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#takeaknee and the 4 Types of People

August 26, 2016 sports and politics collided as it has so many times before in history. On that day Colin Kaepernick decided to start a peaceful protest that involved taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem before NFL games, to bring attention to the murder of unarmed black people and the lack of conviction that occurs once an officer murders an unarmed black person.

 

From there a firestorm erupted. His coaches, his team mates and his owner supported his right to peacefully protest. Fans, political pundits, and politicians weighed in with their anger and opposition of the protest. The excuse used to distract from Colin was the fact that he was unpatriotic and did not respect the flag or American troops.

 

Following the 2016 NFL season Colin decided to leave the struggling San Francisco 49ers, a team that was on their 3rd coach in his tenure as a QB and far removed from any chance of competing in the Super Bowl that Colin helped lead them to. Throughout the summer Colin was overlooked for NFL job after job. Retired, unemployed, and far less statistically comparable quarterbacks were selected for jobs that every football pundit has since said they did not deserve or were not qualified for.

 

Despite Colin not having a job and no longer currently being an active NFL player the President of the United States weighed in.  At a rally on Friday, September 22, 2017 in Huntsville Alabama, Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”

 

Many athletes, Americans and politicians subsequently weighed in which has become the norm when the President says outlandish things, a new weekly habit.

 

Though this is troubling, because the right to peaceful protest is protected by the constitution, it is also troubling that a sitting President would assert that a private entity should fire someone for actions he does not agree with. I want to put a period there and shift. This is not about Donald Trump or the controversy he loves to stir up. The focus should be on why kneeling during the National Anthem is important!

The focus on why turning off the NFL games is important.  Though owners now “disagree” with President Trump, despite their million dollar campaign contributions, they have essentially fired Colin Kaepernick and have not spoken out in regards to the very reason Colin Kaepernick took a knee.

 

I have 4 types of people I want to speak to.

 

  1. To the black and brown people who continue to watch the NFL I personally get it. You grew up watching and loving football, you’ve purchased your season tickets and your respective team represents something “positive” in your hometown. Those are the legitimate claims I have heard from those still watching games. I am not begging you to protest or condemning you for not protesting, but I have two questions to ponder on that could reshape history should you choose to join in on blacking out the NFL. The two questions are:

 

  1. What if Rosa Parks decided to simply go about business as usual and to this day we were never allowed to sit in any section of a bus other than the back?
  2. What if the 600+ individuals who marched on Selma decided, that voting was not as important after all since they could face resistance?
  3. What are you willing to give up, to move the conversation forward and force solutions?

 

I ask those questions, because you could one day be the hashtag we mourn.

 

  1. To the white people, calm down I am not mad at white people, which oppose and reject Donald Trump if you really want to make a statement talk about black and brown people being disproportionately murdered by police officers without a trial and turn your tv off during NFL games, because the individual who sacrificed his job and career to call attention to the issue has been subjected to the treatment Donald Trump encouraged. The NFL losing millions of dollars each week sends a message that you stand with the black and brown people who you call friends, neighbors and coworkers.

 

  1. Lastly to the black and brown people who have turned your televisions off, sold your tickets and now refuse to support the NFL, keep it up, but do not verbally abuse and berate people who do not see things the way you do instead continue the peaceful demonstration.

 

  1. To the individuals who feel that Colin’s protest was disrespectful to the flag and our troops and/ or believe it should be left off of the field, I would ask you do you feel such outrage for Muhammad Ali who refused to enlist for the Vietnam War? What about former MLB player Shawn Green? What about Kathrine Switzer, did she protest discrimination in the right way? Did Branch Rickey make the right decision, by breaking precedent with American and baseball tradition in 1946? Or are you just uncomfortable talking about why Colin took a knee?

 

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Fragile Masculinity and Ill Informed Women 

For as long as I can remember I have grown up around men. Like real man’s men, football loving, basketball playing, I don’t mind sweating men or getting dirty men. In the same regard the men I was blessed to grow up around were secure. They were secure in their masculinity and secure in who they were. 

You see the men I speak of were my grandfather, my dad, my uncles, great uncles, cousins, mentors, and coaches.
As I look back I can’t remember a time my dad didn’t give me a hug and/or kiss my forehead and tell me he loved me as I departed him. My uncle acted the same way. I was my grandpas shadow and he didn’t mind letting me know he loved me.

