Tales From the Hilltop
A intelligent, yet Devil's Advocate view of the world

Oct
30

One of the truest things I’ve heard about the American public came from an episode of The Wire. It’s when a detective was asked if people would believe a story that may or may not have actually happened. His response was pure genius:

“By in large, people are pretty stupid, especially here in America. We pretty much believe everything we’re told.”

That, right now, hasn’t been any truer than the American public’s general reaction to an outbreak of a deadly virus called Ebola. This virus, which was made its way in the continental United States, has infected only a handful of people in the U.S. since its arrival last month. However, the chaos and mass hysteria that has come with it would have you believe we have a pandemic that’s going to challenge the Black Plague of Middle Eastern Europe on our hands.

Yes, it true: is certain countries of West Africa like Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria, Ebola is very much prevalent. Due to the lack of up-to-date hospitals and treatment centers in those areas, the virus has hit outbreak status. In a developed country like America, which started planning from the day it heard one of its citizens has contracted the disease in that region, this should have been a much less crazy issue.

Enter the hype machine that is the media.

With constant reporting on whose got the disease and where in America they are, news stations everywhere has driven people into frenzies and mass panic of fear that they may catch the virus.

Suddenly, places like Dallas, Maine, and of course NYC has become ‘hot spots’ for Ebola in America.

* Sighs * Oh boy….here we go, yet AGAIN.

It seems like every year for the past four years running, we have a new “scare” to have us all believing we’re doomed, and some form of Armageddon is here.

In 2009, it was H1N1….

In 2010, it was SARS…

2011, it was Bird Flu…

2012, the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world…..twice….

Last year, everyone swore up and down that World War III was going to start.

You see where I’m going with this?

Look, maybe I’m one of the cynical ones around here, but this whole Ebola “scare” seems like another attempt to stress people out for no reason. Now I know, the rational portion of the population probably feels the way same as I do. Unfortunately, I also know that the majority of the public is anything but rational.

If they were, a teacher in Maine wouldn’t been banned from school for 21 days, cause they visited Dallas, where ‘patient zero’ was….

If they were, a high school principal in Mississippi wouldn’t have had to withdrawal himself amidst rumors that he went to Zambia (where the Ebola outbreak isn’t even at, mind you), and parents started withdrawling their children from school until the principal quarantined himself….

(and since I know you want to call my bluff, that article is here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2799014/ebola-hysteria-sweeps-schools-maine-teacher-visited-dallas-told-not-come-work-21-days-hundreds-mississippi-parents-pull-kids-school-principal-visited-zambia-3-000-miles-countries-hit-disease.html)

OK, people…seriously? This is starting sound like the beginning of the HIV/AIDS outbreak in the early 1990s, where people were being unjustly accused of having the disease, and those that actually did contract it, were having their lives turned upside moreso dude to the public’s reaction then to the disease itself.

I thought we have all learned these lessons of the past. I thought most of us adults knew what hysteria can do when people are very ignorant on facts about a disease. I thought people were aware that reactions without thinking doesn’t help ‘contain’ the disease; it only makes dealing with controlling it much more difficult.

I thought people would have acted better at all these things. Shows what I get for thinking. You’d figure with all the other diseases VERY rampant in America right now (cancer, obesity, etc), that less than 20 people getting this disease thousands of miles away, we’d have a little more common sense on how to handle ourselves. You’d figure that, at least.

Listen: do better, people. Get the facts about how Ebola actually spreads. Learn. Pass on to others. Stop it already with the blind hysteria and MASSIVE ignorance. In fact, I’ll tell you what you need to know about Ebola right now:

(taken from the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/qa.html)

  • Wash hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid contact with blood and body fluids of any person, particularly someone who is sick.
  • Do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
  • Do not touch the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
  • Do not touch bats and nonhuman primates or their blood and fluids and do not touch or eat raw meat prepared from these animals.
  • Avoid facilities in West Africa where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. Embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on medical facilities.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you develop fever, headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding.
  • Limit your contact with other people until and when you go to the doctor. Do not travel anywhere else besides a healthcare facility.

There. Now you know. And as an awesome cartoon taught me, “Knowing is half the battle.”

GI JOE!

10/30/14

May
13

It’s pretty incredible how social media has “evolved” all of us. It’s made us more aware of the world, it’s brought us closer to everyone we care about, and it’s open the doors to find out more about people than we’ve wanted to admit. Unfortunately, with all this awareness, has come a horrible thing for men: gossip. TONS of it.

This episode will focus on the now-most famous camera-captured elevator fight since Ray Rice went all Little Mac from Punch-Out on his fiancé; the fight known as Solange Knowles vs. Jay-Z. No, this episode will not be about what started the fight, or why Beyonce stood there and did nothing, nor the skills that bodyguard had in (somewhat) successfully keeping the younger Knowles from Chun-Li kicking S. Carter in the Carter jewels. In fact, this episode isn’t about the four people in the elevator at all.

It’s about YOU. And by you, I mean the men that have seemingly wasted 24-48 hours of their lives dedicated to finding out everything there is to know about why this happened.

Now, I’m not trying to be sexist or anything, but I’ve heard more of the male population take the stupefying low road here and turned into domestic dispute detectives to find out the details than the female populous. I’m actually quite baffled at this.

WHY??? Seriously, as a man, why it is my business to find out why a private moment (albeit caught on videotape) happened? Why is any of ours? Men, I’m not getting this? Someone help me out, here…seriously.

