How do you defeat a time god who can reverse time, bent on destroying the universe? Discover how in Heretics.
If I could somehow share the knowing deep inside of me, that you might see, even for a moment, the true weight of things, not a word would I need to share. But since I cannot, I must ask that you take a minute to consider these things.
While I am not foolish enough to place total faith in any man or woman, I have all the faith in the world in the message within me. The one passed down through the ages, across races, social economic statuses and across the waters. For I have a hope inside of me that transcends every barrier, even life. So while I am not attesting to the effectiveness of one party’s policies versus the next, I can testify that policies of division ring hollow against the policies of inclusiveness and unity. In the past both parties have spent time on the wrong side of this thing we call social evolution, this flattening of the old paradigm of privileges of birth, into a new one of equal opportunities regardless of one’s station when born.
However, reactionary forces, both at home and abroad, would have us believe that salvation lies in reclaiming old ways, but even a cursory review of history exposes the fallacy in such thinking. From tribes, to monarchies, to oligarchies, to republics, to democracies to something we have never seen before, society has and will evolve. And those societies that did not evolve no longer exist. Much like we as a species have survived and moved to the top of the food chain through evolution and adaptation, so too must we as a people. We must trust in the ageless underlying principles regarding the equality of peoples, even above the dictates of any text trapped in time. Any document, be it the Bible, the Constitution or whatever, at best serve as the beginning, not the end of understanding.
And if these thoughts do not move you to action, please consider that in today’s societies, you often have not, because you ask not. Our elected officials are very aware of which communities turn out to vote and those which do not. An active, engaged citizenry often runs contrary to their quest to remain employed and to retain of the benefits therein. Communities that don’t vote, don’t count as much, literally. So, before you curse the name of politicians everywhere, please ask yourself what would you do, if you had a job which paid you, even if you only showed up to work every other November?
Lastly, for those of us who best respond to anger and fear, have you ever considered what pollsters mean by the term “likely voters”? Well, in plain English, it means that when they approximate the likely outcome of an election, pollsters discount the contribution of minorities, poor people and young voters. Pollsters do this because historical data strongly suggests that you won’t bother to go vote. So, if it doesn’t bother you that they count you as 1/2 or 2/3 of a person, then by all means, please stay home and don’t vote. If you avoid going to the ballot box often enough, maybe someday you won’t have to worry about people like me bugging you to exercise your right to vote.
P.S. Please Register to vote and confirm your polling location.
“Everything has a price.
The universe is resolved in this.”
I’ve come to a certain point in my life where I’ve settled upon several truths. Any who’ve read my book Sacrifices, is aware of the particular truth quoted above. I came to this realization as I reflected upon my own life. I’ve strived in my life to fulfill my responsibilities as a son, brother, father, husband and friend. Being raised in a very pragmatic household I went to school for the purpose of getting a good job (though I should note that the most important thing my parents gave me were the value they placed on education, and their unmatched work ethic). So I, like so many of us did, selected my major based on how much it paid. And I am blessed to say, that in that regard it’s been more rewarding than I could have dared to hope (though one must temper this against what little black boys dare to hope and dream, but that’s another post for another day).
But as the leading quote suggests, every choice we make in life comes at a cost. These costs may literally be denoted in money and time, but quite often cost are measured in lost opportunities, the cost of which we may never know. The the blessings of my chosen profession, consulting, have too, come at a price.
I started traveling for work in the spring of 1996, thus this season marks the twenty-second-year of my consulting life, and most of it (all but two assignments) has been out of town.
Thus, for over twenty years, I’ve spent most of my days away from home. That and all it means are the most obvious cost of a life lived out of a suitcase. Being away from my family, and the repercussions there of, are the single biggest tickets item on my account. Yes, being away from the wife and kids (older kids, with the youngest being in high school when I hit the road), was largely the known cost, but when you’re only home on weekends, you tend to over compensate (and arguably, rightly so), by making yourself super available to your immediate family, at the price of spending less time with other family (siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts & uncles). Over the years, that brings on feelings of loss, which can never be reclaimed. Growing up, I’d just assumed that we’d all just always be together. As fully functioning adults, I don’t know that anyone’s life meets that expectation, with most of us constricting our social and familia network over the years. But when you’re literally a thousand miles away, I believe there is exponential effect upon this modern reality.