Yet all these men were masculine, secure, STRAIGHT men! My mentor would provide a welcome hug and handshake my coaches usually did the same. That set the foundation for me knowing I can be a man and that my masculinity is not attached to behavior. It is a sense of self. It also taught me what to expect from people who say they care about you. 
I opened this post with that background, because it seems maybe I experienced a twighlight zone movie. More and more on social media, some woman unfamiliar with what it takes to be a masculine and secure man is telling men what acceptable behavior and clothing is for men. When a man is not behaving how these women and men see fit he is now associated with one of the most unintelligent and juvenile terms used to slander a man. He’s called gay!

Within the past three months alone I have seen women and some supposedly masculine men refer to men who wear a short and shirt sewn together as “gay.” I have even seen a woman refer to a man who eats brunch with another group of men, without a woman as gay. 
Men should not be worrying about what another man is doing that makes him happy and fits his life. I cannot understand how a woman or man, someone who is secure in themselves and happy with their life, would be worried why another man has on shorts with a shirt or why that man is brunching with another group of men. 

Besides that breaking bread, as it’s commonly called in educated circles, is a way for many people to connect be it socially, be it for business, be it spiritually. It seems many are unaware of ways to do business and thus stagnant professionally, socially, and spiritually.
Though I may not wear a romper or romphim, what another man wears will not impact my paycheck, it will not make me uncomfortable, and I do not really have time to be worrying about what they do with their body and their clothing that they paid for and work for. 

Next, STOP using terms like GAY, to describe someone’s actions or as a slur. There are other adjectives that fit and they are a bit more intelligent. Find something that really speaks to what you are trying to say. Using the term gay as a slanderous term reduces your intelligence level down to a kindergartener or first grader and even then we should teach our children that their are better words for use to describe individuals. We should even teach our kids that name-calling is not acceptable. 

As I sit back I now realize why it is so hard for many of the great straight men I know who are secure to meet, date, and marry. If they are labeled gay for having taste, being cultured, having brunch with their fraternity brothers, colleagues, and friends what hope do they have. My mentor had hosted brunch for men to connect and discuss ways in which we can work together for quite some time and those relationships he has fostered have provided a brotherhood of men from various walks of life, in a multitude of career fields, and helped entrepreneurs across this country. Some of you ladies are missing your King, because he wore a romper and had brunch with the fellas while drinking champagne and not a sagging while drinking a Old English sitting in the backyard. 

To close this I think it would serve us a lot better as a generation and a society, if we started working together instead of marginalizing one another. We should be learning about one another and working to make the world around us better for the next generation. That means making sure that we are mobilizing for our next election, voting in local elections and keeping those we vote for accountable. 

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Thanks, But No Thanks!

Can you imagine how communication channels would open up if we listened with the purpose of actually hearing what people are saying?

Recently I did some soul searching as a result of some encounters that made me look at who I have been to people.

Sometimes in an effort to help or aid people we do more damage to relationships. I am sure you are asking how is that possible?

Here is how, when someone shares an issue, incident or road block, and without even hearing what they have done already or the attempts they have made to solve the issue some of us begin sharing unwanted and unnecessary “solutions”. We say, “what you should have done or what you could have done is.” Now the person who shared their issue with you is not only frustrated, but insulted. Especially if they have already gone to great lengths and tried what you suggested, plus some. 

Consider this, the next time you want to offer up advice or help solve the problem, ask the question, “Is there anything I can do to help?” Or “Would you like help?”

Can you imagine how those two questions may open the door for communication, salvage a relationship or you may uncover the person just needed to vent. Think about that person in your life who has annoyed you when you were dealing with an issue that you exhausted nearly every possible solution for. 

Often times people are not the issues our communication methods/styles are the issue or lack there of. Try something new when encountered with the opportunity to respond. Listen and then ASK if they want the help you are itching to provide. 

Good luck as you go and interact with friends, family and the world. 

6 Thing to Unsubscribe from!

I love lists! Lists help me stay on track and make sure I am making progress, with that said I created a list of things I wanted to see left in 2016.

This is as a result of social interactions, both in person and via social media.


