Thursday, November 19, 2009

"The Price of Freedom: A Forgotten Charge"

I struggled with my decision to bring children into this world. A world that is so filled with ignorance, hatred, and prejudice. A world that's poised to judge them, my beautiful black boys, simply on the color of their skin before they even speak their first articulate, carefully chosen words. I often wonder what our ancestors were made of. I'm already tired of fighting. I'm tired of the dualism; I'm tired of having to be "Billy" at the office, or at work functions, and switching to my natural self when I'm at home, or in the car. Now one else has to do this delicate dance between social standards in subcultures and communities at large but minorities, and I'm tired.

As I watched "The Great Debaters", I was gripped by the intensity of the clashing scenes between the white and black actors. I was taken back by my tears because I didn't think it would affect me the way it did. At the end of the movie, one of the main characters quoted St. Augustine. He stated that according to St. Augustine "an unjust law is not a law at all". He went on to say that we have a duty to meet unjust laws with violence and/or civil disobedience, and that the audience, mostly white, should pray that he chose the latter. At that moment when those words were muttered, I started sobbing. It was a quiet intense I understand sob. I sob that said we are still fighting and resisting. And it also said that we're getting tired. Those emotions threw me in a tailspin, and I began to think about the number of minorities in jails, or hooked on drugs, etc. Have they forgotten who they are? Were they ever told? Do they not know their legacy?

We are the ultimate team, who were and still are the underdogs; however, we have started to gain ground and it looks like the game is about to be tied 3 to 3 in a seven game series. We are the only people in history that has had to ascend from the bottom to the top, and we have met that challenge in less than 4 generations. To achieve that enormous feat, we have incurred tremendous casualties, and we have lost several MVPs that were critical to our ascension. It is that price, paid for by the fears, tears, and blood of our ancestors, that we have forgotten. The charge for such a tremendous feat has been simply marked paid with no thought to the check writer, and no reconciliation of gratefulness, humility, and gratitude with the Bank of Spirit that has kept us for being insufficiently funded, and has allowed us to enjoy a bounceless freedom. It is a bank that doesn't charge us for our inactivity, or a dormancy fee for our lack of deposit of community service, agitation, and selflessness.

The above my friends is the price of freedom that we're riding on daily. Quite simply, not having to pay the toll in awhile is no excuse for not knowing the charge and reconciling one's soul with the Bank of Spirit because after all, the spirit is suppose to abide and rest within us. People often wonder how our community has gotten into this situation. It's not a mystery to me. If you don't reconcile with your past and deposit something into the Bank of Spirit, you have nothing to sustain you, which leaves you where most of us are, hopeless and bankrupt.

Remember this, when you're bankrupt, and you get that slip from the bank that states NSF, don't be surprised. After all, spending what others have saved without depositing anything yourself leaves Nothing Stored for the Future! And we're worried about acquiring a "Jesus Piece"? How ironic.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Wake Up"

Two weeks ago, I took my wife to see the movie "Good Hair" presented by Chris Rock. Rock talks about the black hair business as a whole and the billions of dollars that it generates. He then goes on to show the flow of these billions of dollars out of the black community and into the pockets of the Koreans, Indians, Malaysians, and Chinese. As stated in the movie, no where in American culture but in the black community is another ethnic group allowed to set up shop and make millions off of another group. Rock went on to say that typically, if any other group tried to set up shop in a Korean, or Chinese neighbor, they would be forced out after being petitioned against. If that method to stop the business opening did not work, the neighborhood would simply not patronize the store, and force it to close. In the case of the hair "weave" business, a black person can not even get into the business if they wanted too because the Indians will not even sell hair to a non-Indian. It is important to note that India is the biggest exporter of hair, and that the mark up on the hair is 125%.

Wake up people! We have been taught to hate ourselves by buying into the European concepts of beauty. That concept of beauty is not natural. In many cases, they have paid to get Brazilian tans, African American lips, butts, and hips to comprise their now "European look". It's simply not natural. We have to start embracing ourselves, culture, and beauty. Wake up people! Understand that there is nothing wrong with having different concepts about beauty, however, having an entire culture lose it's identity to assimilate is dangerous. We are all made differently and uniquely for a serious. Diversity breeds strength.

Let's see if I understand correctly; billions of dollars leaving the African American community in the haircare business not making anyone in the immediate community wealthy, and black people themselves can not get into the business if they wanted to because most of the hair exporters refuse to sell to people outside of their own ethnic group. Wow.

