The Madea Effect

Madea

 

There has been an ongoing argument in the black community regarding the main character in Tyler Perry’s franchise of films – projects that are released on an almost (if not actually) yearly basis. Namely…Madea. This conversation or debate is not new though – because it’s tied to a larger context and discussion that black people have been having for years as we consider one dynamic or another in society directly related to people of African descent. The question we grapple with on a regular basis is this: Does one action or another that we randomly encounter or witness push back against the fight for equality?

Madea – who is played by a “cross-dressed” Perry – is a humorous (to some anyway) – cantankerous – high-strung – “don’t take-no-mess-from-nobody” – but at the end of the day loving…character. After all, in the black community the “nickname” Madea is a derivative of “My Dear”, which obviously connotes endearment. And it’s worth noting that the Madea character is the basis for what has by now become an indisputable empire for Tyler Perry – dating back to the days when Madea debuted on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” before sold-out audiences. Now, the argument in barbershops – on black entertainment shows and panels – and at dinner tables in black households everywhere is over whether or not Perry is taking Black America several steps backwards with what is essentially a caricature  a caricature that quite possibly may feed the seemingly insatiable beast that is “the strereotype of black people”?

Is Madea merely entertainment or is Tyler Perry “cooning”? Is it art or is it exploitation? Perry has often argued in his own defense that: Madea and the other stereotypical characters that accompany her during her various escapades are all in good fun – they are disarming – and more importantly that each film always has a positive message to be extracted by the viewer. His detractors, however, counter that those positive messages are lost in the bafoonery of a modern day minstrel show that reinforces and legitimizes the ignorance of our oppressors past and present; an oppression that led directly to the social misery experienced during slavery – jim crowe and that even lives on to this day via crooked public policies – mass incarceration and the like.

This is a tough one for me honestly. I understand both sides of this cinematic disagreement. On the one hand – anyone who doesn’t know by now that Madea does not represent a depiction of Black America is living in Allison Wonderland. And Perry does in fact inject positive messages into his films and has also produced films (sans Madea) that feature black characters as doctors, lawyers, and so on – which despite popular public opinion is not an imaginary scenario. BUT, on the other hand, I am concerned about a general “black public” lining the streets of America to behold the gun toting grandma with a mean right hook. Makes me wonder what Black America thinks of ourselves to a degree, comedy or not. And although I think that most of America does not buy into Madea as a representative of Black America, I do wonder if there is not what I call a Madea Effect – existing in America – generally speaking.

I remember when I used to work for IBM, I’d jump out to lunch from time to time with various co-workers. Well this one gentlemen (happened to be white) whom I’d only recently met at that time came by my desk one day and asked if I wanted to hit up this pizza spot he knew about – I agreed and we were on our way. We jumped in his car and I kid you not – this dude searched his radio dial as he eye-balled me until he landed on an urban station and with a sort of smirk on his face was like: “I bet you like that music huh??” and then did an exaggerated head bob as he said something to the effect of “yo yo yo”, in a playful manner, trying to make me laugh I guess. I responded politely: “my friend that’s enough” (paraphrasing). He was the nicest guy you’d ever meet  – good people and completely harmless as I came to see over time. BUT, I had to check him – both on principle – and because if he tried that with the wrong person they might not be so understanding as I. (I’m also mad thinking back on it because I did like the music he was playing though! Haha!)

I share this because I do feel that much of America – many who live in isolated areas where they only see black people on TV – does buy into unflattering and asinine stereotypes…believing Black America to be monolithic. They might not necessarily (though they might!) buy into Madea as a representation of all things black, but when a rapper like Young Thug or Trinidad James gets up on the TV screen sporting a gold grill along with eighteen gold chains  around his (their) neck – might that not have the Madea Effect? The “Madea Effect” by the way – according to a definition of my own making – paints an exaggerated and over the top picture of the black experience – which becomes a caricature – that then becomes emblematic for the rest of America regarding who we are as a race. And if this “effect” actually exists it’s no wonder then that we hear “sage” advice from people outside our community about how we need to pull up our pants – get off welfare – take care of our children – find a job – stop spending all our money on car rims and jewelry. That’s all they see on TV!!

@ all of the above I want to quickly quote – only in part – lines from a scene in which Robin Williams who offered up a brilliant portrayal of “Dr. Sean Maguire” – addresses the main character “Will” in the film Good Will Hunting:

 

“I look at you; I don’t see an intelligent, confident man; I see a cocky, scared sh&@ess kid. But you’re a genius, Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine and you ripped my f@&$n’ life apart. You’re an orphan right? Do you think I’d know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you?”

