Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Message For Easter

Easter is the most important day Christian observe the world over because it is a celebration of deliverance, with Easter Week providing powerful imagery of faith. I have always been moved by this presentation of Jesus from a Catholic Eucharistic prayer: “To the poor he proclaimed the good news of salvation to prisoners, freedom, and to those in sorrow, joy.”

Holy Thursday and the Last Supper have an ominous feel because they are in preparation of Good Friday and the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. Yet two days later, the tale ends in triumph and resurrection. Whatever questions Christians may have about the meaning of that empty tomb, most of us have experienced a sense of joy when the words “He is risen!” The basis of Christianity is inextricably linked to and rooted in the idea of liberation.

I have long seen the Exodus and Easter as twin narratives involving a release from oppression and the victory of freedom. These promises have left a permanent mark on the culture outside the traditions from which they sprang. Yet even in the Easter season, it’s hard not to notice that most people of faith, like it has been with Christmas, have lost much of its message. What I mean is that it has been hijacked by man in the commercial sense and Christianity’s, many, do not project the true meaning of this day or present their faith in the best light.

For example, with the assassination of Trayvon Martin, Jordon Davis, and other criminal acts that mankind seems to have lost the understanding of the symbolic subordination of a rich tradition of social justice. What is more concerning is that popular Christianity often seems to denigrate rather than celebrate intellectual life or critical inquiry into injustices within our society. What I would like to suggest, as with the civil rights movement, is that the church or at least Christians must not be disengaged from politics. In fact, the early Christian movement was born in politics. If you can recall, Jesus died in opposition of injustice for the least of Thee.

I know there is great debate over how to understand the relationship between Jesus’ spirituality and his approach to politics, but his preaching clearly challenged the powers-that-be. He was, after all, crucified. Now, if we truly claim the life of Jesus Christ is true, then we should be among the most active, most serious and most-open minded advocates for justice. So if Easter is about liberation, this liberation must include intellectual freedom and the right to fair and equal justice. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspectives...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Unsung Messenger Of Truth

2I am a huge fan of wordsmiths and in my view the greatest unheralded voice of our time was Gilbert "Gil" Scott-Heron a genius of a musician and author. However, Gil was known primarily for his work as a messenger thought his the art of spoken word. His hay-day was during the 1970s and 80s but his legacy is everlasting. His vocal styling’s as he put it, was a "bluesologist", which he is defined by others as "a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues."

His music, most notably on Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early 1970s, influenced and helped engender later African American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul. His recording work received much critical acclaim, especially one of his best-known compositions "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". His poetic style has influenced every generation of hip hop.Gil’s music was a genre all to itself and worthy of recognition because he was a head of his time and courageous enough to speak truth to power on behalf of the powerless.
 
Winter in America
 
From the Indians who welcomed the pilgrims
And to the buffalo who once ruled the plains
Like the vultures circling beneath the dark clouds
Looking for the rain
Looking for the rain
Just like the cities staggered on the coastline
Living in a nation that just can't stand much more
Like the forest buried beneath the highway
Never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow
 
And now it's winter
Winter in America
Yes and all of the healers have been killed
Or sent away, yeah
But the people know, the people know
It's winter
Winter in America
And ain't nobody fighting
'Cause nobody knows what to save
Save your soul, Lord knows
From Winter in America
 
The Constitution
A noble piece of paper
With free society
Struggled but it died in vain
And now Democracy is ragtime on the corner
Hoping for some rain
Looks like it's hoping
Hoping for some rain
 
And I see the robins
Perched in barren treetops
Watching last-ditch racists marching across the floor
But just like the peace sign that vanished in our dreams
Never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow
 
And now it's winter
It's winter in America
And all of the healers have been killed
Or betrayed
Yeah, but the people know, people know
It's winter, Lord knows
It's winter in America
And ain't nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
Save your souls
From Winter in America
 
And now it's winter
Winter in America
And all of the healers done been killed or sent away
Yeah, and the people know, people know
It's winter
Winter in America
And ain't nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
And ain't nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows, nobody knows
And ain't nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
Rest In Peace my brother. Thank you for the messages. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Thursday, April 10, 2014

People Of Antiquity

22The so-called Negro, the lost people of antiquity, has had one desire since being removed from their land of origin – Africa. Just to be treated like human beings and to obtain equality as such. People of African heritage now called African Americans from the day they were dragged onto the shores of this country have simply asked America to honor the promise they claim comes with liberty.

