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Ed Rule | “Courageous Voice” | connect.faith
“You have not failed until you have stopped trying…”
Happy Father’s Day! Join Ed Rule, my dad, husband, writer, vet, speaker and community activist as we dive into courage and faith and practicing action in the face of fear.
In this episode we talk about:
- God and courage
- Writing as an act of liberation
- Speaking out against racism in the workplace
- Courageous parenting
- African American Rites of Passage programs
- Small Businesses & community activism
*I referred to a book that could be helpful in creating a more inclusive non-binary rites of passage program. I switched the writer’s name around! His name is Dr. Malidoma Patrice Some. The book is “The Healing Wisdom of Africa: Finding Life Purpose Through Nature, Ritual, and Community.”
If you’d like to meet Ed on Instagram and Facebook…through me! (Papa is not a huge social media guy!) @thecourageousvoice
Today is the day you vow to follow your heart and not your fear. If only it were that easy! The Courageous Voice podcast chronicles international artists, creatives, plus a handful of scientists, and their stories of fear, courageousness and creativity. Hosted by singer, storyteller and self-proclaimed joy spreader, Chanda Rule, The Courageous Voice inspires us to share our voices courageously in spite of our fears through courageous conversation and community.
Chanda: Okay. Welcome back to the latest episode of The Courageous Voice. I hope y’all have been enjoying all this fabulous content. I am super excited today because my dad is joining us. Ah, I’m so [00:01:00] excited. So listen, my dad’s name is Ed Rule and this is the day after Father’s Day. So listen, even if it wasn’t, I’d be like, he’s the greatest dad in the world.
So welcome daddy, Mr. Rule, Ed Rule welcome. Welcome.
Ed: Thank you, Chanda.
Chanda: Thank you for agreeing to come on my podcast.
Ed: Yes, you twisted my arm.
Chanda: I didn’t. I didn’t. I live in Vienna, so I didn’t twist your arm. So listen, let me just say a few words about Mr. Rule, and then he will introduce himself in the Courageous Voice podcast… forum? I don’t know if that’s the right word. Mr. Rule is a father. He is a husband. He is a brother. He is a deacon. Wait, once a deacon, always a deacon, right? I don’t say former deacon. He’s a deacon. He is a community activist. He is a, he’s retired now, but he’s a former business owner. He is a vet.
He is a friend. He’s a writer, a poet, a [00:02:00] speaker. So many different things, a, an elder now. So many wonderful things. And before I ask him to say a few words about who he’s bringing to the podcast today I asked my dad to join us today to talk about courageous parenting. So specifically the courageous voice and having to do with courageous parenting, but I’m sure we’ll talk about many other things.
So Daddy who are you bringing to the courageous voice podcast today?
Ed: It is I, your dear dad in person. It is, I don’t know if that requires me to do any additional credentials that
Chanda: you don’t have to say credentials, but you don’t have to be so deep. It is I.
Ed: Okay. It is I.
Chanda: Yes. So listen, it is I, tell me, just for us to get started, everyone has a different definition of what it means to be courageous. And I’m just wondering what it is for [00:03:00] you.
Ed: I did give it a little thought for me courage is the capacity to act in the face of fear. And of course, fear takes many shapes and forms.
Fear of life, death, fear of being ostracized, fear of losing one’s job. The fear of being rejected, whatever.
And the ability to keep going, despite these things in spite of yes.
Chanda: Yeah. So this is interesting because I feel like you named the fears that you named based on what I know of you are different things that I imagine may have come up with many of these different life transitions that you’ve had.
So you talked about fear of death, which I’m thinking, you were in the Vietnam war, so I’m sure some of that, you had a lot of fear of that fear of losing your job. Oh my gosh. We could get into so many things how you used your voice back in the eighties to really bring up the [00:04:00] conversation of racism in the workplace at a time when nobody was doing that.
Fear of being ostracized. I’m sure that had a lot to do with that. You’ve made a lot of different courageous decisions, even in how you ran your business. So tell us one of your favorite stories about how you use your voice courageously.
There’s so many, there’s so many.
Ed: Perhaps one that sticks out the most for me was in the military in turning manhood around the age, I think I must have been around 19, maybe 20 years old. And I did, as you mentioned, did get assigned to Vietnam. And when I went to the unit that I was assigned to, I was supposed to be a company clerk my primary military occupational specialty, which was long form for my job.
My primary job was a finance specialist and my secondary was a personnel specialist. And so when I got to this company, [00:05:00] I was supposed to be assigned to that role. But when I got there, the company commander basically told me that there must be a mistake because they already had a company clerk and that I needed to grab my M16 and head to the field.
Chanda: Oh wow.
