By George Smith

Cleon Flanagan is an American, a husband, father, production engineer, and former law enforcement officer. He is my son-in-law and dad to Bryan, 17, Brayden, 11, and Marley, 6, three of my seven grandchildren.

He is black.

He and I talked this weekend about the racial turmoil roiling through the U.S. His heart was breaking and it was obvious he was worried about the future and what new hell his biracial children would face.

So you will know, I grew up in a segregated community and never had a real, honest conversation and exchange of views about anything with any black person until I went to college. 

Cleon is the epitome of what a husband, father, relative and human being should be. He is one of the best men I have ever met. I love him.

He wrote the piece below this week. Please read it. If you do and get through it without shedding tears…you have more self control than I do. 

By Cleon Flanagan

So let’s talk … take a seat.

1980’s—Walking home, around age 12, and two white men in a pickup truck and a confederate flag waving, pulled up behind me and then beside me and threw beer and full beer cans on and at me.  Thank God I was almost home.  

1997  — When I worked for a local police agency, we were doing a transport of some detainees and prisoners when a detainee turned to me and said (while i was in uniform) “My daddy used to own some like you. ha ha!”  I couldn’t speak up. 

Same town — I went into the store to get a drink, in uniform, and the cashier looked at me (missed the badge) and said “I can’t stand f-ing n******.”

I’d like to say these instances early in my adulthood were rare, or stopped as I aged.

But that would be a “No.” 

Jennifer Thurman Flanagan and I, throughout our marriage, have endured comments that we know wouldn’t be made (or tolerated) about white couples.

“Oh, I’ll bet her family has money.  You’re all set now.”

“She has a good job so y’all know y’all will be ok. (But I’m an engineer?)

Jen has been asked if all of our kids were by the same dad.  

They are struck by the fact that she had actually graduated college, got married, and bought a house (in that order) yearsssssss before having kids.  That we weren’t teen parents.

She’s been asked at the grocery store, when the little ones were with her, if she’ll be using her Lone Star card to pay.  

She’s looked at as trash when she shops alone with our kids, but I get stereotyped as having “married up.”

And let me tell you about our recent vacations … Galveston 2019 — Our kids were questioned for missing fishing poles from a residence AN ENTIRE BLOCK AWAY.  The police were driving around and saw our kid’s fishing (with their own poles). 

Lake O the Pines 2018 — The white man who owned the property we rented was as friendly and sweet as peach pie over the phone… until he saw Bryan, his black classmate, and me heading in with our boat.  After that, we were harassed, watched, hounded, then, after cleaning profusely, he kept our deposit and sent us a bill (we got it all back after filing a complaint with VRBO).  

Speaking of vacations — How many of you have to plan your vacation depending on the demographics of the town?  The location?  Is it a place notorious for pulling over and harassing POC (people of color)?

Have you every had to justify simply being in a public place?  

Have you every been denied a day off by your boss at Thanksgiving, just for him to tell you, “Them white folks don’t want you to eat with them.”

These are only a fraction of the stories I could tell.  Imagine all of the stories millions black men and women could tell today.  

Imagine being a black man and being ridiculed and belittled by police, by your boss, by your white neighbor. treated less than human, in front of your own children who don’t understand the systematic racism that you encounter. 

And you are helpless to fight it.  You have to “stay in your place.”  You can’t speak up. 

If you think the world still doesn’t look at us differently, let me tell you:  I have a CHI (Concealed Handgun License), and I could open carry.  If I walked into Walmart with a rifle strapped to my back, the cops would be called.  White men open carry regularly – not an eye batted.  

Have you every had to tell your black son where to put his hands when he gets pulled over and to let the officer know he are unarmed?

Some of y’all get excited about your kids going off to college, traveling the world, getting jobs ANYWHERE.  That worries the hell out of me.  I don’t get the privilege to get excited for my kids — I just get to worry. 

The only reason I’m posting this is because I need y’all to understand. I have tons of white friends. I have white family members. But I really think that some don’t understand the experiences that we go through. They make assumptions that our life is great and happy and everyone is nice to us.  I’ve heard the sideways comments from people and either they think it doesn’t bother me, or they make the comment of “But you’re not like other black guys.“ What does THAT mean??


This impacts me personally not because of my experiences that I have had or will have, but because of the experiences that my children will have. Racism is only around today because it keeps being reinforced and taught throughout the generations.  And now, it’s my kids’ turns to encounter it. And it INFURIATES ME.  

What if George Floyd was Bryan. Or our classmates, or me????

Like I was told at the police academy: Just because it happens in a big town, don’t think it can’t happen in your small piece of the world.  

Would you still sit back silent?  Would we just be a hashtag?  

Would you be complaining about protestors and rioting … or would you march for me? Would you actually act?  Would you vote differently?  Would you not make assumptions?  Would you still grasp your purse or lock your doors when we walk by?  Would we still get an interview, the job, or a promotion? 

Would you stand next to us?  

And, does it have to be someone you know for you to GET IT!?

Are you mad at the protesters?  Be mad that y’all haven’t spoken up in the names of my sons. Be mad at the systematic racism that is still plagues the every day life of POC. 

If we keep going this way, if Y’ALL DONT SPEAK UP and make SYSTEMATIC CHANGES, then it very well really might BE one of us.

Or maybe that’s it: You don’t want it to change. And THAT is the real problem.


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June 2, 2020

Harrison County Judge Chad Sims said Monday afternoon that his county had added no new cases with a total of 249.

Sims said five more patients had recovered. With two dozen deaths in the county related to the coronavirus, active cases in Harrison County totaled 140.

“Let’s keep up the good hygiene and keep these numbers coming down,” he said.

