Archive | September 2006

Black Revolutionary v. Black Radical

What’s the difference (if any) between being “a radical thinker/actor” and being “a revolutionary thinker/actor”?

This question, among others, was poised to me in an email by a sister/colleague of mine from my days at the University of Michigan. The fact that this question was sent over email is further evidence of why spaces like the Superspade are so vital, so we have active and lively discussions pertaining to Black Thought. Primarily because for those of us who were active in college but are now spread across the country, it is difficult to have conversations like this. Thank you Tiffany,

I remember having a conversation with my nephew where he used some slang term I can’t remember right now, but I asked him what the word meant. He tried to define it as best he could but to no avail. The lesson learned was that we should all be careful to use words that we know what they mean. This same principle applies to the question posed from the outset.

What’s the difference (if any) between being “a radical thinker/actor” and being “a revolutionary thinker/actor”?

The operative words here are obviously radical and revolutionary. A dictionary search of these terms I think provides a good foundation for our discussion.

For our purposes the best definition we have for radical is favoring drastic political, economic, or social reforms.

As for revolutionary, two definitions actually suit our purposes;

1. of, pertaining to, characterized by, or of the nature of a revolution, or a sudden, complete, or marked change: a revolutionary junta.

2. radically new or innovative; outside or beyond established procedure, principles, etc.: a revolutionary discovery.

With these definitions in tow, I think it is safe to say that a radical is someone who believes things should be profoundly different while a revolutionary is someone who takes action to realize the manifestation of radically held beliefs.

Are these terms commonly used interchangeably — if so what are the implications in doing so? Do we use the terms “revolution” and “radical” in superficial manners?

Unfortunately these terms are thrown around like dirty socks. People should understand that real revolutionaries died and risked the safety of their families just so we could go to college, vote, use public accommodations, and give us the peace of mind to be anything we wanted to be. We are the living dreams of those who sacrificed and imagined what a better America would look like.

I think it is safe to say that the term radical is not widely used as revolutionary. Having said that, the term revolutionary has become so superficial that people think they are a revolutionary if and when they put their fist in the air. If we took time to appreciate the sacrifices of those who actually started to raise their fists, I don’t think many people would feel worthy to do so.

What does this mean for the black community? (i.e. does it change how you think about our history? how would collective definitions of “revolution” and “radical” impact our future?)

What all this means for the Black Community is that we need to have real discussions about first what radical means. For example, is it too radical to think that the federal government should apologize for slavery? Moreover, is it radical to think that we should completely change the way we fund K-12 public education that leaves inner-city schools with the least resources and the most problems? Is it radical to think that mentorship in the Black community should be a way of life and not something you do to spruce up your resume’? I could go on and on but I think on a fundamental level, we have convinced ourselves that all of the big battles have already been fought and won.

What’s more, what we think of as radical seems to be constantly minimized. Just about every time I was at a town hall meeting for the Black community, someone would always say that in order to build our community, we should make a point to speak to every Black person we see on campus. For some people this was a radical idea believe it or not. So what would help our efforts is to really dig when people claim to have radical ideas and use our rich history to test how radical this idea really is. Because I am sorry, but speaking to each other is not radical, that is required. But we do disservice to those who came before us when we either start with a defeatist attitude or we let our fear diminish the size and scope of our dreams.

How do these definitions apply to you and your profession and/or your contributions to the black community and society as a whole?

I’ll start with what I do. I work as the Michigan Field Organizer for the United States Student Association, the nation’s oldest and largest student association where our motto is, “Education is a right, not a privilege”. Right now I am doing voter registration/get out the vote work across various campuses and after the election I will be coordinating campaigns focused on increasing access to higher education. So for me, the work I do is directly tied to radical ideals and I have the opportunity to work on two issues where revolutionary action is needed; political and educational access.

However, the fatal flaw far too many of us make the assumption that our revolutionary work (if we do work at all) is confined to our college days and once we graduate, we put those things behind us. Working a corporate job does not give you a community service pass, nor does working a community service job give you the moral high ground. A word on folks holding down the corporate job; stop saying you are too busy. In college you held down two jobs, 16 credits, and managed to hold down 4 organizations. So just know that you make time for what is important. And if it is the case you literally have no time for anything other than your job, I would ask you two things. 1) Are you being efficient with your time? And 2) are you leading a life of significance or success?

