Monday, October 27, 2014

A Poem on Rebirth...

The Seed of Life
© 2014 Syneeda Penland

It is within the heart and soul
Of Mother Earth
Is where wisdom lies.
Deep within her soul, her core
Our roots are intertwined and multiply.
Within each strand of life
Is where new life begins,
Nourished by Mother Earth
To be rebirth again,
And again
And again.

'Unintelligent' blacks 'brainwashed' to choose street cred over success: Charles Barkley reports -- Never one to shy away from candid comments, former Auburn Tiger and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley told Philadelphia radio hosts too many black people are caught up in a culture that's more concerned with street cred than intelligence.

Speaking on the radio show "Afternoons with Anthony Gargano and Rob Ellis," Barkley was asked his opinion on Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson, who was the subject of an article detailing allegations he wasn't "black enough."
Barkley fired back:

"We as black people are never going to be successful, not because of you white people, but because of other black people. When you are black, you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other black people," Barkley said.

Barkley, a native of Leeds, said African Americans are too concerned with street cred than true success and that's holding the community back.

"For some reason we are brainwashed to think, if you're not a thug or an idiot, you're not black enough. If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent, and don't break the law, you're not a good black person. It's a dirty, dark secret in the black community.

"There are a lot of black people who are unintelligent, who don't have success. It's best to knock a successful black person down because they're intelligent, they speak well, they do well in school, and they're successful. It's just typical BS that goes on when you're black, man."


Food for thought:  Finally, celebrities are speaking out about what I’ve experienced since high school, being put down by other blacks for being smart and having the desire to want to learn more and the courage to escape the confinement of a small town.  Although the Georgia education system was just far worse back then, I didn’t let that stop me from leaving home and wanting more out of life. 

During the 20 years I spent in the Navy, I would occasionally go home to visit old friends and relatives, only to be criticized for “talking white or acting white.”  I never knew what they meant, “talking white.”  As if only white people were the only ones who were allowed to speak proper English.  SMH… 

Since returning to my roots, I’ve seen how the culture of the day is “ghetto” “ratchet” or “sewer.”  Sewer means someone who carries themselves “below ratchet.”  Like most celebrities in the music industry.  Like all fads, certain behaviors and certain phrases has its time and place, but to stereotype an entire race because of the behaviors of only a select few within that race is offensive on a grander scale.  Meanwhile, the media plays a huge role in exploiting it.  Case in point, when I served overseas the only African American movies that were shown on the Armed Forces Network was those depicting violence. 

I’ve met dozens of people who have migrated to America and shared the same experience, especially in music videos.  I had one lady tell me that she thought money actually rained from the sky in America because she’d seen it in a music video.  Again, SMH!!  

Friday, October 24, 2014


On October 24, 2005 Rosa Parks passed away at age 92. Parks is known as "The First Lady of Civil Rights" and "The Mother of the Freedom Movement."

A Poem on Equality

Image  courtesy of Hosea, 2008

The Road Ahead
© 2014  Syneeda Penland

I will keep my eyes on the prize,
As songs of freedom
Ring through the skies.
Hopes of days gone by,
A new generation
We will seed and multiply.

It is my hopes and dreams
That Freedom will one day bring
New beginnings - days of old gone by,
As I illuminate your spirit
From the Heavenly sky.

Don’t be afraid to dream,
To see the road ahead,
To walk this path of freedom
Is nothing to dread.

Let go of the shackles
And hold your head high,
Look beyond the masses
And raise your head to the sky.

Dare you to dream,
To think on your own,
Allow your mind to soar to new heights;
No longer will it roam.

For I had a dream
That one day we will unite,
To allow our eyes to see beyond
The flesh, yet the spirit takes flight.

When the soul is hollow
It’s just an empty shell,
Joining misery in its company
To a live a life in hell;
From the highest mountain top,
I will always dwell.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dr. King: Nonviolence is the Most Powerful Weapon

If only Dr. King were alive today, he could be a Peaceful voice to help this country move past hate, racism, violence and inequality. May we celebrate his legacy today, tomorrow and always!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

VP Biden's son leaves Navy after drug test

Navy Times reports— Hunter Biden, the youngest son of Vice President Joe Biden, has been kicked out of the military after testing positive for cocaine, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday.

