Friday, May 19, 2017

Love, Honor, Respect, Protect

This message is for my brothers.  As a Black man I think that it is important that every so often I remind my brothers of this message.  It is one we need to hear and one we far too often forget.  It is a simple message really.  Yet as I age I'm learning that the simple messages are often the most profound.

Black men.  We have a duty to love, honor, respect, and protect the Black woman and the Black family.  We have a duty to our children.  We have a duty to our communities.  We have a duty to our sisters. It is an important obligation.  It is one of the staples of being a Black man.  We have an enormous responsibility.  It is not always easy.  In fact, it is often difficult.  But as Black men we must rise to the occasion.  Our sons are depending on us.  Our daughters are depending on us.  Our women are depending on us.  Our communities are depending on us.  We simply cannot let them down.

It is unfortunate that many of us are failing to uphold these important tenets.  Love, honor, respect, and protect.  Our women feel oppressed by many of us because far too many of us have mistreated them and not upheld the tenet of respect.  They don't feel safe with us because we've collectively failed to protect them.  In fact, many of our women live in abject fear of us and some of us have become predators in our own homes and communities. Many of our LGBTQ family see us as no different than the white oppressors we face as well.  This is because we greet them with the same hatred, bigotry, and contempt that the white man greets us with.  In this, we have forgotten the tenet of love.  With this behavior we bring dishonor to the Black family.  This cannot and must not continue.

Now this not an attack on my brothers.  This is not meant to shame us or belittle us.  Nor is this meant to make us the avatars for all things that ail the community.  This is a simple call to action. As Black men we are hated.  Despised.  Maligned.  Disrespected.  Oppressed.  I understand this.  As with most brothers, I've lived this.  But we cannot allow this truth, however terrible it may be, to be an excuse for why we  continually fail our women and our families. We are Black men.  We have a duty and an obligation.  We must rise above it. Simply put, we must do better. 

As I said above, this is a simple call to action.  No one ever said being a Black man in America was easy.  But my brothers we need to come correct.  Because too much is riding on this.  Our families need us.  We need to stand by our sisters.  Support them.  Respect them.  Love them.  Honor them.  We need to raise proud sons and daughters.  We need to stop ostracizing our LGBTQ family and behaving like our European oppressors.  We need to hold our brothers who are failing accountable.  We need to decisively deal with those predatory brothers in our community. 

It's not easy, no.  In many ways being a Black man is the most challenging thing you'll ever do.  But you, I, we....we owe it to ourselves and our community.  Love. Honor.  Respect.  Protect.  Don't ever forget these tenets my brothers.  They are the foundation which our community is built on. 

Thanks for reading.
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Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Very Uncomfortable Truth

I've often heard folks ask the question "Why do Americans vote against their own interest?".  On the surface it seems like a legitimate question.  American voters tend to consistently vote against their own well being.  They seem almost eager to shoot themselves in the foot and employ politicians who couldn't care less about their needs.  Even when it's obvious that the policies and positions many politicians hold are detrimental to them, by and large American voters still eagerly and often aggressively support those who basically care nothing for them. 

Now the prevailing mindset is that many American voters are simply ignorant.  I admit there is some truth to that statement.  Many Americans are clueless as to how government works. Few take the time to examine the platforms and history of the candidates they support.  Few research.  Many simply vote down party lines. They subscribe to partisan rhetoric and nonsense and eagerly carry water for their party of choice.  So it's easy to see how people arrive at solely at ignorance.

Lately though I've been thinking.  I have a additional theory.  One that leads me to a very uncomfortable truth.  I submit that many Americans AREN'T voting against their own interest.  That many of them are aware of exactly what they are doing.  That many of them go in with eyes wide open when they place certain individuals into positions of power.  It doesn't make sense until you consider one simple truth: That many Americans are completely invested in systemic white supremacy and that is where their interests lie.

Think about it for a moment.  It's often why many Americans vote the way they do.  It's why they gleefully vote for individuals who wouldn't piss on them if they were on fire.  Many Americans seem more than willing(almost eager) to suffer if it means marginalized people will suffer more.  It's why despite struggling they'll vote for politicians who consistently rob the poor and give to the rich.  It's why they vote for politicians who wipe their asses with the Constitution and consistently violate their rights. They'll gladly give up every right they possess if it means marginalized people remain subjugated.  As long as they have someone to look down on they can feel good about themselves.  They are voting for systemic white supremacy...and they know it.

