Some of us are so “woke” we’re sleepwalking.
Many of us are seeing “highway ghosts.”
The phenomenon known as highway ghosts is often experienced by long-haul, over-the-road truckers. Trying to make it to their final destination and with bonuses for swift arrival or demerits for arriving late, the road warriors push their bodies – and more importantly their minds – to the limit. Wired on coffee, Red Bull, Five Hour Energy and NoDoz, the body is energized but the mind is tired. At some point the mind must rest. While the eyes fight not to blink, the mind has already clocked out. Overworked, the mind is sleep, but the rest of the body doesn’t know it.
That’s where the ghosts come in. Highway ghosts are actually hallucinations – images that are not real. I know. I’ve experienced them.
Back when I was 20 years old my cousin and I drove from St. Louis to Nashville to pick up another of my cousins to bring him home from college for spring break. We left St. Louis in the early evening and arrived in Nashville close to 11 p.m. After packing the car with my cousin’s belonging and visiting a few friends we decided to hit up a club in Nashville. It was Friday night and certain clubs were 18 and above, a rarity in St. Louis. After a night of partying we decided to stop at Denny’s for a bite. Sitting in Denny’s we were trying to decide the driving order back. All of us had been up all day, and at 3 a.m. the four-plus hour drive back was daunting.
I was feeling a bit wired and the effects of being up almost 24 hours had yet to hit. I volunteered.
Almost immediately after getting behind the wheel I began to feel the weight of no sleep. Four hours seemed like an eternity. I was playing tricks with my mind to stay away. Turn the air on … roll the windows down. Find a new radio station. Counting the highway markers. It seemed to be working … or so I thought.
About two and a half hours in something happened.
Driving on an open highway, out of nowhere a huge glass pane appeared sitting in my lane. Quickly I swerved to avoid the pane. The swerving action immediately awakened my passengers who wanted answers.
“Dude, there was a huge window pane in the middle of the road,” I exclaimed.
Both cousins looked back, neither able to spot the pane that almost killed us. Seconds later, in the median, I spotted another oddity.
“Dude, do you see that yacht in the middle of the grass?”
By this time it was clear I was tripping. My cousin said for me to pull over and I agreed with one stipulation.
“I’ll pull over just as soon as I get past this polar bear charging down the hill.”
Neither of my cousin’s believed me. They thought I was making it up to get out of driving the rest of the way.
A week later it was time to make the to-and-back trip to Nashville, but I wasn’t able to make it. My cousins did it alone. The following day I got a call from my cousin Todd, who dropped his brother off then turned around and drove back to St. Louis. He called to tell me I wasn’t crazy and he too experienced the phenomenon. Out the driver’s side window he saw St. Louis Cardinal pitching coach Hub Kittle running stride for stride with his car. Keep in mind Hub Kittle was about a thousand years old (OK, maybe 73 or so, but to us he looked every bit of a thousand). Todd said he quickly wiped his eyes only to look outside the passenger-side window to see baseball Hall-of-Famer Eddie Murray. Eddie was kind enough to wave before darting off.
The phenomenon of highway ghosts is real … the ghosts are not.
Recently I posted on Facebook about Kanye West and his latest delusion … abolishing the 13th Amendment. Yeah, crazy, I know. But the truly crazy part is my post, which was shared about 80 times to date, generated several people … Black people … who agreed with West.
To offer a lesson on history and government, the 13th Amendment, passed by the Senate in 1864 and ratified by the states Dec. 6, 1865, abolished the depraved and inhumane practice of human slavery.
To sum it up, there was this whole big war all about the issue of slavery in America. A bunch of people died. A whole lot of people never got over it and cling to Confederate flags and monuments as tightly as they cling to their Bibles. Those same people would love little more in life than to abolish the 13th Amendment. And Kayne’s with them. And so are a bunch of “woke” Black folks.
The 13th Amendment is pretty straight forward. It reads, Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
But there is that one part. That, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted part. It is in fact that part that has many of us enraged … and rightfully so. While recognizing the need for reform to the criminal justice (more so, injustice system) several of the “woke” are saying let’s get rid of the 13th Amendment altogether. They point to the almost unbelievable statistics of mass incarceration of people of color – particularly Black people.
By the numbers, according to a report presented by the NAACP, in 2014, African-Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34 percent, of the total 6.8 million correctional population. African-Americans are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of whites. The imprisonment rate for African-American women is twice that of white women. Nationwide, African-American children represent 32 percent of children who are arrested, 42 percent of children who are detained and 52 percent of children whose cases are judicially waived to criminal court. Though African-Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32 percent of the U.S. population, they comprised 56 percent of all incarcerated people in 2015.
If African-Americans and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates as whites, prison and jail populations would decline by almost 40 percent.
Yes reform is needed but getting rid of the only legal protection from being enslaved – something many close to (and within) the current administration would love – is not the answer. It’s not even close to the answer. The adage is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I wouldn’t trust abolishing the 13th Amendment if Barack Obama were still president. I sure as hell don’t trust it with President Donald Trump in the White House.
Seeing the abolishment of the 13th Amendment as the answer to this legitimate issue is like seeing highway ghosts. We can’t guide our decisions by hallucinations that are not real.
My “woke” brothers and sisters, we appreciate you for all you do. You are the ones most often on the front lines in the fight for equality and your service is beyond valued. But even you too need to get some rest. Rest your bodies; we need them strong. Rest your eyes, we need them focused. Most importantly, rest your minds; we need them clear. There are too many real dangers out there. Let’s not be distracted by highway ghosts … or Kanye.