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”.

Advertisements

Racism Does Not Exist… If you are Lil’ Wayne

Undisputed hosts individuals with opinions. Usually the guests are focusing on sports and sports related topics as the show is housed on sports juggernaut ESPN.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 the shows guest was none other than Lil’ Wayne. During the segment that he appeared, the New Orleans native fielded questions about his business relationship with Birdman, his former rap partner, and business partner.

However we will focus on the ignorance that was then shared via Lil’ Wayne after a series of questions from host Skip Bayless. Skip asked Lil’ Wayne his thoughts of Colin Kapernick’s choice to not stand for the National Anthem. Kapernick’s boycott was launched, because he feels that people of color are being murdered by police without cause or punishment to the officers committing the reported crimes. Wayne first went on to say he does not know much about what Kapernick is referencing in terms of police brutality and then dropped a bomb. He believes racism does not exist!

Wayne used the example that his concerts are predominantly attended by white people and that he has been “blessed” and never experienced racial biased in his 33 years.

As I type this I have to take a deep sigh. Just on Sunday during a conversation with a friend who happens to be a New Orleans native, I said we have to be careful which musicians we support. The reasoning I stated verbatim, “Many artists are getting rich, by sending our young people false messages and they end up negatively impacting the masses.” Wayne proved my point. A man that has made millions of not hundreds of millions glorifying drug use, gun violence and dangerous sexual behavior since he was 16. That’s 17 years of music that has influenced young men and women to commit crimes for which the justice department reports they will be more harshly punished.

Wayne has encouraged the behaviors I mentioned above and done so without fear of the penalty he would face, because his money and connections afforded him a pass or so he thinks.

Yet many of the young black men and women who support his concerts and list be to his music will NEVER get a fraction of the “blessings” he has referred to. All that said, because he has not experienced it, it does not exist.

Even more dangerous Wayne is providing a sort of cosign to non-people of color who have been afforded privilege and cannot understand the fear that law abiding people of color face because of the acts of peers who live a life Wayne raps about.

My sigh earlier was one of disappointment. Not anger. I am disappointed in the loved ones, friends and business partners from Louisiana that have worked with Wayne and failed to have meaningful conversation about how people that look like him and live the life he raps about are being impacted. You see Wayne is from a state where black men are incarcerated at a rate more than double their white counterparts and face the death penalty more likely than any other group of people.

The danger in supporting artists who are not educated and not in touch with our communities is they send a message of ignorance to young men and women and profit off it while they get a pass. I’ll wrap this up, but if you continue to support artists who spew ignorance on a song do not expect your society to change. I for one will not be supporting any of Wayne’s work past or present starting today. It is not, because I disagree with his statement. It is because I find his statement to be dangerous and wreck less given his part in contributing to incarceration rates and behaviors associated with his lyrics.

If you missed he interview I speak of see the link below:

Undisputed – Lil’ Wayne 9/13/16

Compassion without Comparison

Our country does not have as much of stave problem as we think. What we have is a society that has a lack of compassion and a society that by in large is void of honest dialogue.

Far too often in this country when someone says I like cheeseburgers with ketchup the person sitting next to them has to say so you do not like chicken sandwiches. Black Lives Matters, while I do not care for their antics, is not an anti-police, anti-white group it is simply a pro-black life group. 

Blue lives matter has taken the angle that people who are black lives matter do not support police. There is nothing more false. 

The issue is that there is a notion that Black people do not like police. When black pepper typically are deathly afraid of the results of interactions that occur with police.

If we start to be compassionate about our neighbor one day we can work together to fix this. I saw a great analogy it went similar to this. If Joe and his family sit down for dinner. Then everyone gets to eat besides Joe. Joe then says Joe is hungry. Then his family who all have plates say we are hungry, but keep eating, they now have a standpoint, but Joe still does not have any food.
That is what the people of color. Be it black, Latino or otherwise feel about our interactions with police. We are not saying a white life or Asian life is not as important. We are simply saying we want our life to be valued and spared at the same rate as a white life in the same circumstances of police interaction. 

I feel extremely sorry for the slain officers, injured officers and the individuals subjected to gun fire at a peaceful rally, but my heart is heavy that yet another black man has had his life take and his family’s life forever altered. Altered by over aggressive police officers, who more than likely will never see the inside of a jail cell. A cell that if any of the black men murdered were found guilty of for the petty crimes they were accused of, may have seen should they have been over sentenced and convicted.

