Jimmy Iovine: The Real “Gangster”

 

Jimmy Iovine

 

I recently watched a mini-series on HBO called “The Defiant Ones”, which happens to be an exquisite entrée into the rise of a dynastic empire that is the partnership between moguls Jimmy Iovine and the legendary producer/rapper Andre Young a.k.a “Dr. Dre”. The series begins by reaching back to the days when Iovine “made his bones” if you will – producing records for individuals now in the Iconoclast of the record business (i.e. Bruce Springsteen & The East Street Band – Tom Petty – Stevie Nicks and one Mr. JOHN LENNON!). I get chills even as we speak at the thought that he was sitting in the studio as these masters of sound created albums that will never go out of style.

Then there was Dr. Dre’s days cooking up beats in the lab for N.W.A – for his own debut album “the Chronic” – for Snoop Dogg’s debut album “Doggstyle” – for Eminem’s debut album “The Slim Shady LP” – and the list goes on. The two – Iovine and Dre – were an unlikely pairing – the “yin and the yang” who came together and hit it off famously in large part due to Iovine’s vision and ability to think outside the box. When other labels wouldn’t take on Dr. Dre as he shopped his aforementioned debut album, Iovine (who knew nothing about hip-hop) on the other hand saw something that his contemporaries apparently did not. And boy oh boy was he ever right. The Chronic went on to go “multi-multi-” platinum and is celebrated to this very day in the pantheon of classic hip-hop albums.

Ah, but all the millions upon millions of album sales combined between the two old friends take a back seat to an idea they master-minded in a chance meeting one day on the beach of Southern California. The project: to create ground-breaking headphones which have by now revolutionized the game as they say. “Beats by Dre” headphones are widely recognized as the best of the best in the audio industry. But, don’t take my word for it…take Apple’s instead. After all the technology giant purchased the brand from Iovine and Dre for a reported THREE BILLION (plus) dollars back in 2014. Thus signaling to the world just how highly they thought of the product that Jimmy and his old pal Dre manufactured after what had started off as a novel idea on the beach became a fate-filled reality.

And, this brings me around to my word for the day. I guess it goes without saying that three billion dollars is a lot of money. Iovine and Dre certainly had a reason to celebrate after so profound a monetary score. But, if you notice, and I have, Jimmy Iovine and Dre have worn it well. In fact, Iovine was already doing well long before Beats was ever even conceived. He was in a position to sign Dre among many other artists years ago when Dre and others were looking for a big break. He’s “done been gettin’ money” if you will excuse my slang – and yet –  you will not find Iovine on social media holding a “money phone” (Click here for image) up to his ear. You won’t find him walking around with eight gold-chains around his neck and rockin’ Gucci loafers to – well –everywhere (in the vein of young rappers and other black entertainers/athletes these days). You will not hear him bragging in the many interviews he’s done over the years about the number of digits housed in his bank account.

Mind you now: Jimmy has the nice cars and the nice homes. He has the private jet and all the other accoutrements – it’s just that he is not advertising it every time a camera or microphone is in the vicinity (yes he’s now a little older but the same can be said of Ed Sheeran – Taylor Swift – Harry Styles so slow your roll!). Now, I know Dre is the one (of the two) from the mean streets of Compton and an original member of N.W.A. – a group known for putting “gangsta’ rap” on the map. But @ the way Iovine carries himself in this regard…that’s what I personally consider “Gangsta(er)”.

Do not misunderstand me. Iovine is a businessman who very much intended to do well financially speaking. One might say he pursued the empire he has built with an unadulterated passion as the Defiant One’s documentary makes very clear. I am sure he enjoys the spoils that come with the money accumulated by way of the “American Dream”. However, unlike a lot of individuals in the black community (whom I am aiming today’s post towards) Iovine is not up here “stuntin’ on the gram” or on any other social media platform for that matter. And, what I am simply suggesting to my black brothers and sisters in particular is that we flip the culture or the script so to speak. Yes, by all means, celebrate your success with your family and friends, shoot…go ahead and rock some Gucci loafers from time to time if that’s your thing – but let’s progress to the point where we begin to wear our success along with those loafers…well….shall we?

Well, how to we break free from this neophyte mentality as a culture or community you ask? First, we must learn about real wealth and how to invest and manage that wealth. This starts with vision. Iovine would have never brainstormed the idea for “Beats” if he had thought he’d arrived and focused on flaunting his cash after he became a producer. Second, we must learn to be an original. Learn to think outside the box of the street corners to which far too many in the black community are confined during their/our formative years. I am not knocking the hood’ for one second (though we must find a way out literally and figuratively). What I am suggesting is that while the mentality forged in certain neighborhoods certainly has some positive aspects (toughness – loyalty – a “hustler” mentality – “swagger” and yes LOVE and family despite what many believe) – in many other ways it tends to be limited in scope. Third and final – give back to the community. Let’s invest in ourselves – in education – in innovative ideas; and ones that create new wealth across the board no less. What this does is it creates a different kind of culture than one that is focused on “blingin’ in the streets” and it also fills that void that we are trying to address by flossin’ on Instagram.

Listen: Be understated but not underestimated. Be a leader of the pack and not another young pup who is just a follower. Be proud but not conceded. Be like my man Jimmy Iovine and many others like him who walk lightly but carry a big stick. Now that’s gangster!

 

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 Oreos to go:  These are the types of “Bios”  in video below that I hope will define more black folks than at present – as we evolve from and transcend the sometimes narrow-minded mentality forged from the oppression we have experienced in America:

https://youtu.be/DugaP9HKGqs


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. 

Racial Code: The “Lesser Man”

Less Than

 

Note: I know on Monday I said I was going to post that day’s intended submission today – however circumstances surrounding our President’s decision to double-down on ignorance compelled me to share the following words instead:


 

The strategy that made Donald Trump’s ascent to the highest possible office in our land was not revolutionary or groundbreaking. Black people in particular knew exactly what he was doing  because we’d seen it COUNTLESS times before. Of George Wallace, reputed racist, who once while governor attempted to disregard a federal mandate integrating schools in Alabama by literally standing in the entrance to a school to block access to black students, a fellow Alabama politician (who was a supporter of his) once said the following about comments he’d made as he ran for the presidency:

 

“He can use all the other issues – law and order, running your own schools, protecting property rights – and never mention the word race. But people will know he’s telling them ‘A nigger’s trying to get your job, trying to move into your neighborhood.’ What Wallace is doing is talking to them in a kind of shorthand, a kind of code.”

 

Not long after that scenario Richard Nixon questioned the civil-rights agenda that had been put forth by then president LBJ as he (Nixon) was gearing up for his own presidential run:

 

“Why have ghetto riots and a rise in crime, welfare dependency, illegitimacy, drug use, and joblessness followed the civil-rights revolution?”…Nixon wondered aloud. 

His answer to his own question: “There is no structural problem of race or class, only excesses on the part of bleeding heart liberalism”. 

 

Once again these were code words aimed directly at racist hearts who were susceptible to vicious lies due to the unbridled ignorance running rampant across the country. Ignorance that dated back to our nation’s inception. Just imagine living at that time and hearing Nixon’s words even as lynching and segregation was an institution. And yet a candidate for the PRESIDENCY had the nerve to say that there was no “structural problem of race” – and even more dumbfounding it worked! Nixon had successfully employed what had come to be known as the “southern strategy”. A strategy to appeal to xenophobic fears and baseless “rationalies” by directing unfounded theories in the direction of White America.

It actually reared its ugly head again when in 1980 Ronald Regan launched his campaign for the presidency at the Neshoba County Fair in of all places Philadelphia, Mississippi – the same town where three civil rights activists had been murdered by racist bigots. It was there that he posited his own form of racial code when asked about enforcing previously instituted civil-rights initiatives: “I believe in State’s rights”. A deliberate message or eye-wink to the old-boy network signaling that he would not let the federal government intervene in the business of states in the south to stop them from doing what they’d always done to that point: abridge and nullify the rights of black citizens. Jesse Jackson while speaking at Harvard Law School during Regan’s administration asked if the students there knew where Regan had opened his campaign and no one in the room had even heard of Philadelphia, Mississippi – much less realized he started off in that town. Jackson responded: “If even the brightest among us do not uncover these signals, who will”?

It’s safe to say Regan – as a former TV star from Hollywood – did not choose a random town in the deep south where controversy over the murder of civil-rights activists had caused a national outcry because of its cosmopolitan appeal and irresistible night life. Nor for its dense population (even today there’s barely 7,000 people living there) of voters whose sheer numbers could boost his campaign. And if anyone doubted his intentions at the time (or doubts them in 2017) and most informed minds did not incidentally – it was kind of hard for his apologists to explain away his refusal to denounce his Klu Klux Klan endorsement for a week’s time – he finally did so only because public outcry forced his hand (sound familiar?).

Jesse Jackson’s (like him or not) point at Harvard Law was a profound one. The southern strategy can only work if its intended audience is unaware (ignorant) – uneducated on issues of race – or simply racist. And for those who utilize or adhere to the argument in 2017 that the “past is in the past” and that we have “moved on from those days”Our current President employed that SAME “southern strategy” in his run for office. And, though no one thought it could work – believing that we are not living in the 60s or even the 80s anymore for that matter – it was obviously successful. Donald J. Trump is our 45th president because he – like Wallace – like Nixon – like Regan – and so many other politicians of all sorts before him appealed to prejudiced and racist idealogy living in the hearts and minds of more Americans than many of us believed still existed.

Of the many highly questionable  statements Trump made on the campaign trail here are just a few:

 

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people”. ( Note he ASSUMED some were good people!).

 

“I would build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me — and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall…”

 

“Islam hates us,” he said in an interview on CNN (drawing little distinction between the religion and radical Islamic terrorism).

After making that statement Trump was subsequently asked if the hate was “in Islam itself,” and said: “that’s for the media to figure out”.

 

These are some pretty polarizing statements. And the question one has to ask their self – that is if they TRULY want to assess the motivation behind these types of divisive words is: who exactly is he speaking to? Because he was trying to win an election after all. And it does not take a rocket scientists to right off the bat exclude Latinos and Muslims. Black people and Asians certainly would not respond to that kind of rhetoric. Indian people? Don’t think so. I can only think of one race – collectively speaking – that this type of racially charged language would appeal to. I don’t even have to say it do I?

And what is particularly disturbing and telling is that when he appealed to White Middle and Working Class Americans – he did so in a way that spoke to the “lesser man” within them. Stoking fear about Mexicans crossing the border to rape, rob, and pillage. Demonizing those of Muslim faith. He also – though not listed above – talked about black people and crime – and how we “have nothing to lose”. It worked – but it is pretty damn lousy if you ask me. And to be honest this is not so much and indictment of Trump as it is one on the American people. Because Donald Trump…the “loud and foul mouthed-apolitically correct-traveling circus” entity – would not have been possible had the electorate who voted him into office demanded better from someone seeking to run this country. You can talk about how he said he was bringing jobs back all day long. Donald Trump the candidate – sans the racially charged rhetoric – would not be our 45th president. After all was said and done THAT rhetoric – that coded language – was his foremost appeal to White-America.

We can demand greatness over mediocrity. We can demand respect over disrespect. We CAN kill the “southern strategy” and any other method that does not appeal to the “GREATER man” who also resides within each of us. Otherwise I fear that we are about to witness a further descent into chaos. Unless we check ourselves as a nation we will witness the proverbial chickens coming home to roost because of the sins of the father. The writing is on the wall. Let’s demand that America becomes the best version of herself – that she come out of denial – and that she supersede and purge herself of  her racist inclinations once and for all.

 

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 Oreos to go:  Steve Bannon recently said he thinks the racial issues that have arisen are good for the President. Let’s you know who and what he thinks about Trump’s base.


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. 

Get Your House in Order

White House

Disclaimer: I originally intended to post today about a completely different subject but could not ignore the issues of race at the forefront on this Monday morning on a blog that is in fact about race. So for the second week in a row I will post a second time later in the week (which in this case will be what I had intended to post today). 


This is actually my second effort on this subject matter. I wrote another entry in which I went after the President for side-stepping and doing the old “rope-a-dope” @ his failure to call out White Supremacy for what it is when he addressed the media regarding the fiasco that went down in Virginia. However, I decided to scrap it because at this point that just seems a bit cliché after the media and countless political pundits have already roasted and skewered him all weekend long for his comments which were no doubt deficient of the requisite substance to sufficiently denounce such a blatant display of hatred as witnessed in Charlottesville. And besides – if you are reading these words and don’t know or will not acknowledge that fact to begin with – not sure anything I could write will awaken the better man within (though I will continue trying).

So I am going another way with this post today and am going to focus on the solution aspect. Unless we experience some type of  follow-up scenario(s) that is tied directly to Charlottesville, VA – in three weeks tops that story like many others of its kind in the past will be all but non-existent. Sure it will be brought up from time to time but the collective conscience and attention of America will shift away to something else in short order. Not to mention that much of America will dismiss this event and its participants as an aberration from the norm as is their custom. They will presume that the sentiments expressed by the White Nationalists are like a rare if not mythical unicorn floating around our society and that like a unicorn these people are basically harmless. Short of Robert E. Lee coming back to life and leaping from the statue at the center of this controversy to lead the Confederates in one last charge against “the Yanks”, some Americans just cannot admit racism is an issue in 2017. And it is precisely that exact set of beliefs – that perspective – that is the epicenter of the problem we face with progressing and transcending racial issues in America.

Newsflash: If you are someone who thinks that way YOU are part of the problem. In a sense you might as well have been standing there with the KKK and the neo-Nazis chanting whatever the hell it is they were saying because they depend on people just like you for their continued existence. If White America as a whole – as the majority race in possession the lion’s share of power – stops pretending that we do not have a race problem in America and decides that it WILL NOT accept white supremacy in any form…THE WORLD as we know it will change. And change for the better. Notice I didn’t say the country – I said the world and I did not stutter. And that is not hyperbole either. Why would I make so bold a statement? It’s not because of some special gift White America possesses. No individual race does. I say it rather because together and UNITED as Americans I have no doubt that we can shout the refrain of Marianne Williamson from the highest mountain top: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us”. We have as of yet to see America at its best in the light – truly living out the ideals to which it claims to aspire – in large part because white supremacist beliefs and practices have not yet been deconstructed. America has not been afraid of the dark – it has been afraid of the light.

You know I am an avid fan of hip-hop. A fan who happened to grow up in what is often referred to as the golden era of that genre: which is to say the 90s. So we are talking about Nas – A Tribe Called Quest – Wu-Tang Clan – Biggie Smalls – Snoop – Dre – KRS one – and the Fugees…just to name a few of the BEASTS that came out while I was yet a young pup. At the risk of sounding like an “old head” as they say – the current state of hip-hop is not the same as it was when I was on the come up. Though we have a few dope artists in the new school – I am sad to report that the originality – the content – the freshness of hip-hop has been replaced with messages of shootin’ up the spot and cookin’ in the trap. But you know what? It’s our fault as the listening audience. If the garbage being offered to consumers did not sell – the rappers would be forced to produce a better product.

White Supremacy is a product that much like bad music would not be possible in any form if the listening and viewing audience did not allow for it to be purchased or sold for that matter.  And we as a nation must FINALLY unite in this regard. Hate – discrimination – stereotypes – bigotry – all of this and more must no longer be fashionable to listen to in America. It is time for Americans to finally say “enough is enough”. Time to say: “We don’t want to hear that ish’ “no more”! Otherwise – you mark my word: more hate-filled rallies are going to come. More people are going to lose their lives in the streets. More presidents are going to tap dance around calling down to the mattress what is clearly domestic terrorism and racist organizations bent on creating division and chaos. Organizations whose philosophical disposition is hate-filled and represents the worst of this nation. This is not their country..it is ours. They are not the representation of America…we are.

Harry Truman once said in regard to America’s attempts to promote democracy around the world that: “Our case for democracy will be as strong as we can make it. It should rest on practical evidence that we have been able to put our own house in order”. He had a profound point. Much as was the case in his era – America today purports to be a beacon of freedom and an example to the world. But – and despite of his own racist tendencies – Truman knew that America was a fraud racially speaking. After all, this nation was championing freedom to other nations in the 1960s even while black people here at home could not sleep in “White Only” hotels or eat at “White Only” restaurants. And as is the case in the modern era – too many people back then were silent though they knew this was wrong. Let’s not be silent any longer. As Truman suggested let’s get our house in order. Let’s make sure that our actions match the words detailing freedom found within our hallowed constitution.

 You are reading these words today for a reason friend – you did not arrive here by accident. Share this post with your brother or sister. Share it with your co-worker and your neighbor. Share it with that person you know has some questionable views on this matter. We must have these conversations and end the silence. We must debunk the old wives tales and myths surrounding race. We must get our own house in order if this long and difficult story is to have a happy end.

 

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 Oreos to go:  Thoughts and prayers to the family of Heather Heyer who lost her life this weekend in the struggle for justice and equality 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. 

Accidental Racist

Accident

Like a twenty dollar bill I forgot was in my pants pocket – like an unexpected gift card to my favorite restaurant  – like celebrating Christmas early and receiving a brand new pair of Jordan 5 retros; this is how I just so happened to stumble upon a song by Brad Paisley featuring LL Cool J…called of all things: “Accidental Racist”. The song was a revelation that unfolded for me a couple days ago by way of an unlikely chain of serendipitous events which I don’t have time to get into. And it happened, no less, right on the heels of my post from Monday in which I explored the blatant hypocrisy that is America’s “debate” on whether we ought to remove the Confederate Flag from public spaces. Which is not insignificant as the song touches on many of the points I tried to put across.

Before we dive in – to begin with – racism is no accident. One is not “accidentally” racist. They are rather…simply ignorant…or in some instances simply racist. And even if you might happen to view that statement as engaging in semantics – it is nonetheless impossible to escape the fact that the title and the actual lyrics of this song are essentially saying: “whoops didn’t know what I was doing so you’ll just have to chalk it up to my being an old country boy from the south”. But, I would argue that the fact that Paisley wrote the song means that he knows full well what he and others are doing in various forms is offensive to some people – therefore it is no accident. Even worse what he is saying is: “I am going to keep on doing what I’ve been doing and “here’s why”; via a little “ditty” with a country twang to my voice.

I do not necessarily doubt Paisley or LL Cool J’s (real name Todd Smith) sincerity of heart – but the irony is that if they are sincere that would mean that the lyrics are in and of themselves actually accidentally racist. I say this because the lyrics contain various misnomers and misguided mores and/or teachings that have been absorbed – perpetuated – and accepted as gospel for centuries in the white community. And these teachings – more importantly – have allowed White America in particular to believe they have the green light to engage in actions that can be described as prejudiced or insensitive at best.

I am just going to quickly extract a few lines from the lyrics (too many questionable ones to break down entire song in this format unfortunately) as examples of what I mean.

 

“Just a proud rebel son with an ‘ol can of worms
Lookin’ like I got a lot to learn but from my point of view…
I’m just a white man comin’ to you from the southland
Tryin’ to understand what it’s like not to be
I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history”

 

It sounds great to say “I am just a proud rebel son”. Kind of a disarming “aw shucks would you excuse my country boy ways” type disposition. But the problem is that that “rebel son” moniker refers to the “Rebel Flag” – which as I pointed out on Monday is a flag under which Paisley’s ancestors (I assume since he calls himself a “son”) attempted to overthrow the Union so that slavery might continue as an institution. That word “rebel” by the way is short for Rebellionwhich of course meant rebellion against the U.S. Flag. I’m sorry but I don’t believe he ought to be “proud” of that. And as a black person what am to I think about a flag connected to the fact that his ancestors tried to keep mine in chains?

He says in another part of the song which I did not include that “his generation didn’t start this nation”. What I’d point out to Brad if we were discussing the song in person is that by continuing to rock that Rebel Flag: you are signaling that you are not willing to separate yourself from a symbol created by those who participated in blatantly horrendous acts. Finally, he ends the verses above by saying “it aint like we can re-write history”. He’s right…we can’t. And history teaches us that what was transpiring at that time was heinous – it was foul – it was inhumane. The fact that the Confederates attempted a mutiny in order to maintain their barbaric practices and to engage in the bloodiest Civil War in American history in the process – cannot simply be edited out of history (though many try to do just that).

 

“I try to put myself in your shoes and that’s a good place to begin
But it ain’t like I can walk a mile in someone else’s skin”.

 

I’ve said this in a previous blog – but it bears repeating. What Paisley is attempting to say here is: “Hey man, you see things your way as a black person and I see them mine as southern white man”. “I can try but I can’t get in your skin”Simply put: That line trivializes White Supremacy in America. And here’s what I mean. White America’s voice – their thoughts – their insights and their opinions – are not silenced in any way, shape, form or fashion – or in any way unknown in this country. After all, it is because of the fact that White Supremacy has reigned supreme from the onset that its “voice” has dominated American Culture from day one in every format possible – socially – economically – politically (and has unquestionably DOMINATED all forms of media as well). We have heard you believe me. Black America’s voice on the other hand is the one that has been silenced and in whose shoes America ought to try and walk a mile in.

Finally, the piece de resistance. My man LL  – legendary status notwithstanding –  has a couple lines that are DOOZIES! Lines that are more harmful than anything Paisley said in my opinion.

 

“If you don’t judge my do-rag – I won’t judge your red flag”. 
– AND –
“If you don’t judge my gold chains – I’ll forget the iron chains”

 

Talk about two egregiously false equivalencies! How on God’s green earth are we going to compare a do-rag with the Confederate Flag? How are we going to compare a gold chain (a mere trinket) with the iron chains that held human beings captive on slave ships as they were kidnapped and brought to America to be brutalized on plantations?! I hate to sound crass but this warrants it: That is like a woman saying to a man I will forgive you for raping me if your forgive me for stepping on your shoe. And to be honest that analogy does not even do the disparity justice. There are no words in the human language to express the difference or disparity between the counterparts he referenced. @ the lyrics  that Smith offered up – the even scarier part is there are countless Americans who would listen to this song or read those lyrics and COMPLETELY miss the fact that one side of this fence (the do-rag or the gold chain) is not even in the same stratosphere as the other (the confederate flag and iron chains).

All due respect to Todd Smith – we actually should not forget the iron chains – we should learn from them. This is why I created this blog…”Talking Oreos”, and one day soon will start a podcast in which I will attempt to lend my voice to this struggle to free minds. I hope you will continue sharing with family and friends. And this is also why we need to one day soon see a show on a major network that is not afraid to allow for conversations like this one about a song – that though written with what appears to be a genuine heart – contains lyrics that are clear evidence of the ignorance America possesses regarding the truth in black & white.

