Typically found at the beginning of most books, antithetically, I have chosen to conclude this epistle to America’s Youths via my personal acknowledgement of those men and women who have facilitated my development of Victory In Christ Ensemble and authorship of this textbook. First and foremost, I thank Almighty God for being GOD and for His omniscience as demonstrated via having chosen Benjamin Franklin Robinson and Annie Wynn Robinson to have been my parents. Although I still consider it as my greatest tragedy in life, Lord, thank you for having taken the father I feared and revered away from me when I was but a ten -year-old boy. Dad, thanks for that shiny red bicycle for Christmas, despite my asthma attack and your having had to return it to the store for a refund. At least for just one day, you truly made me believe I could fly! Despite a physical weakness, Christ has given me the spiritual strength to bear the infirmity of others. I know that I took the road less traveled. Yet, I hope that you are proud of the man I have become. Every day is Mother’s Day; so Mom, I am grateful for those twenty-one years spent with you prior to a death angel’s round trip to our household. Déjà vu! Thirty-three years later, still l am amazed by your attention to detail and especially by your commitment to excellence in educating your students and your children. I am sure you are rolling over in your grave regarding public miseducation today [smile]. It burdens me as well. Other than how to discern between an emotional argument and an intellectual one, the most important life lesson you taught me was, “Believe little of what someone says; but believe everything that person does.” Once again, you were correct. Although it pales in comparison to what Dave Pelzer endured, I thank my only sibling for having beaten me and having molested me for much of my childhood. Never will I understand why we had such an acrimonious relationship until you left for college. Yet, little did I realize that you soon would lose your mind – literally – and never find it again. It’s too bad that, unlike a kidney, I can’t donate half of my brain to you. Am I my brother’s keeper? Unlike Cain, because I learned to love you, indeed I am. Benjie, it’s all good and we will stand together as brothers until the day He calls one of us home. In case you may understand what I am saying, let me repeat myself: I love you! Ironically, I must thank my step-father for having been a pastor and a pederast when I was a teenager. You taught me that all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. Now, I know that I am called according to His purpose for my life. Most importantly, I thank you for being transparent regarding the A’s and F’s on your moral report card, which most other pastors hide beneath their robes. Just knowing who you were without the mask and why you did those things even to your own offspring mitigated the madness.
I also must thank someone, whose privacy I respect, for having given me the will to live when I wanted to die. Please know that I always will love you and know that your father was not as bad a person as you may think. IF you focus upon the F’s, then you never will see the A’s in his humanity. C’est la vie, n’est ce pas? I thank a special Jewish friend, who actually lived on a kibbutz in Israel, and his parents for having provided me an empirical example of a nurturing father well-protecting and well-providing for his family. Obviously, August 2nd now bears special significance for both of us. Hopefully, you also realize that my still standing tall is a miracle of life as well. Oh yeah, thank you for teaching me when to shut the Hell up! After all, “…that’s what friends are for; so keep smiling, keep shining…” Now, as I study the Bible, I admire God’s Chosen People almost as much as did Abba Eban, if that’s possible for goyim. Shalom! I thank the Southern Belle who hired me to cut her grass, yet, provided me with a liberal arts education long before I graduated from college. I never will forget touching the KKK robe that formerly had belonged to Alabama’s Grand Dragon. Perhaps, the majority of African Americans never will understand me, in part via the profundity of that moment, our waltzing in the living room, and so many other secrets we shared in the segregated South. I sincerely hope that your daughter will preserve such a family heirloom for posterity. For being the first person to tell me I was born to lead my people, I hope and pray that you were right. Speaking of Alabama, I also thank a graduate of Troy State University for daring to make me the only Negro in your marching band program. Hopefully, I played Dixie as well as anyone else in the trombone section that year. Your quintessential example of “color blindness” precipitated my deep respect for you and other white me like you [i.e., Jim Zwerg, Stetson Kennedy] that not even the Black KKK can abate! Thank you, Sir, for being your own man and for driving that Bug everywhere we went. In the racist South, I thank everyone who called me “coon, nigger, whitey lover, sell out, faggot, punk, Uncle Tom, Oreo, etc.” Your derision certainly toughened my skin for the perennial war between good and evil on both sides of the tracks. To every down for whatever brother who allowed me to pick you up and to pay you not to do what you "gotta do", thank you for sharing a meal, removing your mask, talking to me about your fatherlessness and other “guy stuff”, and especially for the rare denouement of crying in my arms while we spooned. Honestly, I do feel your pain – “true dat”—and you can call me anytime you need to chill and just talk. The next time you meet a sharp brother, who speaks standard English and prefers reading books over watching BET and basketball, don’t be so quick to misjudge him. He may be a dentist, a doctor, or even an executive director who needs to chill and even cry in your arms IF you stop trippin’...aight? Your mind is a terrible thing to waste; so join the book club!