Ed: And of course I protested and asked to be reassigned, but Mr. Company Commander said that his word was final. So basically long story being, being short, I did end up going on several what we call long range, ambush patrols.
Chanda: Without being trained, right?
Ed: With no training. Precisely.
Ed: OK? M 16 and being put out there in the middle of nowhere 33 miles from base camp. And that didn’t sit too well for me. So again, making this story a little shorter I ended up learning how to write it to express myself because [00:06:00] I knew that I couldn’t do it right there in the company because the company commander was supreme.
He had all the authority and the power. So I started writing and believe me, I wrote everybody. I wrote the Secretary of Defense, I wrote General Wes Mullen, who was in charge of the military in the Asian theater of the military. I wrote my Congress people. I wrote my mayor and I don’t know who responded but they got me out of that field.
It took me about two months, but they got me reassigned to another company. And where I was a company clerk, which is what I was supposed to be in the first place, but they even went above and beyond that, cause I was only there three weeks and they reassigned me to the Adjutant General’s Corps. It was a humongous finance office and we were taking care of all the payroll for really all the units within that area, [00:07:00] the military units. And we would take care of their pay and sometimes it meant even actually going out to your location and taking information from them if they needed to change beneficiaries or create an allotment for parents or wives or whatever , but that worked out well.
And I did move up the ranks to supervisor from that from that point on. That was my first major experience. I guess my second would’ve been, I think it’s Continental Bank, which is no longer in existence.
Chanda: Uhhuh. You did that. You did that. I’m kidding.
Ed: What’s that?
Chanda: I said you did that.
Ed: No. I didn’t do that. I guess maybe that was just fate or destiny that would occur. But as you mentioned, racism did rear its ugly head and I’m one who really does not like making excuses. I don’t like to what they call, "play the race card," you’re not treating me fairly, et cetera. But they passed over me a number of times for a promotion.
Cause I had actually gone through [00:08:00] an officer loan officer training program. And generally speaking, once you came out of that program, you were promoted to officer within a year and a half, maybe two years. They hadn’t, I had not received a promotion in about almost three years. And I kept noticing that there were people coming in after I had been assigned and they were being promoted.
And so I finally started asking questions and of course I was always told that it had to do something with my performance or whatever.
Chanda: But you were training these people, right?
Ed: Yes. Training the people. And what really got me is when I’m looking around, people reading the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, et cetera, and I am just working my behind off. And finally I just challenged him on it and said, if I’m supposed to be underperforming or not up to par, then why do I have the largest [00:09:00] accounts in the division?
Why are my accounts, excuse me, the most profitable accounts in the division? They could not answer that. Okay. And so finally I just gave them an ultimatum that they had to do something, give me some lists or whatever, or I was going to find it outside of the bank. And I ended up having to go to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and file a charge against the bank at that time.
And it took uh, several years, it took quite a bit of courage for us to be able to do it. It wasn’t something that I just up and did right on the spot. Sometimes courage doesn’t work that way. You gotta get it, build it up. And I should say, I cannot leave God out of this equation was God was there that was supporting me, and urging to move to defend myself and not only myself, but this was happening to people of color [00:10:00] throughout the institution at that time.
Chanda: When was, this was early eighties?
Ed: This would’ve been this would’ve been, yeah, it might have been late seventies, early eighties. Okay. Someplace in there. And I did finally get a response back from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It took about two years.
Chanda: Wow. Wow.
Ed: For them to finally complete it. I had filed 13 charges and…
Ed: 13, yes.
Chanda: I didn’t know this!
Ed: Yes. EEOC came back with nine of them being, I think the terminology they used is "justifiable cause" which means that the bank was on the hot seat at that point and all of a sudden mysteriously, I got a promotion.
Ed: And people asking for forgiveness, and would I kindly remove my charges?
Ed: And I said, yes, I will remove my charges. But this guy that sits behind me came in after me. And he’s now a second vice president. [00:11:00] I think I should be a second vice president, too.
Ed: Cause I was doing just as much work and probably just as qualified or more qualified, and they refused to do that. I left my charges in. When I did get my promotion and my increase was what the bank did was they went through every minority’s records.
Ed: And there were many, and there were, there are many people at that bank of color who do not know to this day that they got a promotion. Or increases in salary cause of what I had done. Cause it was not, I put the charges in not only for just me, but for everybody. Cause I was noticing that there was a pattern. Anyway, enough of that, those two major experiences.
Chanda: But I have a question about that, especially when you’re talking about that this process took so long and I’m trying to remember early eighties with you and I remember, what really sticks stands out in my mind is Mississippi Mass Choir, Keith [00:12:00] Pringle, and this sermon, but I cannot remember this preacher’s name, but like…
Ed: Dr. Gardner C Taylor.
