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My Thoughts


Are We Still Surprised?


A lot of noise has been made today regarding president Trump‘s mistaken tweet in acknowledging the latest mass shooting here in America. I understand that the president should be held in a higher regard than any normal citizen or even the average politician, however, with a temperament as short as his has proven to be, no meaningful relationship with the truth, and a blatant disregard to what the majority of Americans think of him-can we say we’re really that surprised anymore about anything he does?

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Is this any more outrageous than disrespecting Gold Star military families, multiple allegations of sexual abuse and or misconduct, accusing Mexican people of being rapists, calling NFL players sons of bitches, saying that the Japanese are a country of samurai warriors, and any other offensive statement that he has made since announcing his presidency?

Sad to say but I think I’ve become desensitized to all of the headlines, breaking news, and trending topics that he has attached his name to in the last two years, there is little he can say or do that is surprising at this moment in time because at least for me, I never thought I would see a president behave in such a way that is so petty, juvenile, and ill informed. He’s been beyond an embarrassment to our nation and if we are only going to be surprised by his every controversial statement, then we have a long time to go until 2020.

Major Pain


As we celebrate Veterans Day once more, I cannot help but to think back over the past two months and how many of our most bravest and courageous citizens have been used as political pawns. For several weeks now, it has been made easy to discredit and dismiss NFL protest and social issues by hiding behind the façade of caring about our military and how players first amendment right may affect them.

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As stated hundreds of times before, what the players are standing for has absolutely nothing to do with our US military, for these very issues have been prevalent well before our country fought on the same side. The powers that be or talking heads on national television political programming would have you believe one cannot be in support of progressive, social, economic, and judicial changes for African-Americans and also be in full support of our four branches of military. However, this is clearly not the case as there have been plenty of Black soldiers who have fought for this country overseas just to return home and be treated worse here than in a foreign land. What the players want and what black citizens of these United States deserve is nothing more than an equal opportunity at the so-called “American Dream,” nothing more and absolutely nothing less.

Terrorism Yet Again


It’s interesting watching our nation figure things out in real time. I remember being a kid and thinking adults were so smart and had everything figured out until I finally became an adult and realized we don’t really know what we’re doing at all. Chief among these things we do not know are how to handle the recurring issue of terrorism - domestic and international. Sure questions of tax policy and immigration legislation are important, but when it comes to matters of terrorism, matters that can quickly snatch the lives of our most vulnerable and unsuspecting citizens, it is clear that we along with the rest of the world are at a loss of what to do to prevent massacres from plaguing our world.

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It seems the strategies of our enemies have shifted from those who would literally blow themselves up in the name of Allah to now those who prefer to simply drive a vehicle into a crowded area. This is not only in regards to Isis but only a couple months ago in Charlottesville where a Nazi enthusiast killed a white woman by hitting her with his car. Who would have ever thought that the very group of people who hate Blacks, gays, Jews, and anything other than a blue-eyed white man would in turn use the very devilish tactics that America's sworn nemesis initiated? How patriotic.

Terrorism is just that-terrorism! Those who were killed in New York City yesterday and those who ran in fear in Charlottesville all screamed the same; whether it was a white man who wanted his country back or an Isis inspired mad man who follow the teachings which he considered noble. Regardless of their motives, it’s clear that our world has a problem with terrorism and no matter who the perpetrator is, we better figure out a way to confront it sooner rather than later.

American Roulette


As I drive from the Midwest to the East Coast this weekend, I always think, even though I try to force my mind not to, about the worst case scenario’s that could happen on this 8 hour road trip. Sure, a flat tire or overheating the engine would be terrible and equally unexpected but nowadays and in particular in the last several years, I along with other African American motorists have much more to worry about than simply car maintenance.

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Some of the most vile and flagrant abuses of police power and authority have occured as a result of what is infamously referred to as “driving while black.” Though I’ve made this drive from Indiana to North Carolina several times now, I cannot pretend that the anxiety is not there, that the fear is not there, and that regardless if I use the correct turn signals, wear a seatbelt, and maintain the speed limit - I can still be pulled over and murdered, without any consequence to my Grim Reaper.

