I OWE IT TO YOU: WHY NEVER FORGETTING THOSE WHO FOUGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS IS IMPORTANT

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“For those who died, I thank you.”


As a young man born in the year 1987, I did not experience those turbulent years of the Civil Rights Movement. Now my parents on the other hand saw the tail end, and there’s of course the generations prior. So as a child, I grew up going to school, eating where I wanted, and using public restrooms. Not once did I understand how I got to that point. All I knew is that when someone needed to go to the bathroom, you went. But what I didn’t know until my mother sat down and talked with me, is that it was not always like that in America. And that I should never forget why I am able to do what I do.

And she reminded of this because for the longest there were not only demographics of citizens, but an entire systematic push to keep me from having the basics of necessities. So as I went to school, I always performed well academically because she reminded me at one time how illegal it was for me to go Image result for white onlyto the schools I went to in America. Whenever I used a restroom, she not only told me, but we watched the video footage of Black men and women being attacked just for trying to consume a meal or urinate at public rest stops. So my reason for not getting into trouble is not mainly because of the enforcement of the judicial system, but more so by way of these men and women who died. There are unmarked graves of countless Black people who gave their lives, a lot of which you will never know their names.

So now as an adult, I do so much because they really didn’t have to pave that way. Still today, some of those individuals from that time period are here with us. People who were either teenagers or adults in the fight. And even at times when I see things differently than they do, I can never hate. I can never hate those who Image result for civil rights movementsacrificed so much for me. And no, these men were not the reason I got into my college of choice or landed a job I wanted. But it was because the pressure they placed that made companies even look in my direction. America didn’t want me to have those rights, and had it not been for these men and women, how long would Jim Crow have really lasted. 90 years,  100 years, 200 years; when was the appropriate time to end segregation.

We all would like to think that those types of events had to end, but why? If not for fighting for rights, whose to say? You have of course the critics, yet their voices are to a great degree irrelevant to me. A country tells you to go fight and defend your country, but when you return don’t sit at this table counter. Then you can’t Image result for al and jessesay my country, because in my country you eat where you choose. Otherwise it’s your country, and if I am the lesser, then why are you depending on a lesser to fight for what is yours. So thanks to the men and women who challenged the ideologies of what I am and what was expected of me. For it was you who reminded me before you’re Black, you’re a man, and before that you’re human. You weren’t fighting for my freedom of speech, but my freedom to exist. You did in the past, and still in the present. So despite what the critics think and feel you have my love and respect.

In the end, I dedicate this life of mine to you. Those who fought who are still alive and to those who died in the struggle: Al Sharpton, Alex Haley, Andrew Young, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Barack H. Obama, Bobby Seale, Booker T. Washington, Cornel West, Denmark Vesey, Dick Gregory, Dred Scott, Eldridge Cleaver, Elijah Muhammad, Fred Hampton, Frederick Douglass, Gabriel Prosser, George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman, Harry Belafonte, Huey P.Image result for black historyNewton, Ida B. Wells, Jackie Robinson, James Baldwin, James Meredith, James Weldon Johnson, Jesse Jackson, Jim Brown, John Lewis, Kathleen Cleaver, Louis Farrakhan, Madam C. J. Walker, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., Mary McLeod Bethune, Maya Angelou, Maxine Waters, Medgar Evers, Muhammad Ali, Nat Turner, Ralph Abernathy, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Stokely Carmichael, Thurgood Marshall, W. E. B. Du Bois, and many others who were lesser known or even unknown, yet gave their lives for me. I love you, “WE” love you.


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NEWBO: IS THERE TIME FOR A CULTURE SHIFT

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“We carved one out before, why not again?”


In the 1610’s, the African American population was forced to the United States as indentured servants. Later becoming slaves, losing names, religions, birth place of origin, and overall identification. Once freed in 1865, we went from slave labor to still no so full citizens. And with limited citizenship, and no real ethnic identity, we began to carve out a face for our community. And a lot of the culture that has made up the African American community is in the music and food. But what if we decided to take it a little further. Let’s say we made a full conversion from where we are now. I named the title NEWBO, which in today’s society stands for the New Black Overclass.

