John Cena - U Can't See Me

Invisible

I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.

 

WWE superstar John Cena’s catchphrase for the past 10+ years has been “U Can’t See Me”, which for him means that you are beneath his level of performance and perseverance. However, in the shorthand as it is written on his merchandise (like the featured photo), the catchphrase could also be interpreted as “U Don’t See Me” – a reference to being invisible in the world.

I vaguely recall reading Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man in high school. Or more appropriately, I should say I recall being assigned to read it. While I remember bits and pieces of the story, I remember the prologue and how he – the narrator – continually discussed and provided evidence for his perceived state of invisibility.

Invisible Man stage play

At the time, I didn’t get it. It almost sounded like some form of psychosis, especially when he discussed wiring an excessive number of light fixtures. It was as if he had to prove his own existence to himself. Quite honestly though, in those days, I really didn’t care much about literature or its analysis.

Invisible Man

When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination – indeed, everything and anything except me.

 

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But now, I get it. I understand that feeling of being invisible – that no matter what you do, people don’t see you or they simply ignore your existence. It is a feeling that I have become familiar with over the past year, first stemming from work because of speaking my mind. Yet, I’ve noticed it most significantly in friendships and family that I am the one who is never seen or viewed as being important enough to maintain a connection with – until something is wrong. Then I’m seen as some devil in the dark… because, apparently, everything I do is wrong.

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If I speak my mind, I’m reprimanded. If I disagree, I’m confrontational. If I ignore negative influences, I’m disrespectful. If I distance myself, I’m hateful. But if I stay quiet, I’m invisible and suffering in silence.

 

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Frustration of the Daily Grind

As I stated in my previous post, I have often felt like just walking off a job for a number of reasons, the least of which is the frustration of the seemingly endless cycle of mindless repetition. It’s difficult to feel accomplished when your most significant daily achievement is assisting someone who is too lazy or incompetent to do menial tasks on their own.

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But what causes more frustration is feeling trapped in a dead-end job with no real potential for advancement or mental stimulation. Doing daily reports and answering phones has never been a career aspiration for me. And then there’s the feeling that my time and mind are being wasted and prevented from doing the things I need to in order to fulfill my own entrepreneurial goals. Generally, I feel sabotaged and struggle to overcome it.

Over the past week, I have been completely unable to focus on YBE or even writing in general. And though I’m able to voice my frustration in this post, it’s difficult to keep my thoughts together, because the main things I’m thinking of are the desire to be elsewhere and not feel so completely exhausted each day, and feeling fulfilled through my creativity and passion.

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How I generally feel mentally before, during and after work.

Fulfillment makes all the difference. I’d much rather be exhausted from days spent travelling from meeting to meeting, soliciting advertisers or investors, promoting YBE to various organizations and schools, or negotiating with distributors. At least then, I’d have a reason to smile and feel accomplished from doing something significant, something that can positively impact people.

 

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When a Woman’s Fed Up

So many days, I have felt like just walking off a job for a variety of reasons from incompetence of coworkers and management to mundanity of the job. Not just that, but having a job that doesn’t stimulate your mental, creative and financial needs becomes less fulfilling and feels like more of a trap that you long to escape.

Charlo Greene made her exit on air in her local news market – though because of its shock value and of course YouTube, it will be viewed by a worldwide audience. She made it clear that her passion was in the company she was reporting on, but her dramatic exit made me wonder if there was more to it than just having a conflict of interest or lack of passion for her then-present job.

 

 

Tied to the job Sprite_Remix_3_Versions Anticipation

Anticipation

It’s the uncertainty behind anticipation of an event or response to a potential life-changing opportunity that creates stress. Not knowing and waiting for something to happen, the wonder and excitement of a possible good outcome or the disappointment and rebuilding after a negative outcome.

But in the meantime, I figured I’d have a little fun with the idea of anticipation through imagery:

 

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Falsely Accused

Hate Crimes: False Accusations against a Race

I recently came across an article from a Cleveland, Ohio news station that reported on how a former Navy SEAL lied about being shot during an altercation with three black men, which never happened. This got me to thinking about a number of things. First, in a time when racial tensions are already high because of the number of police-involved murders across the country of unarmed black men, it is tragic that someone white would rely on stereotypes of criminality to falsely accuse black men of an attack against him. And that got me to thinking – why wouldn’t that be considered a “hate crime”?

According to Wikipedia:

In both crime and law, hate crime (also known as bias-motivated crime) is a usually violent, prejudice motivated crime that occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group… Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters (hate mail).

