Politically Correct, You Say?!?



It’s Friday, Y’all …

I’ve got to do it … Thank God It’s Friday!!  Yeah, Baby!

I remember when I was growing up in White Plains and  my father, “Big Ike”, had that conversation with me that “black” fathers usually have with their sons to prepare them for the hostilities of the world aimed at African American men.  He was a little different from most, he didn’t graduate from high school and didn’t have the best vocabulary, not that he was dumb or anything.  He would read the newspaper, “The Reporter Dispatch”, as the local newspaper in White Plains was called, nearly every night.  One of  my favorite places as a little boy was in his lap as he read!!  Yep, that’s right … there I was, “Little John” sittin’ in “Big Ike’s” lap learning to read.  He would always show me the comics … start laughing and then read them to me.  When I was feeling “adventurous” and curious … like that little monkey in a story book of my day, “Curious George” … I would point to one of those long articles and wait for him to start reading it to me.  He often did that for me to satisfy my curiosity until some of the words got so challenging to pronounce that I couldn’t follow his lead.

So that conversation for young black boys of my time went something like this:  “Don’t claim racism, boy, when those white people are treating you bad … or less than the other kids.  Show them how smart you are!  Learn every darn thing they are teaching the other kids in those schools, boy!  You can do it.  Never say that something is too hard for you, ’cause it’s not.  You just have to study harder, you hear me?!?”  I never talk or write a lot about my father, but know that I have the utmost respect for “Big Ike” who fought bone marrow cancer for five years at the end of his life.  He never wanted to see me cry … unless HE was whipping me!!  And he did that as he saw fit … except with my sisters, Edna and Barbara.  Me and Hank (RIP – Henry Charles Cook) got the worst of it … he wanted us to be well behaved young men.  He used to tell me, “Don’t be crying and running home from those damn kids!  Stand up for yourself and fight back!”  He never EVER touched my mother, his beloved wife … Marietta Dolores … unless it was to show her his love, or assistance, holding doors for her and carrying things for her.  He was a true gentleman … though my mother told me he wasn’t always like that.  She helped him to learn how to be a real gentleman, for that was the kind of man she wanted … as her husband and the father of her children … he was a great Dad … and grandfather to my daughter … Ayanna Lynne Cook …

Wednesday night, I watched the television program called “Empire”, which I don’t usually watch.  That last scene, Jamal was stopped by the police as he was putting a box in his vehicle as he moved from the home he lived in in a rather upscale neighborhood.  The two white police officers asked him, “What are you doing around here?”  He replied, “I lived here … I am moving now!”  The officers looked at each other … smirking … and asked him: “You know, there have been a lot of home robberies around here … Do you know anything about that?”  Jamal, feeling disrespected and profiled, replied:  “No, I don’t know anything about any robberies … Why?  Should I?!?”  Then, the officers went into their mode of feeling offended themselves,  said he was a wise guy and joined forces to grab Jamal and throw him face down on the asphalt on the street in front of his former luxury home.  This was an excellent depiction of what happens to black men … even the lighter skinned ones like Jamal who had previously often passed for white … or were treated better than the “darker” black men … as he, too, was slammed to the ground because he made a comment that the police didn’t like, even though they had JUST offended him by asking if he knew about the break ins.  Should he have been “politically correct” and not responded to the officers that way?!?  I think not … we black men have had quite enough of this profiling crap, though there is a price to pay … which has in reality, ended in the death (murder) of African American men like the man selling loose cigarettes on a street in New York City – Eric Gardner!

What does it mean to be “politically correct”?  Why can’t people just respect each other in their conversations, and as one of my yoga teachers “Michelle” said during our class yesterday: “Don’t be so quick to be judgmental.  Just try to understand each other first.”  How hard is that?!?  Considering the fact that people have become hostile first … in general … it might be difficult to scale down ones angst and just live with respect for humanity.

Have a great Friday, and a wonderful weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

Be Careful With Your L.I.F.E.!



It’s Tuesday … kind of a “tough Tuesday”, if you will!