The second price of life on the road, particularly project work, is how it can diminish or at the very least defers one’s Dream. Yes, Dream, that big dream, the one you feel like you were born with. This phenomenon is not exclusive to those who’ve chosen to be road warriors. Many, of us were taught to be practical when pursuing our life’s work. But where many professions allow one to quietly plan out and develop one’s big Dream, consulting life, allows only the most dedicated to entertain such thoughts. So, while consulting life can help one reach their financial goals better than many professions, it can be a jealous mistress, which demands the vast majority of your waking hours and much of what energy you thought you might have after work or through the weekends, assuming you aren’t working weekends, which is so often the case. Conversely, many jobs, don’t pay enough to cover the life you have, much less the life you want chasing that Dream.
Lastly, are the unknown costs. The costs of paths not taken are ethereal in nature, like ghosts not fully formed, and yet always in the corner of our eye, calling out, “What if…”. But to allow one’s gaze to linger too long upon what may have been, is to lose sight on what is, and the blessings therein.
In my book, Sacrifices, the story of four sisters, born of a minister father and civil rights leader, who called into service to safeguard this world we love, must too reconcile their own hopes and dreams versus the calling to serve humanity which has been put upon them. In particular one of the sisters, Sarah, longs to leave Atlanta and the south, for pretty much anywhere else. With her gifts, she could easily leave and put all the hurt and pain behind her. Given all that’s happened, no one could blame her, if she left and never came back. And yet, she cannot abandon her sisters in the struggle.
As with many speculative fiction works, Sacrifices is a platform to discuss such things, in a form which is enjoyable, but can also transform how you see the world, if you allow it to do so.
Please, check out my book, Sacrifices, which is on sell through Monday, for just $0.99 cents, that’s right, $0.99 cents.
My Black Panther Review (Spoiler ahead…)
When lost and calling out from the wilderness one longs for a voice to call back. Black Panther was, at long last, that comforting echo through the treetops, loving saying back, “I hear you.”
To start, you must show yourself approved, for anyone to truly hear a word you say. Therefore, Ryan Coogler, and the entire cast and crew had to each put their heart and soul into this work. From the storytelling and cinematography to the layered and textured performances of each member of the cast, Black Panther was well done. From all appearances everyone involved was fully committed to bring their very best to the work, and it showed.
Ryan Coogler, leveraging story lines from the Black Panther comics, wove an epic moral tale, that will surely stand the test of time. And while some will dismiss this as just a story, it is, as with all great works of fiction, based in undeniable truths. Truths worthy of discussion.
Three Lessons Learned.
First the premise that the choice, between isolationism and neo-colonialism, is a binary one, is false. In truth, this philosophical battle was not truly between Killmonger and T’Challa, but rather Killmonger and T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father. T’Chaka viewed protecting Wakanda and its way of life, as the moral imperative above all else, even to the point of killing his own brother and abandoning his nephew. Modern politicians often use this ploy when attempting to sway the masses in their oh so polished talking points. In fact, one could even say, that should the whole world fall into the depths of hell, T’Chaka, and the other Black Panthers before him, would be hard pressed to intervene. But T’Challa, when faced with the truth, rejected the notion that there were only two options. T’Challa has chosen to follow his own path, instead. T’Challa, has chosen the path of love over doctrine or dogma.
Secondly, even though Killmonger may have been correct in his political analysis, he was no hero. The charges against the “colonizers” ring true to anyone with any knowledge of geopolitical history, and I’m sure that during the five to ten thousand years, in which the most advance civilizations in the world resided in Africa, atrocities were inflicted upon Africans and Non-African. But no African nation which sat atop the societal pyramid then, ever orchestrated anything on the level of the Transatlantic slave trade. To his point, Killmonger was correct, that black and brown folks all around the world did and do suffer disproportionally.
And yet, though Killmonger believed himself to be a revolutionary, in truth he was an anarchist. Consider how he took a torch to the garden of the Heart Shaped Herb (no concern for the future), his lack of respect for the elders (no regard for social norms) and his treatment of women (he killed several women, and was a fraction of a second away from killing Shuri). The matter of anarchists is something to which I’ve given a good bit of thought, as I have one prominently featured in my latest book, Heretics. There I found the same truth.
Anarchist aren’t born, but rather forged in the hell of an unyielding truth abandoned in the depths of a hopeless soul
Killmonger had indeed lost all hope, like so many others in his community. When you’re hopeless, nothing matters.
Thirdly, the real heroes of the film were the women who supported T’Challa. Nakia was his better angel inspiring him to be more. Okoye, pushed him to be a great king. And Shuri served to keep him grounded and humble. Each of these women would clearly give her life for T-Challa, and it was very evident that he would gladly do the same for each of them. In a sense they, are his holy trinity guiding T’Challa towards his destiny to be perhaps the greatest Black Panther all time.