It reminds me often of a booklet I once heard about that black folks in the early 1900s would use in order to safely travel and it was full of safehouses, roads, diners, hotels and other strategies to keep us safe and away from those who looked to cause us harm. And they wonder why we don’t stand for their anthem.

Long Live Gil Scott Heron


With divisive and polarizing times such as these, I often reflect back to artists who had the talent to explain the unexplainable. Nowadays I try to find contemporary artists who can do so however more often than that I find myself clinging onto the many wise words of Gil Scott Heron. His influence can be heard in modern musicians as well but his classic albums and books have stood the test of time well beyond since his hayday. Like they say, black don’t crack.

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What I loved most about Heron is that he not only delivered a message within his works but he also did it with style, anger, grace, and most importantly authenticity. He left himself exposed and we the listener and reader were all the better for it. That’s truly all any of us can ask of any artist.

From the Nigger Factory to Small Talk at 125th and Lennox, he always made it a point to challenge ideas, normalcy’s, and institutions that sought to hurt those most vulnerable. I can’t help but wonder what he would have to say now as we find ourselves in a position that most could not have imagined in their wildest dreams and scariest nightmares. Heron most famously one said “the revolution will not be televised” but one thing’s for sure, if Trump has anything to do with it, it will most certainly be trending.

Players Are Not Politicians


Maybe i missed something but since when did sports become government? For centuries, America has embraced sports and politics separate but equally, however, nowadays we are looking for athletes to become pseudo-politicians and fix the problems that ordinary corrupt politicians have instituted for years upon years. It’s a shame that the only way for our problems to be acknowledged by those in power is by one of us becoming excellent at a sport, maintaining a conscience about our communities wellbeing, and then utilizing that platform to affect change - and all the while our livelihood and very lives are being threatened.

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What if there was no NFL or NBA in America today, what if boxing wasn’t the most popular sport in the early to mid-1900s, would anyone even had listened to Muhammad Ali or would he just have been another nigga complaining about “the man?”

I’m proud that Collin Kaepernick could spark such change throughout the entire country and motivate other NFL players to come together to work with owners, legislators, and police departments to address our most dire needs, however, we did not create this problem so why are we the most visible ones trying to fix it? Where are the legislators who continue to stack the deck against non white males in America?

This goes beyond football and black lives matter but where are the people who have created laws to make it nearly impossible for women in certain states to get an abortion, for Native Americans to fight for their land in Standing Rock, for Latinos to be deported and separated from their families possibly forever? America has done a fine job in convincing its citizens that the most dangerous threat to your safety is a black man in a hoodie, when in reality, it’s been proven that a white man in a suit has done far more damage than any one of us ever could. I’m appreciative that players and owners met earlier this week to discuss social issues, however, those owners do not live where we live, they have not seen what we’ve seen, and unless they are willing to not only put their money where their mouth‘s are but to continuously reinvest their time, resources, political capital, and community influence then why the hell are we meeting with them anyway?

I Hate Our New Normal


I can remember when I turned 18, I was so excited to have the right to vote, and for the next three presidential elections, I proudly registered to vote early and participated in that sacred Democratic process. As a teenager, admittedly, I wasn't abreast of any political issues and voted Democrat because that's what I was told Black people were supposed to do; however, in my somewhat wise age now, I've learned that compromise is a sign of maturity. Not just with politics, but relationships, employment, and most things we work hard for. With any election, there will be a winner and loser and before this year, it seemed like both Republican and Democarts - whether win or loss - were able to accept the consequences of their sides outcome. Well, besides the Republican Party which blocked anything President Obama proposed, but that's not the point.

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Nowadays it looks like we are so divided based on the smallest things and no one's willing to compromise and listen to each other. We can look towards any major news TV show and view a panel that usually has both a conservative and liberal guest on to talk about any given subject and for the most part, it remains respectful, however, most times neither is convinced that the other side's perspective is worth deep and thoughtful consideration. Nope, people just make their talking points, interrupt each other constantly, and walk away from the segment feeling a sense of accomplishment that they stuck to their message.

