Love While You Can

The most unfortunate thing about my mode of thinking is that every once in a while I have to turn and face what society forces me to accept as reality. On one of my trips back to what we call the “real world”, I realized that if the conditions under which we live continue in their current direction, the possibilities of growing peacefully to old age are slimming each passing day.

Pessimism is not my forte. However, being aware of factors that could effect my wellbeing is indeed my forte.Read More »

And Then There Was Mr. Andrew Young

In my Week 26 Recap (just posted last night), I stated that I was going to give my six week long focus on Black American issues a break…

…and then there was was Mr. Andrew Young.

The bottle in the background was his idea! Photo by @anthon256
The bottle in the background was his idea!
Photo by @anthon256

I mean, what do you do when you are having a typical day at work, minding your own business and see Black American Civil Rights Legend, Andrew Young, coming down the hall? What do you do?!Read More »

Thirty Seconds Ago… Speechless

I’m not even sure how to start this one…

I got up from my computer after about three hours of staring at the screen. Unsure of whether I’m tired from no recent chill time or just simply sleepy, I shook the feeling, pepped myself up and headed to go grab lunch. My day had been pretty uneventful, and I was not prepared for any events, of any kind.

Anyway, I took the shortcut through the sub-levels of the buildings to get to the deli. I take the sub-levels for two reasons; one: because it’s faster, and two: to avoid all traffic, avoiding as many people as possible. Today though, as I walked the long empty hallway toward the elevators, there was already a man there waiting. This was no big deal though because I pass this particular guy quite often in this part of the hallways, and he rarely says much more than “Hello”. Keep in mind that this is an extremely long hall and I am not yet close enough to verbally speak. So now that I am about thirty yards away, he turns, sees me and greets me — but not in a way that I was prepared to be greeted. Let me rephrase: NOTHING could have prepared me for his greeting.Read More »

Selma – 50 Years Later

Disappointed that plans to be in Selma, Alabama this morning fell through, I sit and watch the program on CNN. This may be a once in a lifetime occurrence to be in a reunion of the Civil Rights Movement that changed the face of this nation hosted by an African-American president. Usually I refer to our people as Black American as we all identify differently. In this case, however, our president is in fact half Kenyan! He is African American.

I am in part, surprised and relieved of his blatant admittance of the existence of America’s lingering racial issues. It is not a dead horse that we continue to beat. I am no criminal and never have been, but I feel as though I have experienced enough discrimination to know personally, that skin color is enough to get you in trouble. Over the last few years, with the publicized deaths of a few innocent blacks, I believe that the nation is becoming more aware as well.

I am glad too that he is discussing the personal responsibility of Black Americans to vote and make sure that our call for equal rights are met. As we grow more and more complacent with the  illusion of equality, actual equality start to slip back into nonexistence.

I have just as much patriotism as the next man, but it comes in a different form as I come from a different branch in our nation’s history.

February Recap

Unfortunately, I did not cover half the topics that I wanted to cover. The topics could have waited, but I really wanted to cover key people whose actions contributed to my personal outlook on races relations; or people that I relate to or would like to relate to. That’s a long list too.

The good thing is that I learned way more than I had expected to learn. There are so many things that you think you already know, but every once in a while you need a refresher. Your understanding change as you grow older and add experience to your life. Malcolm and Martin are not the same Malcolm and Martin that I had learned about in grade school; I had not even been called a nigger yet. 🙂

I have literally fell into a pit of questions ranging from music to how county zoning works. America’s foundation —the very foundation — was built along lines drawn by race. How is it then that race is no longer an issue when it is what our country is built on? People act as if talking about race relations is beating a dead horse. That horse isn’t dead at all. Just because we choose to ignore it, or act as though we have risen above it, does not mean that it does not exist. I was told that black people still make it such a big deal because we teach it to our children from generation to generation. To logically refute that, I simply ask, “Are black parents the only parents teaching?”

As the country grows and more social developments take place, there seems to be less and less room on the political agenda to ensure that black people are treated fairly. We have just enough equalities (on paper) for there to be nothing left to profit any political candidate, so the fight and struggle becomes the responsibility of each black individual. While I worry about the condition of Black Americans, I question whether or not there is actually a fight to be fought at all. If the majority of our people are content with how we are portrayed in the media, who am I to challenge that mass opinion? If we are content with being the most marketed people in the country, who am I to change that? I cannot say that injustices happen everywhere all the time to black people, but I can say that it happens so much that I see personally that I am numb to it.

There was speculation that the low Oscar ratings this year was due to a boycott of blacks refusing to watch. I had hoped that there be some press coverage on it, but then I considered, it would not be smart for media to bring awareness to the power of our numbers. We have power to change whatever we have problem with. However, if we continue to learn from television and social media, what is important and what it not, we will continue to be molded into the consumers that we have been led to become.

The best example of a family I can find on TV is the Duggar’s from 19 Kids and Counting. I cannot even think of a current TV show where black people are shown in a positive light. Then we wonder why  black children think like this:

There is a fight to be fought, but we have to be awakened to it. The unfortunate and scary thing is that the time for fighting for Black Rights is running down, while the time for fighting for Christian Rights are just beginning.

Week 24 Recap

This month has led to a lot of additional learning for myself that I had not prepared for. So the accumulation of reading and exploration has put a squeeze on my time for sharing my perspective. Last week was great though. On Monday, February 16th, I discussed the issue of displaced location that some Black Americans still wrestle with. The fact that I am American and that I live in America is completely okay with me. The fact that the Black American has come into existence partly by rape (in my own personal lineage) is something that I am at peace with as well. I’m not happy about it, but it is who I am, and I accept it as a token of my stake in this country. Moving back to Africa would have been a reasonable solution during the more treacherous times of oppression. Now that life for us here can be lived conformably — despite nuances that could be worst somewhere else —I’m not leaving. This isn’t to say that I would NOT leave, but not under the reasoning that our ancestors are from there.

Wednesday, February 18, I wrote about my first time experience of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. I have been following the schedule of the show to see how soon will I be able to see it again, because I don’t think I can wait for it to come back to Atlanta next year. It was awesome. I hate that I had not seen it before, but I will not let it be the last. The cultural fusion of dance and song vaulted me through an online scavenger hunt of similar performances and songs. The album by Alvin Ailey, Revelations, has been on repeat while I have returned to Langston Hughes’ work, but this time discovering his work with music and Negro spirituals. Alvin Ailey has really set a standard for my year and has carved a whole new section into my perspective about proudly being a Black American.

Saturday, February 21st, I wrote about the feud that has set a divide to this day concerning the advancement of Black Americans; that is the feud between W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington. DuBois’ opinion of raising the majority by an elite minority is a great way of looking at the issue. If the concentrated focus of law and educating succeeds from the top, it would be an overnight open door of opportunities for the awaiting ninety percent of people. However, Washington’s view consisted of a gradual undercurrent of growth by the masses that would go unnoticed by whites that may disturb the movement. I respect both men and their views without question, and I feel that whatever side an individual may choose may simply be because of their personal perspective.

That’s everything that I covered last week, but I really feel as though I could go another week on the same three topics…

No, I’ll move on. Enjoy this week and help someone else enjoy theirs. Remember to keep an open perspective and share compassion.

And thanks for reading!  Whenever I see that a post from Perspective Park has been shared by a reader, I like to image that I saved a life… That’s just my perspective though!

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – Revelations

Recently, I had the pleasure of finally seeing the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform Revelations.

It was everything I thought it would be… except better.

Now it may be because I have a proclivity to dance that I enjoyed it as much as I did. Tap, ballet and modern dance have always been interest that I have had neither the time nor the courage (simultaneously) to explore. When I was younger and had the time, I had not the courage. Now that I am an adult and have the courage, I have not the time. So I have enjoyed the explanations of their histories primarily through documentaries and Youtube. 🙂

Like most other things I enjoy, I tried to find where dance most closely linked with the overall powerful sense of strength and unity within Black American culture. It started when I was younger watching Savion Glover on Sesame Street. As I grew I learned the history of our culture and our roles as entertainment to whites. It did put a damper on my interest a bit; but after growing even older and learning of systemic progress needed for people like Glover to exist, I took a second round of interest. By this time though, I had already committed to writing; feeling as though there was never any shame in the practice.

However, when I finally sat in my seat at the FOX Theater, I witnessed a display of art through dance that embodied Black history in a way that could be explained in the fashion that it was before me. Alvin Ailey’s Revelations reminded me of one of my favorite books called, The People Could Fly, by Virginia Hamilton. It is an advanced children’s book telling a tale of slavery through folklore passed down from generation to generation. The book was written in a way where you feel as though nothing was lost through reading it, as nothing would have been lost if you were listening to the story being told for the first time. That’s what I felt about Alvin Ailey’s Revelations. The dancers brought life to the music; the music gave life to their movements, and combined they gave me an experience that is nearly unmatched in my lifetime.

ailey_ii_in_alvin_ailey_s_revelations_photo_by_eduardo_patino_2-1

Was it something that I feel every Black American should put on their bucket list?