Heretics is now available on Amazon for purchase. This book rocks. http://ow.ly/dl3v30gc773
Love speaks up
Love remains silent
Love holds on
Love lets go
Love takes time
Love gives time
Love seeks no return
Love keeps no score
Love is free
Love is priceless
Love is a lucid dream
Love is a blurred reality
Love is a bottomless well
Love is an eternal spring
Love is foolish
Love is all we have.
Love is hard.
Love is enduring. In this case, Love is enduring disappointment. Although, I am disappointed in the Ferguson police department and district attorney for many reasons, such as, but not limited to the District Attorney not indicting even though every legal analysis I saw speak on the matter said otherwise, “leaking” misinformation to poison the grand jury pool, and the incorrectly instructing the jury (for which I suspect Justice Department may bring charges), I am not surprised. Based on the initial response of the local authorities, I didn’t expect otherwise. No, I’m disappointed by the fact that once again at how the media once again seeks to inflame than report, and I’m disappointed at how once again, we eat it all up. Like Washington, media particularly visual media, is broken, in respect to the truth anyway. In a microwave society, attracting eyeballs is more important than the truth which is often buried in the details, and who has time for that? The death of journalism may be more of a threat to our republic than lobbyist, “terrorist” (domestic or international) or global warming, for is we do not know the truth, how can we effectively deal with any of these issues?
Love is Sacrifice. As always, little will change without action, without sacrifice. It starts with me challenging myself to take some specific action to address the devaluation of black lives and in doing so help to make this world a safer place for everyone, including young black men. I would hope that you would do the same. Even if your gifts aren’t in the area of social justice, every positive action moves us closer towards our goal of equal treatment, not just within the law (although, that would be welcome start). It can be something unique, but basics such as becoming involved in mentoring (black boys and girls often don’t have the privilege of second chances) or after-school programs are always good. Know your gifts and bring them to the table.
Love is restraint. Regarding the vandals who chose to vandalize stores and cars within the Ferguson community; a number of those stores were black owned (not that it matters in this case), but at the very least all were places of employment for a community in need of jobs. I confess that while I understand the frustration, the hurt and the pain, I don’t get destroying one’s own community. Now, if the vandals had burned down the courthouse, that I would have understood. I’m not recommending that either, but at least that I would understand. Unlike some people in this community, whom I respect very much, I will not give those few protesters who willingly destroyed property in their own community a pass just because they were, and rightly so, upset. I no more give them a pass than I give Officer Darren Wilson a pass, because he was “afraid” of an unarmed black boy. We are on a slippery slope in this country in this regard, allowing citizens to harm other citizens, just because they were upset or scared (i.e. stand your ground laws, sentencing laws for non-violent crimes). There is little room for emotion in the world of equal justice to which we all strive. “In your anger, do not sin”, the Bible and other good books say. So, yes, be angry, but in your anger do not become the very thing you despise.
Love is understanding. During conflicts like this one, there is a misconception of hatred. Both sides believe the other side is filled with hate, when in truth, ironically, both sides think that they are acting in love. Appropriately then, we must demonstrate what love is, so that we all may reach a common understanding. Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King knew that they had to display a greater love, one which would raise all men above what they formerly understood love to be.
Love is Risky…
Even though I know how this story ends, it’s hard right now. The waiting. I’ve grown weary of waiting on Love. Oh how I’ve chased this Love. I’ve longed for…
It’s been a difficult year, in which some of our societal warts have been exposed. What was hidden, has now been revealed. It is not indicative of the whole, but it is painful nonetheless.
Our reality: Optics and the narratives around them, win the day. To this day our history books are filled with the lies of omission. To this day we continue to stumble, because we fail to recall, or just as often were never taught, the lessons of the past. We debate the truth of a snapshot in time as though we have all the facts, when in reality our destinies have less to do with the objects in the picture, and more to do with who frames the picture, for they supply the all important perspective for us. In the human experience the path forward was, is and always shall be a product of our collective perception. With that in mind, brothers and sisters, let me add #mystory to our collective consciousness.
The year was 2004 and I was working and lodging in one of Chicago’s northern suburbs. That particular evening, I was returning from dinner to my hotel room. As I drove my car into the hotel parking lot I noticed a local police car turning into the parking lot behind me. But his lights weren’t on, so I proceeded to park my car and gathered my things (laptop book bag) to head in for the night. Well, before I reached the front door, the officer approached and asked if I would wait a minute. He quickly explained that there had been a robbery in the area and that I matched the description of the suspect. “Okay…?” I said, or something to that effect. He asked me to place my book bag on the ground, and explained that he would need to search it, as soon as a second officer arrived. “Okay…?” again from me. The second officer, a big burly guy, arrived and exited his vehicle quickly, and walked towards us briskly, as he unfastened his holster and placed his hand on his gun. This caused an involuntary rising of an eyebrow by me. Where the first officer had been polite, the second officer rolled in with a different vibe. So, then as the first officer is searching my bag, a third officer arrives, and he and his dog (the canine unit) exit their vehicle and approach the three of us. At that point, I literally laughed out loud. I’m not sure if that was the “appropriate” thing to do, but that’s what I did. When the first officer completed the search of me and my bag he handed my bag back to me and apologized for the inconvenience. As I turned and entered the hotel, the young guy working the front desk asked what that was all about. Once I told him, he just shook his head, and we both quietly recognized the deal. Each of those officers who stopped me came to that point and time carrying a different set of experiences and perception of those experiences. So, while the first officer was calm in his demeanor and approach, the second officer was clearly anxious. And even today, I wonder if the second officer had encountered me first how things would have played out.
The behavior of the police and my response (although, I initially laughed, I was fuming when I got back to my room) are both a product of our perception and past experiences. For instance, often the idea of prevalent criminal activity within one group or another is planted in our minds by the propaganda of our times, for the purposes of winning elections, passing legislation or selling product. But the way the human mind works, we are designed to take a little bit of information and extrapolate into a rule. In other words we look for patterns in our world. In the natural, unedited world this worked fine. However, in the world of today, where seemingly everything is edited with a purpose in mind (even if it’s as innocent as getting more eyeballs or clicks on a story or video). The fact is that violent crime in the USA has declined steadily since 1991, and yet many of us feel less unsafe than ever. Therefore it is vital that we go analog and back into the world to see for ourselves the reality of…
Disclaimer: This may upset you, but you can’t do what they do.
When I was a young boy, my mother was adamant about some things, like always requesting a bag from the store clerk for anything I may have purchased. Although she seldom, if ever, explained her directives, I understand now how these rules of hers were meant to keep me safe, safe from a system which would presume my guilt should the question arise. The implicit message in my house, was, “You can’t do what they do.” It wasn’t until I was nearly forty years old, before I began to rethink some of these lessons from my youth. And truth be told, I’ve seldom passed along such suggestions to those coming up behind me, because we’re past all of that, right?
I mean, we’re all so smart now, so post-racial, right? We can say and do as we please now with no consideration of the advancement of a people, right? It’s all about living our individual lives as we see fit, right? Every Sister and Brother for themselves, right?
Here is the reality. Although it can be argued that the majority of our society may see past color, a smaller, but very vocal segment cannot. They remain afraid of us, and look for any opportunity to justify their concerns (that is human nature). They are predisposed against us, they do not respect us and the truth of the matter is that some of us are not helping the situation. “But hold up, why is another man’s dysfunction my problem?” you may ask. Because when we hold each other in such low esteem, how can we ask more of anyone else? We sing and promote songs which glorify the defamation one another and yet want the utmost respect from others. Don’t get it twisted, fear is not respect. If you doubt this, just turn on the evening news. And don’t believe that how we devalue our women doesn’t play a role in all of this as well (how can we diminish our women, and not expect it to diminish our sons and daughters).
Dr. King and the Civil Rights leaders of the day understood that changing the narrative in this country would require more than peaceful civil disobedience. Certainly, that was the centerpiece of the movement, but it was also about the dignity of self. Yes, allow me to vote, allow me to shop in the very store where I work, but also respect my person-hood. “A man cannot ride your back, unless it’s bent.” Civil rights protesters as a part of their non-violence instruction were taught how to conduct themselves when engaging the white public. But in conveying all of this, a message of self-worth was also being communicated. That self-worth, was the engine behind the movement. Sure there were many others, but when I think of this dignity of self, I first think of Rosa Parks.
Now, as a man, honestly, this makes me feel some kind of way. To adjust my way of being, because of someone else’s ignorance, is unsettling to my manhood. Members of other races, don’t have to account for one another, so why should I? And yet, even today, the programming of my youth still resonates within me. I still feel the burden to be better than them, whoever “they” might be and that I represent my race well. This message was embedded in me as a child and I recognize that the stress of it has sent many a black man to early grave. This is simply one of the realities of being an easy target. But the essence of a man is defined by how he responds to his environment. Thus, regarding the realities of the day, we can cry about how far we’ve yet to go, or we can honor our ancestors and march on for the sake of unborn generations.
No, as a nation we cannot do what “they” do. And though we be an imperfect nation, might one day we be known less for the lands we conquered and more for the good news of the equality of all men and women. Let us not forget that this struggle is not with individuals, but rather the systems of control, controls which subvert the dignity of self, be they capitalism, socialism, nationalism, racism and even organized religion, when they tell us…