Brown attends a fully packed weekly PTSD group at Audie Murphy VA Hospital in San Antonio, TX. “Meeting Young Clark has helped me with my guilt but I’m still sad Clark never met his son, but when I go back home, I’ll have a sigh of relief,” he said.

For about four days the fellowship is visible as stories flow in “The Bunker”.

In military terms the bunker is usually a reinforced concrete underground shelter. Here, at the reunion, it’s a place where the men embrace each other with the welcome they never received when they returned home from the

war decades ago. This is where they laugh and cry over memories, photos and have a beer or three. “I’d never thought I’d be sitting here laughing and having a beer with Clark’s boy,” Brown said with excitement. “Brown wasn’t the only one thrilled to meet “Young Clark;” James ‘Jim’ Sowinski

contributed to the shared memories of Ron’s father. “It’s good to meet Clark’s son! I got a clear picture of his dad. Sowinski said. “Everybody’s got a piece of something to give Young Clark.”

This is an exceptionally intense reunion of men who served in an unpopular war. There is a bond between them that defies race or religion. And the void that Vietnam left in the souls of vets grows smaller with each reunion, it is a place to remember and a place to heal.

“It’s important for me to be here. I know that Ed and Gerry have a lot of guilt. But I don’t look at it that way,” Ron said. “I’m glad my dad had good friends over there that were with him when he died. I’m here to thank those guys that were there with my dad.”

Ron still sees the salesman in the local lawn care store. He likes to talk with him about his dad. Ron said, “With the guys from Blackhorse, attending the reunion and the salesman, well, its just another thing that makes me feel a connection to him.”

-Elena Brown

Published in Thunder Run 4th Qtr, 2011

Guess it’s time.

Published in: on 11/07/2011 at 18:38  Leave a Comment  

Stop Pissing Off Your Flight Attendant

7 Ways to Stop Pissing Off Your Flight Attendant
On December 28, 2010, In Daily List, by elenab

When flying, at best you’re clueless; at worst you’re an ass. But not to worry—we’re here to share a few things that will keep your flight attendant from going all Steven Slater on a mo-fo. And yes, it’s flight attendant not stewardess—And, since you’re clearly unaware, it’s also a new millennium. (Incidentally, I don’t get why anyone would want to piss off the people that could save your life in the event of an emergency 35,000 feet in the air.) So, take notes, stop being an ass and happy travels.

1. Don’t be the clog in the artery of boarding.
In those three hours you’ve been tooling around in the airport it never dawned on you to get your scarf, books and magazines and other various items to keep you amused. And must you do that in the aisle upon boarding? Get out a few things, not 14 different items for an hour-long flight BEFORE you board and make it to your seat. Let’s keep it moving, people! There are people behind you, sheesh!

2. Pay attention to the demo (and other announcements for that matter).
Now that you’ve settled in your seat, you’ve lost the ability to comprehend things like ‘Please pay attention to the safety demo’, ‘fasten you seatbelt’, ‘turn off all electronics’ or the words ‘under the seat in front of you’. If you gave a three-minute speech about safety and people ignored you, you’d be upset. Stop being a hypocritical jerk and pay attention, or else.

3. Don’t let your kids run amuck.
Your parental duties do not stop now that you’re on a plane. Don’t change your kids diaper in front of or on the flight attendant jump seat, and for that matter, don’t change them on the tray-table. Flight Attendants are not your insta-babysitter, because the game they play isn’t nice (remember this?) Or how about this game? It’s called, ‘Let’s kick a kid in the clavicle with the heels I’ve been wearing for the past 13 hours’. No need for instructions, they’ll catch on quickly.

4. Keep your stuff out of the aisle.
You know drinks are coming, and if you’re lucky, food! And how do you propose this is done? Enter flight attendants in the aisle. If you don’t want to get hit by a cart, then get your legs, elbows or head out of the way. Plus do you really want to be responsible for tripping up a flight attendant as they walk down the aisle because of your bag strap?

5. Handle your body.
Your immune system senses something harmful and antibodies like proimmunoglobulin E (IgE) are released. IgE trigger the release of the body’s chemicals like histamine. The release of histamine can affect a person’s respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and cardiovascular system. That’s the background of your allergy. If you can’t take things like nuts, milk or even if you morally object to pork, then bring your own food. Don’t expect the flight attendant to handle or magically know your dietary needs. This also applies to all medical conditions; we’re talking to you Diabetics that checked your insulin “in the other bag.”

6. No vague drink requests.
You wouldn’t walk into a coffee shop and say “I’d like a coffee’ when you want it black, with cream or sugar so why would you say it on a plane? Despite their majestic aura, flight attendants are not clairvoyant nor do they like to repeat, “How do you take it?” 221 times.

