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.

EXODUS RELOADED: WILL THERE EVER COME A TIME WHERE BLACKS WILL HAVE TO LEAVE?

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“Could it happen again?”

11% of America, this is the percent to which the African American population is made up of in this country. Now I make this statement, especially with everything that has been going on over the past few years. Will there ever come a day when we will have to leave this country and find land elsewhere? And what I mean by everything that has been going on, I’m talking about the topic of racism. Is it still an issue or not? And if it is, then you’re talking 400 years in the making since the original Africans were brought here as indentured servants. But if we do leave, where do we go? Every stretch of land is controlled globally.

What brought me to write about this topic, is that the Black experience in America is quite unique. And the context to which I am using unique is not necessarily good. Why is it unique because we are the only ethnic group with no connection to anything: language, religion, country, and government. Well everyone says this is your country. But it seems at every turn there is a constant reminder that you don’t belong. So where do you belong if not here? I mean, it’s easy to say Africa, but where? We in America are the only group without a country of origin.

People whose family came from Ellis Island (Polish, Italians, Jews, Greeks, Irish, Sicilians, etc.) have a country of origin, Mexicans, Middle Eastern, East Asian, but where do I turn. You see, when I was a small child, I would often contemplate taking my knowledge and going to aid some African country. Growing up in school I had always been academically sound, and thought, “Wow, my intellectual capital could be used in a poor African country.” Then I thought to myself, what about America. Even though you grow up with the idea that it’s possible, you really don’t think it is possible to become successful until you’re there; and even question once you’re there. There is the feeling that eventually you will get to a point where if you’re too successful you have to be brought down. Sometimes Black people will even sabotage our own successful before it can be taken from us.

In addition, I often thought, let’s assume I did leave America, how would I be received? Would I show up and people become more enraged that I am there, or would people be gracious to have someone willing to build their country? Even in this questioning I said build, “their” country. Emphasis on the word, “their”. Walking this planet as me, is like a nomadic individual looking for a home. Even when I look at the American flag, I don’t feel hate or dislike, rather I don’t associate Black people with it. I see White men and women. If you asked me what does an American look like, I would say White men and women.

This is not my opinion of what I think America is, but rather a feeling. I just don’t think America was meant for us. People may project that as hate, but I don’t hate. Now what do I do moving forward. There are a few options: stay in the country and continue to question, leave the country and go where, or stay and get lost within the future of America. Because by the year 2050, America will most likely be a Spanish speaking country. Now the plot thickens because not only are we lost in a country, but the language barrier will cause further confrontation. Because then again, this is the native land of the people speaking the language.

So I ask, will there ever be another Exodus of people. If so, will it be us (Black people) or where will we go? Our connection across the ocean has been lost in time and no where else would be as open. And if they are open, could we really call that place home. And will it only be a continuation of America? Or there is another option, purchase land on some island land mass and restart fresh. We are roughly $3 trillion of American spending, so it is possible to start our own country. Could we potentially buy our way out, or maybe that would be a reparation. America’s reparation to Black people is that we will sell you an island not charted by anyone. It’s yours to now build your future. That’s how Liberia was formed, from free Black people after slavery.

All of this sounds crazy to the average person in the world. That’s because the average person has some sort of connection to something. Growing up in school I always was one of the only Black students. And watching my White classmates, it’s almost like they just knew this was there country. Their pride made it easier for them to come into the world with confidence. I am almost 30 years of age and still trying to figure out how to fit into an environment where everything you do seems to be turned into a fault on some level. In the end, I often contemplate what my life will bring. But most of all, us as a group. Something tells me it’s not going to look good in the future. I just have a gut feeling and some may call it paranoia, but it’s my gut feeling. Throughout history man has always had to find uncharted land, so over the next 100 years I wonder what will come of us.

OFF THE BLOCK: Why Black People Should Travel

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“Why we need to leave the block.”

As a Black man, I wish I could take my views of the world and place them into the minds of so many other young Black males. I am always trying to broaden my horizons as well as understanding other groups. I love Black culture, but I also love learning new cultures as well. I think there is a problem that permeates within our community that makes us not want to leave the block. I live in Harlem, New York, and the same faces I seen on a daily bases hanging on the street corner. I would like to ask these guys one day, “Have you ever been off the block?” “Have you ever even been to Times Square?” “Have you been to The MET?”

And for those of you that don’t know what the MET stands for, it is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City’s Upper East Side neighborhood. Working there as an Usher for concerts and performances, I love eying the many sculptures and art pieces that have been sent from around the world by various countries. Such as the Egyptian antiquities sent from places like Alexandria and Cairo, even the stone carved sculptures of the Medieval Period of European history, as well Mesopotamia in the Middle East and the Native American artifacts of this country.

I would just love to put other Black men in the know. To know that you are missing out on so many great things in life. You say why Black men? Well, we have this tendency to only see what is on the block. We can’t for some reason see past the block. And a lot of times, we don’t know of anything past the block. For example, my oldest sister is who introduced me to eating sushi with chopsticks. Starting with the food, and has opened my mind to what else is there to know about the Japanese culture. But see, cultural understanding didn’t start with my sister, it came from my mother.

As a child growing up in a traditional Black family, we ate soul food on a daily basis. But it was my mother who said, “Hey, it’s Chinese food Friday, Gyro Saturday, or how about Mexican food Sunday.” So I wanted to take myself to another place mentally from my childhood experiences. She also put us in schools where her children would get a more universal experience. Our cable television was used to challenge us as well: History Channel, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, and even Jeopardy quiz show of random information. we frequented the library where we were asked about anything interesting that we wanted to do or learn. So from my childhood, I was so intrigued to know more.

Another reason I want Black men to leave the block, is to get a passport. I am currently working on getting myself a passport as well. We need to travel, and I’m not talking Las Vegas or Miami. I’m talking Sydney, Australia; Tokyo,Japan; Moscow, Russia; Berlin, Germany; or Cairo, Egypt. Why international? Well because for so long, Black people have been told that you’ll experience hatred and rejection from outside the country. But the most oppression has come via United States. Why do we believe in the hype that we are so hated. Not only is this not true, but internationally, people know, understand, and respect our will to fight through our struggles here in America.

As for me, if anyone says this particular group hates you, I make it my business to open the dialect with that group. Because if they do, I’ll be able to breakdown where they got it from. For example, I was watching television where a man in Russia said he didn’t like Black people. When asked why considering you have and may never come in contact with Black people. He stated, That’s what he sees on TV and in the movies. So I went, ahhh, he just gave me enough information to make my decision. That is why it’s our job to travel and show people we are not what people have been told. Because if not, we will continue to believe thoughts and ideologies about us that were not pushed nor created by us. Putting yourself in the know is crucial in our lives moving forward.