Wikipedia also notes that “Anti-black bias is the most frequently reported hate crime motivation in the United States. Of the 8,208 hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2010, 48% were race related – with 70% of those having an anti-black bias.”

This, secondly made me think to a number of other incidents when a white “victim” falsely accused African-Americans or minorities of criminal acts against them:

  1. In 1989, Charles Stuart of Boston claimed that a black gunman carjacked and robbed him and his pregnant wife, shooting both, but killing his wife.
  2. In 1994, Susan Smith of Michigan claimed that a black man stole her car and kidnapped her children, drowning them in a lake.
  3. In 2003, Katelyn Faber falsely accused Kobe Bryant of raping her in a Colorado hotel.
  4. In 2005, Jennifer Wilbanks claimed that a Hispanic man kidnapped and sexually assaulted her, months before her wedding.
  5. In 2007, Amanda Knox falsely accused a black (well, Congolese-born) man of murdering her roommate in Italy.
  6. In 2008, Ashley Todd falsely claimed that she was robbed and physically assaulted by a black male supporter of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.
  7. In 2010, Bethany Storro falsely claimed that a black woman threw acid in her face.
  8. In 2013, Ashley Depew falsely claimed that three young black men punched her as part of the “knockout game.”

While, in his incident, the Navy SEAL was the “victim” of violence, if he falsely accused black men of attacking him when that did not happen, his lies further inflict injury upon a race of people. The lies further perpetuate the fears and stereotypes about black people and criminality, stereotypes that led to the shooting of Michael Brown, of John Crawford, of Trayvon Martin. These stereotypes are the basis of a bias-motivated crime (a lie/false statement to police) that would be readily believed by the public and law enforcement, just as the above mentioned incidents did. As such, his crime, even if a misdemeanor, should be punished as a hate crime to deter him and others from falsely accusing an already highly scrutinized race of people of criminal acts.

Multiverse

Ponderings – The Multiverse

I was watching How the Universe Works on the Science Channel a few days ago and they were talking about what happened during the first second after the Big Bang. During the show, they briefly mentioned something about the multiverse, stating that every possible universe that could exist, does exist, and that in each universe there exists a corresponding version of us that has made different choices in their life. That got me to thinking…

Maybe there is no multiverse…

… at least not the way it is typically conveyed.

We think that there is more out there, even though we don’t understand what we see. The idea of a multiverse just gives us more to imagine, to think that multiple versions of ourselves could exist and that every single choice, every single possibility for every single second since the beginning of time has spawned its own universe that we will never know (granted, that’s just one of the interpretations of the multiverse, known as the many-worlds interpretation). If that were the case, first of all, the multiverse would become very crowded at some point. But also, it makes me see that, despite the physics behind certain theories, we think of the multiverse in very human-centric terms. Every choice we make, exists in a new universe. How arrogant.

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Our universe does not exist because of a human choice. We are so minute in the grand scheme of things. In other words, we are as insignificant to the universe as a microbe on our skin. The universe, let alone the “multiverse”, will probably never know – or care – that we exist. So to think that somehow, multiple universes exist based on the choices we make or don’t make in our lifetimes is the ultimate conceit.

That’s not to say that multiple universes could not exist, but I highly doubt their existence is predicated on humanity’s often inept decision-making skills.

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Shocked and Awed – Agreeing with a Republican

It’s not often that I agree with a Republican on anything – let alone listen to one. But a recent headline in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught my attention: A Georgia GOP heavyweight puts the onus on Obama for turmoil in Ferguson. Normally, I wouldn’t even click such a link, because since Obama was first elected to office, the Republican party – and especially Tea Partyers – have been dedicated to undermining him at every turn while trying to claim that their attacks and lack of cooperation have nothing to do with race.

So I clicked. And read. Open-mindedly. And as I did, I was shocked to see that despite the obvious Republican focus of blaming Obama for every wrongdoing and mishap since the evolution of homo sapiens, I agreed with Mr. Evans on one single point: Obama has squandered “an opportunity to really advance race relations in the United States.”

More than that, to me though, is that Obama has failed black America by not doing enough to help improve our situation. Granted, I understand that during his first term, he could not afford to do too much without repercussions from the Republican party, and especially the extremists. As one commenter on the article replied:

If Obama seemed to be doing too much/anything directly for the African American community, the right wing would scream bloody murder about favoritism. I genuinely feel sorry for Obama and the plight of black men in general. The double standard is stacked against them big time. – NWGal

Now, however, Obama has nothing to lose in his second term by helping improve the socioeconomic status for African-Americans and ease the widescale suffering and injustice that plagues this country. He’s passed his major agenda, the Affordable Care Act. But instead of addressing race relations in this country, he skirts around it every opportunity he gets, because he’s still too focused on “playing nice” with people who have given him hell since day one.

