I am very happy to announce that I am currently being featured as a guest writer for The New Tri-State Defender Newspaper. the article features a detailed chronicle of Sandra Bland's death through social media. You can check the article out at:
"It is not because angels are holier than men or devils that makes them angels, but because they do not expect holiness from one another, but from God only."
Angels are not holier than men or devils. Men wait on angels to come. Men panic at the devils they create. We wait on God to come. We wait on miracles to happen. We do not choose to be angels or miracles when we have the power and authority to create both. Carrie was my angel. I have battled severe depression all my life and we met at a point, where honestly I had very little to be proud of. Carrie Marie Stewart created miracles everyday. We connected over lesson plans and plotting on how to retain scholars that would be drop outs from my high school into her classes to complete GED and alternate young adult classes to provide an opportunity for a brighter future. The beauty of Carrie was that she never complained about the burden of her wings, she just carried them. She never complained about how many friends thought they were the closest. We all were. She made us all believe that in our times that we were the most important. That was the miracle of Carrie! Her Asian slanted eyes and sharp eyebrows piercing you with the absolute truth. With Carrie she had a profound ability to rip you apart and rebuild you in the exact same sentence while asking you when will you choose to not indulge in drama?
We kissed once or twice. I can't remember the count. Most were pecks on the cheeks but one Valentine's day we really kissed. It was a exquisite kiss of softness and truth with intention and purpose. I asked her, "Why did you kiss me?" She told me, "I wanted you to remember that love does not hurt." She then quickly friend zoned me. We giggled at our awkwardness for the next few weeks. She was my biggest cheerleader for relationships and my ride or die QUEEN Petty when they broke my heart. That in itself is really who she is. She never cared about what she received but always about what she was giving. I found the truest pursuit of happiness is not in being personally happy but in the completion and ability to make others. Carrie taught me that. Right after her stroke almost, a year ago we sat and giggled. I poked fun at her mom and her for keeping me secret. She said, "You not my man." I told her, "Well, I'm here you better hold my hand and like it woman." She lay there smiling, fighting, and being Carrie: irritated that WE would not go home to be comfortable. Many friends came to visit. Many did not. All of us had our reasons. It's hard to see Superwoman down. It makes us realize how fragile we really are and how much we needed her to be Superwoman.
I don't know what lies beyond those stars: Heaven, Paradise, Science, Reincarnation, Existence, or something we have yet to define. I do know this though, whatever it is, Carrie is enjoying the best of it. She deserved it after the work she put in here on Earth.
Thank-you to the family and all her BEST friends. I am sure we all think that we are the one. But to the truest of friends and family thank-you for sharing her with us for these precious moments.
LIVE, LAUGH, AND LOVE.
Poet, Activist, Speaker, Father, Writer, Blogger
#7PD #SEVENPOWERFULDAYS #CHANGEtheNARRATIVE #STRONGBLACKWOMAN #COMMUNITYUPLIFT #LOVE #FORCARRIE #CAREBEAR #FRIENDSHIP
“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
― Frederick Douglass
A few days ago, I became increasingly frustrated with social media and its depictions of African- American males. After a few online debates, it dawned on me that we should change the narrative. Frederick Douglass once stated, "Once your learn to read, you will be forever free." The question is what are we reading? Too often the images and stories portrayed about us, aren't written by us. We (African-Americans) do not own any of the major television stations or networks. Our reach is just currently even beginning to dent media ownership. So how do we change the narrative? Simple. From January 12, 2016 to January 19, 2016: I am requesting my friends around the globe to share this #7PD. For seven Powerful Days, share positive stories about African- American males and females doing outstanding work. Shine the light on our positive. I dare you to help make this go viral as quickly as the twerking, fighting, cussing, ice water challenges. For Seven Days, will you help change the narrative? Use the hashtag #7PDCHALLENGE or #7PD. Join me in changing the narrative. -Urban Thoughts
60 YEAR AGO TODAY: An African- American young man, Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was violently murdered by Bryant and Milam in Mississippi at the young age of 14, after reportedly flirting/ whistling at or to a white woman depending on the version relayed by those present.