This thing called life … to what do you dedicate yours?!?  Could it be toward “truth and justice”?  Tall order, right!?  How about “power and fame”?!?  How about “peace and love”?!?  Does it have to be just two?  Well, I have noticed over my years in life … and in sales in particular … if you give people a choice of “a” or “b”, they usually pick one of the options you offer!!  I usually try to be “different” when given two choices … of usually a lot simpler circumstances … but I choose both … or all three … how many ever they offer me.

Yes, life is something that many societies, and we Americans are making our way into the forefront of these folks, don’t value human life much!!  I was watching some clips from the movie about BP’s oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that exploded causing disastrous damage and deaths, and it was clear … it was not just a “good” vs. “evil” movie, it was an undercurrent theme of “safety” of lives vs. financial gain … of the company itself!!  Some police officer in Plantation, FL set his wife on fire in front of her job Monday night!!  The young kid for the Marlins Baseball Team, Jose Fernandez and two friends, hit some rocks in some dangerous waters off Miami’s coastline … and all three died … all of them under 30 years of age!!  Driving a speed boat at top speed … in the darkness of the night … or morning … at 3am!!?? Wt@?!?  They even invited one friend whose response was: “No, Man … it’s too dark!”  Arnold Palmer, the professional golfer, passed away over the weekend … but he had been around for a long time … from natural causes … old age, 87, and heart failure!  Some of us make it … some of us don’t … peace be still!

Of course, I am like most Americans and I watched the debate … It is so sad to see the demise of the American political process for electing a president drop to the doldrums … anything goes … lies, rudeness, outbursts and interruptions … I mean, damn!!  “The whole world is watching!”  I  must say that the only candidate cognizant of the FACT that the whole world was watching BOTH of them was Hillary Clinton!!  Trump continued to act is if he is in his “own world” and could not come back from Hillary’s insistence that he, indeed, did not LOOK presidential … not in temperament, not in “fact checks”, not in honesty, not in embracing the concept of the “world society” as he sought to attack N.A.T.O. and its members … as well as their commitment to each other.

So, in closing, I want to suggest to the young people that “you” be more careful with their lives.  Those of “us” who have been born into rough neighborhoods, also created by racism, which Clinton clearly identified as being woven into the major institutions of American society, need to be more careful.  Yes, many of us are trapped into our environments, and through housing, jobs, education and even law enforcement and the court system, are maintained in our “positions” or status by the institutional racism that STILL permeates American society.  Be careful with your lives, young folks … Those who are like Jose Fernandez, who had “made it” with the American dream, so to speak, so … don’t go out on speed boats in the dark in the middle of the night in rock infested waters!  There is more fun stuff to do … like yoga!!


John I. Cook, Director

Always … Not One … Not Two … Not Three …



Happy Friday, Y’all!

I’m doing it because I like to do it … T.G.I.F.!!

More people shot … African American men … shot dead … by police officers!!  Yes, yes …. I know … African American youth are killing each other, too!  Just don’t get it twisted … trying to relate the two … because they are two socially different phenomena!!  The killing of unarmed (and armed) African American males by police officers should NOT be justified because African American youth in “the Hoods” all across America are  … killing each other.  Like I said … don’t get it twisted ’cause I’ll help you straighten it out!!  Both need to be terminated as acceptable social behavior in America.  There are a lot of other factors coming into play … causing youth to want power and fame as children and even talk like they are more experienced “at life” than you or me!!!

Often, I look at some of other people’s Facebook posts as well as others responses to these post.  I see these comments like: “Cops don’t go after law abiding citizens!” … as if to say that … everyone who got shot by the police … got shot … and/or because they were NOT law abiding citizens.  Come on, that’s the same logic employed by those who say and believe that the “brothers” who kneel  while the crowds in the stands are standing and listening to “The Star Spangled Banner” are disrespecting fire fighters and police officers … and whomever else you want to throw in there!!  Brothers go through this type of stuff so often, it is ridiculous!  We go through it not once ,,… not twice … but every darn time somebody wants to prove a point and appear “powerful and important”!  While in some cases “the shooters” are filled with fear of blacks in the first place OR they are people who feel “small” when compared to or around African Americans.  So, here’s the chance to feel powerful and important!!  “Shoot a N@gg@r!”