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Another commenter on the article had this to say:

President Obama has had years to use his bully pulpit to address issues of race on a broader, more direct and certainly comprehensive level. Although I applaud his efforts to address federal sentencing disparities, he’s done little else to improve the plight of African Americans in this nation. And I think its pretty ironic that black people are the last demographic in this nation that has a majority that supports the job he’s doing, and yet he makes every effort to avoid addressing black issues. And at times, he’s even seemed oblivious to obvious issues of race when the matter is right there in his face. – SouthernDem

One such example of his obliviousness is his response to the Michael Brown murder. As Marc Lamont Hill said in a CNN commentary:

…the President delivered a polite but ultimately dangerous message to the American public.

Noticeably absent from President Obama’s remarks was the issue of race….By not mentioning this racial dimension, the President reinforced the immature notion that racism can be defeated simply by pretending it doesn’t exist.

Rather than leading the nation into a new level of racial understanding and dialogue, the President took the safe path through the door of post-racial rhetoric.

And that’s the biggest problem in America – the continued denial of the racism that has existed since the formation of the 13 colonies. How anyone could look at the social and economic disparities in this country and not see a clear and obvious racial divide speaks to the blindness (not color blindness) and ignorance prevalent.

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Again, referring back to Marc Lamont Hill, no one expects Obama to start shouting “Black Power” and becoming militant. But at least acknowledge that these inequities exist and DO something about them. Instead, he’s advanced everyone else’s agendas and fighting wars unnecessarily, except for the people that believed in his false mantras of change and hope. Nothing has changed for black America since Obama’s election, and what hope we had is diminished as our young men are being murdered at an increasingly alarming rate by racist white “law enforcement” officers who very infrequently are punished for their crimes.

Obama still has two years to make positive change and open serious and honest discussions on the proverbial elephant in the room. But with his track record so far, I’m not hopeful that anything will change.

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Hypocrisy of the American Response to Terrorism

After seeing a CNN article about the president’s response to a second beheading of an American, I was quite irritated by the faux outrage.

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the killers of two American journalists will be brought to justice… “Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget …” the President said.

Really? But I guess that only applies when foreigners do it or those that the US has deemed as a terrorist organization commit atrocities. Yet, when it comes to domestic terrorists, a.k.a. local police departments, gunning down unarmed citizens, the president simply urges calm in the communities. Where is the insistence then on the “killers being brought to justice”?

Militarized police use illegal tactics to antagonize and assault citizens, and all Obama can say is “we need to be calm.” WTF? “Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget… and that justice will be served.” Police IN America are harming Americans. And best believe, we will not forget that either. But where is the justice? How many times have police been involved in the murder of unarmed black men and nothing was done except to place the officer on PAID administrative leave?

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You say that your objective is to destroy and degrade ISIS so that it is no longer a threat. What about degrading and defunding local police departments so that they can no longer threaten, assault and murder unjustly the people of this country on the basis of their skin tone? new-book-details-the-disturbing-militarization-of-americas-police

Why should ANY police department in this country be equipped with any military grade equipment? Unless they are preparing for a war against the people, in which case, maybe it’s time we start preparing ourselves against this domestic terroristic threat.

Again, there is outrage from Americans over ISIS beheading two American journalists. Not 20. Not 200. Not 2,000. Just *2*.

I would love to see the same outrage from this country over the slaughter of young black men by police, considering the in the month of August alone, at least six cases across the country made it into national media from police murdering unarmed men without properly assessing the situations. All that mattered was that these “suspects” were black and that justified lethal force.

Is it too much to ask for our government to take a definitive stand in America against these crimes against humanity?

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Timing Is Everything

Sometimes, it’s amazing how things play out. While at work, I was considering not logging on to LinkedIn today, because my mind wasn’t really on YBE or anything associated with it. It had been a sluggish start to the day, because of inadequate sleep and back pain. But despite all of that, my intuition insisted that I log on.

One of the first updates I see is from an entrepreneur who accepted my friend request a few days ago. It was about a huge networking/funding/mentoring opportunity for creative entrepreneurs. How does timing play into this?

Well, if I hadn’t logged in today (or logged in much later in the day), I might have missed that status update. Not only that, but the guy accepted my invitation to connect two days ago. I sent the request over a year ago. Had he not accepted, or accepted some time later, I might again have missed out on this opportunity.

