#BlackLivesMatter

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a wedding of a beautiful couple.  They were both of African descent, or in other words, “Black”.  It was a traditional wedding at a church, followed by a reception where we enjoyed food, dancing, and conversation.

As the night progressed, the couple began to mingle with the guests, I stopped them to take a picture.  Being a millennial, I thought to myself, “let me put this on social media”.  So I put up the picture and added the hashtag #BlackLove and thought nothing of it.  I was just capturing the moment of two beautiful and educated individuals who just happen to be black.  There’s nothing wrong with that, right?

Well, lo and behold, someone commented on the photo to congratulate the couple and the proceed to add the following: “Congratulations… Remember, love knows no color. God is love.”

Normally, I really don’t involve myself in social media debate or banter, but I was shocked that someone would make a statement like that.  I was not denying the fact that love can transcend colors.  My only intention was to highlight that there are still positive black relationships out there that need to be celebrated.

However, it did make me take a step back to question myself.  When people of other nationalities see us post #BlackLivesMatter, #BlackLove, #BlackPower, etc, do they really think that we’re really being racist?  Well they should really live a little and read more.

In my opinion, #BlackPower has never been associated with racism.  #BlackPower refers to a political movement which includes psychological and cultural messages that promote unity.  However, White Power has primarily been associated with White Supremacy.  I am not going to add a hashtag to those two terms for obvious reasons.  So I would definitely caution a white person to think before they post “White Power” on any social media page.

Now I’m not the voice for all Black People, but I am Black.  When I include the hashtags #BlackPower, #BlackLivesMatter, #BlackLove, #BlackMenWhoTeach, etc., I am showing a sign of solidarity not segregation.  I am showing that I am not ashamed about being black.  I am not ashamed of showing that we should not be ignored or overlooked.  I am showing that we are very capabale of doing what are other counterparts can do.   We need each other to continue to move forward.  So remember that #BlackLivesMatter.

I Call God…

God has many names.  According to The Bible, Torah, or whatever literary book that you learned about God, even Father Abraham knew that.  Abraham gave God a new name based upon his experiences.  So why do people get so caught up in calling God the right name?

QUICK NOTE: The debate is still out whether God is a man or a woman.  To me, God is neither because God is a spirit.  However, I am going to use the male pronoun for the rest of this blog.

Back to my question.  So why do people get so caught up in calling God the right name? I don’t mean like saying Jesus or Holy Spirit.  I mean people referring to God as “The Universe” or “The Wo/Man Upstairs”.  Why are people so upset about that?

What makes saying these phrases so wrong?  I would think that God would still respect the effort regardless of whether someone calls God by the proper name.  So what is the proper name for God?

The proper name for God is ____________.  You decide.  It is up to you.  However you reverence God should be what you call God.  I think God would be more honored and humbled to know that you recognize that life didn’t just happen to or for you.  God would probably smile when you acknowledge Him.

So before you judge someone for NOT calling God by the proper name, whatever that is, remember that you are not God.  You did not create the universe by placing the sun, the moon, and the stars in their rightful place.  Nor did you create night and day.  Instead of bashing people that have a different name for God, celebrate them and encourage them to continue to honor God, the Universe, The Wo/Man Upstairs, etc.  If they ask you, what do you call God, tell them.  Then it makes the conversation more personable.  You never how much of an impact that can make on someone’s life.

God bless you!

How Did I Miss That?

Sometimes in life, we think that we have everything going for us.  The right school, the right job, the right spouse, and even the right children.  But then a crisis comes along and places us on our back.  We say “how did I miss that?”

We being to question every action that led up to this crisis.  As any rationale person would do, we retrace our steps to see if there was anything that we could’ve done to prevent this crisis from happening.  Sometimes we are able to pinpoint the very moment when things began to slowly unravel.  Other times, we don’t.  It is in those moments that we must dig deep.

When I say dig deep, look at the crisis head-on and push through it, no matter what.  I found that pushing through a crisis truly makes you stronger.  A crisis shows who you really are at the core.  It shows whether you have faith in God or yourself to get through a tough situation.  It also reveals if you paid attention to those around you that faced a crisis.  Did you truly notice the steps they took to be a champion?