Maybe this song has some redeeming value for someone…somewhere – I’m not sure. It could have planted a seed that will one day grow with time. But that would not change the fact that it contains some dangerous messages and alarming misconceptions about race that are blind spots for many and have gone unchecked for far too long. This is extremely harmful to the overall fight for equality. And we have to talk about it because otherwise people will never come to realize that they are walking in the dark knocking over other people’s lives in the process without realizing it. So let’s do that America shall we? Let’s begin to talk about subjects that have long since been avoided in this country. Let’s talk oreos.

 

 

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 Oreos to go:  Accidental Racist video with lyrics included


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. 

Mutiny: The Confederate Flag

Confederate

I honestly cannot even believe that in 2017 we have a sector of American society that attempts to justify the continued flying of the Confederate flag on any public grounds. As is the case with all revisionist historians in America regarding any subject: these individuals attempt to edit out the ugly parts of our nation’s past and dwell on their “alternative-theory” perspectives. Fact: The Civil War was a result of numerous states which were based mainly in the “old south” deciding to succeed from the Union (now known as the United States). And, in the process they also formed a “Confederate” army to take up arms against said Union – that they might overthrow the government. This decision was not based upon some righteous cause or in order to free themselves from the grips of a brutal dictator or oppressive regime. To the contrary: the Confederates engaged in treason because of laws that were passed which they simply deemed to be counter to their “best interests”. Chief among those interests – you understand – was the continuation of slavery as the cornerstone of their economy and the maintaining of plantations upon which black people were brutalized in order that they might build an economic empire.

When the Confederate Army took up arms in an act of unparalleled (before or since) treachery in America (other than slavery perhaps which they were fighting over to begin with) – they then operated under the flag (true it changed designs a few times but all versions are connected to the same cause) that is pictured above. The justification – the unmitigated hypocrisy that is “the attempt to put a positive spin on the events and circumstances that surround that flag”…is the very definition of White Supremacy.

Furthermore, the fact that the government (on both the state and federal level) has not long since removed all traces of its presence from any public setting and denounced the flag as an insult is the definition of White Privilege. I dare say that if the Black Lives Matter movement formed a militia to start out against the United States government and waged a war under a flag of its own making it would be comical to even dream within the privacy of one’s own personal thoughts to fly that flag in a public park where kids are frolicking in the grass and eating ice cream. Or what about the “jihadist flag”. Should we fly it on the grounds of the 9/11 attack in NYC; in order to “remember” what happened? After all according the proponents of the Confederate Flag we can’t erase history right??

This is a ludicrous subject to even still be entertaining in the 21st century. It is both appalling and mind-boggling at the same time. One does not get to be selective about what parts of history they want to recollect and about who is allowed to do so based on skin color. I really don’t care how some random white dude in Alabama (we’ll call him “Earl”) tries to remember and envelope “General” Robert E. Lee in a flattering light. The fact remains, despite “Earl’s” delusions of grandeur, that had Lee and those who thought the way he did at the time had their way – the U.S. Government and the President of the United States himself would have been toppled in act of mutiny. In turn, the Emancipation Proclamation would have been shredded and the institution of slavery would have been reinstated by the Confederacy; a Confederacy that would have subsequently assumed power no-less. You cannot now – at this late hour – disassociate that flag from the truth of its creators’ insidious militaristic and ideological endeavors which led to a long and brutal internecine war (the bloodiest in American history).

Despite all of that ugly and undeniable history, a faction of Americans have the audacity to either protest the flag’s removal – or maybe even worse – there’s another faction who knows better but sits back in silence as the confederate flag yet flies. Mind you now: they will jump up and down screaming & kicking when a ‘Colin Kaepernick’ takes a knee during the National Anthem to peacefully protest against police brutality, even as they quietly observe from afar the debate about a Confederate Flag that symbolizes a previous attempt to sack the Union; not to mention that it was a vicious affront to the stars and stripes they claim Kaepernick is disrespecting. And those same people call the children of the Black Lives Matter movement “thugs and hooligans”, while meanwhile sitting out the argument against raising a flag that is inextricably bound to the “thugs and hooligans” who killed countless soldiers of these United States because they wanted black people to continue picking cotton. Black people who had of course to-date been savagely whipped – lynched – raped – and demoralized on a daily basis by those thugs. What a joke. What a JOKE!! I mean you cannot be serious? To pretend even for a second – that White America (speaking @ those white people who think that way or who are silent – not all white people) is not straight up trippin’  in this regard is dumbfounding at best.