But the timing of this is so coincidental (if you believe in that) simply because I had recently made a decision to not publish any issues of the magazine again until next March, so that I could have time to devote to the business aspect of it – networking, developing the business, finding funding, building the audience, etc. This opportunity gives me the chance to really do everything that I have set my mind to and make my dreams happen.

I’ve learned time and time again that when opportunities such as this come along, it is probably in my best interest to pursue them, because they are rare. And I’d rather not live with more regret about things not done.

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I’m Pissed

On any given day, there’s so much to be pissed off about. Hence the reason I don’t often watch the news. Yet, to be informed, I read it while at work. There’s so much fucking chaos in this country and everyone is doing their damnedest to make things worse.

Let’s see… There’s:

  • Violence in Ferguson, Missouri
  • Open Carry Texas’ Houston protest
  • Constant murders in Chicago
  • Continual victimization of black men nationally
  • Racism
  • Police brutality, harassment and racial profiling
  • Laws and the double standards of enforcement with respect to race
  • Stand Your Ground
  • Economic inequality
  • Incarceration rates

… just to name a few. But perhaps what’s most irritating is when people keep telling black people who are marginalized and victimized to calm down as if we don’t have a right to be pissed about the way we are being treated in society. We are told to keep calm, as if we are the ones who initiate or exacerbate the situations. We are attacked and provoked, but when we respond, we are treated as if we are the aggressors. Why should we have to control our emotions in the face of injustice?

We live in a society, unfortunately, where victim-blaming is the standard for any injustice. It’s our fault for acts perpetrated against us by others. It’s the rape victim’s fault for wearing alluring clothing. It’s the arrest victim’s fault for wearing sagging pants or dressing like a thug. It’s the robbery victim’s fault for being financially successful. It’s the murder victim’s fault for being black. Any wonder why we’re pissed?

White people refuse to accept accountability for anything that they do, especially if it causes hardship for others. As long as white’s rights are in tact, who gives a shit about anyone else? That’s the American way. And why I’m pissed.

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The War Is Coming

“The war is still coming… And I intend to fight it by any means necessary.” – Magneto, X-Men movie


Over 50 years ago, these words were spoken/written by two of history’s greatest civil rights leaders:

“We want freedom by any means necessary. We want justice by any means necessary. We want equality by any means necessary.” – Malcolm X, By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

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Over 50 years later and nearly 50 years after their assassinations, we are still dealing with injustice in the form of laws designed to unfairly target blacks/minorities, of police brutality, of disproportionate incarceration and poverty rates, of poor educational resources, of racist fears and cultural stereotypes.

It is because of the stereotypes that white people and law enforcement believe that any black man is a threat or somehow involved in criminal activity. It is the stereotypes that lead white people to unnecessarily and unjustifiably fear black people, and thus feel the need to arm and defend themselves against a threat that exists only in their minds. But it is this fear that leads them to kill without provocation or justification, because we simply exist.

And for so long, we’ve followed the example set by Dr. King in practicing non-violent resistance and protest. We’ve allowed ourselves to continually be struck down by violence and “accept blows without retaliating.” And in doing so, we continue to accept the mistreatment and dehumanization of our people. But maybe the time is coming when we’ve changed our mindset. We’ve grown tired of the abuse. And we’re growing tired of passive resistance while police murder us with no repercussions. Others around the world are fighting for their freedom from oppression, for their human right to exist. When will we make our stand?

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In the words of Malcolm X, “The day that the black man takes an uncompromising step and realizes that he’s within his rights, when his own freedom is being jeopardized, to use any means necessary to bring about his freedom or put a halt to that injustice, I don’t think he’ll be by himself.”

We will start fighting back, as has been seen in Ferguson, Missouri over the past few days. Protests around the country on Thursday after also illustrated the unity and frustration that people feel over what happened in Missouri, New York, Ohio and elsewhere. We expect better from a country that touts itself as a world leader, as the home of democracy, and as the greatest country in the world. And if positive and satisfactory change doesn’t come quickly, this will only escalate.

The war is coming.

 

Magneto's Brotherhood - X-Men movie

 

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Why We’re Mad

Earlier this year, I posted an article asking “Why Are We Really Mad?” Now I know why. Joe’tavious Stafford. Ariston WaitersDawntree Ta’Shawn Williams. Trayvon MartinBo Morrison. Trevion DavisMilton HallChavis CarterJordan Davis. Kendrick Johnson. Jonathan FerrellJack Lamar RobinsonEric Garner. Ezell Ford. John Crawford. Michael Brown. And countless others, many whose names never make it into media outlets.