Now, I admit; I had a joke or two, like the next person did. That’s also what social media has done; seemingly brought out everyone’s inner comedian. However, where’s the line between harmlessly commenting on a hot issue, and trying to go to bat for a side to an issue that has nothing to do with anyone? This all seems like a colossal waste of time for a myriad of reasons:

1)   If you know that couple, damage control is working overtime to make sure this is all forgotten in eight days or less. More than likely, it’ll work. In two weeks, no one will know…or care…. this happened, and Jay will still have the ‘Michael Jordan Teflon Don Pass’ the public (mostly dudes) has bestowed upon him.

2)   For all those people that can’t stand either Jay-Z or Beyonce, they have no idea you exist outside of hate tweets.

3)   For all those people that love one or both of them, whatever music they put out next, this incident won’t feel not one shred of affect on it. NONE.

OK, I guess I have to explain the sexist rationale of this episode; look, I’m not even mad that this whole thing has been #1 on the female attention span. Unfortunately, gossiping is more reserved for women, and much more tolerated by women as their unofficial sport. Not being a pig here; I just calls it how it is. Dudes getting this involved in a story that’s not really that big of a story have seen male sewing circles sprout up like hotcakes. What’s next? I’m actually too scared to find out. This is a prime reason why males in America are losing respect around the world by the day.

Men, we are better than this. And there’s sooo many more things that need our attention than another celebrity family blow-out….like our OWN families, for one.

I’m going to leave all you XY-chromosomal laden folk (that’s men for the scientifically ignorant) to words of Nene Leakes when she told Peter about himself for meddling in women-like affairs:

“You need to stop trying to roll with the damn women, OK? You need to stop trying to be a damn bitch!”

Honestly. Chill with this, yo.

 

5/13/2014

Apr
29

So, it appears justice has been served, for once. The NBA has taken a strong stand on it’s zero-tolerance on racism , and the people who perpetuate it in the NBA. This was made true by the league’s action against hopefully-soon-to-be-ex Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling.

If you’ve been in living in a cave for the last week, here’s a short recap:

Last Friday, a audio tape of Sterling surface on the internet, with him telling his mistress that he didn’t want black people at any of his games, nor did he want her to be seen in public with them.  I won’t even go into all the racially offensive garbage spewed, because you can pretty much hear it everywhere, starting with here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZh6WGbZUvA. Of course, this pissed the league off something awful, as about 75% of the league is black, including about 90% of the team he owns. So today, the new NBA commissioner Adam Silver went balls-out, banning Sterling from the NBA for life, as well as fining him $2.5 million, which is I’m sure a record amount in pro sports.

Let me just say on the record, I applaud Silver’s actions. I clapped with i watch the press conference live, to know that this type of thinking should not nor WILL not be tolerated within the NBA, or most of society. Sterling needed to be gone after that tape hit cyber space. However, I do have questions and answers to other questions that surround this whole ordeal:

1) Why does everyone now say that the league should’ve been done this, based on his past? Where was everyone back then? Since there is proof Sterling’s racism was evident in refusing to rent apartments to black and Latino families? Why didn’t anyone speak up back then? I’ll tell you why: it wasn’t made public. Yes, it was documented. Yes, the discrimination suit Elgin Baylor filed for his wrongful termination was documented and made available to anyone who bothered to read it. Trobule is, NO ONE CARED back then. Hell, 99% of the world had no idea of Sterling’s past bigotry until this tape surface. Where were the 1% of folks that knew he was bigoted, that KNEW he felt this way about black folks? What about former commissioner, David Stern? If Sterling has indeed done racist actions under his watch, shouldn’t there be some outrage towards Stern as well?

2) Since he was taped having a private conversation with his sugar baby (cause, let’s keep this 100, that’s what she was), where’s the outrage towards HER? One of the most disturbing things about all of this, is while he’s making this racist diatribe, she’s listening to it, despite the fact she half-black (and half-Latino)….and still stood by him, even after the tape came out?

Whoa. Let that one sink in a bit.

Why hasn’t the mob come after her for being a gold-digger so bent on not being thrown off the Sterling gravy train, she was willing to forgo her race and get rid of all her black friends to please him? Where’s the outrage for this woman who clearly sold more than her body for the finer things in life?

3) For all the people stating that where all are the players when athletes get caught up in their own dramas, ranging from wife-beating, to DUIs, to illegally owning weapons, how can they even compare these situations? My thing is, when athletes get caught up in off-the-court legal issues, I fully believe they should be dealt with by the league just as any player can. But in the end, other than the athlete and any parties involve, who else gets affected by their transgressions? The owners? The fans? Society? Not a chance.

Sterling’s comments effected a ton of people, which is something people are downplaying in trying to defend him. They effected the players, who have to live with the reality of playing for a guy who really doesn’t want their there other than to entertain him. They effected the coaching staff (especially Doc Rivers). They effected ALL of the black folks in the front office. They effect anyone who works at the games. Comparing other private players’ issues to this was an apples-to-oranges move, and most people know that.

Look, this ban on Sterling won’t cure racism in America any more than the election – and re-election – of President Obama did. There will always be racism in America (at least, in our lifetimes. Maybe in a few hundred years, this may change). I absolute abhor it, but as a black man in America, I’m not naive enough to deny it. That doesn’t mean racism should be accepted or tolerated, especially by the ultra-wealthy and powerful. My thing is, with all of the side stories that went with this (including the whole “invasion of privacy” issue), I hope that doesn’t derail the main point here. Racism, discrimination, and hatred of ANY kind must be tackled head-on, and should NEVER be allowed to profit in this day and age.

Adam Silver just made a fan out of me. I hope he made a whole bunch more.

 

4/29/14

Jan
27

If you are black living in America, chances are at some point in time, you’ve seen your share of injustices. Some may happen directly to you, some just may affect you from afar. From overt and subtle racism to police brutality, to economic sabotage (some done by our own selves) and everything in between, we’ve experienced it all. Even in music, where we hear how some artist gets screwed over for money owed to them or an award the masses know they should’ve received but didn’t, sometimes living in this country will mean we as a collective whole will watch our livelihood get humiliated.

