Month: December 2015

Racism, Terrorist Attacks, Police Killings – Can a One Per Center Have a Merry Christmas?

Racism, Terrorist Attacks, Police Killings – Can a One Per Center Have a Merry Christmas?

This article was originally published in Criterion Newspaper on December 12, 2015.

“Racism, Terrorist Attacks, Police killings-Can a One Percenter Have a Merry Christmas”

I inhale deeply as I enter the door, the odor from our freshly cut six feet Carolina
Pine permeates the entire house and my body, too. The Christmas tree is decorated
with ornaments purchased from merchants worldwide with a hundred presents
sprawled underneath. Nat King Cole’s candy cane voice singing the lyrics of a “White Christmas,” drifts through the room. A beautiful black angel divinely anchored at the top, looks down from its perch. I dim the chandelier and watch blinking red and green lights flicker on and off…off and on… I am mesmerized. It’s my childhood dream come true.

The living room is nestled with Christmas decorations and aglow with the heat of the built-in fireplace. It looks like a feature in House & Garden or Architectural Digest. The entire house, from dining room to the basement, looks like something out of a magazine. The kitchen table set formally is adorned with the best china that money can buy, accompanied by every conceivable piece of gold flatware. It’s Idyllic.

Jasper Beamon, an African American CEO, and a one per center, has finally reached the highest echelon of wealth with property in three states, a condo in New York, a luxurious house on Emerald Isle, and a mansion style home in the gated community of Prince Georges County and more money than he can spend in a lifetime. He is very proud of where he is and loaf to think of where he used to be. He loves money — all that it can buy and all that it status conveys. He has finally been able to have the kind of opulent Christmas every boy dreams of. But Jasper is lonely and something is missing? Is it his dog Lulu, his constant companion Jimmy Mack or Rebecca, his mistress of 30 years? Or could it be something more close to home and heart?

ISIS has attacked France, killed 130 people, hunkered down in Mali and Nigerian and is threatening the United States. Police killings of black people are now averaging at least one per day in major cities, town and villages throughout the country. Although racism was underground it is raising its head like a two-head beast. College students are demanding racial justice and the Black Lives Matter Movement is organizing and protesting in Minneapolis, Chicago and where ever police brutality occurs. Political candidates are vying for attention and playing to the public fears by making the most outrageous promises: Deny Syrian Refugees entrance into the US or yet force them into Jewish like Concentration Camps, impeach Obama and overthrow Obamacare. And more lately Donald Trump has vowed to dismantle Embassy Row. Amidst all of this turmoil Pope Francis said, “We are at the limits of suicide for climate change.” To Jasper and many Americans alike “The World is Falling Down” as Abbey Lincoln sang.

Pursuing riches all of his adult life has been Jasper’s main goal – belonging to the most prestigious organizations, and churches but none of this has alleviated his Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder. A disorder founded on twelve years of research by Dr. Joy De Gruy, in her book of the same name. Dr.  De Gruy believes that centuries of slavery predicated on the ideology that blacks are inferior to whites is the root cause of this syndrome. A theory also supported by Nicholas Kristof a noted New York Times columnist. “Slavery has been followed by systemic racism and oppression; states Dr. De Gruy and Kristof say have resulted in multigenerational behavior that is positive and negative reflecting both resilience as well as detrimental and destructive tendencies.” Institutionalized racism continues to rack havoc on blacks both psychological and spiritual. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome is a double edge sword. It cannot be healed by therapy only.

Like most Americans, Jasper is on edge. His only relief is sex with his mistress, but she is 450 miles away. His soul is empty. Why? Will he pursue, Jeannette the woman he describes as perfect for him, heal himself and join the political and social justice movement. Make his Christmas merry?

You need to become Jeanette’s real Santa Baby, said Jimmy Mack.

Or will he struggle throughout the holidays with inexplicable sadness and depression? Can his money fill the void? Is Happiness found in the pursuit of wealth or thorough developing inner peace and joy? What will happen to Jasper and most of Americans when the Christmas lights are off, the dinner is eaten and the guests are all gone? Merry Christmas!