Wake Up!!!!! People, Wake Up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

God's Talking to You

I went to bed early tonight. Around 8 o'clock to be exact. At 2 o'clock in the morning, I found myself wide awake and unable to go back to sleep. My wife woke up and asked if everything was okay. I told her it was; maybe I had gas or something since some pains were shooting in and around my abdomen and chest. Sure enough, the flatulence come and went, but I still come not sleep. Then I thought to myself, grandma and grand daddy always told me that if you can't sleep, or find yourself alone in the silence of the night, listen because God is trying to talk to you. I immediately started praying and initiated a conversation with God on my own because indeed we needed to talk.

This week was a pretty jam packed week for me at work, and so was last week. I have been going to the YMCA constantly and trying to stay healthy by eating healthy. I also have been dealing with my mother and all of her problems from unemployment to her pending foreclosure which are all problems caused directly by the bad choices that she has made. My brother and I have done everything we possibly can to get her to see she needs help to fight her alcohol addiction; however, most of those attempts fall on deaf ears and her harden heart because she feels that we, I, have abandoned her in life.

She is always the victim. According to her, not only does she not do anything to warrant so many atrocities, she feels that everyone has a problem with her because they are jealous, or don't like her because the didn't like her mother. I'm just tired of listening to the excuses and seeing the ignorance that has encapsulated her life. So my brother and I struggle now with being okay with allowing her foreclosure to happen because were are in a position to stop it. We bailed her out some many times before, and she has done nothing to change her position in life. She is still drinking and drunk most days of the week. She still has no job, but manages to afford her liquor. Meanwhile, most of her bills are two months behind along with the mortgage. We're listening God. We need your guidance.

That's just my family's saga; I have not even touched on the issues I have to be supportive of my wife on regarding her family. We simply don't have enough attention for me to go in to it all. We're listening God. We need your guidance.

I don't know what life holds for me, or my family, but I hope it always includes guidance and conversations with our heavenly counselor. And though sleep may suit me better, the day that I am not awaken in the night by the need to listen to God, I most surely will be frightened and worried about it. We all have to listen to our inner man, our spirit, that intuitive guidance that comes from within. It is important to note here that first, we have to learn to recognize what that voice sounds like. We cannot be so earthly that we forget that there is a battle going on between spirits and principalities. A battle for our souls and eternal life or eternal damnation. (Okay, that gave me goose bumps after I typed it) Listen to your inner person. Pray and learn to recognize when something better than yourself is trying to intervene in your life and impart wisdom for your benefit to edify God who may do a work for you, in you, or through you. Claw your way to his heart, or to the point in your life where you at least can recognize that God is talking. At that point, at your moment of clarity when the noise becomes a voice, it will be your choice to listen.

Monday, October 26, 2009

In the Company of Men

Last Monday, October 20, 2009, I ended a seven year stretch of working part time. I had been telling my wife for months that I was tired, and wanted to resign. She didn't think it was a good idea, so I decided to stay and remain miserable.

During my last review, my boss informed me that she was changing my work hours, and that I had not been hitting the previous expectations set in regards to my arrival time to the various offices she had me stationed. As cool as I could, I told her that my mornings involved my son's prep time for school, and in no way was I going to rush him through his morning to get to a part time job that changed my arrival time from my initial employment contract. My last comment to her was that I understood my priorities to be my family and then my job. I then stated that she needed to let me know when our arrangement did not work for her anymore and at that point we could part ways. On the 20th of October, I stood erect, confident, and secure in my decision not to sacrifice my time in the morning with my sons for the comfort of an A.M. cubicle; we parted ways.

My wife did not like the sequence of events that unfolded Monday, but I have no regrets. For the first time in a long time I feel free, uncompromising, and like a bad ass who just stuck it to the man, or in this case, the woman. Remember, this was a part time job. Yes, it afforded me roughly an extra $15k on the year, but who cares. I still have my full-time "take care of your family and secure your future" gig. Only the part time job had to go.