And that humiliation hit way too close to home last night at the Grammy Awards.

For all those that bothered to watch in a cross between confusion, horror, and outrage, we witnessed Hip-Hop basically being used like a prostitute on a world wide stage, as the Grammys (or the “Shammies”, as I like to call it) basically whored out this once wild, rebellious, and masterful art form to satisfy two agendas at the same time: fulfilling the next “Great White Hype”, and pretty much shoving the LGBT movement down all of our throats. I’ll explain this further.

After releasing one of the most successful Hip-hop albums in years, a young emcee from Compton named Kendrick Lamar was pretty much on target to win his first Shammy award for best Rap Album. And why not? Anyone’s who heard this album, entitled, “Good Kid m.A.A.D. City” agreed that it’s been a modern musical masterpiece since its debut back in October 2012. The field he was up against didn’t seem to be much of a challenge to topple this album, either.

Not so fast.

Enter a young emcee and from Seattle named Macklemore, who himself had been on a rise in 2013 with his album (along with his DJ, Ryan Lewis) “The Heist” and figured to give Kendrick a challenge, at least. But hey, he wasn’t going to win most of us thought, so it didn’t matter, right? Right? Wrong.

Not only did Macklemore take home the award for best Rap Album, but also won in every major Hip-Hop oriented award. Shows what we all know, I guess. This insult, to award an artist an award he himself said he didn’t deserve (maybe in an act of predictable humility to avoid not becoming a villain to the Hip-Hop masses in the process) wasn’t the end of it. At the end of the night, one of his singles entitled “Same Love” was performed live. Who cares, right? Wrong. You see, “Same Love” is pretty much the most progressive pro-homosexual based song ever, and it was done in over-the-fashion, complete with a live mass marriage ceremony of lesbian and gay couples during the song’s performance at the awards show.

Now, understandingly so, the Hip-Hop community is beyond outraged at these events.  Not only has a mediocre artist been given one of music highest “honors” in a culture that clearly never saw him as that deserving of it, but the art form has also been used to push an agenda that Hip-Hop itself has never come to terms with being OK on. Basically, what has happen is that “the machine” that we all knows run the music industry was on full-display last night, and the message was clear,

“Hip-Hop is no longer under it’s true fan base’s control. We have taken it over and it no longer matters what you think, say, or do about it.”

So honestly, here’s the only solution we have left as to what to do with this once proud art form:

Kill it. Destroy it. Totally dismember it, brick by brick, until it fades away.

As I’m sure you’re reading this is wondering if I’ve lost my mind, just read further. There are too many people involved in Hip-Hop for all the wrong reasons. Like any musical art form, this is supposed to be about expression, about our voice in the inner cities where it began, about the state of the youth, and about how hip-hop was living poetry crossed with musicianship, attitude, and a sense of humility that stemmed from it originating in the “underground”, away from mainstream eyes and schemes. Now, it’s been about chasing a dollar, making the best hit, or selling the most albums. It’s about using songs to promote the next big product. And yes, it’s now about pushing out agendas that were once against the fundamental core of Hip-Hop.

OK, let me state some things: for the record, this is not (just) about Macklemore being white. Truth be told, white folks that have come correct in this genre have always been welcomed with open arms and honored as such. The success of acts like Eminem and the Beastie Boys have most came on the co-sign of the Afro-American populous, because they present their music with such skill and flavor, that the populous didn’t care about their skin tone. However, when you know once artist didn’t deserve that award and was given it anyway, mostly to the Shammy committee deciding it was time to introduce a new white sensation, it’s hard not feel a certain type of way about the results.

Believe it or not, this isn’t about gay marriage either (not entirely). This country has made major strides in the past decade about becoming acceptant (or tolerant, at the minimum) about people choosing that lifestyle. However, when you have a show literally throw in the country’s face that being personal affairs on public display just to prove that they can, it becomes less about genuinely being for the cause and more about the LGBT community proving that it has enough political power to present anything it wants to anyone. The issue with this is if we have been taught that while everyone deserves respect for any choice of that magnitude of their life, while at the same time been asked to keep their private matters well…private, then shelving a mass LGBT marriage ceremony on live TV seems contradictory at best and condescending to the rest of us all at worse. The fact that Hip-Hop seems to be the choice vehicle to move this on has proven that Hip-Hop is no longer a looked at as a true genre of music, but has been relegated to being a sub-genre of Pop music, which is completely opposite to it’s true essence.

So now, killing hip-hop would make total sense. Destroying Hip-Hop would take it away from the mainstream, sending a message that the population who built this art form should have the final say of what’s acceptable to use it for and what’s not, not agenda-pushers or people with a get-rich-quick scheme. Deconstructing hip-hop also would tell “the machine”, the “powers that be”, or however else you choose to address them that the people, not corporate execs or label A&Rs determines who is deemed the top artists and who’s still climbing that mountain. This right has been taken away from the true believers of this culture over the last two decades or so, but never in such a brazen and outright disrespectful way as it was last night. If you love Hip-Hop like I do, no doubt you felt that watching this (which I did for all of 30 seconds, because I have given up on the Shammies since 1997) was like seeing a person being sliced open straight down the back, and having a bucket of salt being dump trucked into their wound in a public square. So, to end this pain and shame that Hip-Hop has now been reduced to, I believe this is what needs to happen; Hip-Hop simply has to die. Only then, when it’s no longer cool for people who never respected this culture or its principles in the first place to use it for their own doings or to score “cool” points with the rest of us, can it be re-born on the strength that it will remain an underground phenomenon until the people decide if it’s ready to be shared with the rest of world, in a manner that doesn’t totally exploit it. At this point, blaming the Shammies for allowing this to happen seems to cliche, this needs to be addressed more at the source since this seems to keeps happening when it’s time for Hip-Hop to be presented to the masses in this light.