Till was from Chicago, visiting his relatives in Mississippi in the Delta region, when he spoke to then 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married store owner of a small grocery store there. Several nights later, Bryant's husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam went to Till's great-uncle's house. They kidnapped Emmett Till away to a barn, where they beat him, gouged out one of his eyes, tortured him, shooting him through the head and finally dumping his body in the Tallahatchie River. The murderers weighted Emmett Till’s body down with a 70-pound cotton gin fan that was tied around his neck with barbed wire. Emmett was dragged into the river by the weight around his neck and left. Three days later, Till's body was discovered and retrieved from the river.
In a profound moment, Emmet Till’s mother Mamie Till decided to have an open casket funeral so that the world could see the horrors that blacks faced. Emmet Till’s body lay bloated, beaten, and barely recognizable in a casket while Black America and the world mourned his life. America broke out into riots, boycotts, and protests as the injustices came to light. Many credit Mamie Till's actions as a much needed catalyst for the Civil Right Movements to push forward. 59 years later, 18 year old Mike Brown was fatally shot several times by Darren Wilson. His parents allowed his body on the concrete ground for hours as a sadly stunning visual of police brutality and racism by classification. Darren Wilson was not indicted and received no punishments as his predecessors before him Roy, Milam, and Bryant.
Today 60 years later, young black boys are still being lynched. Mothers and fathers are still making bold moves to confront the ugly underbelly of America to show that evil will not win. Today, young black boys are STILL being murdered in the name of defense. Witnesses are STILL being violated, threatened, or urged to change truths. Today, I am a young Black man and I am writing so that we do not forget that what we see today is not just for today. Unfortunately, this is a historical and systematically repeated failure of a system and country to value young black lives so that we may enjoy our old black lives.
Emmet Till's mother showed us 60 years ago how ugly America can be when justice is not served and Black Lives are not valued to matter. Mike Brown's mother showed us in 2014 how ugly America can be when justice is not served and Black Lives are not valued to matter. So do not become angry when I demand that you value my life! We have been asking and demanding for some time now and the results have been very much the same. R.I.P to all the fallen: named and unnamed, found and unfound, may God grant peace to these storms. #beLOVE #urbanTHOUGHTS
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I do not fear much but it is a secret shame that I feel when I get pulled over by a police officer. Anybody that knows me knows that I am as close to fearless as possible. There are not many things, if any besides worrying over my daughter that brings anxiety. Most would say that under extreme pressure that I am a pretty cool cat. Yet, when the blue lights and sirens come on out of the dead of night there is a certain dread that fills my heart. I know the laws. I obey most of them that are just and try my best to educate myself on current law changes to stay informed and aware of my rights. Yet when this action happens I forget that I am a father of one, holder of a Master's degree, Bachelor's degree, founder of two local poetry groups, respected member of my community and a CEO of a small successful company. In those moments, I feel the burden of the lowest criminal brew inside of me and the doubt of my double consciousness that DuBois spoke of. For some, they will never see you. They will only see the prejudiced images that your skin color represents to them.
I sat watching my speedometer drop viewing 41 in a 40 last night. The officer walked over and asked did I know that Speed limit. I said, "Yes, Sir 40." I didn't debate the one mile over. That was fair. He asked Where I'd come from, was headed, license, insurance, registration. I replied each time, "Yes, officer." Each prompted another question, each question a little lower than the first, each one digging at my patience my manhood, "Is this your car, do you work, you out partying and drinking, or you just like driving fast?" and when I finally asked after so many questions, "Well Sir, am I being detained or do I need a lawyer?"
He replied, "No , sir...you were doing 50 in a 40. I could give you a 55 or 60 but I'm going to give you a 50. If you get a good law friend of yours, if you have any that smart, they may can help you." There was a tone in his voice that made me uneasy, a pleasantry that made me cautious, a look in his eye that felt like judgement. This time- I drove off. I wondered in my leaving should I have been more bold? Should I have protested what seemed to be an unjust process and cynical demeaning line of questioning too long too post or an over 50 minute engagement and wait over one mile an hour? Or should I drive home to my daughter: this time safe? I thought of so many fallen that have become too many to name. It feels like a disgrace to blurt out a name without a moment to process the hurt of each and yet we do. Writers every list so many, each day, another color fallen in blogs and articles that are becoming so normal to read. They are piling up like broken crayons on the floor of a kindergarten. Each one leaving blots and stains on concrete that we never can remove. Each one desensitizing us to the point where clicking on You Tube videos and Facebook posts doesn't even make us cry anymore.