To the elegant married woman, who offered to buy me a new car, clothes, and an apartment, thank you but no thank you. My retreat from what almost developed was demonstrative of my respect for your marriage and for your husband. To the married man who said I made your toes curl up whenever we messed around, I am glad that neither one of us took it to be more than what it was whenever I stretched forth my rod [wink]. To the pre-med student who made my toes curl up, no other woman I’ve known comes even close to having your skills! You gave new meaning to “Dr. Feelgood”; so may I make an appointment for another physical? To the Guardian ad Litem Program, thank you for the training and the case load. One case, in particular, sharpened my insight concerning the relationship between the Juvenile Justice System and its perception of the black male. What an experience! To a dear friend, who regrettably died from AIDS. I am elated that you protected your wife from getting infected; and I’m euphoric that she eventually remarried and had children! In the context of the struggles of the human heart, both of you vicariously taught me so much about marriage, commitment, love, and forgiveness. Why my older brother could not have been more like you, I never will know. Both of you played football; but you scored the winning touchdown. As I also press toward life’s end zone, I always will remember and cherish your friendship!
To my former pastor, who started one of the first AIDS Ministries in Dade County, I truly thank you for your unusual compassion for the “least of these” who struggle with substance abuse, incarceration, and AIDS. By my team visiting the dying at Jackson Hospital, Christ revealed to us the deeper meaning of “life more abundantly” as servants. Kudos to you, Pastor! To the famous porn star I actually met and befriended, man, you never will know the extent to which God used you to show me the dire need for this ministry of sexual healing. Thanks for keeping it real and rest assured that I am praying for God to call you also unto a ministry of your own. Consider how God transformed Saul into the Apostle Paul; and know that prodigal sons can come home. Moreover, you possess many “gifts” that our Village needs; so never doubt yourself because of all the haters. Feel me…perhaps, that’s a poor choice of words [smile]? Speaking of Paul’s conversion, I must thank a deep and self-actualized man born and reared in Damascus for having shared your Middle Eastern culture with me. During our brief friendship, you sagaciously taught me that geo-political agendas lie just beneath the surface of virtually all “religious wars”. Perhaps, more than the Crusades, the United States’ colonization of IRAQ poignantly proves your point. Eureka! I hope already to be drinking hazelnut coffee and eating biscotti in Heaven when such a government commences pogroms against many of its own citizens. Somewhere out there is a [hopefully no longer] homeless sage who spent a weekend with me at my 3/2 condominium in Oakland Forest. Beyond your mundane tasks of eating, bathing, sleeping, etc., your dialogue clearly articulated a failure on the part of the Black Church in meeting the intellectual and spiritual needs of black males. You also poignantly described how we first must overcome the insecurity and ignorance of some brothers IF ever they are to become educable, erudite role models and excellent fathers. Thank you for your transparency, your gratitude, and for your encouraging me to continue helping more of us to “take up thy bed and walk.” We shall overcome some day; just not today. To my Hispanic little brother at the Broward Intensive Halfway House, son, you made me a better man. Once I started asking detailed questions about your safety, the powers that be told me to never come back! Was that your request or their coverup of sexual abuse? In either case, I made you a promise to pay for your college education if you want it; so hold me to my word. No matter what it takes, please get in touch with me just to set the record straight and to make sure that you graduate sooner than I did…fair enough? You’re a good kid, who simply needs more encouragement, guidance, and especially more support in this jungle I call LIFE! Despite how unfair life seems, still there’s a hero inside you yearning to accomplish great things. Lastly, I also must thank the former jock and consummate coach who taught me the Jock’s Creed without any playbook or piece of leather filled with air. Instead, you allowed me to undress you physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually while we dissected and debated the deficiency of that construct. The effect of our cathartic friendship, Coach, obviously permeates this textbook, which may have an efferent impact upon the self-actualization of student athletes and other boys desiring to become “real men” like you. This profound ministry of sexual healing never could have taken root in my heart, my mind, or my hands, were it not for countless others too numerous to mention herein. Please forgive my remissness and may GOD incessantly bestow His copious blessings upon all of you!
Victory In Christ Ensemble
P. O. Box 13064
Sacramento, CA 95813