Americans have had one solid year of angst and disbelief.
Prince, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, George Michael all checked out with very little warning or preparation for those of us committed to lives of mastery and courage.
For me, 2016 was all about trying to figure out and navigate new systems with no understanding of these systems and why they are needed.
After looking at the joke that is politics and pop culture over the last twelve months, it is clear to me that we have lost our way because we are existing in a world without boundaries.
Brene' Brown states it best with this succinct definition of boundaries- this is what's okay; this is what's not okay.
We have spent the last year allowing confusion to remain instead of setting boundaries.
Bullying , scapegoating and the level of racism and misogyny that our most recent presidential race highlighted was shocking and beyond disturbing.
When those seeking power are seeking more power, it sends a message to all of us that we don't need boundaries not when it interferes with getting what we want.
I stopped being shocked at people's behavior the minute creating a sex tape was the requirement for breaking into the entertainment industry.
I also stopped being shocked when Americans sucked up all the lies regarding what President Obama was doing or not doing.
I, like all Americans, have only two choices: stay shocked (in shock)- or strap on the head gear and get in the game, i.e. create some change by personally being a change maker.
2017 must be the year of boundaries and clear thinking.
When the subject of boundaries comes up, most of wince and deliberately try to change the subject.
Boundaries are uncomfortable for most of us because it means saying no to someone we care about (friends and relatives) or in many instances(someone who may have "perceived" power over us-supervisors and large government agencies and big businesses).
Boundaries are also sorely needed in a world with too many choices about every aspect of our lives.
Whenever there have been hurt feelings and or misunderstandings that I've allowed to easily settle into resentments, there was a boundary I didn't set or allowed it (the boundary) to be negotiated away(a semi firm one built on shaky ground) or hoped that the person causing the drama would appreciate my "niceness" and set one for the both of us.
I always ended up screwed and resentful.
When the "Donald" began his bid for the White House, I dismissed it. I foolishly believed it was a publicity stunt that had gotten out of hand and America would see it as the tomfoolery it truly was.
I believed we could all get back to the seriousness of our daily lives and co-create next steps for moving our country in a sane, positive direction.
I was wrong.
Once again, I and the rest of the country failed to maintain a boundary.
What has happened to us in the United States?
When I was a kid I was told the key to success is hard work and a good education.
My mother took me to the library.
She took me on field trips to learn about the Moravians at Old Salem or we went to see the Woolworth store in Greensboro where the four A&T students kicked off the civil Rights Movement in North Carolina with a sit-in.
When I was a child we had commercials that talked about science.
When I was a child and an expert came on television people listened.
Now it's all about showboating and how you look and the tone that you use.
We have crossed over into some kind of anti-intellectual Twilight Zone where blubbering, bloviating buffoons with bloated egos shuffle around speaking in sentences that are barely above a 4th grade reading level.
We have elevated these people to the status of leaders of our political parties.
We no longer argue and debate on how to fix things like the economy or the climate or racism; we now argue over if they are real or not.
Everyday I see folderol pass for political discourse.
I see spin and hackery supplant data and analysis.
There was a time when we voted for politicians because of their intelligence and Bona Fides.
Because they displayed some acumen or knowledge of the complex interlocking mechanisms of economies and culture.
They knew how to be grand in their oratory and small in their humility.
They wanted to work together for the good of all people and not just be Leninist and destroy the system completely.
Now we vote for the candidate who we'd most like to share a beer with and yap about the winner of Dancing with Stars.
We want to be told pretty lies about how our lives would be better if that other group would not be around to screw things up for us.
We live in a world of Googled facts where anybody can upload a poorly edited website and have it cited alongside our nation's greatest and most venerated news organizations.
We are not boldly going where no one has gone before.
We are sliding into an inert future with brooding, slobbering hordes screaming over which team will get the dog skull on the pike first.
Our sense of exceptionalism has become inverted.
We now call a man and a woman who came from modest means and worked hard as they were told; went to top schools and prepared for the most important job of their lives -elitist while a brooding, preening, petulant billionaire born into money is seen as a man of the people simply because he is willing to be nastier and more of a blowhard than anybody else.
Idiocracy is not our future.
It is our present.
While I was amazed by all of the hullabaloo surrounding Ms. Dean's admission of using the "N" word, I am not shocked.
When I began reading her biography seven years ago, there was something that was not being addressed. It was clear that she had a very complicated relationship with the black community and those that were in her service.
Many folks want to punish her.
As a nation, we want to believe that we've come so far and yet when we hear young teenagers, irrespective of their color, refer to each other using Dean "speak" we never stop it nor question it.
Ms. Dean used the term and was fired.
Black kids use it and get record deals by the same conglomerates that own a stake in the Dean empire.
We won't allow an old white lady to say it and feel justified in calling her a racist and yet when we refer to each other using the same handle we(black folks)call it love.
As the great Dr. Angelou stated : words have power and this particular word was created to demean and dehumanize.
Ms. Dean may or may not be a racist (a person can practice certain thinking and behavior, be influenced by certain behavior and still have the option of practicing some serious self awareness that leads to change).
As a culture steeped in white supremacy and privilege, we have missed another opportunity to have a serious look and conduct some serious conversations about racism in this country.
Here is an opportunity to discuss why we (black folk), in the opinion of Dr. Bill Cosby,have moved from : Black is beautiful to n***a please.
For our white allies, this presents the challenge of looking at their racism (courageously)and the ways they gain benefit from it.
When the fear of being labelled a racist is eliminated, a real conversation around race and its effects can take place.
When we allow Ms. Dean to be the poster child for our guilt and gullibility regarding rewards and punishment, we simply allow racism to go unchallenged and thinking to stop.
While everyone jumped on 30 year old remarks, there is no organized, results oriented outrage when our young black males are murdered, records are released peppered with the dreaded "n" word and dark bodies are slaughtered globally.
We should all look at the timing and media frenzy this disclosure allowed.
In a world that gives so much credence and attention to Brangelina, Sandra Bullock, and every celebrity that takes in a baby of color, where is all the glory and paparazzi for black dads who are raising their children?