Lastly, I would ask everyone to really ask themselves what it is they want to do that is revolutionary on a small scale and a large scale and draw up a backwards plan and see these goals through fruition. And the beautiful part is that you will need allies to help your goals. That is the true beauty of my people. For if anyone has ever been to a rally with a sizable amount of Black people intent on accomplishing one goal, you know exactly what I’m talking about. That is truly revolutionary.

Stay up fam,

Categories:
blackissues
revolutionary
blackthought

Loneliness, Black Men, and Friendships: Part IV

For those keeping score at home, we are at Part 4 in our series on Black male friendships. Up until this point, I have not discussed the issue of how women figure into the situation. And because one post would have been too long, at a later time I will explore how friendships are affected by men in relationships. But today, we will focus on the single brothers.

Let me say for starters that it is probably easier for single brothers to manage more meaningful male friendships. However, this is not always the case.

When things are down, do you call your boy or your “friend”
One issue that many single brothers have to deal with is going through emotional downtimes. And for a myriad of reasons, it is easier for many of us to share our deepest feelings with women rather than men. Now I understand that if you need to get something off your chest, then by all means do what you have to do. However, we should take a step back to think of the long-term implications of never being able to tell your boy what is really going on in your life.

If we were really honest, most brothers do not use each other as sounding boards. However, it is not until a situation has either blown up or otherwise finished, that a brother will then share what happened. But we need to get to a place where we have conversations like this; “Steve, I have this situation and these are the options I am looking at, let me know what you think.”

And since conversations like this are not widespread, it is often the case that brothers will turn to their girl “friends” for comfort. But here’s the twist, whether you are attracted to the woman or not, there is something very intoxicating having a woman listen to your woes while your head is in her lap, figuratively speaking. Now I am not saying brothers shouldn’t be talking to sisters but I am challenging brothers to be honest about what is accomplished after they have heart to hearts with their girl “friends.” Do you get sound, practical advice that you use to help your situation? Do you start out trying to get sound advice but end up talking about topics completely unrelated? Are you intentionally unintentionally laying the foundation for a relationship? Do you find yourself more attracted to this person after talking and/or are you sending signals that might be misconstrued that you may want more than just friendship?

I pray that at least one of these questions speak to you where you are at. My point though is that the majority of these issues could be alleviated if brothers had the courage to have more meaningful conversations beyond work, women, and sports. To be clear, this is not an either/or proposition, such that brothers should only talk to women or men. However, the current balance is heavily in favor of women and we need to tip the balance in the other direction.

Psuedo-girlfriends
For players and non-players alike, it does you no good to be running around with pseudo-girlfriends because you afraid to be lonely. Do some self-evaluation so you can be a better boyfriend/husband for your next relationship. What I mean by pseudo-girlfriend is someone (where there is an established mutual attraction) who fulfills one or some of your needs, but you have no intention of making her your girlfriend. Some examples include but are not limited to physical intimacy, spirituality, emotional support, intellectual debate, hanging out, etc. Situations like this are one of the sure fire ways to guarantee an argument framed around, “What are we?” or “Are we building something serious or not?” So beyond having clear communication, it is important to take advantage of being single and use that time to grow in all the ways you deem important. However, this constant girlfriend status (real or pseudo) does little to help this process. Nor does it help the women who think they are building something that is really all smoke and mirrors.

And if you can’t talk to your friends about real issues, why are they your friends to begin with?

In a word, get off the bosom fellas,

Stay up fam,

Categories:
friendships
blackmen
blackissues

The Weekly Dream: Things Fall Apart Pt. III

“Lust, can sometimes override trust…”
-Lupe Fiasco, Real

Growing up and being the oldest son, I was often called upon to share my things: clothes, toys and various hygiene products. Often, these are things I purchased with my own money. Therefore, I was extremely anal about their maintenance and placement. But it never failed, my brothers would always take my things without asking. And since it was not their property, the same level of care or stewardship was not exhibited. I would find my clothes, dirty, on the floor, things left all over the place or used up without being replenished. As anyone could imagine, this caused me to become 1.) Very protective of my things (which I am unto this day) 2.) Very reluctant in allowing anyone to use my belongings. In school, I learned early not to trust anyone, because everyone does not operate from a place of integrity.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a very trusting person and I want to trust people, but everyone does not value the things I value and vice versa. Sociologists call trust a function of a person’s belief in the benevolence and competence of the other party. People are more likely to forgive incompetence (e.g. ignorance) than a lack of benevolence (i.e. moral uprightness). It is this asymmetry of values that I believe is responsible for the suspicion that permeates our relationships. For example, if I know what you value, then there are only two outcomes: either I will respect and treasure your values or I will not. And then you know where you stand with me. In any event there must be communication, understanding and forgiveness when trust is broken.