Biden, a former lobbyist who works at an investment firm, was discharged from the Navy Reserve in February, the Navy said in a statement. The service did not give a reason for Biden’s discharge barely a year after he was selected for the part-time position as a public affairs officer in the Navy Reserve.

In a statement released by his attorney, Biden did not give a reason for his discharge. He said he respected the Navy’s decision and was moving forward with his family’s support.
“It was the honor of my life to serve in the U.S. Navy, and I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge,” he said.
The vice president’s office declined to comment.

Biden’s attorney didn’t respond to inquiries about whether Biden had used cocaine. But two people familiar with the matter said Biden was discharged after he failed a drug test last year. They weren’t authorized to discuss the incident and requested anonymity.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Biden’s discharge and failed drug test.


Monday, October 13, 2014

More excerpts from "Broken Silence".....

(Photo:  Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Rising through the Ranks
© 2014 All Rights Reserved
Syneeda Penland

....."The Navy’s performance evaluation system, which plays a significant role in a Sailor’s promotion and retention in the service, is designed to rate a Sailor’s performance in specific categories -- professional knowledge, quality of work, command or organizational climate/equal employment opportunity, military bearing, personal job accomplishment and initiative.  Sailors must uphold and honor the Navy’s core values, their integrity being an important consideration in the evaluation process.  During the mid-year performance review cycle, as the administrative assistant for the Communications Department, I was tasked with making administrative corrections to forty or more personnel evaluations.  When I came across my friend’s eval, the first line read, “CTO3 XXXX needs to develop a better command of the English language.  Her use of the English language is construed as being disrespectful and abrasive.” 

            As I continued to read down the page, chills went up my spine.  Was I back in the Old South, where young African-Americans were routinely reminded by their elders (and occasionally by Caucasians) to “know their place?”   The experience was a sad reminder of when I was a child growing up in Buford.  To give us insight into what it had been like to grow up during the Southern “Apartheid,” the elders would tell stories about the town of Cumming, in neighboring Forsyth County.  Cumming was well known for its deep-rooted history of violent racial hatred towards Native Americans and African-Americans -- dating as far back as the mid-1800s, during Georgia’s Gold Rush.  Since that time, black families forbade their children to travel through the small town, especially at night.  We were warned about a bronze sign posted along a wooded stretch of highway at the borderline of Forsyth and Gwinnett County; it read, “Nigger don’t let the sun set on you.” 

            In 1987, racial tension had resurfaced in Cumming when local Atlanta civil rights leaders and demonstrators led a march through Cumming’s downtown district, in celebration of Dr. King’s federal holiday.  The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) gathered in full dress to protest against the march.  The event stirred enough national media attention that a second march was later held, this time with more than 20,000 demonstrators.  Amongst the marchers were Mrs. Coretta Scott King and other high profile civil rights leaders from Atlanta.  It was even televised on the Oprah Winfrey show.

            As I sat at my desk, lost in thought, the evaluation still in my hand, I started to question my own level of commitment to the Civil Rights Movement, especially while serving in an integrated Navy.  I was a prominent member of the Black Heritage Committee, which was charged with promoting racial diversity and awareness of significant achievements of African-Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces, but was that enough?  What more could I do to follow in the footsteps of African-American military pioneers like the first black commissioned WAVES, the Tuskegee Airmen and the Golden Thirteen (the first 12 African-American male commissioned Navy officers and one Warrant officer)? 

            Race issues aside, I also asked myself what more could I do to support the advancement of women in the military.  I knew that there was both race and gender discrimination involved in my friend’s performance review – but how could I help her to fight it?  I’d assumed that the Navy’s 1991, Tailhook “sex” scandal would provoke strides towards gender and racial equality, but who was I kidding?  I knew I couldn’t ignore what I had just read in my friend’s eval, I would have to take action".......

