Three Things I Want You to Know – 11/21

This week was rough ya’ll. I’m thinking about taking a break from social media including blogging. I realized that I am too empathetic and this is causing me to get discouraged in humanity. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind. Wondering what is going on in this world.

So, my three things that I want you to know this weekend are based off some of the things that are floating around on Facebook and in the media.

  1. Black women are not responsible for all the ills of the world. We are not solely responsible for raising our children. It takes two. Black women love themselves and I will admit that all of us have issues. Everyone, not just black women, but to say that we lack self-love and therefore we teach our sons the same thing so they have no regards for life is a fallacy that needs to stop being circulated. Instead, I implore you to change your environment and become mentors to children that don’t have a father or mother in the home and stop making blanketed statements about black women. I am a black woman and I am raising a son with no man in the house. He will be fine. Many other black boys will be too.
  2. I’m a black person. A black woman. I am not giving my black card back to the quasi-pro black police because I changed my Facebook picture in support of solidarity to the lives lost on Friday, November 13th. I know France’s history and I also know the history of the U.S. We’re no better. I can have sympathy for the tragedies that occurred in a country where my son is learning to speak their language. A place where I plan to visit in the next couple of years. To a country that has seen more tragedies than many of us can imagine. But, I’m still black. According to The New York Times there are approximately 8 million blacks living in Europe and I can support whoever the heck I want because first and foremost I am a child of God. I pray for everyone regardless of their race, nationality, religion or sexual preference.
  3. This grandstanding on not letting Syrian refugees in our country is getting on my last dang nerve. Who are you? Dang, didn’t we steal this country from the Native Americans? Aren’t we refugees? Not everyone is a terrorist and not everyone who is a Muslim is a potential threat. We have to stop this foolishness. We are a country that loves our guns but can’t stop the American terrorists who were born and raised in America from shooting up schools, killing children or blowing up government buildings and we think we are safe? These people are running from the wars in their country and seeking refuge. Hell, I want to seek refuge sometimes because I’m scared of a radical American shooting up schools. We have to stop acting like we care about people and tie it to other issues of social injustices. Separate them. Attack them one at a time. If you are not part of the solution, step the heck back and stop being a part of the problem.

Rant over.

Have a great weekend loves!

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Baltimore Blues

I am hurt over the destruction that is occurring in Baltimore. We have to be an advocate for change and nothing comes from rioting. I understand the injustices that occur in our community. I am a black woman raising a black son, but to sit here and destroy your community serves no purpose. I will not co-sign with someone who says it’s anger manifested and it serves a purpose. It does not. Because those same folks are sitting at home typing on their computers unaffected. They are not going to bring their happy butts down to Baltimore to clean up what you messed up. Stop fooling yourself.

I grew up poor. I’m not rich. Just because I don’t live in Baltimore doesn’t mean that I can’t empathize with your struggle, but burning down your community is not the answer. Haven’t we learned from the Detroit Riots, Rodney King Riots, Newark Riots and Watts Riots? What happens? The same issues you are supposedly fighting against still continue only you’ve brought down your property value and oops, no one vacations in Detroit. Money is lost. Everything in America is about economics. Will the 16 CVS stores that suffered reopen in the affected neighborhoods? Maybe or maybe not. What if they make a decision not to reopen? How will residents get their prescriptions? Not just the young people, but the elderly who walk to their local CVS? To assume people have insurance to rebuild, buy another car or fix their property damages in an already dilapidated area is to assume from the comfort of your home that they may not truly be poor. Because a lot of poor people are in essence “riding dirty” and don’t have insurance.

baltimore-riots-10People know better which is why I support the mother that whooped her son’s butt. I’m a mother. I didn’t raise you like this. Read a book and learn from our history. Are you a rioter or are you a social agent for change?

Note: To see the video, please click on the title of the post if you are viewing it in your email.

Black Lives Matter: Walter Scott

By now you’ve all heard of Walter Scott and the horrific way in which he was gunned down on Saturday, April 4, 2015. If you haven’t seen the video, I encourage you to watch it here:

Now, what’s interesting is that after high-profile incidents in the news (Cleveland, Ohio and Ferguson, Missouri) you would have thought that all officers are on a training schedule to talk about excessive force. But, apparently that is wishful thinking. Why must we keep trying to hashtag #blacklivesmatter to remind people that racism is still occurring in this country? Why do we insist on turning a blind eye and saying that we don’t see color. Let me be clear then…You don’t see me.

