DYING SENTIMENT OR THRIVING HATRED: HOW MUCH OF MY ETHNICITY REALLY PLAYS A ROLE IN MY SUCCESS

“Sins of the past don’t have to be the future.”


The above photo is of a woman by the name of Vivian Malone. Vivian Malone was the first African American student to register for classes at the University of Alabama as an undergraduate student. The university was racially segregated, and up to this point no had been successful in entering the school. Even the governor at the time, George Wallace, stood at the door, blocking her entry temporarily before she was allowed access inside. Now, this topic is not about Vivian Malone, this topic is in reference to how much has changed since that time period. That was back in 1963 when she was denied entry, and my mother was only 3 years old herself. Since then, a lot more students have been admitted to Alabama, and no one thinks twice about Black children attending. But we still have conflicts in America today, as exemplified in Virginia a few weeks ago.

So my question is, how much does my ethnicity even in today’s society contribute to my success. Because I see so many men and women that look like myself that are successful, but then you see what has been going on in the country today. There are marches for White Supremacy in America, yet there are counter protest on the other side. And the counter protest are bigger than the supremacy groups. So yes, racism does exist, but on what scale. I have experienced it in life and still do. But what role does it and will it play in future success? A lot of the sentiment, I am not concerned with at this point in America. Because if you don’t like me by this time, then you never will. My only obligation is working to succeed how I want to succeed. I’m not in this world to convince everyone to love me, that’s not practical.

Yet, you have to deal with these types of people. I was reading somewhere that only 10% of the American population are supporters of these Neo-Nazi groups. Now, looking at this from a percentage basis we say, “10% is not a lot of people. But the American population is close to 320 million people. With 10% of these people following hate groups, 30 million people are a lot of people. But see, I am not trying to win those individuals over. I know they have and never will like me. My goal is I don’t want to have to come into contact with them. Yet when you see the Virginia march with tiki torches, you say to yourself, some of these guys were professors and even worked in the medical field. It creeps me out that some of these people could be my doctors. Black men already have and adverse feeling when looking at doctors.

Yet, in the end, I still look at my life with hope. Though in the back of my mind, the thought never leaves. When I come across someone and have what I perceive to be a racial experience, and I say to myself, “Did they because; nah, maybe not.” Nonetheless, I am hopeful; for my future and the country. We like to look in the past and say that people were so awful. But I think there were just as many good people today as in the past. It’s just that we all excepted life as what it was then. And the more we pushed against the grain, the more we look back and say, “You know, this wasn’t ok at that time.” For me, I look at photos of separate water fountains that said, “White Only and Colored Only.” It seems weird to look at, but for older people in my family that was life at one point in time. I feel life is changing, it’s just in real time we don’t see it. We never see life while in the paradigm of living it; humanity never will. Only when you look back over time we become convinced of the changes.


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CULTURAL APPROPRIATION: HOW AFRICANS RECEIVE AFRICAN AMERICANS IN AFRICAN ATTIRE

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“Is it and to what degree?”


There is this unspoken relationship that is between the indigenous people of Africa and those of us who were brought over to the Americas is ongoing. There is this constant disconnect that they really don’t care for us in the states. And the converse feeling is that we tend to look at them not as fondly. But lately I have noticed more and more of the African American population wearing traditional African attire. And then the question comes up regarding is this a form a cultural appropriation. And in my opinion, it is seen as cultural appropriation because it is not the culture in which we have here in America. Culture is not necessarily being the same skin tone.

But I want to know to what degree is this cultural appropriation? And how is it received when we as African Americans wear attire from Africa. Because from my understanding, the print in the clothing of African attire tells a story. In America it looks nice to those of us who wear the clothing. Me myself, I have never worn any clothing that is synonymous with Africa. All the clothing I wear is of this country that is America. Interestingly enough, I have been asked by numerous people before ever hearing me speak am I from Africa. And my response has always been no, but I found it interesting that people would ask. But this does not qualify me to wear such attire not of America.

This topic has always been brought up about us regarding everyone else in attire we created in America. But I never stop to ever think about it as cultural appropriation when we as African Americans wear the clothing of Africa. Then again, how do Africans receive non-Black groups such as Europeans when they wear African clothing. I will admit, I have seen European men and women wearing African clothing and it always appeared odd to me. And not odd like why are they wearing it. But odd in the sense of, “Hmmm, this is different.” And that feeling has come from the notion that I know that they didn’t create it. It just looks less authentic than when a non person of color is wearing the clothes. But this also goes both ways. I don’t tend to see African Americans bothered by Africans wearing clothing we made popular in America.