I find two things very sad and telling about last night’s events. One is that Macklemore’s album is entitled, The Heist, which has never seemed more appropriate and ironic. Two is that rappers all the time are heard saying “death before dishonor” when it comes to the respect of their craft in songs, in interviews, and on social media. Well, hip-hop, if it hasn’t been dishonored enough, certainly was last night. So, if this is true, what do YOU think should happen next?

 

1/27/2014

Nov
06

It’s a shame sometimes how a society mentally shifts, in terms behavior-wise.

Sometimes, it is for the common good that old ideals are rendered obsolete thinking. Take for example, the whole idea of being un-American in the 1950s, mostly with the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) that started a witch-hunt allover the country fro pretty much anyone who had a dissenting idea of our government. Now, this line of thinking is pretty much the one last thing we have to express different views on how this government operates to keep it honest.

However, when it comes to standing up for yourself and fighting “bullying”, this country has gotten so sensitive and soft, that regular action that was perceived as normal behavior is now treated as treacherous acts by despicable human beings.  This seems to happen more often now; to where people are afraid to interact with others for fear that any aggressiveness will be portrayed as being a bully. Not only this, but now people are no longer taught to stand up for themselves, but to simply allow themselves to take abuse, go to the authorities, and hope the society around them will pity them.

The latest national case is the turmoil going in the Miami Dolphins locker room between Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito.

For those who don’t watch football, I’ll summarize what’s been happening:

Incognito, a veteran lineman, apparently bullied Martin, a rookie offensive lineman. As the story started to reveal itself through sources, Incognito was “old” by someone on the team to ‘toughen’ Martin up during summer workouts. Incognito then started to be aggressive towards Martin, making him pay upwards of $15,000 for meals and trips for other teammates, threatening to “defecate in his mouth and slap his mama”, all referring to him as a “half-nigger” on a voice mail. After one too many acts of bullying (in which his lunch table teammates got up and left Martin alone, effectively ostracizing him), Martin left the team facility mid-meal, checked into a mental facility, and pretty much walked out on the Miami Dolphins.

Now, if you’ve read the premise of this episode, then you’ll think I’m siding with Incognito on this issue. My response to that is, “HELL NO!” I don’t condone racism ever, and I’m more disgusted at the locker room, which seemed to side with Incognito once the evidence came out of said actions.  Incognito may have been carrying out the request of higher-ups on the team to add some toughness to Martin, but he went about it in an extremely wrong and racist way. Incognito’s actions have no place in the NFL, and I suspect we’ve seen the last of him in a football uniform, to which I say, “Good riddance.”

HOWEVER, this is my Devil’s Advocate point on this subject:

I have an issue with a grown man, rookie or not, allowing himself to be subjected to extreme level of bullying and abuse. My biggest issue is that Mr. Martin didn’t once stand up to Incognito, and instead ran home when someone took his milk money. (which, in all fairness, is what happened).

Look, I’m going to be in the minority on this one, I know, but most of us grow up being taught to always stand up for yourself in the face of bullies and unfair treatment.  In the culture of professional football especially, testosterone (and intelligence) normally determines who survives and who falters. The Miami coach (who most likely will be fired once they find out who it was, not too mention head coach Joe Philbin may lose his job as well) who sicced Incognito on to Martin had to have seen something soft in Martin, and determined that he had to get a little tougher to survive in that world. Now, while Incognito’s actions certainly went overboard, they DID prove a point: that Martin may not be mentally tough enough to make it in pro football.

As I know some of you are wondering, “well, what should Martin have done in that situation? Fight him?”

My answer: if that’s what it would take to stop the “hazing”, YES. If he were disrespected to that extent, then the only way to gain any respect from his teammates would’ve been to have it out with Incognito in private. Martin wouldn’t have been kicked off the team; fights during training camp happen all the time, and the majority of players don’t really get disciplined to a serious extent. Even though most people will say Martin “did the right thing” by walking away from the situation is now that locker – nor any other in the NFL – will trust OR respect him to keep team business within team business. Unfortunately, in a culture like pro football, light hazing is just as natural as any other part of training camp. Yes, Mr. Incognito took this to an unwanted level, but Mr. Martin’s actions (or inactions, rather) pretty much demonized a whole sub-culture of football life that really doesn’t go THAT deep past pranks, buying a lunch or two, and carrying older players pads.

This is my biggest issue with young America these days. The quest to establish an “anti-bullying” culture has left the youth pretty weak, and with a mentality that they shouldn’t stand up to bullies, but rather let society console them. Now, I’m not saying fighting – and possibly shootings – should be rampant to stop bullies, but I AM saying that everyone has the right to defend themselves, and no one shouldn’t feel ashamed to do so, by any means deemed necessary to protect themselves. Everyone in this world should never have to fear being picked on by anyone else, whether in real life interaction or on the internet, but everyone should learn that the only way to stop bullying is to stand up to them, as most bullies are cowards and only target those they perceive are “weak” and won’t fight back.

I’ll just put it like this: when you have moms complaining of bullying because their son’s football team got beat 91-0, that’s when you know America is being coddled too far. At this rate, Charmin toilet paper will be deemed stronger than most of these kids’ mental stability. I’m all for stopping bullying, but there has to be a line, and the kit gloves have to come off, sooner or later. Otherwise, events these – grown men being bullied – will be much more rampant.