I have been looking for apartments and rooms in houses to rent.  I found one on Craig’s List in a section of Ft. Lauderdale called “Victoria Park”.  I’ve only ridden through the main part of “The Park” with lots of cool houses and some “Key West” – style complexes and units.  The efficiency was like a spacious hotel room, no stove, but a two burner hot plate and a micro wave … a refrigerator, a bathroom and a desk, closet, table and chair as well as a queen-sized bed.  I had sent e-mail to “Marcus” after he replied to my e-mail inquiry about the unit.  We exchanged numbers, he never asked me how long I was at my job during these conversations by phone, e-mail and texts!  When we finally talked to arrange the viewing of the apartment Wednesday morning before I had to be at work at 11am, (I decided to meet him at 10am), we joked about the number “13” and how it was lucky for both of us, since it’s the day in July that I was born on and purportedly the number “13” was in the street number of some of his properties!  This guy was a trip … very friendly … until he met me in person.  Maybe he thought I was white … maybe even gay … over the phone!  When I got there, he never even offered me an application and I told him I had the fee of $40.00 as well as a deposit to hold the unit!  Again, he refused and said he needed to talk with his “business partner”, since I had only been on working on my new job for two months!!!  “Marcus” acted like this was a major problem even when I showed him my pay stubs from my previous job and two from the new one.  I even told him I was beginning to get money each month for early retirement!!!  He danced around that one, too!!!  Why do you think he was nice by phone … and so “formal” and cold in person .. heh?!?  He sent me a text Thursday morning reiterating the reason for refusing to rent the efficiency to me was that I hadn’t been on my new job for more than two months. Us “brothers” deal with this type of double standard from time to time … just because people feel like putting us through it … and get away with it!  Now, in one shooting incident of a black male by a police officer, attorney Crump has to prove that the window of his car was closed and that he COULD not be reaching for any object inside the car … as blood dripped down nearly the entire car window at the crime scene!

“Not once, not twice, not three times (thrice) but four or five … six or seven!”  It is not easy out here being a brother sometimes!  I appreciate the times when people trust me and give me the same opportunities as any other human being!  It is only fair …


John I. Cook, Director




This is an interesting “Hump Day” message that I had initially planned for yesterday … a “Touching Tuesday” for me, folks … but I had so much to do in the morning before work, there just wasn’t enough time.  So, here it is.

I hope that you might understand where I am coming from, and I have confidence and faith that most of you will understand … agree with it or not …

First of all, I just wanted to mention that I still think about my friend – “Wilt” – who passed away … knowing that he was many people’s friend … that’s how he was, even though he was very opinionated … yet could still be “your friend”!  I also wanted to mention Maurice Blake, both Jose and my Coach for basketball and football at St. Paul’s School, as we both also played football one year together and several years of basketball at SPS.  Coach also sends his condolences for the loss of his former player/athlete and friend as “Coach Blake” was to most of us while we respected him as “Our Leader” simultaneously.  Coach is in his 90’s, as I heard a good friend’s Dad also had his 90th birthday a few days ago, too!  Some folks are living longer though they often come from different “walks of life”.  I also think of the “90-something” year old African American woman who got an invitation to have an audience with President and Michelle Obama in the White House several months back!  For me, it is beautiful when people show each other “friendship” in whatever form it may come  … and mean it sincerely.

This past Sunday, there was the monthly “World Peace Meditation” sponsored by the Hollywood Brahma Kumaris at ArtsPark in Young’s Circle … near where I use to live for a few months.  So I took the opportunity to “enjoy” the ambiance of the event as I meditated on peace … and on saying good bye to Jose St. Elmo Wiltshire.  Yeah, I know … I am weird like that.  I like to remember people … etch memories in my own mind … and heart … about good people and good things that I am grateful to have experienced.  Nowadays, I have learned to look at the challenges in my life as opportunities for growth and development … rather than to enhance and glorify “the negative” things that happen.  In other words … I try to learn from the negative and grow from the negative … turning those experiences into positive growth producing experiences.  While there at the World Peace Meditation, two Brahma Kumaris yogis originally from India spoke and led us in guided meditations.  This was only after “Halima” had given us some lessons in cleansing ourselves using Chinese medicine and QiGong.  Once becoming spiritually grounded from those activities with Halima, I meditated intently on peace … and saying good bye to Jose … I imagined that his spirit was there … I felt it, so to speak … and it sought to go upward towards the skies.  As I gazed upward during the meditation, I burned several sticks of Brahma brand incense made in India as I sat on my straw mat amongst the numerous meditators that Roz (director of Hollywood’s Brahma Kumaris) had invited out.  Two tears ran down my face … one on each check … only two tears … then it stopped.