 

My point: the rappers or athletes – or the backwards characters portrayed in tv/film/music – or the “welfare queen” depicted on Fox News do not encapsulate who black people are as a people. However, and rather unfortunately, some people just cannot seem to see past what they read somewhere in a book or newspaper. They cannot move past what their drunk uncle tells them about black people as he gobbles (no pun intended) a turkey melt at Thanksgiving. And so in light of that the question is: Are some black folks by their actions helping to bolster the “Sambo” image imprinted on the psyche of “Joe Public”? It really shouldn’t be Trinidad James’s responsibility to remedy that problem anymore than it should be rapper “Rif-Raff’s” (click here for photo) for white people. But unfortunately I think it is at the moment. It’s not fair but it’s true.

I am not saying that Black America needs to impress White America or anybody else.  In fact, that should not be our goal at all. Our goal should be, however, to overcome by any means necessary the obstacles placed in front of our community at nearly every turn from day one by a systemically racist apparatus. And if that means we have to be careful not to aid in the construction of stereotypes and in fact should work to deconstruct stereotypes – shouldn’t we pay attention to what our actions inspire? We do not do it to placate the self-righteous misgivings of other races but to overcome them. It’s deep. It’s a topic worth discussing and if you are Tyler Perry it’s one worth contemplating when you write your next script. I don’t have all the answers, but I may just have all the questions.

 

 

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 Oreos to go:  Don’t believe everything you see on TV!


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

Jay-Z: The Story of O.J.

Jay-Z The Story of O.J.

 

Jay-z’s new single entitled: “The Story of O.J.” (by far one of his best songs ever in my opinion) is a track that subtly and in some ways not so subtly addresses profound issues within the black community. Perhaps even more subtle is an indictment against America as a whole @ it’s view of black people and black men in particular. An indictment that probably went right over the head of many outside of Black America.

After the song and album as a whole was released some rappers took umbrage with one of Jay-Z’s (real name Sean Carter which I’ll use the rest of the way) lines that called out other artists who make a little piece of change and then jump up on social media with stacks of money held up to their ear. A.K.A. “The Money Phone” (eye roll). Carter smartly chastises:

 

“Y’all on the ‘Gram holdin’ money to your ear

There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here, yeah”.

 

Unfortunately he stepped on a lot of toes with that one. And I say unfortunately because it is unfortunate that we have so many young black men who feel they need to floss on “the gram” in order to feel self-important in the eyes of people who don’t have a nickel to their name – are not going to help them better themselves. And worst of all probably is the fact that the act is a terrible example for young impressionable minds who look up to these various individuals. Found within the lyrics of the track is what basically amounts to a road map; one that attempts to point young Black America in a direction towards true freedom – at least financially speaking (though it’s bigger than that) – not only for the individual their-self but for generations to come. In other words, for SO many reasons – Black America as a whole currently exists within a tiny little box – and Carter is basically saying reconsider your everyday modis operandi (how you move) and try to step outside that box. THAT is what is dope when all is said and done – not going to the strip club and blowing your entire advance on “Cinnamon-Bun” as she slides down the pole. I think it’s safe to say we don’t have to be nearly so short-sighted as a people.

And then there is the message that may be lost on some outside of our community. At the onset Carter sets the tone with a line for the ages:

 

O.J. like, “I’m not black, I’m O.J.” (long pause for effect and then subtly and right in sync with the tempo of the track he says – quizzically)…okay”??

 

That line comes right on the heels of the chorus which opens the song:

 

“Light nigga, dark nigga, faux nigga, real nigga

Rich nigga, poor nigga, house nigga, field nigga

Still nigga, still nigga

I like that second one”

 

Couldn’t be more real. Even O.J. – though he tried – could not step outside his skin at the end of the day once trouble arrived on his doorstep. And the point is that no matter how much money – how much critical acclaim – or even if you were to reach the thin air of the highest office in the land (See: Barack Obama) – there are far too many who still see you as just another “nigga”. Sad – it sounds crass I admit – but alas so painfully true. Yeap, that is exactly why that very word – with an “a” lost and an “er” found – was scribbled across the front of Lebron James’s house for no reason whatsoever a couple months ago. It’s why the critically acclaimed author – scholar – and doctor at Harvard University – Skip Gates – was accosted by police officers standing inside his own house – because they thought he’d broken in to his own crib. I could go on and on but I am going to stop now because even as I write it makes my blood boil.

I’ll just say this as I end. White America… you have to do better. If you are someone who does not think that way about people based on the color of their skin – you need to check your bigoted uncle – your racist neighbor – your prejudiced colleague when they come out of their mouth with some questionable type ish’. It’s time for you to help do away with the ignorance once and for all. Otherwise black people would respectfully ask that you shut up about members of our community needing to take responsibility for ourselves. Because you know good and damn well your backwards uncle would look a black astronaut at NASA right in the eyes and even if under their breath say…“Still nigga”…

 

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 Oreos to go:  Need some more artists to release some tracks like this…I’m just sayin’.

Oh and check out Mysonne’s version – that thing is hard:

 


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

Identity Theft: Am I an “African” American?

Identity

 

Along the cultural timeline of Black America are periods marked by a change in our moniker of preference. “Blacks” – “Negroes” – “Coloreds” – and at present the consensus is probably: “African-American”. This vacillation – or “schizophrenic” tendency is indicative of a sort of identity crisis in the black community – Or should I say African-American community?? See what I mean? And this is no insignificant dilemma you understand; as in “tomato vs. tomata”. It is not a “Puff Daddy” vs. “P. Diddy” vs. “just DIDDY now if you please” type of scenario. It is rather, a serious entree into a psychological conundrum that is rooted in a theft of our very roots as a culture.

When the enslavers of the past decided to embark upon the barbaric voyage that was the Atlantic slave-trade, they not only confiscated bodies they confiscated souls. When they decided to tear families apart for sheer personal economic exploitation – in the process they also engaged in an identity theft that to this very day has not been accounted for or restored. Upon their arrival to American shores slaves were treated as mere objects – as chattel – as property to be demeaned – devalued – and alas demoralized. They were not considered humans by their captors – they were livestock subject to the very depths of human depravity. And even after emancipation the cruelty continued – physically – mentally – and spiritually. Black folks were told in thought – word – and in deed – that they simply did not matter and the laws of the land affirmed as much (many still do to this day).

So it was that over time – as laws became less harsh – but not nearly perfected – black people began the difficult task of trying to reconstruct our identity as a people. We were attempting to find the humanity and dignity that had been pilfered when the first slave was pushed beneath the deck of a slave ship and ushered off to the New World. Who were we? How could we move forward in a land where we were hated? One way was to maybe change our racial description. The term “black man” or “black woman” almost sounded dirty or degrading because of the stigma and inferiority that had been attached to it by way of the appalling acts performed by members of the majority for centuries. This ignited a journey of self-exploration to try and restore not only our culture but our very self-esteem. A journey that the white folks who had inflicted the pain and suffering never had to even think to embark upon themselves. The word “white” was just fine.

The aforementioned journey led to what has by now become a seemingly never-ending quest to reclaim a stolen identity of a people who embodied, ipso facto, the dubious title of: “persona non grata”. Thus, we are (all Americans that is) still not all-together sure what to call Africans who were brought to this country against their will – but who nonetheless now call America our permanent home. And to be clear it is the barbaric and inhumane treatment – the stripping away of culture and demeaning of the black community then and now – that precipitated the stereotypes – precipitated the disregard for the sanctity of life – and precipitated the emasculation of our community…which has in its totality led to this dilemma or predicament if you will.

I personally hope that as a people (people of all races in America) we come back around to referring to black people as “black people” (a novel idea I know). And that we leave it there in perpetuity. While I certainly understand why the ambivalence was there to begin with (post slavery) – we need to reinvent the wheel so to speak in this instance – appreciate “black culture” in all its facets. Instilling fear and self-loathing within black people – while also associating the negative connotations that have been forged over centuries to black people was an intentional act. And so undoing all of that will have to be intentional as well. America will certainly have to do some soul-searching and the process will take time – no doubt. But, it will be worth it because our very soul is at stake as Americans and our collective identity morally speaking is as well. Looks like Black Americans are not the only ones searching for who we will finally choose to become at the end of the day.

 

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 Oreos to go:  Whether black or white – or any other race – we should all feel as though we are comfortable in our own skin in America.


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

Perry Stone Video

After I posted my submission last week entitled: “White Evangelical: A Silent Saint” – the video that was embedded was removed from Youtube. Highly doubt this was a coincidence and it highlights an attempt to avoid the truth and a recognized culpability on the part of some – not all – of those who perpetuate ignorance in America ( meaning some are not aware that they endorse beliefs that are misguided and narrow-minded).

Despite the fact that the video was removed the words I penned and expressed in that post still stand and I hope all who read them will consider in depth their implications on a more broad scale – well outside the scope and boundaries of faith and religion.

Side note: Be sure to check out my new post that will be above this one shortly!

The White Evangelical: A Silent Saint

 

Prayer

 

Please watch this short video and then see my thoughts below that:

 

 

The preacher and the words he pontificates in the video above embody the ignorance and hypocrisy surrounding race that to me defines white evangelicals (speaking in general terms) in America. Which is particularly disturbing because as a Christian myself I am a HUNDRED AND FIFTY percent positive that this type of vitriol is morally compromising and gives the “white Christian church” a black eye. And though that crowd may mask it – even if behind the cloak of their own self-conscious – the genesis of this most unholy doctrine is a prejudiced and in some cases an outright racist set of beliefs.

Let me be clear – I did not agree with every decision that Barack Obama made as president. And I have more than a few critiques I could offer up regarding his time in office – as is the case with all former presidents and CERTAINLY our current one. However, for Perry Stone as an “ordained minister” to jump from those types of customary critiques into a rant about a secret “Muslim agenda” on the part of Barack Obama – illuminates a major and glaring issue in the white evangelical movement that must not go unaddressed. That is to say:  when it comes to dealing with matters of race white Christians in this country are clearly and woefully uneducated.

The white church (church should not be so split along lines of color to begin with incidentally) has an explicit agenda that comes into focus every presidential election cycle: 1) Abortion  2) Gay Marriage  3) Supreme Court Justice appointments (Justices whom they hope will bolster the first two bullet points). But, my question is what about the poor and the orphaned whom the Holy Bible addresses a thousand times more often than the hot-button items on their list? What about the demonization of Muslims and Jews? What about voter suppression and the harsh public policies that disenfranchise the powerless who do not have a voice in the political and public arena? Why are white evangelicals conspicuously silent about these and other tangential matters that effect so many of the vulnerable people in our society?

I will tell you why, dear reader, so that you need not walk away scratching your head. RACE. The latter issues listed above effect people of color. A fact of which by its very silence the white church proves that it apparently could care less about. While someone like Perry Stone is quick to jump up in the pulpit and present dubious and esoteric claims about a President – claims that only he and a few other select few are apparently privy to (eye roll) – when Jamal or Latisha are shown to be clearly murdered by the police on camera (which unlike his “Muslim theory” is proven by indisputable evidence) – Stone and the white church as a whole is/are perfectly silent. Or what about when Muslim mosques or people of Muslim faith come under attack? Where are the sermons denouncing that? And, before you discount Stone as a mere religious fanatic or lunatic (he’s a best-selling author by the way), as an exception and not the rule, it’s worth noting that the foremost and most highly respected white preachers and pastors of our day offer up their silence as well. John MacArthur – Charles Stanley – Chuck Swindoll – Franklin Graham – John Piper. These gentlemen will quickly move to denounce an abortion clinic as murder – but remain in the shadows when an unarmed black man or woman or teenage boy is murdered for no good reason and the culprits walk away scott-free.

Whether they have bought into the pervasive denial and counterfeit theories that have been produced by much of White America for centuries or are just generally ignorant to the plight faced by people of color regarding a myriad of social issues – this dynamic is unacceptable. And by the way, what if Barack Obama was a Muslim? Would that mean that he is trying to blow up a building or plot a “jihad”, which seemed to be the underlying implication of Stone’s diatribe in the video above? That view is of course nonsense and needs to be debunked among white evangelicals. But, beyond that fact – lies an ocean of unspoken truths and grossly overdue conversations that need to take place between white evangelicals and people who do not have blond hair and blue eyes. Right now white evangelicals are unfortunately part of the problem (even if unwittingly in some cases) when they need to become part of the solution. That is if they have an authentic desire to live out the ENTIRE gospel – and not just the parts that tickle their fancy. And, to that end, there’s no time like the present.

 

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 Oreos to go:  The God of the slaveholders who ride on the deck of the slave ship is not the same God to whom the enslaved are praying to as they ride beneath the deck of the slave ship.


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

Ebola: The “Common Cold” of White America

 

Cold

 

I was watching some show or another on television recently – can’t remember what it was – in which the subject of the long since forgotten-by-now Ebola scare that briefly captured the collective worry of U.S. citizens was recounted. As health experts in our nation quickly moved to contain what they hoped would not become an epidemic here in America – cases that appeared state-side were thoroughly documented. There were only a few, but I distinctly remember something that struck me as odd. And that was the fact that White Americans who were diagnosed (some were people who had gone to Africa to help with Ebola-stricken patients there) – to a man – survived the disease post-treatment. They were placed above swiftly chartered flights – brought back to the U.S. where they received around-the-clock treatment under quarantine – and despite daunting odds – were back on their feet in due time.

On the other hand the Black Americans (that I recall anyway) who were stricken with the very same disease died in their quarantined state in American hospitals. The alternate fates between black and white Ebola patients summarily became the subject of half-hearted jokes in the black community. We were wondering and commenting among ourselves about how: “those white folks were back at work in a week but those “negroes” aint make it out the hospital”!! And just to be clear we did wonder if this was not by design. The sad truth is that that kind of dark comedy or commentary  if you will – is a means of laughing to keep from crying. It is a way – on the part of black people – to sooth the pain of always receiving the short end of the stick. That months-long Ebola episode was just a trailer for what has been season after season of a really bad reality TV show that many African-Americans hope will come to an end soon and finally be cancelled.

Another show I recently watched and that I do remember well – aired a couple weekends ago. It was a CNN special chronicling the lives of individuals that the network deemed “Heroes” for what was essentially philanthropic work in under-served communities. I guess for some it may have been heart-warming, but for me it was actually heart-BREAKING. My heart broke because it seemed all of the under-served communities were filled with individuals who looked like me and all the “heroes” didn’t. This dynamic – mind you – is not due to random happenstance nor is it simply the product of a “free-market”. The chief perpetrator of this crime against humanity – this drastic disparity in the fortunes of American lives – is in fact racism and its many ugly faces that have dogged U.S. history. The tenants of white supremacy – and the execution thereof – have ultimately led directly to the scenarios depicted on the CNN Heroes special and that is what CNN ought to be documenting in my opinion.

A discussion based in truth about how we got here to begin with will do far more good than an art program in the hood such as the one described (among other good deeds) during that aforementioned special. While art programs are great – if those who are in a position of power and who produce programs on major network platforms will help to create reality-based content surrounding issues of race – a major shift away from the counterfeit reality that has been perpetuated for centuries will finally begin to transpire in America. We would witness a revolution of the collective conscious of America on both a micro and macro level – and THAT is how we can truly bring about change. And then like a line of dominoes – all the other chips will fall from there…including new art programs in “the hood” incidentally.

It’s true – the whole Ebola victims vs. survivors scenario may have just coincidentally been in the favor of the white people who contracted the virus. Perhaps the black people who got hemmed up just had a string of bad luck? But the problem is that string of bad luck is unfortunately not isolated to that one event. And it is actually more like a rope than a string – one that has strangled communities of color throughout this country’s history. So if Black America was paranoid about the Ebola predicament you’ll just have to forgive us. Because the truth is: far too many negative circumstances have befallen people of color for any reasonable mind to believe that the social ills we face is all on our shoulders or a figment of our imaginations. That is IF one truly wants to see the light.

I look forward to the day when I don’t have to question whether or not people of color are getting a raw deal in ANY circumstance. Where no more bad jokes have to be told at the barbershop to keep from crying. Not sure when we’ll get there… but we WILL get there.

 

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 Oreos to go:  Article detailing the first American death that was the result of Ebola:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/08/health/thomas-eric-duncan-ebola/index.html

 


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

A Love Song

 

Love Tape

 

For any number of reasons, to-date, humanity as we know it, has not been able to find a harmonious tone when it comes to matters of race. And, yet, despite what many would have us believe, an atmosphere of racial accord is not an impossibility – it’s just that at the moment we as a nation are out of sync.

We have before us a symphony of ethnicities and backgrounds that is out of tune – and it has been really since the beginning of time. It appears that various members of this diverse troupe have a different idea about what to play – how to play it – and at what tempo. And, to make matters worse, many of us who are participating in this orchestra of thoughts – ideas – desires – and needs…have failed to listen to one another and decided to do things our own way. We have rendered ourselves incapable of hearing the man or woman sitting on either side of us because we are too busy plucking away at the strings of our own lives. And, so, like a tone deaf performer, we have no idea why this concerto is completely off-key.

What is the first step to getting everyone on the same page? First, we must all agree on the song we are going to play. And, for the purposes of today’s rendering I will play the role of the conductor and suggest to each of you what is admittedly a complex piece called the “Love Song”. As each of you picks up your respective instrument remember first and foremost that this song is in fact about LOVE. I chose love because love is the only force on this planet that has the power to conquer hate. So please keep that in mind that as you pluck the strings – as you beat the drum – as you blow on the horn. Not only that but you also MUST learn how to listen to your neighbor. By listening to each other we will ensure that we play as one. That we maximize our potential. That we put our best foot forward.

Ladies and gentlemen please be advised: this immense undertaking will require patience. We’ll have to practice at our craft with a dogged determination in order to achieve so noble a pursuit. We’ll have to get rid of the bad habits and divisions that have been formed over time. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth achieving ever is. In the end what a sweet sound it will be though, huh? Can’t you hear it? The heart wrenching plea of the regal violin. The subtle begging of the royal harp. The familiar and inviting sound of the incomparable piano. Along with all the other instruments that will rise up in unison to produce what will be considered in the end… a masterpiece. A cacophony of brotherhood – of good-will – of love; all of which is an essential part of this beautiful “Love Song” constructed by the renowned composer…we the people.

 

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 Oreos to go:  

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

In the Dark

 

Necto

 

The following three screenshots capture a comment posted by a woman who responded to another comment from a “Mark” on Youtube. And they were both responding to a video in which Dr. Ben Carson, who is currently president Trump’s head of urban development, shares his opinion that black people are essentially solely responsible for the high rates of poverty that they (we) experience collectively in America.

 

Comment 1

 

Comment 2

 

Comment 3

 

I wrote a piece on this blog a while back entitled: “The Matrix” in which I basically compared the premise of that movie to the alternate reality – racially speaking – in which many white Americans currently reside. This is true not only because of the denial by many that white supremacy or privilege exists in America, but also because of what has essentially become an institutionalized culture of avoidance that has been passed down for generations. In my opinion, a significant slice of White America has no idea that they are a part of “the Matrix” (even after reading a post like the one I am writing), because like “Neo”, they have assimilated to the facade of a world that has been created for centuries to placate their guilt and fears. The result of this generational mentality – this truth-dodging if you will – is captured so succinctly and completely in the comment from this young lady in the screenshots above, that I am quite confidant I could not have written it any better myself no matter how hard I tried.

First of all, we have a woman – whom I am almost sure has never visited the neighborhoods she is speaking of – let alone actually faced the consequences of systemic racism herself – but who nonetheless has a blueprint for how black people in these areas can rise up out of poverty. Her sage advice: “Do whatever it takes to have a better life and get away from a life of crime”“The only thing holding them back is themselves being a victim (make a mental note: that word “victim” is condescending). Really? That’s the only thing holding black people back?? And she knows this how, exactly? Because she is there with them in the struggle? Because she has reached out and volunteered her time in blighted neighborhoods and seen this formula in action? I highly doubt it. My guess would be that she came into possession of this “advice for black people”  after hearing the various opinions of people who have been around her since birth. People who just like her: are completely separated from the reality facing communities of color across this nation.

I recently attended a City Council meeting in which citizens were allowed to address their grievances or concerns before the mayor and her colleagues that had joined the mayor on the dais. One by one I heard person after person step to the mic and recount what were essentially horror stories about what they were facing in their various communities. Homelessness – police brutality – gentrification – unjust fees – monthly rental hikes, and so on. Each and every one of these individuals were people of color. People who the system has clearly forgotten. Ostracized and without a manner of recourse at their disposal (guess they could just find a mentor according to our friend above) – these people are catching hell every single day.

And we should not forget that their children are coming home from school to those scenarios as well (or to no home in some cases). Which is the type of struggle that the lady above more than likely wouldn’t know anything about. Sure some people in those types of circumstances may be fortunate enough – are smarter than most (as is the case with her beloved Dr. Carson) and yes with hard work can supersede these types of dire circumstances. But when entire communities are ravaged by the social ills that are endured disproportionately by people who have black and brown skin – it is impossible to transcend collectively without assistance. This is ESPECIALLY true when various communities experience (and they do) the repercussions of what is to this very day systemic racism and adverse public policies that continue to apply a stranglehold on poor and working people of ALL races. Policies that to be quite frank – this woman has probably never taken the time to address in a long Youtube post like the one she offered above (wonder why…hmmm??).

