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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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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UNAPOLOGETICALLY ME: FEELING BEAUTIFUL IN A BLACK BODY

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“Have your pigment ever made you feel less than?”


As a Black male growing up in the United States my mother taught me at young the uphill battle of dealing with a certain demographic of people. A certain demographic that might not like simply because the color of my skin. But what is not talked about as much is the lack of representation in me being seen as an exceptionable image of affection. Not just Black men, but also Black women as well. The images I saw of Black men and women were either overly sexual, or shown from a space of shame and unattractive physical appearance.  But who makes those decisions regarding on what’s beautiful in our society?

Well, since I was young the fashion industry was strong in promoting the image of that beauty to society. An image that has effected more women than men. The body type is expected to me lean and thin, while the woman is supposed to be tall with symmetrical facial features. The ethnicity of the woman is typically a White girl, 18 – 25 years of age. This image effects so many girls, excluding even more Black women, then it leaves Black women to look to other images. It’s why Essence, Jet, and Ebony have been so pivotal in the Black community.

So how has this effected me, or others that look like me? In reality, it has not done much to effect in how I see myself. But I have seen the effects on the attitudes of Black women in society. Verbal comments regarding any other woman’s appearance that is easily dismissed is elevated when directed toward Black women. So who’s to blame? Should it be the job of an industry or should it come from the people who are effected? Me personally, I have my own view on this topic.

As much as we want to blame fashion and entertainment, I don’t see these mediums changing anytime soon. So to say this is the reason only, then a group of people are in trouble. It has to come from the person/people because who are effected. Because I don’t think the people you want to care actually cares. So you have no choice but to take back your identity. If not you’re going to have a generation of males and females who lack self-esteem. Especially if you’re looking for other ethnic groups to validate your physical. To me, in the end, it has to come from you as the person. No one is going to care because it doesn’t effect them. So what happens in positions of duress; adjust? Adjust, and carve out your own identity.


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BLACK AND PROUD: THE DIFFICULTY IN “BEING BLACK” WHILE BEING BLACK.

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“Do you ever feel like it’s hard being you?”

“Oh, it’s too Black!” “You don’t act Black!” These are a couple of the phrases I’ve heard in my life regarding to my ethnicity. Trying to stay true to yourself is difficult when you are an African American. Because to the White men and women, you’re too Black. And as it pertains to Black people you’re not Black enough. I have had to deal with this tug of war since childhood, and now adulthood. When you’re working in a place of employment, chances are it’s around mostly White, you walk this fine line. You’re usually putting on this face that is nowhere near who you really are outside of work. Then there are the Black people who don’t seem like they quite fit into their own group. Usually demonstrating unfamiliar understandings of certain cultural references because of interest that are different than the group.

For me, I am big on culture; not just African American culture, but any other culture as well. Growing up in my mother’s house, she not only encouraged us, but forced us into environments where people were different than yourself. She knew something we didn’t, and that is if you want to be able to succeed in this society, you need to be able to communicate with different groups of people. It didn’t matter if we were spending the day at the library, or the schools where we received our educations. Diversity was encouraged, which was something that I didn’t see in my immediate environment. A lot of the kids hung around those that look like them, talked like them, dressed like them, even ate the foods they ate. Unlike them, in our household you were encouraged to try new music, food, and clothes.

Now you ask, what does any of this have to do with being Black. Well, a lot because like I said before, there is this tug of war. You’re caught in between two worlds. The world of my immediate surroundings, such as my community which is Black. And then there is the daily workplace which consists of predominantly White. So, with me, I have a pride in Black culture, but that pride tends to come at a cost of making a White constituency uncomfortable. Yet on the other hand, I enjoy the pleasures of taking part in activities or subscribing to certain forms of thinking that do not align with the Black community or certain agendas within it. For instance, I love 90’s hip hop and 80’s rock and roll. What an interesting combination of Death Row Records, No Limit, and Bad Boy, with a touch of Aerosmith, Motle Crue, and ACDC.

But being me is more than just the food I eat and music I listen to through my iPod. It’s not something I am aspiring to be, nor is something that I’m trying to play a role within. Being Black is a shared experience. It’s a feeling, the way you think and breathe. It’s walking up the street, coming in contact with a troublesome situation and giving the head nod to one another. An action that has long been associated with hip and cool, yet is a sign that we understand the situation and I’m looking out like you looking out. Being Black is finishing quotes like, “God is good all the time and all the time God is good.” “It’s knowing what is really meant by wading in the water and lift every voice.” It’s knowing why Black women really love the utility of wearing their hair in braids or dreads and the first thought that crosses your mind as a Black man as you come in contact with the police.