I’ll quote Dr. King who said, “We were given a blank check” and we would like to cash it – paid in full. Let’s be very clear, people of African descent, the so-called Negro, are the only immigrates to come to this country against their will. Once here forced into a life of bondage as chattel. The results have caused a condition called “Post Slave Condition” derived from the amoral devastation of slavery.

For the record, “a Negro” was created by the wretched souls who arrived in America to lay claim to land that wasn’t even theirs. When I say, created I mean there were no such people anywhere on earth before Europeans took the captives from Africa and brought them to America. The result was creating a nation of people placed in a strange land to live without a nationality. This was done specifically through the constitution and legislative laws sanctioned by the government.

From the very beginning, the Africans resisted their captivity and bondage which was to include during the ungodly trip across the Atlantic that history calls the Mid-Passage. Once the captives arrived on land, be it in America or anywhere in this hemisphere, there was resistance and rebellion. There were many movements to obtain the promise of freedom like the Abolitionist Movement and Civil Rights Movements in varying forms. Not to mention, the many-many great leader born to affect change but killed by the wretched system of slavery and segregation. I won’t say they all failed, but I will say they did not succeed because equal treatment, particularly under the law and freedom is still absent.

Many African Americans continue to suffer from the untreated wounds of America’s forefathers and their asymptomatic behaviors. These behaviors were never unlearned and have been passed down from generation to generation. Over my relatively short lifetime, I have been referred to as Colored, Negro, Afro-American, Black, and an African American, which were all polite terms assigned to make known that people of African descent were not American citizens.

This legacy of dependency, apathy, and entrenchment of the American social order from the beginning provides clear evidence of those with a diabolical intent to bankrupt the souls of a people based on an ideology of supremacy. These stolen souls that exist today are people who bear the burden of a system that perpetrated, in the name of God, the greatest crime known to man.

The concept of African Americans being slaves, physically or mentally, is as old as the nation itself, designed to deprive a people of its culture and knowledge through sustained policies of control. To overcome these indignities we must realize that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize the forces that breed poverty and despair.

Regardless of how much we are held down, it is our responsibility to find a way to get up, even if the system is designed to protect the system. The great Bob Marley reminded us to “Stand-up – Stand-up for your rights”. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Saturday, April 5, 2014

America Is No Longer For Sale: It’s Been Sold

It used to be thought that America was for sale. Well, as a result of the Supreme Court ruling last week; what we see is that America has been sold. The “Citizens United” decision was one of the worst court decision rendered by any Supreme Court since the Dread Scott Decision. Make no mistake, when the ruling allows the richest people in America and in fact the world to spend unlimited amounts of money to fund a political candidate means – they can buy the government!

The Citizens United Supreme ruling says that corporations are viewed as people and have the right to contribute like a person. This ruling was unconscionable because it is a fact that corporations have far more resources to fund a candidate to support their interests than an individual. Oh, what they are saying is that a corporation is an individual! This was surely a huge gift for the Republicans because their souls rest with big business and their interests. Whereas, the fact is most people and individuals of the country cannot and are frozen out of the system and virtually silenced.

The recent McCutien court’s decision accomplishes exactly what the chief justice claims to abhor: it enhances the free speech rights of the wealthy and restricts the free speech rights of the many who cannot afford to donate millions. It gives clearance by law for a single person to give as much money as the want to anyone and how many candidates they want. For example, in the 2012 election cycle just about 600 people were able to give more money to candidates than 4.4 million of the rest of Americans.

This takes America back to the days of the Robber Barons of the beginning of the twentieth century when the richest people in America owned America. Laws were passed then to correct the inequities. Accepting for the sake of argument that money is a form of free speech, the court ignored that our political representatives have only a finite amount of time and resources to respond to those of us who require their attention. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was wrong when he characterized the purpose of campaign finance laws as “to restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others.”

Roberts’ view of the laws was enacted not to enhance the influence of some but to maintain the ability of the many to have their voices heard. What he is saying here is that a few can in influence the many with the power of the money in this age of media.

I’ll just say now we know what they mean when they say, “We the people” the people are talking about is the rich, and they create the means for them to get richer! The effects of what this court is doing will be devastating!!! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Friday, March 28, 2014

King Family Sacrifices


01t/16/arve/g2351/014During this passage through time there are milestones, mountains, and valleys that everyone will encounter. I would be hard press to think of a family with more adversity than the King Family.

Most people know the amazing stories about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They know about his most famous speech, his legendary marches and the principals by which he lived his life. What most people do not know is what happened to his family. There are stories about the numerous tragedies endured by the Kennedy family, but after reading this, you might know that the King family could give them a run for their money as it relates to heartbreak.

Alberta King, Dr. King’s mother, was shot and killed in 1974 while playing the organ at her church. The shooting was allegedly done by a 23-year old black man by the name of Marcus Wayne Chenault. Chenault didn’t give any reason for the shooting, except to say that “all Christians are my enemies.” Martin’s father, who was his greatest inspiration long before he learned from the teachings of Gandhi, lived a long life, dying at the age of 84.

Shortly after Dr. King’s death in 1968, Martin’s brother Alfred became co-pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where his father and brother preached. In July of 1969, just a few days before his 39th birthday, Alfred was found dead in a swimming pool. The case was ruled as an accidental drowning, but many speculate something more sinister might have happened. According to his father, he was a good swimmer.
The sacrifice of the King family is indicative of the tremendous sacrifice made by those who have fought for the freedom of African Americans over the last 400 years. From the first runaway slave to today, the battle continues and it usually has a price.

Teach this lesson to your children. Tell them in the oral tradition of our ancestors and our march to freedom because our struggle is without question the greatest story ever told. Remind them that they stand on the shoulders of giants and they have a responsibility to continue the difficult journey as was done for them. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

BLACK EMPOWERED MEN

The subject of a black man doing anything positive very polarizing and controversial subject but it is a crucial piece of the African American Diaspora. This is unless you are a sellout, and we know who you are!!! I digress! I can speak to this issue because I was not unlike many African Americans who have been touched by the consequences or aftermath of living in America.

My father abandoned me in the worm while my teenage mother carried me. I did not meet him until I was ten and have only been in his presence for maybe two hours in my entire life. However, my grandfather was the man in my life who taught me how to be a man. His teachings resonate profoundly within my every waking moment, which I used to raise my son and teach my grandson to include sharing the same knowledge with others, as I navigate the troubled waters of life. You see you have to see a man to be a man!

We are a community in crisis. I do not cast blame be there is surely enough to go around. However, there are men who give of themselves to the benefit of others, raising their children, empowering the community, carry themselves with dignity and respect, but most of all “they represent”. So I believe, it may not or does not have to be your man but there has to be a man present in the lives of these children. If this were being done with vigor, it would have a ripple effect. The home would be held together; the community would be greater, there would be a development in the minds of our youth, and maybe the carnage that is taking place would cease.

Images are and have been projected of black men falsely, most often, glorifying our role in society as thugs, gangstas, criminals, buffoons, clowns, being worthless, and hopeless have permeated far too long. I know that many of you know that is not the case by enlarge. However, when you open your newspaper or watch TV that’s how we are represented. I argue that this assassination of character should now be removed. If for no other reason than, the fact, the most powerful man in the world today looks like us, an African American. Adding to this, he leads a proud, dignified family that is positively on display for the whole world to bear witness to, which says all things are possible.

The absence of the strong, responsible black man holding it down, in the family and community, is destroying us as a people. Having said that, the purpose we live is to continue the species. I was taught a very significant lesson early in life, and reinforced every day of my life, by my Grandfather who said, “I raised you to be a man and as a man you don’t know what you might have to do but when the time comes you do it”. We don’t know what challenges are ahead of us. Therefore, my interpretation of that daily message was preparation plus opportunity equals SUCCESS and that the difference between a man and a boy is the lessons he learns.

These platitudes are essential to the survival of our children and, frankly, our existence. There needs to be a man in the lives of these boys, and girls, because the father’s role is to be an example, a role model, to guide, direct, and pass on the wisdom he’s gained. For example, how can you expect your little girl to chose a man if she has no model to base a relationship on?

In addition, ladies, please stop thinking that can make your boy a man – you can’t. You can raise, teach and nurture him – but you cannot make him a man because you are not one. Now, to the ladies that are holding it down, I applaud you, I know what that enormous job is like – my mother did it, and I was no walk in the park. If it had not been for Granddaddy, I would be lost – dead or in jail.