11/6/2013

Jul
16

OK, so if you’re like me, you are now heartbroken and outraged at what happened in America on Saturday, July 14, 2013. Starting back in February of last year, A man named George Zimmerman, who was not a police officer – yet wanted to assert his authority like one – confronted a 17-year-old kid named Trayvon Martin for looking “suspicious” in his neighborhood. This man called even 911 about the kid, and was told not to pursue this kid, but he chose to disregard that order by the dispatcher and take matters into his own hands.

He confronted the kid, the kid fought him, and then Zimmerman shot the boy, claiming to be in fear for his life. Trayvon ended up dead. Those facts we know.
After a very questionable investigation (which almost never happened in the first place), Zimmerman was indicted on the charge of Murder in the 2nd degree, and later, Manslaughter. We all watched in shock and bewilderment on the aforementioned date as the jury found Mr. Zimmerman not guilty of all charges by a six person, all-female jury.

This you all know by now.

The result of this has sent shockwaves throughout the country, and has resulted in mass protests around the country from coast-to-coast, and even rioting in Oakland, CA.

This you should all know, too.

Here what people don’t know and SHOULD by this: these inactions of what we consider “true justice and equality” in this land have motivated a lot of us to really look at this country in a very different view from now on. Not just the African American community (though, I’d be lying if we weren’t already skeptical about our standing in America to begin with), but also the majority of the population.

In speaking for myself, what I see now – in addition to my own outrage at how a young black man is really valued in this country – is drive.

The drive to fight back at this obviously broken system.

The drive to educate the youth, so this never happens again.

The drive to help us stop the dreaded lifestyle that killing of anyone (whether it’s race related or not) should not, can not, and WILL not be tolerated.

The drive to make my presence felt in this world.

Most importantly, the drive to never lower myself to the awful stereotypes us men of color are assigned with everyday.

If there’s one thing I think that needs to be taken away from this entire event it’s this: if this didn’t motivate you to do better, then nothing ever will.
So, the anger, hurt, pain, frustration, and all-out rage that we may feel needs to put to the greatest uses of our capabilities. What I mean is this:

If young black men that are around Trayvon’s age feel as they are being unfairly disrespected in this world, then things to need to happen to change that perception. Make your mark in better ways than shooting, hustling, and overall ignorance – towards yourselves and the communities you live in. Take better care of your neighborhoods. Have some pride in your appearance. And if you think that’s too much work, remember July 14th, and channel that outrage into focus.

If young black females that are around the age of Rachael Jeantel feel people may look that them the way we all saw her portrayed (even if it WAS mostly validated), then this should be that motivation to change it. Take your education more seriously. Show a little more dignity in public. Cut out the twerking on social media, and stop throwing yourselves under the cyber buses. Learn your true worth…and value it. STOP having kids when you all know you aren’t ready. If that seems too much to bear, just think back to how angry you were when you saw the verdict come in….and your motivation will come.

If the older community feels as though as a whole we are being disrespected and disenfranchised, then DO something about it instead of complaining for five days on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and then going back to the same cycle of ignorance and “ratchetness.” Boycott influences in this world (the radio, various “Housewives” shows, BET as a whole for right now) that portray us as destructive beings, incapable of advancing our communities and race. Educate the youth better. Set better standards for them (and yourself)…and most importantly, LEAD BY EXAMPLE. If you believe this doesn’t matter, just replay your feelings when you heard the words, “NOT guilty….so say we all.” Then you’ll find out why it DOES matter.

This motivation won’t change us overnight. No true revolution ever did. However, if we as a people want real change in America it has to start INWARD. At ourselves. No slogan will trigger this. No lawmaker will argue for this and win. We the people have to. That’s the only way we’ll ever get any respect in the face of this system.

I saw that energy and motivation at a Trayvon Martin rally at Union Square in Manhattan, NY this Sunday, as well as several rallies taking place. Now, we have to sustain this momentum. So, my real questions to you all are this:

As outraged and hurt we all feel now, will you still feel this way next week? On August 1st? On January 1, 2014? Or will this whole Trayvon phenomenon be nothing more than a social media fad, fading away once the next big thing to grab our attention comes?

This event alone shouldn’t have been the catalyst for our outrage at the American justice system: we’ve seen it several times before in the unjust and tragic ending of lives like Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo, Troy Davis, the Scottsboro boys, George Stinney, and so many others. However, if we ARE going to truly change this country, we also have to stop the killings of our own. Until we get a handle on ourselves first, then we’ll never accomplish any real goals of being taken seriously.

We have the motivation once again. We’ve been re-awoken. So, what will YOU do with it?

7/16/13

Jul
08

As we speak, there is another “revolution” going on in Egypt. In the wake of the Egyptian people’s successful overthrow of former president/dictator Hosni Mubarak of 2011, a new leader was elected by the people of Egypt. His name is Mohamed Morsi, and for the last two years, he was given the leadership position to help build Egypt back. However, the majority of the people decided that he wasn’t performing up to the standards and promises that was made to the people, and so, the people decided to once again take matters into their own hands. On July 3rd – one day before our OWN Independence Day – he too would suffer the same fate of Mubarak’s tenure, and was declared no longer president of Egypt, with backing from Egypt’s own military.

I see these things, and I can’t help but wonder: where did this spirit of civil unrest go from American society?

In today’s America, we have been faced with crooked politics and power-hungry politicians, an absolutely broken education system, a neglected and disenfranchised middle class/poor population, and severe distrust of the collective whole of the law enforcement conglomerate. so, why haven’t we as a people taken…well, any action? Seriously, any AT ALL??