The Foundation

Trust is the belief in the good character of one party, and their desire to fulfill their previous promises. As I have said before, trust is harder to come by than love. However, love without trust is just sound and fury, with no power behind it. Think about how many people you truly trust? There are two types of people in the world: the innocent until proven guilty crowd and the guilty until proven innocent consortium. The former are very trusting, until you cross them, then your name is mud. With the latter, it may take some time to gain them over, but once you have them, they will give you a little more rope to mess up. Which are you? Most of the time, you trust people to be themselves, based on your assessment of them.

A lack of trust is lock-and-step with unforgiveness. People may be able to forgive you, eventually, but when the trust is gone or damaged, it is almost impossible to get back. It is one thing to ask for forgiveness, it is quite another to asked to be restored to your former standing. That is truly an exercise in Christian/Agape love (see the story of the Prodigal Son).

Why? It goes back to how trust is formed. Trust takes time and experience to build. After you have assessed someone’s character and integrity, only then is it safe to be vulnerable around them. But when selfishness, negligence, or weakness enters into a relationship and is succumbed to, then trust is threatened.

In relationships, people make mistakes and people get hurt. Either people do not respond to you the way you would like them to, they might be flaky or moody, or just plain rude and inconsiderate. For whatever reason, people do things that make us hesitate in trusting them or dealing with them. Is it completely their fault or could you be to blame? Were your expectations set and are they realistic?

What is even more complicated is when you have done nothing wrong, but the other person does not trust you, therefore they hold back. It is hard for them to let go and trust your judgment or take your word. But you still want the relationship to work, you still want to deal with the person, so how do you rebuild/strengthen the trust?

It Aint Easy…

Regaining trust has a lot to do with redemption and restoration. There literally is a breach in the relationship that must be repaired in order to continue in the relationship. First, the person who was transgressed against must be open to the possibility of placing their trust in the person. As previously stated, unforgiveness and self-preservation will be the biggest obstacle to doing this. But if the person is not open to forgiving and trusting again, then it is a losing battle.

Next, take time to communicate earnestly and listen to each other. This way, you can see who the person really is and you lay the foundation to “reset” the relationship, when you catch a glimpse of the person’s heart and if they truly have your best interest.

On the other side, the transgressor must do everything to prove their consistency and steadfastness. And, hopefully, with time and God’s help, all will be well.

Fight the Good Fight…

Lack of trust is like brain cancer or a house without a foundation, it is only a matter of time before it is a wrap and the relationship is irretrievably broken. If the trust has been damaged, you must reassess everything to see if it is worth saving and if you can truly move past the hurt and suspicion. If you have healthy, trusting relationships in your life, guard them jealously, because once trust is gone, there is really little left. If you can bounce back from a breach in trust, then you will be closer than ever. There is nothing like the threat of losing something to make you cherish it.

Any relationship takes work, you must decide if it is worth it…

Life is too short to constantly be looking over your shoulders around the ones you love.

Forgive and love again-if it is worth it and with God’s help.

Truth and Peace,
Steven M DeVougas

Question of the Week: What lessons have you learned regarding trust and relationships?

Categories:
theweeklydream
trust

The Weekly Dream: Things Fall Apart Pt. II

“Love is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, love keeps no record of wrong”
1 Cor. 13:5

“Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

After communication, unforgiveness is the second reason most relationships fail. This is a big one for me, because I can hold a grudge forever. But unforgiveness is a major roadblock in the progression of relationships. Why? Because when you let someone in to your heart, you expect them to know better. So when they do something, you feel it that much more. And although you want to forgive them, it does take time and prayer.