You see, in the end, when someone ask me about acting Black, I shake my head. Why? Because you can’t act Black. Ever act Chinese or how about acting Russian. Ever been told stop acting Native American. Usually when told you’re acting Black there is a negative connotation which is more of a back-handed, under-handed, and over-handed smack to the face. I don’t aspire to be, I just am. It’s not an article of clothing nor is it a particular genre of music. It’s not eating certain food or conversing with a certain vernacular. It’s Educated, check; respectable, check; law abiding, check; driven, check; ambitious, check; and most imitated, double check. I never, nor have I ever felt I needed to rise to any level of Blackness because I am Black and Black is I.

GUILTY: BLACKNESS ON TRIAL

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“Are you Black enough?” “And what does that mean?”

Stop acting White. You’re not Black enough. You’re a sell out. These are a few of the statements you hear growing up in the Black urban community. But why, why is it that deciding to live your life in a certain manner brings your ethnicity into question? Is it at all possible to act like another group? And if it is, then how do act Chinese, Russian, Indian, Spaniard, or Egyptian? The reason why the previous sentence sounds ridiculous is because it’s not possible to act an ethnicity. That is a constraint that is placed on you in America between Black and White People. Well then, why do we say it?

For starters saying you’re acting a certain group is an ignorant statement to make once we breakdown what that means. Let’s assume I say you’re acting White. Then you say, what am I doing that would constitute me to act White? And when you listen to the response, it generally is from a place of ignorance. But not only ignorance, the reply is usually a dangerous statement. You say to yourself, why is that dangerous to say? For one, it implies that you are appropriating the cultural norm which exist in another ethnic group, which means you must reject your own. False, you can be proud of who you are and express admiration for another groups culture.

Another reason why saying you’re acting like an ethnic group is dangerous is because typically when Black children are told this, it most certainly means you’re doing something positive. Whether it’s reading a book while everyone else part take in fun or speaking with a clear English vernacular rather than slang. Children will grow to think that being Black equates to ignorance which leads to negative views on ones’ self as well as lowered expectations. How and when did this change? And what I mean by how and when because Black people have not always had this in our community.

Being a Black intellectual was celebrated throughout history. But somewhere along the historical timeline, it became popular to exuberate low cognitive abilities. Let’s try to backtrack in time to where this approximately happened. I would say coming from the 1970’s into the 1980’s is when there was a major shift. Poverty during this time was on the rise and narcotics were taking hold. Single parent homes were the norm and gang violence was rapidly spreading. Eventually all of this found it’s way into our pop culture.

And once something becomes mainstream, that’s it. And it’s not because of mainstream alone, but the economics behind the entertainment. Meaning, once young males and females saw the profitability through entertainment such as rap/hip hop music they acknowledged an out. Everybody wanted to be rappers; dress like rappers, talk like rappers, and act like rappers. These men became so influential, you could say they were on par with civil rights leaders of the 1950’s and 1960’s as far as their influence. This was an aspect of the decline in expectations. But what else, entertainment is powerful, but not as strong to cause the shift of low expectations in the community today.

The biggest shift was the lack of quality education in inner city schools throughout the recent decades. On top of poor education, you have students dealing with hardships of poverty, and some even victims of abuse at home. All of this was a recipe for disaster as things worsened, so did the expectations. Now you have a smart Black child being called out for his or her intellect simply because someone or the entire class lack quality knowledge that he or she does. So what takes the place of knowledge when knowledge diminishes; valuables, that’s what.

Black people have been accused of not assimilating into society. But we have, we are a fully economic base. Meaning America is a capitalistic society based around goods and services. Blacks are in full swing where we spend nearly more money than any group of people in America. As a matter of fact we are worth roughly $2 – $3 trillion per year to the America economy. That means if we were a country (Black People), we would be somewhere between 4th and the 7th of the top ten wealthiest nations on earth. So with all that money why such poor education. Well because we have assimilated into this system of economy, that’s the problem. But why are we fully economic.

The reason being, when you grow up poor, it’s hard enough being poor now you look poor. And to top it off, your school environment is poor. So dressing in the latest fashion distracts everyone from your impoverished situation. Now, some economist might go America still benefits. But others will say, if we could get more of this group to come up through the financial ranks, then more money is pumped into the economy, the better America will do. But it starts with education, which brings me back to blackness. Blackness can’t continue to be reached and defined by means of ignorance. A people bereft of knowledge effects us all because we all now take on the financial impact due to the lack of quality education in the environment. But more knowledge, equals more people in the know. More people in the know means elevating yourself. Through elevation comes finances, and from finances comes prosperity. Ultimately, we all seek to benefit being that we share this country.