Where exactly DID our fighting spirit go? We have been fighting injustice as a people since America’s beginning from the American Revolution. From the Women’s Rights Movement going back to the late 19th century, to the Labor Movement of the 1930s to improve the quality of working conditions, to the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s, when black people marched and protested all over the South to fight for the end of segregation and the death of Jim Crow. The late 60s – early 70s brought forth a peace movement of “Free Love and Flower Power” for a new generation to stop war. Even protests that turned violent like the L.A. Riots of both 1965 in Watts and the fallback of the Rodney King ordeal of 1992 in South Central had their statements made that the people weren’t going to stand idly by and be taken advantage of by people of higher stature and power.

So, what happened? How did we as a nation become so placated to accepting what used to be considered unacceptable to the people who make this country the “greatest nation on Earth?” I have my guesses as to why we’ve succumbed to these conditions:

1) As a people, we are the most individualized country on the planet. One of the main drawbacks from being free to pursue your own version of happiness is the effect that barely anyone shares anyone else’s pain. We read, watch, and record everyday bad things happening to people, and we’ve become desensitized to anyone else’s plight that doesn’t directly effects our lives or our families. As a result, there hasn’t been any TRUE unity – and by TRUE, I mean unity totally absent of race, color, or beliefs – amongst the people as a whole and we’ve become severely divided. Because of this, the “powers that be” can control everyone.

2) Today’s media has played a driving role in controlling people’s emotions. The media used to be nothing more but an outlet of distributing information and sources; now they’ve become the source of information people have turned to, and have been presented in ways that are specifically designed to sway people’s views and thoughts. It’s now to the point where the perception is that the American people can no longer think for themselves but rely on the media to do their thinking for them, which has led to the media creating the stories more than just reporting on them.

3) We’ve become a “instantaneous” quick-fix society, with the belief that any problems we want solved, or goals that we want to reached MUST be achieved overnight. We’ve seemingly forgotten that anything worth attaining will require the most precious commodity we can give: TIME. One-day protests or social media fad trends that usually dissolve from our attention spans after about a week don’t change anything; they just make for a “fashionable” footnote in that year’s history when we review them on our “Top 10″ lists of the most eye-catching events on TV network and magazine reviews. Such was the case of the infamous “Occupy Wall Street” movement, the Arizona Latino Immigration protest, or the various “Million ______ Marches” in recent years. Instead of capitalizing on the momentum these actions of civil unrest created, they simply were allow to fade away, to the point where it became no longer a serious issue to the rest of the country.

4) I believe the biggest reason our unwillingness to fight back is simply this: the people are SCARED. Scared of losing anything that matters to them. Scared of retailiation from our jobs, the law, or the government and a whole. Scared to sacrifice everything to change anything. I’m not saying this to insult anyone, but this is the honest truth. When the powers that be KNOW the people are scared to speak up or fight back in masses, they know they can essentially do whatever they want, however they want, whenever they want to do it. They know no one’s really going to rise and stop them, so why pretend to care about those people?

So, here’s the kicker: how can the American people regain that spirit? CAN that be regained?

We’ve seen outrageous events in the new century that have gone virtually unchallenged by the American citizens: the Hurricane Katrina diaster, the Iraqi Invasion, the Stop & Frisk policy in New York City, hundreds of schools closing in BOTH Chicago and Philadelphia, countless massacres of children due to gun regulations, wrongful arrests and shootings by police (Amadou Diallo comes to mind) being taxed more than ever before, and most notably, the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman ordeal. I wonder if the people as a whole will continue to just take whatever’s given to us and try to hope for the best instead of us standing up for our rights.

On a trip last year to Montreal, I saw something amazing happening in the streets. The college-going populus were going on their 40th day of marching in the streets to protest the rising costs of tuition for their college expenses. They’d had enough of the gov’t gouging them in their pockets to get a decent higher education, and for more than one month straight, they took to the streets to have their say. When I asked how much tuiton had gone up to spark this protest, I was blown away by their answer: 300$….a YEAR. No lie. Marching through the streets for 40 nights to stop a price increase of about $285 American for a entire year’s worth of school because the people felt the government had gone TOO far. And they were THAT serious about it.

Think about that.

I leave you all with a very famous quote: “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for ANYTHING.” Truer words have never been spoken in our country today.

7/9/13

May
02

It’s amazing how intentions these days can label people villainous in today’s American society. What can sound like a simple disagreeing statement, can lead to someone being branded all types of things, even when a person takes a stand on an issue they didn’t even ask to do.

Today’s episode is focused in the wake of what some would call a “great relevation” in professional sports. Jason Collins, a veteran of the NBA, announced earlier this week that he was gay, making him the first male athlete in any of the Big Four sports leagues (The NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB) to do so. Since then, he’s been given a hero’s response by virtually everyone in society; from athletes, to political figures, to media personas alike. Although Mr. Collins has been cheered for his bravery to come out to the world by the majority of America (in public, at least), naturally, there are some people who didn’t share his trumph.

One of which is Chris Broussard.

If you’ve never heard of him, Mr. Broussard is a reporter and analyst at ESPN, specializing in NBA news. When asked on an on-air program called Outside the Lines about how his reactions toward Mr. Collins’s stand on being openly gay, here was his response:

“Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”

Pretty straight-forward, right? Not really a disrespectful shot to Mr. Collins, but more so an admission to Mr. Broussard faiths and ideals, right?

WRONG…or at least, perceived to be.

For these comments, Mr. Broussard has endure a ton of criticism, ranging from being called a “bigot” to “homophobic” and everything in between. Even ESPN has “apologized” for his remarks in an attempt to do damage-control in the backlash this whole controversy has caused.

OK. I have a ton of beef with this entire thing, starting with this simple statement: “Exactly WHY does the country hate Broussard for simply speaking his mind?” He wasn’t disrespectful. He didn’t insult Collins, nor use offensive language. All he did was simply state how his faith influenced his views on this situation. For that, he pretty much became a another pariah in American culture, succumbed to the ongoing stranglehold of political correctness.