I pulled over.
They say black men should not cry when sad. Well , hell, we can't be angry either. The only acceptable emotions are humble, happy, and slave smile gratitude. These emotions shut me down last night because I realized that for all these reasons a very small fragment of a population of police that do their job well each day has caused a systematic oppression and very real fear to manifest. We fear police stopping us because for some of us those stops are our last. The fear of driving while black causes us to drive significantly slower, have flashbacks of faces we've never known, relive stories and trauma from families connected only through color. The frustration is seeing my counterparts who are also our brothers in humanity pulled over and smiling at traffic stops because they for the most part encounter the 98% of police that are doing their job to protect and serve. Some of our counterparts of the same ages and professions even choose to engage or even launch loud retorts back with no inkling of the danger they could be in because that danger does not exist to them. It is easy to swim with fish if your pool does not contain any sharks. Statistics show an above significant average that is undeniable that driving while black is a possible death sentence that no jury ever gets to deliberate.
I wish I had better words that were more prophetic, researched, meaningful, unapologetically angry, and collectedly refined. I don't have any of those. All I have are these broken ones to try and paint a picture of an emotion that I never asked for when I was born black. The ones that I used to express the joy of driving when I first learned have long left me. I have forgotten what those words sounded like. It's a shame that the only word I can pronounce sometimes in those moments that I encounter the 2% are the words that too many of our youth are learning to pronounce: "FEAR WHILE DRIVING BLACK."
- Urban Thoughts
I used to love her once... I think at some point we have all said a variation of that statement. There is a beauty in love; however, it seems the older that we get the harder it is to love. I have found so many women lately that have admitted that they are so scarred that they are scared. My last two exes both honestly had so much damage from their prior relationships that they decided that it would be best for them to exit with me because committing terrified them. They convinced themselves that they would hurt me or I would not be patient enough to understand their consistent wall building. It was sad. I admit I grew frustrated but now I am blessed to see the wisdom of letting go. Scarred people can't love because they are too busy trying to medicate their hearts with logic- of why it should be healthy.
Don't get me wrong. This is not a female bashing sensitive get over it blog. Our brothers and yes even me have scars as well. If we are honest unless we are truly living by commandments and honoring our values we all have found ourselves in relationships that may not have been the most healthy for us.
In conclusion, love is difficult to remain free and unbothered. It is a consistent choice to be true. My mother defines romantic love as the ability to forgive, forget, and then to change. She said, "True love is like water always trying to find the least resistance and always offering strength simultaneously." It is one of the most profound ideas that I have ever heard. I wish it was easy. I wish I had a magic elixir to provide for all the broken and scarred hearts. A potion that could break down the walls or offer some hope that all can't be bad. I understand why people are treating love like prosecutors now: Guilty until proven innocent. It is an acquired habit to protect the hurt.
Hurt people, Hurt people: so I do suggest you wait. Wait from that next relationship. Heal. Heal so that you can love. In the meantime, I will pray for us all that our hearts are renewed. I am a work in process. I am no where near where I should be but I am so far from where I was. Love can exist and it is starting to flirt with me. I loved once and soon I will truly, freely, love again. Be blessed and stay courageous good people. Love will and always does find a way.
"There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires."
Zimm, a three-year-old Sulawesi macaque, escaped from the Memphis Zoo. I thought it was a funny and curious story and then I thought about it. How awesome? No seriously, how awesome? This particular Sulawesi macaque monkey had been living her life in confinement decided to be free. Zimm scaled the walls, made a maneuver and took off into the Memphis bluesy streets.
Here are my top 5 ideas that ZIMM inspired:
1. Freedom is never easy and often is an illusion granted at a glimpse by those more free then you. The other monkeys thought they were free. Deep down Zimm knew that she wasn't and decided to turn a dream into reality. Zimm looked at her life and decided that these bars granted just weren't enough for her happiness.
2. Proper planning is good but action is better. I envision Zimm consistently bringing ideas to the other Macaque and them thinking she was crazy. Zimm did not listen she planned and then went into action. I learned that you cannot wait for others to help you with your dreams.
3. Do not panic. Once Zimm was free she took time to notice her surroundings. She did not worry about those who were too afraid to follow. Zimm realized there will always be some happy with confinement. Comfortability lessons the desire for greatness. She evaluated then she took the best route and did not look back.