Kathryn L. Harris is the author of 90 Percent: A Memoir of my Demise and Rise, a literary novel. This article is based on her novel. The author may be reached at Writingsbykathryn@gmail.com.

To see original article, click here: The Criterion Newspaper

Review by Martha Bowman, Senior Editor/Consultant at Dupree/Miller Associates

Review by Martha Bowman, Senior Editor/Consultant at Dupree/Miller Associates

A retired African American, the protagonist, (who has settled with an abusive, demanding wife reader thinks)  recently reads a text message sent (from his past true love and “soul mate,” that she has written a soon to be book about their past relationship which sends the protagonist into a neurotic tailspin to such an intensity that, finally, he must take a honest look at his life, but will he?

I truly fell in love with  the protagonist, Jasper Beamon. It is funny. It is insightful.  It is Literary.  There are superb metaphors.  The protagonist is fantastic.  There is great inner dialogue.  There are precise insights about his two companions, his dog, and a certain part of his body,  at just he right time, two major dramatic questions arose in my mind. Why is the protagonist upset about this book?  Is the protagonist insane or just losing it slowly?” this kept me reading on.

….This work reflects a remarkably written character exposition skillfully written in the first person point of view.  The writer keeps the reader in a dream-like state. This work begins at the right time-just before the beginning of a possible and much needed transformation through self examination with a past lover.

I know that this author is a true emerging talent.  This story has great potential as a fine African American Literary work of fiction.

Grace Edwards, President of the Harlem Writers Guild

Grace Edwards, President of the Harlem Writers Guild

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book.

The whole idea of having a ‘Character’ named Jimmy Mack is something few writers would think of.

Jimmy Mack is the voice of reason, humor, and the balance that keeps the action moving forward.  (Also the balance that Jasper needs and ultimately does not heed.

The progression is flawlessly….

Jasper’s trails and tribulations (mostly) brought on by himself) is a perfect vehicle to highlight the hypocrisy of the church going god fearing and money hunger individuals (as personified in Deacon Anderson).  Money (or the love thereof) is indeed the root of all evil and Jasper falls victim to his own selfishness.  Wonderful.

Above all, those readers who haven’t had a chance to visit the motherland will especially enjoy the important information you provided regarding South Africa’s apartheid government and the nooses signifying the number of martyrs who gave their lives for the cause.  The safaris, the dance rituals, and the food were all brought to life through Jasper’s eyes.

Grace Edwards, former President of the Harlem Writers’ Guild

The 90 Percent Solution

The 90 Percent Solution

Jasper Beamon’s life is a mess. A retired CEO, he’s been married for thirty years to a venomous woman who abuses him. He’s engaged in a long-term sexual liaison. The nasty trustee at his church is threatening to blackmail him. And the love of his life is about to publish a tell-all book that will blow the lid off their emotional love affair. No wonder he’s depressed. “I’m an alcoholic’s empty whiskey bottle,” he moans.
In “90 Percent: A Memoir of my Demise and Rise,” Kathryn L. Harris deftly uses the hapless Jasper to explore themes of courage, authenticity, and whether it’s possible to change a lifetime of destructive patterns. And for Jasper, with a publication deadline looming, the pressure is on.
“I might have to face a lot of stuff I’ve refused to deal with: my name and reputation out there for all the world to see, my sexual relationship, my hypocritical life as a deacon, the inauthentic life I live.”
Fearful and anxious, Jasper suffers from a life-long tendency to run from difficult situations. Will he be able at last to confront his weaknesses? And, most important to him, will he be willing to give up his image and his bank account in order to save himself? The answer may surprise you, but, in Harris’s finely-wrought story, his journey will surely make you think.
“90 Percent” is local writer Kathryn Harris’s first book in a planned trilogy. Visit her at www.Kathryn-Harris.com