I mention these things, folks, so that we can appreciate those amongst us who practice peace and harmony … while they are with us … whether we agree as individuals … or not!  One of the main reasons I attend events like this and attend as many yoga practises that I can handle each week is because “like minded” people are present … and we share our peace … quietly.  I remember a few times that Jose had written back to me after reading one of my pieces … and he wrote: “JI, man … I had tears in my eyes!”  I felt closer to him than ever … especially since I had a tear or two in my own eyes as I composed the piece!

Be well and treat each other well …..

Namaste … om shanti,

John I. Cook, Director

Meeting The World With Appreciation, Love and Friendship – Like Jose!



Happy Friday, y’all ….

I say that not so jovially today … because a close “friend” recently passed away … not close in proximity nor in constant contact after our college years, but close at heart over many years … since I was a teenager at St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH.  You know, in our lives we meet people at impressionable ages … like the teen years … and often we bond with folks through “high pressure” situations like integrating an “all boys private Episcopalian boarding school” together and/or an Ivy League University that in its previous years, didn’t accept ethnic minorities (like us!) into its ranks as students … for various reasons.  These were the conditions under which I met and befriended Jose St. Elmo Wiltshire (RIP).  I want to keep this simple and sincere … and dedicate this piece to him and the friendship I was fortunate enough to have shared with him … and apparently … as were many many other people that he knew and loved … and who knew him and loved him, too!

When in those “pressure-type” environments, the bonds created by those years of “comradery” are usually unbreakable.  Jose and I had such a bond created after spending three years together at St. Paul’s, playing basketball together and figuring out how to survive in such an environment.  Some of you may have “heard” me write about St. Paul’s where I received an academic scholarship for three years and studied with Jose and other people like Kevin Gover, Larry Woody, Ed Shockley, Jose Maldonado, Kenny Williams and many many others (including Bobby Hipp, Mike Russell …RIP).  “Wiltshire”, as I had come to call him, has a kind spirit … and was always open to listening and becoming friends with others at St. Paul’s and Princeton where we both attended college!  He and I both loved the game of basketball as did all of the aforementioned schoolmates of ours as we sought to navigate our way through St. Paul’s, a feeder school for boys (and later girls who were first admitted to study at SPS while we were both there) who wanted to attend some of this nation’s most prestigious universities.  In speaking with one of the first “girls” on the phone last night who was admitted to SPS while we were there, Ms. Linda Fairchild, I learned that Jose and Linda were in a “French play” back then and rehearsed their lines together in the school’s auditorium at Memorial Hall!!  What a memory for Linda… and Jose!

Jose leaves behind a family, whom I never knew or met, and a bunch of friends in Arizona where he taught public school for the last years of his life.  They are planning several events honoring the life of Jose St. Elmo Wiltshire.  So, folks, don’t wait to tell someone that you care about them …. if you genuinely do … especially the way many of us cared about Jose … and Jose cared about us while we walked this planet together!  It is the “journey” indeed … and what we do with it that counts most.  For we all will be rewarded with the same destination … and rest in peace together.  Not too long ago, I came across … and posted a most appropriate message: “Why do we only  say rest in peace … why don’t we live in peace?!” … the way Jose St. Elmo Wiltshire demonstrated during his journey with us on Earth.  He had promised to come and see me in Ft. Lauderdale, as I struggled with some of my circumstances, so … I am now promising to see him … perhaps … in the “spirit world”!  I love you and miss you, my brother … and may your Creator welcome you Home!


John I. Cook, Director

“Everyday People!”



Howdy, y’all!