4. Many will try to capture, detain, and/or oust your dreams. Only you have the power to let them. Even in captivity Zimm spirit was always free. She did not let training, years of safety, comfortable surroundings, or the seemingly normalness take away her spirit to be free.
5. Sometimes life is just a choice to live. Nature has always given Man a beautiful guide of how to interact. I wish ZIMM freedom. I love the zoo. I love being able to see the animals and learn about them. I understand that most are hurt in the wild and some are rehabilitated to have decent lives. But sometimes when I go, I am sad. I want the animals to be free and be able to chase their dreams. It is the little kid inside of me that wanted to free my goldfish down a toilet. I thought he would make it to the ocean. When I go to the zoo, I wonder how many of the animals know that they are trapped. Have they given up hope? Is this all they are meant for? To be watched, gawked at, enjoyed by others, for me, this brief moment of ZIMM being free offered a moment to witness what happens when a being decides that by any means necessary it will be free. Long live Zimm. Run ZIMM! If they ever catch you, which will most likely happen. They will come disguised as friends and offer you shiny things to eat. I hope that you never lose your freedom or your will to see beyond the bars that they offer.
On July 4th, the fireworks were mos def on the inside of Premier Palace in Memphis, TN. Iron Mouth Battle League (IMBL) hosted arguably the biggest card of the South that battle rap has seen in this region. The card was absolutely stacked with big names and some of the best of the local talent. A lot of my personal favorites were on this card, which made predicting this card difficult. Disclaimer: These is a recap based on these judgments- Stage Presence, Clarity, Aggression, Mic Control (Schemes, Punches, Voice Inflections, Multis, & Haymakers), and Star Factor (New angles, Crowd Reaction, Outstanding Performance Moments & Quotable). Also, this is my opinion void of official status of the online voting; however, as proven I call it like I see it. So get ya Manties/Panties out of a bunch it’s just a recap. HOM. No, seriously put your hand over your mouth if you sensitive.
Battle 1: Crisis vs. Jon Coffey
Countrymen, Romans lend me your ear…yep. I called this one right in my VLOG. Crisis was a problem that Jon Coffey could not answer. Crisis applied pressure and that coffee bean burst into broken charred remains choking in the first. The crowd was shocked. It was like when Bambi mother died in the room. Everybody was looking around waiting on the end credits. Coffey recovered started battling the second. Even though Coffey proved the pot wasn’t broken with one of the best rounds I’ve heard in a while. If you were there, they know we all know, Coffey third was amazing but it wasn’t enough to resurrect that burnt coffee. Crisis 2-1 Dangerous
Battle Two: Major vs. The Kid From Mars
I told you a man with something to prove and with hunger in his belly is a man you should leave alone. When I saw the homie Preauxx, s/o TRDON music, on the side with MAJOR whew it was looking bad. Major jumped out with a personal so devastating I thought Mars was done. I mean how do you recover from a Caityln Jenner dating bar? Major unleashed a series of witty jokes, personals, and dark multis. Unfortunately, I think it pissed the kid off. While, Major was witty- Tha Kid was on a mission of violence. He unveiled a Martian that people have been waiting for: a relentless, non-playful, lyrical mercenary. Martian obviously had built up issues from the SQUAD days that he expressed and his bars hit. It was a direct confrontation, no bobbing and weaving he stood as a man and came out an alien high above comedy. Jokes, antics and talking to the camera couldn’t save a Major from the cupcake-turned out the war was bloody and the pain was great. The Kid From Mars 2-1
Urban Predictions 2-0
Battle Three: Showoff vs. St. Courts
The battle of two of the realest battle rappers in the business Showoff vs. St. Courts was electric. The face off itself was sick. For a moment, it was like two boxers ready to fight right there. St. Courts came out punching and with Mic Gang backing him in some of the sickest combos of the night it proved to be too much for Showoff. Showoff couldn’t show out in the second and choked. St. Courts was direct and then it happened. The Flatbush bar….whoa. When your opponent daps you for a bar: that’s a bar. Period. Combine that with the Young HERB bars it was a w(rap). I take nothing away from Showoff. He is definitely talented but that was a different St. Courts and was a buzz saw. St. Courts proved today that he is still evolving even as a vet and that's dangerous.