Sadly my soapbox falls on deaf ears. My life has a better chance of being reduced to a hashtag via a police interaction than it does at the hands of a gun by a black man. Our politicians are inactive and our police departments will not address the systematic training and disciplinary controls that are not working! What is even worse, when the President assembled a task force to address this, those suggestions have not been pushed by local leaders, activists or civilians.

Our issue is not racism as much as it is a lack of compassion. I pray for the safety of my black brothers and sisters as I do for the safety of everyone! 🙏🏾

You Can’t Recreate Her…

 

It’s taken me a few days to put all my thoughts together! This post is a review of The Formation Tour performed by Beyoncé. A buddy of mine, T. Davis and I attended the concert together and we literally left the show in awe. Two concertgoers who’ve attended a myriad of different types of shows with different genres, but this show stood out.

Saturday, May 7th the Houston native and pop superstar proved there’s nobody coming close to her.

From the time you touched the parking lot there was a certain energy about everyone you encountered. Some dressed in costume replicas of her music videos and others dressed up like they were ready for a red carpet.

Rappers Paul Wall and Slim Thug got the crowd warmed up with DJ Khaled. Scattered among the concert goers were Adrian Peterson, actor Kendrick Sampson, from How to Get Away with Murder and none other than Beyonce’s father and former manager, Mathew Knowles. The crowd of almost 60,000 fans was amped up and ready well before the Queen hit the stage.

Beyoncé opened the show with “Formation” the first single released off of her Visual Album, Lemonade. Though protesting was threatened very little could be seen as every one in the building had their eyes on the stage during the show. With a wide brimmed hat backed by at least 8 dancers the performer took the reigns of the show and kicked things into high gear.

Though the show had considerably less dancing, from Beyonce, than we are used to seeing the massive 6 story video wall, that rotated and opened up throughout the show proved to be more than enough compensation. Performing songs like Me, Myself and I for the first time on a tour, Kitty Kat and stand up out hits Sorry and Don’t Hurt yourself the audience gladly sung along. The roars were deafening as excited men, women and children of all ages belted out their favorites.

Beyoncé transformed her show with new choreography, new looks and working from one stage to the next and a catwalk complete with a escalated floor.

Then the coup de gras she performed in water. I’ve seen performers fly across the arena (she’s done that before) and though impressed there was something spiritual about the performance of Freedom in a water pit.

If you’ve ever wanted to see what the fuss is about or see a show like no other this is the show to check out. From production, to live vocals, to dancing and a fiery stage presence this show is arguable one of the best to be seen since the likes of Michael Jackson.

Do yourself a favor and check out the Formation Tour, because as Beyonce stated in, the song “Don’t Hurt Yourself”, they CAN’T RECREATE HER… NAW!

 

Click Here to View Concert Footage

 

Photo Credit: Beyonce.com and Joseph Williams

5 Things I learned when I gave up Social Media for Lent

 

Every year for LENT I give up something. The goal is to give up something that has kept me from being as close to God as I need to be and/or as productive as I need to be. This year I decided to attempt to give up social media and alcohol. This blog will be dedicated to what giving up social media meant for me. It meant that I would make more time to pray. It meant that I would find more time to spend with family, engaging friends and growing. Here are some things I learned in addition to the things mentioned above.

 

  1. Many of us use social media and alcohol to cover up our social anxiety.

I have always been a people watcher. So when I compare those I see on IG and the way they act in person, it can be drastically different. In fact, I have found that many people are only cool on social media. Their actions in real life are the total opposite to their actions on social media. The Snapchat Stars, the Famous Facebookers and the immortal Instagramers are not the same in person.

 

 

  1. Social Media Can Be Like a Reality Show.

 

 

Everyone on social media these days is looking to argue or voice their perspective. On any given day when YOU post your own thoughts or perspectives regarding an issue, be prepared for any number of people to @ you with their opinion of you based on your comments. Many of us draw conclusions of people based on what they post and develop opinions of people without knowing the layers of them.

 

  1. Paying Attention to the News is Important

 

 

We have all seen that “friend” or that “follower” who is constantly sharing and posting inaccurate, offensive and flat out false stories. Paying attention to credible news sources is so important and vital to attaining true knowledge. Many people today rely to heavily on social media for news. As a result we get half the story right with a quarter of the facts. There is nothing worse than someone who is adamant about a position on a topic, with all or most of the facts completely wrong.