Is there any reason why the black community of Ferguson, Missouri is rioting, protesting and clashing with the virtually all-white police force? The black community is beyond fed up with the double standards of laws and law enforcement when dealing with black people. We are beyond fed up with our young people being callously murdered and no one pays the loss of life. We are mad that a white boy can walk around freely with a fully-loaded weapon in a state where another white man slaughtered innocent moviegoers – and no one questions it – which makes us madder at a black man holding a toy gun in Walmart (a product they sell) being brutally gunned down without the officer so much as questioning or seriously assessing the situation. All he saw was a black face with a ‘weapon’ and that was enough justification to murder him.

Dead ManAnd it’s maddening because we see all of this injustice and nothing really ever changes. No resolution to the problem of racial profiling. No reevaluation of law enforcement. No serious attempts or care by the white community or the government to heal the wounds caused by these actions and laws. No true discussion about race relations and why blacks are perceived as threats despite white people committing more heinous acts against humanity. It’s just business as usual. See a black, kill a black. And that’s why we’re mad.

We’re mad because we are running out of options and patience for a system that for over 50 years has stalled on delivering its promises of equality; a system that for 500 years has oppressed everyone of African descent; a system built on cowardice, fear and greed. We’re mad because America wants us to never forget September 11, but refuses to acknowledge their attacks on people domestically. We’re mad because we live in a society where black people cannot organize peacefully without an armed police response. We’re mad because we’re told that ‘racism doesn’t exist anymore’ or ‘to get over slavery.’ We’re mad because whenever police or someone white kills a black person, white people feel it’s necessary and appropriate to spout statistics about black-on-black crime. We’re mad because no matter how much we are victimized, we’re told that we’re not victims. We’re mad because the fights for our freedom didn’t result in our freedom. We’re mad because America can admit, apologize and recompense for its transgressions against every ethnic group except blacks.

We’re mad because we have a right to be.

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Why/While We Remain Silent…

I originally published this on Isom Kuade Journal.

I read an interesting blog post entitled “Ashamed to be a Black Man about the violence that black men perpetrate against black homosexuals. Several interesting points were made and I agree with the author, D. Kevin McNeir, about the difficulties of being proud to be part of a race of people who would commit such atrocities, especially against their own. But this post brought up several questions as well that I’d like to discuss.

First, the violence and homophobia are very tragic, but we have so much anger residing deep within our collective conscience, most of it stemming from the inequality and injustice that has befallen our people since our ancestors were taken from their homeland. We are so angry, but so afraid to direct that energy where it needs to be – we fear the white man as has been instilled in us since the days of slavery, so we attack our own people. We attack people we perceive as weaker, rather than all of us strengthening each other to rise up above our situations.

McNeir asked, “Why haven’t our black leaders spoken up? Why is the black church silent? Why do we continue to look the other way, thereby condoning these homophobic acts of violence?”

Black leaders these days hardly exist. Even civil rights leaders have become practically irrelevant these days when more often than not, they are simply issuing statements about some misdirected anger we should have towards irrelevant mainstream-media-chosen injustices (like Sterling and Bieber) rather than real issues. Those “leaders” who do speak up (specifically the newer generation) tend to seek profit and fame from incidents of injustice, rather than bring light to real travesties such as the ones in Detroit.

The black church has always been a tool of continued oppression and control. The religion that was forced upon our ancestors continues to keep us believing that the white man is god and therefore his teachings are what we base our lives upon. And while many of us falsely believe that if we change the skin tone of Jesus in paintings and on jewelry, somehow we have reclaimed the religion for ourselves when it is still based on what was whipped, raped and brainwashed into our culture. If the man in the pulpit tells us that homosexuality is a sin, regardless of what it might say in the bible or what we might feel in our hearts (or the actions of said preacher), then we will respond accordingly. So, of course, the black church will remain silent on the issue of black people being beaten or killed for their sexuality as it is against the will of “the master”.

And that leads in to why we condone these homophobic acts. Fear. We fear the repercussions from our own people and from white people if we speak against this violence. We fear that people will suddenly question our heterosexuality if we defend the rights and life of others who are victimized. We fear being victims of the same brutality and we try to justify our inaction by saying that those people “brought it on themselves” by “flaunting” their sexuality. Yet, we fail to realize that by allowing this to progress, anyone can then justify the same actions against the rest of us. We still frequently have incidents of blatant racism against us for just being black, and while we expect others to rally to our defense against injustice, we refuse to defend our brothers and sisters in need because of whom they love and desire.

Perhaps the biggest reason for why there is silence on this subject is the idea that if we ignore the problem long enough, it will eventually go away. Somehow, magically, the beatings will end, the hate will disappear, and all will be right with the world. We hope that someone else will solve our problems, instead of being leaders and taking action against these problems. Honestly, though, how well has depending on other people for answers helped us in the past 500 years? So many of us are still living in poverty, uneducated and incarcerated and still waiting for the white man’s god to bring us out of these miserable situations.

