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.

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 19 Recap

This week actually ended on an uphill slope. Most weeks, I would have been worn down by the daily struggles that I have admittedly and ignorantly accepted as life, that the recap is best post of the week. I’m not ashamed of it though. Going forward, I will be scheduling a block of time to actually unwind. It may be daily, every other day or half of a Saturday or something. I’ll sort that out this week so that I’ll have it in effect by February (I already have the whole month of February scheduled; excited about that.)

Tuesday, January 20, I took an educational field trip to the movies to watch Selma. I had plans on writing a review of the portrayal of struggles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his supporting cast to get the Voting Rights Act passed via the marches in Selma, Alabama. Well, I went and saw the movie, but the review did not go as planned. I have an incredibly hard time sitting through depictions of the struggles of slavery or the Civil Rights Movement; so until Tuesday night, I never did. However, I’m glad I gave it a watch. It was an excellent, realistic and accurate reenactment of the movement. The directors, actors and casting crew were all excellent. My review turned out to be just a screen shot of the notes that I took during the movie. That was something new for me — sharing notes — because I really did not have the mental strength to go in depth about the film. Those are the types of emotions that I can’t just close off when I feel like it, so from the start of the movie until I went to bed, the emotions flowed… and you ended up with a screen shot of halfwitted notes. I laughed when I read back over them the next day.

Wednesday, January 21, I literally had to battle all day to find my regular optimistic mode of thinking. The day went on on and on without an upside, until I had finished Blogging vs. Journaling. It was something that I had taken a couple notes on and never got around to. Since I needed an easy write, that I needed not put a lot of new thought into, I pull it from my notebook and posted it. It was basically about how blogging can easily turn into journaling even if that had not been the initial purpose for which you created it. Since my blog started as a medium to share cultural relevance the way that I — a young black Christian male in the south of the United States — see it, some things will naturally take on a journalistic style. I have to make sure that it falls within the guidelines of relevance that I’ve set though and be sure not to vent, because that’s not not my point. My point is to share, encourage and make aware that there are people who fall outside of the stereotypes, but still being very very much engrossed in the culture. So basically, my blogging is about being me, and journaling is whining about being me… and I’m not a whiner. 🙂

Yesterday, January 23, I wrote I Was Looking For Me; I Found Black. This was basically about the path that I took through 2014 to become a better person to make way for a better future. In doing so, I neglected the parts of me that the rest of society sees first; and that’s being black. Honestly, as strange as it might sound, I became so focused on me, and what I needed to do, and me me me, that I actually forgot that by simply being black, all of those plans could be taken away from me just as fast as I could think them up. It was the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases that reminded me. “I could be killed for no reason at all, forgotten and my killer could go on living with no justice being served. If it could happen to one black man, it could happen to me. If it could happen to any man, it could happen to me.” This was my realization that I needed to adjust me re-identification process to include someone other than myself. We live for each other; living any other way is selfish and is not Christ-like.

I look forward to the rest of 2015, but I’m really looking forward to February. I know, you’re probably tired of hearing about February, but I can’t help it. I’m getting a lot off my chest and a lot of barriers are coming down next month. It’s nothing bad or extreme, but I’m a person of conservative nature; at first. The more comfortable I get with anything or anybody, I’m actually one of the most liberal. So when it comes to blogging, I’m reaching the point where I’m okay saying some things that I dared not say in the beginning.

With that being said, I hope you have a very enjoyable week sharing perspectives, showing compassion and spreading your love. I know it’s not always easy; trust me I know… But any other way is just not as fulfilling. 🙂

Ferguson Riots

Last night, Officer Darren Wilson walked away free of all charges in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown — The city of Ferguson is still burning.

Rarely do I neglect my opinion on what should have happened, but in instances like these when everyone is already decided and have a straight answer, there is no need for persuasion from another.

Yesterday evening at seven I went to the store to pick up a few items before the announcement was made at 8pm. Not that I was in a rush to see the announcement, but so that I would be back inside before the announcement was made. Yesterday on my way home from work, from downtown Atlanta to the park in my neighborhood, police and ambulances lined my route as if this was Ferguson. At the store, a few employees were allowed to go home early for the same reasons; no one really wanted to be out for fear of rioting.

I went back home and watched the announcement. At the first signs of rioting, I went to bed. The fact that destruction is thought to be an option for improvement shows that we are missing something somewhere. The greatest changes that have ever taken place were done peacefully, from as far back to Moses leading The Great Exodus, up until as recently as Dr. Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights Movement. I hate to preach things that I don’t feel I could preach, because if I was placed under the right circumstances I may have potential to be a Hall of Fame rioter; but it doesn’t negate that it’s wrong.

So, I don’t know if we lack leaders or we’ve just become to rowdy to be led. It seems that at the request of Michael Brown’s parents, the night should have never seen those extremes. We already lost what should have been justice for Brown. Then I feel as though we gave the nation exactly what they wanted on the other end — a show of unruly people that need more restrictions and monitoring and less freedom. In rioting we only hurt ourselves.

It’s a cloudy day in Perspective Park.