Chanda: Was it, these all, "these all died in faith, not having received a promise."
Ed: That was the one.
Chanda: So I’m imagining that, like these things were keeping you, buoying you, keeping you up at this time, but what else did you use? Or, what were some other tools that you used to keep your courage up for such a long time?
Two years is a long time to do something like this at that time. In the eighties, I’m imagining that people were not speaking out because people were happy to have jobs, and…
Ed: Well, and they were, they really were. And especially people of my race who really did not want to associate with me or be seen associated with me, because obviously knew what I had done and not want anything to discolor their career by being seen with me.
And of course, management was not making it [00:13:00] anything palatable for me to work every day, but truly, I think that it was nothing, but God, that kept me going. You mentioned that sermon and I remember there was around that time. That was Dr. Gardner C. Taylor. I think he was known as the Dean of Black Preachers for that. He had come to our church and preached this sermon called, "Failure: Success in God."
And it still almost brings tears to my eyes now to remember that. And I used to listen, cause I remember you asked me, was I trying to memorize the sermon?
Chanda: Cause you did listen to, even I know, "these all died in faith, not having received the promise." Yeah. I remember that. "Faithless city, helpless city. God has prepared a city." Sorry. I remember.
Ed: Yes he did. But the crux of that sermon was that and the crux, because I was beginning to take certain things personally, because when people start telling you, people that you [00:14:00] respect and honor your supervisors and management, etcetera, that you are really not performing up to par, et cetera.
You take those things to heart, and you think that they’re really true, and you start asking yourself, what’s wrong with me?
Ed: And that sermon that he preached and then I listened to so many times was basically telling me that you have not failed until you have stopped trying. No matter what the situation or the circumstance that you’re in.
Keep on trying, keep on moving, keep on believing, keep on trusting. And my trust was truly in God, because this was also a time of life where it was really a conversion experience for me too, as well. OK. Because despite the fact that I was raised in the church and despite the fact that my daddy was a minister I really did not have any strong spiritual connections with God. But God knows [00:15:00] how to do things.
He brought me to my knees cause up until then, I really truly believed that anything in life that I wanted, if I had the personal will, desire and aspiration to succeed, and if I really put forth that effort, I would get there, but I learned that, Hey, it ain’t you by yourself. It has to be God. And speaking of courage, and you mentioned it alluded to it, cause it, it can wane or dissipate. I remember on Sunday evenings, my stomach beginning to just tie up in knots. Cause thinking about, I gotta go to work tomorrow. OK. Yeah, but it took God. God took me through. That was a great experience because it was a learning experience. And I think courage is built on things like that because you recognize and remember what God brought you through and that He did not leave you.
Chanda: No, but this is giving me like, just a more dynamic [00:16:00] view of courage also because we can’t leave out that sacred side. There’s so many different sides of it, but so thank you for adding that. Okay. I wanna back up to the military experience because you…
Ed: And also the other thing too, I wanna mention on that very quickly.
Yeah. Is that it brought me closer to my own family. In what ways? Because when the rest of the world rejects you, it helped you, you really turned inward more or less, to yourself. And then your family is all you got, okay. Your wife, your child, and doing things together, et cetera.
So there are advantage s while this courage is growing. Sorry. Okay. I interrupted you.
Chanda: No. Okay. What I was gonna ask you is, maybe we should go in that direction. Okay. Okay. What I was gonna ask you was, you mentioned that when you were in the military and I’m imagining you were, went like 18, 19, when you were writing these letters?
Ed: Yeah, I would’ve been about 19, I think maybe 20, because it was right [00:17:00] before, it was a year before I was due to be released from active duty.
Chanda: Around 20.
Ed: Cause I, up until that time, I had really had good experiences with the military. OK. And despite the fact that maybe racism and all that and what, by the way it turned out was it brought to my attention just 50 years after the fact I’m talking to one of my counselors at the Veterans Administration and he basically told me after I requested my military records, they don’t show anywhere on there on my military records where I was assigned to the field.
Okay. And this counselor told me that what happened was that one of the Company Commander’s favorites had my job. That person was supposed to be out there. Okay. Okay. But he put me out there instead.
Chanda: Wow. Sorry. No. Wow. Now I was just wondering if you had already been using your writing voice up to that point or was this [00:18:00] like one of the first times and you’d really started to, you got the power of the pen, so to speak.
Ed: Yes. Okay. No, to be perfectly honest with you, that was my first time ever doing that. I guess I had really had reservations about writing up until that point, I had a couple of English courses, but I really wasn’t enthralled with English. I was more math and science person. Okay. I believe that all this other stuff took second. You write your little essays in school, but really hadn’t really gotten into it until really I had to do all these letters.