Because if you see me. You would see a black woman. You would see a black mother who loves her black son. You would see a curvy black woman with more booty than she wants to admit. You would see a smart black woman with a laugh that is rich, full and loud. You would see a nerdy black woman. You would see me. To say that you don’t see color means that you don’t see me.

You’re just sitting on the sidelines and ignoring the injustices that continue to occur in my community. Mine. I live in Maryland, not South Carolina. But, he is a black man who was murdered. I am raising a black son. Hopefully, my munch will grow up to be a black man. I’ve shared with you my fear that I have to teach him things that my friends who are not black don’t have to teach their children. You know things like:

  • If pulled over, always be respectful. Yes sir. No sir. Don’t ever be disrespectful.
  • You may be humiliated son by someone who doesn’t like you for the color of your skin, but let him humiliate you. I know it will hurt and it will break my heart that the humiliation is akin to the ones your ancestors suffered in slavery, but take it baby. I want you to live.
  • Always memorize a badge number and name.
  • Don’t have more than one other black male in the car with you. Too many black boys and people may get scared.

It’s a shame. We shouldn’t have to prepare our black boys for this horrific world. They’re boys. They’re children. They’re loved. They’re wanted. They’re needed. How come people can’t see that?

Walter Scott was arrested before. Mainly for unpaid child support and not showing up to court. He wasn’t a saint, but who is? Are we to determine that he deserved to be shot down 8 times in the back like a dog? Are we really going to play innocent and think that he deserved to die? That his children deserve this? His mother? His siblings?

No one deserves this. Thankfully, the officer that shot him, Michael Slager, was arrested and charged with first degree murder last week. This is progress right? A step in the right direction.

Time Magazine released their latest cover to bring light to the fact that this is still an issue. That #blacklivesmatter and we need to stop the senseless gunning down of black men. There is a war out there people! I pray that our government will get involved in trying to curtail some of this violence by allowing the federal government to investigate questionable deaths among police officers.

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Glory

Psalm 3:3 New King James Version (NKJV)

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.

If you haven’t seen the movie “Selma” by now, please go check it out. It is a phenomenal film whereby you sit and watch and think that is only 50 years later and we are still fighting some of the injustices that occurred then. But, then you realize that then is now and we are living in a perpetual cycle trying to bring light to the injustices that are still affecting us as a people. Have we truly overcome?

I’m not a proponent of violence. I support equality in every way. But, I don’t want us to sit back and not think that there is still work to be done. Until everyone is treated equally, we will always have situations like Ferguson. I know some people may think, “Why do you care? You’re not like Michael Brown.” No. I am not. I’m also not Eric Garner or Renisha McBride. But, I am my my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper. What affects them…affects me. We are all interconnected.

You truly saw this if you watched the Oscar’s Sunday night and saw the performance of “Glory” by John Legend and Common. It was better than hearing it at the end of “Selma”. It was a powerful song (that did win the Oscar for original best song) that gave you vivid images of things as they were and still are.

“Selma is now for every man, woman and child. Even Jesus got his crown in front of a crowd. They marched with the torch we gon run with it now” – Common

Note: If you can’t see the above video, please click on the title of this email to see the video of John Legend and Common performing this song on my website.

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Happy Birthday MLK!

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. He would have been 87. He was an activist, humanitarian and a leader in the Civil Rights movement. He was a part of history. A brilliant but flawed man that believed in equal rights in a non-violent way.

I saw Selma last month and I am encouraging each of you to see and support this wonderful film. From the opening to the closing of this film, you will be moved. It is a film that speaks relevance to things that are occurring today in this world.

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No More

No more please. No more killing of our black babies and offering up excuses. I’m tired. As a mother to a black boy, this is my deepest fear. A fear that he will not be here on this Earth all the days of my life because of senseless violence. I mean Michael Brown and Ferguson is still fresh in my mind and now we hear about Tamir Rice? How could this happen?

A boy. A baby. Not even a teenager. A child. He is six years older than my son. He is a black boy. He is someone’s son. He is not going to go on his first date. He will not go to his prom. He will not graduate high school. He will not go to college. He will not get married. He will not be a father. He is dead.

How does this happen? Why are our children being used as target practice. No more. I can’t take it. I have a son. I don’t let him play with guns. I don’t let him play video games. I don’t allow him to play alone any where. I organize play dates and I organize outings. Why? Because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that he will be used as target practice and there is nothing no one will be able to tell me.