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Women's Rights Movement in America is NOT a Thing of the Past!!

Timeline of Key Events in the American Women's Rights Movement

Discover the key events of the women's rights movement in the United States. This timeline covers the years of 1848 to 1920, which includes the famed women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., the formation of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and the passage of the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote.


Discover the key events of the women's rights movement in the United States. This timeline covers the years of 1921 to 1979, which includes the formation of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the first lesbian organization in the U.S., plus the FDA approval of birth control pills and the establishment of legal abortion.

Discover the key events of the women's rights movement in the United States. This timeline covers the years 1980 to 2009, and includes the Supreme Court ruling on sexual harrassment as a form of job discrimination and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act.

Although the military has promoted 2% of its females to senior flag rank, it does not improve the overall working environment of its lower ranks.  Since taking interest in the military rape crisis and the Military Justice Improvement Act (or lack thereof), I've sadly discovered trends on how politicians continue to sweep this issue under the carpet instead of upholding our veterans civil and human rights once and for all.

According to comments posted on social media sites, there are hundreds of older female veterans that are recalling traumatic sexual assault incidents that had taken place early on in their military career.  According to medical studies, these are classic cases of PTSD.  

The longer our politicians stall on this issue, unprosecuted perpetrators will be allowed to commit more egregious crimes against innocent victims.   

Read more:

The Arrival of the Female Four-Stars reports – “Only six years after an Army officer, General Ann Dunwoody, became the first woman in U.S. history ever to attain the rank of four-star general, the nation’s armed forces will soon appoint its third woman serving with four stars, the highest rank in the land. While this welcome news should be celebrated, it must not be misinterpreted to announce the elimination of the institutional barriers women face in the military. Just because the glass ceiling has broken doesn’t mean the ladder is any easier to climb.

The U.S. Senate recently confirmed General Lori Robinson of the U.S. Air Force as commander of all American air forces in the Pacific theater. In October, she will assume responsibility of the geographic area with jurisdiction over China, India, Korea, Japan, parts of the Indian Ocean and all of the north and south Pacific Ocean—thirty-six countries, 3.5 billion people and over 52 percent of the world’s atmosphere……"

Full article:

Bravo Zulu to General Robinson, I wish her much success!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Excerpts from my memoir, "Broken Silence...

“A Rose Among Thorns”
© 2014 All Rights Reserved
Syneeda Penland

“Being the only female on the ship was a trying experience, especially when the command performed a random urinalysis drug test.  Each time my number was called, I was forced to walk up and down the pier, visiting several ships to find an available female officer to watch me “pee into a cup.”  I'd learned to work and live in a segregated, yet “cohabitated” environment early on in my career, but onboard the xxxxx I was forced to sleep next door to men and to use a co-ed restroom and shower facility.  Luckily one of my divisions was in-charge of cleaning them.  I can readily attribute this unwelcoming environment to the epidemic rise in the Military's sexual assault and rape statistics.

            Onboard the xxxxx, it was routine for me to be called in by the commanding officer to defend myself when misogynist crewmembers made informal complaints about me.  The complaints were so outlandish and they ranged from disliking my hair color or the smell of my perfume, to allegations that I wore too much make-up.  The worse complaint of all was, “Why is she even allowed to serve onboard a Navy warship!?”

            In my defense, I would recite the Navy's regulations authorizing women to maintain their femininity in the workplace, and our equal rights to work there.  By virtue of the amended Civil Rights Acts, I had just as much right to work on the ship as any man, and I had equal protection under the law -- or so I thought. 

            During my two years on board the ship, not only did I battle sexual harassment and sexism, I also constantly battled racial discrimination.  My presence seemed to infuriate a number of white crewmembers, many of whom began openly to make offensive racist and sexist remarks about me.  After one particular incident, I came close to filing a formal Equal Opportunity (EO) complaint because it involved the ship’s executive officer.