Yeah. So sometimes these experiences come by for reason in of both growth as human beings, our growth and even our relationship with God and ourselves and others.
Chanda: Okay. That’s interesting. So are you, do you still write poetry? Cause I remember at one time you were always like scribbling poems on napkins.
And [00:19:00] I remember you at channeling the poetry into things at church.
Yeah, those were more church related things. Okay. Okay. And I kinda stopped. And as a matter of fact, they’re probably still around here because somebody asked me to publish them, but I didn’t think they were worthy of being published.
Oh, come on. Yeah. What?
Ed: So no, they’re still here. I do enjoy sometimes while doing a meditation, which I try to do every morning. If I can, sometimes I actually pull out my pen and try to record the thoughts that are going through mind at that particular time. And I’m surprised that what sometimes comes out because it didn’t start out that way. And so I know writing and journalizing and all other good stuff. It’s uh, it works.
Chanda: It works for, what?
Ed: It works for you getting, I think, inside of yourself even more and learning more about yourself as a human. [00:20:00] Okay. And again about that relationship with God and being able to see things from God’s perspective.
Not that I am God, I will never be God, I will never know when God knows that at least of nothing else channeling my direction toward how he sees things, his worldview. And let me correct something. I should also refer to him as a "she."
Chanda: I wasn’t gonna say nothing.
Ed: Nobody’s never seen God. And hey, God just might be a "she." And I have no problems with that.
Chanda: Okay. Okay. All right. Okay. I have so many things I wanna chat about. But, so you mentioned, you mentioned family when you were talking about your transition, actually, you didn’t say transition.
So what was happening at while you were in banking, you talked about how that brought you closer to family. And one of the things that I did [00:21:00] wanna definitely touch upon today was courageous parenting. I just made this up hashtag courageous parenting. But I really feel like if I look back at how I was raised, I feel like there were certain things that you did that were pretty nontraditional, I will say.
And I think mainly in. When I look around me at my peers of at that time, I think mainly in giving me a voice and permission to, to use my voice as far as express my opinions, as far as being in conversation with you and your friends and other adults. Yeah. Of course respectfully, but like there, there was that.
Yes. This is a person, even though she’s young with opinions and ideas, let’s hear them. Yes. Let’s cultivate this mind. Yes. And then also your your work with this organization called Isuthu, which is it still exists, it is, not was, right?
Ed: Yup. Matter of fact, I went to a reunion this past weekend.
Chanda: Okay. So it’s a rites of passage [00:22:00] program for African American boys. You can say more about what that is, but also at the time when you were doing this was extremely non-traditional and, I’m thinking about how I’m raising my son and, For me, this is an act of courage because I don’t know what I’m doing for one , but I know, but what I don’t want to do. I just feel like parenting is an act of courage, especially when you go against the grain, like wanting to give my child, a voice, wanting to not inundate him with fear of people, fear of police, with fear of using his voice.
And he’s, he can be a handful and at the same time, I don’t wanna really, I don’t wanna parent him into fearing people, into fearing me. I wanna get your thoughts. I wanna pick your brain on this idea of courageous parenting.
Ed: I’ll try.
Chanda: Yeah. What comes up for you when I say this term, and what does that mean for you? Or do you consider yourself a courageous parenting figure? Not just to me, but there are a lot of people that look up to you as a parental figure, a father figure. No, really.
Ed: Yeah. Should have [00:23:00] seen the text mails I had to return yesterday.
Chanda: Oh my god. Yes. You only have one daughter, one child. You only have to return one.
Ed: I got 50 million other. But no, it’s really funny. I guess I never looked at it from that standpoint as being courageous parenting. But I was always concerned about, I never wanted to over discipline you. And you really were only discipline for two reasons. One was for disrespect and the other was for disobedience.
That’s it. Because well, I recognize you as being God’s child. If you were given to me and the family for a reason. And that I was there to encourage you and to help you to develop your own God given talents and abilities and not to do anything that would shorten or end that cycle of life for you.
[00:24:00] Because I had no idea at that point, as a five year older or six year older what profession that you would end up being in, et cetera, but whatever it was, if it was going to be a lawyer, if it was going to be a civil rights leader, whatever I felt that you needed to be to have that nurture and that development, and should not be developing fear of using your God given talent.
And I still feel that way, even when I went into the mentoring program that you mentioned, Isuthu because that’s one of the things. That’s also an African tradition too. That basically says that the parents, it is up to the parents because the parents are the closest ones to that child. And it is up to the parents to be observant of that child and to help steer them and not to reinvent them or recreate them into being you all over again. Cause you have your own separate reservoir of talents and abilities. And I, as a parent, I’m just [00:25:00] supposed steer as best I can without oversteering. If that makes sense.