 

 

  1. Social Media, It’s not Reality… Most Times

 

 

People have started living lifestyles they can’t afford to impress people they don’t know and will never meet. A good number of people have literally catfished all of us. These individuals are truly socially awkward crying out for help, but the lack of social skills and a lack of a real support system to get help.

 

  1. Your Time Can Be Better Spent

 

 

So many of us are giving social media and those who follow us and/or we follow too much time. The time we could be spending praying/meditating, working out, learning to cook or even enjoying vacations and the people around us are spent posting about everything we do. Can you imagine the number of goals we could all have achieved by now if we opted to spend less time on social media and more time living authentic lives?

 

 

#BeTheHistory

#Beyourhistory

 

As a person of color I realize the impact of my actions and the opportunity that my contributions and potential contributions can have. Honoring the history that has afforded many of us the privilege to exist the way we do is immeasurable.

I grew up appreciating and loving Black History Month as a child. Despite the negative images of public schools in the south I had a tremendous experience. My peers and I would dive deep into the rich history of African American people. From attending Emerson Elementary to Paul Revere Middle School a 1-year stint at Lee High School to attending Westside High School, the schools I attended always participated in the celebration Black History Month. From the programs to the lessons we were taught I benefited from the knowledge imparted.

Those experiences were key to ensuring that I could contribute to society at large in some way. Many of us were taught about the great inventions of Lloyd P. Ray, inventor of the dustpan. We benefit from Thomas W. Stewart, inventor of the mop, and from John Standard, the inventor of the refrigerator. Who didn’t have a super soaker as kid? Who did not want one? It blew my mind to know Lonnie G. Johnson invented arguably one of the most popular toys of my child hood. For those of us who can’t drive a stick, we can thank Richard Spikes for solving that issue, he created the automatic gearshift.

You see the inventions above were just a few of the additions to the world that black people created. So the question that I ask to the black people who are reading this is, “What will you contribute?” An even better question is, “When will you contribute?” We have so many contributions to make to society. Though the media and movies won’t depict it. We can contribute outside of pop culture, sports and entertainment. There is nothing wrong with contributions in those areas, but know you can contribute more.

Maybe you will not invent anything, but rather inspire a generation of innovators. Could your insight and talents be used to be mentor or to teach? After all the inventors listed above had some sort of teaching or education. So I encourage every one of us to tap into our calling. We are more than stereotypes, entertainment and more than our skin color. So I encourage you to be better than you have been in the past. Walk into the greatness you are a part of.

#BeMoreThan

#Beyourhistory

Did you know…

Leading up to yesterday’s election I knew that things would not be good for the HERO act. 

  (Image of commonly distributed marketing materials for anti-HERO promotion)

I was shocked that people of color Hispanic and or black did not know that it protected equality based on their race. Instead everyone I spoke to focused on an issue that wasn’t even an issue (at least according to the text in the actual act). 

What I saw was that good ole’ fashioned word of mouth and some pretty horrible television ads had produced one of life’s most dangerous feelings FEAR. The opponents of PROP 1 latched onto a fear that men dressed as women would use the ordinance to prey on kids. 

Every time I saw a person of color discussing it in person or via social media it was clear they hadn’t read the ordinance and believed the unsubstantiated and offensive hype.

I won’t say much other than in 2015 I thought we made more progress. It reminds me of opponents of equality scaring people away from the polls in the 60’s. Even more disturbing in Houston, on the day of the election, a donut chain opens (which happens to be one of my favorites) and there was a line for at least 12 hours before the opening and 12 hours after. Voter turnout was low. Of nearly 2.5 million registered voters only about 25% turned out. I’m sure the donut shop had well over 2,000 guests throughout the day. I saw people who live nor work no where near the location posting about “happening” to drive by.
I’m at a lost for words, but I know for sure that should this voter turnout and fear baited messaging be used again, the presidential election won’t be clean sweep for any politician no matter their affiliation. If we think so then we are surely in more trouble than we realize.

Huffington Post’s article details, cites and provides actual language, and provides a high level view of how cities much smaller in Houston were affected. 

  (CampaignForhouston.com web image)
I’m at a lost for words, but I know for sure that should this voter turnout and fear baited messaging be used again, the presidential election won’t be clean sweep for any politician no matter their affiliation. If we think so then we are surely in more trouble than we realize.

