AS

Too Much

Beloved,

These are awful times. Pandemics of biological, ideological, and political origins. Strange things are happening. I hope some of them will be for the best.

What is wrong with Wisconsin? I used to think of Wisconsin in very positive terms, even thought of moving back there…no more. My memories of my best friend girl, of Willem (who will always be Billy to me), of Larry U and the music, of the pig and dairy farms, of brats roasted in the ground, of theatre class, horseback riding. So many good memories. Wisconsin’s state motto is Forward. Why have they become so backward?

My precious son said to me last night that I should write my memoirs because I have lived an odd life for a Black woman in America. I’ve never been one to talk about myself. No need for a key light. Had enough attention when I was youngster with a hard body that dirty old men lusted after. People often wondered why I wore my hair short and sported oversized clothes. Silly women who wanted me to conform to the look of the day would call me son as if that would make me change the way of looking I chose for my own protection. It isn’t a good feeling to have Sheriffs cruising you as you walk home from elementary school.

My mother was a remarkable woman. Not one of the silly. Working-class, conservative in the way of Protestants, a Texan, a praying warrior. Daughter of an itinerant preacher and a very young mother, she was orphaned and raised with her brother by a maiden aunt who seemed to have had a cruel streak. Nevertheless, she did not let my mom and her brother go to an orphanage. We took care of our own, even if that care was not always the best.

Fortunately, Mom had a fighting spirit. She got out of Texas by dint of hard work. She was educated in the deep South in the 1930s and ’40s. She could read and cipher better than many of today’s so-called graduates. She was educated by Black teachers who cared about her success. They knew the road would be long and hard and they wanted their students prepared as best they could be for the struggle that was and continues to be Black life. Mom passed the love of learning to me. She encouraged my tendency to stick my nose in a book. She taught me how to use my hands to craft things, garden, take care of myself and my surroundings. She taught me to question everything. She raised me to be self-reliant. She did not pass on the abuse from which she suffered and escaped as soon as she could. Always kind and patient, she was the best friend anyone could ask for.

Mom grew up post-Depression. She knew how to save a dollar. She didn’t believe in frivolity, but she knew how to have fun. We would make our fun, dancing, listening to music, cooking, growing collard greens and flowers. Just the two of us. I learned a lot from Mom, but I never learned to like cornbread and buttermilk. That is one of those country meals you ate when there wasn’t much else. It was filling and seemed to have plenty of nutritional value. I much preferred biscuits (homemade) and syrup, you know, sopping!

I learned to live simply from my Mom, so what I’m living in today is disturbing. All this greed and self-centeredness. People who haven’t a clue of who they are because they can’t take the time to look within. Everything is externalized. All this need for representation and validation from sources that could care less about any of us. If I had grown up with these needs, I likely would not have grown up at all. No one represented Black folks except Black folks back in the day. Always separate. We had our own films, our own music, our own everything. We were linked by our exclusion. We were much closer to one another then. We were togehter in the struggle.

We are coming together again, but we are still divided. The class divide is greater. Many of the working-class have no love for the Black elite and the feeling is mutual. No matter my level of education, I have always identified with the working-class, the proles. Sorority sisters irk me. Frat bros are sickening. I digress.

There’s a march on Washington today. The message is vote. The message is make demands. I’m down with all that, but I think much more will be required to make a change in this peculiar time through which we are living.

Peace, Beloved.

AS

Trojan Horses

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke of trojan horses used to smuggle in the status quo. Kamala Harris is the second trojan horse.

More disappointment. More bamboozling. More disrespect.

Where’s the policy? I need no more lofty promises about light and love. I need a revolution.

AS

Disappointment

I no longer trust my government leaders. There is no one looking out for the “little guy” at all. There is no one looking out for this country in a time of pandemic.

Binary relationships are inherently weak because it only takes one to withdraw and cause the edifice to topple. Think conventional marriage and the extremely high divorce rate. Our binary party politics are useless for the little guy. Bunches of rich people are not interested in the issues of the little guy. Their interest is their own pockets which they will continue to line with the blood, bone, and sinew of the working-classes, the little guys.

Our government needs overhaul. Why, in the time of pandemic, are the people being made to suffer? Eviction, hunger, illness, debt, death in a pandemic. Didn’t anybody read The Plague?

Go back to work, in a pandemic. Send your children to school, in a pandemic. Recognize the coercion. Fed unemployment benefits cut off to force people back to work. Small businesses, the backbone of the economy along with our 70% consumer spending rate, are dying, dead, many unlikely to come back.

Freedom and rights are challenged by requirements to wear masks?

Where am I living? THIS is America? What a dump.