And in the end, it’s not about who wears the clothing of what other culture. A lot of people are protective because people tend to run it off as their own. And then they disregard where they found this idea. And now the world credits this person for something that has been in existence for centuries, if not longer. And what it does is that it cheapens the cultures identity. And to Africans as with many other groups, they don’t look at their clothing as a mere fad, but an extension of their identity.


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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

Gray Scale Photo of Topless Man Covering Face

“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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NEW AGE ATTIRE: THE CRITICISM OF YOUNG BLACK MALE CLOTHING CHOICES

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“When the culture is not your culture.”


I have noticed that over the recent years, young Black males have come under attack from the Black community for the way we have decided to dress. Our attire has been a subject of debate because of the alleged feminine nature of the clothing. From the tight fit of the skinny jeans to wearing the clothing of another culture. As you may notice, there is a photo above of actor Samuel L. Jackson on the red carpet in a traditional kilt worn by Scottish men. But why is it such an issue for Black men to dress this way? Why is our sexuality under question once we dress in way that is not the norm in our community?

For starters, let’s observe us as an ethnic group. When you look at our relationship in the United States, especially as it pertains to our sexuality, there are so many unspoken issues. As Black men, there are stereotypical views about us that make other ethnic groups question once their daughters decide to date or even marry Black men. Then Black women have stereotypes about them that have shaped the way they look at themselves. So anything we do that remotely arises questions is criticized. Observing the way our Black males are dressing today, it is seen as a move that questions his sexuality. In the Black community you are expected to be stronger, and part of that is how you dress. There is nothing strong about wearing clothes that have been deemed attire for women.

But if you are Scottish this is part of the culture for men to wear kilts. We say it’s a skirt in America, yet it actually does not look out of place when Scottish men wear it. And yet here is another aspect of criticism toward men who dress a certain way; culture. The Black culture of America is not kilts, so Image result for uzi vert clothingwhen someone is wearing something not of our culture we tend to question. Then again, it goes past culture when certain clothes are not cultural appropriation, but clothing considered flat out feminine. Case in point, hip hop artist Lil Uzi Vert has been criticized by the way he dresses. The outfits he wears can easily be mistaken for women’s clothing. And criticized so because he has so many young Black male fans who look up to him. It is seen as a way to emasculate Black males by promoting Black male femininity.

But why, why are we as a community so hard on Black artist? All the great White male rock and roll artist have worn questionable clothing. Look at the glam years of the 1980’s rock scene. The androgynous male look was big in the 1980’s. Yet, these men are not only Related imagerespected in music, but as men as well. It is seen as totally fine because it all comes down to culture again. We
turn a blind eye as a Black community to White males because what they do is not relevant to us. Why, because it is not seen as our culture and what we do. But just because you come from a certain culture does that mean you have stick to your own culture only? Or, why do you have to be held to a certain form of attire  just because of where you come from?

In the end, cultures are changing and norms are changing. We’re in a very different space right now as it pertains to the social landscape of America. It’s hard for so many to change how they live or their beliefs because it’s too much change too fast. And if not too much change too fast, people feel certain things shouldn’t change at all. But no matter how hard people push against it, things are changing, and there is nothing that you can do. You have to adjust, or fade out.


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TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: BLACK MALES AND OUR DISDAIN FOR HOSPITALS

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“Why we run from the doctor, even though we need it.”

Ever since the days when Black men were used as guinea pigs for medical experiments, we still have a problem visiting a physician. The most well known experiment conducted on Back men was the syphilis study, where we were used to see the effects of the transmitted disease. There has always been this engrained fear for us as Black men to go to the doctor’s office. Even if it’s for a slight checkup. Because in the back of our minds, there is still this morale and ethical conduct that we don’t feel doctors have among themselves. We still think that doctors are behind the scenes conspiring to hurt us. But ultimately, we are hurt, but it’s not from going to the doctor’s office.

We are ultimately hurt because we don’t go the hospital for routine checkups. Me myself, I don’t go unless I am very much so in pain. This could mean a progression of some sort into something worse when it could have been dealt with early. But that feeling still lingers in the backs of our minds. Well, what can be done so that we can overcome that fear of going to the doctor’s office. Because at this point our health depends on it. Since not only are we paranoid about the doctor’s office, but on top of it, the food we eat tends to be unhealthy as well.

One of the ways to get us healthy and fear less, is our relatives, maybe a child, going to the office with us. With someone present, this decreases a lot of the fears. Having that support system makes us feel at ease. Or better yet, your spouse could serve as someone that would make you feel a lot better. Another suggestion is to research good doctors who have been successful with other patients, This way you’re able to have more trust in visiting the hospital.

In the end, no matter what we do, we can’t continue to be afraid. Especially when we’re predisposed to so many illnesses. Although the historical aspect still leaves us frightened, further holding off from visiting a physician will only hurt us in the end.