Chanda: Tell us more about Isuthu. There’s also, so Isuthu is for the boys, but there’s also one for the girls?
Chanda: Was it Intonjane? Intonjane?
Chanda: Okay. So what is a rights of passage/mentoring program? Yeah.
Ed: When we think about a typical rites of passage especially for a child that grows up from childhood to adulthood, we normally recognize phases that a person goes through, there’s always the prenatal.
Then you got your infancy, then you got your childhood, then you got they call pubescence and then into I would say, boy, I can’t remember right now what we call that last phase, but it’s really your teen years, right? Before you reach adulthood so to speak, maybe I should just call it pre-adulthood.
So what the rites or program does, is we, and in Isuthu, we took young [00:26:00] boys at age six, which according to the cycles of life, that, or the passages of life, that one goes through. That would, that was with the earliest age that we took in young boys. And we actually brought them in to one group that was age six to ten.
And of course there’s certain things that you’re learning in life during those stages. And then of course you go into another stage of pubescence which we were saying would be from 10 to 12, actually 11 to 12. Then we moved into the pre adult stage, which was the 13 to 18 . And we tried to help create, develop, instill something within that child during those stages of life. And so that it ends up being a much more meaningful passage and that you gain as much as you possibly can through that [00:27:00] particular passage. Because what we did was, you transition, let’s say from the younger group, which we called Fante, and these were our boys six to ten.
And so you transition into the next group , which was Ga, and that was all the boys around the age of puberty. And there’s certain things that you are learning and going through not only mentally, psychologically, emotionally but physically too, because your body’s changing. And one needs to be, cognizant of these changes that one is making.
But nevertheless, before one can move from one group or transition, from one state to another, there are certain things in life, the Africans believe, and this is where our program is based upon that there are certain things that you should learn and that there should be some kind of rites, how should I say this? Evidence? The fact that you have completed that stage of life. Okay. And so then [00:28:00] when you go through the rites of passage to transition from one group to the next, that says that you have accomplished the things and we’ve laid out a lot of things that they should be doing.
And so when you make that transition. You are ready then to move to the next step. Just as boys coming out of the last program should be ready to move into manhood cause of all the things that we’ve exposed them to well, and the parents too, cause we very inquisitive with the parents and what was going on in the home, the school, et cetera. And so we could form trust bonds.
Ed: With the boys so that they trusted us because if you don’t form that trust bond, then they’re not gonna talk. They’re not really gonna communicate with you. Gotta be able to get there.
And one of the ways that you express courage there, and sometimes, especially with our older boys, is when we, as mentors open ourselves up to give what’s inside to them. Not that we are trying to reshape them, but so we’re [00:29:00] sharing. I was your age at one time, too. You know, we did this, we did that. Sometimes it might been, might not have been so favorable, but hopefully one learned a lesson from that and it turned into a positive consequence.
I got a little bit off track.
Chanda: No, you didn’t. I have a question only, not only, but I have a question I’m just wondering, because if I recall, I know there was a like… that the Isuthu program existed, but I feel like the program that you all did, that you put a lot of extra you were doing a lot of research and you were adding to this program and it’s pride month.
And I know that within the trans community, there’s there’s a complete void and I’m wondering if you see a space for this and like an African rites of passage program. Because I think I’m just, recalling some young I guess I don’t wanna call them youth, but they’re in their early twenties who could really benefit also from something like this.
But as [00:30:00] it stands right now, everything is so binary. And I’m just wondering, do do you think that there would be like an opening for something like that, or?
Ed: I do. And I hope that as society grows and as organizations grow that sponsor rites of passage programs, that there is a greater awareness a consciousness.
Okay. So we can get away from this binary situation that you just mentioned. Because the fact of the matter is that human beings come in all kinds of shapes and genders, et cetera. And I think that there should be something there. As a matter of fact, we in our program did have some same gender loving mentors.
That were actually part of the program. It was nice that, we were included them as well, but I thought that we maybe could have made some changes to our program to get them before and of course, you’re dealing not only with the mentees and the mentors, you’re [00:31:00] dealing with parents, too.
Okay. And sometimes believe it or not when subjects of this matter came up our greatest opposition came from parents.
Chanda: Really. Okay. Interesting. Interesting. No, but I’m just imagining that cuz there have been so many interesting, oh, there’s this guy, was it Patrice? I think it’s Maladome, and he really talks about the importance of, or not the importance and the role of transgender within traditional African communities.
And so I’m sure that it would fit right in and like I said, I think it’s very necessary.
Ed: Yeah, and I really think that it is, cause I, I think that the young men, since they’re right into this age already and some of their friends. Okay. Are trans or bi or same gender loving, or whatever. They’re living in that world already.