I think of unforgiveness as having rocks in your book bag, it does not do anything but slow you down. Every time some one does something to you, and you do not forgive, it begins to wear on you. You become a prisoner to the past and eventually bitterness and resentment comes in. You can always tell when some one has not really gotten over something because when you get in an argument, they bring up the old stuff into the new conflict. They use words like “You always” or “You did this last time”. They still are mentally stuck in the past.

I believe that, if you forgive someone, you don’t bring it up again. If you can’t move past it, it may be better to let the relationship go, because it is not worth making both parties miserable. Personally, when people have hurt or betrayed me, I have to forgive them or leave them alone. That is the only way to truly heal some times. Still having trouble? Think of when you have done something wrong, what if God held everything you did over your head? As they say, “To err is human, but to forgive is divine.”

What are the hurts are grudges you are holding? As the saying goes, pick your battles. Is it really a big deal or are you sweating the small stuff? Will you care about this issue ten years from now? And if it bothers you that much, confront them. What do you want from the situation? An apology? A remedy? Communicate what you are looking for, say your peace and leave it alone. Easier said than done, right? Human nature, being the dark, vindictive beast it is, does not make this easy. For some reason, we want to hold on to the hurt, the pain, if we did not, we would let it go. But if we do not forgive, how can God forgive us?

Forgiveness does not immediately heal the pain, but it starts the process. And if we are going to continue to be in relationship with each other, the transgressor must do everything they can to help the other person forgive, and the other person must do all they can to forgive. Check those emotions at the door and put forth the effort. At the same time, forgiveness does not mean that you can keep doing the same thing over and over again, that is wicked and weak. Just because I am supposed to forgive you, does not give you free reign to exploit my niceness as weakness. I will forgive, but that does no mean I will keep dealing with you.

The Bible says that love covers a multitude of sin. Love makes forgiveness easy. If we truly love someone, we find t difficult to stay upset with them. People I cared about have lied to me and took me for granted, but the love I have for them keeps me in their corner.

Forgive them, for often, they do not know what they do. And pray for those that despitefully use you. Only then, can we be children of the Most High.

Keep working on it, I know I am.

Truth and Peace,
Steven M. DeVougas

Question of the Week: What has someone you love done to you that you either had to get past or you can’t get past?

Categories:
theweeklydream
steve
unforgiveness

I’m Going, Going, Back, Back, to Detroit, Detroit

I’m going home to the D tomorrow, and I’ll be home for a little under a week. I’m looking forward to this trip because it gives me a chance to see my fam, connect with your favorite SuperSpade Brandon Q., and see other friends and special people in my life.

Just like my other trips (to New Orleans, to Minnesota, and to Milwaukee), I will use this as an opportunity to look at issues effecting the places that I am visiting, in this case Detroit and it’s surrounding communities.

I’m looking forward to the opportunity to share what I observe and read what you all think.

One Love. One II.

Categories:
detroit
garlin
travel

Have you Registered?

Since I’m now pretty much settled into my new place, I finalized establishing myself as a resident of the State of Washington yesterday.  What does that mean?  I did three things:

1. Got a new Driver’s License
2. Switched my tags over for my car
3. Registered to vote

#3 is what I’m stressing here.  We’ve talked about ensuring that you are registered early before, and I want to re-iterate that point again today.  As the 7 Nov 2006 election draws near, please make sure that you are registered properly.  You can do so by going to sites like this to get the ball rolling.

With all of the talk of past election/voter fraud & intimidation that has happened in past elections, we have a choice between two reactions:

1. Behave as if pre-emptively defeated, and not vote
This is the whole “They’re gonna cheat anyway, so I might as well not bother.”  This is dangerous because it says that fear of election stealing in this case will lead to the paralysis of staying home on election day.  I know in my heart that we face challenges everyday, including election day.  Yet many most of us are able to work through these challenges and do what we need to do for ourselves and our families.  I submit to you that it is imperative to the well-being of you and your loved ones to vote your conscious and hold to account those who have misled you in the past.  I do not subscribe to the notion that those who have the opportunity and ability to voice their support of dissent of anything and chose not to are credible as critics.

