“What good is a man who won’t take a stand?”

The title of this post is taken from this, one of my favorite songs:

Find the lyrics here. 🙂

I believe I might’ve hit a milestone here recently.

Not too long ago a (white female) friend said to me “not everyone can be a social justice warrior like you.” Soon after another (black male) friend commented that I was becoming (too?) radical.

I don’t really consider myself to be a “social justice warrior” so much as I just believe in standing up for what is right…but look here…there hasn’t been a successful revolution or positive social change in history that wasn’t propelled and pushed forward by people who were deemed to be “radicals”. So at first glance I might have taken these statements as compliments, but regard the negative connotation that terms such as “radical” have garnered over the years. American government officials tried to paint a “radical” Martin Luther King Jr. as a communist. Martin Luther, the founder of the “radical” religious ideas that my two aforementioned friends adhere to, was labeled a heretic and forced to go on the lam. Noteworthy achievements and nobility aside, these were just ordinary men who did extraordinary things with only their beliefs and determination as ammunition. They did what had to be done in order to make the world a better place. It’s one of the defining aspects of history, the story of common people effecting change. Will my generation upset the trend and allow its power to be usurped by fear-mongering and disenfranchisement?

I remember in high school being in charge of coordinating the black history choir for three years. It was my goal in my senior year to have the most diverse black history choir my school had seen. When I approached white friends, who I knew could sing, about joining the choir I was often hit with a hesitant “maybe” or a shamefaced “no” all due to varying degrees of being afraid of what others (blacks and whites) may think of their participating in a black history event. My friends had an opportunity to do some good by exhibiting unity through song and fellowship to their fellow classmates, but fear (of judgment?) held them back from doing the right thing. Where would this world be if those who came before us were stopped permanently in their tracks by fear?

Mahatma Gandhi.

Nelson Mandela.

Malala Yousafzai.

Jesus.

What do all these people have in common? They did what had to be done so that others, often oppressed by some level of incompetent socio-economic-politcal system, could live lives free from persecution, lives full of simply being, the most basic condition of being a breathing, sentient organism.

So taking my cue from them…

If being a radical means being fed up with watching an incompetent justice system hinder Americans of color from living whole lives through a school-to-prison pipeline practice, then so be it–I’m a radical.

If being a radical means not standing in the way of two men or two women, somebody other than MY significant other and myself, getting married, then so be it–I’m a radical.

If being a radical means keeping my mouth shut when a woman speaks about the matters that concern her body because she knows it better than I do, then so be it–I’m a radical.

If being a radical means being okay with people in my life being unsure of a God or just not believing that there is one, then so be it–I’m a radical.

If being a radical means being outraged when the American right to vote is challenged then, so be it-I’m a radical.

If being a radical means wanting due increase of minimum wage rates so that people can begin to earn a decent living, one that allows them eat healthier, then so be itI’m a radical.

If being a radical means holding my elected representatives to their word, or making them change their words to really reflect the desires of the people they represent and not their own interests, then so be it–I’m a radical.

If being a radical means wanting America to truly be as great as it boasts itself to be, then so be it–I’m a radical.

Change is inevitable, so why can’t it be positive and benefit a larger number of people?

When did it become “radical” to want freedom, peace, justice and love?

THINK ABOUT IT–freedom, peace, justice and love.

It’s not enough to watch the news and shake our heads in disapproval. It is simply not enough to merely admire the work of people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Harvey Milk. To only stand back posting a few quotes on social media on holidays is a disservice to their legacy. The call to act in the name of change, for ourselves and for our progeny, is ever present in an America where every year an estimated 100,000+ people are shot and 1 in 4 Alabamians are illiterate. These are practically the norm and not a deviation within our society and that is a problem. Something must be done lest our freedoms be considered useless and void. There must be an outcry, a loud one, for in the words of the great poet, feminist and activist Audre Lorde, “your silence will not protect you.”

So give your hand to the struggle.

You don’t have to be radical to enact change.

Just be you.

It’s more than welcomed, it’s encouraged.

Complacency and apathy are our enemy.

Stand up and make your voice heard.

Make a difference.

“When will my brown skin be good enough?”: Part I, Representation

My apologies for the lull in posting! There was a bit of a technical difficulty, but I’m back in action and this is what’s been on my mind while I was away:

The postive representation of black and brown people in mainstream American media avenues is seriously, frighteningly, lacking. I get so sick and tired of always having to hunt down traces of my otherness, my blackness, in the scant TV shows and movies that will have us. What does this mean? Well it means that if I want to see a primetime TV show that showcases a person of color (POC) in the lead role or an all/predominantly POC cast one of the few ways of doing that would be to tune in to BET instead of CBS (I can only think of two exceptions which are ABC’s Scandal and FOX’s The Mindy Project). It means that if I want to hear about the recent academic success of a young black girl I have to read it in a black church’s Sunday bulletin handout and not within the ‘Education’ section of the local newspaper. It means that if I want to see a black actor win an Oscar or Golden Globe they will more than likely have to portray a slave or some servant, a villain, a historical figure that’s been featured over and over again or be objectified in some way, often sexually (I’m still really upset about Halle Berry’s “Academy-Award winning” performance in Monster’s Ball). It means that if I want the world to learn about “twerking”, its cultural origins in Africa and its place in the African American community it has to be brought to the forefront of media by a young white teenager who…isn’t even twerking…

It means that if anyone is going to take notice of me, a young African American male, it’s either because they perceive me to be a threat or a dollar sign, and not because of my humanity.

It really bothered me the other day when I saw a trailer advertising the new season of a hit TV show (I don’t remember which one) and I saw no people of color among the cast. What about the experience of American people of color? Are the only real housewives of color worth watching in Atlanta? Are there no eligible people of color who may be considered for ABC’s The Bachelor or The Bachelorette? Because in 18 seasons of The Bachelor and 9 seasons of The Bachelorette there has never been a person of color to hold the title hot seat of either show. While I personally think the two shows are lame and lack originality and creativity, I KNOW there are black folk out there looking for love, too, so what gives?