St. Courts easy. 2-1
Urban Predictions 3-0
Battle Four: Aye Verb vs. Grizz Guru
3 minute 1 round battle
This was the shortest battle but most likely battle of the night. The footage for this one will be outstanding. Grizz Guru laid down some of the dopest word play I have witnessed. His bars were definitely comparable and pushed Aye Verb to compete. Even though I picked Aye Verb to win, I wanted Grizz Guru to show well and he did. This footage will show a closer battle than the room showed. Aye Verbs rebuttal and closes were just cleaner. His bars were well timed and at times you can clearly see Guru’s team reacting which is a great show of respect to the culture and identification of good bars; however, when your team reacts that some cold ShowTime stuff. Aye Verb proved the big leagues are polished but Grizz certainly showed that he belongs.
Aye Verb 1-0 debatable edge
Urban Predictions 4-0
Battle Five: B. Gunna vs. Ms. Murk
Ladies and Gentlemen: We are gathered here to day to witness the legacy and funeral of Ms. Murk who died of self inflicted choking suicide by stage. B. Gunna opening bar let everybody know what it was. She literally ate Ms. Murk alive. I do question if Murk was sick. She was visibly choking; however, her stumble in the first had none of those symptoms. To die in the first, second, and third by forgetting and quitting all three rounds was a terrible performance. As a Ms. Murk fan, I was disappointed. Everyone battles demons and not being 100%. I am sure Gunna had a heavy heart after her brother (R.I.P) but she was a professional and battled for her fans and I respect that. I really thought this would be a classic; hopefully, there will be a rematch. Although with a 3-0 body bag that I wanted to award a 4-0 to that may never happen. In other words, the CHAMP is HERE. The champ is here. Catch the footage ya boy Urban was on the side of B. Gunna, she let ya boy rock on her side. #facts
B. Gunna 3-0: Polish the gold body bag. The champ deserves the best for the body.
Urban Predictions- 5-0
Battle Six: T.E.D vs. Hurricane
I don’t know maybe after seeing the other battles. Maybe it was the timing but this battle lacked something. It might have been the drastic style clashes of the slow flow Kang vs. the relentless aggression and lyrical speed of T.E.D but this battle definitely got the lowest reactions of the night. I don’t fault the battlers. They gave a great show and I truly feel that the bars went over a lot of people’s heads. But from the audience a lot of people were left wanting more. T.E.D aggression and content to me edged the battle. I give the win to him but hopefully the footage looks better than the room.
Urban Predictions: 6-0
Battle 7: Tenasee vs. Mizundastood
What a disappointment?! A no call/ no show on any job gets you fired. Tenasee is a businesswoman with several successful businesses but it seems of late her business is not showing up for battles. It is disappointing because she is supremely talented but every since the stealing bars incident came up she has been flaky. Mizundastood wins by default. Something tells me though from the look in her face that she wanted this battle bad, which leads me to believe, she would have won anyway. Not a good look but from the rumblings not to call your opponent and even give a heads up is not cool.
Mizundastood 3-0 (no show win)
Urban Predictions 6-1 (Tenasee you jacked up my perfection)
Battle Eight: Bo the Great vs. J Roc
J-Roc was dope. Kid def has bars and in a clash of heavyweights had one of the biggest reactions for his series of what you tryna be bars: Buff or just Fat? That bar killed it. Crowd went crazy. Mic Gang has a squad and if I ever get into the ring. I want NuNu and her shoes in my corner. She is the dopest hypewoman. Facts. Problem is Bo came like Jackson and Bo knows punches. Bo knows combos and Bo knows combos. Throwing out the fact that Herb beat J-Roc and a nine-month going away silence brought questions. Finishing with a confrontation over whether Mic Gang snitches on camera telling personals made the crowd turn. J-roc may have won with stronger finishes to his round but his last punches lost conviction.
Bo the Great 2-1 in a hard fought win.
Urban 7-1 still steaming that I’m not perfect right now. I need people to see this writing ain’t a hobby. I study son. I study.
Battle Nine: Yella Mane vs. ATM
SMH. I rock with SO-FI. The things they are saying ain’t right…smh. Naw it’s true. Tragic. Yella Mane first round was cold. ATM first round tho was colder. Honestly, on footage the first round is most likely closer and more debatable then the room told. Then it happened…Yella Mane is cooking a meal so nice then his phone rings. A rookie mistake that every performer knows: Cut the phone off. I thought it was part of the act but nope. It was his phone ringing that threw him completely off. The great Yella fell. Mane, I felt like I was watching Rocky on the ropes while Yella was choking. I was like Get up Yella. Get up. ATM just kept punching and punching. It was blood everywhere. The third round Yella recovered name flipping ATM to…WAIT did 3-D fall on stage. She did. Yella is disturbed again through an honest mistake but nevertheless he was dying before the fall. ATM then went full-fledged RUSSIAN on Independence Day. I was like throw the towel. Throw the towel. It was like watching APOLLO CREED die. If he dies, he dies. Enter Bankroll. MONEY TEAM. MONEY TEAM. Dang you, Bankroll. You are starting to make me think that Money Team may be the squad of the year. I had to apologize as a man. I found ATM and looked him in the eye and told him that I had picked against him. And that dang Bankroll and his beaker.... Money team….Sigh. I shook hands and went home. Guess I can’t be perfect. So-Fi had a rough night, I still think they are talented but they got to get that eye of the TIGER back. Tragic.
ATM 3-0 roll out the casket.
Urban Predictions: 7-2
Neicy’s Dress vs. the Bartender Shorts:
Whew the battle was close. Sexy was winning.
Steve vs. EVERYBODY:
Steve stay getting pubbed in everybody bars or mentions. He gets better press than Jay-Z on TMZ.
FAT NASA vs. The STAIRS
After Bankroll was checking Nasa, Nasa attacked the stairs. The stairs won in a debatable because Nasa did reach the top. But afterwards, it is believed that Fat Nasa took a nap.
Ashley Natural vs. Sky Beats GLAM
Ya’ll saw the hair and legs.
Sky Beats GLAM 3-0
St. Courts Pep talks vs. everybody basketball coach halftime talks.
Ya’ll saw GRIZZ go off.
St. Courts 3-0
Bar of the Night: Aye VERB vs. K-wine. Hilarious.
No, Seriously. ATM : I had to teach myself how to drive with my knees cause I was doing a drive by with guns in both hands....Whew that was some cold.
Teachable Moment: Arrive later to IMBL events. No seriously somebody gone have to text me when the first battle start. Ya’ll tripping. But a great NIGHT. Great battles. S/O Dutch and K-Wine great hospitality to me and my guest to write about this. S/O to Southern Mag. B.A.D.D Mag. And my sponsors.
–Urban Thoughts Poetry #getFAMILIAR #orGETleftBEHIND
What Independence are you celebrating?
“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham.” – Frederick Douglass
Today will be filled with every iconic characterization of a black person possible. We will sit around eating watermelon, chicken, and pork remnants. We will compare out latest shoes and outfits to see who is on fleek the most. The day will conclude with us popping fireworks and watching smoke clear the sky while we try not to burn down our new neighbors house that they just recently saved enough money to move in. Welcome to the neighborhood. You made it.
Today will be so much fun. Is that not the tragedy? So many of America’s tradition and holidays have dark sides that we as a whole refuse to acknowledge. It is very similar to the relationship between the sun and moon. America in many ways is the moon. We view only the reflection of light from our beautiful mother sun. The moon claims that light as its own then we watch in awe as if we do not know the source. We write poems about the moons light, songs basking in the glory of America’s light, but what of the dark side? The side that no one wants to admit is ugly is the one I am interested in writing about. What do we write of the side that most of my high school students at my high school will be too busy buying Jordan’s to see that the celebration of the fourth is the funeral of traditions from so many cultures.
Truth is on July 4, 1776 most of our ancestors of people of color were not free. We had already been here as slaves. In 1619, we were bought and sold as product to the North American colony of Jamestown, Virginia, to aid in the production of tobacco. Africans were attached to America and given the name African-American later in which we began to help build the economic foundations of a country that only valued us as servants and merchandise. We were glorified mules to haul the burden of building a country from almost scratch. Why, almost scratch? Because America so awesomely is America the land of the free except where the free are only those allegianced with America. The indigenous brown skinned Native Americans gave food, shelter, farming techniques to a people that would literally attempt a nationwide genocide of a people that were already here.
Question? How do you find something Mr. Columbus that was already found? How do you claim something as your own that is not yours to claim? Simple. You take it. You outright take it by force, trickery, and deceiving tactics to control those you aim to suppress. Simon Moya-Smith who is half Oglala Lakota and half Chicano stated, “We are a minority in our own country. How did that happen? It wasn’t just germs.” This storyline of taking and control is nothing new. Revisionist history will claim survival of the fittest. That African- Americans also were in New York at the time as indentured servants. This is true but when your idea of freedom is forced or coerced indentured servitude for life or the possible trade into slavery that is almost certainly death then what was the choice? A life long duty of repaying a debt that you will never get the opportunity to pay off. This seriously sounds like our new jobs of repaying Sallie Mae and student loans in the name of freedom. We pay with our lives and our financial freedoms with the hope that society will repay our hard work so that our families may eat in the kitchen. When will we be not ashamed and be accepted as beautiful?
This is the fourth that we celebrate? I do not bash those that will. I just wish that we would take time to realize that these celebrations did not have “us” in mind in during their creation. The irony is ironic. The country fighting for its freedom was enslaving others. This was our birth and our flag that bears the blood of many who died shaping the cotton gin that gave birth to the manufacturing process of cotton, architecture, inventions, fought in wars and served as mothers to the babies of our literal masters. W.E.B Dubois wrote, “The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife — this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He does not wish to Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He wouldn't bleach his Negro blood in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face.”
I do not wish to be anti-American. I love my country and all those who have sacrificed for it. There are few countries on this Earth that could be half as great- the problem is we are not what we could be because we refuse to acknowledge the failure to heal wounds. We create illusions of celebrated freedom. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States of America. On June 19th, 1865 officially marked the end of slavery in America and the start of a celebrated freedom for the Negro. This is 150 years ago from our year 2015. Less than two life cycles, Negroes, African- Americans, Blacks, and people of color were finally deemed free. This is 89 years after 1776. Eighty-nine years after celebrating America’s independence the slaves that were helping build the country were given the right to walk without being shackled. After hundreds of years of slavery, we were offered the opportunity to forget the torture, the lost lives, the broken families, forgotten languages, forgotten heritage, religions to assimilate into good ole America. After all, this is the land of milk and honey. So kill the cow and steal the bee, it is the American way. Take the products of the two and brand them as your creations. When you are done throw a party and call it the Fourth of July.
Fact is I am no longer African enough to be home in Africa and not American enough to believe that this is all I am ever supposed to be. I struggle with enjoying the freedom of 2015 to cut on lights and water. The luxury of public education and toilets; however, it is the supposed freedom that bothers me most. We have new chains now. Some are even worse than the ones we could visibly see. We are shackled to higher interest loans, student loans, distinctive differences in educational and healthy food choices in our neighborhoods, religions that suit pockets instead of souls, and my personal favorite sorrow shaming. The sorrow of my people is great and we grow angry at having our tempers swept under a rug. To be angry and black is a threat. To be angry and any other color is the right to express healthy emotions. Our lynchings are that of a minority of police that use their influence and power to shoot and kill black boys, a legislation that encourages the lock up and extreme prison sentences of people of color and the continued sexist repression of powerful black female voices in academia.
How much must we forgive? How many times must you slap us, then tell us to turn the other cheek and smile? How many churches must burn so that communities can have extra parking lots for shopping malls? How many black lives must be lost? Is it nine? Or is (9 x 9 x 9 x 99999) a better choice to be enough? On this holiday, I will reflect. I will teach my daughter that history has to be read carefully. I will show her a pictures of two elephants. One picture will be of an elephant in Africa that is powerful beyond measure and free lifting trees with trunks. The second picture will be a circus elephant held by a small chain that they have been trained to believe is powerful enough to hold them. I will reiterate that things are not as they seem all the time. Hopefully one day, we may choose a new day to celebrate everyone’s equality and freedom. I propose a new independence day renamed Freedom day. It will represent the day as a collective that we celebrate the beginning of accepting the dark side so that we may choose as a collective to move into a new day and year in an America where minorities are treated with the same spiritual, carnal, and physical laws of our society. The fireworks would be so beautiful on that day. Or so I would like to believe. I mean we have to believe that we are moving forward, right? If not what was all the fighting and wars to be free for?
Urban Thoughts: Writer. Father. Music Lover. Culture Observer. Poetry Creator. Protector of Women. Gentlemen. Scholar. Brother. Risk Taker. Truth Speaker. Teacher.