FIVE IN THE STREET: HOW TO PLAY LIFE WITH HAND YOU’RE DEALT

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“Just because you were born at the bottom, doesn’t mean you have to stay at the bottom.”


For myself, as with many like myself, I am starting my life from humble beginnings. And when I say humble beginnings, I mean growing up poor. My mother is what you would call the working poor. Where one missed day of work, one sick day could have placed her, my two sisters, and myself in a homeless shelter, or worse in the street. But does that mean our lives have to stay that way? No, it does not. Because living in America, we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My two siblings are currently steadfast in their careers, and am actively pursuing my own path in life. So if you’ve been dealt a bad hand, how do you win with that hand?

Well, for starters, it comes by way of education. At a young age, my mother started to invest in our education. And when I say invest, she didn’t have money set aside for us as children. But she did make sure that the schools we went to were good enough and safe enough. She waited in lines to enroll us in school. She didn’t sleep in the bed and not make an effort to get us into a good school. She made it her mission, at times sacrificing her own well-being. Even though we were in public school, with my oldest sister attending private in high school, the schools were decent. The school wasn’t a place where all the kids were focused on being cool kids. You were encouraged to expand your mind past how you were being perceived by your peers. So you were able to focus on your education.

So now that education was taken care of, my mother cultivated a household where our minds could grow. At a young age she would take us to the library where we took part in various activities: reading, writing, and putting together puzzles (which was an activity I loved). We even had times on Friday nights when she would have long conversations with us about life. Little did I know those conversations and those weekend trips to the library were getting us prepared to deal in life. It taught me patients, hard work, persistence, and dedication. In addition, I also have to not forget those trips to the zoo and museums, where we were encouraged to have an open mind to many different cultures and experiences.

So now that my sisters and myself are adults we can pursue our own endeavors with the confidence needed up to this point to succeed. So what does all this have to do with winning with a bad hand; well, a lot. Everything that I was taught growing up, in combination with my own cultivated intellect, we have always been able to prosper. Now, everyone did not grow up in a household where their talents were nurtured. Some people have some very tough lives that are far beyond my life. But understand, that your story and my story is not unique. There is always someone that looks like you, and have come from where you have come from to succeed. So in the end, there is always going to be people dealt a bad hand. Some will overcome their struggle and others won’t. Sadly enough, that’s just some of the outcomes of life.


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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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AIM HIGH: ACHIEVING THE GREATEST YOU IN THIS WORLD

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“Keep going: never stop, never quit.”


We should all want to strive to be the best us we can possibly be in this world. Not just because we want to excel in our careers, or to make a lot of money. But we should strive because it internally makes us feel to good to achieve. Especially when the achievement comes from humble beginnings. What better way to go through life than to start at the bottom and build yourself to the top. And the top can be a very ambiguous word depending on the person pursuing the top. The top could be being one of the best school teachers in your school, or the top can mean the superintendent of the entire school board. The top could mean a head coach of a professional sports team, or the owner of the team.

But other ways you can reach the top is by means of mental greatness. Some people have average financial gains, but they have this mental awareness of who they are in life. That mental could be something connected to their spirituality. Reaching the highest level of spirituality is to some people what winning the Powerball lottery is to another. Well, is there ever a time where the mental is hard to achieve because something else internally is blocking that mental? And the answer is yes; there are plenty of instances where someone has a hard time with their mental greatness because of some extenuated circumstance they may be dealing with at the moment. Enternal issues such as Depression, stress, and anxiety can lead to you not being able to fully achieve such mental greatness.

Well, what about back to financial gains, what is wrong with wanting to reach a higher level of wealth? And the answer to that is nothing. There is nothing wrong with wanting to strive to attain a higher level of wealth for yourself. There are so many people who think chasing the almighty dollar can be a bad thing. I don’t think it is because everything is in context. If you want a nice estate, nice cars, vacations, then fine. It is a life that is well in reach. To me, it’s about how you’re going about attaining your wealth. If there are people you’re directly hurting to gain, such as selling drugs, then no. But if you start a company that grows into a multinational organization, then fine. Because you’re gaining wealth, but also, you’re employing people in the process.

In the end, striving to be the best you, you can be is very rewarding. It can come in both a financial, physical, and intangible form. You want to lose weight and that helps you become the best you, then pursue it. You want to gain wealth, pursue it. You want to be the best parent, pursue it. There are no guarantees, but the great thing about living in America is the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And that’s the key word: pursuit.


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RIGHT 2 CARRY

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“How relevant are they really?”

As we enter a race for a new president of the United States, one of the topics of interest pertains to the place in which guns have purpose in our lives. And I am not referring to law enforcement officers, but civilians. The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution clearly states we have the right to bare arms. What does that mean? Does that mean I have the right to bare any arms? Is it limited to certain guns? Or did that mean something different for the time period in which people were living during the time the document was written.

The lines starts to blur between what is an acceptable gun to have and the right to access such guns. Pistols are clearly alright by most, but a high powered gun like the AR-15, tends to rub people the wrong way. Me myself, it’s hard to say because you do have questions. Why does one need something such as an M16, AK47, or the AR-15. What are the provisions one should have placed on them when you want to own a fully automatic rifle. Even the language is subject for debate because gun owners and enthusiast alike disagree with the populace over what is an assault rifle or not.

Well let’s first observe the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The document was written at the end of the year 1791, and since then debates have gone back and forth for the past 225 plus years. When we talk about the 2nd Amendment there are two areas of interest: gun control and gun rights. When taking away the gun (control) you start to infringe on people’s sense of security (rights). But what is a right? Rights are established in a society to give people the freedom and alienable ability to live how they choose so long as it does not negatively effect the lives of others (social morality).