I challenge people who think the way our misinformed friend apparently does to visit poor black and brown communities and hear their stories the same way I did this past Tuesday – and to do so consistently. I challenge them to try to understand a reality that is outside the fictional narrative depicted by Fox News and other outfits of that sort. Because here is the God’s honest truth: Black people and Latinos understand your perspective. We clearly understand what a woman like our friend above means when she states that personal accountability needs to be part of the equation (and despite popular opinion we agree!). But, it doesn’t end there. We have A LOT of white Americans among us who are walking around in the dark regarding racial injustices. In fact, they are so in the dark that they have no idea that they are a part of the problem. The darkness they have inhabited regarding issues of race makes them comfortable with discriminatory practices – without even knowing it in some cases. In that Matrix, America is a magical land and the greatest country on earth. And if anyone is suffering THEY must be deficient or playing the role of a “victim”.

If this scenario doesn’t change – if those who are blinded by long held biases are unwilling to open their eyes – this problem of race – of poverty – of disenfranchisement…will never change. We will continue to have young misinformed women – and old white men – and sweet old grannies – right on down the line – posting comments on Youtube when they have no idea what they are talking about. Truly believing in a self-righteous manner…mind you – that “Republicans” and the “Donald Trump’s” of the world have a monopoly on the truth & morality. Believing that as she put it: “they just want to make America great again”!

I don’t necessarily doubt this woman’s sincerity of heart. I don’t know her after all. But I know this: you can be super sincere and at the same time be super wrong. And, in this case, because America has been remiss in allowing for open dialogue in which women like her are able to be educated on perspectives of race they have never considered – she is counted among those who have been allowed to live in the Matrix for centuries by now. Hopefully someone will be able to gently pull this woman aside one day soon and she will come to see that she has been comfortably living in the dark for far too long. And then maybe – just maybe – she and others like her will finally see the light.

 

 

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 Oreos to go:  People struggling with impoverished situations don’t disagree that having to be on welfare sucks. They disagree rather with the narrative many have construed concerning how that institution became a necessity and how we can eliminate it as a necessity.


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

Poor & Working Whites (The Forgotten Race)

Working

One of the very odd occurrences of this past presidential election was actually not unique to the presidential campaign between Clinton and Trump. This peculiar dynamic has transpired for decades if not centuries. Namely, we have had for some time now a scenario in which much of the poor white and/or the “white working class” (a.k.a. “Middle-America”) votes for candidates whose policies are in direct opposition with their own self-interests. It would appear that they are so focused on xenophobic idealism – on religious or pious zeal – and to be quite frank…on prejudiced biases – that they enter the election booth and pull a lever (or trigger if you will) that shoots their own foot. While it is a popular subject in American politics (and in general) to talk about how black people supposedly vote for individuals who don’t care about them – this subject surrounding the predisposition of “Middle America” is rarely if ever discussed in the mainstream.

For reasons we do not have time to unpack many white Americans are so attached to narratives that are drawn for them by the powers that be (Fox News for example) that they can’t see the forest for the trees. I call them the “forgotten race”. And this forgotten race either does not care or does not realize that when people they deem to be their champions… speak out against say… publicly funded programs for “that single mom of three”…they are actually speaking out against the types of programs that assist their own family! When someone like Donald Trump says, “Let’s Make America Great Again”, it is not just about “kicking out those Mexicans” – which “Joe from Idaho” might happen to agree with – it’s also about Joe being dropped from his healthcare coverage because he had pre-existing condition. It’s about the hourly wage he makes at the local factory remaining eternally at a meager rate. And, yet, Joe will step right up and vote for detrimental politicians and policies at his own expense.

There is a profound and fundamental piece to this whole equation that is at the core of race in America. It is the driving force that divides us along lines of color. At its core it is built upon a principle that to-date values a “white-washed America” above all else. And by that I mean that ideals that are tied to what has become “European-American” culture (right to bear arms – immigration reform – small government  – “Christian” morals), have become a manifesto of sorts that motivates people to make decisions that are self-destructive and then stand up and cheer believing they are “Making America Great Again”. I call these people the “forgotten race”, not only because of the fact that the political and economic forces of our nation have forgotten them (taken them for granted), but the truth is they have forgotten themselves.

The issues we face today in America know no color. Morals and values…know no color. At the same time, unfortunately, the social ills of America are more pervasive in communities of color for the very reasons I outlined above. But, one of the many avoided truths in America is that in the process of creating that scenario at the voting polls, many have damned themselves as well. Instead of presenting our political leaders with a united front, “we the people” have allowed issues of race to divide us. This is not a white issue or a black issue. It is not a latino – middle-eastern – or asian issue. This is a moral and American issue. 