This is how bad it is, folks. According to this PBS article a Screen Actors Guild study determined that “people of color, the vast majority of humankind, are 18.3-percent of the major prime time network cast.” As far as those who have been recognize for their acting on the big screen this piece cites that more than 350 whites have been nominated for the Academy’s “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” categories with only 21 blacks being nominated for the same awards. The number of those blacks who have won are even more alarming. This past Sunday, the stunning young goddess Lupita Nyong’o (repping the dark skin beauties of the world like myself), became only the 7th black woman to win any Oscar in the 85 year history of  the Academy Awards. Only the 7th in 85 years. Like her predecessors she won in the category of “Best Actress in a Supporting Role”, the only category a black woman has ever won in and similarly for portraying a character who is oppressed or suffering (exceptions being Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost and Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls). This is in no way shade toward Lupita, who I love, but it’s alarming to think that black women can’t step outside of playing sidekicks and victims of their circumstance as the Academy seems to suggest. The same goes for black men. There have only been 9 Oscars awarded to black men for the categories of “Best Actor” or “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” and two of the three awards from this side of the year 2000 were roles of unsavory character: Denzel Washington’s corrupt cop in Training Day and Forrest Whittaker’s portrayal of the Ugandan tyrant Idi Amin. The black talent is out there, and some of those actors are successful in finding decent work, but the fact still remains, black actors and other actors of color remain hidden behind the likes of their white counterparts.

When I expressed my concern for this gross lack of positive representation of people of color in American media to a white friend he quite bluntly told me in his opinion that media makers are out to make money, and the only way they can make money is if they cater to as much of the population as they can. Well we all know who that is, right? I couldn’t really argue with his logic because it made complete sense to me. In addition, one must take into account those who are calling the shots in media. Again, the aforementioned PBS article reported that a study (this time conducted by the Radio-Television News Directors Association and Foundation) showed that ethnic minorities held fewer than 25-percent of jobs in television and that 92-percent of television news directors are white. While this data speaks directly to television and news, it hints that the situation in Hollywood is very similar. At least we can thank God for Spike Lee, Tim Story and now Steve McQueen.

After my friend stated this opinion, even though I understood and even agreed with his position, I was made even more angry, not at the facts, but at his casual acceptance of the facts. It was clearly a product of the white privilege that allowed him to be blind to the injustice that is done to people of color. I thought about how, as a kid, he probably didn’t have to seek out positive fictional role models because he had folk like Harry Potter being held on a pedestal. When he watched Power Rangers there were always at least two guys that looked like him, one always being the leader of the group. He probably swore by Saved By the Bell and Brotherly Love growing up as all the male leads were young white guys…people who looked like him. I was recently watching reruns of the hit 90s show Boy Meets World (which only featured one black character the entire show who was introduced in the 5th of 7 seasons) and I got to feeling all nostalgic, remembering how I marveled at the lead character Cory’s life, his big two story house with a huge bedroom complete with cool toys and an awesome crawl space. In that moment, knowing what I know now, I had to question on behalf of my childhood self…where were the black Cory’s in the world? Where were the black Doogie Houser’s? Where were there black Sabrina’s (from Sabrina the Teenage Witch) or Clarissa’s (from Clarissa Explains it All)? Of course, also in my day, there were shows like Family Matters, The Cosby Show and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but these shows were all too often set off to the side and labeled as speciality, not mainstream, therefore not inclusive.

That idea has a bit of a “separate, but equal” taste to it.

Hm.

Nowadays, you can’t even find shows like those I just mentioned on the airwaves, shows that give people of color a consistant chance to portray some semblance of human normalcy (side eye to Michael Ealy’s situation on FOX’s Almost Human where he is literally playing a “robot that can feel”). This leaves talented actors and actresses of color jocking for the scant sassy/comedic sidekick supporting roles that they want me to believe is all there is to offer for us. Too bad I wasn’t born on the back of turnip truck.

When will my brown skin be good enough?

Do not mistake my grievances, which I know to be valid, for ‘woe is me’ politics. I am merely pointing out a grave disparity in American society that diserves America’s minority communities, its people of color. I feel very fortunate to have been born into a family where my parents, family members and members of the community took the time to emphasize black greatness to me and my siblings, because left only to the devices of American education and American popular society I’d feel pretty irrelevant. Thank God, my nurturing community affirmed me as a young black person of value and worth who possessed the ability to do whatever it was I set my mind to. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for a lot of other young black people. That support system isn’t always in place in our rural and urban communities of color and they have no where to turn but to American media which unfortunately offers them little to no positive affirmation. What happens to those kids? Find out next week in the Part II post.

“How can I…make a man…out of you?” “By leaving me alone. o_0”

This week’s post will be a bit of a departure from the previous weeks’. When I set out to write for this blog, it was to address not only issues regarding American race relations, but to also examine issues in other areas of modern society. This time around I’ll be taking a look at the huge disservice done to the world’s male population by the perpetuation of an antiquated social norm: patriarchal masculinity.

I’ve always been curious about masculinity, about the ideal of what it means to be manly. My understanding now is that it’s just a social construct deriving from ancient civilizations, ya know where someone a long time ago said “In order for a man to be considered manly he must do ‘this, this and this'”. Being that it was a more simple time this idea is probably suitable, but like any successful social norm it has woven itself into the very fiber of society for years and years and very little has been done to challenge or reevaluate the idea as more and more people with their own uniqueness began to populate the world. For me, while growing up, there always seemed to be a discrepancy between the gospel of masculinity and the idea of each person’s unique humanity. I used to wonder who came up with these rules that a man should do this and not do that to distinguish himself as a man, as if biology hadn’t already done that for the most part.

The impetus for this particular post came along back in November upon my reading this article regarding the seemingly canonization of Miami Dolphins Guard Richie Incognito at the expense of former team mate Jonathan Martin in a dispute essentially stemming from Incognito’s tactlessness in the two teammates’ friendship. There are two particular parts of the article that grabbed my attention (aside from the racist undertones) and are revealing of some of the possible origins of the rift between the two:

“Late Tuesday night, the Sun Sentinel‘s Omar Kelly added gasoline to the fire with a report that head coach Joe Philbin had asked Incognito to ‘toughen up’ Martin.”

…and…

“Another former Dolphins employee told me Martin is considered ‘soft’ by his teammates and that’s a reason he’s not readily accepted by some of the players, particularly the black players,” Salguero wrote. “His background — Stanford educated and the son of highly educated people — was not necessarily seen as a strength or a positive by some players and it perpetuated in the way Martin carried himself.”

When I arrived at this part of the article, it reminded me of my childhood queries and reinforced that, despite my thoughts, the rule of thumb has always been that a man should aspire to be dominant in as many ways afforded him should he want to succeed in life. For some this dominance translates as competition. Now competition in and of itself isn’t necessarily bad, but men (and women) often miss the point. Sure, winning in the end is nice, but the true victory is the growth found in the journey to the finish line, the growth that a lot of people overlook on their quest to dominate. Another nasty manifestation of this dominance is the exploitation of others. Nobody likes to be under the thumb of someone who thinks they have themselves and any given situation under control, but dominant-thinking doesn’t tell you that.