This hate and violence is just evidence of how weak we really are as people, when we define our strength through the victimization of others.

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No Apologies Necessary

I originally published this on Isom Kuade Journal.

apologyThere will be talk for a few weeks about the recording shared with TMZ about comments that Donald Sterling made. People will shout and call for protests, boycotts, apologies and what have you. I’ve already seen statements from NAACP Los Angeles president Leon Jenkins that Sterling “should spend a sufficient amount of time that’s necessary in African-American communities to prove that he is not the person those words portray him to be or suggest he may be.” That amounts to nothing more than offering an apology for expressing his true thoughts and feelings. And for one, I don’t think Donald Sterling should apologize for anything.

For starters, why force an insincere apology from someone for expressing their beliefs through what they thought was a private conversation? What will an apology actually accomplish? We show so much outrage now over his remarks, but once he apologizes, the “open dialogue” on racism stops and all is right with the world again.

But Donald Sterling is not the problem; he’s simply the lightning rod for the moment. Just as Don Imus was for his “nappy-headed hos” comments; just as Paula Deen was for her use of the word “nigger”; just as countless others have been for their expressions of their innermost feelings towards African-Americans. And what has really changed? Not a damned thing. They apologize and get their hands slapped in the form of a few lost endorsements, but a few months later, the media and African-American collective has forgotten about it. How will this be any different?

The answer is it won’t. Because collectively, black people seem to buy into the “forgive and forget” mentality or they justify forgiveness because of misguided Christian beliefs. As a result, we continually encounter these situations and nothing changes. We will continue to support the LA Clippers, whether Sterling owns them or not; just as we continue to eat at Denny’s, despite their history of racism; just as we continue using our money, resources and lives to make these people wealthy rather than supporting our own communities’ development (See “Dr. Dre’s donations to USC”).

But again, I say, Donald Sterling is not the problem. Why should we be so concerned with one man when millions of our people are being victimized by the entire American system? How many black people have lost their lives because of police brutality or because of state laws such as Stand Your Ground? How many black people are incarcerated daily and harshly sentenced for relatively insignificant crimes, while white people commit heinous acts and roam free? (See “affluenza” and “Catalina Clouser”) How often does the media (which they own) portray black people as inherently evil criminals, but portray whites as simply “troubled” for committing unspeakable acts against humanity?

Donald Sterling and his racist attitudes are not the problem. And his apology solves nothing.

 

US Neighborhood Watch

The tragedy of the Zimmerman verdict

On the surface, this case was about a man, George Zimmerman, accused of the murder of a young boy, Trayvon Martin. But so much more was at stake for society than one man’s guilt or innocence. On trial were Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws, race relations in the United States, and the entire judicial system. And even more than that, common sense was on trial. And with the “not guilty” verdict, the jurors failed on all counts.

A guilty verdict for Zimmerman would have meant the Castle Doctrine was guilty as well of the murder of an innocent, unarmed teenager. It would have meant that no person could claim self-defense to justify murder simply because someone felt threatened by the color of someone’s skin. Late last year, another young black man, Jordan Davis, was murdered by a white man, Michael Dunn, at a Florida gas station over an argument about loud music. Dunn also cited self-defense in that situation. The not guilty verdict in the Zimmerman trial now gives license to any racist white person in the state of Florida (or any other state with similar laws, like Wisconsin, where another young black man, Bo Morrison, was murdered by a white man, Adam Kind, who also cited the state’s Castle Doctrine to justify his actions) to murder black people without legal ramifications.

The not guilty verdict also makes black people who were already distrusting of the US justice system even more skeptical. So often, black people are victims of racial profiling and brutality by police officers, whether it’s “routine” traffic stops or “mistaken identity” in drug trafficking cases. Black people are murdered as criminals by the law for innocently living their lives. Now, we must contend with the fact that any community with a volunteer neighborhood watch can get away with murdering us too for wearing the wrong clothes after dark. And while Lady Justice turns her blind eye, we become systemically and systematically erased.

For anyone to deny that black people are at war with this country, this trial and verdict makes it crystal clear that we are victimized every day by this country. We are the victims of a war that was declared against us centuries ago, but never officially publicized. This is America’s Race War, often engaged through battles in the war on drugs, welfare, poverty, the education system, the legal system, racism, self-hate and self-denial, psychological conditioning, and “color blindness.” It involves the disintegration of the family unit and gender wars pitting mothers against “baby daddies” and the emasculation of black men within our homes and in society. It perpetuates the “divide and conquer” tactics employed centuries past by slave owners to create hatred among the slaves, between the house negroes and field negroes, between the light and dark-skinned people, between the old and the young. They let us tear each other down and use the justice system to finish off the survivors. They fill our heads with “dreams” of integration, of a society where one would be judged not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character, to make us foolishly believe that this country would embrace us as its own children.

They use these tools to perpetually keep us down, even if a few manage to rise up. Yet, many who rise have often sacrificed too much of themselves to get there. Among the sacrifices might be one’s own culture, family or friends, and self. The fight to the top might involve relentless struggles through nearly impossible odds to prove that they belong among the elite of a society that never wanted them. But this verdict, cast by five white women and a Hispanic woman, reaffirms the fact that black people and America are not one and the same.

The jurors had a chance to make history by proving that sometimes, what’s morally right is greater than what’s legally right – in the event that the two are mutually exclusive. They had the chance to say that even if George Zimmerman had shot in self-defense, that had he not initiated the situation by following Trayvon against the suggestion of the emergency dispatcher on the phone, Trayvon Martin would still be alive. They had the opportunity to show that even if Martin had been the aggressor and attacked Zimmerman unprovoked, use of deadly force against an unarmed teenager by an adult capable of defending himself without weapons was not justified. These jurors had the chance to prove that common sense can outweigh the best defense. These jurors could have given black people reason to trust the justice system in an unjust case. And on all counts, these six women failed us.

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Crossroads: Life vs. Livelihood

Often, when we find ourselves at a crossroads, we don’t know which way to turn, many times for fear of making wrong decisions and the consequences that result. And in some cases, that fear can be so crippling that people will opt to go the safest path, which sometimes might be turning back.

Even for me, throughout my life, I’ve been one to fear the consequences more than the potential rewards that come at the crucial crossroads moment. Yet, this time, it’s different.

My decision was choosing between my job (livelihood) and my magazine (life) – at least in the most general terms. I had a sudden opportunity that presented itself that could open many doors for me and YBE, yet that opportunity conflicted with a work requirement for my job. Normally, I’d agonize over such a decision because I wouldn’t want to have to choose between what I have to do for the present and what I need to do for my future. Instead, I chose what I needed to do for my future. Fortunately, my job was understanding and was able to accommodate me. But I know that’s not always the case.

For those times when it’s not, it can be very agonizing for the person caught in that situation. And that’s why so many of us stress out. The present is here; it’s tangible. We know that we will get a regular paycheck from our current employment. The future, however, is uncertain. There’s no guarantee of a payoff or when it will come. There’s much more risk involved and people prefer to play it safe, especially when they have greater responsibilities such as family to consider.

I am thankful that I do not have young children to take care of right now, so that I can enjoy being a bit more of a risk taker when it comes to developing my dreams. I have some freedom and the benefit of receiving a steady paycheck, even if I want/need to take off work for my life’s ambitions. Fortunately, most times, my life and work don’t conflict; however, it is inevitable that opportunities for my future will overlap with obligations at work. It is just for me to minimize those conflicts as much as possible until the time comes when I can devote my full-time energy to my dreams.

Lone wolf

Lone wolf

Someone very special to me did a handwriting analysis (graphology) on me recently. In that analysis, he accurately noted that I have a desire or tendency to be unseen.

(It’s amazing how a few strokes of a pen can reveal so much about a person and their character.)

I admit that growing up, I often preferred being alone – hidden, simply because I became used to it. I never quite fit in with others and often was overlooked by everyone around me. And even though I occasionally had friends or playmates, I never really developed close connections with people – friends or family. I was simply that shadow in the corner.

As an adult, I sometimes crave that belongingness. I miss being connected to people, and occasionally regret not having strong connections. I think about cousins that I grew up with who I barely know, the few cousins who are my age who I’ve really never had more than a brief conversation with. I think about the few people from high school who I wanted to stay in contact with, the few people who I shared what was, at the time, a devastating secret. I think about being in a space, disconnected, even in a room full of people whom I see and have shared weekly laughs and card games with for over four years.

But I think about why I tend to be disconnected, why I often remain the invisible one. Trust.

I grew up being both very trusting and distrusting at the same time. I refused to let people know me, because I didn’t really know myself. But I assumed that if they knew me, they wouldn’t like me. So I stayed to myself. As I grew older, I had my trust repeatedly violated by the people who were closest to me – from invasions of privacy to emotional manipulation and damage. People I thought were friends, turned out not to be. I allowed myself to be betrayed by opening myself to those who were not worthy. So I closed off and went back into the shadows.