One week has past since my liberation, and I am still smashing my freedom. It's not often that you get a second honeymoon so I wanted to make sure I took full advantage of my newly found good fortune. I feel like I've come into my own with this experience. I feel like I've joined the ranks of men who forged their paths through life with no regrets, no shame, and strongly convicted in their beliefs and decisions. I simply can not put into words the joy I feel rolling by my old office, or when I see old colleagues going about their business. Knowing that I can choose to interact or not interact with them is priceless. And if I decide to interact, knowing that it will be on my terms gives me a cockiness that some may misread as arrogance. But the fact of the matter is that I can say what I want, and what I feel with no restraints. In that moment, that instance, that type of freedom in worth more than $15k. I've found my voice again, unbound, fighting silence, and contemplating raising hell. I've found my passion for expressing my opinion, and I'm able to discuss topics again without having to dumb them down to spare someones feelings, or mask their ignorance.

I'm not sure of what the future holds, or whether it's holding another part time job out there for me, but I do know that I'm in good company. I can afford my time again; I don't have to sell it to the highest bidder. It's a damn good feeling to be in the company of men.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Setting the record straight on the Wilson Debate: What's the issue?


The allegation is that Wilson may have used racial bias because he felt comfortable enough to be disrespectful to the office of the President. It is a comfort that was reached because the President is Black. This notion that no one can disagree with the President is ridiculous; he was rude, disrespectful, unprofessional, ignorant, maniacal and moronic. All liberties that some feel he would have kept reserved if the President was still a white man.

The "You Lie" heard around the world.

I was raised in South Carolina, and I'm a supporter of the President. Race does not dominant everything Obama here, but it's definitely in the background. The culture of this state is unique; it's one that can only be understood by someone raised in the atmosphere. I'm sure the President doesn't think that Wilson was being racist. However, I would say the President has no frame of reference to draw the appropriate conclusion from Wilson's comment. From a cultural environmental standpoint, Wilson is the product of a tradition of bigotry in a State historically known for its inherent hatred of people based on their skin color.

As a young Black man growing up in SC, I was told by my parents to never stop in certain places, and if I needed help or got stranded in different locations, to stay in my car until an officer came to assist. My point is that today most people are not outright bigots because it's not the "proper thing", but if given a chance when no one is looking, they will jump at a chance to practice the art of bigotry passed down to them. Not since the beginning of the century has anything ever happened like this, not once. Even when Clinton was going through his sex scandal, or when Bush gave speeches after finding no WMD, did anyone call out in such an ignorant display of incivility?

To Wilson and many like him, it's easy to disrespect the President because before he sees the President of the US, he sees a Black Man that's not equal to him in intellect and status. It's easy to call someone a liar when you've been taught to degrade and trivialize their mere existence in your world. This "pseudo-dominance" is ramped throughout this State. Hopefully with the election of Sheheen or Rex, we can begin an in-depth discussion on race relations to change the attitudes of many in the state.

We get a Black President, and then we get the following firsts: Citizenship is questioned, First President to legitimately be labeled the "Anti-Christ", "First President, based on name only, to be labeled a Muslim Extremist, First to be Criticized for Taking his wife to dinner (Contrary to what is shown in the media, many of us, black men, take care of our family and are attentive to our spouse), and the First President to have to fight to keep companies from stereotypical commercializing his children. In every field of human endeavor, the rules are different, or changed, when it comes to Black folk. It is my hope the President Obama doesn't forget that and get to comfortable in the dogma of American politics.

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Obama: On the Cusp of Greatness"

As a young man, I remember taking my grandfather to the VA hospital for his visits, and sitting for hours for service. I remember the delicate balancing act of making $1424 stretch to cover the cost of maintaining a home, eating, and supporting two grandsons in college. But my grandfather, with grace, dignity, and class, made it work. We never knew how difficult it was for him until he passed. We never knew that he had nothing in the bank, savings or checking, because it took everything he received monthly to pay for prescription after prescription, one pair of glasses after the next, etc. I understand him more today than I ever did in the past because I have a family now. I'm a better man because of his wisdom, and his hardships.

The "Health Care" debate is very real to me; I've been in overnight meetings, and have taking 6am wake up calls to lessen the blow of the lack of conversation concerning it up to this point. My wife and I welcomed a healthy baby boy to the world in April; we didn't welcome the burden of debt that came with him. Initially, we were given an estimation of what we would owe once the insurance paid, along with a request to go ahead and pay our projected portion in advance. As if, As if we had a couple of thousand sitting ahead to prepay for health cost. To complicate things even more, my wife developed diabetes, which required additional monitoring and scheduled appointments with an Endocrinologist. Long story short, we paid an average of $380 a month in medical bills that were not in our monthly budget the nine months she was pregnant. This cost didn't include the insulin, needles, or other supplies needed to maintain her health. Thankfully, we made it through, but not before we started receiving calls from collection companies working for the hospital or fighting the insurance companies to have claims paid that were refused the first or second time before they were finally paid.