No. It did not shed light on anything we don’t already know.

Did it teach me anything from a Christian perspective?

No. Even though it was based in the Christian faith that our ancestors had, it did not enlighten my understanding any as we have advanced in our knowledge of the gospel since then. It depicted what their faith would have been like in that day, and stayed true to the time period.

So what was so special about it?

It was an overall experience. The music, the dancing and all around showmanship was nothing short of passionate perfection. Alvin Ailey shared his perspective of the hate stricken south perfectly through song and dance.

I would recommend any cultural or art enthusiast to go see it. I find it hard to believe that you would be disappointed. I would even recommend purchasing the album from iTunes just to hear the songs; you will not be disappointed. I’m looking for something to top that for 2015 — the bar has been set.

Back to Africa

We’ll I’ll see you when you get back.

The idea of Black Americans going back to Africa was an exceptional, bold and relevant solution to oppressions that we once faced. Marcus Garvey initiated a plan to remove Black Americans from the oppressed lifestyles that we suffered here in the United Stated. I personally believe that it was one of the most impressive plans ever put in place for our people when you consider the time period and the work that went into it.

Young Garvey
Young Garvey

Let’s fast forward to 2015…

Black Americans are still suffering from discrimination, mental stigmas and lack of identification; even geographical identification within the United States. Whether we fit better in the South or North, which coast, and where prejudices are most prevalent all come into question when it comes to where would be best for Blacks. However, no matter what part, I honestly believe that the United States is the best place for Black Americans now. After centuries of building a country and adapting to a country which is virtually closed off to all other countries, I think it’s safe to say that America is pretty much all we know. Not only is it all we know, we have just as much ownership (if not more) of this country as any other race. Going back to Africa at this point would be like building a house and leaving to go to another. I think it makes more sense to fix the issues at the place that you have made your home, rather to go somewhere you hardly understand and have had no history in for 400 years.

Now let get this straight too… I love Africa. I love what it stand for in Black American history and culture, and I love the seemingly never-ending roots that it holds for human civilization. I love it so much that I hate that I cannot call it home. The United States is my home; and it has been my home for five generations (going backwards from me) that I can personally account for. I’m sure there’s a mansion somewhere that contains everything that I could ever imagine putting inside of a home, but it would hold my memories, I couldn’t relate to the structure or the people in it. My home is my home.

I admire the zeal for those who have made it their business to return to the Motherland. I would much rather stay here where progress has been made for me to live comfortably and change the small remnants of oppression that still remain.

I look forward to walking the grounds of Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Madagascar and some of the others — But when I finish visiting, I’m coming back home.

The N(igga) Word

Is the N-word acceptable?

I think this is the most debated question amongst Black Americans… Ever. It is the question where we are split right down the middle. Rarely, will you even find a family where they all agree on whether or not the term is appropriate.

Well first of all, I’m not even going to discuss the word ending in -er. It’s pretty much understood that the -er makes it what we were called during the most trying times of our development as a people. That’s the general white pronunciation of the word, and the sharpness that Black American hear when they hear the -er may never be understood by any other races. As silly as it may sound, it’s true. Most Black Americans, like myself, draw a distinctive line between the two pronunciations.

Last year, after the continuos racial tensions that the media consistently bombarded me with, I was forced to think about the word. I was forced to think whether or not I wanted to use a word that was used to degrade my ancestors, equating them to less-than-human. I thought about it; I thought about it long and hard. I thought about the way my people had to withstand being called that to their faces, and take it; defenseless. I thought about whether there was really a difference between the original word and our derivative of it. I thought about it for a whole weekend before deciding, I’ll probably always say nigga.

The reason why is because it just does not carry the same baggage that it did in the 60s and prior. The word evolved. It changed. The way we use it, say it and it’s definition all changed. It’s almost a completely different word. I was born in a generation where the only negative way the word could be used was either by a white person or with the -er attached. I didn’t set that standard and I’m not trying to change it. I actually like the word and the way I use it. I knew the word nigga and I knew who my niggas were before I fully understood the magnitude and history of the word. That is the culture. I understand how ignorant it may sound to some, but culture is not and will not be completely understood by those who do not participate in it; and I should not and will not be ashamed of it.