            When I stopped by the XO’s office one day to brief him on the status of my department before leaving work, he told me that there were “some men” on board the ship who felt that women didn't belong on a Navy warship -- that they belonged at home in the kitchen.  He alleged that the accusation came from the senior enlisted Sailors who were members of the chief petty officer's (CPO) Mess, but I soon found out that, in fact, those were the XO's own sentiments.  The command master chief (CMC); senior enlisted advisor and Chief of the Mess, denied any connection to the allegation, and immediately accompanied me to make a formal complaint to the commanding officer.  Within a few days, the XO was directed to make a formal apology to me in the presence of the CO, CMC and the Command Managed Equal Opportunity (CMEO) advisor.  After I'd accepted his apology, it was back to business as usual. I had a lot riding on the success of this assignment and was not about to allow a sexist bully to run me off the ship.

            On another occasion, a Caucasian junior officer witnessed acts of discrimination towards me and bravely came forward to name the individuals involved.  The officer was in charge of the ship's engineering repair division and was a fellow “Mustang” (a prior-enlisted Sailor).  Our two departments had worked closely together in preparation for the upcoming engineering inspection.

            One evening, he'd been hanging out in the CPO Mess and was offended by the explicit racist statements made by the senior enlisted chief petty officers, who were all white.  Jealousy and incompetence clearly fueled their comments.  All the chiefs worked in the combat systems department, and that department had failed a series of shipboard training assessments, receiving some of the lowest scores throughout the entire Atlantic Fleet.  Meanwhile, it was well known that my department, which was comprised of over 80% African-Americans, was considered one of the best-managed departments in the Fleet.

            I guess the jealous-hearted racist “Old Salts” didn't count on a fellow white “brother” diming them out, so they felt free to voice their racist opinions in the “Goat Locker.”  The junior officer sat in the chief's mess long enough to overhear them call me a “stupid black bitch” in charge of managing a bunch of “dumb-ass niggers.”  He then got up and walked out unnoticed. 

            After a few days of pondering whether or not to report the incident, he decided to bring it to my attention.  When he finished explaining what he'd witnessed, we immediately left his office and headed straight to the command master chief's (CMC) office.  The CMC was a fellow minority Sailor and took discrimination claims seriously.  As the senior enlisted advisor to the commanding officer, it was his professional duty to report infractions involving the crew.  Complaints of discrimination had to be reported to the commanding officer immediately.  Within a matter of days, all officers and chiefs were ordered to gather in the wardroom.  The CO formally addressed the incident and reminded us of the Navy's policy regarding equal opportunity and zero tolerance for discrimination in the workplace.  The unidentified perpetrators stood quietly in awe, and I fought the urge to walk up and stare into their devilish eyes to let them know I was not going anywhere!

            Although the racist chiefs' overt discrimination was a problem, the antics of the white Surface Warfare officers were ultimately more harmful to African-American officers.  In an attempt to show their intellectual superiority over the few African-American male officers on board the ship and to hinder their promotion, the white officers would band together to employ a more cavalier approach to the “dis-qualifying test.” ………


More to come…..

© 2014 All Rights Reserved
Syneeda Penland

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Captain of USS Boxer Relieved of Duty

NBC reports -- The captain of San Diego-based USS Boxer has been relieved of duty, just three months after assuming command, according to the U.S. Navy.

Capt. Wayne R. Brown has been relieved of his role as commanding officer, the Navy announced Tuesday. Brown took command of the amphibious assault ship in July.

In a news release, the Navy did not explain why Brown was fired, but cited “equal opportunity" concerns not tied to a specific event.”

Capt. Keith Moore, Deputy Commodore of Amphibious Squadron 1, will temporarily take over as CO. Brown has been reassigned to Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, according to the release.


Food for thought:  I'm sure this is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, literally!  Its been 50 years since the passage of the 1964 CRA and the military, as a whole, is still denying service members full redress under the CRA and its amendments. Truth be told, this information (Federal Equal Opportunity policies) are not readily accessible to active duty veterans, and the average victim will not seek redress under the CRA unless the command has an actively engaged equal opportunity program manager.  Yet, it will require an agency, like the EEOC (managed by the Secretary of Labor), to grant military veterans total  equality under the law.