I’m crying. Literally writing this piece with tears rolling down my face. I’m scared. Scared of looking into the eyes of my son and knowing that because he is a black boy that no matter what I do to prepare him to not be viewed as a threat, he may be killed senselessly by law enforcement. This is heartbreaking to me.

To make matters worse, how the heck can someone like former Mayor of NYC Rudy Giuliani even justify cops killing blacks by saying that “White police officers wouldn’t be in black neighborhoods, killing black men, if you weren’t killing each other.” Are you kidding me? Why would you even say that? To say that our tax dollars don’t buy us the right to have officers serve and protect without killing us or using the stop-and-frisk method because of the color of our skin is of true offense.

Understand this…I mourn all deaths due to senseless violence. But let’s get real, if my son was murdered by someone who is not a law enforcement official we would hopefully see some sort of justice. If it is law enforcement that murders him then the odds that something will happen are slim to none. He will still be dead and his murderer will be free.

My plea is simple:  Please stop killing our children. Please stop murdering my brothers, fathers, cousins and uncles. Please stop protecting those that kill the innocent. Please prosecute those who kill our children. I will go home and be able to kiss my munch, listen to him tell me about his day at school, listen to him tell me how he can’t wait to go to his grandma’s house for Thanksgiving and listen to him tell me that he loves me tonight. I will get to put him asleep, kissing his forehead and sending prayers of thanks to God for another day with him. Tamir’s parents do not have that luxury. They will have to plan a funeral.

Tamir Rice
Tamir Rice

 

Guess Who Got Published on MBB?

Happy Friday Folks!

If you haven’t heard, I was honored to get an article published on one of my favorite blogs…MyBrownBaby (yep, one word). MyBrownBaby is an incredible blog started by Denene Millner who states that “MyBrownBaby isn’t about pointing fingers at or putting down white moms. It’s about helping black moms. It’s also about providing a service for those who need the information but can’t find it or who just want someone to commiserate with them—help them sort through the beautiful struggle that comes with being black parents in America.” You love it right?

It’s a great blog with a wealth of information, articles, tips and stories from both men and women about children. I have been following along for the last couple of years. So, in light of #domesticviolenceawareness I decided to share my story in hopes of getting it published and bringing home what I’ve been sharing all month with you.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Domestic Violence is a topic that is close to my heart. I’ve shared more with you than I’ve shared with my own family. (I guess you guys/gals are my family). This writing has been therapeutic for me and I’ve grown through it. Which is incredibly helpful. Well, I decided to submit an article for publication earlier this month and I got notified on Wednesday that it was accepted and went live. I am overjoyed and I hope you have a chance to check out my latest piece and to subscribe to this incredible blog!

Click here for my post –  Suffer the Little Children: The Effects of Domestic Violence on Kids

Be blessed loves!

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Ferguson – Day 12

The community of Ferguson, Missouri is still experiencing civil unrest and my news and social media feeds are being dominated by all the activity. One of the things that I feel has occurred is that we keep forgetting the reason why we are protesting… The death of an unarmed young man. There are too many unanswered questions and journalists want to sensationalize the actions of a few misguided and misinformed protesters than focus on this issue. Ask the questions. Why did he die? Why did Officer Darren Wilson shoot him when he said he was unarmed? Why did his body lay in the streets for four hours? Why did the police chief release footage to try and discredit or taint this man’s reputation? Why did the governor allow tear gas and smoke bomb canisters to be deployed? Why did the governor issue a curfew? Why are people trying to say that because Michael Brown attended an alternative school he was somehow shady? Why haven’t the police interviewed Michael Brown’s friend that walking with him? Why are there conflicting stories about what truly happened?

You see? A lot of unanswered questions.

Please read the timeline by USA Today and watch the video below in which Jessie Williams, actor, discusses his outrage over the media’s coverage of Michael Brown.

And I think this tweet explains how I feel at the moment…

Is Ferguson a case of class warfare?

Ferguson, Missouri the scene of Michael Brown’s death last week has been put on the map. The New York Times reported that Ferguson has about 21,000 residents, in which 63% are black. There are 33% white and 3% other. What is interesting about this town (which is 20 minutes outside of St. Louis) is the fact that 92% of arrests are black residents and 86% of all stops are black residents. Astounding statistics, but I’m not surprised. In any small town populated by majority of blacks you probably will see the trend where the color of the police force doesn’t match the residents. With all the things that have happened and continue to happen in Ferguson since Michael Brown’s death, I’m left wondering is the bigger issue more of class than race?

The situation in Ferguson has escalated since the August 9th shooting. Last week the police chief released a video showing a “robbery” that the victim, Michael Brown, allegedly committed before he was shot. Michael Brown hadn’t even been buried yet. The police chief was trying to show cause for the officer shooting Brown. But, that video did nothing but escalate the tensions in an already ticking time bomb city. People were angry. The fact that the police chief seems incompetent has furthered their rage. So, in comes the governor trying to restore the order of things and he in fact makes it worse. He decides to set a curfew. He wanted to curb the civil unrest. But, tear gas and smoke into the crowds only made matters worse. On Sunday night, some protesters became violent and attacked the officers with firebombs and gunfire. Why? Don’t we need to focus on the issue? So, of course the governor announced yesterday that he will deploy the National Guard to restore order.

Last week, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and I asked the question, what do you think about the situation in Ferguson? I told him, that I dread having to teach my son that he should always be respectful of others, but especially officers because I don’t want him “viewed as a suspect” and gunned down. His response…

“The problem with the “making sure our young men are respectable” argument is that Police target Black youth regardless. In fact they are targeting anyone they don’t think comes from wealth. While the media has made many of these incidents simply about race it points to a bigger problem of class warfare against lower income citizens. It just so happens that in this country the Black community for the most part is on the low end of the economic scale. This is why many Police have little regard for us. They’ll think someone White is more likely to have a higher income than a minority regardless of appearance. Go to any country and the citizens the Police abuse the most are poor people.

The only way Blacks can help stop these attacks and protect our civil rights is to have a greater economic base as a community that wields more influence on the Political Landscape and Legal system. The community is always so divided and selfish on so many levels that anything that would require cooperation and sharing is virtually impossible for us.

I just had a debate with a young guy on twitter. He doesn’t agree it’s about economics and thinks it’s just about skin color. I tried to explain that it’s deeper than that. If we had more power as a community then police would have to reform 1.Hiring practices 2.Police Procedures 3.Punishments for misconduct. A community only can push to get reforms through if they have economic weight. We don’t have any. We’re still the red headed stepchild of the US. We just have sprinkles of wealth among a few individuals but that’s it. We have trillions of dollars in spending power but it gets wasted on short term materialistic nonsense instead of being put to long term viable use. We’ve been playing Checkers for years and reacting instead of playing Chess and thinking steps ahead trying to proactively nip things in the bud.”

Deep huh? I thought so too. Another conversation with my girlfriends last night about Ferguson had me thinking that maybe my friend’s point of view had merit. She said, “The situation in Ferguson is being tainted by all the looters instead of the real issue which is the fact that this young man was shot. These people are not exercising their judicial rights of voting the people that they want in office. They can always write a letter to their attorney general for all the problems that they are facing with regards to the police.” I pondered her statement and then responded, “But how many black people know that?” I told her what my friend said, “This is a bigger issue than race, it is a class issue and how many of us in the middle class are doing enough to educate the lower class on their rights?”

Black people have gotten away from the grassroots efforts that we use to utilize in the 1950’s and 1960’s when we were fighting for Civil Rights and fair housing in our own communities. We began to create silos and sectioned ourselves from those who didn’t have as much as we did: money, education, connections. We became the haves and have nots. Our education became the fundamental difference between us and others. We moved into our big homes in neighborhoods that weren’t predominately black and started going to exclusive black clubs. We became bougie and disengaged from our brethren who couldn’t move out of the hood. Whether it be lack of economics or education, we didn’t try to bridge the gap of each one teach one.

Ferguson is not just a race issue but one of class warfare. Class warfare is defined on Dictionary.com as “the struggle for political and economic power carried on between capitalists and workers.” Isn’t this what my friend was just saying? Isn’t that the point of my girlfriend’s argument? Deeper than race. It’s economics and politics. Just last week, Peter Mccoy, wrote an article for Bloomberg Businessweek in which he said

“The map of St. Louis County, the home of Ferguson, looks like a shattered pot. It’s broken into 91 municipalities that range from small to tiny, along with clots of population in unincorporated areas. Dating as far back as the 19th century, communities set themselves up as municipalities to capture control of tax revenue from local businesses, to avoid paying taxes to support poorer neighbors, or to exclude blacks. Their behavior has ranged from somewhat parochial to flatly illegal.”

Class warfare right? But is there anything that we can do to change this? Probably not, because the issue is deeper than the poor blacks or poor whites in this country but one that unites us based on income levels. The richer have better opportunities to ensuring that their voices are being met because more money = more political power. I read this great article by Bill Moyers titled “The Great American Class War” whereby he talked about interviewing former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan about a documentary that he was doing for public television and how Justice Brennan worried about the “looming size of government”. This quote in the article about a speech that Justice Brennan made that went to the heart of the matter. He said:

“We do not yet have justice, equal and practical, for the poor, for the members of minority groups, for the criminally accused, for the displaced persons of the technological revolution, for alienated youth, for the urban masses… Ugly inequities continue to mar the face of the nation. We are surely nearer the beginning than the end of the struggle.”

So, can anything be done? Are we stuck in a class war that is brewing over and showing its ugly head in small town America? In an area, like Ferguson, will we continue to see the problems that America keeps trying to sweep under it’s rug because poor blacks don’t have the financial backing to ensure that their government elected officials are working for them? In an urban area, do we have to institute more grassroots efforts to educate the poorer classes on their rights and not just during election time?

We can’t let what we know and perceive to be true push us as a community to loot or be involved in illegal activities in spite of the misguided efforts of the elected government officials. Don’t resort to violence or you will forget that the point of the peaceful protests is to shed light on the injustices that occurred in that small town. The wheels of justice are slow, but they work as long as we are diligent and active and not combative to law enforcement. Remember, united as one, we shall overcome someday.

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My Black Son Has A Name

As many of you can probably tell from my previous posts that I immensely love my son Brennan. What mother wouldn’t?  He is my beautiful baby boy. A gift from God and each day I thank God for allowing me to be the vessel to carry and birth him knowing that he belongs to me for only a limited time, but he belongs to God for a lifetime.  But, I have a confession…I’m scared for my son.

Growing up in a post George Zimmerman/Michael Dunn era I fear for my son’s life.  I fear having to tell my loving 5 year old son when he grows up that there are rules he must follow because of the color of his skin.  I have to not only teach him how to read and write, but also how to look for verbal cues and to not respond.  See the color of his skin makes him a threat.  People may lock their doors and roll up their windows when they see him walking down the streets.  He can’t wear street clothes that show his individual style sense in some neighborhoods because he will be labeled a thug.  Keep your music low son and your smile friendly.  You are black and your skin color will make some people feel uncomfortable.  His skin, the color of caramel candy and my Venti iced coffee with so much cream will give some folks reason to pause.  His black skin, my black skin, his father’s black skin. Black. He is still black.

Blacks have made significant strides since slavery, but the struggle still continues.  Black boys are dying everyday with suspect circumstances and I won’t let that be him. His life means so much to me that I have to keep pressing him.  Keep him in school where he will learn to speak French fluently and Mandarin (hopefully) by the time he graduates.  Add physical activities such as soccer and swimming that will make him well rounded.  Begin horse back riding lessons this summer only to help him appear to be a well-rounded non-threatening IBM (Ideal Black Man). The kind that you want to hire after he graduates from Harvard or MIT.  The kind that you will find employable. Because let’s face it…times have changed.  He is growing up in a country post Enron and the Wall Street bailout where corporate corruption has left the little person struggling to find a break and the unemployment rate is higher for black males than any other group. I will not lose him to the streets has been my battle cry since I looked into his beautiful brown eyes for the first time and realized he was mine.  My black son.

I will keep up my vigilance to protest the injustices of our children all the while having to…

  • Teach Brennan that racism still exists and even though you are loved by friends and family that are not black, not everyone will love you. Some will even fear you…because you are black.
  • Stand by Brennan when he gets his driver’s license because I will have to explain racial profiling.
  • Check on Brennan throughout the night to make sure that he is soundly sleeping in his room because I will worry about him when he goes out with friends.
  • Downplay to Brennan the real reason that I pushed him into Tae Kwan Do and boxing at an early age.  (I wanted him to learn to walk away from all fights, but to use what you’ve learned as a last resort to defend himself against those who want to harm him).
  • Teach Brennan how to respect the police and bridle his tongue because I don’t want him beaten for anything that could be justified as resisting arrest.
  • Teach Brennan that even though he is a descendant of kings, he is a black boy who will grow up and become a black man with a bulls-eye on his back because of the color of his skin.

But, I won’t give up.  I will keep pushing forward to not only teach him about God, Martin Luther King Jr., Booker T. Washington, President Barack Obama and many more extraordinary black men who in history have made an impact, but to teach him that like James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed unless it’s faced”.  My black son has a name and it’s Brennan.

 

This spoken word artist captures some of the feelings and fears that I face every day with knowledge that I’m raising a black son. Jasmine Mans – Black Son.

 

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