All of this ideology and variant forms of the like make up the patriarchal masculinity mentality. It rears its ugly head in the Incognito/Martin case when Martin, while admittedly not completely innocent, is persecuted by a collective of social norms that do not allow him, as a man, to feel or express those would-be feelings without experiencing alienation from the rest of his team mates and public shaming. It’s toxic and it’s disabling both to men and women. Similar events occur all the time all over the world with varying ages of males, but we’ve all grown accustomed to accepting the negative outcomes disguised as being a man or coming into manhood.

I’m in no way an authority on the topic, although I am a man and can attest to my own personal, unpleasant run-ins with patriarchal masculinity (I was told by a family member once that I should have my brother teach me how to walk…like a man…awkwaaard). Seeking to understand the situation better without my own prejudices clouding my judgment I decided to go to someone whose opinion I trusted to be well informed in thought and research. This person was the amazing bell hooks and her book The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love. Having read her thoughts on the matter of love in another one of her books, All About Love, I felt her insight on the modern male condition would both validate my concerns and propose ways to go about addressing the matter. I was not disappointed. In my reading I took 12 pages of notes (omg, ikr?). Here’s the gist of what hooks has to say on the matter.

“Patriarchal mores teach a form of emotional stoicism to men that says they are manly if they do not feel, but if by chance they should feel and the feelings hurt, the manly response is to stuff them down, to forget about them, to hope they go away.” (p. 5-6)

“The reality is that mean are hurting and that the whole culture responds to them by saying, ‘Please do not tell us what you feel.'” (p. 6)

“In patriarchal culture males are not allowed simply to be who they are and to glory in their unique identity. Their value is always determined by what they do.” (p. 11)

“Patriarchal boys, like their adult counterparts, know the rules: they know they must not express feelings, with the exception of anger; that they must not do anything considered feminine or womanly…Researchers found that boys agreed that to be truly manly, they must command respect, be tough, not talk about problems, and dominate females.” (p. 42)

“Men cannot speak their pain in patriarchal culture. Boys learn this in early childhood. As a girl, I was awed by a man in my church, a deacon, who would stand before the congregation and speak his love for the divine spirit. Often in the midst of his testimony he would begin to weep, sobbing tears into a big white handkerchief. The girls and boys who witnessed his tears were embarrassed for him, for in their eyes he was showing himself to be weak. When he wept, the men who stood beside him turned their eyes away. They were ashamed to see a man express intense feeling.” (p. 133)

“Sexist roles restrict the identity formation of male and female children, but the process is far more damaging to boys because not only are the roles required for them more rigid and confining, but they are much more likely to receive severe punishment when they deviate from these roles.'” (p. 153)

“When males are required to wear the mask of a false self, their capacity to live fully and freely is severely diminished. They cannot experience joy and they can never truly love.” (p. 154)

“As victims of child abuse via socialization in the direction of the patriarchal ideal, boys learn that they are unlovable. According to Bradshaw they learn that ‘relationships are based on power, control, secrecy, fear, shame, isolation, and distance.’ These are the traits often admired in the patriarchal adult man.” (p. 154-5)

“‘We live in an antirelational, vulnerability-despising culture, one that not only fails to nurture the skills of connection but actively fears them.’ Teaching boys to despise their vulnerability is one way to socialize them to engage in self-inflicted soul murder. This wound in the male spirit, caused by learned acts of splitting, of disassociation and disconnection, can only be healed by the practice of integrity.” (Quoted from Terrence Reel)      (p. 155)

If you’re interested in reading all of the notes/quotes that I took from the book, find them here.

Patriarchal masculinity is what tells young men to objectify BeyoncĂ© as a sex object instead of respecting her sexuality and appreciating her as the musical phenomenon she undoubtedly is. Patriarchal masculinity is what instructs parents to steer their sons away from favoring the color pink because “it’s a girl color”, even if the man child is naturally led to like the color because it appeals to him. Patriarchal masculinity is what tells young men to want sports cars or trucks over Volkswagen Beetles (personal experience). Patriarchal masculinity is what informs young men that they are to aspire to be soldiers, doctors, carpenters or police officers and not dancers, artists, nurses or beauticians.

Patriarchal masculinity is a cancer on society.

All of this is being said to submit the idea that we cultivate a society that allows boys and men to evolve into the people that they were truly meant to be and not at the hands of warped social concepts or ideas of what a man is specifically supposed to be. There is nothing wrong with wanting special things for the males in our lives, but one should always remember that a man’s life is to also to a great extent his own. No outside factor should determine who or what a man is in his own life. It should be his own voice to whom he listens to on the path to becoming his peculiar self.

Thoughts? I love them. Can’t wait to hear from you.

“Will I be the only white person there?”

“Will I be the only white person there?”  

Unfortunately, hearing this combination of words put together just so has occurred all too often for my taste over my twenty-four years spent here on Earth. It was usually the response to an invitation extended to a white friend for a certain event—a church service, a family gathering, a concert or show. It annoyed me to no end. It still does, actually. Inquiries about possible costs, other people in our party, the time of the event, appropriate attire, etc. would not have been met so unfavorably. However, in too many situations the nature of my being black warranted a “warning” of sorts, a disclaimer, an explanation which would help my white buddies prepare to be inundated with Black presence. My annoyance came not necessarily from the act of questioning, but the state of mind that allowed such an apprehension to exist. Why is there so much concern?

As a Black man born and raised in the deepest of the south, 30 minutes away from one of the Southern-most coasts of America, being a minority within society was simply a way of life. There was really no confusion about it. I do not ever recall petitioning my parents as to why most of my classmates were white. Nor did I find it peculiar that up until 4th grade I was consistently the only Negro man-child enrolled in the gifted education program in my grade class. (There were one or two others in the grades ahead of me.) In 4th grade, I became one in a set of “gifted” black boys while CW, a good friend of mine, maintained the status of a sole “gifted black girl” until grade 6.

From my personal perspective at that time there was nothing really odd about the situation. I was just living life as a kid. It never occurred to me that I was seemingly out of place. I never really felt like I was a minority, even though I was completely aware that my skin starkly contrasted that of most of my friends who were white and that a majority of the television shows and movies that I watched featured white people and told the story of white lives (another post for another day). I’m black, they’re white. The significance of it all stopped right there. Chalk it up to the innocence of youth, I suppose, but race didn’t matter, at least not to me.

Then middle school and high school happened. I cannot recall an isolated event that led to the unveiling of the world as it is to my eyes now, but eventually I was made aware of my status, not only as a black person, but as a minority and it made me slightly uncomfortable. Note that I said “slightly” as it didn’t overwhelmingly hinder my success as a student and student leader. While my awareness had grown, any apprehension that existed was very minimal.