Before you quit, stop saying “how did I miss this?” You were prepared for this very moment.  Everyone is born with muscles.  But you can’t get stronger unless you consistently stretch or put pressure to those muscles.  Be encouraged and make a plan to work through your crisis.

February Means Black History Month, Right?

You’re twiddling your thumbs trying to figure out what to do for Black History Month.  You may be black, you may have black friend or neighbor, or you may even teach black children.  You’re lost of what to do to celebrate Black History Month and still be authentic.  You’re not alone.

First let’s start with the basics.  Short history recap, it was founded by Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Week in 1926.  Woodson’s m.o. was to raise awareness of African Americans contributions to civilization.   It later became a month long celebration in 1976.  So you’re good if you only take a week to celebrate.  However, that’s only if you’re going make more time to celebrate next year, of course.  With that being said, how you celebrate BHM is up to you.  But it should always bring some type of awareness.

How does one bring awareness?  Here are a few easy ways to bring awareness:

  1. Music – Black Americans have contributed to music more than people realize.  And it’s not limited to R&B, Gospel, and Hip Hop.  Black Americans have contributed to every genre of music.  For example, some just recently discovered classical composer and conductor William Grant Still.  His compositions are truly soothing to the soul.  Great easy listening for a Sunday afternoon.
  2. Books – Read a piece of literary work.  In this digital age, picking up a book written by a black author is a great way to unplug.  From authors such as Julia Blues to Walter Mosley and everyone in between.  You can find a category of work that appeals to you.
  3. Black Churches – Visit one.  Now this may seem awkward to do.  But the black church was the heartbeat of the community during the 19th and 20th centuries.  From a place where community meetings were held to a Sunday morning experience that can never be duplicated. After visiting a black church, you may even say that is was just as moving as the book, the film, and now Broadway musical, The Color Purple.
  4. Black Art – Now music is a part of art but let’s add something else.  Whether it be an art museum or an Alvin Ailey production, Black Art offers a visual educational experience.  It is also a way to see Black Americans express themselves through art.  Between photography, paintings, and dance, art has been an effective way that Black Americans have shared their pain and triumphs.
  5. Patronize Black-Owned Businesses – Whether it be a restaurant or boutique, support black-owned businesses.  Not only does your frequency help the business, it shows that Black Americans are appreciated.  It also shows that Black Americans are viewed as equal competition and not second class citizens when you support a black-owned business.  It actually generates revenue for all and keeps people employed.

These are just a few ideas of what to do during Black History Month.  As President Gerald Ford said, “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black history.”  Make time to read a book, visit a museum, or listen to some music that recognizes and reflects Black Americans.  Whatever you choose to do, continue to bring awareness of Black American’s contributions to society.

WHAT TO SAY???

“Let me know if you need anything.”  How many times have we heard that phrase?  Many people use it as a form of sympathy or concern.  But does that statement really have any value if you don’t do anything?  So what should we say when some faces hardships that are unexpected?  Here are my top ten phrases and/or questions I think we could use when someone faces a crisis:

  1. What do you need? This causes the receiver to actually think about what they need in that moment.  It also lets the receiver know that you’re willing to help out no matter what.  For instance, if the person asks for something you can’t deliver, then you can always suggest another person or help them find resources to get the help that they truly need.
  2. How is your family supporting you? This question captures their current family dynamics without being intrusive.  It lets you know whether or not you need increase your interaction as friend, coworker, lover, etc.
  3. Do you have (health/life)insurance? Now, this question is tricky. Depending on the type of crisis, I would think that the only person that would ask this question is a confidant and not a comrade nor a constituent.  This question brings reality into focus.  It helps the receiver think of an actionable plan and get out of the denial stage.
  4. How do you get better?  If the response is “I don’t know,” this person has given up.  That’s my opinion.  There is so much information out there for people to gain it’s truly amazing.  Back to my point.  A red flag should go up when you get a response of “I don’t know”.  First, think about whether or not you want to cradle this person to wellness.  Then, if you want to cradle that person, more power to you.  The person on the receiving end must put in some effort in finding ways to get better, even if it’s just one piece of knowledge that they have gained during this crisis.
  5. What have you been doing?  This may seem like a generic question but it is truly powerful.  This question holds the receiver accountable.  The response of this question will show you whether or not this person is truly on the road to recovery.  It also gives you some insight of that person’s perspective of the ordeal.  Those perspectives are the following.  First, it can show whether or not the person is in denial.  Second, it can show you if this person is on the road to destruction and never wants to recover.  Lastly, it can also show you that this person is taking ownership about getting better.
  6. You’re a fighter.  The fact that the person has told you means that they don’t want to fight alone.  It also means that they may have been fighting alone for some time.  This person probably has never faced a HUGE crisis like this in their life.  They have seen other people but never envisioned themselves in this particular situation.  Based upon a person’s previous history, you know whether or not it is in them to fight past a defining crisis.  If their track record has proven that they’re a fighter, tell them!
  7. Your belief will determine your outcome.  Now this can be taken as spiritual or mental.  If a person doesn’t believe that things will get better, then hope has truly escaped.  You can give that person all the money in the world, all the hugs, all the encouragement, etc.  But if they don’t believe, it’s pretty much a done deal.
  8. Things will get better/easier. This statement you should save only if you been through the same EXACT situation as the person.  You could also use this statement if your willing to link this person to someone that is in the same situation as them.
  9. Let’s pray. Can I pray for you? If you know this person and know their belief system, then YES! Why not pray in that moment? Also, if you ask the person and they decline, that is fine too.  It is okay for someone to decline to pray.  Let it be their choice and not yours.  However, take full advantage of that moment.  If you feel compelled to pray, then pray!
  10. Don’t give up on life!  This statement is an extension of a few the previous statements.  You’d be surprised of how this statement can shift a person’s mindset.  The fact that you gathered enough boldness to share this with them reminds them that you believe in them.  Even if they don’t believe in themselves at that moment.  It is truly a choice to live in the moment.  Continue to remind them to LIVE!

I hope this sheds some light of what to say when someone we love faces a crisis.  Lastly, if you don’t remember these questions and/or statements, then don’t say anything.  Silence is so much better than giving false hope.  During a crisis is when people need hope the most.

Another email?

Another email? Ugh!

What was life like before crowdfunding websites?  I mean how did people like Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney…need I say more? How did they launch their businesses?  I don’t recall any of the them having chicken dinners, cake sales, and/or robocalls to supplement their projects.

However, I do know that the above mentioned worked very hard for what they accomplished and presented to the world.  They took what they had, marketed it the best way they knew how and the crowds followed.

Why should people support something they haven’t seen yet?  Why should people hope in potential? Why should people give?

By nature, I’m a giver.  After living in NYC for a few years, I have learned to be wise about giving to people, especially strangers.  Anybody can make up a convincing story for your heart to melt and give.  But at the end of the day.  Do you really know where that money is going?

So my advice to upcoming filmmakers, entrepreneurs, etc., there is this thing called grants.  Write one.  You’d be surprised how many people have funding their companies with a grant.  Then you don’t have to send momentos to people that gave.  Also there are incentive programs developing in many states where you get funding from the state to film projects.  There are reasonable loans that some states are just waiting to give money to small companies.  Let’s research more instead of using a quick fundraising system to fund our vision.  If it’s your vision, do the research and put in the hard work.  No more time for quick money.  The only quick money that lasts is the lottery.  And well…that’s another story.

Lastly, to me, some of these crowdfunding websites are being abused.  I applaud the creators and innovators for creating a system for people to raise money for natural disasters, medical expenses, etc.  Yes, and there are truly people that can benefit from it and have benefited from it.  However, I find that people now are using it for trivial things, such as tickets to a concert.  I ain’t mad. But I am giving a major side-eye.

Where do we draw the line with it?