President Obama's speech resonated with me because of my experiences in childhood as well as my experiences as an adult trying to maintain a healthy family without going bankrupt doing so. I'm a registered Democrat, but I don't care whether the solutions to our societal ills come from a Republican or a Democratic. I do, however, care about whether they are effective and efficient. It was important to me that the President referenced those across the aisle like John McCain, who had an idea fused in the melting pot of resolution. I needed to be reassured that my elected officials were more concerned about me than having their political egos stroked, or advancing their individual political agendas.

I watched his speech, so elegant and poignantly delivered, but it was not until I read it for myself that the words of the late Ted Kennedy settled in my spirit with such conviction and relevance to this debate. His question was simple, “What is the character of our country, our nation?" At the end of the day, we are all in this thing together. Differences aside, we're hurting. We all feel the daily sting of rising health care costs. With the spirits of pragmatism, civility, and compromise, we have to move forward towards creating a more inclusive society in which every life matters.

One child without healthcare should make us all anguish. One senior in bankruptcy because of health cost should cause us to be disgusted. One father, or mother having to tell a gravely ill child that a cure is available but not attainable because of cost should pierce our empathetic souls and propel use forward with such a kinetic jostle that we take immediate and deliberate action to affect change and lay the ground work for the infrastructure of communication that must take place between Democrats, Independents, and Republicans to ensure our futures are not held captive by the hope of future compromise.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dr. Cosby

I'm not sure who wrote this but, I had to post it. It sums up so much of what I feel and say on a daily basis to friends and family, or anyone who will listen. Preach on Dr. Cosby, preach on!

The Reverend Jesse Jackson almost never gets
upstaged and I had never seen the Reverend
Jesse Louis Jackson cry in public until last month.
Jackson invited Bill Cosby to the annual Rainbow /
PUSH conference for a conversation about the
controversial remarks the entertainer offered on
May 17 at an NAACP dinner in Washington, D.C.
when America 's Jell-O Man shook things up
by arguing that African Americans were betraying
the legacy of civil rights victories. Cosby said
'the lower economic people are not holding up their
end in this deal. These people are not parenting.
They are buying things for their kids. .
$500 sneakers for what? But they won't spend $200
for Hooked on Phonics!'

Bill Cosby came to town and upstaged the reverend
by going on the offense instead of defending his
earlier remarks. Thursday morning, Cosby showed
no signs of repenting as he strode across the stage
at the Sheraton Hotel ballroom before a standing
room only crowd. Sporting a natty gold sports coat
and dark glasses, he proceeded to unload a Laundry
list of black America 's self-imposed ills. The iconic
actor and comedian kidded that he couldn't compete
with the oratory of the Reverend but he preached
circles around Jackson in their nearly hour-long
conversation, delivering brutally frank one-liners
and the toughest of love.

The enemy, he argues, is us: "There is a time,
ladies and gentlemen, when we have to turn
the mirror around." Cosby acknowledged he wasn't
critiquing all blacks. . .. just the 50 percent of African
Americans in the lower economic neighborhood
who =2 0 drop out of school, and the alarming proportions
of black men in prison and black teenage mothers.
The mostly black crowd seconded him with choruses
of Amens.

To the critics who pose, it's unproductive to air our
dirty laundry in public, he responds,
"Your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day."
It's cursing on the way home, on the bus, train,
in the candy store. They are cursing and grabbing
each other and going nowhere. The book bag is very,
very thin because there's nothing in it.
Don't worry about the white man, he added.
I could care less about what white people think
about me. . . Let them talk.