SHARING PAIN- I mean that! The truth is we have all been hurt. The honest to God Truth is you do not get a pass to become the individual who hurt you. Yes it is hard to get over some things, but you have to get to work. The next point will expand on Sharing Pain. 


BLAMING EVERYONE ELSE – Sometimes in life we are victimized, but the reality is all too often we play a role in our own victimization. You know the bad relationship we are “healing” from. The friendship that not longer feels right. YOU played a role in that. You cannot blame everyone else for your choice to stay in something that you know is not good for you. Learn from those situations and learn to walk away rather than hanging on to them to the point you are bruised and battered.

 

BEING INTERNET SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVISTS – I get it Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter, but simply stating that and not supporting these lives is not helpful. It means not sharing Blue Lives Matters only when a Blue life is taken by a person who happens to be a minority. That means Black Lives need to matter beyond when being murdered by a police officer. Social Justice is important all the time and should not be ignored, because your childhood hero, favorite singer or local celebrity is standing trial. Yes your words are important, but actions speak louder than words. Do some work in your community.  Volunteer, pick up trash or even mentor, JUST DO SOMETHING!

 

POSTING PICTURES TO ELICIT NEGATIVE COMMENTS – Some may refer to this as trolling. Not a day goes by on social media where some one is not posting an image of a particular group of people to elicit negative commentary. Posting a picture of a woman who happens to be larger than the “standard” kissing a slimmer guy with the caption, “Say Something Nice”, or posting a picture of a group of gay men and saying ladies pick one is offensive. Sharing an image of a celebrity with the caption “suspect” is what traumatizes so many people and displays ignorance. Those actions speaks to is insecurities and contribute to bullying.

 

PLANNING MORE THAN EXECUTING- In 2016 I realized I had spent so much time planning my move to LA. I spent time crunching numbers and applying to countless jobs. So much so that I looked up and realized that I had been planning for at least 2 years. So many of us are making plans to do things and we spend so much time planning and we never execute the plan. At a certain point your planning become procrastination and hesitation. Take the leap and go. Your planning will assist you once you act.

 

TEXTING MORE THAN YOU ACTUALLY CALL OR SPEAK- In 2016 we saw an all time high use of social media, wireless carrier reported record numbers of data and text messages being used. All that to say with unlimited minutes we no longer use what is readily available. Social media has made it popular to send messages to everyone, but the people who are truly important in our life. Social Media has allowed us to communicate messages to people without directly stating what you have to discuss. This leaves so many opportunities to miscommunicate and leave out a lot. It is easier to share a complete thought via your voice or face to face than to attempt to share a message via text, facebook or instagram.

 

This list may not be things in your life or your friends, but whatever you unsubscribe from do not wait until 2016 is over to do it! Let’s start now.

Thanks for taking the time out to read! I know my posts can be lengthy at times, but I truly appreciate those of you who read, share and let me know your thoughts on the content of my blog. Let’s make the New Year one that is better than ever. Let me know what type of content resonates with you and as I encounter opportunities I want to incorporate it and share.

Share That!

The holidays can mean a lot of different things for a lot of people. For me holidays were a special time. It brought my huge family together (beyond just immediate family) in segments, because we are literally too big to all be together for anything other than a family reunion.

We shared great laughs, we had great food and above everything else you felt Love! Real love, felt through handshakes, and genuine smiles. It did not matter what size or shape you came in, the love came freely.

As an adult, well someone over the age of 18, I made it a goal to share that. Every holiday I invited friends over. Friends who were not going home for holidays, friends who may have not had any family left, and friends who were disconnected from their family, for whatever reason.

So as my 3rd holiday away from my family approaches I encourage those who have the ability to share their family and their love with others. Though I am not able to open up a home to anyone this year one of my goals is to eventually do that.

This year provided many blessings and a lot more challenges. Moving to LA with no job, no car, and no stable home to call my own was terrifying. Spending my birthday alone and away from fellowship provided a real eye opener. Through all that I have been working towards this next chapter of my life. It looks different than before and it is more free spirited than ever.

Despite my challenges of being distanced from family and working at establishing connections and a real network in LA I am encouraged. Encouraged that genuine love does exist, between friends, between family and between strangers!

So I encourage everyone to share more LOVE. Every chance you get. Though this message is specifically about Holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza go beyond that. Be intentional with your Love and share it without the expectation of reciprocation!