The anti-hero movement did a lot. If anything what it did is allow secretly and not so secretly LGBT individuals and families to latch on to what so many believe, that is that individuals in the LGBT community and perverts/pedophiles are one in the same. 
I’ll stop there, but there’s a definite distinction. We need to be honest, but open minded enough to have a conversation for understanding and not to simply speak. 
Read the Huffington Posts article which not only details and cites actual language, but provides a high level view of how cities much smaller in Houston were affected. 

CLICK HERE FOR THE HUFF POST ARTICLE



Be sure to follow the blog via the button at the bottom. Like or comment and share!

BE SAFE!

Be Safe!

Be Safe! I heard this while out and about the other day. A young student from the Ukraine studying in America was told by an American that lived in her apartment complex, “Be Safe it’s very dangerous out there!”, he said after learning she would be traveling home to the Ukraine for the summer.

I had to pause for a moment. The thought that many Americans have about other countries is that they are all “more dangerous” than we are. That some how traveling abroad would make one more susceptible to violence.

It made me think back to my own travels and experiences. Traveling to Norway and Brazil several times was quite an experience. I made those work trips pretty much alone. Yet I never felt unsafe. I can recall going for a jog in Stavanger fairly late several nights and never feeling like I would have to worry about being robbed or kidnapped. In fact Norway is one of the safest places in the world. They have some pretty unique benefits of being a native or resident. College students attend state schools for free, they have a great work life balance, and fathers receive a great amount of paternity leave when having children.

All that said one thing I learned was about how safe country of Norway was. You rarely see police; in fact police issue more parking tickets, than anything else. What struck me most about my time there is I never felt harassed by police or felt targeted. The gun laws are fairly strict there as well. You cannot obtain a gun license until 18 and you cannot obtain a handgun until the age of 21. To obtain a gun you have to even write a letter explaining why. Guns are required to be locked, in a gun case and police have the right to inspect homes where guns are thought to be improperly secured. The statistics as of 2012 showed at 1.75/ 100,000 people died as a result of gun violence. That’s an unheard of statistic.

It made me think of how often before traveling family and people who haven’t had the opportunity to travel abroad automatically assumed the places I traveled were dramatically more dangerous. They uttered similar words to the man I overheard earlier this week.

However when I look at my experiences in America my experiences have been far more dangerous or maybe it just feels that way. I can recall being a 20 year old attending a pool party and upon exiting the car and walking to the pool being met with a gunmen who mistook me for someone else. Thank God he took the opportunity to speak to me and realize I was not the one he had a previous altercation with. In that instance I realized my safety or so I thought I had was relatively non-existent. He was carrying a semi-automatic handgun. Something you would need if going to war, not protecting yourself or your home.

In 2014 on a work trip I was traveling with a colleague (who is from and lives in the UK) in Europe and we started to talk about his experiences in visiting America. I was shocked. He was actually quite nervous about returning. He mentioned that on his first visit while doing what I had done in Europe (going for a late night run) he was pistol whipped and robbed. It was so disheartening to hear this story. I can’t imagine his experience and the difficulty he had in the remainder of his first trip. Losing your wallet, means of pay, and identification while traveling abroad is not a fun experience let alone being assaulted with a weapon and having to make a hospital visit.
I still recall the night I was walking down the street after parking near a local bar I was meeting friends at. A cop rounded the block, lights flashing and randomly stops me. “Put your hands up!” he yells as his hand is on his gun and he and his partner approach me. “Put your hands on the car!” he says and I comply. I am searched and as I am searched I nervously ask, “Officer what am I being stopped for?” He replied, “You are in a high prostitution and drug trafficking area!” Those words still burn me to this day. I’ve worked my entire life to contribute to my community and to uplift those around me so I would not participate in either of those professions (they demean, degrade, deflate, and murder communities). It is in that instance I felt unsafe in a city, in a state, and in a country I have lived in from birth. I have never committed a crime. I have never succumbed to being a stereotype and I have never disrespected an officer of the law. It is in that moment that I did question what I should do after his response. My pride and integrity were hurt, battered, and I felt like someone had spat in my face.

What does this have to do with safety one might ask? In America we have a view of the world that is relatively different from others who live throughout the world. I would encourage those of us concerned or overly concerned with things like gay marriage, women’s right to choose what they do with their body, and whether or not Nene will leave RHOA to pick a cause that impacts more of us. Take up a cause on education, a cause on better gun laws, and/or laws that protect citizens no matter their race or culture.

I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunities I have had in life, to be able to travel and explore different parts of the world and different cultures and most importantly to learn. In America we like to think we have a considerably “better” standard of living! We are a blessed nation, but we could certainly be better. Be Safe!