Four COVID-19 cases added in Gregg County; six in Smith,…

COVID-19 SPREADING IN THE US IN JANUARY The US CDC COVID-19 Response Team, in collaboration with researchers and health officials from California, Illinois, New York, and Washington, published findings from a study on early SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the United States. The study, published in the US CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, indicates that limited community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the United States may have begun as early as January, based on a variety of disease surveillance data as well as genetic analysis and retrospective case investigations. This would place community transmission in the United States weeks earlier than the first identified domestic transmission, reported in late February in California. Diagnostic testing on postmortem specimens identified 2 unrelated cases in California, one who developed symptoms on January 31 and another who “died at home between February 13 and 17.” Genomic sequence data suggest that early community transmission could be linked to travelers who arrived from Wuhan, China, or passengers or crew members from a cruise ship that departed from San Francisco, and subsequent introductions arrived via Europe.

Dr. Jay Butler, US CDC Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases, further noted in a media briefing that there was no evidence for widespread transmission earlier than late January, dispelling speculation that the virus could have been circulating in the US in December of last year. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield stated that the findings indicate that the delayed rollout of SARS-CoV-2 testing did not negatively impact the speed of the US response, because even expanded testing would have been unlikely to have detected such limited transmission; however, some experts have disagreed. 

GSK to Manufacture 1 Billion Doses of Pandemic Vaccine Adjuvant System (Homeland Preparedness News) GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said it will manufacture 1 billion doses of its pandemic vaccine adjuvant system in 2021 to support the development of multiple adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
COVID-19 TREATMENT PHASE 1 TRIAL Pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly commenced early stageha human trials of a monoclonal antibody therapeutic for COVID-19, marking the first trial of a treatment developed specifically for COVID-19. The Phase 1 clinical trial of LY-CoV555, an antibody treatment created from a blood sample of early US COVID-19 survivors, will test the drug’s safety in 32 patients who are currently hospitalized for COVID-19. Results of the trial are expected to be available later this month in order to determine if the treatment can continue to a larger trial testing efficacy and safety in non-hospitalized patients. Eli Lilly is already working to scale up production, with the aim of making the drug available as early as this fall, if it is demonstrated to be safe and effective. In addition to these trials, Eli Lilly plans to test other antibody therapies, and combinations of antibodies, as both treatment and prevention against SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Anakinra reduced both need for invasive mechanical ventilation in the ICU and mortality among patients with severe forms of COVID-19, without serious side-effects. Confirmation of efficacy will require controlled trials.
(It has been postulated that anakinra, a recombinant IL-1 receptor antagonist, might help to neutralise the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-related hyperinflammatory state, which is considered to be one cause of acute respiratory distress among patients with COVID-19.)
Remdesivir was superior to placebo in shortening the time to recovery in adults hospitalized with Covid-19 and evidence of lower respiratory tract infection. (J.Harris: This drug is sometimes better than nothing, barely, but “it beats the hell out of a snowball” as old-time cattlemen would say when criticized for feeding his cows poor quality hay — usually in a drought.)
COLLINS PUN FOR THE DAY: Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to   the other: ‘You stay here; I’ll go on a head.’ 

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By George Smith

After Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968, peaceful protests turned into riots and from April though mid-summer, this nation was washed over by the largest wave of social unrest since the Civil War.

Today, same racial song, second verse.

The slow-motion murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd by four police officers — coming on the heels of the killing of several black Americans by law enforcement officers (and in one case by “vigilantes”)— has ignited violent protests in more than 140 cities in the U.S., and even in foreign countries.

Since 1968, there have been remarkable changes in the overall racial landscape in America: The most visible wrinkle in a racial snapshot of the U.S.in the last 50 years was the election the first black president 12 years ago.

Now, today, we’re right back to 1968, where distrust and fear of the police by a large segment of this nation’s population is rampant and fear and loathing is turning to rage and violence.

But, unlike the reactions of those trying to quell the unrest in 1968, some individual officers and even entire  police departments are reducing the anger level of protestors by JOINING them in kneeling in honoring the life of Floyd and other victims of unnecessary police violence. 

President Trump could learn something from these officers.

The president can be defined by many of his absurd and detrimental actions as the nation’s CEO; you either like him or you don’t, there is no middle ground.

However, his absence in the current framework of nationwide protests and violence, the absence of empathy, his absolute refusal to take time to try and calm the nation in this time of double crises (pandemic and coast-to-coast protests) is an abdication of his duties as president.

The fact he is tweeting about his confounded MAGA crew as “liking blacks…liking African Americans” is proof of how he views blacks, i.e., they are not part of MAGA congregation, and, thus, not part of HIS vision of America.

For more than two decades, the Republican Party has made it a priority to work to create a bridge of understanding with minorities, knowing those voting blocs are growing in numbers.

All that work, all the money burned in that effort has been wasted due to the callous and prejudiced actions of the Man from MAGA.

Trump’s chaotic handling of the pandemic response and his clueless response to the nationwide protests is proof-positive of his abject ignorance of what drives the majority of people in this country to get up every day and create opportunities for personal and professional growth.

He is, in a phrase, a wounded president, laid low by his constant lying, woeful management style, dearth of patience and his inability to comprehend the importance of briefings on important domestic and foreign issues.

The president claims to be a “stable genius” but his ignorance of history, the Constitution, his duty to all citizens (not just members of the MAGA cult) and how his knee-jerk reactions affect not just Trump World by the global community, prove that he is a spoiled, rich bully. 

Trump claims to be a Christian but displays no Christian values; he came to power to “drain the swamp”, but his  “swamp” is deeper, more murky and more corrupt than any administration since the Watergate era of Richard Nixon and that of Warren G. Harding’s Teapot Dome scandal.

He should never have been elected. His re-election would ensure the continued decline of this nation on all fronts, foreign and domestic.

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