Slavery IS A Choice. Now, Fix Your Face And Keep Reading… (Part 2/2)

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years…for 400 years? That sound like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years, and it’s all of y’all?”


Sooooooo…

After watching the two interviews I mentioned in the previous post, I came to the conclusion that, yes, slavery was…AND STILL IS…a choice.

[Insert unbothered face here, bwahahahahaha!!!]

What made the enslavement of our people so effective wasn’t its physical brutality.  The beating, raping, and killing of our ancestors were only a means to an end.  It all served to instill a specific mentality.  In order for slavery to accomplish its goal, we, the enslaved, would have to be made to believe that we were inferior and incapable of anything substantive.  We had to believe that we were less than our masters. We had to be forcefully severed from everything that identified us as sons and daughters of our Mother Land; our dress, our language, our culture, and our spirituality, among many other things.  Their aim was to break us so thoroughly that we could never put ourselves back together.  Our oppressors executed this well, except for one problem…

It didn’t work completely.  AND IT NEVER WILL.

And this leads me to my first argument about why slavery was a choice: Too many of our foremothers and forefathers fought back.  From the moment we saw ourselves fighting for our survival on our home soil, to the moment we were hoarded onto slave ships, to the moment we were herded off those ships, and beyond, our resistance to bondage has been documented, not just by us, but by our oppressors.  From the Amistad slave boat rebellion to the Haitian Revolution, from Nat Turner to Harriet Tubman, from Marcus Garvey to Malcolm X, MLK, Jr, and everywhere outside and in between, we’ve shown a willingness to fight for our lives.

I CANNOT, in good conscience, sit here and let y’all so called defenders of the Black race push this ideology that our people were powerless in their situation.

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The whole “mind control” argument, in my mind, casts aside the people who stood up and resisted in whatever way they could.  This line of “defense” asserts that the slaves were so thoroughly brainwashed that it made it impossible to choose to resist or escape.  Anyone peddling that train of thought might as well say that our most celebrated heroes, in any era of slavery, were simply anomalies.  They must have been sick.  How could they possibly resist such mind control so much so that they try to leave?  Drapetomania much…?

This defense dismisses the intellectual capacity of our people.  For starters, let’s be clear: “slaves” weren’t taken from Africa.  Doctors, spiritual healers, priests, scholars, queens, kings, artisans, warriors, and many other people of prestige were among the innumerable souls kidnapped from their homelands.

They.  Didn’t.  Kid.  Nap.  Dummies.

Our people fought and died to keep our history, knowledge of self, and dignity alive through generations of the most brutal treatment in history.  Total annihilation of our people would have been the only way Willie Lynch could have subjugated us.

This “choice” the slaves had to make wasn’t an easy one.  Escape could bring punishment and death not only to the escapee, but to those he/she left behind.  Retribution usually awaited those who stayed behind.  Would it have been selfish for a slave to remain in captivity, understanding that it was all but inevitable that nothing would change for him/her or his/her family for perhaps generations to come?  Or would it have been more selfish to make a run for it?  Should one go alone or should one take his/her family?

Simply asking, “what would you have done?” verifies that you also believe slavery is a choice.

And no, I don’t know what I would have done back then.  I wouldn’t expect you to know, either.

When I say slavery is a choice, it isn’t something I say lightly.  A choice is a choice, no matter how dire the options are, and I don’t blame them with either selection, because we wouldn’t be here if they made the wrong choice.

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I can’t end this without addressing the Black social media #IfSlaveryWasAChoice clapback.  As I mentioned before, the pushback was hilarious, and I definitely saved a bunch of those memes and shared even more.   I know we meant well, but our response revealed something deep within our collective psyche that we need to dig up and confront.

It revealed a sort of hopelessness, hidden behind satire and humor, that we still cling to, that no matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, we won’t ever shake our chains completely loose.  There’s a definite air of contempt for any line of thought that even suggests that we may have assisted in our continued capture, absolving our oppressors of any guilt and responsibility for our past and current state.

…the NERVE of y’all to think I’d let’em off that easily.

We’re still in a mental state of slavery, one that discourages us from getting uncomfortable.  It holds our hopes and dreams hostage.  It restrains us and our families.  And it convinces us that it’s the safest, most surefire way to live.  We’ve seen in our history countless examples of how our leaders have been violently dispatched without having pointed a single firearm in any direction.  This type of terror seeks to keep us in submission, to accept crumbs when there’s enough out here for everyone to eat well.

The response to Kanye’s words, in my mind, proved that we still have a long way to go to convince our masses that, if we work together, we can wage the kind of war that will eventually end our subservience.

So, when I say slavery is a choice, it has nothing in common with any politically conservative, Fox News-esque ideology.  It is the most empowering thing I can say to my fellow Black man, in America, and the world over.  It’s saying that we have the power to deliver what it is we seek: freedom, for ourselves, for our families, and for our future.  No situation is hopeless.

‘Ye reminds me of so much of Andre from “Get Out.”  When you hear him speak, you know something is off.  But just when you think all is lost, he yells with his proverbial last breath…

“Get out.  Get out.  GET THE FUCK OUT!

Kanye’s “slavery is a choice” may be his “Get Out” moment. Make your choice, Chris.

I love y’all.

#BlessedBeTheGrind

Slavery IS A Choice. Now, Fix Your Face And Keep Reading… (Part 1/2)

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years…for 400 years?  That sound like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years, and it’s all of y’all?”


WARNING: Some of y’all ain’t gone like what I’m about to say.  My advice?  Prove me wrong.

If you haven’t heard by now, Kanye West caused quite an uproar in the entertainment world and beyond last week with his remarks on TMZ regarding slavery.  Black social media clapped back with almost surgical precision.  I’m 100% certain that #IfSlaveryWasAChoice will go down in history as one of the funniest and most vicious hashtags in social media history.

The jist of our revolt against Kanye’s statement is rooted not only in our reverence for our ancestors, but also in our acknowledgement of the fact that our foremothers and forefathers suffered the most brutal and destructive holocaust in the history of humanity.  THAT ISN’T UP FOR DEBATE OR COMPARISON.  It was so complete, so effective, and so far-reaching, that the era of chattel slavery only covers the first half of it.  “Emancipation” did little to slow the tsunami of institutional racism in our ancestors’ lives.  Jim Crow and mass incarceration ensued over the next 150 years, and continues today.

My initial reaction to Kanye’s words were like most of my brothers and sisters: disgust at the idea that he would even try to push that narrative.  How dare you disrespect our people like that, bruh?  They endured pain you couldn’t even imagine with the hope that someone like you could make a better way for yourself and our people!  I couldn’t accept that he actually said that. My Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds were convulsing with our people up in arms, calling him out on his BS and defending our honor.  My initial reaction was also admittedly rooted in emotion.

My next thought, after gathering my emotions, was that of the famous Kilmonger quote from Black Panther.  We were all so gung ho and Black power-minded when that movie came out in February.  We were hollerin’ bout being buried in the ocean with our ancestors.  What changed?

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The shit got me to thinkin’…

400 years of slavery.  Is it really a choice? Maybe I’m just to “woke” for my own good to even think that.  This can’t be life…

I needed context.  So I decided to watch the interview for myself.

I hopped on Youtube and clicked on Kanye’s interview with Charlemagne ThaGod.  I was about 40 minutes in when my wife walked in.  I told her what I was watching.

“Well, that isn’t even the right interview, you fat ass!   Why are you sitting on the couch anyway and yo feet smell like they been hotboxin” in a bag of farts and stale greens?” she said.

That 40 minutes of the wrong interview was all the clarification I needed.  He talked about generational wealth, buying land, and building his own community.  Those are some of the things that many of our most celebrated Black leaders have talked about and tried to implement.  I didn’t agree with EVERYTHING he said, but he actually made some sense with that shit right there.  Maybe ‘Ye might be on to something here…

Then I pulled up the TMZ interview.  And damn, ‘Ye.  Just…damn.

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Instead of advancing a golden idea that could have given us lasting, renewable energy to fight the institutional racism that hinders our economic, mental, and spiritual process, he talked about his ideas on “free thought” and “loving everybody.”  He got so emotional and off-code that he completely blew his chance at flashing the “genius” he brags about.  He went on to trot out the idiotic notion that we don’t care about our people getting killed until White people kill us.  He totally ignores those among us who risk their lives daily rescuing our children from dangerous environments and situations, and the millions of our (and us) parents who spend every waking moment of their lives working, hoping, and praying our sons and daughters don’t become statistics in a world that thrives off of us becoming exactly that: statistics.

I love everybody. But I love myself more. And I express my love for self by distancing myself as best I can from people that mean me harm.

I credit Van Lathan for standing up and defending us against Kanye’s assault on the perceived lack of effort on our part to curb violence in our communities. He made an impassioned defense for our ongoing struggle. These are the type of hard conversations we need to have within our communities in order to move forward and prosper.

But even after all that, I still needed to answer the question for myself: Was chattel slavery a choice? Was the slavery we faced after the Emancipation Proclamation and Jim Crow segregation a choice? Is the slavery we face today, of mass incarceration and capitalism, a choice?

Before I answer those questions, let me clarify some things:

First of all, I’m not naïve enough to believe that our ancestors GLADLY accepted shackles and imprisonment from people they barely knew. We didn’t go quietly into subjugation. Capture and forced enslavement ARE NOT choices.

Secondly, I’m not a Black Conservative. I didn’t vote for the current president, nor did I vote for any of the Republicans currently in any office, local, State, or Federal. Hell, I haven’t voted in two years, because I no longer subscribe to the whole “lesser of two evils” argument. Both major parties are out to screw us, so I’m not about to decide how I’d like my screwing to happen. You won’t catch me in a MAGA hat any time sooner or later.

Thirdly, I don’t hate my people. If you haven’t figured that out after reading my posts, go play in freeway traffic. Better yet, I’ve got oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you.

I love y’all.  #BlessedBeTheGrind

Now here’s what you REALLY came to see…

Black-Owned Bookstores and/or Bookstores Specializing in Afrocentric Literature

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted content.  But never fear – I’ll be back soon.  I haven’t had the time to give my blog the attention I know it needs and deserves, and I hope to change that this year.  Stay tuned!

Until then, here is a list of Black-owned bookstores and bookstores specializing in Afrocentric literature.  There may be a store in your area!  Find it and support it!

#BlessedBeTheGrind

https://aalbc.com/bookstores/readingblack_stores_share.php

Black Identity Extremist: Is Black The New Terrorist?

Roger Goodell wrote an impassioned, yet misguided plea to NFL Chief Execs and Club Presidents to compel their players stand for the National Anthem.  In the letter, he claims he and the League cares for the players concerns and opinions….

*Needle-on-the-record scratch*

You know what?  F-(Bleeeeep!!!)-k all that.  I got a bigger fish to fry here.  LET’S GO!!!

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On August of this year, the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI published an Intelligence Assessment.  The 12-page report obtained by Foreign Policy has coined what is soon to be a new dog-whistle term for any Black person in America who speaks out against injustice:

Black Identity Extremist.

Maybe it’s just me, but we’re about thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to being labeled as “terrorists” for advocating on our own behalf.

The very first sentence reads: “The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence.”

Perceptions… of police… brutality….

Almost immediately, decades of documented police brutality and racial profiling are summarily dismissed as “perceptions.”  They’re labeled as such because, in the eyes of the law, these officers who were put on trial were exonerated.  Some of these officers avoided incarceration for shooting and killing unarmed Black people.  If a law enforcement official can confront a citizen, confirm they’re unarmed, gain their compliance, shoot and kill him/her, AND HAVE IT JUSTIFIED UNDER THE LAW WHILE THE WORLD WATCHES, it’s not a “perception,” it’s a REALITY.

It’s a reality that I, and people who look like me, have to be extraordinarily nonaggressive in order to possibly survive an encounter with an extraordinarily aggressive officer.  Don’t our tax dollars pay for training officers to keep their cool while on-duty?  Does that training include throwing out all that knowledge when encountering Blacks?

#ImAskinForMyPeople

The assessment labels groups that the government considers to be dangerous and more prone to act out violently against police.  You can read the report and find out who they are.  I’ll say this much: as of now, it’s only limited to a few small groups and are a clear minority in the overall movement of Black empowerment and social justice.  They don’t have a history of violence against the government, but they will be attacked as though they’ve been public enemy #1, through both media and politics.  I highly recommend and strongly suggest you research these organizations for yourself, and come to your own conclusions, before mainstream media and the government formulate it for you.

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The assessment goes on to list six incidences of retaliatory police attacks since the 2014 police shooting death of Michael Brown, a Black, unarmed eighteen-year-old brother, in Ferguson, Missouri.  This particular incident is seen as the catalyst for the six examples or retaliatory acts against police.

Again, the tunnel vision in this report is mind-boggling.  In my mind, it’s a clear attempt to isolate and fragment an otherwise clear and contiguous history of violence and profiling against Black people.  It’s as though everything and everyone lived in perfect harmony until this one minor incident occurred, and now everyone’s blowing it out of proportion.  Apparently, no one had enough patience to list at least six murders of Black men, women, and children at the hands of police.  Don’t worry, here’s at least 75 to get you started.

I strongly believe that laws are created to enforce cultural beliefs.  The laws created by the United States of America are no different.  They reinforce a culture of disdain and disrespect of Black people.  Any law that goes against the dominant culture gets slowly eroded over time.  You need look no further than the 2013 Supreme Court ruling regarding the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for a recent example.

This counterterrorism assessment is yet another document in a long line of documents written with the purpose of chiseling away at any semblance of Black empowerment.  America’s history has shown us, time and again, that it will go to great lengths to sabotage and disintegrate any movement that seeks to level the playing field for us.  Eventually, the list of the few organizations named will grow to include almost any organization, and people, who speak out publically.  Every act of violence against police by a Black person will be attributed to them in the court of dominant cultural public opinion.

That opinion will influence the politics.  The politics will influence the legislation.  The legislation will influence the injustice.  The injustice will influence the outrage.  The outrage will influence the acts of violence.  The acts of violence will influence public opinion….

Do you see where this is going?

I don’t endorse the killing of police.  But as a Black man in America, I understand the rage that we feel when we see our own people murdered by the officials who swear to serve and protect us from harm.  We’re told to entrust our lives to them, but too often they take our lives, and are summarily justified according to the law.

I’ve chosen to focus my negative energy into building us up economically, in order to increase positive, wealth-generating contact among ourselves, and to regain control of our interactions with, and detrimental dependency upon, everyone else to provide necessary services to us.

All of you soon-to-be-labeled BIEs should do the same.  I love you.

Oh, snap…I forgot to mention COINTELPRO

#BlessedBeTheGrind

 

 

America’s State-Sponsored Terrorists…

Three days ago, Stephen Paddock murdered nearly 60 people, and injured over 500 more from his hotel room overlooking a crowd enjoying a country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Obviously, my thoughts and condolences go out to all the victims, both wounded and killed, and those traumatized by this act of terrorism.

I’m not here to debate whether or not this massacre was part of a false flag operation or any other conspiracy theory.  Maybe we can save that for another post.

I only want to answer the question that continues to burn holes in my psyche.  Why don’t we call these mass shootings what they are: Terrorist attacks?

Americans devote so much time, attention, and resources to fighting crime and terrorism in the country.  When politicians talk about crime, they often talk about increasing police presence in “high crime areas” and tougher sentencing laws, which ALMOST ALWAYS include Black neighborhoods and other communities of color.  When the focus shifts to acts of terrorism, the spotlight almost exclusively shines on people of Middle Eastern descent, and on people who profess to be followers of Islam or an extreme interpretation of the religion.  The assumption is made that these groups of people are the biggest purveyors of crime and terrorism, so they demand more scrutiny.

However, when we talk about curbing mass shootings, all that logic and penchant toward hard-hitting, wallet-breaking action seems to go out of the window.

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Yesterday, Mother Jones magazine posted a detailed spreadsheet consisting of 92 instances of mass shootings committed in the United States since 1982.  You can sort the data to highlight such information as the number of killed and wounded, the type of guns used, and whether or not mental illness played a factor in the listed incidents.  Guess what other two categories are available to sift through?  Race and gender.