We all have different levels of acquaintances. There are colleagues, coworkers, friends, associates and so-on and so-forth. How you group these people is completely up to you. I’m sure that you can understand how thin the line is between some of these groups. For example, you may work with a person that you chat with from time to time in the halls or in the break room, but you wouldn’t call that person your friend. You haven’t had any bad interactions with him, but just knowing his last name and some family information doesn’t make him your friend. It works the same way with young Black Americans — just because you’re my friend, doesn’t make you my nigga. That is the highest level of camaraderie anyone within a black circle of friends can be awarded. That’s what the word means to me; it’s simply the highest bond of friendship within my race. It is not derogatory. It is not negative. It is not a reminder of struggle and pain or oppression. I was born in a time when the word had lost nearly all of those connotations; nigger had not… But we’re not talking about that right now.

Now with my personal use of the word, there comes a responsibility to discern when and with whom to use it. I highly doubt if any older people I know have ever heard me use it. I recognize what it could mean to them, and I reserve what I feel is my right to use it. They may be completely comfortable with it, but I will not take that chance. The use of that word around a person who struggled through the Civil Rights Movement can easily be taken as disrespect. (If you know me, you know that I am completely against disrespect; especially against elders.) So I am very careful that I only use nigga when I’m with my peers. However, even with my peers, I have a few friends that have expressed that they do not like the word, do not use the word and would appreciate if they would not be referenced as the word, and with those peers, I refrain from using the word. Like I started, Black Americans are split with legitimate terms on each side. I believe that we should at least have a level of respect for each other choice though. For example, my friends never told me not to say it, but with their expressed discontent for the word, I chose not to say it around them so that we have a mutual agreement. But the minute you tell me not to say it because you don’t think it’s right, “Nigga please.” You will quickly get the other side of nigga.

How do I feel about white people using the word?  I don’t think they should, but I can’t stop anyone from doing anything. My request has always been that anyone who feels the urge or freedom to say it, that is not of African descent have enough tact to not say it around people who are. There is still a weight that comes with the word that you have to be black to understand. After I grew older and went through a few scenarios that made me feel the weight of what it might have been like to have been called a nigger, I had to fall back and reevaluate my own personal usage and make a decision to continue or to quit. The University of Georgia has a tradition that students do not walk through the UGA Arches until they have graduated. Until you have put in the time required to earn that degree from that school, you will not be legitimately permitted passage through those arches. Now if you decide to walk through anyway, it’s not like the previous alumni are going to go crazy trying to get you to undo your actions, but there will be some kickback. It’s the same way with the saying nigga. I see it as whites wanting the privilege of using nigga, without ever experiencing what it is to be a nigger. Is there a double-standard there? Yes it is. And men still make more than women in the workforce for the same jobs. Women are still called whores for doing the same things that men do which bring them praise.No one is a stranger to the unfairness of double-standards, so the understanding that it’s going nowhere should be of no shock to anyone.

Now all of this is from my perspective; and until we come to an overall consensus that the word will not be used, this nigga is here to stay.

Week 21 Intro

Well it’s finally February. It’s ever so fitting that this month started on a Sunday, which gives me an even four weeks to cover the some selected topics surrounding Black History and Culture. I remember saying in one of my earliest blog posts that I would rather not limit a lot of my writing within the confines of race. I would rather blog about the my personal perspective of the world on a much wider spectrum. However, since making that statement, I realize that much of my perspective is simply a counter of the world’s perspective of me.

This month I will center all my posts around black history, culture, a few of my key people in history and an imaginative explanation for some of the conditions — positive and negative — of black people in America today. As of now, I have a format for the month that allows for Recaps on Sundays, culture topics on Mondays, my creative perspectives (short short stories) on Wednesdays, and my key people on Fridays. Now for those of you that follow my blog, you already know that it’s difficult for me to strictly stick to a schedule. Sometimes bigger issues come up, and I might want to address something on a Tuesday. I may want to switch days for different topics or whatever; so I never write up a strict schedule to follow. As you can see, this Intro was supposed to be done yesterday; I apologize for that. I’m finishing up my post for tonight though, that way I will not be behind.

When it comes to the recap, last week I posted “Nearsighted Point-of-View”. I tried to explain the reasons for why I am as optimistic as I am, and how and why I think we should practice spreading it to everyone we come into contact with. I also briefly went over reasons why this practice would not work for everyone in every situation. In a nutshell, it’s just a detailed explanation of another Christian way to love.

Show some compassion, spread some love and enjoy your week!