Now when you are lax on the gun, people feel their rights are not being infringed upon. Well what has people up in arms about the topic. In the recent years, there has been a stretch of shootings using high powered rifles like the AR-15. Victims of those lost reach out asking for stricter gun control. While the gun owners feel the laws are fine the way they have always been. But today it’s a fight; between the owners not wanting to give them up and the government trying to restrict usage of certain guns. The government simply says we are trying to lower the risk of higher victim count. Gun owners say the government are using mass shootings as a platform to put policy in place to harm them for others irresponsible behavior.

Being responsible is very important to take notice of. Why? Because the majority of gun owners are law abiding citizens. They realize the severity of owning a gun and work to keep themselves from getting into a legality situation. Their argument is that the majority of gun violence comes by way of illegal handguns. Illegal is key because if you’re willing to own a gun unregistered and brandish it in public, you’re not concerned with policy by the government. Another argument is that gun owners feel the government is using a crime statistic, which comes from urban gang violence, to push their agenda. While not addressing that issue (inner city crime), which to them (gun owners) seem like a much bigger problem.

But the government says otherwise in their claims. They feel by restricting the amount of rounds one is able to possess; even in the case of a mass shooting casualties are lessened. We also have politicians who want to go as far banning all guns that don’t fall under the equation of handgun or shotgun/rifle designated for hunting deer and other small to midsize game. The government would further say that when the 2nd Amendment was written, it was suppose to be intended for muskets, not M16 assault rifles. Now gun owners would disagree stating that the individuals then were merely using the technological weaponry of their day. But the rebuttal from the government would be the forefathers could not have foreseen assault rifles. These men were also slave owners, which gives the government an in to imply that the forefathers were not right about everything as well even if you think the forefathers would have agreed.

In the end, the fight will continue between the two sides: those for guns and those for gun control. America already has more guns per capita than any nation globally, quite odd considering we are not in war time. It will continue, so long as the people feel infringed upon and the government feels cause to interfere in ones’ life if they see ones’ life or lifestyle to be morally unfit and a threat to this nation.

Our Deepest Fears: What Marianne’s Words Meant To Me.

“Our Deepest fears are not that we are inadequate…”

The author Marianne Williamson stated in her novel A Return to Love that, “Our deepest fears are not that we are inadequate.” “Our deepest fears is that we are powerful beyond measure it is our light not our darkness that’s most frightens us.” The entire passage is one that I have come to know by heart because the meaning behind the words resonate so much with me. The quote prior resonates because you would think people would be afraid of their failures in life, yet it is success that scares them the most.

Well why does success scare people so much? Is it that they won’t be able to handle the attention that comes with it? Or is it the idea that the more you give to people the more they want; and you fear not being able to satisfy their need? Marianne went to answer these questions by saying, “We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous.” “Actually who are you not to be?” Which only meant, when you look into the mirror, why second guess the reason you are in the position you’re in or was given the talents you possess? Why not you?

Marianne went on to state, “Your playing small does not serve the world.” “There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others won’t feel insecure when they’re around you.” We who possess such skills that set us apart from everybody else forces you to want to take a step back. We want to run with the pack even though we run faster than anyone in the pack. Why? Because we don’t want anyone else to feel insecure because they can’t keep up. So what do we do, we run with the group because we think it makes us noble. But it actually uncovers a character flaw that exist inside of us.

She let us know that, “You were made to manifest the glory of God that is within you.” “It’s not in some of us, it’s in everyone.” “And as you let your own light shine, you can unconsciously give others permission to do the same.” “As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” These quotes let us know that your power that you possess is not just in you it’s in everyone around you. The only difference between you and them, is that you actually will do what they only dream of doing. But once you step out into the world fearless and confident, this confidence frees up so many other people seeking to be just as great as you.

What’s interesting about Marianne Williamson’s novel, A Return to Love, is that our deepest is only a passage in the book. The book contained so much more than our deepest fears, yet our deepest fears are the constraints which harbor so many people from being the greatest version of them they can be. How did this passage help me? It freed me up to pursue my dreams in life. Dreams so many will never attempt; becoming a successful author and filmmaker.

You see, growing up for me was about going to college attaining your education. Upon leaving school, finding a job that not only pays every two weeks, but hopefully one which will assist in paying for graduate school in the process. Well, while going to graduate school, I found myself looking over my screenplay which had not been completed. Writing the script was a daunting task. So difficult I tossed it partially finished and continued to pursue my MBA. It wasn’t until I was almost complete with my degree I felt a lack of accomplishment.

Why? Because I was not pursuing anything I was passionately willing to do for the rest of my life. It was while finishing up my MBA I began to work more in New York City’s theatre scene that I picked-up my script once again. Finishing the script I took on new ideas and a new way of thinking. It was then I knew I didn’t belong in a corporate environment. Because the stories I have to tell, people need to read and listen to. That’s when Marianne’s passage started to resonate with me. My only reasons for not pursuing my dreams is not out of failure, it was fear of what comes with the success.

But the cost of me doing nothing felt like much more hurtful than doing something. I can live with working toward something and failing. What I cannot live with is the idea of reaching the age of 70, 80, or even 90, looking back going I should have. Because if you ask any man or woman in their elderly years what was their biggest regret in life they’ll tell you it’s no being reaching for the greatest them they could be. And that is more of a fear for me than anything in life. Getting to the end of my life and realizing it was for nothing. People might look and go, it looked nice to me, but what was it for me. Regret is one of the biggest pains of anyone in life. So in closing I say thank you Marianne, those words have been that bit of logic that have stuck with me for the past few years now. Those words as I journey through this tough terrain as a novelist and filmmaker: “Our deepest fears are that we are inadequate.” “Are deepest fears are that we are powerful beyond measure.”