2. Vote, believing that when we act collectively we are unable to be defeated
Here’s a secret: it’s a whole hell of a lot harder to steal a landslide than it is to steal a close election.  Why don’t we make these bastards take the election by having record turnout?  At the end of the day, I want to feel like I tried, like I said my piece, like I gave it a shot.  I don’t feel that there is anything wrong with that.  I am confident that if our people commit to voting, commit to becoming active participants in causes that affect them, commit to holding accountable those who have misled, mistreated, or misguided them, then we will be well on our way to understanding why voting matters.

I’m going with option 2 above.  If you disagree, tell me why.

One Love.  One II.

The Weekly Dream: Things Fall Apart Pt. I

“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

“Whoever talks the most, needs the relationship the most”

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to spend some time with my grandfather. We talked and as my grandparents’ forty-seventh wedding anniversary was around the corner, I asked him how he managed to stay with someone that long. Among the many reflections he shared with me, he said, “You have to make up your mind that this is where you want to be, and that the sacrifices you make are worth it.”

It is a conversation that stuck with me. I realized, and I have said before, that we do not have many examples of functional relationships. My generation is embarking upon life without knowing how to make a relationship that lasts. What will be the fallout? So I started thinking, if no one can tell me how to make a relationship work, then perhaps it would be instructive to discuss why relationships fall apart. And I am not just talking about romantic relationships, but any type of relationship, although romantic relationships lend themselves easily to analysis. The next five weeks will reflect my top five reasons for Why Things Fall Apart and how to combat relationship cancer.

1. Communication

Communication is the one of the primary culprits for relationships breaking down. As my brother Garlin is oft to say, “90% of relationship problems stem from a breakdown in communication”. Most of the time, someone has a need and it is not being met. Or there is a disagreement, and what ensues is an exercise in passive aggressiveness. This will only make matters worse. You should be able to communicate with your partners with complete and utter candor and honesty. My rule is that I am willing to discuss it once and then, I leave it alone.

What does it take to effectively communicate? First, it takes a skill that we all can improve upon: Active Listening. This type of listening is concerned with trying to understand where the other person is coming from. Next, there must be a sensitivity to the communication style of the person we are dealing with. In writing, the first rule is to tailor your message to your audience. You cannot come at everyone the same. To do so is asking for disaster, because it ignores the uniqueness of the people you are dealing with. Some people need to tough love, others need to be spoken to in soft tones. Whatever the approach, you want to make sure that you are not wasting your breath or your time. So it is best to strategize your approach so that you are heard. We are looking for more than an emotional release, we communicate to inspire change.

Lastly, there must be a willingness to communicate. Stereotypically, men hate the fact that women always want “to talk things out” and do not take the process seriously. However, I have met individuals of both sexes who hate “arguing” or “conflict” or “talking”. In other instances, they “shut down” and act cold, implementing the silent treatment. These individuals make a horrendous error. It takes a lot for someone to open up and to disregard that bravery leads to resentment and it also sends the wrong message. Even when you do not feel like talking, you have to talk. You might need some time to cool off or think, but do not make the mistake of being to busy or too hurt to resolve issues. Life is too short. If you are dealing with someone who does these things to you or who will not put their feelings to the side for the greater good, then as the saying goes, “shake the dust off your feet” and keep it moving. All you are going to get for your efforts is frustration.

Any relationship is a process, and communication is the lifeblood of relationships.

A closed mouth don’t get fed.

Truth and Peace,
Steven M DeVougas
Question of the Week: What communication challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

Education vNext, Part I: The Mental and The Cultural

The SuperSpade has dealt semi-tangentially with education at different points in time.  I thought [after having it suggested to me] that it’s be appropriate at this time, the beginning of the school year for most people, to give me perspectives on education going forward and it’s relevance and importance to our people, our community, and our future.

Many of my thoughts on this subject are included in this post.  My foundation for these thoughts/feelings is worth re-iterating: we have two-fold challenge that faces us on this issue.  We have mental & cultural issues in society at large and in minority communities that only value education as long as it has a payoff in dollars.  We also have institutional issues that not only create but perpetuate resource disparities between schools, creating challenges for students because not all schools are created equal. 

Though I do not believe that one of these is necessarily more important do the other, nor do I believe that we need to serialize the solving of these problems, I will address the mental & cultural challenges first. 