I can’t stand for it, so I won’t. Instead, I’ll take a knee with the ‘Kaepernicks’ of the world and fight against racism as long as I live because this has got to stop. This double standard is exactly why people of color in this country continue to suffer the consequences of discrimination and inequality right in front of the blind eyes of those who refuse to see the truth. And THAT state of denial is the real issue here by the way. What I am focusing on today is not so much about the Confederate Flag itself – necessarily – as it is about the fairy tale that has been conceived as a justification for allowing it to fly in the face of people who are understandably insulted by its presence. Because that same fairy tale – that same mentality and avoidance of reality – that same hypocritical disposition – seeps into every single facet of society which includes many facets that have had dire consequences for decades by now.

That the veil might be lifted – that the cataract of denial which has for far too long clouded the truth be removed from the affected pupils – that the darkness might be permanently banished by a red hot revealing light. It is time for this nation to be born again. Time to dispense with the old man and become a new creature. We must be born again.

 

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 Oreos to go:  Why not fly the Swastika Flag in public parks and on government grounds across Germany and erect statues of Hitler and the leaders of concentration camps – just as a friendly reminder and also since some Germans’ granddads fought with valor in the 3rd Reich…

Swastika


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. 

The 4th

 

Flag

 

I’m a little late in writing this as the 4th of July has come and gone weeks ago by now. Although I guess the basic principle of what I’d like to explore today could be discussed on any day of the calendar year.

So a couple months back my wife and I decided we’d invite our neighbors over – neighbors who we only met a short time ago after having (us that is) recently moved to a new house in a new neighborhood. And, in keeping with the kind and thoughtful people we are learning that they are – our neighbors came bearing gifts for our two young girls. Those gifts were toys that were “Independence Day inspired” – red white and blue of course – and ones that hinted at a festive mood. As the girls were unwrapping and beginning to tinker with each toy while meanwhile thanking our guests for their kind gesture – the lady asked them with a gleam in her eye: “Have your parents been gearing you two up these past couple weeks for the big day”!! And mind you she was also kind of eye-balling my wife and I at the same time for confirmation that we had done so.

I answered – politely you understand – that we actually hadn’t really had a chance to talk to the girls about the Independence holiday – what with being so busy and all. It was basically a polite way of skating around the fact that we had not made as big of a deal as she was – or any deal at all really about the 4th. Even in the moment it occurred to me that she had an excitement that I didn’t. And, as is my tendency I suppose, even long after they had eaten the delicious dessert my wife cooked up and had gone on home – I continued to mull the disconnect between her zealous excitement about the upcoming holiday and my tepid disposition.

After having declared independence on July 4th of 1776 – the thirteen colonies which constituted America at the time fought and won the now historic Revolutionary War in which this country gained its independence from Great Britain. One headline of a major newspaper in that period read:“Laus Deo” (Translated: Praise be to God)!! The victors did in fact have much to celebrate and thank God for, as their freedom had been secured. This was a new beginning for what would become the modern day United States of America. However, and I know I don’t have to tell you this, some of America’s citizens were not free at all after the war. I am pretty sure the slaves who were laboring in the fields of plantations were not sending fire crackers soaring into the air and draping the American flag over their shoulders as they danced the night away in ecstasy. After all, as the former-European colonists were jubilantly celebrating their new found “independence”, the slaves and even their young children were yet in chains.

Since that time of revolution – a lot of atrocities have befallen black people in America at the hands of those who possess racist hearts. As the white majority celebrated through the 1800s on into the 1900s, Black America was literally terrorized by hate-mongers – by corrupt police forces – by a crooked criminal justice system (I use the word justice lightly) that allowed for massacres and indescribable violence and discrimination. All of which culminated after centuries of hopelessness and despair with the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King. And during all that time – during all that turmoil and misery experienced by Black America – White America on the other hand…continued to celebrate year after year – decade after – century after century – their independence on July 4th.

Here in 2017 I understand that much progress has been made since 1776, where black people are concerned. I realize that members of the military place their lives on the line for freedoms that certain other countries don’t enjoy. But, here is a truth that is just as certain: When I am driving down the street as a black male in America I am in jeopardy. If a police officer pulls me over I must be careful not to make any sudden movements – such as reaching for the registration the officer asked for – even though I have no gun in my car (or at home for that matter). I have never been convicted of a crime and do not plan to ever commit one. And yet because of the color of my skin I am at risk if the wrong officer is standing outside my window; which means that one wrong move and I may not get to see my two daughters again. Not only that but plenty of my fellow citizens – more than I care to count – think less of me – on sight – based upon that same skin color. If I enter a department store – or a job interview – or a fancy restaurant – there is a good chance my skin color could be counted against me; a fact which can elicit any number of consequences. This is not a theory – not a figment of a paranoid or over active imagination. I have personally experienced all of this and more without an inkling of a doubt.

The bottom line is that my friendly neighbor does not deal with any of that heavy baggage and never has. Nor has her mother and father or their mother and father. In other words, she receives (as she should) the full benefits of independence that was achieved back in 1776. She receives the full benefits of the modern day soldier who risks his life in the theatre of war and therefore as an American is automatically grateful and inspired. She has NEVER had to sit around the table at dinner and hear the stories about what her grandfather, who was called a “boy”, had to endure “way back when”. No wonder she is so pumped every year when the 4th is right around the corner. Conversely – no wonder that I am not.

You know what I realized too as I pondered this scenario, friend. I did not make a conscience effort to be indifferent. And it is not like I am walking around angry – to the contrary in fact. My indifference is rather – a result of the inherent inequality that exists in America. An inequality which is exercised upon me as I am immersed into and treading upon in its unforgiving and deep waters. And what amazes me is that this residual effect of racism was hiding in my subconscious as so many derivatives of systemic racism seem to do. I had not even realized that I was not as excited about this holiday as a lot of white Americans are until we had our neighbor over for some tasty chocolate seven-layer bars. In fact, I have never once heard another black person get excited about the fourth for any other reason than it is a day off from work. Not because we are ungrateful or unpatriotic – but because of an innate sense – even if subconsciously – of the alternate reality in which we exist;  one that is foreign to that of our fairer skinned and fellow Americans.

Let’s change that together shall we? Every American ought to enjoy the true merits of liberty as described by our constitution. We should all be fully enveloped by the protection afforded us under the laws of this land. The flag should symbolize unadulterated freedom for everyone – regardless of race, creed, color, or religion (Yes that means Muslims too). So in my mind – as a black man in America and despite the campaign slogan of our current President – it is not: “Let’s Make America Great Again” – it’s: Let’s Make America Great“. Sure would make those hot dogs go down a lot easier next July…

 

 

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 Oreos to go:  I found this video AFTER having already written the post above. Testament to the fact that black folks are experiencing the same dynamic racially speaking across 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. 

Progress is Never Easy

Progress

The words in the image above were coined by Denzel Washington as he served up an extemporaneous acceptance speech for an Image Award he received @ Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture. During the speech he encouraged the young actors and writers – directors and producers of the next generation to understand and appreciate what it will take to achieve and excel at their craft. Especially those (even not in attendance) who were trying to transcend the mire of obscurity and ascend into the rare air of notoriety in their chosen field.

We live in an age in which delayed gratification is a personal affront to the masses. The word “patience” is essentially a filthy term in our society isn’t it? Say patience in the presence of the wrong company and you may find a bar of lye soap placed firmly on your tongue. We want the benefits that come with greatness but we do not want to endure the sacrifice greatness demands. We do not want to exert the strenuous labor – experience any of the suffering – or deal with the requisite hardship that is necessary for greatness to come into fruition. Ours is a culture that covets a gentle ease as we go about our daily business. At the push of a button on those tiny devices we all carry around – information flies – connections are made – deals are sealed – and this all in an instance. Ahhh…just like we like it…quick – fast – and with the minimum effort possible.

Consider this dear reader: Without hardship a diamond cannot be formed and pried away from the grip of the rugged earth. Without hardship the man or woman who takes first prize in the elite marathons of cities both far and wide – could not have even dreamed of so lofty an achievement. Without hardship the neurosurgeon could never have come to understand the intricacies of the cerebral cortex and all of the other nuanced highways and byways of the information center housed within the human body. AND without hardship…justice and equality will never be fully realized in America.

The fight for equality in America has been a long road. Many individuals have literally laid down their lives in the quest for justice. I think our current generation has forgotten that truth. We’ve forgotten all those people who sacrificed so that we could live better lives. Forgotten that to whom much is given much is required. So when our generation wants this or that to change…. we prefer –no…we expect change to simply just happen overnight. And it is that very mentality that confirms Mr. Washington’s theory. If our aspirations were to be so easily achieved I am not sure any progress would be made when all is said and done; because we would take what would in essence become easily picked fruits –  for granted.

Let’s pick up the banner that has been laid down at our feet by those who came before us friends. Let’s grab the baton and run the race set before us. Let’s be willing to sweat and to suffer and to cry out in the streets if we must. Let’s be willing to pay the price and to bear a burden in order that change might come. That is what it takes to achieve greatness. That’s what it takes to soar to terrific heights – way up there over the very heads of our enemies in this fight. And that is what it takes to be prepared to progress. We do not want to be mere products of the mediocrity that comes with ease, but rather the greatness that comes after lending our sword to the battle.

 

 

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 Oreos to go: Denzel Washington’s aforementioned speech…


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. 

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.