We have also formed a Facebook group BLACK EMPOWERED MEN  where you are personally invited to join and all are welcome. The purpose of this group is to be a vehicle to communicate with those who agree and can offer feedback, suggestions, ideas, and information to the benefit of our families and by extension our communities. if not for you, do it for the children. Stand Up Black Men –Reach one Teach one! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Praise For All Queens

22This month dedicated to women is nearing an end. What an honor it is that someone thought to have a month to salute “Women” to say thank you for the gift of being the givers of life. It is during this month of celebrating women that I want to show reverence to all of the beautiful Black women – all Queens.
History tells us, and His-story agrees, that the oldest known human remains discovered is that of a black woman, whose name was “Lucy”, found in African over 4 million years ago. It is also a fact that Africa is the cradle of civilization, which means a black woman gave birth to mankind in a place called Pangaea.
These gorgeous creatures walk with the distinction of creating and continuing the species that first walked the earth and still they carry the world on her shoulders as being God’s greatest creation. Therefore, during this month that is dedicated to the “Celebration of Women” - I LOVE YOU. This post is not meant to exclude women, who are also of distinction, from other ethnicities or hues because I love you too. Rather to express my profound appreciation for the wonders and wonderful Black Woman.
Some may say that today’s black woman, particularly young women, have lost their way. This is a subjective statement, which may be true to a degree but each of you ladies have the power to change that perception by guiding these young girls into womanhood. You are the nurturer because you are the woman who understands her strength and uses her power positively as a gift to mankind.  Forget the mantra, so often used, “Strong Black Woman”. We know you are but consider that it is misguided because your strength is in unity, and I will leave that there as my prospective.
We can all remember; I hope, Big Mama, who was the backbone of the family,. She is the woman that I dedicate this article, and pay homage to those like her, for being the family’s greatest gift; a proud woman with wisdom, pride, and dedication with one purpose “family”. For all of those who use the mantra “Strong Black Woman” in a misguided way. Let me suggest that you use the First Lady, Michelle Obama our crowned queen, as an example for which to follow. As she portrays for the world to see what a black woman is - proud, graceful, supporting, dignified and charming. This is your strength.
Personally, my greatest heroine was Harriet Tubman because of her bravery and courage. It has been about 100 years since her death, and I continue to be haunted by a powerful statement she made shortly before that fateful day. She was asked by a reporter if she knew how many slave she saved while conducting the Underground Railroad? She said, “I could have freed a lot more if they had only known they were slaves?” POWERFUL!!! I respect and honor her because she risked her life for the benefit of others traveling back to rescue many captive souls, 13 or more times, after she had escaped herself during a time that we cannot imagine today.
There was a commercial a long time ago that said, “You’ve come a long way baby” or look at this way “from the outhouse to the White House”. These are just a few exceptional women that I am particularly proud of because of their integrity, pride, dignity, and fortitude, but there are so many more. So for those who came before you or those who walk amongst us; like Phyllis Wheatley, May Jemison, Mya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Madam CJ Walker, Sojourner Truth, the Queen of Sheba, Nefertiti, Big Mama, my Mom, you, and not to be left out the millions of heroines that the world have been blessed to share – you are loved. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Thursday, March 20, 2014

RACISM: Perception Or Reality

faceHave you asked yourself “What is Racism?” Webster says it is a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities, and racial differences that produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. This does not adequately explain or represent the reality of what we’re witnessing in today’s political and social environments.
I believe racism is a misunderstood psychology and yes there is a psychology to racism, which is where the confusion exists. Therefore, it appears that racial prejudice or discrimination, which is a prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment is somehow believed to be directed toward the people of the dominate race.
The legacy of dependency, apathy, and entrenchment of the American social order from the beginning provides clear evidence of its diabolical intent to bankrupt the souls of African Americans based on an ideology of supremacy. We are the descendants of the stolen souls who bear the burden of a system that perpetrated, in the name of God, the greatest crime known to man. Hence, from the beginning, people of African descent were intended to be a nation of people living within a nation without a nationality.
~ “Law and Order” theme music plays ~
I read an article sometime ago, “When Racists Speak Their Unspoken Truths” by Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., who made a statement that speaks loudly to this issue.
“It’s what racists claimed for 235 years that American society is about rights (mainly theirs, everybody else’s can be stepped on) and not about race. It’s why racists wore hoods and sheets in public, and why their powerful societies that controlled political and economic affairs were always secret. The less you know about what they think, the less you can respond to how they think, even though the social, political and economic outcomes will tell you what they think.” It seems that those who claim racism are active participants in the continuance of this ideology and (in their minds) think they are now subjected to it.
I think we should understand the sub-text of what we are seeing today, at least from a power and political perspective. It is a strategic effort to contain and marginalize a black President, which is consistent with the Republican Party’s objective of marginalizing minorities and women. Now just like back in the days of segregation, its staunchest supporters were Southerners, Mid-Westerners and poor whites, and people now of that mindset remain.
This intolerance or behavior was never unlearned and have been passed down from generation to generation. Over my relatively short lifetime, I have been referred to as Colored, Negro, Afro-American, Black, African American, and worst. All were polite terms assigned to make known that people who of color were not American citizens. Remember the statement etched in the country’s blueprint that says clearly people of color are “3/5 a man” and did not mention women at all.
The concept of African Americans being slaves, physically or mentally, is as old as the nation itself, designed to deprive a people of its culture and knowledge through sustained policies of control. This is to include the age old practice that has been very effective, “divide and conquer” because this form of thinking has one purpose. Therefore, when you look at what we have experienced and what they imply relating to this new phenomenon is as far apart as the vastness of the universe. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Something To Think About