“Why am I the only black guy in Physics and Pre-Cal?”  

“Why am I the only black person in the trumpet section?”  

“Why am I the only black guy in National Honors Society?”  

“Why am I the only black guy in AP Government/Economics?”  

These were questions that I would ask myself in the back of my head, but silently go on enjoying the company of my white brethren. There were loads of fun times within my friend group, but I wonder now if my friends were concerning themselves with the same questions I was asking myself, if they even noticed


By the time I got to college at Auburn the thoughts still quietly lived with me, but I anticipated, like most incoming freshmen, that going to a large university would afford me the opportunity to connect with open-minded individuals on planes that were not overshadowed with racial differences. Overall, I suppose I wasn’t disappointed, however, it was while away at college that I first encountered the ‘only white person’ question. This led to an even more heightened, perhaps alarming, awareness of my minority status. Fortunately I was able to stifle any outward expression of my increasing annoyance to just an eye roll as I’m used to a minimal level of discourtesy or heedlessness associated with being a minority. And while I’ve never lashed out at any soul for asking if they will be the only white person at an event, with every renewed utterance of the question my patience wore thin. I began to thoroughly interpret the attitude as insensitive to my experience as a member of a minority group in America. It bothered me, even if it was unintentional, which 99.999-percent of the time I’m sure it was.

Trying to move past my burgeoning rage, I sought to understand why it mattered to them. I neared the conclusion that for white Americans being in the minority is a relatively foreign concept and the very idea could very well bring about the nervousness. I considered how the idea would be introduced to a majority mindset which has been fortified for years by a rampant capitalistic society that caters to those who have the surplus capital to participate (certainly not most blacks who are generally among the poorest in the country); by media customs that critically lack positive representation of races outside of whites; and most prominently by a legacy of deep rooted white supremacy laid in place at the very first contact between the black and white cultures.

How can they be held accountable if they never thought “I wonder what it would be like to be black in the US or Europe’? How could they be held accountable if they’re never required to consider how it feels to be singled out because of the color of your skin? As a young black man on the other side of the spectrum I can attest to letting my curiosity wonder what it would be like to be white as the perceived (and real) advantages of the fantasy are too great to ignore; but for my white friends, I couldn’t help but wonder if it ever crossed their mind. The idea of this gap between myself and my friends, of them not being able to empathize with a very real part of my life, was, and still is, quite troubling.

Being established in a solid majority position in society offers a type of security, so one can see how it would be viewed as counter-intuitive to worry as if it were not the case. However, does this excuse the ‘Will I be the only white person” question and the like? If it does, I say it’s to a limited degree. While it is possible to let it “slip our minds”, we are all given free will to think for ourselves and to nurture our consciences. But perhaps relativism has obliterated any idea of being accountable for each of our contributions to the state of our world. I do not necessarily believe that it is possible to relate to every other human being alive, however, to make the cognitive choice to begin thinking and considering what it may be like to experience life through the eyes (or skin) of another person would do more good than one may initially believe.

Some may argue the exposure stance on the matter, that lack of exposure to diverse persons disables them from being able to relate to a minority experience. However, as time moves forward and technology pushes us humans closer and closer together, this argument is wearing thin. Even if you live in one of the most racially homogenous locations in America, one would have at least seen the (though rare) physical embodiment of persons of a different race in books and movies, on TV and, of course, the internet. I believe that this small exposure alone should be enough to incite inquiry. Others, such as college students, have it better off. One of the benefits of going to college is supposed to be the many, many opportunities afforded a student to immerse themselves in diverse experiences, cultural experiences being one of them. Even at the whitest predominately white institution, if the education process is working correctly, students should graduate well-rounded, more informed, and more relatable having taken it upon themselves to take part in authentic cultural events which are hopefully being sponsored and promoted by the university in abundance. If at some point people aren’t required to step out of their ethnocentric comfort zones there will be little to no hope for mutual, stimulating cultural education or empathy, and prevailing questions such as “will I be the only white person” will continue to plague our society and annoy the hell out of American Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans for years on end.

And situations like these…

                          
                          

…will continue to receive reactions like these.

The “Will I be the only white person” question is, without a doubt, inappropriate and inconsiderate, but what’s even more detrimental is the prevailing mind view that facilitates such questions. Black people, just by virtue of being minorities in the United States, have always had to be either the sole representative, or one of a minute few for, our community in various ways. While we’re no longer plagued by legally induced separation of races (kind of), we still retreat from one another in the name of familiarity and comfort. Here, in the second decade of the 21st century, de facto segregation has no place in our ranks. Of course there are always exceptional individuals who step out of the status quo to shake things up; however, their actions only speak for their own personal selves and not a collective like the white majority. Why is it exceptional to subject one’s self to minority status? When will the majority take on the interests and concerns of the minority? When will the minority get a break from marginalization and be embraced, without condition, by the majority? When will we all become one collective group without notion or care of majority/minority status? Is it possible? Some say no, but I believe it is. Only time will tell, as it always has and I hope we’re listening when it speaks.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to hear your thoughts!

“The Royalty Movement” Revisted

Two years ago today I wrote a thought piece on my Tumblr blog that was essentially a reflection on American society and more specifically the black community within that society. In retrospect, I suppose it was, in a way, the predecessor to this blog as its ideas are certainly some of the same ones that fuel my thoughts here. With that being the case, every year since posting I like to kick off Black History month looking back and recalling how I felt in that moment of writing, allowing my old thoughts to renew and realign my purpose of working for positive change in our society. I’ve shared those thoughts below. I hope you enjoy! I’d love to hear any thoughts the following may evoke. Happy Black History Month!!! 🙂

So.

I recently altered my name on Facebook. I am now known to the social network as “King Jerald Crook”. It sounds pretentious, and in a way it is (unfortunately, because I hate pretention); however, be slow to judge, for there is a method to my madness.

Here it goes:

I was walking across campus today, trying to stay dry whilst in the misting rain when a thought came to me. Black History Month was in the back of my mind with it being the first day and all, and I was kind of going over all of the different things that I may be seeing over the next 28-29 days and how people will observe the month: the historical facts, the protests and arguments, the many, many black history programs that black churches (and some white) across the nation will put on before the end of the month comes (I really miss these back home, lol). It was in the midst of these thoughts that I realized something:

“Hey, I am a king.”

The thought derives from a memory that was created back when I was in high school. There was an associate minister at my home church who “double-dutied” as assistant youth minister (he was also one of the few actual missionaries in our church having traveled to Cuba) and he often used to empower (or at least try to) us young, low-to-moderate income, small town black kids by reminding us of our rich history. The interesting thing is that he bypassed the usual (American) textbook version of black history. He went straight into
”Don’t you know that the math and sciences that you’re learning in school were invented by blacks (referring to the early Muslim scholars)? Don’t you know that African kings and queens ruled just as mightily as any of those in Europe (see Mansa Musa, Shaka Zulu or Queen Sheba)?” I’ll never forget it because instead of math he used to say ” ‘rithmetic”, haha and he said it with such passion, too
God bless him. I’ll also never forget it because of its apparent impact on who I am today


Here, 4-5 years later I consider the state of, yes, people as a whole, but, also, black people in particular. It’s sad, to put it rather simply. I’ve often had conversations with people, both black and white, about social matters and when asked why are black people the way they (supposedly) are: angry, racists, lazy, troublesome, ignorant, still hanging on to the prejudices of the past by persecuting  today’s young white generation



with the 300+ years of slavery, 100 more years of civil/social subjugation and continued pockets of modern-day prejudice aside



my answer is that they’ve forgotten their claim to the throne. That they’ve forgotten that they are royalty. That hundreds of years ago their descendants reigned over massive kingdoms with dignity and with pride. That their descendants built the Great Pyramids and were among the best stock brokers and CEOs there were (Timbuktu). They forgot also (and even more so important) that thousands of years ago their Savior humbly healed the sick and gave sight to the blind because He chose NOT to succumb to the temptation to abandon His Father’s business.

Yes, my answer is that we
as a black people, have forgotten who we are and Whose we are. We no longer prescribe to the pride that carried Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, John Lewis, Jesse Owens, Diane Nash, Harold Franklin, etc
.that carried them over, but to the fact that Lil’ Kim is the true Queen (B?) and that Jay-Z and Kanye are the true Kings (they’re watching the throne, right?). There’s nothing wrong with giving these guys their nod and acknowledging their talents. They are, in fact, credits to the black community (some
times) for their contributions to the music world and American culture. BUT. They’re not what matters most.

What needs to be valued is education. What needs to be valued is family and friends and the fact that you can not make it through life without the network of love that these two entities provide. What needs to be valued is love in and of itself, and people. Everyday people. What needs to be valued is a belt
no, not to whip lil’ Junebug, but to keep Junebug’s 12-year-old brother’s pants around his waist, where they’re intended to rest. What needs to be valued is ourselves. What needs to be valued is the notion of having values.

All of this came to my mind on this soggy day in Auburn, Alabama while walking in the rain and remained there for the rest of the day. And so I’ve decided that at LEAST for the next 28-29 days of this Black History month I will publicly declare myself as a King. I WILL rule over these papers and projects and receive the first of potentially more academic degrees in May. I WILL rule over these spiritual barriers. I WILL outlaw substandards. I WILL be a discount to statistics. I WILL reinstate a dynasty of black greatness that’s not just relegated to the sports and entertainment industry. I WILL maintain a fervent pride and appreciation for my rich and fruitful heritage. And I WILL do it all un-apologetically. Because I can. Because I am a King and a King can do whatever the heck he wants.

This royalty business is not necessarily about simply glorifying myself or the black community (though I see absolutely nothing wrong with reveling in our heritage and how we’ve made it over, celebrating our triumphs and learning from our downfalls), but simply bettering ourselves as both a black and global community. Be it known as an extension that this is not about bigotry or black supremacy in anyway. Consider it a welfare of a different kind. In our own way, each and every one of us, black, white, green or purple, is a King or Queen in their own right and it frustrates me greatly to see us behave in a manner that communicates differently. The New International translation of the Bible reminds us of how in the beginning “God said ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” (Genesis 1:26). Mind you, “dominion” is what King James called it. Timothy proclaimed that “God has NOT given us the power of timidity, but a spirit ofpower, of love and of self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7)”; it’s time to step into this.

If this be the case, and I believe it to be so, then why do we act so weakly and fall again and again to mediocrity? Why do we choose to argue and bicker and ultimately hate our kin? Whyyy do we opt to act like we have no sense or home-training (some of us have none, I know
but
that’s another rant for another day)?

The time is now for us as a people (yes white, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander [do I really have to go through them all?], but ESPECIALLY blacks) to step it up and be about something other than politics, the latest J’s (I guess those are still cool?) and the latest Weezy mixtape.

(Black) People, please
claim your throne.

You have 28 days.

The world is waiting.

Signed,

King Jerald

“We young black men do not like…”

A while back a friend and I were discussing what it feels like to be young black men in 21st-century America. To us, despite coming from sound families and being college educated, the pressure of simply existing without the added pressures of institutionalized racism remains ever present. So we decided to air our grievances as young black men, if not for things to be resolved, at the very least for them to be heard and made known. We do not claim to speak for the entire black and brown American male demographic. However here are a few things that, due to our common experiences and those collective experiences of our close black and brown relatives and friends, we do deem unacceptable.

“We black men do not like…”

  • Being judged for jamming out to Linkin Park, Sugarland, Kelly Clarkson and/or Brad Paisley and Toby Keith, etc., etc.

Music is music. It transcends color. There is no decree stating that “white music” is off limits to us. Not all of us black men, or black people for that matter, subscribe to the top ten 106 & Park hot tracks, so don’t be surprised if when you go through our iPods you find The Fray listed before Fred Hammond.

Also, as far as music goes, do not expect us all to be disciples of the various hip hop artists and rappers. I’ll never forget the time during the process of joining a fraternity my sophomore year my crossing class was asked to come up with presentations and when someone asked “Who knows how to rap?!” EVERYONE looked at me and the only other black guy in the room.  Hated to disappoint them–I didn’t even start listening to hip hop for real until just last year, two to three years after the fact. So BOOP.

ALSO, music tastes aren’t necessarily gender specific, either. I once had a male cousin tell me when we were younger that the music I liked was “girl music”…like what? *sigh* That’s a whole ‘nother post…

  • Being mistaken for a drug dealer

This is…y-…we-…just don’t. This stereotype is so played out. Yes, black people deal in drugs, but this, my dear reader, is in no shape, form or fashion an activity relegated specifically to the black community. How many black men have you seen on the news with 3rd degree burns from a methlab explosion?  I’m not even going to talk about how the white soccer mom turned drug dealer story was glamorized by the hit show Weeds in this post (it was a good show, though)…

Look, don’t assume just because I’m wearing a hoodie, basketball shorts and J’s that I have a dime bag to offer you on discount. (This happened to my brother where he lives in Ohio. He has two master’s degrees and a PhD and is a professor at a reputable university.)

