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 »

#Selma50: To The Bridge

This past Saturday, I watched on CNN as Obama spoke at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. I was glad just to be watching the events unfold live. The longer I watched, the prouder I felt to be culturally connected to the many struggles that have been overcome by the efforts of black men like Martin Luther King and Hosea Williams; producing President Barack Obama.

As I watched, I questioned (as I often do) the time, thought and energy that I put into educating myself on race issues and attempting to bring awareness to them as I see necessary. It seems that so much was done during the eras of slavery and segregation that there is nothing left to fight for. There is plenty though; as long as lives are being lost there is plenty to fight for. The tricky part now is finding out what angles to fight the injustices from as most of them are covered by laws riddled with loopholes (i.e., The Stand-Your-Ground law).

There is enough for me to fight for and still make a difference; even if it is just in my community. Besides, the fight for Civil Justice, could soon turn into a fight for Religious Rights — this could be practice.

Sunday morning, I headed to Selma with a tank full of gas, a heart full of pride and a very inquisitive little sister.

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On the way, we got more and more anxious with every road sign marked for Selma. The traffic was thick, but flowed smoothly. We saw license plates from all over the country, but being an Alabama native gave me game an attitude to want to welcome everyone else to the state. There was no horn-blowing, no fighting for parking spaces (even though there were none), and everyone seemed to know everyone. I found myself in conversation multiple times with people that I had never even seen before; yet I cannot call them strangers. The theoretical sense of unity that I often speak of was present there; all of our differences were overlooked by perspective, compassion and love.

When I first laid eyes on the Edmund Pettus Bridge from five blocks away, I took it as the sight of our Statue of Liberty. It was beautiful, and I could not wait to get to it (neither did the thousands of other people there).
IMG_6988As I read the name, Edmund Pettus, stretching across top of the bridge, I saw an awful name, that represented an awful person, and should remind us of an awful past. Instead we took that awful person’s name and monument and made it a symbol of equality and freedom that is now more closely related to our triumph than our bondage.

My march across that bridge represent more to me than I realize yet. I am still taking in the fact that I was there for such an event in history. I believe as time goes on, I will be able to build from what I experienced on the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama.

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.

Is White Pride Shameful?

A movie buff asked me today, “Man, you haven’t seen Action Jackson?!”

“No, I ain’t seen it yet, but it’s on my list.” I replied.

“It’s cheesy, but it’s good. I mean it was the 80s… And Apollo Creed.” I cannot recall what was said after that — and I hate misquoting — but then the was the reference of black war heros. If my grandfather had served and ranked highly in the military, I’m sure I would extremely proud of that. The courage that it calls for to serve and excel in the face of death is surely a legacy worth leaving behind. “It must be pretty rewarding to tell of your grandfather’s heroism,” I thought.

But what if you are white, and your father, grandfather or great-grandfather fought for the confederacy? Can you be proud of that? Should you be proud of that? Can you be proud without agreeing to the siding of his allegiance? Or could you agree with his allegiance for strictly political or economical reasoning without being considered prejudice or racist in 2015?

I wrote a list of questions as if I were a young white male from the South who had ancestral ties to the confederacy. In doing this, I realized that this could cause some identity conflicts with for whites as well. I am very slow to develop an opinion and speak on a situation that I cannot personally relate to; and being white is one of those situations. Family, family history and traditions are all very important to me. This are the things that will account for a majority of your identity; I never put myself in the shoes of those who are unable to be proud of what their forefathers DIED for. Plainly put — that sucks!

I do not believe that the ignorance and wrongdoings of a confederate soldier are all passed down to his living descendants. That would be an ignorant assumption on my part. However, I know some really nice white people whose roots are here in the South. I am also pretty sure that if they have ancestry that fought for the confederacy, they know about it. Should they hide it and be ashamed? Can you be a proud southern white man or woman with those roots? I can see how it would be difficult to answer and be politically correct, but I believe politically correct is the cause of a majority of America’s suppressed tension that seems to erupt at every racially motivated incident.

I’m going to look further into these questions, from this perspective just to see how I really feel about it. Black Power is a term that simply implies pride in our heritage and we say it, shout it and sing it to remind us that we are in fact, proud. Have the history of whites eternally robbed them of being able to openly expressed pride for their heritage?

Just looking for a different perspective.

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.

Colorism

I can freely discuss my position on black people and white people alike. I am one and not the other. I’m black. I am not white. I have opinions on both races and can clearly define my position between the two.

That’s race though.

When it comes to colorism, I find myself in the same type of limbo that I described in Washington vs. DuBois. In the case of colorism though, the boundaries that I seek are strictly physical. I am neither dark-skinned nor light-skinned; I’m just brown.

The problem of colorism is a worldwide problem and is a lot more serious in other places than the tone that I take with the issue. If you went to a predominately black school in the inner-city, you would understand how one could become numb to the issue. When it comes to the colorism among blacks, it’s basically just light-skinned and dark-skinned. Brown is pretty much a neutral zone. However, because of social stigmas that are subliminally taught to us through every angle of society in this country, it’s not uncommon to grow up thinking lighter is better and darker is worse.

Normally, as we grow into adulthood, these ideas and ways of thinking diminish. For those who don’t grow out of this way of thinking, are probably just ignorant or scarred. I believe a majority of black people could care less about a person’s skin tone, especially when it comes physical attraction.

Attractive is attractive, no matter what color it comes in. I believe we all have preferences and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem comes in when you choose a preference based on thinking one is better than the other simply because of the skin tone. I think black girls are attractive, brown girls are attractive, and light girls are attractive, but the one thing that overrides all three of those are pretty girls. Your complexion doesn’t make you cute. Since more awareness have come to issues of colorism in our society, darker skinned blacks have been claiming their territory in the media and evening the playing fields. I mean Rick Fox, Shemar Moore and Ginuwine had to move over for Tyrese, Taye Diggs and Idris Elba. (These are the jokes that blacks tell amongst ourselves.)

We are all comfortable being who and what we are this day in time. There was a time when the only way we could have a shot at mainstream success was to look like Lena Horne. Thank goodness for her because her skin open the doors for Lupita’s success. It’s a beautiful thing.

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Lena Horn; almost indistinguishable from a white lady
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Lupita Nyong’o is now the winner of an Oscar Award. Her beautiful dark face should have won another.

I understand that it is still an issue that plagues the minds of young girls all over, especially after they see celebrities gradually grow lighter and lighter year after year in the spotlight. However, that’s irrelevant, and I think as time progress, it will become more and more apparent that we do not have to do that to be accepted.

It’s really a wonderful thing. The TEAM LIGHT SKIN and TEAM DARK SKIN feud will probably be around for a while, but only as a reference to each party being proud of what they are.

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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!

DuBois vs. Washington: Common Ground Wins the Vote

There are so many prerequisites of actual experience needed to understand the identity crises that Black American men (specifically men) go through while growing into adulthood. With this in mind, I always try to give background on whatever position I may take on an issue. In this particular instance, it was a little more age, a little more understanding and a just few experiences that changed how I feel about the positions of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois.

From the ages of 15 and about 22 years old, I ignorantly and openly made it clear that I disagreed with the methods that Washington thought Black Americans should have taken to educate and grow as a people. Washington felt as though Blacks should continue their menial jobs while quietly getting their educations to avoid hinderances from whites. I hated the idea of that; I felt as though it was cowering.Read More »

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.

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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.

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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.