The question is: Moving forward how do we confront these problems from a standpoint of truth? And, one way is to tackle our race problem in this country so that people are no longer blinded or motivated to vote for policies for the wrong reasons. Too many lies have been forged that demonize particular races and those lies are disguised in this country as “good-old-fashioned American principles”. As principles that will make America “Great Again”. When the reality is America needs to address some here-to-for old dogmas and stereotypes that have driven a wedge not only between races but the haves and the have notsthat is if we truly want to be great. And less we forget – the have nots includes those of the “forgotten race”.

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 Oreos to go: Bad policies know no color…


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos. 

Lebron

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“It’s a delicate situation. Racism, we know, exists. You try not to put yourself in a position, for me as a father, I try to give my kids the blueprint on how life is going to be. But at the end of the day, I can only tell them so much and then they have to go out and live it themselves”.
– Lebron James

 

Click below to watch video and then I have some thoughts on the matter below that.

 

 

Posting this on the heels of my submission earlier this week entitled: “Race vs. Class”. The video above vividly illustrates in many ways the point I wanted to make in that blog post, which is that the issues surrounding our racial divide in America supersede class. If class were truly the nexus of this aged issue – LBJ would surely qualify as someone who would escape the type of scenario that transpired at his home in Los Angeles over the course of the last 24 to 48 hours.

Here is a young man who has by all accounts been as stellar off the floor as he has been on it (which is a mouthful). Here is an individual who was simply minding his own business and taking care of his responsibilities as not only a world-class basketball player headed to the NBA finals – but more importantly as a husband and a father. And, yet, here we go again with another malicious act performed against a black person in America (“the home of the free and the land of the brave”) for no good reason, whatsoever.

Now, despite this blatantly disrespectful and wildly uncalled for derogatory act in which someone spray painted the word “N@&$er” on the front entrance of his home – we all know the inevitable reaction that will come from the apologists among us. “This was just a bad apple”. “Probably some idiot on drugs”. “This was just someone who wanted to get attention or who wants to stir up racial tensions”. And that load of crap right there is exactly how America has managed to avoid the truth about race since its inception. It’s how America avoids engaging in legitimate discourse regarding the truth that racism is in fact alive and well in this country. One has to ask their-self how many so called “isolated incidents” have to occur before someone finally stands the hell up and says “we got ourselves a problem”??

While this incident was disturbing – and it to put it plainly: it just really sucks – Lebron James will be ok at the end of the day. He is wealthier than most and undoubtedly wields untold power by way of his influence and prestigious position upon the national and international stage. But, there are countless other black folks whose names and stories are not going to trend on social media when they encounter far worse scenarios than the unfortunate event Lebron experienced. And when they face their nightmarish dilemma – and at this rate they certainly will – it will be for one reason and one reason only. They are an African-American.

Money or no money – educated or uneducated – black people in this country cannot curtail the depravity of the racist heart that beats in the chests of far too many Americans in every state and in every city across this nation. However, if America will finally, as a whole, come to terms with its  long-standing issue of racism. If we will – each of us – be willing to participate in an open and honest discussion (as LBJ admirably did in the video above – was not concerned about his “brand”)  – we CAN change the narrative together. We can deconstruct the stereotypes…we can recognize the vicious legacy of white supremacy and meet it head on…we can decide to set the record straight regarding the predicament we face and how it came into existence.

I look forward to celebrating that day despite the odds stacked against us and will not give up the fight. But, make no mistake, in order to get there we must first diagnose the problem for what it is. Without an accurate diagnosis it will be impossible to recommend an effective treatment plan. Which means that a complete and thorough examination of our corporate body will be necessary. America needs to allow for an MRI to be performed and in doing so I think she will find  what many of us suspected all along. Unfortunately a cancerous mass of racism has formed in her soul over time. Not only that but it has gone undetected for so long that it has spread throughout her body and treatment must begin immediately. Then and only then can we go into remission and the healing truly begin. And if and when we are able to come to grips with the truth about the gravity of our current circumstances – THAT is when equality in America can finally become a reality.

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Oreos to go: Incidents surrounding race in America are not the exception – they are the rule.

*Adding full video of Lebron’s comments to Double Stuff Oreos in main menu*


More than a blog. It’s a movement.

 

Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.

And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos.