“Taxi! Taxi!” I was recently in downtown Berkeley near  Berkeley City College and I saw a line of cabs with their drivers standing around talking in four different languages waiting for fares (passengers). It did not resemble the cast of the TV show “Taxi” at all!  People who are looking for work and have little experience often seek my advice on getting a job. Many of them say they want to work with people and make a difference.  I ask them if they have a clean driving record.  If they do I tell them – drive a cab! I first started driving a Taxicab in January 1968, rightRead More →

Line Rage Before you read this article take a five count. Slowly inhale through your nose for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds and than slowly exhale through your mouth counting to five. Who needs a road or a vehicle to be in a rage, a shopping cart can do just fine. Some people seem to think that by pushing their shopping cart in your behind in the check out line the cashier will move faster. I’ve also noticed people behind me counting the items in my cart to make sure it was 15 or less. (Are 10 cans of Alpo considered oneRead More →

This Time Next Year By Winston Burton I was in Atlantic City, New Jersey at my aunt’s 95th birthday party. Her name was Pricilla, but everyone called her “Ant Gussie.” She had outlived all of her friends and contemporaries, and was the matriarch and Griot (oral historian) of our family. She was the one who passed down to us not just our own history, but what it was like growing up in a racially divided America, living as a black woman, in the South and in Philadelphia during the early Twentieth Century. Someone asked, “Gussie are you having fun?” She said, “I’m just fine, butRead More →

COLORBLIND By Winston Burton I turned on the TV and there was a black boxer fighting a white boxer. I had the sound turned down and was blasting a Jimi Hendrix record while I was watching the fight. I had never seen or heard of either fighter before and didn’t know a thing about them. I found myself enthusiastically rooting for the black boxer to win. The only thing that distinguished one fighter from the other was the color of his skin. I realized this was proof. There could be no more doubt that I too was a racist. Will counseling or therapy help? AmRead More →

Aloha Rachel Rupert By Winston Burton So people make things happen. So people watch things happen. Some people say, “What happened!” A ball rolls down a hill because it has no sides or angles and offers no resistance. People on the other hand have many sides and often have to choose sides. It makes us vulnerable! We can be hurt by words and comments as well as by sticks and stones. To me, this past year has been somewhat controversial for the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce. Some have accused the Chamber of being mean spirited, divisive and even of engaging in questionable political activity. PerhapsRead More →

Something To Look Forward To By Winston Burton When I went to the first meeting of the Alameda County Base Conversion Homeless Collaborative my wife was pregnant with our first child. I kissed her on the forehead as I was leaving and said, “Honey, I’ll be back in a couple of hours, this shouldn’t take long.” When I went to the last meeting of the Base Conversion Collaborative, where we finally received a settlement to help homeless providers, I had just finished dropping off our 10 year old son. In November 2007, I completed a two year (twice a month) commitment on the DAPAC toRead More →

HISTORY OF WELFARE REFORM as discovered by Winston Burton and miriam berg Once there was a kindly old elf named Santa Claus, who knew when everyone was sleeping, who knew when they were awake and who knew whether they’d been bad or good, and would leave them a gift if they’d been good, and nothing if they’d been bad. Thus he was the one who set up the first welfare performance-based contract. This kindly old elf also noticed that the elves were happy-go-lucky; living off a few dewdrops and moonbeams hanging out contently with the fairies and unicorns; so he put them to work makingRead More →

Where’s Robin Hood? By Winston Burton For many years I thought that the Robin Hood Syndrome (taking from the rich to give to the poor) was a no brainer, so why make such a big deal about it? Why would any one want to steal from the poor and give to the rich? The wealthy have the resources and the money so who would waste their time robbing people who don’t have anything? Seems logical, right? Boy was I naïve! It seems that the practice of the rich taking from the poor has been the norm worldwide, throughout history, crossing through most cultures, governments, andRead More →

What’s On Your Mantel? In the 1960’s, whenever I went to friends and relatives homes in West Philadelphia it seemed as if they all had the same two pictures on their mantel John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., and this was before they were assassinated. These were all predominately black homes and I understood MLK, but it didn’t dawn on me till much later the significance of why so many people would display a picture of the President of the United States. I’ve never seen a picture of George W. Bush on anyone’s mantel! I know everyone doesn’t have a mantel over aRead More →

THE SECRET OF LIFE By Winston Burton It was a hot summer’s day in Philadelphia, 100 degrees in the street with 98 percent humidity. I came home with chocolate syrup and strawberries all over my white uniform after another stressful day of driving a Mr. Softee’s ice cream truck in the hood. My father looked at me and said, “Son, how’d it go today.” I told him, “I spent half the day arguing with people who were trying to cheat me over a twenty–five cent ice cream cone and the rest trying to stop them from stealing the whole truck! In a way I can’tRead More →