Sadly, that same message which they hold so close to their hearts, is oftentimes absorbed as nothing more than political spin as opposed to having a decent conversation with someone of a different perspective than themselves. No matter whose "side" of this you're on, as I look at the news, timelines, in the grocery store - no one seems happy, we all look tense, like we're waiting for something to happen and once it does, we'll retreat to our devices, our TV studios, or our comfort zones and continue this self-destructive pattern that only makes us all the more weak. This toxic political atmosphere has created a deadly whirlwind that has swept us all up and instead of bickering about why we continue to spin uncontrollably, how about we find a way out first?

Any Given Sunday


If you polled Americans how they'd describe the last several months, you may see words such as chaotic, frightening, reaffirming, or unforeseen, depending on whom you ask of course. One thing many of us didn't see coming was the politicization of major American sports. It seems like such a long time ago that we were all able to relax and enjoy living in the that bubble our jobs, family, and social status affords us, but now ignorance is no longer an option. We've forced each other to hear our grievances and regardless of how vehemently we disagree with one another, we continue to scream, yell, and protest like they have no idea what we're talking about. But what are these protests, anti-protests actually accomplishing? Is someone changing their mind? Are there enough influential people changing their minds to make a tangible difference? Are the right people even listening?

One of the greatest mistakes we continue to make in this debate is continually acknowledging gestures, gimmicks, and symbols when in fact, the foundation of said protests have never been and will never be about such distractions. Trump supporters are often stereotyped as backwood and uneducated hillbillies, however, it is not only them which support him, but many others who hold influence and power in our society. Several of those supporters even own NFL teams and they have made it abundantly clear that players are not supported when it comes bringing forth change, hell, even recognition to the historical and present-day issue of police brutality and systemic oppression.

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Many owners have chosen not to understand or empathize with these very real issues and because of that, they've aligned themselves with someone whom they relate to, if by no other foundation other than shared white privilege. In the owners minds, no matter how bad Trump is at being President, he can make no offense greater than acknowledging and defending the rights of not only African American people, but their very own players.

All Lives Scatter


With yet another act of domestic terrorism in Las Vegas over the past weekend, America finds itself having the predictable "gun control" debate once again. While investigators and forensic departments aim to find a motive for the gunman's actions, it's given me a moment to reflect on how our country responds to tragedies when they affect people in the mainstream.

Earlier this summer, when a Caucasian woman was run over by a violent Neo Nazi member in Charlottesville, VA. it caused not only alarm, but more importantly, consequential action. In the days that followed the horrific incident, many Americans across the country decided that symbols and statutes of the losing side of the Civil War should be removed, destroyed, or doused in red paint to symbolize their disrespect towards leaders of the defeated Confederacy which continue to permeate and infest our society. Similarly, when nine African American people were mercilessly murdered in 2015 in Charleston SC, the nationwide response was to remove one Confederate flag from South Carolina's State Capitol building and herein lies the problem.

African Americans have been fighting for equality since we were forcefully brought here centuries ago, but unfortunately as we've seen over some years now, things do not truly change until it affects America's mainstream population. How else can one explain the loss of nine innocent Black lives resulting in a single hate-filled flag coming down and the loss of one innocent White life resulting in not only marches, but coordinated and thoughtful responses from non profit groups, business leaders, government officials, and everyone in between. The math simply does not add up.

Another instance of this hypocrisy by race is the way America has handled drug epidemics experienced by black and white people. In the 80s, the crack era was in full effect and America's response was to criminalize the user (who were predominantly African American) and militarize their neighborhoods, but now if we look at how our country approaches its opiod and meth crises (predominantly Caucasian users), we see a much more humanized and compassionate approach. You see, when someone outside of the mainstream is oppressed, we all may become aware of it, however, at that point we make a conscience decision to either care and empathize or refute and ignore. However, when something happens to mainstream America, whether we care or not, our entire country turns itself upside down until change is had.

What the shooting in Las Vegas reminded us is that nowadays one does not have to be in a low-income, gang-infested, or sketchy neighborhood to become victimized, now it can happen to anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion, or any other divisive label. That concert was attended largely by white people who were murdered senselessly by another white person with no clear motivation for the lives he stole. At this very moment, we are all more equal than we've ever been, and because of that shared equality, we should be willing to come together to create change in gun laws, how we respond to domestic terrorism no matter what the victims look like, and what we can do today to make sure this never happens tomorrow.