Bad Faith · Building Contractor Scam · Criminal Organizations · fraud · Homeownership · Insurance · Insurance Claims · Insurance Scam · Law · Paralegal Studies · power · racism · trauma

Open Letter to Tyler Asher, President, Safeco Insurance

Good day, Sir:

I have written to you before about your rogue claims department headed by Kent Stiles, Senior Claim Resolution Specialist II, but you did not respond. As I received a letter from you detailing the cost of my renewed homeowner insurance policy, I thought I should respond before Stiles finds a way to not renew the insurance.

Why would Stiles prevent me from renewing my insurance? Perhaps it is because he is covering his embezzlement (?) or money laundering (?) activities, perpetrated through property claim fraud. Your entire claims department, your Presidential Service Team, as well as a host of managers and other adjusters are involved in this fraud, with knowledge that this is fraud. I have informed them Safeco many times in the past three years of what has happened to my claim. All of the complicit individuals have done nothing. Stiles must be pretty powerful. I asked him if he was the president of the company, but he never answered.

Stiles has made a practice of not answering my questions. Perhaps you will. Does it typically take 19 days to respond to a claim? Is it standard procedure to have an engineering analysis of damages conducted only to abandon that report with no explanation? Is it standard to maintain a claim record in a restricted status for three years, such that no one except the embezzlers have access to the file? Is it customary to force an insurance holder into an unfinished project, with no utilities and none of their personal goods returned to the property? Is it usual for an adjuster to authorize a complete rebuild of a property and then no report it to Underwriting? Is it correct to pay a contractor for goods and services not provided, against the wishes of the insurance holder?

Kent Stiles has done all of these questionable actions. He has destroyed my home of over 60 years, destroyed all of the growth planted for the pollinators, destroyed my privacy, and has attempted to destroy my reputation. I am sure he will find a way to cancel my insurance before it comes due. He couldn’t cancel it presently because I paid my premium in full.

Can you tell me if Protech is a preferred contractor in your Innovations Network? Stiles sent him here with an adjuster named Mazandarani. I thought they came to talk with me about making the repairs to one room of my house as indicated in the engineering report. They gave me a lot of hooey about being a part of the Network, the benefits of using the services of one of your Network contractors, etc. They had me sign a bogus contract for repair, packed me out of my home, and housed me at a distance so I could not easily keep track of what they were doing.

After being out of my home for over 6 months, violating the contract, I filed a complaint with the Department of Insurance. I had to file multiple complaints before one of them was taken up by a man named death, John Mort. Mort never had Stiles answer my questions. He never required him to provide the superseding documentation that said my entire home had to be demolished instead of simply repairing the one room that was damaged. It seems Mort works for Stiles. He closed my complaint without telling me he was doing so. When I contacted him to find out the status of my case, he mocked me and told me good luck trying to prove $430K was not spent on my project. My claim was settled for $48K. I received the checks. However, I never received the checks for this $430K charge that is reported as two different amounts in Lexis-Nexis and Verisk.

Sir, I don’t want to renew my insurance with you, and Stiles will likely make my wants irrelevant as he did when he paid the contractor against my wishes. I cannot get affordable insurance elsewhere because my claim history is loaded up with claims. I only ever filed one claim with Safeco, but there were four claims listed in my history. I was successful in getting changed the cause of damage, which was wind but reported as water by Stile. I was also successful in getting one claim removed. As long as Stiles is the only one providing responses to Lexis-Nexis and Verisk, those lies will remain on my record.

I learned only today that adjusters change the claim numbers on claims so that they can deny renewal. I was issued one claim number in 2016, but that claim number is not included in my claim history. I hate to assume, but I am going to assume that Stiles will prevail this month in finding a way to prevent renewal. Who, then, will take responsibility for this fraud, for the destruction of my property, for the ruining of my life?

I hope to hear from you or a credible representative soon. And thank you for writing me about my insurance renewal.

Sincerely,

VJ Hamilton

OX5953267

AS

Recommended Watching

Still on my mission to increase awareness of history. Watch Civil War: The Untold Story, released in 2014. I found it on Prime, but it is likely available through a library. It is a 5-episode documentary narrated by Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Cora Crawley in Downton Abbey), an odd choice I thought. This is the first time I’ve heard this war story narrated by a woman.

If you can find the 1957 film Band of Angels, you might have a look at it as it also has the Civil War as backdrop. Sidney Poitier portrays Rau Ru, the right hand, or Claw of the man who saved him from death during a slave raid of his village in Africa by Hamish Bond (Clark Gable) the captain of a slave ship. The story centers on Amantha Starr (Yvonne De Carlo), the daughter of her white father and slave mother. Manty is born fair enough to pass for white, so her father raises her to be gentlewoman, sending her away to finishing school. However, her father dies and Manty is sold in a coffle as she has been outed by the woman who beguiled her father and took his money. Like Gone With The Wind, this film is beautiful and if you watch it you will see the tignon Black women were required to wear over their hair.

Also, on YouTube, watch and listen to Dr. John Henrik Clarke. You’ll be glad you did.

Peace, Beloved.