What are they saying that is so different from what
their grandfathers said and did to us?
What is different is what we are doing to ourselves.
For those who say Cosby is just an elitist who's
"got his" but doesn't understand the plight of the
black poor, he reminds us that,
"We're going to turn that mirror around.
It's not just the poor-everybody's guilty."
Cosby and Jackson lamented that in the 50th years
of Brown vs. Board of Education, our failings betray
our legacy. Jackson dabbed away tears as he
recalled the financial struggles at Fisk University ,
a historically black college and Jackson 's Alma mater.
When Cosby was done, the 1,000 people in the room
all jumped to their feet in ovation.
We have shed tears too many times, at too many
watershed moments before, while the hopes they inspired
have fallen by the wayside. Not this time!
Cosby's plea to parents:
"Before you get to the point where you say 'I can't do
nothing with them' , do something with them."
Teach our children to speak English.
There's no such thing as "talki ng white".
When the teacher calls, show up at the school.
When the idiot box starts spewing profane rap videos;
turn it off. Refrain from cursing around the kids.
Teach our boys that women should be cherished,
not raped and demeaned.

Tell them that education is a prize we won with blood
and tears, not a dishonor.
Stop making excuses for the agents and abettors
of black on black crime.
It costs us nothing to do these things.
But if we don't, it will cost us infinitely more tears.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bigotry Masked As Conservation of Constitutional Rights

I believe it's dangerous to hypothesize on the intent of the "Foundering Fathers". It's unfortunate that many of the diatribes concerning individual rights, as outlined in the constitution, come on the heels of an African American President. As a historian by degree, in my studies I've found that bigotry often is masked in pseudo concern for literal interpretation of the constitution. As I listen to Glenn Beck, or Fox News in general, ranting about the constitution, I wonder where their concerns were when the former President initiated unlawful wiretaps, and established the Patriot Act, which caused the most erosion of US citizens' rights to date. I wonder where the analyse of individual rights, liberties, and lives were when we were bamboozled into the Iraqi War. Now, lets bring it home, for that matter, where was all of this discussion about the intent of the foundering fathers, and alienable rights when the citizens of New Orleans were displaced, discounted, and discarded? There was no discussion of their alienable rights; the main right in the wake of Katrina was simply their right to life. But there was no discussion by the media or conservatives because there was no concern for, as they described, a disenfranchised second class rate of black and brown people.

Yemassee Native American blood flows through my veins; remember when my ancestors were murdered and enslaved so that the Anglo and Celtic "Christians" could steal their land? Everyone seems to forget about that holocaust. Native American blood flows through my veins so don't talk to me about the intent of the Founding Fathers. Indians, a cogent misnomer as America was already founded and inhabited by it's native people, Native Americans, the true Americans.

Now that the President of the United States is Black, conservatives "want their country back". Who stole it? I would feel better if they said they just wanted it back from the control of a Black Man. Are we not all adults? Please people, on both sides, just say what you mean, and mean what you say. Be careful; however, for every action or opinion, there is a reaction or counter opinion that could affect you and your business, if applicable.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"A Gates Story: Part II"

By now, many of us are probably tired of this story; however, I would be remiss if I didn't use my legal mind to analyze the initial situation. First, there was a call made to 911. Now that the tape has been released, we know that the "two black guys" story was false. Secondly, we have to look at the charge itself, Public Disorderly Conduct. In order for someone to be arrested for Public Disorderly Conduct, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that their actions did the following: affected the public, that the defendant intended to cause a public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly created a risk of public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm.

In order for a defendant to be found guilty under MA law of this offense, his actions must have been reasonably likely to affect the public, that is, the public meaning a place to which the public or a substantial group has access. Thirdly, A person must act recklessly when he consciously ignores, or is indifferent to, the probable outcome of his actions. In other words, the defendant was reckless if he knew, or must have known, that his actions would create a substantial and unjustifiable risk of public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, but he chose, nevertheless, to run the risk and go ahead with his actions.

Based merely on the definition of "Public" as described in the law, Dr. Gates was not guilty of the alleged crime. Going further into the law, since all other elements hinge on actions being held in "public", he should have not been arrested at his Cambridge home.

Now do I think Officer Crowley is a bigot, No. But do I think he got pissed off that Dr. Gates, or anyone for that matter, had the audacity to question him while performing his duties, Yes! Because of that, he arrested a man that should not have been arrested. The system is set up so that charges, however false in many misdemeanor cases, can be brought by an officer and the defendant has to prove his innocence. Do I also think that Dr. Gates got pissed about being questioned in his home even after he proved who he was, Yes! I would have been pissed too; clearly as stated by the President, cool heads did not prevail.

