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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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I look forward to the day…

I look forward to the day when I can no longer be afraid to leave the house. I look forward to the day that fear does not shoot through my body when I see a cop car behind me or riding along side me.

That day where I know my skin, height, and my mannerisms are not seen as threatening and are seen for what they should be.

You see the reality is I am no more threatening than the men who hung my ancestors, enslaved them, beat them, hosed them, attacked them with batons, and the men who allowed their dogs to attack them, yet for some reason I am and men who look like me are all seen as aggressive.

In reference to the acquittal of the officer who got away with murdering #PhilandoCastille.

I cannot actually say that I am shocked. I no longer am able to feel rage. I have literally come to expect nothing, but what typically happens when a black or brown person is murdered and nobody is charged. 

In all honesty as a black man my worst fear is usually being stopped and killed by the police. I haven’t committed a crime, yet I am worried about being stopped and killed by the police. I worry what will be said about me when I die. Will the vilify me and reference me as an aggressive person? Will my character be called into question despite what I have done in life?
What is even more appalling is the law allows for black and brown men & women to be abused by the very people they are supposed to serve and protect. This is why people like Amanda Seales are so PASSIONATE about how WE are treated.

This is why Kaepernick protested, because when we are murdered without cause we then get slapped in the face with zero justice! 
People say America is great and I love our country, but this country is not here for us in the same way it is for everyone else! That is not even a debate that can take place! 

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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!

Badge of Honor

Today I turn 32. If you had asked me to describe my 30’s while I was in my 20’s it would not have looked like the past two years.

I am beyond grateful for the lows and the highs. On my 30th birthday I was unemployed/under employed and working a job similar to Lawrence on Insecure, actor Jay Ellis. 

The year of my 31st birthday I was mentally recovering from a year where I saw close friendships/brotherhoods fall apart on top of losing my father and my uncle. 

I share these things, because I am approached or contacted daily and someone usually says you really look like you are enjoying life. While I think that great and I believe that God wants us to shine despite our hardships I am cognizant that life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. 

I am grateful for 32, but similar to 30 and 31 this birthday comes with some challenges, but so many other blessings. I know for sure what my purpose is. I know for sure who I can count on and I am so excited to see what God has in store. I pray daily and most days I really do not ask for much of anything, but as I have prayed a different prayer in my 30’s the gifts I have been provided have far exceeded what I could have dreamed.

As 32 is here and I am here with 32 I hope that everyone will understand that another day above ground is a badge of honor. It is a stamp of grace from the man above. It is mercy shown on our lives. I chose to see my 30’s like that despite my circumstances at 30. 

So to anyone reading this, treat everyday like a badge of honor. I do not think I have had the birthday celebrations I have wanted (something I do not have to plan lol), but there have been so many truly amazing days inbetween where I received blessings that were never within my eyesight! 

I am thankful for Badge of Honor! 🙏🏾

Views… From the Right

This is part 2 of rights view of this past election.

Many individuals who voted for Donald Trump have come under fire and they have been unfairly labeled racists, mysoginistic, homophobic and their values have been questioned.

After several conversations I have found that so many people voted to spur economic growth and they also believe the Affordable Healthcare Act was detrimental, to their economic success.

What I have come to realize from discussions is those people who voted against Hillary wanted an America where an college education is not the key to having a better life. Donald Trump sold them on his ability to run businesses and that he could translate the experience developing into developing our country.

To these individuals healthcare prices are high for them and they personally needed a break from the prices they were paying. The blame for that has been placed on the Affordable Care Act. The honest truth is attending a doctor can be expensive and the monthly costs for healthcare can be expensive for families with children.

As an aside healthcare costs are the way they are due in large part to individuals who can not afford to pay and for those who chose not to pay. Here is an example. You and I visit the same doctor, I choose not to pay or cannot pay, but I still received care and you paid. The physician who treated us still worked on two people, however he was only paid for one. He has two choices he can offset his costs or take a loss. If he offsets his costs he has to raise his prices to make up for the shortfall. The insurance company who pays for the majority of the costs now has to raise their prices to cover those who pay for coverage through them.

The reality is just like the left many on the right who voted against Hillary or who voted for a third party candidate saw economic issues as the paramount issue for their future and they are justified. Hillary nor the third party spoke to the concerns of Americans.

Though more people are employed inflation, rising housing costs and slowed pay raises have made the ability for many families to create any financial breathing room.

As another aside many of the issues we face are due to a changing workforce and economy. It is cheapest for companies to automate their business replacing people with machines and finding ways to grow profits without growing their workforce, while investing in technology which costs.

As for the rhetoric that Donald Trump shared throughout his campaign, those who voted for him chose to look past it, as many due with their family members who have shared similar sentiments about minorities (even if you are a minority).

To lump those who chose to vote for Donald Trump in the same boat we lump Donald Trump in is a bit unfair. Their vote does not mean they are racists, bigots, xenophobes or mysoginists.

Please share, comment and of course like it if this resonated with you.

#iamjoecarnell

Views… from the Left

The next two blogs will be dedicated to this year’s Presidential Election results.

I needed two parts to discuss the emotion that people on both the left (liberal) and the right (conservative) feel. Now that I have laid the framework let’s start with the left.

Donald Trump seems to represents a caricature that is representative of white male privilege. It seems the message that we shared and lessons we teach our children, by electing someone who has zero experience of public service and libels nearly every minority group. Lessons about treating people as equals and being respectful, being an inclusive society.

Throughout the campaign he called “Latino immigrants” rapists and murderers, he said “the blacks” are living in poverty and their neighborhoods are a wreck and he said that John McCain should not be considered a war hero, because he was captured during his time serving our country. These are Donald Trumps words. The transcripts of his speeches are available.

Donald Trump, through no fault of his own, was born wealthy. He ran on working hard and assisting the middle class. The trouble is he has never been a part of the middle class and probably has not driven a car or purchased a gallon of milk ever. Donald Trump also admittedly has not paid taxes in over 20 years and claims that’s smart. He then went on to say there should be a Muslim ban and identification system. That is banning an entire religion of people from our country and tagging people similar to the system used in Nazi Germany.

Here is where things get dicey. To vote for and elect a person who slanders entire groups of people allows those that voted for him to ignore everything he has ever said about individuals. Individuals who are black, Latino immigrants and those who are surviving Prisoners of war.

To allow a person to govern a country where people of all races live and say those disparaging and unfounded things is ignorant, dangerous and disrespectful. These remarks became a daily antic of Donald’s which lends MANY to say he believed the things he said. The morality we compel our children to have, that we hold our neighbors to and expect from ourselves seems to have been thrown out the window by people supporting a persons who says them.

For those of you who say I can not be and am not racist, fearful of Muslims and I respect war veterans your vote said that you side with Donald J. Trump’s opinion on the groups I mentioned. Maybe you are not a racist, biased against a religion and you respect veterans. Your vote was symbolism and seems to be an admission of sorts that you do not have a problem with your elected leaders disrespecting, offending and marginalizing a group of people. As a note President Obama was heavily criticized for the views and words of his pastor, not him, he was called a racist after a video of a sermon, Jeremiah Wright preached where he used the term, “white devil”. In this instance President Obama did not share those sentiments nor did he say those words.

The question that has risen, leading to protests in major cities across our country, why is it acceptable to behave in the way Donald Trump has throughout this entire election cycle? The common consensus shared from those who did not vote for Donald Trump is he incited closet racists, bigots, homophobes and hate. You may not be any of the individuals, but a vote for him seems to state you do not have a problem supporting someone who is. The part says that you may in part agree with some of the assertions Donald made.

This blog is not meant to point fingers or name call, simply to provide perspective.

Share your views and your respectful thoughts and let’s create a dialogue.
#iamjoecarnell

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I Traded Financial Stability for Mental Peace.

In 2014 I realized I no longer wanted any parts of Corporate America and the hustle and bustle of working a 9-5 where I had to wear a suit and tie regularly. I knew I enjoyed the perks of being able to travel when I wanted, earning a great salary, but I hated working to live. I will not make this about race, but I will say Corporate America is not always the friendliest if you look like I do.

It seemed no matter what I made there was always something coming up that I had to work to pay off, pay down and contribute to. I admit that was me. It was spending habits, social circles and coping (as Solange explains it in Cranes in the Sky).

Like so many years 2016 started with me discussing moving to Los Angeles and quitting a very good paying job, but I did not put a date on paper. In February of 2016 after a weekend trip to New Orleans I discovered that a longtime friend had passed away due to complications during a surgical procedure.

It was literally at his funeral that I became inspired. Seeing a church with standing room only for a 31 year old shook me as if I was in a bounce house with twenty 5 year olds. I walked to my car thinking that my friend who passed, figured it out. He was determined to enjoy life as it is supposed to be enjoyed. Despite his health issues he never stopped pursuing his goals and his dreams. It was that day I looked at my calendar, decided on a date and made a declaration that on this day I would not only leave my comfortable job with a company car, good salary and ridiculous bonus, I would take a leap of faith.

I had applied to jobs in Los Angeles for nearly two years with frequent interviews and no job offers. Every job wanted a candidate to start or to come in to interview the next day. So I decided to trade my financial stability and move to Los Angeles with no job. I tell this story, because despite moving here without a job, a car or a place to call my own I never felt better. There was a huge mental weight lifted off my shoulders and I spiritually I found myself in a place of peace I had not experienced in at least 18 years.

That move not only, blessed my spirit it made me a better at managing my finances, my time and protecting my peace. I have become more clear on who I am, who I do and do not fit with and I have been able to grow.

Though my bank account is not as large, I may not be able to go out as much (on my dollar); I may not be able to eat out as much I have everything I need. If I never knew before I know now what faith looks like and what stepping out on it yields.

Though I know this may not work for everyone, I encourage anyone reading this to find out what it is you need to do to get mental and spiritual peace and go after it.

#iamjoecarnell