7. Know how to use a bathroom.
Not being able to handle the operations of going to the bathroom. Couldn’t be simpler, could it? 1.‘Push’. 2. Lock the door 3. Don’t be all shocked if your feet are wet when you went in there without shoes.

Published in: on 12/28/2010 at 15:01  Leave a Comment  

How Big Is It?

Dear London,

Please stop using ‘studio’ and ‘1-bedroom’ interchangeably. And while we’re at it, the word “spans” should never precede the measurements 387square-feet.



Frustrated Flat-seeker.

Published in: on 04/29/2010 at 20:06  Comments (1)  
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You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

Scenes from a Cannon

Got a mention from the fab photographer Jenn LeBlanc on her blog.

Published in: on 01/13/2010 at 23:19  Comments (1)  
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For my Godfather.

Pastor Barcus Birdine Adams
August 17, 1941—November 22, 2009

A Tiny Seed
The air was crisp billowing against the classic single family home that sat between the glorious wide green yard and the flourishing vegetable garden. A homemade swing swayed easily on the massive pine tree in Crocket Texas.
Barcus Birdine, the first child and son of Wallace Adams and Rosa Stewart-Douglass was born in August 17, 1941. The sprightly child cherished caring for his four siblings. Once in a fit of creativity he once turned the cornbread dressing green for the family dinner!
Ever the educator, he taught his little brother, Edgar, how to shine shoes at LA Parker’s Shoe Shop charging $.25 a pair. Oftentimes he’d used his money to buy things for the family and of course, his favorite candy; peanut brittle. His mother encouraged and embraced his vision.

A Growing Sprout
The sanctity of the warmth Barcus felt in the family fashioned the goodness within him.
He came from a family of avid servant leaders of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ under the tutelage of their mother by faithfully attending Crockett’s Miles Chapel CME. He was called to serve the Lord at just six-years-old. Yet at his own admission, he ran from the calling for many years. It was surviving Vietnam when he made his deal with the Lord, ‘Bring me back and I’ll serve you faithfully”. After coming back from war the he retired as Captain complete with a Bronze Star from the United States Army. In fulfilling his promise to the Lord he accepted his calling to the ministry. Pastor Adams first sermon was at Pilgrim Rest in 1979. There he rose thru the ranks from Director of Christian Education to Executive Assistant. A year later he founded Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in 1980 where he served as pastor for more than 23 years.

A Wonderful Man
The Texas native had an insatiable hunger for knowledge attending Rock Mount Bible College, International Bible Institute in Ft. Collins, San Antonio College, Prairieview A&M College (now Prairieview A&M University) and Denver University’s College of Business Administration. His military education includes data processing, Officers Candidate School, emergency medical training, pharmacy training and Medical Corpsman School. And his religious education consists of schooling in Monroe, Louisiana with completed courses at United Theology Seminary. Pastor Adams received a Bachelor of Theology and a Masters in Religious Education.
Alongside his life’s journey stood his wife Joyce in a marriage thick with love, devotion and tenderness. She was a strong and bold witness for the Lord and a loyal wife to her ‘Lil Red Rooster’. And in 1980 the warmhearted couple was blessed with their only son, Sean Birdine (The name Birdine, comes from Barcus’ grandfather that is carried thru Sean and his son, Tariq). She preceded him in death in 2002 just days before celebrating their 38th wedding anniversary.
Pastor Adams enjoyed a rich compelling life and commanded attention by his vast stature and compassionate demeanor. He extended his love and service by helping others in need. He loved watching sports as he once played tackle in for Ralph J. Bunch High School. In addition to his enthusiasm for sports he was an avid piano player and reader. His renowned mathematical dexterity aided in a mean domino game.

Loved and respected
God called his true servent home on November 20, 2009. He was with us for 68 years, 3 months and 5 days. Today we rejoice in the knowledge that he has passed the barrier of time, as we know it and is forever at home with the Savior Lord Jesus Christ whom he faithfully served.
Barcus leaves to cherish his memories and to continue his legacy: Nancy L. Givens of Austin, JoeRuth George of Dallas, Edgar a Williams wife Dorothy of Dallas, Dr. Thelma Douglas of Houston, Velma Adams of New Braunfels, Ruth Ella Robertson, husband Jody of Eden, NC, Margret Matthews, husband Joseph of Fall Church, VA, Patrice Faye Taylor of San Antonio, Sean and wife Ashlee, grandchildren, Tariq and Halia. And a host of cousins, nephews, nieces, in-laws, godchildren and friends.

Burial of Pastor Barcus B. Adam at Ft. Logan National Cemetery

Written by Barcus’ Sisters, Brother, Son and God-daughter.

Birth of a Blog

Feeling Bloggy

Published in: on 11/17/2009 at 22:43  Leave a Comment  
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