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It Starts Early

This is not a ranting blog post nor is it an I hate white people post. My little brother is biracial as a bit of context, some of my good friends are white. This is an honest brain dump. A friend of mine, the father to two young black boys posed this question to me and it sparked this post. His questions, “…how do we individually or collectively minimize the immediate fear to shoot brown skin? I still have to teach them (his sons) how to interact in a safe way with the blue… (posture, responses, hand gestures and etc.) which is stressful.”

Here is what I offer. We have to start have honest conversations with one another and make the choice to connect with people who do not look like us. I can recall growing up in the south, Houston, TX to be exact. Despite growing up in the south I can recall my classes always being diverse. I had middle eastern friends, vietnamese friends, black friends, white friends, latino friends, biracial friends. All found a way to coexist and I can recall us all spending the night at each others home and hanging out like kids do. To the point that even when I was called a “nigger” on the playground around the age of 7 or 8, everyone knew it was wrong and went to tell the teacher. I can recall that even throughout high school the group was fairly close.

When everyone went to college things began to shift. People migrated to schools or experiences that no longer challenged them. We all migrated to our comfort zones. The ones that looked like our homes. I give that back story to take us to this point. We are not honest about our differences, our similarities and honest about right and wrong. If I am honest for many years I thought that people got what they deserved for getting in trouble. As I have gotten older, my eyes got wider, my ears opened up, my heart softened and I began to look deeper. Here are a few truths:

  1. Black men are sentenced to longer and harsher penalties. Here is one example per the The Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Florida), with the same drug offense and same circumstances black men are sentenced to nearly triple the time as white men for the same crime.

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This is not to say drug crimes are not detrimental, but equal punishment should be the bare minimum for cases.  

2. It starts young. Minority groups are punished harsher earlier. The Sentencing Project, a non-profit who studies and advocates for equal justice found that American Indian (Indigenous) youth are 3 times as likely to be held in a Juvenile detention center than white youth.

“According to a Department of Education report, black students nationally were three times more likely to be suspended than whites in 2012. Suspensions occur most commonly in secondary schools, but black children were more than twice as likely to be suspended from preschool as well. Harsher discipline for black students is not just a Southern or state-level problem. It is a national crisis.” – NY Times , September 2017

Vox had disparities broken down in 7 charts to discuss hidden racism and racial bias as it relates to kids. I won’t bore you with more charts, but the link is here: https://www.vox.com/2015/10/31/9646504/discipline-race-charts.

3. It is reasonable black, white, asian, hispanic and latino, and biracial individual’s responsibility to not only challenge, but to hold those accountable for biases and abuse accountable. That means we have to do more than share a post via social media. We have to do more than retweet. We have to vote for diverse leadership, advocate for better rules and laws while checking our own biases. As a person of color at certain parts I have been complicit. Not that I said this black or brown person was guilty or deserved their punishment, but I did not speak up when someone portrayed a black or brown person as more dangerous or insert the adjective.

4. We need to retrain police and civic officials how to interact with diverse groups of people. They are not allowed to bring their biases to work. Period. We need cognitive gun reform. That way there is a much less threat of someone using a weapon against police officers who risk their life. Officers also need to exercise common sense. That means a gun should be the last resort for non-violent SUSPECTS. For instance a burglary or a loitering call should not lead to an arrest or dead body. Period.

To close…

If our country is going to move things forward we need more individuals who speak up, loudly. That does not have to be a fight or an argument, but a conversation challenging the individuals who are being painted with a broad stroke.

When we do not challenge the things we know to be inherently wrong then we raise young kids who become police officers, judges, Starbucks Managers, teachers, principals, school administrators, school board members and elected officials who do not advocate for true and equal justice.

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My Biggest Fear Came True…

I’ve struggled with whether or not I should share this story, but ultimately I know it may be meaningful to someone else. Our testimonies are not our own, but rather for others to know there is another side of through.

2017 was one of the most challenging years of my adult life. In 2016 I moved to Los Angeles without a car, a job and a stable home. I know that sounds crazy right! The good news was I landed on my feet. I secured a job within the first few months and I worked at Nickelodeon in publicity for about 6 months until my contract ended.

From there I was lucky I had several different really good interviews and decided on a small PR agency that provided a good learning lesson, but it wasn’t the most stable. Several months into the role one day after working and successfully pitching several clients I was told I was being let go after one of our clients filed for bankruptcy. I won’t go into too much detail about the company, but I had known spiritually for a while that something was off.

After passing on 3 of the biggest companies in PR and Entertainment for the role I was left searching for a job. This is an LA and creative thing, but that also meant I did not have much of a safety net. For about two months I was left with little or no money. The bad timing of the incident was compounded by the fact that I had agreed to move out of the apartment I was sharing.

*Deep Sigh* so on June 21st I moved out as promised and had to live on friend’s couches and in hotel rooms for the next few months. I was literally homeless. I moved 6 times in about 2.5 months. It was honestly one of the most difficult spiritual experiences of my life. I have never cried so much and I have never been so disappointed in God like I was during those times. If you know anything about LA you know that the housing market and situations are extremely tricky. It is extremely tedious and difficult and you are not moving in without several thousand dollars and employment for at least 3 months so my then current issues were a serious road block. Sure I could have called my family and asked for help and easily had the problem solved, but that would only be a temporary fix.

I contemplated packing up and moving home and leaving LA. By the time June 21st hit I had secured a new job, but that also meant that I had to pay off a lot of debt from not working. Things were extremely difficult. I applied to literally every job possible. I received no offers or received offers that would exacerbate things more than help. I really did not share my story at the time, because I was ashamed and I had not fully processed the experience.

That experience taught me several things:

1. Shift your focus.

From the situation I shifted my focus to the positive things and acknowledged the bad. I just CHOSE not to sit in the bad.

2. Always say thank you!

I began saying thank you every day despite how those days looked. Thanks when it was bad and thanks when it was good. When it was bad I was renting a weekly room in North Hollywood with no a/c during the summer where it’s 100 plus daily. When it was good were my days at work and with my friends at the beach or at game nights. That spiritual shift and choosing to remain positive has stuck and I can tell you that by focusing on the end zone and not the play I have seen how my life keeps manifesting.

3. Good people exist.

On the day I was going to give up and move back home a buddy Geo reached out mid-ugly cry. We talked and he shared his story it definitely gave me hope. Geo and his roommates were kind enough to house me for a few weeks as I recharged and found a permanent place.

4. Strong People ask For Help.

Prior to this experience I rarely if ever asked for help. I thought I was not strong if I asked for help. What I learned through my old room mate Hal, Benecia (my prayer warrior and spiritual homie), Merling & Mike, Marco, Rodney and Geoffery is that help comes when we ask for it. My goal is to one day repay the many kind individuals that opened their homes, wallets and their hearts.

My point in sharing this story is to help someone else going through a tough time. Your tough time may not be mine, but it is still a valid journey as mine may not be representative of your tough time(s). Shift your focus, say thank you,

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6 Things you Can Do and Not Do to Improve Your Relationships!

I want to preface this blog by stating I am NOT a therapist or a relationship expert. I am simply sharing observations and insight from conversations all that said I am thoughtful and I work to manage my relationships, because people matter!

Throughout this post you will see friendship and/or relationship used. Friendships matter and so do intimate relationships. So the advice can apply to both. That said I hope this touches something in each of us. Some of the items on the list I struggle with myself, so this acts as a reminder to me as well.

6. Do not let your ego over shadow your friend and/or relationship.

When I look at some lasting relationships I see people who can laugh at one another and also laugh with one another. Some of us let our ego over power us and our partners. We are too good to be wrong, we have to be right and we get in the weeds of things that do not matter. In your relationship your credentials, degrees, cars and age should not be used to trump your partner. EVER! Throw all that out the door. Yes you worked hard to attain and accomplish certain things, but your friendship and/ or relationship should not be the place you prop yourself up in, it should be a safe place to just exist.

5. Respect your friend and/or partners time.

This may seem like common sense, but it is vital. If you have a commitment meet it or give notice prior to the date and time you cannot meet the commitment. Things come up. We overbook ourselves and sometimes we forget, but if you consistently drop the ball or disrespect their time, then you are communicating to that friend and/or partner that they are not valuable.

4. Publicly Show Respect to Your Friend/ Partner.

Acknowledging your friends and/or partner is important. Be sure you are not spending all your time arguing about a sports team, movie, singer, etc. At a party or gathering mention how proud of your friend/ partner you are. Social media is inundated with arguments over people many of us do not know, but what about that/those special individual(s) in your life. When is the last time you bragged on your friends and the work they are doing and the achievements they are completing?

3. DO NOT AIR YOUR LAUNDRY IN FRONT OF PEOPLE!

Think of it this way. When your apartment or house has a leak or broken appliance. Are you going to post about it on Social media for days or even weeks before fixing it or are you going to get to work trying to fix it? The same goes for friendships and/or relationships. Do not vent to social media about your relationship have a conversation with the person(s) you’re in relation with unless you are prepared to share ALL OF YOUR shortcomings! Do not try to show up or embarrass or send a message via social media.

2. Be respectful of your friend and/or partner’s other friends and family and expect the same.

You may not like one of your friend’s and/or partner’s other friends or family members, but instead of trashing and tearing them down and involving your friend or partner have a respectful adult conversation to try and resolve or mend things. Nothing good can come from you libeling, attacking and attempting to discredit someone else. Make an effort to be in a healthy communicative interaction with people that you WILL have to share space with, that your partner love.

1. Actively work on you.

Friendships and/or relationships are the process of evolution. Your friend(s) and/or partner should be able to support you and you do the same. However if you are simply knee deep in their business and their endeavors you cannot evolve on your behalf in the best way. Yes you may have times where one of your friends and/or your partner may need you, but to completely dump your dreams and abandon your own ambition is a recipe for disaster.

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Mo Money! Mo Money! Mo Money!

If you are like so many of us on social media, you see hashtags of various travel groups and posts of so many cool items. We are literally inundated with more and more opportunities to travel more, buy more and eat out at concept restaurants than ever before.

The enticing images that we see are great, but then reality hits I am going to afford spending a lot of money to experience these things. How do we add to our budgets and increase our streams of income?

There are two points to consider when pondering the issue. The first point is it will take a little extra (or a lot depending on your goals) to generate new income. The second point is social media, the web and apps making generating revenue easier than ever.

Here are some opportunities for generating income around the holidays and after, separated by commitment level.

Low Commitment Level –

THE FACTS:

Opportunities like Postmates, Door Dash,  and Lyft require a few hours of your time and can yield $15-$25/ hour in return. The good news is you do not even need a car to participate in many of the digital part time jobs. DoorDash and Postmates allow for you to walk depending on the city you are in or ride your bike. If you participate in uber or lyft you have to have a vehicle that fits their guidelines and carry  special rideshare insurance, be sure to calculate costs associated with participating based on your area of residence.

Door Dash and Postmates differ in two areas, payment and scheduling. Door Dash utilized analytics in a way that allows you to see how much you will make prior to accepting the run. You can also schedule yourself for availability in particular areas. This ensures if you do drive you are not just idle.

Postmates essentially lets you see a heat map, but does not tell you how much you make and does not let you schedule.

EXTRA INFORMATION:

You have to pass a background check. I would assume any violent felonies or driving felonies could result in you not being bale to drive for uber or lyft to be aware of that.

If you sign up with Postmates you can get even more EXTRA by using the following referral code “josephcwilliams@att.net

Complete 10 deliveries IN 21 DAYS and you earn $50 extra or dive right in completing 60 deliveries IN 28 DAYS and you earn $250 EXTRA!

Mild Commitment Level –

THE FACTS:

Companies like BDS Marketing provide weekend opportunities for professionals. You can make anywhere from $15-$20/ hour working in your local Best Buy and big box retailers. You simply answer questions and demonstrate products to shoppers like yourself. There is remote online training that takes place. The employers will ship you all the materials you need like shirts, display items to test out and you are off to work. You will need access to your own computer and smartphone to complete reports, be sure to factor that in if you do not have those items already. These roles are great for experienced sales and marketing professionals.