22I don’t need to retell the story of what happened to us, we know that since 1619 Black people have been in this land they called “merica” for centuries as indentured servants, slaves, property, 2nd class "citizens", the list goes on.
During slavery, we were taught through examples of violence to downplay our children's accomplishments for fear of calling attention to them and thus making them a target for racial discrimination. For example knowing how to read was shrouded in secrecy, which had validity to some degree and a dramatic effect on self-confidence that we are still paying the price for today.
We have created a form of mental slavery whereby reason is of the abstract. We know slavery was horrible, but we are taught and perpetuate every day in subtle and not so subtle ways the same conditioning. They say segregation has ended, which means the horrors of Black Wall Street, American before Brown v Board of Education, Rosewood and frankly all of our American history never existed because of integration. We seem to have forgotten what Malcolm said, “Anywhere south of Canada was south” and by extension caused a separation of unity within the black community.
Let me be clear, integration was necessary to short circuit the INSTITUTIONALIZED system of “separate but equal” but it diluted the focus on economic independence in our communities. Therefore, the unintended consequence of this was to further separate our people. Cognitive dissonance is the root of all of this, in my opinion. This conflict in reality coupled with what we are taught has caused far-reaching mental and emotional issues that we do not face or deal with as a people. We fight, blame and mistrust each other because of this and do not focus on the true issues.
At the end of the day, regardless of how we choose to identify ourselves, we are not afforded all of the privileges to which we are entitled in this country simply because of our complexion, which is used as the power to divide and compartmentalize people. Therefore, action is required by the person you see in the mirror and understand that it requires responsibility and unity to do what our forefathers did, which was to continue the species.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you are one of the lost souls. Listen to the words delivered in this short video. It is an old speech but the words and message resonates as clearly as the day they were first spoken. “We can change the world but first we must change ourselves.” And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

For Woman Only!!!


grandma1
Last year I wrote this article but for the benefit of Women’s History Month I share it with you again – just for the ladies! I came from a time when there was a woman named “Big Mama” and not the clown character in the Martin Lawrence movie. She was the matriarch of the black family.
I won’t try to teach or tell anyone how to be a woman but I do have a perspective from a man’s point of view. Just like a woman cannot make a boy a man – I won’t try to tell you how to be a woman. However, I am suggesting for the sake of your daughters that you try to recall the lessons taught by Big Mama. For those who read my writing, you know, I like to use examples in order to make a point.

I once gave a speech and took out a $20.00 bill and to the audience I asked, "Who would like to have this $20 bill?" Hands started going up. Nearly everyone! Then I said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this." I crumpled up the $20 dollar bill and asked, "Who still wants it now...?" Still nearly all hands were raised. Ok, great! "What if I do this?" I dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with the bottom of my shoe. Then I picked it up the now crumpled dirty bill. "Who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air.

No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions you make with regard to how you appear. The moral of this exercise was a very valuable lesson. The way you appear causes people (men) to want “IT”, but like the money it does not mean they want “You”. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by who you are and that comes from your presentation.

I have another profound message Muhammad Ali's once gave to his daughters. An incident transpired when Muhammad Ali’s daughters arrived at his home wearing clothes that were quite revealing.

Here is the story as told by one of his daughters:

“When we finally arrived, the chauffeur escorted my younger sister, Laila, and me up to my father’s suite. As usual, he was hiding behind the door waiting to scare us. We exchanged many hugs and kisses as we could possibly give in one day.
My father took a good look at us. Then he sat me down on his lap and said something that I will never forget. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to.
Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell.
Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them.”
He looked at me with serious eyes. “Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.”
I was thinking about what to say in my first blog post of the new year and this was just.  It is not my intent to offend anyone, but you see what I see and if you knew Big Mama – you know better. I believe, if Black America is to redeem it greater glory – ladies it starts with you. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving.