Why we riot in short. 

While it is a terrible tragedy and loss to the family and friends of police officers, service members, and the like to be killed while in the line of duty, it is a risk that comes with the job. I’ve never been to or heard of a march or rally for justice for people in those career fields. It is not, however, a risk that should come with being black in America. That is why these riots and protests are happening. I don’t wake up, dawn my blackness, clock in and hope that it’s just another day in the office and I don’t get killed. I don’t get to take this melanin on and off. I get to live in it, day in and day out, and fight for my equality and justice. If it means we riot, protest, scream, and din convenience you then so be it. 

We will be heard. 

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Speaking Impeccably – The Words You Use, Their Meaning, and How You Use Them

With the (not so) recent events in the news reaching global levels through social media and headlines, I thought it was time I discuss word usage and semantics on all sides; the media, law enforcement, protesters, social media activists, etc. There has been an irreverent use of terminology that has made all who are covering these situations look like heroes to some and complete asses to others. Before I begin I feel the need to make mention that this piece is solely my opinion. This is based on no factual evidence other than my own knowledge and experience, to whatever extent that may reach. With that said, class is now in session.

Racism

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines this word as:

  1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.

Cultures all over the world experience racism for one reason or another but in America we typically pin it on two specific ones; white versus black. This is, impart, due to the very long history of oppression imposed on blacks by whites in this country. Another reason the word racism is relegated to the black and white culture is because these two have placed themselves on the extreme ends of the spectrum, naturally. We, whether its from ignorance or refusal or what have you, don’t initially see injustices toward other cultures or beliefs in this country as racism. We only see it as social injustice. When we hear racism in the news, we automatically ask how blacks were oppressed by whites. Furthermore, when we hear racism, we ask who did whites oppress this time. That’ll come later. Racism is a powerful word that holds a heavy history with it, as far as this country is concerned, so we’ve taken ownership of this word as far as how we describe injustice done to us as a whole. 


Reverse Racism 

Get the fuck out of here if you think this phrase is in anyway an argument for how an oppressed culture responds to a culture who feels superior. When you use this phrase, you are implying that one culture is stepping out of their oppression to disrespect Massa, the culture who seemingly thinks they are superior. By comparison, believing in reverse racism in today’s culture is like blatantly disregarding the jewish population for being pissed at the actions of nazi Germany. It’s moot to say that an already oppressed culture is being racist toward a majority. Individually and as a group, racism is racism. There is no reversal. You have to understand that history is not forgotten. You do understand that history is not forgotten. We remember 9/11, Pearl Harbor, D-Day, Fourth of July, The Alamo. Why can’t we remember slavery? Why must we get over it so that every time a black person expresses distrust in the system, its reverse racism? They’re not being racist. They’re not oppressing you or trying to overthrow you. You are not in fear of your future in this country. Your feelings are hurt. If all that was hurt in the black culture and its history were its feelings, we wouldn’t be having these discussions today.


#BlackLivesMatter

Early on and in the wake of this uprising to end police brutality, institutional racism, and overall inequality towards black people the #BlackLivesMatter battle cry was born. While it was quiet at first and, eventually, sort of died out, it was reborn quickly after the obvious disregard of black lives by local and state law enforcement in the country. We all remember the race for equality and the black power movement of the 60’s and 70’s and the battle cry “Black Power”. While it was clear that, as a minority, blacks of the time would not take over the country and topple what reigned supreme, it was an exclamation of their importance to society and the American culture. We were here, we weren’t going anywhere, get the hell over it. #BlackLivesMatter stems from the same idea. This hashtag is not exclusive. Our exclamations and reaffirmations have never excluded another culture or put them below our own. Let’s backtrack. There will always be radicals in every social reform that take the movement to damn far. No one’s here for them. With the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, blacks and other people who got it around the country were simply stating that these lives matter as well as and as much as anyone else’s. We are not denying the importance of anyone’s life or placing one life over another. It’s a simple reminder. Why is #AllLivesMatter not the battle cry? Because all lives are not threatened. All lives are not at risk of being cut short because their threatening skin color. It is already implied that white lives matter. No other race or culture is fighting the battle of who they are versus who they think we are at such a level that they are being executed in the streets. Here’s why retorting with #WhiteLivesMatter; anytime shit like this is said it is said in exclusivity. It means what it says. There are no other inclusions to that statement. Don’t say it in response to #BlackLivesMatter. Just say it in your day to day life. If you’re going to be racist, go full racist. Don’t mask or half ass it.


Race Baiting 

This is a phrase that has become so ambiguous over the years that it doesn’t even have a real meaning anymore. From what I’ve gathered “race baiting” is creating discourse against a person or entity by insinuating that an action or actions performed by said person(s) are racially charged, be it blatant or inconspicuous. Listen, while in this time of revolt we need to call a spade a spade and weed out the bullshit. You cannot hide behind this phrase and accuse anyone of race baiting. I look at this phrase as a defense mechanism and a crutch. It’s definition, depending on the person using it, is either meaningless or muddled. Quit this phrase all together.


Cultural Appropriation

Let’s not deny that this is alive and well. You see and hear it all day. A lot of you are even willful participants. From wearing durags and cornrows to rapping and twerking. It is not to say that these are by black people, for black people, We do all of these things with reason. They serve purpose in our culture. It is those outside of our culture that have turned these staples into stereotypes and a joke in some instances. Our girl Amanda Stenberg, at the tender age of 16, has nailed the concept and description of cultural appropriation in a recent YouTube post. There’s nothing more to be said after you’ve watched her video.


Stop Acting Like a Criminal and You Won’t Get Treated Like One

This phrase… this ridiculously patronizing phrase… Listen, I understand the intent behind this piece of shit string of words but here’s why this’ll get you clocked; you are generalizing that we are all walking up and down the streets like banshees. You’re implying that we are deserving of this maltreatment by law enforcement officials. When you say this you are simply down playing a real struggle for a group of people throughout this country as a petty annoyance of your time. For those fortunate enough to not “fit the description” every time you walk out of your house I don’t expect you to fully understand the brevity of this current oppression. Please open your mind though and think about the last time a black person stepped onto the elevator with you or walked past or behind you on the street. What ran through your mind? Hopefully, most of you didn’t assume the worst and breath a sigh of relief when what you thought was the inevitable didn’t happen. For some, the sight of a black man is an instant threat to safety. When that “some” are enforcers of the law, shit gets hairy. In my adult life I have had questionable run ins with police officers. I am not one to cause trouble, commit intentional crimes, sell drugs, what have you. I’m an educated, hard working, career oriented individual who is apparently saddled with a skin color that screams threatening. While I don’t wear baggy clothes or specific colors, I don’t consider choices in style a crime or death sentence. When you tell someone to stop acting like a criminal and you won’t get treated like one, you are ignoring the idea of racial profiling. Stop and frisk, anyone?


I Don’t See Color

As well intentioned as the notion of not seeing color when you interact with people, it is absolutely a misguided idea. You need to see color. You need to see and understand the differences in treatment of people based on their color. This phrase, with all of its well intended measure, is very elementary. This idea is for children, those unmediated by the world at large. Though we can learn a lot of lessons from them, this isn’t one. For those with children you know, or have dreaded, the day that they ask why that man is brown. At some point color is obvious, and that’s okay. Instead of diagnosing yourself as colorblind, acknowledge the differences in melanin. Now, before I get anymore hate mail, I will say that I sort of understand that this phrase means exactly what it isn’t saying. When people say that they don’t see color, they’re saying that the color of someone’s skin doesn’t influence how they interact with that person. The fault in that, though, is that in our current state of duress you have to interact differently. Blacks, darker hued people, still aren’t welcomed in some areas of the country. We are still pushed out of our own communities through gentrification and pushed further out from epicenters of America. Understand this and know why your darker colored friends are uneasy in certain situations. We, as black or darker skinned people, have a different understanding of how the world works and when you exclaim that you don’t see color it feels as though you don’t see us.

Through the past few years there have been plenty of questionable and viable things alike said both in the public eye and amongst friends. I’m confident that we all want to see change. We all want to walk right up to the sun, hand in hand. When in our emotions, though, we must be careful of what we say. In these difficult times of race relations, sensitivities to what is said on the news, in the work place, amongst friends is high. Instead of getting so comfortable that you forget to consider what another is going through, strike up conversation and educate yourselves. Don’t rely so much on the media that’s paid to sway you. Instead, do some research of your own. While I was inclined to post links to different media outlets which are unbiased and therefore freelanced, I’d rather you make the leap and do your own discoveries.

This is a special thanks to all that are understanding of these times in black America. Thank you for acknowledging the problem and pledging to educate yourself and become an addition to the solution.

Girl, We Don’t Care.

I’m not here to judge anyone who smokes or their reasonings behind it. Can you please leave those who don’t the hell alone though? We are well aware that you are a burn out. This 420 shit needs to stay back in high school, where I thought we’d left it. At 20 something years old, whether or not your smoke weed should be your business and your business alone. If you’re so open to discuss your smoking habits and shenanigans all over my timeline you’re probably headed down a well-beaten path saddled with regret and failure. If you lead a good life, smoke weed in the confinement and comfort of your own home, and don’t feel the need to broadcast it to the world, kudos… I fuck with you. I’ve got coconuts with the people who use that “herbal essence” while sliding up and down my twitter feed with these 420 memes. On a scale of one-to-Rihanna you look pretty dumb. Like, have a little decency to keep that bullshit to yourself. Again, I’m not judging. I care. You matter. Blah. This isn’t a damn holiday though. We’re not here to celebrate with you. Clock out, get to the house, kick of your shoes and relax your feet. Roll one, smoke one, watch Teen Moms and take your ass to bed. Just leave us the fuck out of it.

Thanks.

Makes No Sense

So, I guess these existential crisis are going to be a recurring phenomenon. It seems like I’m having one every two weeks, conveniently preceding pay day. Wouldn’t you fucking know it, they end about two hours after my paycheck clears the bank. I’m pretty sure it’s me being my typical, dramatic self but sometimes i can’t help but assume that the reason they are recurring is because I’m on the cusp of some sort of change and I’m not doing enough to facilitate it. I hate to get fake deep but I seriously wish I knew what I could do to work this shit out. Clearly, it’s not enough to be receptive and ready for the change, I have to figure out what the hell this “change” is. It’s really hard to walk around as the angsty 27 year old with a chip on his shoulder because he’s always in this meta-mental state of crisis but, shit, that is my ministry at this point. I don’t know. Maybe I just need a burrito.

Kidless This Lifetime. Your Thoughts Required. 

Kids. The catalyst of many conversations when you’re 27 years old and don’t have or want any. I tell you, those little shits can make anything uncomfortable well beyond being a figment of anyone’s imagination. Let’s slow down a little, I don’t have an aversion to kids, per se. I just like things a specific way. I also like things hectic and chaotic. I enjoy wine whenever I want to. When sleep comes, I let her ravish me as long as she’d like without interruption. I completely understand that people with children also enjoy these small luxuries. I also understand that children bring out a side of you that you never thought existed. A different kind of love you never thought you’d know. Fine and dandy. That’s just not my shot of whiskey. Generationally speaking, I’m not alone in this never-ending explanation of why kids aren’t my “thing”. It’s a topic that has awkwardly plagued many colleagues and peers of mine at family functions and outings with parent friends. It’s an issue that we’ve been, by proxy, unable to answer because our true answers are 1.) not good enough and/or 2.) rude to the one doing the questioning. For anyone with a normal self esteem, any one of these two effects to answering kid questions is daunting.

A lot of my reasoning for remaining kidless definitely stems from observing people with kids. Although most of them are very happy with their bundles of joy I can’t help but see how lax they become with their own hopes and dreams. How easy it is to just give up on you for the sake of the little ones. This is in no way me being judgemental. I just know, personally, that I have enough shit happening daily that keeps me from living in my dreams without kids. It seems really easy to let the little ones inadvertently take the blame for not being where you want to be in life. I can’t see myself giving up my selfish ways of spending all of my time on me and who/where I want to be in the near and distant future. One thing I’ve felt bad about saying until recently is that I feel sorry for people who had kids before their 21st birthday. At 27 I feel that those years were some of the most valuable years of my life. I made so many mistakes, learned so many lessons, and experienced the world in a different way than ever before. I’m thankful that those years, for me, weren’t lost to parenthood. Now, I’m thankful that I get to live as a young adult with a career learning, growing, making mistakes, and experiencing without having to worry about another mouth to feed (besides my animal). 

To my peers, and the people younger than me, with children speak honestly with me. Do you feel you compromised some of the best years of your life for your little bundles of snot and sunshine? Do you wish you could redo it? This is a no judgement zone. Cross that line and I will come for that ass so please speak freely and without judgements. I’d love to hear opinions. 

Be-YOU-tiful!

I am a dreamer and a do-er. Moreover I am a motivator. I love seeing people aspire to things and then put in the work to achieve them. With that being said, I am beyond proud and over the moon for my sister-in-law Alma. She’s a beautiful person, inside and out, and has an amazing gift that she needs to share with the world. She’s wanted to create a YouTube channel for some time now. She put the money, work, and dedication into it and has far exceeded my expectations. It is an honor and privilege to finally be able to share her work. Everyone, please watch her debut video! Like, comment, and share!

I Came to Fight

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I can feel it. I am on the precipice of something special. Something so altering, it’s scary. I can smell a conclusion. It’s surpassed my bones and is in my soul. My spirit. Whether it’s victory or defeat, I’m unsure. I will work. I will grind until my fingers are numb. I will push and fight until I get to the finish line and then I will push and fight for more. My time is now. If it’s to make me or break me is unseen, but it’s here. And I will fight. Stay tuned.