We [unfortunately] can many times only see value in things when their value is most easily measured in dollars and cents.  To put it bluntly, this is short-sighted and f*d up.  My closest mentor says it like this: “We need to flip ‘if it doesn’t make dollars then it doesn’t make sense’ to ‘if it only makes dollars then it doesn’t make sense.’”  What does that mean here?  That means that we must expand our actions and thoughts so that they are open to the notion that money is not the be all, end all.  One of the reasons that many people do not pursue education seriously or at all is because they are sure that they won’t make enough money from it.  Think about it.  Why do so many kids want to be doctors and lawyers (or more interestingly, why do some many parents want their kids to be doctors or lawyers)?  It ain’t because people admire and respect these profession so much (though they should).  It ain’t because every half-way articulate kid will make a good lawyer or detail-oriented kid a good doctor.  It is because both physicians and attorneys make lots of money, plain and simple.  What was the underlying theme behind every skit on Kanye West’s College Dropout album?  It was stupid to pursue [higher] education because you would be destined to be broke.  Now I am not naive enough to think that money does not exist, or wealthy enough to think that money is no object.  However, I am naive enough to believe that there is more to life than getting paid.  Why does this matter in this education discussion?  Ask somebody who hates their job, and they’ll tell you how happy their money does not make them.

We need to shift our perspective to things more personally and communally fulfilling than money.  This requires a change in how we look at ourselves and our own personal worth, as well as how we view our collective selves and collective worth.  I do not believe that individuals like Frederick Douglass and other slaves taught themselves how to read because they were trying to get paid.  Do you think slaveholders outlawed reading being taught to slaves because they were scared slaves would get rich off of it?  NO!!!  They did so because they knew, rather, they mentally and culturally embraced the value and power of being able to read.  I use reading here as a proxy for education in general; the notion is still the same.

How did we allow this anti-educational, anti-intellectual demon to pervade our hearts, minds, and spirits?  We got focused on the wrong stuff.  This is partly our doing, and it was partly done to us.  One cannot responsibly ignore the fact that when something is withheld from a person (e.g. freedom of expression, access to money), there is a tendency to over-indulge in that which was withheld upon receiving it.  That is part of the reason why when we ‘come up’ from being broke, we buy cars with big rims (whole ‘nother discussion).  My question is, why didn’t that sustainably occur when educational access was open to us?  We saw it happen in spurts in american history (post-Emancipation, post-Reconstruction, post-Civil Rights Movement, post-Affirmative Action), but the trends slowed to a crawl after these upticks.  Why is it that our thirst for material “wealth” outlasts our thirst for mental, or any other form of wealth?  Did we make that number one, or did someone else lie to us and tell us that was what was most important?  The answer is both.

What should we focus on instead?  We need to redefine what success means, what happiness means, what fulfillment means.  I challenge all ‘educated’ folks as well as those currently pursuing/seeking education to examine ourselves to find what our motivation(s) for education really were.  You may find that there was more to it than getting paid.  If that is not the case, are you happy with your decision?  If that is the case, I challenge you to share these motivations with students, telling them what fulfilled you.  Get a mentee and tell them why education was important to you outside of the financial payoff.  The message here is that we need to do a better job of communicating the non-financial benefits to education in order to make it more holistically attractive.

We also as a collective need to understand delayed gratification as opposed to the hedonistic, instant gratification that society embraces so readily.  Understanding that there is more to life than today, and that what you do today can have positive implications not only tomorrow but in the following decades as well.  The challenge is that some of the alternatives to education have instant gratification characteristics, especially when it comes to money.  What need’s to be communicated is that education’s financial benefits, although somewhat delayed, are real and sustainable, much more so than it’s alternatives.  We need to expand our perspectives.  This is challenging, but it can be done.  Try this: the next time you converse with a young person considering leaving school, ask them why they are leaving.  Then, ask them why they think it might benefit them if they stay.  As many times as I’ve done this, I’ve never had a conversation where the answer to these two questions did not overlap.  Why does that matter?  It matters because it says that many people on some level do at least know education is ‘good.’  Our goal then should be to remove all of the crap that makes it un attractive and that distracts students from it.  That means addressing institutional challenges to education…

This post is getting longer than I anticipated, so I will break here and deal with institutional challenges later.

One Love.  One II.