When you hear the words New Black Overclass, you think of wealth and abundant resources. And how did that manage to take hold? There are many different factors that have influenced that over the years. From young Black children growing up watching the Cosby Show to the electing of America’s first Black president. We have taken what was a bad situation in the past and made the most of it today. Yet there are still so many of us that are still below the poverty level. And not only the poverty level, we make up a disproportionately higher percentage of crime in our community relative to anyone else. So with that said, we are doing better than the past in the area of success, yet lagging behind in other major areas.

And as much as I love Black culture, there is an aspect of our culture that have taken hold in recent history that has cast a dark shadow over the community. And that has to do with the crime in the community. Because of the introduction of Heroine, Cocaine, and Crack Cocaine, from the 1970’s in the 1990’s, the face of the community has changed to much. And it has become so impactful, it is rapidly becoming our culture. Yet when you look at the overall history of Black people in America, this recent violent culture is new to us. So, how about we begin to design a cultural identifier that is us. And when I say identifier I mean clothes we wear, food we eat, music, and behavioral traits.

Having an identifier shows not only togetherness, but it creates a sense of identity outside another group. Our problem as Black people is that we are too concerned and defined by another group. And for the longest, it has been the predominantly White community. So our vision for what success looks like has always been someone in position who is White. Yet when met with resistance by anyone White it boils over quicker than anyone else. Which never happens to any other group because they create their own identity. So what another really has to say becomes irrelevant because they have defined themselves for so long feelings are trivial. But if you have no name, to language, no religion, and you adopt ones culture that’s not yours, yet someone else’s, it could become a problem if not accepted into the culture.

And in the end, that’s a real problem with why there need to be a cultural identifier. Number one, you eliminate the care for what any other group thinks about you; their views are not relevant to who you are in scoiety. Number two, you begin to take pride in something that not only you created, but you’re accepted within. Which brings me to number three, the need to fit into a group. And I think this is why we as Black people cling to Hip Hop music so much. When you create something versus forced to adopt something the sentiment is different. Christianity was never a choice, names given weren’t a choice, and language wasn’t a choice. But the music we create was a pure choice. Though not liked by many, it goes on deaf ears when pushed against because the one major thing we created that we are fully included within. And if we created something impactful and global as Hip Hop, we can create a new identity of acceptance and not tolerance.


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BLACK MEN REVEALED: WHAT WE REALLY FEEL IN LIFE

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“The fear of being me, that only another me understand.”


Growing up for me, I was always scared to walk outside. Whether it was the gang violence or police officers, it always left me shook. As a Black male, when you walk out the front door, you never know what you may be confronted with in society. So you begin to develop this outer Teflon skin that makes you desensitized to a lot. You learn that being a villain is easier than being loved, and you are able to live with that. Because you are prepared to be hated, you’re not prepared to be loved. So sometimes, you tend to sabotage your own life by engaging in activities that are not the best choices. Why, so you can operate in that space of hatred that you’re used to; that comfort zone.

But what is the real feeling when you walk the streets everyday. Fear; but I don’t mean fear in the context of I can’t leave the house. Fear in the sense of I am afraid of what you might possibly do to me. So I’m going to get the drop on you first before you get me. Because I know that whatever is done to me, will be justified. So it’s better I come prepared to go into battle, even Man's Hand in Shallow Focus and Grayscale Photographyif battle is not warranted. That is the definition of an unfit way to live. Yet for me, it’s perfectly normal because it’s the only life I and many other Black men know. Now, I am not going to go into the history because we all know. But the effects of that fear causes a strain in life in more areas than just walking up the street.

We fight against, and yet sometimes wish death upon any and every man and woman in a position of power. We’ll sometimes call out other Black men simply for not joining in on the disdain. And part of it comes from wanting someone, anyone to feel just as fucked up as what we are feeling in that moment and about life. Problem is, it is so long standing and so generational, it hurts our own community more than anything. Playing stoic to survive has made us detached at times from our own Black women. When in reality you just want to sit back and chill, not really having to care about much of what you could potentially experience that is negative in life.

Our views start young being shaped about people around us, real young. As a matter of fact in my own life going back to elementary school, I had low regard for non-Black people. Going to school where I felt the Black boys misbehaving were treated a lot differently than the White boys misbehaving the same way. So it actually caused me to Man in T Shirt and Shorts Standing on Grass Field Grayscale Photographyhold animosity toward the White males I went to school with because of it. When in reality, they had no control over the behavior of an adult and were just living in the environment they knew. It wasn’t until I hit middle school my viewpoint changed as I came into a more diverse environment. While many other Black boys went to other public schools where their experiences were continuing to be shaped in a negative way.

Our perception of the world as Black males especially is when we’re young is one that is conflicted. Wanting to be open and meet new people. Wanting to trust people and enjoy. And on the other side, waking up with a fuck the world mentality. Fueled by rage, yet tired out at the end of the day. Wanting
to harm others who are in no shape or form responsible for whatever social situation we go through. And then feeling bad the thought came across your mind. Admitting when we’re wrong is damn near impossible, especially in a world where everything you do is considered wrong. So you’re in attack mode the first person tells you, what you can’t do or have.

In the end, we bury our emotions. Part of it comes from the fact that very few people care. And part of it comes from the fact that you will be seen as weak. So we at times become dictators when we really don’t have to be. Stay paranoid and looking over our shoulders. When in reality no one is even looking at you. Everything I have said would drive the average person crazy. Yet the vast majority of us manage to live on Earth everyday just fine. Our african ethnicity, beard, blacklives are by far not normal, and experiences are even more abnormal. We are considered threatening, lazy, insecure, predatory, and flashy. Yet we really are humble, fun, hard-working, and laid-back. We have a narrative that is generational; funny thing is that only we can change that narrative. No one else cares and no one else will attempt to aid. But until then, we awake everyday, we survive, and we pray we make it home alive. And if we do, hopefully we’ll get another day.


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1619: HOW FAR HAVE WE COME AS AFRICAN AMERICANS

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“What happens when identity has to be recreated?”


Two years from now will be the year 2019, which will mark the 400 year period since the first Africans were brought to America. So much between then and now has happened, and the question now remains. How far have Black people come in America and how far do we still need to go? Let’s take a look in the past for just a moment. Imagine, each person, coming from their respective tribes, with their respective cultures. Being dragged to a new land, not knowing what was in store once you got there. Trying to understand why looking out into the sea you can’t find the river banks from which you came to return back home. And now you’re in this new place for life, with people you don’t know.

Fast forward to today, where we have been for almost 400 years. But, we have really only had rights since about the early 1970’s. That means African Americans have been experiencing freedom for roughly 45 – 50 years. You america, architecture, famousmight say, how so? Well, freedom allows you to vote, which we couldn’t do until coming into the 1970’s from the 1960’s. Freedom says you can go to any school you want to attend. But in the 1970’s and even as early as the 1980’s institutions were resistant in letting Blacks attend. Freedom grants you housing wherever you want to live, which is even more recent than the right to vote. Freedom grants the privilege to marry who you want without question. Laws on books forbid interracial marriage in various states in this country. The only progressive environment that has moved with more pace has been sports and the United States Armed Forces.

But what still needs to happen. Because we have poor education in inner city communities. There is a disproportionate number of violent crimes and a breakdown of the family. What’s interesting is that this is more of a recent phenomenon. If you look into the past, two parent households were the norm in the Black community. Black people had close nit communities, crime was nearly nonexistent, and overall morale was in tack. So what does that mean, we have to back track and lose our rights again to have control over our communities. Is there some sort of trade off, “You go back to segregation and then life will change.” Or is it more simple than that?

For example, I look at Chicago, a city that is plagued with crime, and also my father’s place of birth. And he has stated that it is a mixture of heavy Whtie and Black Police Car on Roadgang recruitment and lack of establishment by the law because of politicians not doing their jobs. It has been a rogue city for quite some time and with more and more schools closing, yet children are not being placed in other districts, problems are going to really climb. Which brings me to my next question. If schools are closing and countless kids are left in these inner city areas without a school home, should we start to home school as a community? Should Black people disregard the public school system in cities like Chicago? I mean, they’re shutting them down anyways, why not.

And that is the lead in to my next question, What is in the future? America is changing more and more everyday, and if we are not prepared issues will worsen. And not really on just a racial side, but economic. In today’s society, there is still not adequate access in poor areas to a lot of opportunities. Or is it? Black people are one of the largest demographics of smart phone users. That is a tool for learning all on it’s own. Which brings me to the next phase, putting yourself in the know. Those who are willing to put themselves in the know can and will elevate no matter what their economic circumstance or ethnic background. Having that mobile device means you do now have access to a lot of opportunities.

You may say how so? Well, this is not your mother and father or grandparents generation. Google search engine and YouTube has allowed access to what was once the unknown the know. For example, I Black Samsung Tablet on Google Pagelearned to write screenplays, my books, setup my website, and build social media all through tutorials on YouTube and searching through Google. So if we are big smart phone users, then we have the access in hand. All it takes is the attempt to sit and learn. Open yourself up to the opportunities that lie ahead. So, in the end, we have to do something. Life is getting harder by the day; and not just for us, everyone. Adjusting to the major technological shifts that will happen is a must in succeeding in life. If you are not bent on learning and broadening your base, then that America dream you want will no be anywhere within your sights.


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HOOP DREAMS: WHY SPORTS IS THE TICKET FOR BLACK MALES

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“A gone make it!”

“With the number one pick, of the NBA/NFL draft, the ________ select _______ of the University of ________.” These are the words young boys dream of hearing as we prepare to walk that stage, receiving that hat from the commissioner. Then soon after, celebrating with family as we bask in the glory of making to the league. Our dreams have come true and we can start our career. Now these are the experiences the very few will get a chance to see. As for the rest, it is just a dream which will never come true. But is that really the end. I mean with so many young boys dreaming and only a limited amount of space, only a chosen few will get a chance to even get drafted. Even fewer will play and fewer will have lengthy careers.

But why, why are so many Black males wrapped up in the idea that sports is the way out of poverty. There use to be a lyric in hip hop artist Notorious B.I.G. rhymes, “You either slangin rocks or got a killer jump shot.” Could it be that we aspire to play ball because so many Black men are in the league that we see. Black men are in other career fields, but these are the public figures we see. And we only want to be the men we see and seek to become who we see as making big in their careers. There are Black doctors, lawyers, engineers, executives, but we want to be the ball player. But could it all be about seeing these men. What about income?

Income has caught the attention of so many Black boys because what other career is this lucrative this young. Name any other profession where a 19 to 22 year old could become an overnight millionaire. Especially a young Black man from an inner city neighborhood. The only guys that age with a lot of money are the drug dealers. It’s one of the reasons we purchase the items we do once we get money, almost as a homage to these guys. We also think that money will fix so many of our problems that we try to escape from when we were poor. But why is sports so shoved down the throats of Black boys. Even with knowing the majority won’t go pro.

One of the reasons is that winning high school games makes the school and coach look good. So Black males have dreams pumped into their heads about being the next Jordan or Kobe or Lebron. Yet no one is telling Black boys to focus on more academics. In today’s society the idea of a college degree is thrown our way. But you don’t need basketball/football to go to college. So academics take a backseat to sports. And what happens, so many Black boys read at levels that kids half their age are reading. Which leads to so many Black males majoring in communications once we get to college. It’s one the easiest, yet one the most vague degrees in school.

In the end, we are pushed to play sports because no one expects you to do anything else. Young White males are not pumped up with sports on a daily basis. Plus, we are also inundated with constant images of successful White men in other career fields. As a matter of fact, the entire Forbes rich list are comprised with majority White males. To White guys, sports is fun, as a career objective, there are fewer. Young Black boys should be exposed to more as children to know more is out there. That’s why Barack Obama played such a pivotal role in the image of Black males. Now more than ever politics is an attractive career path for Black males. An environment which will effect Black males more than any athlete can effect change.

STRIKEOUT!: Black Males Departure from Baseball

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“Where have they gone?”

It was April 15, 1947 when baseball player Jackie Robinson made his Major League debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. And for those of you who’ve been sleeping under a rock for the past 70 years, he broke the color barrier in baseball as the first African American to sign in the MLB (Major League Baseball). And for years proceeded numerous names popped up in the majors of Black males who would follow his path. Men such as: Willie Mays Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Reggie Jackson to Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, and Frank Thomas. But at some point the names slowed to a screeching halt; but why?

The departure of Black males from baseball is more sinister than you might have guessed. My theory that I have come to as to way Black men have departed from baseball is from the most unlikely of reasons: welfare. That’s right the welfare system had a lot to do with Black men exiting baseball. Now you wonder, why the welfare system. Well, let’s analyze baseball as a sport and what it means to men. Baseball is a sport that you learn to play with your father.

When a boy is young, he and his father go outside and toss the ball back and forth. It’s kind of reminiscent of a typical television commercial or feature film where the mother stares out the  kitchen window. She looks on at the little boy with his baseball mitt tossing the ball to his father. All the while, dad is giving son advice on how to properly catch and throw. From the house mom looks on and smiles as dad says, “Throw it like this son.” “That’s my boy.” Once play time is over, they walk into the house, dad’s arm around son in a loving embrace.

And for the longest the previous description was the face of the Black community. But as times got rough for families in financial straights, some men left the house. Meanwhile the majority stayed in their child or children’s lives. But the government came up with a solution for the moms whom the father had left the household. They stated, “To the Black community, we’ll give you mothers aid for the man not being present.” Then again, women were still rare in the workforce, so him leaving was a major blow to the family.

Well, as you would guess Black women received money, but for the man not being there. As for the houses where the men were present, they struggled as well. But the aid was not for families, but more so for struggling single moms. So in the homes where a Black man was present a plan was devised. He would say, “You (meaning to Black women), go downtown and tell them you need assistance.” “I’ll leave the house so when the social worker get here she won’t see me.” “As a matter of fact, I’ll remove evidence of any man living here.” And that’s what got the ball bouncing.

As you would guess, social worker came and he was not there. Now this was also a time of major racial divide and strife for Black men, so even though a man was present, Black men were denied employment. So with limited work options in this tumultuous time period, stress and depression opened Black men up to drugs and alcohol, as well as other hosts of problems. Still, there was a family to raise. Now for the most part a lot of Black men kept it together, performing odd jobs to make ends meet. But a day away from the house when the social worker came turned into a week. A week into a month, and so on. Eventually there was a full departure of Black men from the household.

This was problematic considering a new wave of trouble was about hit the Black community. And that wave would effect the Black community more than Jim Crow and that is narcotics. Fatherless homes made young Black males turn to creating gangs and cliquing with each other. They formed their own bonds and brotherhoods. With these brotherhoods, the rise of gangs took hold along with Heroine, then powder Cocaine, and next the Crack Cocaine Epidemic of the 1980’s into the 1990’s. Before you knew it inner cities went from quiet low key hard working family environments to crime infested killing fields.

Now you ask, how does baseball fit into all of this, the father. As Black men left the household, Black women were forced to work long hours, so they weren’t coming home playing catch with their sons. Boys were left alone in the world, forced to take on other sports that didn’t require having pop to play with; like football and basketball. Black boys in the community who formed various cliques would get a ball and go hooping with friends. Image result for 23 wallpaperBasketball courts turned into places for gambling and trash talking. Everyone wanted to be the biggest baller/trash talker for respect of their peers and onlookers.

The game of football would soon take hold as well where Black boys developed relationships with their coaches. The coaches would take the place of the father. What’s odd is that none of these boys got together and formed their own base to teach each other the game of baseball. Not in baseball, but they did in Image result for marshawn'football and basketball; but why? Well, for starters today, baseball, hockey, and golf are not only father son sports, but expensive as well. A lot of Black males are still growing up in poverty where finding a basketball and a court is cheaper than playing baseball. A football and a field is cheaper than baseball.

So what happened over time, Black men departed and Latin men entered, as well as White males who continued on strong in the sport. What’s shocking is that Black men fought the system so hard to play baseball. We took hatred in the form of being verbally abused, spit on from crowds, and even sent death threats to our homes. So today, we look back and go, what was all of that for; was it for nothing. What was the use of all that fighting if today we just vanish like we were never there. Will the greats who played eventually be forgotten like it never happened? Or will someone new come up and move aside football and basketball.

We have seen the talent from young up and coming juniors like Little League female phenom player Mo’ne Davis from South Philadelphia as well as the Jackie Robinson team out of Chicago, Illinois. But these are just the Cinderella stories we here from time to time. Stories that will continue to come and go, not remaining as long as the constant trend of fatherless homes stay the norm in the African American community.