EXTRA INFORMATION:

There is a lot of talk, standing and walking required in these roles. The good news is there are additional incentives if your demonstrations and discussions lead to additional sales in your stores you work in Be sure you are ready!

High Commitment Level –

THE FACTS:

The truth is there are a ton of opportunities to freelance depending on your expertise and your location. The freelance opportunities may require a little more effort depending on your niche. There are tons of freelance websites (craigslist; don’t laugh it works!)  where you can submit an Ad for your services.

Are you a teacher? Freelance as a tutor in our area outside of work and YOU can develop curriculum as opposed to teaching a curriculum that may not fit every student.

Are you an accountant? Help a business or individual manage their books and earn substantial income outside of your 9-5 job/ career.

EXTRA INFORMATION:

Cushion your pricing to account for taxes you will be charged on your additional income on freelance gigs. Be sure to prepare invoice templates, download free customizable contracts and be prepared to provide status updates and benchmarking depending on what you do.

Hopefully this helps someone reading it. We all wish we could be paid more at our respective jobs. Though you may not directly control your pay you can control the additional income you earn and with the holidays gearing up there are some great opportunities to add to your savings or to your budget.

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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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Before Moving to LA Read This!

My move to LA has been one of the best moves that ever happened to me, but I wish someone gave me a guide book to the city before moving here.

LA has so much to offer and it also has some very real challenges. To help you prepare I came up with a guide to help with important things to consider.

  1. Financial Preparation-

I am starting here, because this can literally make OR break you. The stories of coming to LA with $1,000 are great and good inspirational stories, but you are going to be in a word of hurt if you do that in or after 2017.

Here’s why. The cost of living is something we hear a lot about as it pertains to LA, but that does not put into perspective what it means. Groceries are more expensive, housing is not just more expensive, but it can be extremely to have a safe place to live if you are not prepared to drop in excess of $2,500 for a studio, and then buy appliances and a window unit. You read that right not central a/c a window unit and buy appliances. So if your mental calculator is not the best, your total move-in costs could quickly exceed $3,000 for a studio with no real updates completed since 1990.

Another aspect to prepare for is the super competitive housing market. Here today gone today explains apartments in LA. If the apartment is a great deal, comes with a stove and fridge (or 1 of the 2) expect it to be gone quickly. Shopping around is a luxury in LA.

Check out the housing links for Craigslist, HotPads, and Westside Rentals to help you find a place to live prior to moving so that you can unpack your bags and not find yourself couch surfing for months on end.

  1. Physical preparation-

The hustle and bustle of the city is real. That said you need a healthy outlet to sweat out the alcohol, possible stress, and being photo ready for the LA weather.

Start early. Before you move find a park near you to go running or map out a route in your neighborhood. LA is a city where a gym membership is nice, but plenty of people stay fit with a hike and boot camp.

  1. Spiritual preparation-

This is probably the biggest and most important point. Know who you are before you get here. Something a sound spiritual life can only provide. Moving to LA you are going to encounter your favorite actor or singer in random places. You may be invited to countless events, and there is always something to do. Be sure those opportunities do not define you and that your self worth does not need a backdrop, exclusive party, or celebrity picture to let you know you belong.

The amazing thing about LA is there are great spiritual outlets. There are churches, Buddhist temples, and everything in between to meet spiritual and religious needs you have.

  1. Work Ethic-

Point blank have it before you get here. You may be the best in Middle America, Dallas or Houston, TX or even Miami, but there are 100k people in LA who are just as good and probably better. What is going to differentiate you is your work ethic. No is going to be something you hear a lot of. It may come in the form of “let’s talk later”, “let’s do lunch”, or “something came up”, but be diligent and stay ready. You have to be prepared like never before which is why your spiritual preparation aligns with your work ethic.

  1. Professional Preparation-

Be good at many different things and master one. LA is the land of opportunity. You should be knee deep in what you say you want to do. You may be moving to be an actor, but do not be afraid to dust that degree off and find a 9-5 until things get moving for you.

You may DJ on the weekends or in the evening, but drive for uber/lyft until you establish a network. In LA most people have multiple hustles.

This connects to the spiritual preparation portion, be kind and be humble. The person in yoga pants could be a yoga instructor, the VP at a major network, or your next publicist. LA is a casual city. You just never know who is who. I know social media makes you believe you have to dine at $100/plate restaurants nightly and brunch every day just do not fall into the trap that if that becomes your lifestyle you no longer feel the need to be kind and to stay humble.

  1. Learn the Areas-

Prior to moving to LA I thought I knew where I wanted to live. After over a year in Los Angeles I now realize I knew nothing. Here are a few neighborhoods I have learned about.

Hollywood

I first crashed with a friend in Hollywood. I loved the walkability and inexpensive Uber/Lyft in the area. The downside can be pricing and parking. Be prepared to only have street parking except from 8am – 6pm and not on Mondays for the street sweepers, which I never saw.

The Valley (Sherman Oaks, North Hollywood, Van Nuys)

Surprisingly this area comes with some fairly nice spaces. You can get more bang for your buck and you can get some good updated spaces. The downside is you are far from a lot of things and rarely does anyone travel to the Valley if they do not already live there. The area is also great for those who work at studios and dancers. North Hollywood also has a train station to help get you through the city.

Mid-City/ Koreatown

This area has decent apartment pricing. The challenge is parking. There is rarely parking available so if you live in one of those areas be prepared to pay for a spot if the option is available.

Ladera Heights

This neighborhood is a true gem. You can find homes that remind you of suburb from your local community. For me it reminds me of some neighborhoods in Houston. After taking a look at my place I walked to Starbucks, the cleanest one I have EVER seen, and found nearly 50 people playing Chess and checkers. Everyone seems to be friendly and it is not too close to the airport, but close enough for you to get there for $5 in an Uber/Lyft.

Good luck with the LA move. May it lead you to the next level of your journey!

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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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The HBCU “Choice”

I want to frame this piece before we proceed. This is not a piece to persuade anyone to see things my way or from my perspective.  This post is about education. 

On Monday the new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, made a statement that perfectly illustrated the disconnect with historical events that significantly impacted black people in our country. The interesting notation to add is that Betsy DeVos is not an educator and lacks the the formal education, based on research and application. 

DeVos presented a severely flawed statement, completely misrepresenting facts about African-Americans in our country and the role HBCU’s play. HBCU’s are attended by African-Americans overwhelmingly.

DeVos’ statement called historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) “real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” this is after President Donald Trump held a meeting with several HBCU leaders on Monday. Though the discussion was billed as an hour long listening session, the listening session lasted 15 minutes, before the participants were brought into a photo op.

To claim HBCU’s have been a choice for education scoffs at hundreds of years of torture, rape, assault, brain washing and murder called slavery. It avoids the discussion about what happened to African-Americans attempting to attain an education, both during and following slavery.

DeVos forgot to mention during slavery that it was a punishable offense if a slave taught themselves or  if they had been taught to read. DeVos forgot or maybe she did not know that slaves could have their tongues cut out of their mouth for trying to sound smart. 

DeVos forgot to mention that following the abolition of slavery that most American institutions did not welcome African-Americans and/or did not protect them from persecution. Thus land was allocated and resources were gathered to provide a safe learning space for African-American students. 

If we continue down this path, segregation from educational institutions, water fountains, housing, bus seating, restaurant seating and even libraries were a standard not a choice. 

African-American students were provided outdated books, books with missing pages, tattered pages and vandalized buildings for attempting to attain an education.

The choice, Mrs. DeVos speaks of, was not much of a choice. It was the only safe and viable option to attain an education. As a result parents had to physically protect their own children pursuing education, the national guard was called in to protect young men and women from attack for their choice to attain an education. 

Mrs. Devos was not completely wrong, because of the choices people like my grandmothers, grandfathers,  and great grand parents individuals like myself were able to make the choice to attend two HBCU’s, Hampton University and Texas Southern University.

To reference facts listed throughout this post Click Here

The Library of Congress also provides a history Click Here


Click Here to read more at ABC News.

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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.