Today I read that Hamas has refused a 24 hour extension to the cease fire. The recent violent brewing in that region and in the Ukraine and Russia, combined with the recently revived debate over immigration in particular children, has drummed up a new hash of patriotism and flag waving, gun toting nationalism I have not seen since the post 9/11 days. Right now no matter what side of the fence you sit on people are divided. Should have a military intervention or shouldn't we? Should we deport these people or shouldn't we? Is diplomacy an option or isn't it not? There are so many questions and very few answers that are not politically and emotionally charged. But I would like to remind everyone that we have not been attacked. Despite how ardent the right wing is about Israel's protection and security, what has happened to them in no way directly affects us. Is it awful what is going on in that region? Yes. And on both sides there is a lot of hatred, anger an overall a refusal to cooperate. In America we view all world events through the lens of what it means for us. We color their tragedies by what intrinsically triggers a response in us. Our overreaction and gun-ho attitude towards this conflict as it stands currently is due in part to resolved sentiment concerning 9/11 and race relations in general in this country, on both sides. A lot of people of color who I know side with the Palestinians since many of them can relate to the persecution and stigmatization of oneself because of one's ethnic and racial background. Many whites I know sympathize with Israel because of the fear of being struck back by a religious minority who you don't not understand nor have a common culture with. But I stand somewhere in the middle and I will tell you why.

When I was 13 years old had I just entered the eighth grade however unlike most kids I did not go to a normal middle school. For whatever reason my parents thought public school was a detriment to me and sent me to a charter school located on the outskirts of town. At first there were many black students. In the first year I went there, when I was twelve, the school was about half and half. However as time went on and I'm talking maybe a semester, most of the black students left. This was not unmitigated. Most of the white students, staff and teachers were the kind of people who say they don't watch Fox News and yet when bread goes in and toast comes out they can't explain that. Most of the people were Christians of varying denominations, very rustic rural sort of people. While not 'racist' they clearly approached black and Latino students with the idea that they needed to be tame and made 'decent' by normal standards. For example I remember the looks several of the Latino students got when they spoke Spanish to one another. It was almost like they weren't allowed. There were very few non-Christian people there. The only few I could think of was the Jewish principle who married a Roman Catholic and the odd little Wiccan boy who was like every redneck tween who wanted to rebel and dabbled in alternative religion but still somehow came off like a bible thumper.

It was 2003 and we had just entered Iraq so the whole 'America fuck yeah' vibe encapsulated by Trey Parker and Matt Stone was just now reaching it's golden era. However that feeling of togetherness that we all had for about four months afterwards had long subsided. I remember when we moved down from New Jersey to Florida my mother in reference to the shocking way the white people treated her once remarked 'For the first time in my life I feel like I'm an American'. She was going full Michelle Obama on us before Michelle Obama was even a thing. You go girl. Anyway by late 2003 blacks, Latinos, Asians and the few Native Americans left went back to being the 'others' while whites reassumed their place on the societal food chain they themselves created in the first place. However now we also had Mashoud and his buddy Baljeet, the latter being mistakenly assumed to have come communion with the extremists belonging to the community of the former. Where I lived white people either ignored us or pretended not be afraid of us. Where I went to school white people either dismissed and mocked us but were openly afraid of us. For example one white student made a comment one day he hated niggers and so on. He got detention. A black student remarked that he hated white people and so on. He got suspended, a conference with his mother, the principal and a guidance counselor to address his 'violent tendencies' and a special meeting with a spiritual confidante to come up with a plan to keep him spiritually sound so that his aggression did not manifest again. Of course that last part was done off base at the recommendation of the school. Despite the overwhelming Christian presence this was still a charter school and legally they could not make open reference to God in such a way.

But even to that end I noticed that even the way blacks worshipped was considered inferior to these people. Despite supposedly working for the same guy there was this divide between the white Christians and the black Christians. I grew up in a very strict Pentecostal home and my father was a minister as were most of the men in his family before him, a few of the women too. I am pretty damn sure if you can back far enough one of my ancestors was probably a preacher man on the plantation back during slave times. Now with my parents white people were the devil, no arguments about it. But so was anyone not a Pentecostal Apostolic Oneness believer. So apparently the devil casts a wide net, who knew? My father equipped me with a bible each day and encouraged me to study from it and preach to the other students in my class. Even back then this made no sense to me considering most of them believed in the same God we did despite minor variations. However my father quickly reminded me that although their deity was correct their doctrine wasn't and even back then I couldn't help but wonder if there was another little boy being told the same thing by his father about us. Everyday I came to school with my bible and when time permitted I would try to preach to the other boys. I say the other boys since through no fault of their own the school had a lacking of women in the worst way. My entire class was all boys. Anyway I remember one time during our History class the topic of religion came up. Our teacher was a ginger be-speckled nervous little guy who clearly grew up in a white trash family but was craving not to be associated with them. The blacks and whites hated him equally. The blacks hated him for representing what they saw as the 'dangerous white man': liberal educated and full of things like open mindedness about sexuality and religion that would taint our race. The whites hated him because he railed against their institutionalized system of nice nasty racism.

When the topic of religion came up most of the kids professed a Christian faith but there was also a clear divide there as well. The white students although claiming a belief in God weren't as adamantly religious as the blacks who, myself included, professed their belief in white Jesus with an almost Sambo like affect. I mentioned to the class at large about how in churches we believing in tongue talking, very high energy services and shouting. The black students seemed unfazed whereas the white students looked at me as if I was speaking in Swahili and then they asked me if I could then I explained what speaking in tongues meant. They asked me if I could do it right there and right then and I said I could not. The Lord had to move me in order for me to be able to do it. To the blacks this made perfect sense. To the whites this was just another sign that we were 'different' and 'not like them'. But they were dumb teenagers so you don't expect much however the windfall comes in when they're mocking you and your culture openly and their pare