They aren't voting for equal opportunity.  They aren't voting for clean air or water.  They aren't voting for education.  They aren't voting to keep our streets safe.  They are voting for systemic white supremacy. It's why they'll support a politician who cuts funding for public assistance but supports using tax dollars for a border wall.  It's why on one hand they'll claim they support religious freedom and in the next breath support a ban on Muslims.  It's why they claim to resist government tyranny but applaud (or look for excuses) when agents of the state kill innocent Black civilians.  They are voting for the bigotry that exists in their hearts, made manifest in government.

Lyndon Johnson said that "if you can convince the cheapest white man that he's better than the best Black man he wont notice you picking his pocket.  In fact, give him someone to look down on and he'll empty his pockets for you".  It was true then, it's true now.  Many Americans aren't voting against their interests.  They know what they want and they are willing to suffer to get it.  Sisters and brothers, that should disturb every last one of us.  Thanks for reading

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Relentless Pursuit of Fame And Wealth Can Actually Kill Your Dreams

 I firmly believe that everyone dreams.  Everyone has something that they want to do.  Everyone has something that they are innately drawn to.  Something that drives them.  That inspires them.  Something that they live for and work towards.  Something they are innately gifted at and want to pursue.  Even if those dreams have been deferred (as they sadly often are) or abandoned for whatever reason, I believe that dreams are the fire that burns in the soul of every sister and brother who walks this earth.

We often encourage people to follow their dreams.  To pursue their passions.  We tell those who we have love for to believe in themselves.  We encourage our children to dream big.  We tell them they can do whatever their heart desires.  We push them to follow their dreams wherever those dreams might take them.  We tell them that if they work hard and never give up their dreams most definitely can come true.

Unfortunately we live in a society that can rob you of you passion.  A society that can crush your will.  A society than can (and often will) hamper and arrest your ability to succeed.  Whether it's negativity from hateful individuals or adversities that seem insurmountable, we live in a world that will choke the life from your dreams. Ours is a society of dream killers.  It is a sad truth. One such dream killer though is one that we often don't talk about.  This killer in particular is largely one of our own creation.  That killer is the relentless pursuit of wealth and fame

Here is what I mean.  When we think of fulfilling our dreams we almost always think in terms of money and fame.  We define our success by how much we gain financially .  It almost instantly sets us up for frustration and failure.  If we aren't rich and famous or on our way to being rich and famous then it's difficult for us to see success.  Rich and famous is almost always the end game.  Because we funnel our dreams through what capitalism deems as success we often find ourselves distraught, angry, and frustrated.  Especially when the pursuit of our dreams doesn't instantly translate into wealth and notoriety.

What's sad is that even when we demonstrate brilliance and mastery we still often don't feel fulfilled or successful.  No matter how proficient we are at what we do, how dedicated we are to our dreams, or how knowledgeable and skilled we become.  It's why gifted individuals often feel like failures no matter how good they are at what they set out to accomplish.  A singer could bring down the heavens with her majestic voice.  An artist could create a masterpiece with his brush or pencil.  A writer could stir the souls of everyone who reads their work.  But if they aren't rich the prevailing mindset is that they aren't successful. Because of this many of them give up.

Now please don't misunderstand me.  I'm not at all saying we shouldn't pursue financial success or that financial success is not important. Not in the least.  We should all look to feather our nests and strive to improve our economic situation.  There is also nothing wrong with using your skills and gifts to enrich your life. Also I want to point out that EVERYONE DESERVES COMPENSATION FOR THEIR WORK(caps for emphasis).  I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea about that. Get your bread up.  There is nothing wrong with that and nothing wrong with pursuing that. I simply want people to understand that you are not a failure because you aren't rich or famous.  These things do not define you.

In the end what I'm saying is don't let the pursuit of fame or wealth kill your dreams.  Because it can and it will if you let it.  We all want to be recognized and we all want to live well.  That said, you are no less the person you are because you aren't famous or fabulously wealthy.  You are no less gifted or talented.  Don't funnel the fulfillment of your dreams through fame and finance. That my friends, is a short road to unhappiness.  Thanks for reading.

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