  • Being judged by black women/men for dating outside our race, particularly white women/men

Aside from it being a little racist, this whole notion that “white women are taking all the good black men” is completely unfounded. Maybe it’s an aged concept, but I specifically remember growing up as a child and going through high school running into young black women who were righteously upset when a young black man chose to date outside “his race”. And God forbid he be a credible young man. There’s no relational embargo preventing love to cross ethnic barriers so why sweat a brotha? Though the concept goes both ways (black men sweatin’ black women), I’m just reminding you what we black men do not like.

  • The term “race card”

Chances are, if this term is being used it’s being used to diminish the experiences of a minority by someone who is NOT a minority. Understanding doesn’t come from dismissing the experiences of others, but from listening and giving acceptance an honest chance. If this is used against a black/brown man, it’s even more damaging because more than likely that man is trying to communicate a grievance, a luxury not afforded by most men to begin with. Denying him that outlet is denying him the right to free, human expression which is only a different form of (mental) oppression.

  • Being profiled and/or followed in stores

This happens A LOT and there aren’t too many explanations that can be offered for it other than the primary, obvious one–the stereotype that all black people steal or aren’t capable of making sound, lucrative transactions. These assumptions aren’t any more true than the assumption that “all white people like country music” (this just in, they really don’t all like country music o_o). Once you realize that there are measures and instructions handed down from corporate and managing staff in stores literally telling employees to profile people of color when they enter a store you may also realize how sick the world still is with racism. The most recent and more prominent cases would definitely be the incidents at a Barney’s store in New York City or the time Oprah Winfrey, of all people, was denied satisfactory customer service because she was presumed to be too poor to afford the store’s fare (I laugh at this every. single. time.) Folks, it happens…not that these tactics really cut down on thefts or anything. Ask “affluenza-afflicted” Ethan Couch how he got away with stealing alcohol from a WalMart (an item usually in THE BACK of the store) before drunkenly killing four innocent people. Hm.

  • Being shot at

Deriving from yet another sad stereotype that we’re inherently dangerous, so many precious black men have been ended because someone didn’t take the time to see them in the same light the shooter seems themselves and the people they’re “trying to protect”: as a human being. As black and brown men we’re all too often found guilty until proven innocent. The triflin’ “Stand Your Ground” laws have started an open season on us…not that you necessarily even needed a law to justify gunning a black man down in America any way (i.e. Amadou Diallo). Need I even mention Trayvon Martin and Jonathan Ferrell? What about Kwadir Felton or Glenn Broadnax? Yeah, I’d kind of not like to not be walking down the street and get shot because I was “walking too suspiciously” (this is a genuine concern that I have) so let’s put the guns down, shall we?

Yo, this goes for black on black crime, too. One instance is not more acceptable than the other. The gun violence in black neighborhoods where young black men are shooting each other over drugs, “territory”, women, piddly little money disputes etc., etc. was played out with the jheri curl. Cease and desist. If trigger-happy cops and vigilante doughboys aren’t going to value your lives at least value your own. THINK. BE MORE.

  • Being held accountable

This part is specifically for the young black men who may read this. Changing the tone here a bit and following in the vein of the previous note, I’d be remiss if I did not point out how some black men will fall behind in life and stay there all the while blaming all of their problems and issues on “the man” or some other oppressive entity (i.e. baby mama?). The American system is not by any means fair regarding minorities, especially young black men (followed very closely by black women). If it isn’t a lopsided justice system it’s an inconsistent, incompetent school system that feels “it’s done all it can” to save young black men. It is set up in various discreet ways to exclude, oppress or disregard young black men, but this does NOT count us out. The system couldn’t keep our ancestors enslaved. The system couldn’t keep African Americans from the voting polls and diner counters in the 60s. So why, my brotha, would you allow for it to keep you from succeeding in life. One thing that I admire so much about black Americans is how we have always prevailed in spite of the road blocks that have been purposely put in our way. I know that even today the African American journey isn’t easy, but we cannot rest on that excuse. Rise up and defy the odds because it’s already in. your. blood.

[This ends the “respectability” portion of this post.]

  • Being fetishized (and/or commoditized)

Contrary to how society encourages me to feel, I do not enjoy being the object of someone’s carnal desires solely because of the exotic chocolate hue of my skin or the rumors surrounding the size of my genitals. Trust me, black is beautiful and brown is definitely fun to be around, but do not get it twisted. I don’t believe that black men (or black women for that matter) are any more sexually charged than any other race of people. I’m not sure where it came from, but I would guess that this misconception is derived from a popular culture that has misconstrued and hypersexualized brown people to a degree where our sexuality is practically dehumanized, cheapened. YES. Brown people are sexy and talented, but it does not mean we are to be objectified.  Our talents should not be exploited for anyone’s capitalistic growth (another post coming soon).We are people with beautiful souls and minds as well as beautiful skin. Don’t get lost in the chocolate high. Respect my person.

  • Being underestimated and/or counted out before the race is over

If I had a dollar for every time a white person was surprised that I, as a young black male, was a college graduate with a sustainable job…well I wouldn’t be rich, but I’d have enough dirty money to be ashamed of.  News media and prison statistics would sometimes have you believe that few young black men will ever rise to the same level of achievement as their white counterparts. Be it known, we were there designing and building the city of Washington D.C. as free men in a society that upheld slavery; we invented a large number of the things that offer you safety, comfort and luxury today; we provided for our families with the best of the whites during the Great Depression; we were there in the streets of Birmingham and Albany changing social history for the betterment of mankind, and we’re here now obtaining PhDs and presidencies, dreaming of a brighter future where we plan to make things happen for ourselves and our for fellow man. Don’t worry about DVR…this revolution won’t even be televised.

 Stay tuned. This show ain’t over. 

But in the meantime what are your thoughts?

“That ain’t the Dream.” Redux

In my last post I talked about the possible existence of “reverse racism” or, maybe better put, racial aggression from people of color toward white people. I’ve had several responses, all of which I really appreciated and have helped me to think more critically on the topic. Some of the feedback that I’ve gotten, however, remains skeptical of the idea of this racial aggression, as a part of myself also still struggles with the concept.

But then I came across this post on my Tumblr dashboard that highlighted a potential real-life situation of black on white intolerance/racism. The response of those witnessing the situation was not completely unexpected, but the fact that the individuals came through with such a spirit of justice, purpose and certainty really did my heart some good, as well as help me arrive closer to a solid stand point of the idea of “reverse racism”. It shows both sides of the coin and then some–the cause, problem and a solution.

Follow this link to see the gifset at my Tumblr page and also follow the link within the post to the video. I would link straight to the video, but there is a little bit of commentary on the Tumblr post that I feel is worth taking in, too.

I can hardly expres how watching this video made me feel. I’m not going to give it away, but the lessons learned from the messages that were offered…consistently…? My God…

I could stop posting my own thoughts on this blog right now and post the video every day and feel like I was doing some kind of justice by sharing it with people.

Hope you enjoy. Share your thoughts.

Peace and love rays to you all.

“That ain’t The Dream.”

I don’t put much stock into the idea of “reverse racism”…at least not the brand that most young white Americans champion these days, and it’s mostly because I just find it very, VERY difficult to see how they can compare the hundreds of  years of physical and psychological abuse leveled against people of color, not only in this country, but across the globe…to the hurt feelings (often lovingly referred to as ‘white tears’) that rise after a person of color or someone else offers them a reality check (see Jane Elliot’s GREAT work here and here.) It’s annoying. It seems like anytime someone gut check’s a racist statement uttered by a white person (even if it is accidental as it often times is) the gut checker is accused of being a reverse racist. It’s a ludicrous notion which I believe is brought about by inadequate education on the term “racism” and all that it encompasses and implies. After one carefully examines the history of racism abroad and in America I believe it’s fairly easy to come to the conclusion that it’s impossible for black people to be racist.

Or at least that’s what I was led to believe up until recent months.

While I’ve always been interested in race relations, as I mentioned in my last post, it wasn’t until recently that I felt the need to publicly add my voice to the larger conversation in an attempt to help progress. Seeing detriment in only clinging to my personal beliefs and ideas, as a part of my efforts I sought, and am very much so presently seeking, communities within the burgoening social mediasphere where I may learn and help others to learn about the debilitating disease that is racism in modern society. I’ve been on Tumblr for quite some time and I quickly fell in love with this method of blogging, but my blog at the time was primarily just a blog of personal tastes. During the time that I began to expand my activism I was able to locate blogs that catered to social justice/awareness and raised critical points and valuable commentary. The ones that I began to follow delivered their truth in a quirky/jazzed manner that was also informative and I found that to be refreshing.

But then my experience went a little sour. I noticed that one (or two?) blog(s) in particular began to post, reblog and respond to submissions/asks in a way that increasingly became counterproductive to social progress, particularly when it came to interacting with some of their white followers. In comparison, while one blog was able to gut check and enlighten simultaneously, this particular blog appeared to ultimately alienate white bloggers from the race conversation, regardless of if they were way off base in their commentary or not. What makes this even more frustrating is there seemed to be a concentrated effort to target these white followers as with Tumblr one has pretty much complete control to moderate whose comments can be displayed on your blog and engaged by your followers through your blog. The blogger’s followers often use the anonymous feature to detach their blog/identity from their comments, which I do admit sometimes are presented sideways; but it doesn’t matter in the case of this blog because if you challenged this particular blogger, or you said something that they deemed “ignorant” or “stupid”, you were either ignored or came under their harsh, sardonic fire. I for one sent in a message (sans anonymity) expressing my concern regarding their treatment of their white followers and whether their approach was ideal in furthering social harmony. My comment was never acknowledged. The blogger chose not to engage me either in public or private. It kind of smells of cowardice to me, but in any case, I decided that I would continue to follow this blog and only unfollow once they really crossed the line because, like I said, some of their material was good…

And then it happened.

dreadlock capture dreadlock capture1

I’d had it. Enough is enough. In case you don’t really follow Tumblr blogging patterns the material closest to the right of the screen is that which was posted by the original poster. In this case, the original blogger decried the treatment of white people who wore dreads. No big deal, right? It’s a free country. This kind of freedom is where America shines.

But then you have bloggers (I’m assuming all black?) who responded in a fashion that I found to be exceedingly rude. The backlash began with a blog that specialized in (apparently black) dreadlocks and the rude, dismissive comments trickled down until it found its way on my dash by way of the aforementioned militant blog. Feeling really annoyed, I decided to respond with my own message attached to the blog.

dreadlock capture3

And I meant every last bit of what I said. So there. I was hoping to get some kind of reaction or feedback from the offenders, but they remained quiet. I don’t know if they just disregarded me or if they recognized the reason in my comment and decided to chill, but either way the response to my post was relatively quiet until I received this email.

Untitled

At first I was pretty taken aback to be approached in this manner. Then I got really excited because someone was engaging me. But then I got bummed because the sheer…lack…in this…comment weighed me down with such a “so much work to be done” feeling.

In any case duty called and I had to answer. I launched into a lengthy explanation, complete with citations of internet sources, as to why the posting trend was, in fact, bullying; how white people wearing dreads isn’t a case of negative cultural appropriation; how dreadlocks have been popular among various ethnic groups for hundreds of years and so on and so forth (see the full response here). While cultural appropriation in its negative incarnation runs rampant in America at the (subconscious?) will of white Americans (see the likes of Miley Cyrus) I could not see how white people, or people of other races other than blacks, donning dreadlocks constituted as a legitimate offense. I’m just a fan of dreadlocks all together, and even though my opinion tends to lean toward the fact that black people “wear them better”, it doesn’t make me feel that black people are entitled some kind of copyright to the hairstyle.

But alas, the more energy I put into trying to demonstrate the true, main offense here (bullying), the more I began to consider how this may be only part of a larger problem. This hostility toward white people who don’t just sit back and take the berating of militant brown activists may very well be a manifestation of racism toward white people, or “reverse racism” after all. To better understand my thinking let’s look at some definitions.

Merriam-Webster (my main go to for definitions) defines “racism” in short, as follows:

  1. “poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race” or
  2. “the belief that some races of people are better than others”

The long definitions are

  1. “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race” and
  2. “racial prejudice or discrimination”

Oxford Dictionaries defines it as “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races”, and further “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior”.

Now let’s put these into context. Given these definitions, at first glance, when a white person cries “reverse racism”, it doesn’t necessarily seem palpable that the definitions can be applied to a case of white people being the victims of racism in the same way that it applies to black people being the victims of racism. The main reason for this, most believe, is because white people make up the majority of the population in America, they almost always have and, in addition to that, they overwhelmingly and historically hold a vast majority of power in almost every regard in the country (the president is exempt as his powers are granted to him by the citizens of the country who, again, are overwhelmingly white…so the will of the white people, so to speak). HOWEVER, once the definition is dissected down specifically to the parts mentioning “prejudice”, “discrimination” and “antagonism” or “poor treatment” towards a certain people, it beings to make sense to me. The drastically uneven ratio of white to black versus black to white ill will due to racism doesn’t absolve the black to white portion of the equation. Empassioned with their angst, (young?) black people can, have and do, without a doubt, make white people a target of their aggression, whether it’s “justifiably” fueled by white on black racism, or just for kicks. To try and completely disgregard the notion is just silly. I’m well aware of the fact that historically white people have been THE champions of racism and its infiltration of social systems and institutions, but racism is a human construct. It is not an innate part of our nature. Racism is learned by humans. As a black person, if I deny even the smallest idea of “reverse racism” am I denying, too, that I’m somehow more human or less human than white people? Am I implying that since I am a part from the “white race” that I am incapable of learning racism? Isn’t that…racism?

I get it. In lots of ways black people (and other people of color) are just as downtrodden now as we were 60 and 70 years ago. Things are better, but they’re not at all great. The little successes that we have, we’ve had to fight and scrap tooth and nail for it and that makes us a proud people–but it shouldn’t take us to a height where we see ourselves as being above “reverse racism”, a term that is believed to have been coined in 1966 by Hosea Williams, the Southern program director for MLK’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, in the April 25 publication of The Chicago Dailey Defender. I won’t accept it. That simply isn’t The Dream Dr. King laid out for us during his short time here on the Earth. Frustration runs high and well in our black American lives, and understandably so, but the answer is not found in leveling harsh comments and attitudes towards our white brothers (for their obstinance or ignorance) while hiding behind a shield of self-righteous entitlement. That will take us, if anywhere, backwards…certainly not forward.

Don’t get it twisted. I’m not arguing on behalf of white people to claim “reverse racism” any time they get their feelings hurt or they’re being rightfully chastised for deliberately or offhandedly being racist, nor am I advocating the allowance of rampant appropriation of black culture in America for the pocket padding of some otherwise irrelevant public figure. What I am standing up against is abuse at the hands of young black Americans of the legacy of sound activism forged by Dr. King and so many of his contemporaries in the name of modern social justice. Slamming white people isn’t where it’s at.

I believe there’s a better way and we had better find it and exploit it before destroy each other.

p.s. In case you didn’t notice, my Tumblr presence is zeloveinitiative.tumblr.com and you’re welcome to follow me there if you’d like. It’s a place that reflects my random, less serious, quirky side where I sometimes engage in some of the same material here (as you can see). See you there?!

“…your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”

I’m apprehensive that the impression someone will get from this blog, judging from the nature of this and future posts, will be that I’m just another pretentious race-baitor who just wants to get arguments started. This is only half true. I am not pretentious, nor am I race-baitor, but oh how I would love to grind your gears. Complacency is so Victorian era.

What is this blog about and how will it be different from other blogs? I’m not sure. I don’t think I’m even trying to be different. The simple fact of the matter is I’m just really annoyed with modern society, particularly in America. I’ve tried different means of coping with my young 21st-century African-American male life and I’ve had varying degrees of success in the actual coping part. During this process a lot of people have probably come to regard me as racist, unpatriotic, ignorant, blasphemous and heretical, unyielding, myopic, etc. Maybe some of this is true, though where they may see me as racist, I see myself as painfully aware of the disparities in race relations in America and abroad. I refuse to let racism die before white Americans understand it has and continues to kill me, my family and my friends. White Americans, especially the young, have to come to terms with the fact that racism is still very much an issue and it will not go away, contrary to the beliefs of even some blacks, by just ignoring it.

And if I am ignorant, then it’s only because sometimes, somehow, I manage to cling to a childlike naĂŻvetĂ© when regarding American society, believing that in 21st century America the American Dream is finally an all-inclusive concept. Unpatriotic? Maybe. America, definitely has its shining points, and I’m proud to be an American (most days), but I would be remiss to overlook the glaring issues that prevent my country from being truly exceptional. When reality heavily sets in, as it never fails to do, I have to respond accordingly. I simply cannot  live in delusion. So, yes I’ll often be the first to say “America ain’t got no business doing (insert a myriad of possibilities to end this statement)”, especially when it comes to foreign affairs. I love to shine the spotlight on our country’s hallowed elected leaders, past and present (especially the founding fathers), to point out their blatant inadequacies while leading in this country (looking at you Reagan, Washington, Wallace, etc). While most Americans seem to readily regard them as paragons for humanity and leadership, I see them for what they are–mere men who, yes, did some exceptional things, but when given the opportunity to significantly help redeem a society from its detrimental attitudes and practices, failed to answer the call. The buck stops here. I choose reality. I choose truth. I’m throwing off the blindfold of chauvinist national pride. Shall I help you with yours? 

My undergraduate study was a success in that it challenged me to step outside of the mindset I had been conditioned into by years of nationalist high school history curriculum and critically think about the world around me. By attending a predominantly white university in the Deep South it also made me appreciate my “blackness”. It reaffirmed the idea that while I may be different from the mainstream depiction of greatness, of success and beauty, I am, without a doubt, all of these things and much more. It made me cling to my country Alabama roots and the proud, rich history of my family and their resilience, the same history and resilience that will not afford me the comfort of sitting idly by while black women, men and children are shot in their faces with shot guns; while gay men are beaten, stabbed, decapitated, burned and left to die on the side of dusty backwoods roads; while women serving in the American armed forces are raped and their assailants sleep easy in amnesty; while young latino street artists are tazed to death by the police; while the murder rate in Chicago outweigh the death rate of those dying in foreign war zones

Thus the inception of this blog. It will serve as a mouthpiece for airing grievances, to report on life in 21st century America as I see it. It will be unapologetic. While I’m mindful of others’ sensitivities I cannot be held back by a spirit of timidity. Bullets are not timid as they fly out of the barrels of guns in the direction of innocent children. Laws aren’t timid when they drastically inhibit the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of human beings. I’m not quite sure what ends this blog will bring about, but I’ve got a mind to help make a new world and I believe its high time to go about taking care of business. The name of this blog and the subsequent title for this inaugural post are derived from a scripture (Acts 2:17) I came across in reading Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo’s Red Letter Revolution. It really inspired me to move forward with the charge of seeking social justice. In the text God proclaims in the last days “young men will see visions” and “old men will dream dreams”. Not one to take scripture out of context, I recognize the “last days” implication, but I see no harm in nurturing my visions and the dreams of the men and women who came before my generation. Along with this blog there are other projects that I have in development (which I will share through this blog) that I hope will help realize the visions and dreams of myself and so many people have for a better world. Civil Rights powerhouse activist Ella Baker said in the 1960s that “we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes”. Here in the latter days of 2013 we are still waiting. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream has not yet been fully realized. There’s still so much to be done, so many conversations that need sparking and I, for one, would like to be one who wields the flint. I welcome your comments, suggestions, questions and concerns for we’re all in this together. Would you care to join me in changing the world?