Books · Diversions · documents analyses · Fiction · literacy · Migrants · observations · racism · research · white nationalism · white supremacy

How to Watch Gone With The Wind

Been wracking my brain for the past few days for a way to tell folks how to watch one of my favorite movies of all time. Everything would be much simpler if everyone would read the book. It is long, but extremely readable and will pull you along as it sweeps through one of the most turbulent times in our history. Reading Mitchell’s work did more to encourage my study of the American Civil War than any other work I’ve read.

Reading just the first two lines of the book will alert you to the fact that the movie is strictly a production based upon the book. Much of Scarlett’s life is not depicted in the movie. The war provides a backdrop to the foregrounded “romance” but GWTW is not a romance, but an historical novel that records many of the significant battles that took place from 1862 forward. People tearing down the statue of US Grant don’t know their history. Hell, his affiliation is in his initials. It is true that he owned one slave, but he came through when it really counted.

Line one: “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” Vivien Leigh was pixie cute, white folks think of her as beautiful. She definitely did not look like Scarlett as she is described in line one. Hence, the movie is a production designed to bring folks to the theaters. Remember, too, this movie was released in 1939; America was in the grip of Jim Crow segregation and the Great Depression, in need of diversion. The film is beautiful, the costumes are beautiful, the players are beautiful. The film was supposed to divert and make everyone feel better as they struggled to live.

Line two: “In her face were too sharply blended the delicate features of her mother, a Coast aristocrat of French descent, and the heavy ones of her florid Irish father.” For me, this line tells me that Scarlett’s parents are not white because whites of the time were Anglo-Saxon Protestants. French descent and florid Irish say immigrant past to me, and if one was an immigrant or emanated from immigrant stock, one was not white. Gerald O’Hara married up when he wed Ellen of the aristocracy. His ownership and management of a successful plantation was his entreé to acceptance as a white man. People were suspicious of the O’Hara’s because they did not brutalize their slaves. They were Catholics, Papists. You can’t come to this interpretation unless you read the book and know some history.

Some folks are dredging up the old nonsense about the portrayal of stereotypes when it comes to the Black characters, particulary Hattie McDaniel’s portrayal of Mammy. I still quote her and I first saw this movie when I was ten. “It just ain’t fittin’.” Mammy spoke her mind, she called white trash white trash and wasn’t reprimanded for it. In fact, Mammy was the disciplinarian in the house, firmer than Scarlett’s mother or father. All deferred to Mammy. I don’t believe this was the stereotyped behavior of house slaves, particularly in the houses of true whites. Butterfly McQueen’s portrayal of Prissy paid her royalties until her death in 1995. She said she took the role so she could pay for her furniture. Two hundred dollars a week in 1939 was a queenly sum. She thought no one would come to see a movie “about slavery.” McDaniel said she’d rather play a maid or slave than actually be one when subjected to criticism by the Black critics of then and now.

If you won’t read the book, which is great, second in popularity to the Bible, and I don’t believe that many people have actually read the Bible, at least read something that gives some context about the war. I’d recommend My Vicksburg by Ann Rinaldi. It is a young adult novel and won’t take a lot of your time to read. You’ll learn about the conflicts within white families when one brother fights for the Union and the other brother fights for the Confederacy. The Civil War was all about white boys killing the hell out of other white boys over the institution of slavery.

Watch GWTW with the understanding that it is portrayed as a romance, but the book is a Bildungsroman and a story about survival once all you’ve known of stable society is destroyed. GWTW is more rightly classified as an historical novel. The film is a romance with Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. That’s how they got the box office. Remember it is a production meant to distract people from their economic despair. In 1957, Gable would portray a slaver in love with one of his purchases. Sidney Poitier was a major player in this film with Yvonne DeCarlo and Gable. I have never heard Poitier mention his role as Rau Ru in this movie based on a book, A Band of Angels, by Robert Penn Warren, who was a civil rights activist, journalist, and novelist. If you can find it, read the book, then see the movie. All about miscegenation, slavery, passing. Just think, in 1957 movies were still being made about slavery and related topics.

All this pandering by corporations to remove Uncle Ben (never liked that plastic rice), Aunt Jemima (I can make my own damn pancakes), and the gentleman on the Cream of Wheat box (he always reminded me of a Pullman Porter and I like remembering those working men of the past). Why are white people trying to erase history now? They just discovered racist iconography? Sumbitch.

Get with me after you read the book, see the movie, read Rinaldi, or you just want to talk history, slavery, and the living history we’re making and living through right now.

Peace, Beloved

AS

Conditional Emancipation

Just a note on that 1863 Emancipation Proclamation: Black freedom was conditional upon the surrender of the Confederacy by January 1, 1863. As the Confederacy did not surrender, Blacks were declared free. The word didn’t reach the furthest reaches of what was then the West, Galveston, Texas until 19 June 1865, because southern planters wanted to get as much work out of their slaves as possible before it became mandated that they had to treat them as paid employees.