And it’s just that some of the older folks. Gotcha. Who can’t visualize that world. Cause they’re so [00:32:00] tied to tradition.
Chanda: It’s coming.
Ed: Yeah. It’s coming and you’re right. It’s coming. Yes. I agree.
Chanda: Yes. Yes. Okay. All right. So I have, oh my gosh, what else? I have another question. And this comes from something that I read today and I read this interesting article and Juneteenth right now is interesting to me because this whole Juneteenth movement has taken off while I am across the world.
So I haven’t really been up in there, but I read a really cool article today. It was Was it UNC Chapel Hill? Somebody was reflecting because I guess this is the second year that Juneteenth has been the official… Yes. And an official holiday. Yes. They were talking about this whole concept of, or imagining, what would it be like if everyone celebrated Black liberation? [00:33:00] And the interesting thing is, I don’t know. I thought it was so interesting because I think when they use language, like when everyone celebrates. And up to this point what I have witnessed from afar in many of these types of celebrations, Black history, or if it’s MLK day, is an honoring of Black culture, but not necessarily like a personal celebration of Black liberation.
Do you know what I mean? What does that mean when someone who is not African American is celebrating what Black liberation looks like? Yeah. And not necessarily okay. Black liberation, I saw some really interesting posts of people like I said, celebrating like Black culture, but that’s still kind of, I don’t know.
It just seems, it seems like a step outside of oneself.
Chanda: And I just, I don’t know, I don’t know. What do you think? What do you think of when I say something like that, is this like far fetched or is it like a weird concept or weird imagining?
Ed: No. No, I don’t think so. [00:34:00] You guess the fact of the matter is that there are so many different races, nationalities, ethnic groups, cultures et cetera. And right now I’m thinking that maybe the emphasis is being placed on the Black culture in particular, because it has not really received heret ofore any great celebratory reign or recognition, if you will.
It was we do Kwanzaa for instance, it was Maulana Karenga who established it back in the 1960s. And that was a revolutionary thing because for one, I think it really helps Black people more so than anything else. Cause it’s saying you are somebody and your culture is just as great as someone else’s culture is.
Cause prior to that, of course it was like, you guys really don’t have a culture. You really don’t have a distinct past, you really have not made any [00:35:00] historical contributions to life, to society, to the world et cetera. And so now I think maybe it’s coming out and it would appear that it’s being done at the expense of somebody else, but it really is not.
In my old age, I’m really getting more sensitive to this thing of intersectionality, where you’re learning how to respect others, even though they might not necessarily be the same as you. So it’s cool if I’m a white person or if I’m Asian, Native American, whatever to celebrate Black History Month or even this Juneteenth. I saw a spot on a TV program that I was looking at earlier today. And there was a, it was a woman who actually got Juneteenth. To be [00:36:00] a legal federal holiday and she pushed until she actually got there. And her comments that they were interviewing her comments was, Hey, it would be nice if we could blend, this Black liberation into white liberation and have a celebration between June 19th through July 4th, and let’s blend these together.
I said to myself, wow, that’s a unique approach. And she said, we can all celebrate together more or less. I don’t know. I hope I answered your question.
Chanda: No, you did. And I think I guess what I’m thinking is I will be, I am interested as to when a celebration of Blackness will not just be on what this assumed Black culture.
When it gets a little deeper because I think it’s great. I’m not saying that I don’t like these things. But to me it feels very separate. A [00:37:00] celebration of the kind of music that I like, or like Black heroes is not necessarily a celebration of myself as a human being that has Black or dark skin, and yeah. So when I hear terms like Black liberation, that’s what I think of, I think of like being liberated from all of this and just being celebrated for who I am as a human being and not for an accomplishment or not for an art form or not for these things. And so. Yeah.
That’s what came to mind when I read this article.
Ed: Okay I was looking at it from a stage, the standpoint of being recognized. Some of the thing, cause if we look at Juneteenth, you know, Juneteenth was 1865. When the Emancipation Proclamation was went into effect in January of 1863. So we’re talking what, two, two and a half years almost.
Chanda: Yeah. Yeah.
Ed: Before the folks in Texas even recognized that and if nothing else, it causes me, it, it elevates my consciousness because I’m saying to myself, [00:38:00] why did it take so long a word to reach the folks in Texas? And then if one does a little research, which we sometimes don’t have a historical accurate historical perspective, you learn that the states that was that the uh, so-called the slaves were being freed were primarily in the Confederacy.
Ed: And I don’t know if Texas was a part of the Confederacy, but anyway, what was happening was that slaves were being transferred from other states to Texas.
Chanda: Really? I didn’t know that.