Happy Holidays!

4 Reasons We need to Change the Elections

Do you remember what middle school and high school elections were like?

There was a group of students who wanted to work with the administration (principals, assistant principals and/or administrators) to get things accomplished. They campaigned with posters, gave campaign speeches and most times had platforms.

What if our adult political elections reflected those elections? If you recall those elections did not involve political parties, but the candidates were fostered based on the wants or needs of their constituency. However small and however insignificant high school students needs are, that is what happened. 
Somehow in our country we have gravitated far from our first example of how politics work. Here are the top 4 reasons why this political season made everyone very angry.

4.) The majority, formally white Americans, is no longer the majority. That is to say America has more Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Middle-Eastern Americans than ever before. Within those groups there are a lot of diverse issues each respective group feels are important. 

3.) Blanket statements and generalizations are no longer acceptable in our country. There was a time when you could say the Latinos, the Blacks or the Asians. Though I am black I grew up in a middle class neighborhood, I went to a middle class high school and I attended two amazing educational institutions enroute to a bachelors degree. The assumption that the schools I attended were run down and I could get shot going to the store are not only offensive to me, but offensive to the diverse community I grew up in. My neighbors were white, Latino, black, phillipino and black.

2.) A two party system no longer fits our country. It’s obvious. Unlike in high school everyone does not have a candidate they feel feels their pains and understands their needs. It was clear. Many democrats, republicans and independents found common ground on several issues.

1.) Over the next 4-8 years it is clear that we not only need a diversity class for everyone, but we also need to hold those in power accountable. Which may also include terms limits for congress as well. Unlike in high school that administration cannot be fired unless we vote them out. It also seems to be time to reform police accountability laws and to create civilian review boards (with subject matter experts of course).

The most exciting part of this election cycle is, it is over! People will vote today and our country will of course find a way to move forward, but it is clear we need to reassess how we coexist together and how we elect officials. Though #imwithher
I respect everyone’s choice not to be! I may not agree with their reasoning, but our country has to be liveable and beneficial for more than just me. 

If you have not voted today maker sure you do! If you have sit back relax and unblock the friends you previously blocked for not thinking like you. 🙏🏾😂😂😂

#iamjoecarnell

#whyivote

#rockthevote

Emotional Rollercoaster that is “Moonlight”

Have you ever walked into an experience, watching a play? Maybe you attended a concert and you had no idea what to expect, but you find yourself completely enthralled in the experience? Last night I attended a showing for the movie “Moonlight” with my buddy Ashley .

The movie is a complex story that all too many people of color face. British actress, Naomie Harris plays, Chiron’s mother and you have to buckle your seatbelt for the emotional ride she takes you on. Chiron (pronounced Shy-Ron) played by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes is a young man with a troubled upbringing. Janelle Monae literally plays superwoman and is probably the character that saved Chiron’s life. As a note actress Naomie Harris is an incredible actress she shot all of her scenes in 3 days. 

Director Brad Jenkins masterfully wrote and direct a powerful piece of work and Brad Pitt is the executive producer of the film. The casting in the movie is impeccable and the most interesting note is the 3 actors who play Chiron, played him not knowing there was another Chiron also portraying him. The actors did not meet and did not know each other prior to the edited film was shown. Yet the embodiment of the character, Chiron, throughout 3 different segments of his life is impeccably portrayed and seamless.

Do yourself a favor and go and see the film today! It has been described as a “coming out” story, but it more of an enlightening tool into life, love, friendship, pain, drugs and poverty. 
No matter your race, whether you are black, white, Indian, Asian and/ or Latino’s should see it.

Click here to find your nearest box office showing the film. 

#moonlight

#chiron

#NaomieHarris

#AlexHibbert

#AshtonSanders

#TrevanteRhodes

#iamjoecarnell

More than…

How many of us have ever walked into a room and heard someone bashing a person, because of their personal diet choices? Here’s an example you are at work and John is telling Adam, that he thinks eating Kale is for weak losers. Imagine if you eat Kale and enjoy it, yet John is your boss and Adam your friend is laughing while John insults Kale eaters. John then misquotes a passage in the Bible and Adam awkwardly laughs as he tries to remember the passage he knows doesn’t reference Kale. As you sit there annoyed and thinking is eating Kale really that bad? Does everything I have done good get negated. That is what millions of people feel when they see and hear their family members, coworkers and friends discussing their sexual preference. They have to hear the ones they work with, learn with, worship with and in some cases live with demeaning a choice that does not impact their loved ones, coworkers, friends and family members in anyway.

Sexuality is not something that determines physical aptitude, mental health or morality, yet in our country sexuality is all to frequently a talking point that seeks to demean and suppress the LGBTQ community.

There are physicians, entertainers, athletes, teachers, service workers, police officers, executives and the list goes on who live their life inside of a very sturdy mental box. Individuals who have competed academically, athletically and done so at a high level are relegated to what they enjoy in the bedroom. Every scholastic award, every medal, ribbon or trophy they have ever won is now negated.

This is not entirely due to a fault of one person, rather as a result of parents, friends, communities, religious houses and schools that frequently (by frequently I mean probably once a week) state that by being gay or bisexual you are less of a man or less than. In some cases many of us have even heard people threaten physical violence against someone who is gay or bisexual. 

I have personally seen acquaintances and family members share social media posts equating homosexuality to beastiality, misquoting scripture and liking or sharing demonstrative lies (I.e. Slavery introduced homosexuality to black people *insert a hard eye roll*) all based on someone else’s sexual preference. Some may have not known my sexuality, but I definitely took note. If it was not for the support system, parents and grandparents I had I would be in that number. Who I am may have been suppressed due to the discouraging things I have witnessed.

Our society has no idea of what the words, actions they exhibit and energy around homosexuality can do to those individuals. There are individuals have no desire to carry out a heterosexual love life, instead they have to fake it so that their family do not abandon them, their friends do not mock and ridicule them and their community does not harass them and turn their back on them.

As a result of individuals date in secrecy, they live in obscurity and are mentally tormented at the thought of revealing who they truly love and hope to build an existence with. They never share the photo or video we see so many of our heterosexual friends sharing of the “Love of their Life”. The thought that their mother or father would hurl religious scriptures, epithets and possibly violence in their direction that they would now be the focus of conversations at their religious house, family reunion, job or professional social circles is terrifying and very real. 

I have witnessed young men and women living false reality into their 30’s and 40’s. To make that even clearer that could be half of someone’s life or a little under a 1/3. 

For those that read this, be mindful of how you describe an entire group of people. Be mindful of how you interact with those around you. Your son, your daughter, your niece or nephew, your cousin or even your friend greet them with love and encourage them to be true to themselves and continue to love them no matter who they love. 🙏🏾

To those who had the courage to come out despite your opposition, kudos to you and may you find peace in your truth. Encourage those around you to get centered with their truth and their reality. After all we are all More than what occurs in the bedroom!

Another Morning, Another Emmett Till

Another Morning, Another Black Man Shot by Police. Like so many other mornings I woke up and started reading the news. This time only to see the death of another unarmed black man. Another morning another Emmett Till.

I have to admit reading about these occurrences has become a shot to my spirit. It leaves me personally with a feeling of hopelessness. I feel abandoned. I feel unsafe. Though my life may have value to my family, my close friends and my colleagues somewhere some police officer views me as some villainous, criminal who threatens their existence and though I have never been arrested for ANY crime. I have never been physically violent or aggressive with anyone. I have paid my parking tickets. I have spent much of my twenties volunteering in my community, however should I be murdered at the hand of police, I will be reduced to a hashtag and some dirt some where will be plastered across a headline to vilify me. All to rationalize my murder.

This is what so many black men have come to understand more and more. In 2016 no matter your education, your potential or circumstances, you are just another “bad dude”.

I now get more than ever why Colin Rand Kaepernick has been vilified. It easier to ignore the origins of the national anthem. It easier to ignore that your high school classmate was murdered by police. It easier to say the guy you saw in the grocery store should have paid his parking tickets or maybe not had a speeding ticket. It is easier to say the kid accused of “insert whatever petty crime” should have just not been afraid of the police. America is a great country, but our problem is dealing with difficult issues. We would rather ignore the topic of a peaceful protest than listen to the reasoning. We would rather criticize the protestor, because we do not share the same experience as oppose to learning about their vantage point. 

So for yet another morning we will see another headline with another black man’s name in it, because he was “insert typical police reasoning” and was “overt aggressive”.