Of the 92 tragedies listed in the spreadsheet, 51 were perpetrated by White people.  And of those 51 tragedies, 50 of them were committed by White males.  15 were committed by Black males.  Let’s do some math:

Black Males – 15/92 = 0.163 = 16.3%
White Males – 50/92 = 0.543 = 54.3%

White males committed more than 50% of all the mass shootings compiled on this list!   And that’s only since 1982.  This list doesn’t include riots, lynchings, and other acts of terror committed against Black people during the Reconstruction Era or the Jim Crow/Segregation era, just to name a few time periods in our most recent history.

When we shoot and kill one another, everyone wants to talk about “Black-on-Black crime” as though it were some genetic phenomenon only inherent in Black DNA.  When a follower of Islam commits a crime against anyone else, everyone wants to blame Islam and condemn the entire religion as one of violence and hate.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of local, State, and federal laws, statutes, and codes regarding street gangs and Sharia law.

Why don’t White men get the same scrutiny as Black men?  Why don’t we scrutinize Christianity with the same vigor as we do Islam?  I mean, this is America, right?  Lady Justice is blindfolded purposefully in order to show objectiv………

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You’ve probably heard it a million times from those “extra pro-Black” folks that grab the mic and yell into it like it’s trying to talk over them.  They tell you that America isn’t for the Black Man.  They tell you that, no matter what you do, you’ll never get true justice, because you’re always going to be considered as someone not to be trusted, suspect, an enemy…A TERRORIST.

And who, in American history, has the most proven track record of spreading these lies, through both word and deed?

White men.

So why are we all considered dangerous and not them?  Because they run America.  And the laws they create will look out for them at the expense of nearly everyone else.  You don’t have to look any further than the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and almost every law written for over 150 years of this country’s history.

I mean, it only took White women OVER 130 YEARS TO GAIN VOTING RIGHTS!  So imagine where we fell in this line, assuming we were even allowed in it….

To many of us, that’s a “duhhhhh!” statement.  But you’d be surprised at the number of us who truly believe we finally have a fair shot to get anything in this country.  Before we, as a nation of Black people, can move forward with our own brand of progress, we have to collectively understand the extent to which we are still subjugated.

History shows us that justice isn’t guaranteed for us here, in its current mode of distribution.  This is why we’re continually hunted down by law enforcement and killed at disproportionately high rates, and if we’re lucky enough to survive the encounter, we’re more harshly sentenced and warehoused in prisons as opposed to our White counterparts.

I don’t believe we’ll ever completely stop the terrorism levied against us, physically, economically, religiously, or in any other form.  All I advocate is that we better prepare ourselves for it by working together to become a stronger family, through the pooling and sharing of our resources, our shared culture, and our will to survive.

I love you.  #BlessedBeTheGrind

5 Threats to The Black Man In America Part 5: Politics

The Declaration of Independence was unanimously signed by the Second Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776.

On July 5th, 1776, you, Black Man in America, were still a slave.

On June 21st, 1788, New Hampshire became the 9th (and deciding) state to ratify the Constitution of the United States of America.

On June 22nd, 1788, you, Black Man in America, were still a slave.

The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified in 1865 following the Civil War, outlawed slavery for all people EXCEPT convicted felons.  Three years later, the 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States.  The 15th Amendment ratified in 1870 grants voting rights to all people without respect to race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Of these three amendments, the 13th is the most important in terms of how America uses its laws to continue our oppression in other forms.  “Black Code” laws and variations of those laws legally upheld segregation and unequal treatment of Black people for decades.  It allowed for harsher prosecution of Black criminals, leading to disproportionately high conviction and incarceration rates, and providing over a century of data to support the “fact” that Blacks deserve the treatment they receive from law enforcement.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, EXCEPT AS A PUNISHMENT FOR CRIME WHEREOF THE PARTY SHALL HAVE BEEN DULY CONVICTED, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction…”

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(Picture source: http://solitarywatch.com/2011/07/28/gods-own-warden-inside-angola-prison/)

Keep in mind, from a federal standpoint, women still didn’t have the right to vote.  That didn’t come until the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920.  So only our men could vote.

Long story short: The cost of your freedom was NEARLY ALL OF YOUR FREEDOM.

The Constitution is the “supreme law of the land,” and no piece of legislation is allowed to stand in opposition to it.  All the legislations, statues, and lesser documents, including the ones that restricted our freedoms, were in agreement with this constitution. America’s history has shown, unequivocally that THESE LAWS ONLY CHANGE WHEN WHITE AMERICA FEELS THREATENED ECONOMICALLY.

Had Black people not rebelled through violence and escape from plantations, causing untold millions of dollars in damages to property (including themselves, because they were considered property), we’d probably still be slaves today.  Had Black people not been so economically prosperous during the latter half of the Jim Crow Era, to the point of organizing and sustaining targeted economic actions against legalized segregation, we’d still be drinking out of “Colored Only” water fountains and giving up front seats on public buses.

The reason American politics is a threat to the Black Man in America is because we, as a group, believe that it will cure our economic woes.  “Voting for the right politician will help us get out of our rut.”  “The next election is the most important election.”  And on the day after Election Day, we’re thrown on the backburner, left to wonder in amazement at how we got nothing out of the deal.

Wash.  Rinse.  Dry.  Fold.  Store.  Use.  Repeat.

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A big deal was made within the Black community about voting during 2016 election cycle.  Two candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton, and Republican Donald Trump, fought for the presidency soon to be vacated by Barack Obama.  Neither of the two candidates were good choices for Black people.

Donald Trump…well, we know his history.  He touted it as a source of pride throughout the election with impunity.  Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, was considered by many to be the more palatable choice.  As First Lady to former president Bill Clinton, she supported his 1994 Crime Bill, which drove already high rates of incarcerated Black people into the outer reaches of space.  She was also seen on video referring to gang members (read: Black people) as “superpredators” who needed to be brought to heel.

No remorse for her support of that crime bill or her own statements was shown until she needed our vote.  And Black folks FLOCKED to her as though she could do no wrong, the same we were fooled into thinking Bill Clinton was our first “black president” because he played the saxophone on “The Arsenio Show.”

“You have to vote!  Our ancestors died for your right to vote!”

You know what my ancestors DIDN’T DIE FOR?  Me to settle for mediocre and to just hope that someone will “be nice to us.”  Or to settle for “the lesser of two evils.”  I didn’t vote in this election for those reasons.

It’s one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

Surely, progress has been made in the fight for social justice. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was the last major piece of federal legislation to make us, in theory, equal to the rest of America. In practice, however, America continues to do what it’s always done: find ways to skirt its own laws to keep the upper hand in its relationship with its Black citizens.

We have to stop looking to politics as our way up and out.  Given the history of how this country has treated us LEGALLY, I see no hope in relying SOLELY upon our vote.  In a nation where capital fuels politics, a broke person with the power to vote can only elect an official who’ll continue listening to the person with the money.

I love you.  #BlessedBeTheGrind

 

5 Threats to The Black Man In America Part 4: Wealth & Ownership

Dr. Claud Anderson, in his book, PowerNomics: The National Plan to Empower Black America, defines “wealth” in an exceptionally accurate manner.  He defines it as, “…the net value of a person, group, or community less their liabilities of debt at a given point in time.  It is stored value.”  This net value can express itself in many ways, such as cash reserves, natural resources, or businesses owned.  He goes on to define “income” as, “…the flow of dollars over a period of time.”  These definitions are critical when discussing the wealth and ownership in Black America.

His overall assessment of Black wealth in America: WE OWN ALMOST NOTHING.

Taking a tour of the community in my own Black community of Fort Wayne, Indiana makes this assertion glaringly obvious.  Hair and beauty supply stores owned by Whites and Asians.  Gas stations/“convenience” shops and Chicago-style fry joints owned by people of Middle Eastern descent.  Drug stores chain stores and low-cost chain stores owned by Whites.  Banks owned by Whites.  In a neighborhood where Black people are the majority, we own very few essential businesses.

We’re constantly relying on other people to run businesses and provide services to us when we should be providing them ourselves.  And because we don’t own those businesses, we have no say in who gets hired.  We’re at the mercy of anyone merciful enough to set up shop in our part of town.  And we have to damn near beg for those business owners to hire us.

Cut the BS and call it what it is: ECONOMIC ENSLAVEMENT.

Economic enslavement doesn’t depend on your income.  You can be the richest man on the face of the earth, but it means nothing if your source of that income is dependent upon someone else paying you to operate their business.  I should make one thing clear: I find nothing wrong with working for someone else.  Some of us are happy with just punching the clock and doing whatever task is asked of them, without the added pressure of keeping an entire enterprise afloat.  But don’t get it twisted for a MOMENT.  You are always at the mercy of someone else, and the thought of that should make you at least a little bit uncomfortable.

 



 

Take a minute to study this graph, created by the Pew Research Center, highlighting income disparity between races:

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In 2014, the average income for a Black household of three hovered around $43,300.  Hispanics averaged around the same.  I grossed $43,472 that year, so I was right in the middle of that range.  After factoring in Federal, State, and Local taxes, 401(k) payments, and insurance, I was left with around $500 a week.  Accounting for rent, utilities, food, phone, and gas to get to and from work took me down to $170 a week.

And these are all considered necessities.  I just HAD to have that flippin’ iPhone, smh…

Then came my debt obligations.  My student loans ran me $60 every week, and my credit card debt for 2 cards totaled $30 a week.

Grand total spending cash for the week: $80.  Once again, that number may be higher or lower for you, depending on your own financial obligations.

My next question to you, Black Man in America, is this: What are we doing with the money we have left?

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One of the lasting effects of our physical and economic enslavement is, in my opinion, our reliance upon material things to flaunt our status.  It isn’t just the people flashing stacks of cash, driving fancy cars with rims taller than toddlers, or buying every pair of Jordan shoes that hit the market.  This cuts across age, sex, religion, and any other means of categorizing Black people.  We take our income and wealth and spend it, not only on things that depreciate (lose value) over time, but with people and business having little vested interest in our community.

In short, we buy things that lose value, from people who don’t value us enough to spend their earnings in our community, all just to show each other that we’re valuable.

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The most impactful thing we can do with our money is keep it in our communities as long as possible to bring the kind of economic change we need.  That means shopping local and “buying Black” wherever and whenever possible.  And if you can’t get it local, get online and seek out someone who has it.  The goal is to grow business for people who have a mutual interest in seeing our communities thrive.

Some people will accuse you of being racist, saying that you’re excluding other races of people from participating in our economic resurgence.  That is as far from the truth as our sun is from the edge of the universe…plus a foot.  Don’t fall for that BS argument.

Anyone who offers up that defense of the way things are is no friend to you. That person does not care about your economic well-being. It’s that simple.

We live in a capitalist society.  In order to thrive in that society, you have to play the game.  The hallmark of capitalism is competition, and letting the “free market” decide what’s fair.  You can shop wherever you want.  For the most part, one can control how you spend your dollar.  And anyone that wants your dollar better offer a product or service worth purchasing.

You can buy and own a pair of shoes.  Pool your money, and you can buy and own a shoe store, and generate wealth selling shoes to everyone.  You’ll always depend on customers for income, but you’ll see a greater reward from your hard work, because it’s yours.

When you own something, you become invested in its future success.

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It’s very rare that someone invests in something hoping that it’ll fail.  When you’re invested in the success of something, you’ll do whatever it takes to make that success possible.  When you begin to own and control the economics in your own neighborhood, you can create the jobs needed to generate more business for yourself and others, and put more people on the path to financial freedom.  It’s a beautiful thing.

And, most importantly, it stops gentrification.  Don’t get me started on that shit, B.

So, start a business. Invest in the stock market. Find ways to make your money work for you and Black America. If we don’t, we’ll continue to be where we’ll always be: Dead last and begging for a pass.

I’ll leave you with Malcolm X’s explanation of economic Black Nationalism.  I love you…

#BlessedBeTheGrind

“So the economic philosophy of black nationalism means in every church, in every civic organization, in every fraternal order, it’s time now for our people to become conscious of the importance of controlling the economy of our community. If we own the stores, if we operate the businesses, if we try and establish some industry in our own community, then we’re developing to the position where we are creating employment for our own kind. Once you gain control of the economy of your own community, then you don’t have to picket and boycott and beg some cracker downtown for a job in his business.”                 – Malcolm X, “The Ballot Or The Bullet”

5 Threats to The Black Man In America Part 3: Education

5 Threats to The Black Man In America Part 3: Education

Mental genocide.

This is what the educational system is to Black people in America.

In his book, Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys, author Jawanza Kunjufu opens the first chapter by defining the word, “genocide.”  It’s imperative that we look at the education of our youth in those terms.

Our children are dying before they ever pull a trigger, push a drug into their veins, or travel down the road of sexual promiscuity.  Our history is given to us in a few shattered pieces, with no thought given to whether they even fit together.  Many of us know little, if anything, about ourselves and our contributions to the world prior to our kidnapping and enslavement.  Our history is whitewashed in both fact (i.e., the study of Egyptian history separate from the rest of African history) and fiction (i.e., cinematic depictions of ancient Egyptian historical figures).

This ain’t education.  #IssaIndoctrination.

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We are indoctrinated to believe that our contributions to history only began after we were given freedom from slavery.  Our culture prior to European “intervention” is considered backward and counter-productive.  Our pre-Christian and pre-Islamic spirituality is derided as demonic and unrefined.  Many of our advances in medicine and in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) were stolen, copied, and mishandled, and the original innovators were thrown away and buried.

We’re told in history that the Greeks were, for all intents and purposes, the original philosophical thinkers.  What we’re NOT TOLD is that many of the most well-known philosophers studied in Africa.

Archimedes, widely regarded as the “father” of western mathematics, studied in Egypt.  Hippocrates, the world-renowned “father” of modern medicine, was highly influenced by the teachings of Imhotep.  Untold thousands of Greek and other European scholars either traveled to or were influenced by teachings based on ancient Egyptian knowledge.

Just so we’re clear: Egypt is NORTHEAST AFRICA.  NORTH AFRICA.  AFRICA.

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I’m a firm believer in the idea that all knowledge is for everyone in the world.  I’m just as firm in the belief that credit should be given where credit is due.  Don’t allow anyone to pass the BS line of “color doesn’t matter.”  If color didn’t matter, why was there such an attempt to white wash our history?  Why IS there an ongoing effort to continue colonizing free information?

Black people, we do a disservice to our children when we don’t teach them about who they really are, where they come from, and what came from them.  If anyone should be indoctrinating our children, it should be US.

This goes way deeper than simply telling them what they need to know.

Teach them why they need to know.  Anyone who’s been around a toddler more than five minutes knows how inquisitive they can be.  Use that to your (and their) advantage.  A parent is the best history teacher a child will ever have.

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We’re also taught to mistrust one another.  The divisions of this mistrust are many.  It includes, among other things, skin tone (“light” vs. “dark”), age, sex, and intelligence.  Commonly known as “Willie Lynch Syndrome,” this tactic has been used to our disadvantage for centuries to keep us divided from each other and conquered, unable to progress without the intervention and guidance of White people.  It has expanded to keep pace with the growing autonomy of Black people in America.

(Take a moment to read the letter allegedly written Willie Lynch.  I believe Willie Lynch didn’t exist in history, however I DO BELIEVE the letter to be an accurate psychological representation of what has happened to Black people in America, how it happened, why it happened, and how to reverse it.  Dr. Kwabena F. Ashanti may be the letter’s actual author.)

As long as we’re mistrusting and fighting ourselves, we’re manageable.  How does one standardize that manageability?

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It’s given freely to you by what they DON’T teach you.  You weren’t told about your history because to do so would jeopardize your physical and mental enslavement.  That’s one reason why reading was forbidden among slaves. Learning is rebellion.  It’s the most dangerous form of rebellion.  You can kill a million people, but you can’t kill an idea.  History has shown us that time and again.

I will always encourage you to learn more.  Don’t take what I blog here as gospel.  These are my beliefs based on what I’ve learned.  It does neither one of us any good if you don’t research for yourself, challenge your core beliefs, and act upon new knowledge and understanding.  Our continued existence depends on what we know and how we grow.  I love you.

#BlessedBeTheGrind

5 Threats to The Black Man In America Part 1: Diet

5 Threats to The Black Man In America Part 2: Religion

5 Threats to The Black Man In America Part 2: Religion

I’ve been a member of a certain church on the Southside of Fort Wayne literally my entire life.  I was baptized into the faith as an infant, and raised in it.  I attended Christian schools from Kindergarten until I graduated from Concordia Lutheran High School in 2003.

Christian churches have been staples in Black communities all across America since the days of chattel slavery.  The church has been one of the few places where Black people could come and express all the emotions conjured up by the harsh, unforgiving, racist world, and receive a message of hope.  The Nation of Islam, The Hebrew Israelite faith, and many other faith groups have also come into play the past decades.

During the era of legalized segregation, the church played a vital in the lives of the community.  They were more than simply houses of worship.  They provided food and shelter for hungry and homeless souls, funded schools to educate children, and backed the Black business owners that helped create legendary Black Wall Streets in towns all over the country.  The churches cared for the communities they served. And it showed.

But the direction changed after the Civil Rights Movement.

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Somewhere along the road, the church has lost the spirit to help the Black community.  I believe the church, specifically the Christian church, is hiding behind its religion to shield itself from its economic obligation to its community.

There was a homeless man who came to the church every week asking for money.  The usher who passed out the Divine Service agenda would always offer him canned goods in lieu of money.  One Sunday I finally asked him why we didn’t give him any cash.  His response was that if you give them cash once, they’ll keep coming back.  What bothered me most was that it was ASSUMED that this guy was not going to be a good steward of any money given to him.

I was blind to the fact that the church wasn’t any better of a steward.

With as much money as Black people tithe on any given Sunday, I believe that the Black church is OBLIGATED to put that money to good use in the community.  And I ain’t talking about the “building fund,” either.

The money we tithe every Sunday is being put to use AGAINST US.  Our churches take that money and deposit it into banks.  I’ll make a conservative guess that 99% of all our money is being held in banks that Black people don’t own, in banks where it’s tougher for us to get a business loan, personal loan, or any other type of financial help than for a White person.

That money is being used to give loans to people, businesses, and government agencies that engage in, among other things, the gentrification of Black neighborhoods.

In essence, we’re helping to fund our own demise.

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You don’t have to love money in order to use it.  Understanding that you’ll need a lot of it to effect meaningful change in the community doesn’t necessarily make you greedy or sinful.  Our relationship with money must change, because as long as it doesn’t, Black people will suffer.  We should provide for our people by any means necessary, and that includes money, wealth, and ownership.  There’s nothing wrong with using our money for a cause that secures the safety and health of the people.

In the Bible, the love of money is considered to be the root of all evil.  It also tells us that we should be content with just food and clothing.  Both of those ideals can be found in the book of 1 Timothy, the 6th chapter And, if you ask me, it’s no coincidence that servants are also exhorted to obey their masters in the same chapter.

In my mind, it conflicts with the idea of helping others in need.

“But Jesus walked into the temple and drove out all the people who bought and sold inside of it. It’s right there in the Bible…”

Yeah, it’s in there.  But that doesn’t stop you from conducting business in another building.

So why is it such an anathema for us to talk about what Black churches do with our money?  Why is the talk of economic empowerment so vehemently hushed up?  I have a million reasons as to why that is, but not one of them justifies our willingness to allow things to continue on this present course…a course of continual enslavement.

We see pastors everywhere urging their congregations to organize for social and political matters.  We see them march, rally, and protest all types of injustices.  But we rarely see or hear our pastors preach economic empowerment.  There’s so much talk of our people being in poverty, unemployed, uneducated, and under deadly scrutiny of law enforcement, while ALMOST NOTHING is being said to address it other than to pray for better days.

We’re always pushed to seek justice and equality through social means.  The problem is that we’ve achieved as much social equality as is humanly possible in this still-racist society, and we’re STILL in our own hell on earth.

Our parents and grandparents fought for social justice.  Now it’s our turn to fight for economic justice.

Our churches need to get their eyes on the ball.

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Those of us who are Christian need to start asking questions of our church leaders.  You don’t have to make a grand stand and rival your preacher’s sermon.  It may very well be the case that the economic role of the church was honestly never brought up in your congregation.  You could be the catalyst.

Even Jesus was one man.

Economic empowerment can come in many forms.  It can come through scholarships, home ownership programs, job fairs, or building and/or restoration projects of houses and other structures.  Starting a church garden or buying a farm and producing your own crops to feed your congregations and others in the surrounding area is a possibility.  Whatever choice is made is better than no choice at all.

It’s time the church use its God-given abilities to produce God-fearing results.

You don’t have to have all the answers up front.  I know I certainly don’t.  But it’s a conversation that we need to engage in, and I believe it’s the Christian thing to do.  When it’s all said and done, it’s about helping people to be better than they were yesterday.  Doing that helps EVERYONE in our community.

Everyone wins when we take a more holistic, unified approach to our prosperity.  Religion and economics can be separate and equal at the same time.  One can certainly help the other.  We just need to make the connection happen…

#BlessedBeTheGrind

I encourage you to check out Part I of this series if you haven’t yet done so…

5 Threats to The Black Man In America Part 1: Diet

The Black Man in America is under assault.

From the moment we were dragged from those floating wooden caskets onto the shores of the New World, we’ve been under assault.  Our men have been beaten and emasculated.  Our women have been raped and abused.  Our children have been rendered orphans in their own homes.

Psychological.  Physical.  Spiritual.  Intellectual.  Nutritional.  Economic.  ASSAULT.

Any person with an objective eye could spend hours listing examples of how this unyielding assault on our whole personage has been so successful for so long.  I only intend to list what are, in my humbly emboldened opinion, the FIVE BIGGEST THREATS to the Black Man in America.  I intend to address these threats individually in a 5-Blog series over the next five weeks.  In no specific order, they are:

• Diet
• Religion
• Education
• Wealth & Ownership, and
• Politics

I’m not here to debate which of these is more important than the other; my goal is to show you WHY they are all important.  How you arrange, add, or subtract from this list is up to you.  What matters is that we begin to look at and implement ways to improve our lot in America, and in the world.

And for y’all out there petty enough to try it…

The term “Black Man” in the title doesn’t suggest that I’m not only speaking on Black males.  This includes women and children.  EVERYONE.

Now that the streetlights are on, it’s time to GO IN

THREAT #1: DIET

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I’ll take a chance here and say that you’ve heard of the phrase, “you are what you eat.”  It’s a phrase that rings true of all people.  The food you put in your mouth gets broken down, and whatever nutrients that food yields get distributed throughout your body.  Generally speaking:

If your food is healthy, you will be healthy, and…

If your food is unhealthy, you will be unhealthy.

What we eat determines everything about us on a cellular level.  Humans are natural, organic people.  Our food shouldn’t be any different.  We’ve spent centuries eating others’ leftovers and calling it “soul food.”  I like dressing, fried chicken, candied yams, and collard greens as much as the next Black person.  But I’ve come to understand that these foods are killing us with much more consistency than ANY form of external physical aggression.

And we’re addicted to it.

All the refined salts and sugars, animals and animal fats, and excessive cooking of our foods render our bodies nearly useless to do the things it needs to do to keep us healthy.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a Black person who DOESN’T know of a close family member (or maybe YOU are that family member) who suffers from hypertension, diabetes, obesity, or any other of a host of medical issues that are preventable.

One more time for the people in the back: IT’S PREVENTABLE!!!

Take a hard look at what you eat and be honest with yourself.  Is it good?  It probably is, and that’s why it’s sitting on your plate.  But is it good FOR you?  If that answer is “no,” then you need to take steps to remove it from your diet.

We have to regain control of what we eat.  This is the beginning of taking control of ourselves, our families, our neighborhoods, and our future.  If we can control what we eat, we can control what we are.  We need no further proof that our foods are killing us than to look at our own people.

We’ve got mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, and friends who can take the worst part of a pig and make it edible, but they’re barely into their 60s, and are one bowl of “chitlins” away from losing a foot.

We have fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, and a host of other men who were as strong as ever back in their 20s and 30s, but are now in their 40s and 50s suffering from hypertension and prostate cancer rates higher than almost any other group of people ON EARTH.

It has to stop.  And we have to be the ones to stop it.  No one else will to stop it for us.

An unhealthy diet is a threat to anyone who engages in it.  It’s a threat to one’s family, neighborhood, and to the very survival of one’s race of people.  If we are truly serious about the empowerment and progression of Black people in America, and worldwide, we can’t overlook our diets.  No army trains for war by willingly sabotaging the well-being of its soldiers or their families.  We have to have the same mindset.

We’re at war for our very survival.

We are being assaulted from the outside AND the inside.  The best way to combat this all-out “nutricide” is to control our food supply.  We must grow our own food.  There are people all over who are starting and maintaining gardens in their backyards, or planting single seeds in windowsills.  I know two brothers here in Fort Wayne who STARTED FARMS for the sole purpose of providing healthy food options to an area of town known as a “food desert,” a highly populated, lower-income area where healthy options are extremely limited.

If you can’t get it local, MAKE IT LOCAL.  A closed mouth won’t get fed.

With all the information of the world at our fingertips, we can find ways to make this work.  We can find helpful tips on how to home garden.  And for those of us with the proverbial “black thumb” for gardening, we can look up what foods are healthy to eat and where to purchase them.  If you know of a Black person in your area engaging in urban agriculture, find out how to donate or invest in their work.  If you have time, volunteer.

We all can’t do EVERYTHING to help alleviate our plight, but can all do SOMETHING.  That’s where we have to start.  It’ll definitely involve spending extra money; after all, we live in a capitalist society, so nothing comes free, and unfortunately that includes the right to fresh, healthy food.

I’ve found brothers like Dr. Sebi and Dr. Llaila Afrika to be extremely helpful in my quest to eat and live a healthier lifestyle.  Ya know, those “crazy,” “dashiki-in-the-hood wearin’,” “angry Black man on the elevator” type of people you’re always told not to listen to because they don’t know what they’re talking about?

Yeah, those guys.

Two years ago, I tipped the scales at around 320 pounds with no intention of getting smaller or healthier.  Now, I’m nearly 50 pounds lighter, and after taking some time to rest on my laurels, I’m ready and more prepared than ever to lose even more!

But it’s more than just numbers here.  It’s a plan, a means to an end.  This isn’t just for me.  It’s for my family.  It’s for you.  I love you.

#BlessedBeTheGrind