Look, let me state this for the record: I honestly do not care, positively or negatively, about either Jason Collins announcing to the world of his sexuality (something that shouldn’t really be important in sports, anyway), nor of Chris Broussard’s stand on his Christian faith. I am tolerant of all races, beliefs, creeds, and lifestyles so long as they don’t put anyone in any immeadiate danger to their well-being or life, and being either gay or Christian (or both, in some cases) does that, so whatever. (Plus, I’m Agnostic, so I could care less about who prays to what God.)

MY issue here is how did political correctness get SO prevalent in America, that anyone who disagrees with virtually anything these days, in danger of becoming a pariah or shunned by their community? I mean, the last time I checked, we had a 1st Amendment in the US Constitution that guaranteed the right to free speech and freedom of expression. This should not come with an asterisk on it, secretly saying “use at your own risk.” It never did before. I’m not sure how people are suppose to behave in society anymore, especially in today’s media and social network. Are we all supposed to live like agreeable drones, devoid of our own opinions and emotions? Can there truly be an open-mindedness in our world if it’s constantly challenged and shot down at every turn?  

Look, the simple truth about us humans is this: we all don’t pray to the same God (Hell, some of us don’t believe that a God even exists), we all don’t have the same biological urges, nor do we all live the same lives. People are unique, and so are their choices. They chose to live the best life for THEM, not for anyone else…or at least, that’s what we’ve been groomed to accept all our lives. Apparently, this entire ideal is only a half-truth. The REAL truth that has become apparent to me and many others is this:

If you disagree with it, keep it to yourself. If someone asks you about it, either go along with it, or just don’t say anything.

How sad…and terrifying now.

5/2/2013

Oct
04

“These men ain’t shit out here! Where the REAL men at?”

“Man, I don’t care about these hoes.”

These verbal strikes are very common in the all-out war between black men and black women. It seems that for at least the last 20 years, men and women of African-American decent have been campaigning on just how hideous each gender has been to each other, and to society as a whole. From songs, to YouTube videos, to blogs, both sides have been rampant at taking shots at each other in bunches, either as a defense mechanism, revenge tactic, or as some sort of validation to prove their own self-worth.

How? How did we as an entire black population in America become the most divided ethnic group on the planet? This was not always so. No less than 60 years ago, being born black in America seemed like it came with a billboard that said, “cursed” on it. We all know the horrors of segregation, prejudice, and racism (some of which continues to this very day in America) and how our parents and grandparents struggled with these conditions. However, something wonderful came out of all that suffering, namely being black folks united to stop segregation, fighting for their God-given rights, and proving they belong in America just as much as anyone else that was given entry to this country.

Part of the reason seems to be more of a class war than anything else. As the rich has been known to look down on the poor in general, in America, this especially has rung true when it comes to black people. There are countless articles and editorials written by women disinterested in their male counterparts, citing particularly that most men “aren’t up to their standards, either professionally or financially”, and “I can do bad all by myself.” On the other side of the spectrum, a lot of successful men see women who are lower class women as “gold diggers”, “scammers” and “women looking for a come-up”. This type of behavior seems to be magnified amongst black folk for one reason or another, and get very evident in small things such as when certain people move into a prominent neighborhood, or gain entry into a night club not in the proper attire.

Another huge part seems to be how most people are conditioned to believe what their counterparts are almost from birth. Women who are born with no father figure tend to deal with abandonment issues pertaining to men as they grow up, which also normally manifests during their own relationships, leaving a deep feeling of resentment towards black men. As for the black man, there are some that feel black women simply demand too much of them almost seemingly from the time they can talk, whereas they are expected to “be the man of the house” at earlier ages than other races, which in turn can develop into anger when they feel they may not be adequate enough to please their black female mates.

There are several factors in this war such as: religious beliefs, education, and even political preferences. Here’s MY whole question…why? Why have we become a race so divided towards the other gender? What difference does it make in the long run? Why can’t our population as a whole see that whenever someone makes personal proclamations like this public, it not only embarrasses the gender they’re attacking, but in the eyes of the rest of America (and the world, for that matter) it pretty much stains the whole race, bit by bit. Not to say that other races don’t attack each other, but certainly not to this sheer degree and quantity. We don’t see the Jewish female community say that their men are oppressors. You’ll never hear Asian men claim that their women make them feel worthless on a seemingly daily basis.  Even in Middle Eastern countries overseas, where there are laws pretty much guaranteeing men have dominance over women and women are more responsible for raising men, there’s no gender division amongst the people. What baffles me to no end about this war is that black people born in other countries – most notably, island and African countries – say that black Americans are disgracing themselves putting men against women all the time.

So, how can this war end? Well, one solution is been made clear cut: interracial dating. Black men and women have both branched out, dating and marrying other races to fulfill the needs they felt they weren’t getting in their own race. I actually applaud this move, because everyone needs love somewhere, and color should never impede that, but this has seemingly made things worse on the surface. Many people who have stepped outside their race – especially to be with white counterparts – have been met with accusations of self-hatred, “selling out”, and disloyalty.  How many times have we heard a conversation like this, either portrayed on TV or in real life?

Black man: “I’m done with yo’ ass. You’re so bossy. I bet white women wouldn’t do me like you do!”

Black woman: “If that’s how you feel, Uncle Tom, white women can have your sorry ass!”

Or an exchange like this:

Black woman: “See, this is why I date white men. THEY know how to treat a black queen like me.”

Black men: “Well, let them white dudes put up with your shit, then!”

