Charity & The Complainer

Last night I went to a benefit tennis match featuring Venus and Serena Williams here in Seattle. They played at Key Arena, home of the Seattle SuperSonics and Storm basketball franchises. They played at 7.30 PM to a 3/4 packed house. The crowd was typical of Seattle, all types and colors of individuals came to support, and there were a lot of kids there to enjoy the evening. The cause was the Ronald McDonald House, to which 100% of the ticket sales & concessions went. The evening began with the national anthem by Jon Secada followed by four of his own songs. THAT WAS TERRIBLE. He was followed by a saxaphonist whose claim to fame was he was the first artists signed to Michael Jordan’s recording label. Who knew Michael Jordan had a record label?!?!?! He was OK. Finally, the tennis began. The match was fun, Serena won in straight sets 6-4, 6-4. Venus appeard to have more fun than Serena, though she lost. They both began sluggishly, but the competition got real once they both decided they didn’t want the other one to win.

I bring this event up for a few reasons. First, I was happy to see two of the best tennis players in the world. I’m happy that two of the best tennis players in the world are black women. More importantly, I like seeing professionals involved in community focused activities that leverage their God-given talents. Notice the ommission in the previous sentence; it’s not a typo. Professionals need to be involved in community focused activities. We hear/see/participate in all to often the practice of what we think another individual should be doing. Service work is no different. The same people that spend time not giving of their time complain about celebrities who do the same. The same people who do not donate money to legitimate causes balk at celebrities who don’t give money, or more commonly enough money to suit their tastes. Currently, I am reading “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen (which will be covered in detail as the first book in the coming SuperSpade Books seriese, so stay tuned), and that book drives home the notion of what my friend and mentor G. Harden refers to as “self-defeating attitudes and behaviors.” Individuals who subscribed to the previously stated judgemental notions from their armchair of hypocrisy must understand that it is that spiteful and vagrant mentality that produces individuals who don’t “give enough.”

Examples and applications of this are quite clear. One of these individuals who is doing this complaining let’s say, may have children. Children are great at many things, but they are perhaps best at imitating their maternal and fraternal educators known as mom and dad. As a result, children often have frightening similarities to those that bore them. One of those similarties that gets passed on is often what we have described above: talking about what another individual does or does not do while at the same time remaining idle. It is this attitude of self-perpetuating slothfulness that [in part] contributes to problems that people bring upon themselves. If I complain about something long enough, that’s what I get. People think that it works in the opposite direction, but I don’t believe so. If you complain about people not giving, they are not then inclined to give. Guilt is one of the worst motivators available in our arsenals of persuassion, yet it is one that we readily employ. When was the last time someone tried to guilt you into something? How did it make you feel? Did it compel you to act, or did it strike up feelings of resentment? This works on many levels. I believe my friend and brother Malcolm X, who was in support of reparations (see quote here at the bottom of the page), was not in favor of idle question asking.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The law does not say that for every complaint, there is a response in favor of the complainer. Think about that the next time someone else is not doing “enough” by your standards. Are you?


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

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