Officers have to be held accountable; it's part of what keep the system the best in the world. What I don't understand are people who say Crowley can not be a bigot because he taught profiling class and diversity training. Well, that's just an ignorant statement. The history of policing in this country does not lend itself to that conclusion. Officers during the early part of the previous century were sworn to serve and protect their citizens, however, many minorities, specifically Blacks, lost their lives on their watch, and some, by their actual hands. Again, I say I don't think he's a bigot, but teaching diversity or profiling classes doesn't exclude him for the offense of bigotry.

People were also concerned about the black officer coming to the defense of his co-worker/co-union member peer against another black man. What was he suppose to do? Do you honestly think an officer was going to go against another officer regarding actions in the line of duty? If he did, he would have been isolated. Because of his natural obligation to the job, his account and endorsement, whenever given, is bias from inception.

Now that we've gone through the racial implications and everyone is ready to get over it with a can of beer at the White House, let me just say that I'm glad the President had the coconuts to jump into this conversation. That decision was monumental; this is not Washington "as usual". Many stated that he should have left this situation alone because it was a local issue. On the contrary, for the first African American President, a case that so divided the country along racial lines was, and is not a local issue. It's a national issue. This had the potential to rip his base in half, and malign, to use his word, the efforts made in such a historic election. We all have to remain sensitive to racial issues, but race does not have to dominant all discussions and differences of opinion between African Americans and Anglo Americans.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stepping on the "Souls of Black Folk": A Gates Story

I'm so overwhelmed when it comes to this incident that I don't know where to begin. Dr. Gates has lived only hours of the many years that so many African Americans, specifically African American men, have lived. I've been a Jurist for 5.5 years and I can tell you from experience that it's very upsetting to see what happens to the poor, disenfranchised litigant.

Honesty speaking, I was appalled but not shocked when I got the email, the phone call, and the text concerning Dr. Gates. I too have been profiled and mistreated by police. As a young professional representative for the former Daimler Chrysler in PA, I was pulled over and held for twenty minutes roadside by a PA highway patrol for no apparent reason. I had recently left the Philadelphia airport and was headed to my office in Malvern up 426 when I was stopped. After checking my credentials, the trooper said have a nice day. I then said "excuse me officer, but why was I stopped?" He then said very sternly this time, "I said have a nice day", and went back to his car without addressing my question. Thirty minutes passed and I received a phone call from my new office. They were concerned that I may get stopped because they had neglected to change the tag on my new corporate vehicle and the manufacturing tag currently displayed was expired!

It's a funny thing though, the trooper never mentioned my expired tag; he was too concerned with the young Black man driving the new "decked out" Chrysler 300M with manufacturer's plates to be bothered with me actually breaking the law. My crime was "Driving While Black"; for so many of us, our crime is simply living while "black".

My second incident happened in Chester, PA. I was finishing up a tutoring session with some inner-city kids and upon dropping them off home I was stopped by policemen. I had pulled in front of the young man's home for him to get off safely, and while waiting for him to reach his front door, the officers informed me to move it. I pulled off immediately, but noticed that the officers were following me. Three blocks down, they pulled beside me, two older black cops, and asked me who was the owner of my car. I replied with "who's driving it". That was the wrong thing to say. They ordered my to the shoulder of the road and pulled next to me downed their windows and started to ask me all types of questions. Finally, the officer driving got out of the vehicle to check my license and registration. Upon reviewing my credentials, he turned to his partner and stated "oh, we got us a college boy!" He went on to comment about my Brooks Brothers suit jacket hanging in the rear of my vehicle. When the ordeal was done, I was left with a standing/stopping in the road violation and a fine of $95.00. This did not sit well with me, so I went to court.

On the court date, I appeared before a very strict "Black" judge who treated me like I was a thug and the officers could have done no wrong. I informed the judge that the stop was not valid because my initial stop was were I was stopped/standing in the road; however, the charge didn't actually happen until I was stopped for the second time. How could I be charged for an infraction that wasn't charged during the first stop initiated by the officers? Short of telling me to shut up, the judge instructed me to be quiet. He then went on to say that I had admitted to being in the road and that I was guilty. Luckily for me, I had met the Chester Police Commissioner's daughter at a party and through her, I was able to speak with the commissioner about the incident. He apologized and informed me that I was in a bad area known for drug activity, and that I fit the description: young, black, and driving a fancy car (that damn 300M). He also informed me not to worry. I digress, the judge ripped me a new one and ended by saying that if I broke any more laws it didn't matter who I knew, I would be fine and assessed appropriately. Then he found me not guilty.

I knew, based on his last comment that the Commissioner must have called him to discuss my case. But what would have happened if I didn't know Nicole, and she didn't connect me with her father? People, officers lie, officers manipulate, and officers hold back information to get their desired outcome. Not all officers are power hungry. The majority of them do a wonderful job, but the few that have their own agenda, or egos to stroke, can bring hell on earth to citizens, as in the case of our beloved Dr. Gates.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Is Anybody Listening?

Lately, I've been feeling like I'm not doing enough in life. And I'm wondering if I'm alone. My mind has been bombarded with so many negative news events that I believe there has to be a natural tipping point that occurs which would balance the current world climate. Okay, I know that's a little broad, so let me bring it in closer.

I believe I, we, need to be doing more to help our community. The Black Community, and the community at large, needs the attention that it has gone without for so long. We all have an obligation to reach back and assist those who are struggling, and lagging behind the eight ball of progress. Most importantly, we all have an obligation to contribute to the cause. That contribution may be monetary, or it can be with our time. Historically, we were there. We were at a point where community mattered and we took responsibility for ourselves as well as our friends and neighbors.

One of my main goals is to put a new face on Minority Fatherhood; it is my hope that through my efforts, we can begin to change the picture of black fatherhood often associated with "dead beat dads" and replace it with one of dignity and honor. That's just one of the many issues I would like to tackle. As a think about all I want to do, I decided to ask myself whether or not I had usefully applied my passion when it came to my own family and extended family. I concluded that I had given it a go when it came to my family; however, my family was resistant to my efforts and I finally decided to move onto to others who wanted better in life, and who were more appreciative of my efforts to assist.

So if anybody is listening, understand, we must implore those around us to listen to sources of positive information that will assist them in reaching their personal goals. They must listen to different ways to reach their goals and possess an attitude that will conspire with the universe to pull them into their abundance. As messengers, we also have to be guarded and not allow ourselves to be pulled into the abyss of apathy and despair. As messengers, we must be mindful to make sure our message is going out into fertile minds; minds ready for tilling so that fruit from their new found knowledge can not just grow, but flourish. Hotep!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Who will cry for the children?

There I was, sitting in my office at the bank and ready to help the next customer when she walked in with her children. Two boys, the oldest 2, and the youngest 1 year old, were with her. I knew they existed because for the previous 30 minutes as she waited in the lobby, they terrorized patrons and staff. They hollered, screamed, threw things, and even ran around like wild men. She, a young African American female, was the classic picture of brokenness. When our eyes met, my soul became empathetic to her circumstance, and her present and future struggle. All I could think of was where in the hell is the father of these two young black boys who are to become men. Where is he? My eyes watered as I watched them spin out of control. They glazed over with a sea-like shine as I watched the oldest try but fail to stab his younger brother with the pen off of my desk. I watched as his eyes encapsulated some of the evil he has been exposed too before he forcefully committed his act. I watched the youngest fall from my chair and hit head first at the bridge of his nose on the corner of my desk after standing and not being told to sit in my chair. Then I watched this young mother with no care grab him by one arm and sling he into his chair repeatedly; I could tell she loved them but she had no parenting skills. I know this because during the course of our conversation, this young lady told me that she had just moved out of her mother's house and that her mom was the standard of discipline in her boys' lives. To me, that explained her lack of control. She was Cindy to them; not mom. After having this thought, the oldest call her Cindy (not her real name) to get her attention, and my heart grew heavier; where is/are their fathers?

It is a very difficult task to raise children, not to mention trying to do it alone. In a world already stacked trump tight against them, these boys chances of succeeding are slim. They are going to have to be taught to fight! But who will teach them? In school, if their behavior doesn't change, they'll surely be tracked. That record will follow them throughout their educational experience. Who will cry for the little boys? Who will cry for these children? I was so heart broken at the prospects for their lives that I had to start talking to friends about what we can do to help our children. Now that the conversation has started, it is my hope that we will channel our energy into some mode of action. If not us, who will cry, and who will fight for our children? Must their dreams be deferred at inception?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Our Ancestors

I often wonder if I would have been strong enough to withstand the mistreatment, degradation, and shame that slavery inflicted on our people. Would I have been strong enough to work tirelessly day in and day with little or no pay? Would I have been able to watch my wife, or daughter ripped away from me,or watch my brother, or son sold away from me and still have my sanity intact? I thank God everyday that I will never have to answer those questions.