Ed: During that period and see that needs to be talked about There’s so many things that are compacted in this stuff, and you really don’t even recognize what’s really, truly going on and if nothing else, I think that it would be nice, if the stuff could be studied a little bit, not to elevate one group or another, but so that we can get an accurate historical perspective.
[00:39:00] And I think that really then helps us to understand why there’s a need for recognition, celebration, or whatever. Okay. Okay.
Chanda: Yeah, I didn’t know that. And I wanted to explain everything to Kite, and I’m like, let me get up on it. But I did not see that anywhere.
Okay. More digging. We have more.
Ed: It’s usually not. It’s usually not out there, but no, check it out. I will check. See, I will. Yeah. That there were just thousands of slaves brought in from other states and purposely put in Texas.
Chanda: Really? Huh? This is interesting. Unfortunately. Unfortunately interesting.
Okay. All right. I wanna switch gears one more time. I have one more question for you. And this is courageous businesses and this term just came to mind. This term just came to mind and it’s a thing now, I think, especially from the pandemic of people starting their own businesses, or having all these different streams of income. Also what is, what [00:40:00] is beautiful now is there are so many people wanting to have this conscious businessing, conscious business practices.
And I don’t think that this was popular in the eighties when you started your business. But one thing, one thing that really stood out to me about your business — my dad had a business, a wholesale business where he was selling audio, video needs, doing duplication and all this sort of thing, and mostly working with churches.
But at the core, I feel like, you did not have a traditional business model. And at the core it was very social focused, like employing people or helping people out. And, I feel like that there are sacrifices with something like that. What was the driving force behind that decision?
Because I think that there was a definite conscious decision on how you wanted to run your business.
Ed: For sure. After I left the banking industry, I knew that I wanted to be in a business myself and I had thought about the kind [00:41:00] of business that I would really like to operate.
And again, I have to put God first because he was the one that instill, he was the one that instilled these things in my mind. Okay. About what to do, because a business should be more, I felt, than just me making profits, and then me buying a bigger house, expanding my business. That’s all great too, but that business also impacts your customers.
And one of the things that I always wanted to do was to be able to provide the best possible services and products to my customers. And as a matter of fact, I used to do shopping for my customer. That’s what I used to tell them. Because I had to look through a whole bunch of different wholesale organizations and know which product I was going to buy.
And I tested them out because I wanted them to have a good product, but the bigger thing was, I always wanted to be able to hire people [00:42:00] and to be able to create jobs for folks. Cause I think that is something that was missing within the African American community. But you know my story, too, about running into Mr. Ed Gardner. Really. That man, I think God put that man in my path. OK. Cause he really opened up my mind’s eyes so that I could see a much larger picture of what owning a business was really, truly supposed to be. Especially, even as my business relating to other Black businesses and it wasn’t so much because I was being prejudiced or whatever, and dealing with other Black businesses, but it’s understood that, Hey, this was a struggle and we’re all in the same struggle.
It’s hard to get business hard to get started. And so if nothing else patronizing one another as well, but one of my
Chanda: Tell us who Mr. Gardner is.
Ed: Mr. Gardner was I believe he started out as a teacher, but he ended up starting a business. It was called [00:43:00] The Soft Sheen Products. And he started making hair care products for African Americans.
And it turned out to be very successful and that business really grew. I remember him telling us that he started out mixing his first batch of product in his bathtub. Okay. And how he grew beyond that and how that business, he, it just exploded. And he really impressed me when he brought us together.
Cause again, I was at the bank when I met him and he called all of the big time bankers together and he gave us this speech about, you going downtown and working in the ivory towers and you’ve got your briefcase and your Wall Street Journals, et cetera. Okay. He says, don’t forget some of you belong in that type of environment, but there are some of you that have the capacity, the capability to do something for your own community communities, where unemployment is just going through the roof, et cetera, but where [00:44:00] jobs are just not available within that particular geographical area.
And I took all those things to heart. And I knew when I came out of banking, I wanted to do business. And I wanted to go into business with his mode of thinking. And he put me there and especially one of the things that he was actually doing, especially after they had grown, they were the largest, I know African American owned company in the United States and he rarely focused on sales, but they had to be around a hundred million a year in sales very easily at their high point.
But they would actually create opportunities for other Black businesses. You could come in and show that you had the professional background and credentials to run a company. They would even give you a startup loan to get you started. Yes. And get you in business so they could buy some products from you.
And I wanted to do something on that scale. It ended up though, in my case, I think probably for [00:45:00] me, one of my best accomplishments was, hiring people and retaining them and really schooling them because not only are they there working. They’re younger people maybe they haven’t thought about their own career or where do I wanna be three years from now, five years from now.