More than Twin Tragedies

This morning marks the 5th year since the infamous 11 September 2001.  Less than two weeks ago, we marked the 1st year since the Hurricanes that ravaged the Gulf Coast of the United States.  These twin tragedies will live in our hearts and mines for generations to come because of the before-then-unfathomable loss of life, before-then-unfathomable governmental reactions, the unrelenting support, sympathy, and empathy of the citizenry, and the uncanny resiliency of the individuals who experienced these events first hand.

While reverencing and respecting these happenings, I ask the following questions: is this all that I need to remember?  Aren’t there other tragic things that have occurred in this world that should have altered my thinking and world-view for the rest of my life? My answer here is an emphatic YES.

Minorities and the once Native Majority in this hemisphere have dealt with devastation, terror, and genocide since its invasion.  During these times, people have shown the same resiliency as my fellow american citizens showed 5 years ago today.  Why do we not take the time to look back upon these people and the events of their lives?  Why do they not get the phrase “Day of Infamy” attached to their tragedies?  Wasn’t the day the Caribbean Islands were invaded a “Day of Infamy,” marking the beginning of a genocide over 600 years and still continuing to this day?  Wasn’t the day the areas surrounding Plymouth Rock were invaded a “Day of Infamy,” marking the beginning of a genocide that has lasted nearly 400 years and still continuing to this day?  Wasn’t every single instance of a Black person in this country being lynched a “Day of Infamy,” a chilling symbol of the hatred that has burned in closet of this country that still rears its ugly head from time-to-time today?

Let’s go international.  Isn’t everyday genocide continues in Darfur another “Day of Infamy,” a current demonstration of this world’s inability to act when the victims of atrocities are brown or Black?  Wasn’t it a “Day of Infamy” when hopeless individuals took out their frustration and aggression on school children in Russia?  Wasn’t it a “Day of Infamy,” in 2005 when two French boys were murdered by the police, inciting the riots in that country.

Obviously, there are countless other examples, making it impossible to list them here.  My call is for us to do two four things today:

1. Pay homage & respect to the victims of the 9/11 tragedy, their families, and the people who risked & gave their lives on that day and the years that have followed.  Remember where you were.  Remember what you were doing.  Remember what you did to help out.  Share these things here with us.

2. Pay homage & respect to the victims of Hurricanes Katrina & Rita, their families, and the people who risked & gave their lives during those days in 2004 and the time since then.  Remember where you were.  Remember what you were doing.  Remember what you did to help out.  Share these things here with us.

3. Do some homework.  Investigate other things that have happened in this world during your lifetime?  After studying, you may find more things than these twin tragedies that will alter your perspective.  Share these things here with us.

4. Pay attention to this world we live in.  Look at more than what’s in front of your own two eyes.  There are more people in this world, more placed in this world, and more things in this world that we are connected to, that effect us, and that we need to have in mind when approaching this world every time we awake from our slumbers.  We owe it to ourselves and to the victims of all tragedies to remember what happened to them, and act in ways that prevent tragedy in the future.

One Love. One II.

A love poem to Detroit…

What’s up fam, as most of you may know, I was born and raised in Detroit and I am very proud to let this be known. But this weekend, I experienced my city in a way that was truly breathtaking. As a result, I was inspired to write a poem that speaks to my feelings towards “The D,” but it can be applied to people every where struggling for hope where there is so much despair. Enjoy.

So I dillied, dallied, I ran through the alley
Throughout my hometown
Some call it Motown

Known for crime, soul music, and bad boys
Diddy don’t run the city
We create visions because we can’t afford toys

Looking at the stats, most folks will say,
“Detroit throw in the rag,”
But when our time comes
They will say, “Is that the city formerly known as…?”
And we will say, “We always knew, where were you?”

Our time is now and you might now even know it
This job is for grown folk
Not defined by age but tested by the heart

Our Katrina was long and drawn out
Lost jobs, poor schools,
It’s almost like a perpetual hope drought

Drowning in our wallows
We adapted and grew gills
Like deep sea fish, we don’t need the sun
We need the Son
Because when it all goes down, we look to the hills

When the system lets us down we go underground for support
But with no subways, we ride each other’s dreams
Knowing that in the end if we are to succeed,

We have to rise above the pettiness
And below the surfaces
Asking God for His help to change our present and future circumstances

Stay up Detroit,

Brandon Q.

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