Tag Archives: Community

America has no Face – America has many Faces

America has no face.

America has many faces.

How refreshing it was to watch the democratic debate on CNN last night and see so many of faces. White, Black, Latino and Asian; Men and Women; Straight and Gay; Young and Old, Progressives and Moderates.  All vying to be the democratic nominee for President.  Now you can agree or disagree with their politics, but you can’t deny that almost everyone in America could look at that stage and see someone they could personally identify with and that’s what makes America great. We are a country of many different races, ethnicities, beliefs, religions, sexualities, economic levels and social beliefs, an incredible mosaic woven together to form very fabric of America.  It was the founding fathers who imagined this America when declaring independence from British rule proudly stating:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal

At the time it was more of an ideal than something that was practiced, there was still the little issues of slavery and displacing Native Americans from their home land, but it was an ideal never the less of what America could and should be. Today there are still those among us who would have you believe America was at its greatest when segregation was the rule of day, when opportunities for women in the workplace were far and few between, when being gay was meet with societal shame.  That America is no more.  America is changing, some may think not fast-enough, but it is changing. Evolving beyond its past prejudices. We are now the majority, we are the coalition of the righteous. It is why I believe you see individuals who turn a blind eye to alleged corruption by our current President and cling to his mantra of hate and division and a time when as a Americans we were less enlightened time fighting so hard now.  They are afraid of the new America, unwilling to open themselves up to anyone or anything that is different from themselves and what they believe to be right. This is their last stand and they know it, but it is to late momentum is against them, the new America is here, and it is many faces coming together to form one voice and shout:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal

It is after all the ideal that America was founded on.

We The People

Captain Kirk once said: 

Look at these three words written larger than the rest, with a special pride never written before or since. Tall words proudly saying We the People was not written for the chiefs or the kings or the warriors or the rich and powerful, but for all the people! …They must apply to everyone or they mean nothing

Donald Trump cannot comprehend that. He wrongly believed it applies only to whitemen in MAGA hats. As Americans how can weask someone who is sworn to uphold the Constitution to do so when regrettably they do not appear to have the capacity to grasp the meaning of its first three words. 

WE THE PEOPLE

We Are The Coalition Of The Righteous

GOP politicians are lining up to defend Trump’s racist tweets some going as far as too call them patriotic and informing us that we should just move on from this and get back to the business of governing. 

REALLY? Just move on from it? So now You’re going to tell US what is racist and what isn’t. Is this the same logic you used when you told us Slavery wasn’t racist, segregation wasn’t fine as long as it was separate but “equal”, red lining wasn’t racist. the shooting of unarmed black men of color were justified. 

No we can not simply move on from it.

Now more than ever we have a difficult time ahead of us. But we must shed our fear of it.

Why?

Because we are not here because of the path that lies before us but because of the path that lies behind us. Four hundred years we have endured slavery, racism, sexism, homophobia and the denial of basic human rights and with each step forward we take, with each of our achievement we accomplish it produces fear among those among who still preach hate, who look to divide, do not believe in the brotherhood of all but would rather hold onto the old ways of subjugation and bondage.

But we are rising up now, together as one, race, color, religion, creed, gender and national origin .  We are a coalition of the righteous and we are gathering momentum each and every day. We are going to create a world where color, gender, religious belief and country of origin doesn’t matter. A world without conflicts and killings. A world without borders and boundaries. A world united not divided, ruled by love not hate. A world where anything is possible.

Today we send a message to those who still cling to the past, those who still preach hatred, those who still wish to divide this great nation not on the content of our character but on the the color of our skin. Today we take OUR country back from the racist and bigoted. Today we tremble these amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties from sea to shining sea. Today we remember, this is America where we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and all women regardless of color are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness.

Today we make them remember we are still here

An Angel Walks in a Room

An angel walks in a room with a Christian who celebrates Christmas. A Jew who celebrates Hanukkah and a African American who celebrates Kwanza. The angel quickly looks around and says Happy Holidays to everyone. At that moment an individual in the corner sighs loudly. The angel turns to the man and asks is  there a problem sir?  To which the man responded well since you asked there is.  I’m  so tired of you liberals and your war on Christmas. What wrong with just saying Merry Christmas like we did in the good old days. The angel looked at the man and laughed and then politely said sir it would seem it is you and not me who is waging war on Christmas. Me? Responded the man shockingly. Yes you said the angel for on the day Jesus was born an angel like myself told all those in the manger I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. He did not identify only a selection of people to wish great joy he wished it to all. We are all God’s children and he wishes that as his children we love each other and respect each other faiths. If you choose to turn a cold shoulder to or belittle those who wish happiness to all then it is you who are soiling the true meaning of Christmas.

Black is Beautiful

Drug dealers, gang bangers, fatherless, welfare dependent, prisoners are some of the images that the media bombard us with. When faced with these images on a daily basis many of us begin to accept them and have lower life expectations of ourselves. In essence we are letting the stereotypes of others define who we are rather than defining ourselves. The positive images of African Americans is often that of athletes and hip hop stars implying that their are limited roads to success within the African-American community. Protest against social injustice by African Americans stars is spun as unpatriotic  and done by individuals who are fortunate that society has given them so much. Notice I said given not earned because for many the thought of the African American working hard and earning their position in society is a foreign concept. As Cater G. Woodson said to handicap a student by teaching him that his black face is a curse and that his struggle to change his condition is hopeless is the worst sort of lynching.”

1984 brought us the Cosby Show centered on the lives of the fictional Huxtables obstetrician Cliff his lawyer wife Claire, and their children Sondra, Denise, Vanessa and Rudy, and son Theo. The show was unique in that not only did it depict an upper middle class African American family, we had seen that before on shows such as the Jeffersons, but one that was led by not one but two professionals. They were portrayed as simply a family residing in Brooklyn, not a African American family simply a family. They were not the exception to the rule rather they were just another successful family.  The Huxtables showed us that African Americans can achieve, can be successful, can be a mother and a father who have children who attend college because isn’t that what all kids do when they graduate high school. They were the embodiment of what all American families white and black strive to be.

2008 brought us Barack Obama who against all odds became America’s first African American President. Something many of believed we would never live to see. He was a highly educated man of color and a dedicated husband and father.  While in office some media outlets looked to marginalize his accomplishments, question his citizenship and disintegrate his character but thanks to his magnetic personality and superior oratory skills President Obama was able to overcome media attempts to downplay or mischaracterize him. He represented himself with a class and dignity rarely seen by a politician and won respect and admiration not only from Americans but world wide. His wife Michelle  a strong, educated, beautiful woman of color, so much so that the thought of her running for President today does not seem out of the realm of possibility, was also at times a victim of certain media outlets attempt to paint the Obama’s in a poor light. But like her husband she too possessed a magnetic personality and superior oratory skills which easily allowed her to deflect any negativity aimed at her. The Obamas represented what is possible for all African Americans. No longer was it a fantasy to tell your child they could grow up to be President because it has been accomplished and with accomplished with dignity and class.

2018 brought us the hugely success Marvel movie Black Panther. Movie theaters were packed with people of color young and old, men and women, some who hadn’t been to a movies in years. They left the theater not only entertained by the movie itself but with a pride of their culture. Wakanda after all was undeniably African. Its citizens highly educated, its women depicted as strong and beautiful, its men strong and dedicated to family. Wakanda forever became a calling card of many because the imaged world of Wakanda represented a look at what African Americans could be. That we could fly above the clouds and achieve greatness.

One cannot quantify the impact the positive images of these fictional and non fictional African Americans have had on the African American community as a whole but it has no doubt allowed some of us to dream of possibilities to consider what we can accomplish regardless of the color of our skin.  This begs the question as to what is the responsibility of successful African Americans in giving back to their community. For many successful African Americans success is often measured by moving out of their community into a predominantly white community.  Leaving behind many of those they used to associate with in exchange for new friends who are predominantly white. Rejecting much of the culture they were raised in to better fit their new surroundings. They reject African American businesses citing their supposed inferiority to that of businesses run by others. It as Cater G Woodson said “Negro banks, as a rule, have failed because the people, taught that their own pioneers in business cannot function in this sphere, 

It is ironic that Harlem one of the bastions of African America culture has in recent years seen a renaissance not as the result of successful African Americans returning but to an influx of white people. Unfortunately as this great community strengthens African Americans are pushed out

So is it truly the responsibility of the successful African American to as Lebron James said in his 2017 ESPY awards speech “go back to our communities, invest our time, our resources, help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them.” In this writers opinion the answer is an unequivocal yes. As each successful generation serves as positive role models and mentors, invests in the building of a strong and prosperous infrastructure that employs those in the community and affords the children of those adults the opportunity to attain a quality education the foundation is put in place where success is not seen as the exception but the norm. The perception of the African American image within ourselves changes from one that is not worthy and of limited possibilities to one who is exceptional and has unlimited opportunities before them. As Fredrick Douglas said The soul that is within me no man can degrade”

The building of this thought process will not come easy as Carole Mosley-Braun so pointedly put it  “Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face” and as Malcolm X once said “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.”  Simply put the African American can not wait for others to “save” us, to build up our communities, to employ our men and women, to educate our children and most importantly to pass down the history of our many accomplishments. The African American must act from within to achieve these goals. We must set the groundwork so that. each succeeding generation grows up with the belief as the 1970’s slogan said Black is Beautiful. That they shout from the mountain tops what James Brown once sang I’m black and I’m proud. That they define themselves and not let others define them.

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Today our difference divide us – Perhaps tomorrow they will be our strength.

I am pleased to see that we have differences.
May we together become greater than the sum of both of us.

-Surak of Vulcan

I am the child of Charles and Frances Cooke two African-Americans born in the early 1900s in the southern part of the United States. As such I have always identified myself as African-American and from time to time was reminded of this by society. From being chased out of a park while being called a nigger when I was 10, having a police officer point a gun at my head when I was 15 simply because I made the mistake of tossing a football around the yard of a white friend who lived in the suburbs, to being pulled over numerous times in my early 20s despite not fitting the “profile” because as kind of a nerd I normally had on penny loafers with argyle socks and matching sweater but my skin color was still the wrong shade.

While my self identification is the result of being raised, loved, and natured by two exceptional individuals who themselves were also African-American I am also adopted, a fact that was kept hidden from me until my late 30s. I know nothing of my biological father other than the fact that he wasn’t African-American. Recently I completed one of those DNA test and found out I was in fact 54.6% Sub-Saharan African and 43.9% European. Interesting I thought as I looked at my results how many of those Europeans had looked at me and seen just the color of my skin and thought of me as inferior? How many of them don’t look like me but have a similar ancestry? Does it really matter what my ancestry is? Does it define how I should live my life?

Our ancestry defines our culture and to a large extend our culture is a leading factor in defining who we are. But while it is a leading factor it does not change the fact that we are all human. Humans with differences but humans nevertheless. It is our differences that If embraced instead of feared would in fact make us stronger as a species. The sun, Earth’s primary source of energy, emits white light but that white light is actually a composite of all of the visible frequencies of light. Without the differences all the colors bring there would be no light at all. So is the case with the human species? Where would we be without our many differences? How would we advance and grow without the varied contributions of so many cultures?

The question before us now is how do we begin to embrace our differences as a species when our entire existence shows we let those differences divide us. Seemingly there is no answer to that. Man has always fostered a sense of loyalty rooted in group identity. We pit race against race, religion against religion, prejudice against prejudice. Divide and conquer has always been mankind’s rallying call. I am pessimistic about our ability to overcome the us versus them mentality in the short term. However I am optimistic that the human is a very promising species and as Captain Jean Luc Picard once said “inside you is the potential to make yourself better…and that is what it is to be human. To make yourself more than you are.” Today our difference divide us perhaps tomorrow we will be better and our differences will be our strength.