I remember the young lady that used to work for me. She came. She was a few years out of high school. And I asked her that question. I think she might have been about 22 at that time. Where do you see yourself at 25? And she basically hadn’t given it a whole lot of thought. She says, oh, I’ll be here working.
I said, no, you’re not gonna be here working.
Ed: We’re just an incubator.
Ed: And we ended up we ended up talking her to going back to school, she ended up finishing and she got her AA two years later. No, when she first got, when she first went back to school, I basically told her that if she didn’t go back to school, I was gonna fire her. Now of course, I knew I couldn’t. So I [00:46:00] lied, but no, she actually went back and she took one course and she went back and she was begrudgingly of course. But she discovered that she liked it. And I knew that she was smart and that young lady got a little A in that class. And she came back to me and said, Mr. Rule, can I work part time next semester? So I can go to school full time? Of course. Okay. Long story short, with her, she is now working, so she’ll be working on her doctorate in ministry soon. Okay. But she just kept moving on up the ladder. The other is the young man Izzy came to me looking for a job.
And I guess I was very impressed that he was a 16 year old looking for a job because most of his peers would be out trying to play basketball and video games, but Hey, he wants to work. I did not have a job for him. I cut my own salary to create a part-time job for him. Wow. And he came and he was having to be a young man that did not have a father figure at [00:47:00] home.
And so I ended up being a surrogate father more or less on the job. So not only was I an employer, I was a father figure for him, too. And whenever he was having problems in school, I’d make sure that I got some of my friends. If I had something that I didn’t know in math or whatever, we made sure that there was somebody there.
Cause he hated math at that time. He was a junior. No, he was a sophomore in high school. Long story short, he overcame whatever that fear was through another friend of mine who helped him. He went on finished high school and then went into engineering. Now that blew me away because engineering is usually most places a five year program, at least it was a school that I went to. Electrical engineering and he actually graduated. Yes. And that is… To me, that’s the way you bring that human element in there and servicing, being a wider community and beyond just [00:48:00] profit making.
Chanda: Okay. Yeah. My last and final question, because I know your birthday’s coming up and you will be three quarters of a century. Wear it proud, wear it well. What advice would you have for these younger generation? What’s a few things?
Chanda: Or even that you would give to yourself?
Ed: I think that expanding one’s consciousness is so critical. And by that, learning more about, history learning more about whatever, going to museums, whether it be art, museums, or museums, or history and art, et cetera, but especially the reading and learning about prior history and how you got to be this way, wherever you are in life and then learning how to connect the past with the present, and then you yourself in connecting the present with the future.
I think that it’s so important. Okay. And to think beyond that, [00:49:00] sometimes it might mean that I need to curtail some of my video games a little bit every now and then, and establish, you know, a regular reading program where I can expand that knowledge. Because it all comes into play and you truly need it.
And especially when you become a better critical thinker that really helps you in life, not only yourself, but your family and the community in which you live in, because then you become a much more, I don’t know, capable individual and you have much more to offer. The other thing was definitely the we need some God, we need some spirituality here, because that is so important. You can’t do it by yourself. You can’t say no, it doesn’t exist. And maybe they should walk with someone who is spiritually connected that they can learn from so that they can indeed be transformed [00:50:00] themselves because life is a series of transformations. But if you don’t recognize them, then you’ll never really get to that point. And you’ll never be able to do the rites of passage. We talked about the transitioning. They called it doing the matrix shift. You shift from one matrix to the next.
And if you are not aware of what’s going on inside of you and around you, then you won’t be able to make that connection.
Chanda: Wow. That’s beautiful. Well, Thank you, Mr. Rule, Ed Rule, Daddy. This has been a beautiful conversation, as I knew it would be.
Ed: You broke my arm. I still got it in a sling here.
Chanda: Usually I tell people where my guests can be found online. I know you on Facebook, but you don’t be checking it.
Ed: I don’t.
Chanda: Listen, if somebody wants to ask my dad a question, you could reach out to me, reach out to The Courageous Voice on Instagram. And you can pester [00:51:00] me, you can pester him through me, because my dad has been threatening to write a book for decades now. So perhaps, perhaps some, some more gentle nudges would help. We could get like a poetry book. You got the poems, you got like the devotionals you mentioned. I know you have some advice for community upliftment. So maybe I’ll be sharing some information like that in the future, but…
Ed: I hope so.
Ed: Yeah. Cause I know this book has been out there. It’s been on my mind for years now, even if a decade or two, but I know that it’s going to happen. But what happens is I think that the subject matter keeps changing, but it’s gonna get there.
Chanda: It’s gonna get there. It’s gonna get there. All right. Thank you.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We’ll see you all next time and please be sure to rate, subscribe to this podcast and tell your friends. Thank you so much.