Look, the only way black men and women are going to get along and preserve our race is that we all have to accept each other. Accept our faults and failures, just like we accept each other’s triumphs and successes. As a black man in America, it angers me to see our race in such a state of disarray, to the point where we feel we can’t even rely on each other to build lives and families with. Like I said before, I respect love, no matter where a person finds it. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t say I love to see two black people, working with each other to build a life together. This is why I applaud many older couples I know; like my parents, my girlfriend’s parents, the President and First Lady, and several others that have celebrated decades of loving marriages to each other. Throughout those relationships, the big difference in them making it and others failing is that they are willing to accept the fact that while they are certainly not perfect, each other has been perfect for them, which has been a lost concept into making relationships work across the board, not just amongst black folk. Even with my relationship of nearly 10 years to my Nubian queen, we work with each other, comfort each other in hours of darkness, and learned from one another to become perfect mates for the life we want to have together.

I just wonder 10, 15, 20 years from now, how many black couples will have the same successful results as our parents and grandparents. As long as this war goes on, that number will be low to the point of rarity. We HAVE to end this war, black people! There’s no other alternative.

10/4/2012

Sep
25

So, here we stand again. As we Americans do once every four years, we become enthralled in the time period known as election season, where we choose new leaders to govern. This biggest title of all is the Presidency of the United States, or POTUS for short. During this season, we see conventions, commercials, and endorsements for why one candidate should be chose over the other. After all, this is one of the building blocks of America and one of the basic concepts of democracy; the freedom to let the people decide who leads them. This election will mainly pit Republican challenger Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts, against the current Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American leader.

As I have sat and watched both Governor Romney and President Obama, I can’t help but to wonder about the apparent circus-like atmosphere the campaign trails were almost guaranteed to become. With the non-stop media coverage reporting and analyzing literally every word that is spoken by these two gentlemen, every issue becomes a story within itself: Just as he was questioned four years ago, President Obama has been scrutinized on his religious beliefs, while Governor Romney’s Mormon background has become a topic for concernment. Obama has seen himself criticized on his handling of the economy over the past four years, while Governor Romney has been pretty much vilified for his comments stating that 47% of the country – mostly people he assumes will vote for Obama, no matter what – rely on government assistance, thereby explaining why he is not concerned with their livelihood.

I see these things, and it always makes me think about why we as Americans are pretty much entrapped to the same two-party fight for political power every four years. In playing Devil’s Advocate as I normally do, I wonder why, if we as a nation are now mostly registered as independent voters (as of now, the number of people registered to vote to a political party are 40% Independent or Unaffiliated, and are now the new voting majority), then why don’t we vote independently more often? Why does it seem like most of us feel like when we vote, we’re not necessarily voting for whom we feel is the best candidate for the job, but rather the “lesser of two evils” for America?

Here’s what most people aren’t educated about on American politics: there are actually five major political parties in the United States that produce a candidate for the POTUS. In addition to the two juggernauts of the Republican and Democratic parties, there is also the Green Party, The Libertarian Party, and the Constitution party, formerly known as the U.S. Taxpayers Party. The Green Party has a candidate running named Jill Stein, also from Massachusetts, who has made intentions known that she is running on the basis of opposing largely the 1% of the wealthiest Americans and not succumbing to the lobbyists that are corrupting many of Washington’s officials. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a former Republican presidential candidate, is strongly oppose to the US intervening in international affairs unless said affair is deemed a legitimate American threat. Finally, Virgil Goode from the Constitution Party has made his bid for the White House, mostly running on a campaign that Obama and Romney’s policies really aren’t that different from each other, and still favor the privileged rather than the common or underprivileged citizens in this country.

All four Independent candidates make very good sense in their arguments, but it seems to me that most Americans are even ignorant to their appearances on the ballots. Honestly, who can blame them: The GOP (Republican) and Democratic parties have amassed political funding by the hundreds of millions of dollars to campaign, they have networks dedicated exclusively to the promotion of their party (in FOX News and MSNBC, respectively), and they run on the main basis that people believe that “if you’re not voting either Republican or Democratic, you’re basically throwing you’re vote away.” This is one of the biggest myths that I believe has corrupted the voting process as a whole. Well…. that, and repeated attempts of voter suppression. In spite of the widespread assumptions of minor party candidates, what the voting public needs to be made more aware of is:

1) Voting for a third-party candidate keeps the main candidates not only honest, but also on their toes to deliver on their campaigns. The worse thing a candidate can do is take their voters for granted, assuming that they’ll always be there, and a third party candidate can swing an election greatly in favor of their opponent if a piece of his presumed base decides that they would rather vote for someone else, then rather vote for him or his adversary.

2) A third-party gives voters more freedom to not feel inclined to succumb to the “red vs. blue feud”. If they relate to a candidate more than who’s mainly presented, voters feel a stronger sense to one that has their best interests in mind, even if they are aware that their respective candidate has virtually no chance of winning.

Third-party candidates can create a swell of voters. The most famous third party candidate to date is Independent Party candidate of the 1996 president election Ross Perot, who used most of his own money to create a moderately successful campaign, even though Bill Clinton ended up being re-elected. Even Ralph Nader’s role as “spoiler” in the 2000 election is believed by many to have been one of the biggest factors in George W. Bush walking away with the Presidency.

I say all of this to just reinforce this fact; there are more options out there for you if you feel that neither President Obama OR Governor Romney has your best interests in mind. I am one of these people. I am also very sure I’m not alone in this belief. Finally, I believe that maybe not this election or the next one, but soon, one of these parties will have just as big a following and major part in shaping America’s future leaders as the main two parties do now. So, while I do not push voting for any of the six candidates specifically, I just want to emphasis to everyone that is eligible to go out and vote. Even if your vote is an Independent one, it exercises your greatest liberty in America; the liberty to choose your leader. The liberty to say you will not accept just anyone, and the liberty to fight against a system that assumes you are powerless to change that line of thinking.

 

9/25/12

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