When the mainstream media talk about family, or in the case of African Americans, the lack of a nuclear family, they often fail to mention the erosion factors that have carried our family to its current state. Slavery challenged the Black family and rocked it to its core. Jim Crow ripped up the esteem of the Black family and caused it to doubt itself, or see themselves as inadequate, less than human. In a nutshell, the law suppressed the Black family legally for years before anyone dared challenge the humanity of it all.

Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon is a book written that dares to bring to light ills perpetrated by the law on black men from the Civil War to World War II. (I hope you are ready to go to school) Did you know that if a white man went to his local Sheriff's Office and stated that a particular black man owed him money that the sheriff would throw said black man in jail? He would then release him to work for the plaintiff (white man) until his debt was paid off. Now understand, there was never any proof offered, the white man would set some arbitrary number, and then release said black man months or years after supposed debt would have been satisfied. This practice was widely practiced in the South. Unfortunately, many of the victims fell into a cycle of indebtedness to their accusers based on behavior while working for them to pay off their false debt.

By this point, I'm hoping that you are beginning to see some of the factors of erosion at work as perpetrated. Many would have you believe that black men are lazy, horrible fathers, and ignorant when it comes to maintaining their families. It's simply not true. After years of oppression, the black community as a whole had to re-identify themselves and solidify their beliefs. It was difficult work, but they did it. Our ancestors did it with class, dignity, respect, and Godliness. We have come along way by faith, and dependence upon each other. We have obtained many things; however, let us not get short sighted. The goal in still in front of us; we have not reached it. Yes, our president is black, but until all of us obtain true freedom in all aspects, we must continue to press towards the mark.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Invisible Institution

As I sat last Wednesday night with my boys at home, I became sad and exceptionally proud at the same time. There I was, young, black, and a present father in my children's lives. I thought about the times I longed for affection from my own father; I thought about the countless lies that he told me and I became angry. I got angry because I started thinking about the lies the world tells each of us daily concerning black fatherhood. Mainly, I'm disgusted because the masses would have us believe that black fatherhood is a myth, or some historical reference point. We exist! The media does not show us, but we are here. Our presence is not reflected in many movies or television shows that often, but we are here. We are here, all around in full color nurturing, guiding, guarding, protecting, instilling, and praying God's blessing on and over our families.

When I thought of fatherhood, until recently, some white guy popped in my head. This was the first sign of a major problem for me. Why is the face of fatherhood white for me and so many other children of color? I have spoken to many close friends on the subject, and all of us agreed that we, black men, have some work to do to change the face of fatherhood to include hues representative of us.

Many of us are doing the right things. We share pick-up and drop-off duty with our spouses. We make professional decisions based on how they will effect our family dynamic and not on our own professional aspirations. Most importantly, we lead the way into church on Sunday mornings, and provide the financial support that allows no doors to be closed to our children based on socio-economic accessibility.

I remember going to my wife's office party towards the beginning of our courtship and feeling like I was the pink elephant in the room. Afterwards, she informed me that at work the next day everyone was so impressed because I was articulate, well dressed, held stimulating conversation, and was still able to throw a couple of beers back with the fellas. Though I appreciated the sentiment, I was a little insulted. Who did they suspect I would be, or act like? How did they suspect I would speak?

I am not an anomaly. There are so many educated brothers in the world who carry themselves well and manage to sustain and maintain beautiful families and lasting legacies. I am not an anomaly. I can not begin to count the positive, God-fearing, family-oriented brothers in my network alone, not to mention the ones I am completely unaware of in this world.

Excellence has always been a cultural standard when we discuss fatherhood in the black community. We do not spend our time patting each other on the back for our achievements, or our children's achievements, it is expected. Shock does not consume the body when a handsome, intelligent, professional brother walks in the room and commands respect with simply his presence because it is the standard. His swagger does not intimidate, it heightens and invites others to celebrate manhood and the promise of fatherhood.

It is incumbent upon the African American men to stand up to be seen and heard. We must do it for our sons and daughters. We must do it for the continuation of hope for our people. The next time someone asks any of you fathers whether you are indeed a father, tell them not only are you a father, but you are "POP". You are "POP" because you Parent to create Opportunity and with Purpose.