And despite all of that, a piece of me still yearns to be connected.

The trust issues I have, in conjunction with situations I’ve had with so-called friends, exes, and family, have made me more discerning with people. The few that I have chosen to share myself with are special to me, including the newest among them – who I’ll just refer to as my Vanilla Gangsta. Each of them (and I can count them on one hand with fingers left over) remind me why I enjoy being connected, why I trust, why I laugh, why I share, why I cry, why I love, why I smile, why I dream, why I live.

Even as a lone wolf, I have a pack I can always run with…

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greek-god-atlas

Weight of the World

I wrote this poem 4 years ago, prompted by someone coming to me about problems he was having. It wasn’t an unwillingness to listen to people’s problems, but it was about being a receptacle for everyone else’s trash and not having anyone to dump my problems on. Not just that, it became more frustrating when people would come to me about the same problems constantly and make no effort to change the situation they were in or chose not to listen to advice given.

I look at this poem now though more as an outlet, a request for relief from an onslaught of burdens, when you are just overwhelmed by everything you are obligated to do in addition to the things you want to work on. In my case, it’s about finding a balance among entrepreneurial ventures, work, social and love lives, and my sanity.

 


 

is it my destiny
to carry silently
the ails of society,
the pains of family,
the injustices of humanity
with simply
a smile?

am I the savior
everyone yearns for?
to relinquish their burdens
so they find salvation –
and I stand in silence,
quietening my emotions
with a smile?

how do I press on?
my knees buckled under the tons
of anguish, of despair
of hurt – does anyone care
to be there?
or do I just continue to wear
a smile?

how do I alone
deal with my own
when the world beckons me
to tend to their needs
constantly, tirelessly?
and still thanklessly,
I smile

with the weight of the world
crushing me,
bending me,
straining me,
breaking me,
and I can no longer breathe –
please…

who will rescue me
in my time of need?
to just provide some relief
from the world’s insanity?
give me just a moment to stand free
to simply be –
and smile.

Yoda

When things are going right…

That’s when the negativity starts to creep (or in some cases, pour) in. Whether it’s the naysayers telling you what you can’t do, the crabs holding you back, former friends and exes trying to get back in your good graces.

You can let that negativity affect you (and many of us do), or you can shrug it off and continue on your path. It’s all about staying focused on what matters to you. I’m determined to be positive and successful in my life without dragging around negative energy and ghosts of the past.

Yoda

Gut check

For those who doubt, there is definitely something to be said for intuition. I’ve learned over the past decade to not question that voice in my head (the other voices are still questionable).

It has never failed me that whenever I have a gut feeling about anything, good or bad, my instinct has never been wrong. Whenever I listened, I was never led astray. Times when I have questioned it, I found myself often dealing with avoidable circumstances. My last relationship was the perfect example of that.

Today though is what prompted me to write about this topic. I had to turn down a [legit] job opportunity I was recently contacted about. It turned out that the opportunity was simply not aligned with my professional goals. But my gut told me that two weeks earlier when I was first contacted.

Though that was a relatively insignificant issue, it was another example of the amazing accuracy of my intuition.

Just thought I’d share. Lol.

 

Monday

The Momentum Killer

The realization that the weekend is over and you have to get ready for the work week. It’s the buzz kill for an entrepreneur who spends his weekends trying to achieve his dreams. I had a conversation with my best friend about that and feeling that I can understand why people dread Mondays. I do as well, partly. Although it may sound as if I’m contradicting my #TGIM post, I’m not. #TGIM is a mindset that helps make the work week more manageable for me and helps motivate me further to work harder to achieve my professional goals. Yet, that doesn’t change how I feel about having to suddenly bring my weekend momentum to a halt to return to an unfulfilling job. I’m learning (and guessing) that the trick is to find ways to keep that momentum going despite interruptions. Sticky notes might just become my second best friend on this journey of mine.

half

1/2 & 1/2

Since I wrote a post about my experiences with fathers and other male figures in my life, I thought I’d share this poem that I wrote back in 2005 that helped me vent what I was feeling towards my father and my mother’s brother.

 


 

i half-heartedly care
about your half-assed attempts
to be half the man
you should have been my whole life ago

half of you is me
yet I am none of you
a half-wit of half-truths
and fully incomprehensible
in the entirety of your ill logic

a half-pint, half-blood,
I refuse to be less than a whole
determined to be more than the hole
left in your absence
there by your presence

the better half
of my half-of-life
makes me more completely,
uniquely one
without the half of you
that lives on as none.