It’s Tuesday and there is enough stuff going on to “turn some heads”!  We’ve got other NFL players following somewhat Colin Kaeperneck’s  (San Francisco 49er’s)

example of not standing up for the “National Anthem” and saluting the flag, but instead kneeling and covering their hearts … as some Miami Dolphin players did in Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks!  Of course, “critics” blame the loss of “the game” … not a life … but a GAME on the fact that the players did not stand and salute the flag!!!  How do people justify this stuff, and then say, not to salute the flag and stand is showing “disrepect for law enforcement and fire fighters” … not intelligent enough to see that this is their way of “keeping the conversation open … and going” regarding the sad state of affairs for race relations in this country.  Why do people want to read “their” sickness into others behavior and try to “limit” others behavior to what THEY think is right … not what the person her or himself thinks is right!!  Audacity?!!  Are people saying that these guys in the NFL have to “cut their ties” with the communities that they “reflect” or are “socially” a part of or with whom they identify?? … because they make “lots of money” and have fame?!?  Should they be grateful and just “shut up and act right”??!!

So these guys are standing up … or kneeling … or sitting down … for “everyday people” … and some of us “don’t get it” …. Awwww, “Darn people have minds of their own … we couldn’t program them right with all that money and fame they got!”  I can hear the critics complaining now how “those boys are so ungrateful”!

I am glad that some of you are reading the “stuff” I write … and some of you even “get it”!!  In fact, one reader, Marvin Pressman, with whom I used to work some years ago and had the pleasure of getting to know a bit more over the years though I haven’t seen him in a while … sent me a reply to my “If You Want Me To Stay!” piece about Sylvester Stewart of “Sly and the Family Stone’!  It was an update  …  Sly had an attorney who is looking into suing Sly’s former manager and attorney for “concocting legal materials” ripping Sly off for millions of dollars in royalties!!  Thanks, Marvin! http://thesource.com/2016/07/23/sly-stone-of-the-legendary-sly-and-the-family-stone-awarded-5-million-in-unpaid-royalties/  Here he was, pretty much “everyday people” … trusting his manager and attorney who decided they would rip him off!!  Audacity!! I hope he gets “what’s due” him, since I am sure he could use a “lift” at this point in his life.

I have to say that my current job as a debt settlement senior analyst … is pretty cool.  It is a lot of work, but … if the people can afford it, it’s a good way to get out of credit card, store card, personal loan … even “pay day” loan debt.  You’d be surprised the kind of people turning to those things with six figure incomes!!  I enjoy trying to help people with a good program with lawyers to “represent” the clients through out the program.  Right now, I am the only one taking calls (and closing deals) in Spanish.  Yet, today, a new training class started and there is a gentleman not quite my age I suspect who is from Colombia.  He stated, “Hey Man, your Spanish is pretty good … clear pronunciation with a good accent, too!”  I am glad that I can do it … I like to challenge myself in ways like that!

As I enter an opportunity to take an early retirement, I am thinking about doing something a bit different though I did it before when I was younger!  I have thought about traveling again … maybe to live … and teach or work and write … I don’t know.  Maybe even take better care of my health!!!  Costa Rica sounds fun for something like that … Not too far away … but far enough!!!  I’ve heard that Costa Rica doesn’t have an army, uses natural energy to power the country … and has some of the nicest shores and beaches and an ambiance that is therapeutic even!!

What’s the point?!?  Some people … everyday people … don’t have a voice that is heard or listened to … until it gets loud.  So maybe … just maybe … those athletes who have an international platform can bring much needed attention to an issue that often gets swept under the rug … and people don’t listen to them … ’cause they are “everyday people”!  Everyday people have everyday rights!!


John I. Cook, Director

“If You Want Me To Stay . . .”



Happy Friday, Everyone!

And … like clockwork … T.G.I.F.!

Y’all ready for the weekend?!?  I know that I am!  I try to take some moments of every weekend … just for me.  Now I am not talking about being selfish … for various reasons.  One of course is that I am still single … not complaining though I fill that void with dear friends in yoga class or that I hang out with on the weekends … or friends that I have made over the years and we communicate mainly by internet.  Yet, I am still from the “old school” of psychology where I learned that human touch keeps humans fairly “human”!!  In other words, hugging, caressing and touching … maybe even an occasional kiss helps us stay relatively “happy” and “human”.  Some of the classical theories in psychology have suggested that we “need” that human touch to develop into social human beings.  I know that some of you may disagree, and that’s fine … because some of the earliest psychologists of human development disagreed, too!

Does anyone remember a popular “R & B” singer Sly and the Family Stone aka “Sylvester Stone” (Sylvester Stewart)?!  You may not … nor even care to know who he is as his musical genre may not be the same as yours!  So be it … I mention him because he was the leader of a group that was very very successful on the “music scenes” from Madison Square Garden to the Apollo Theatre in New York’s “Harlem” on W. 125th Street.  Sly had horns (trumpet, sax), he had an extremely talented bass player, Larry Graham, and had the whole world in the palm of his hand!  Last I heard, about a year ago, was that “Sly” was homeless and living out of a van somewhere in California … maybe Hollywood or Los Angeles.  I can tell you I can relate to his story, though I have never been a “musical super star”!!  I remember seeing him on the stage at Madison Square Garden … sometimes so “high” that he couldn’t even sing too well!!

I am at that early retirement age where I am looking to find something to do for work that allows me to receive early retirement funds, which are not so much, but I am “tired” of working so hard at this age and at this stage of my life!  I know what homelessness looks like … what it feels like … and what it smells like!!!  It is a difficult situation that some folks just get used to …  Been there, done that … can’t get used to it.  I love to work, I love to write … and travel.  Shucks, I even like teaching.  I have begun to think about retiring some place like Barcelona or Madrid … Costa Rica … not Colombia again ’cause I know how rough it can get there in terms of folks being kidnapped and just disappearing …. much like New York City, even!!!  I think of the lyrics to Sly’s song “If You Want Me To Stay …”, he continues … ” ... I’ll be around today, I’ll be available for you to see!”  Now don’t worry, I know that some of you might not care where I go or what I do … that’s okay … because that’s YOU … not me!!  I have a very good friend in Germany whom I thought of visiting maybe from Barcelona or someplace in Europe!  But my point is … I just might go … maybe sometime in 2017 …. especially if Trump gets elected!  It’s a bit exciting, especially if I decide to travel or move some place else.  My mother, Marietta aka “Mary”, was a “world traveler of sorts”, and that is probably where I get it from!  Either way, have a great day … and enjoy your weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

Every One Is Doing Their Own Thing!

follow your passion


Happy Friday, All!

It’s a long weekend … Labor Day Weekend even!!  What do you all have planned?!  Nowadays, my lifestyle is a bit interesting … even for me!!  So, I don’t have any serious plans for Labor Day Weekend … except to be at peace with the universe!  Have you ever heard of such a thing?!?  I am still reeling … somewhat … from all of the shootings and killings that have been occurring here in this country.  I think about my grandson, Caleb Isaac, and my daughter … and wish them well.  I think back to the days of my childhood and how my parents always tried to have something planned for us to do when we were out of school.

Our family was often “taunted” in The Projects because we had two cars … one for my mother and one for my father!  My father “Big Ike” worked on cars and was able to turn a “clunker” into a “keeper”!  He liked Cadillacs and Buicks in particular and always had a little “wagon” of sorts for my mother to drive.  We were humble, even though I, the youngest child got accepted into an all boys private Episcopalian boarding school and later Princeton University.  I had really never heard of either … until I was there.  I was fortunate because my father always told us NOT to be prejudiced toward people of other races.  We got “ribbed” from time to time by the folks in “The Projects” because it “seemed like” we had more stuff … more fun … took more trips … to Florida or to Canada (where I went with my mother one year with The Flower Club of Bethel Baptist Church, also there in the property where The Projects were located).  He taught us to be proud, though he didn’t expect that I would become rich because I went to St. Paul’s and Princeton.  Yet they came to BOTH graduations “dressed like native New Yorkers” in a suit and my mother dressed really nice in a dress that she probably had made herself.  My Dad’s mother was Mattie Yhuman Cook, who was considered by family members and rumors to be a “half breed” Native American … either half white or half African as she was very light skinned, as was my father.  His brother David Cook was light but not as “light-skinned” as Ike.  Their brother, Samuel, was the darkest of the three sons of Robert and Mattie Cook.  My grandfather, whom I never met, was said to be deep dark and of African lineage for sure!!

Nowadays, everybody is doing their own thing, whatever that is … whatever brings them more wealth and comfort, fortune and fame in our competitive society.  That’s cool, too … as long as one is not hurting another human being … or other creatures!!  Tall order, I know … but someone has to put humanity FIRST!  Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend!


John I. Cook, Director

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