Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

20Feb/152

My Simple Message to/for Young People

My children are my inspiration, a window and mirror of sorts, as they remind me of all of the possibility that exists within and among our people, and the universe.

The mission that drives me more and more each day is very simple, and very clear...

I just want every young African (African American) girl and boy to see and know the genius that I - that so many of us - see in them, in you, every time I - every time we - look in your eyes. You are the ones we have been waiting for. Please know this, do the hard work of developing yourself in the midst of this crazy world we live in, and transform this world so that it works the way you and we all know it should.

Many in the world see your genius and are afraid of it. Don't let their fear turn you away.

Many in the world hear the boldness and the fearlessness in your voice. Don't let them silence you.

Many in the world see your connection to a legacy of greatness. Don't let them separate you from you.

Many in the world see the power and vision in your imagination. Don't let them distract you. Your mind is the design laboratory for the world our Ancestors also envision.

Become what you are destined to become.

Be courageous. Be of good character. Be of long vision. Be centered within an African historical and cultural consciousness. Be the light that shines steady and bright. Be of service to your people and your community.

Be a seer. Be a learner. Be a listener. Be an observer. Be a thinker. Be a worker. This is what it means to be a leader.

Be you. Be we.

Be alive... truly alive.

Be... Be... Be...

13Aug/140

Black Kids Don’t Have to Be College-Bound for Their Deaths to Be Tragic

The piece by Jasmine Banks linked below is something I think folks should read.  I agree with the sentiments wholeheartedly.  While I understand some aspect of the intent, it absolutely feeds into this hierarchy we create in terms of who is more or less deserving of respect, dignity, compassion, even justice.

Read the entire piece here.

The message is clear...

Let me be clear: Unarmed college hopefuls don't deserve to be shot. Unarmed kids heading to work or trade school don't deserve to be shot. Unarmed kids floundering aimlessly through life don't deserve to be shot. Unarmed kids who have been in trouble—even those who have been nothing but trouble—don't deserve to be shot.

The act of pinning the tragedy of a dead black teen to his potential future success, to his respectability, to his "good"-ness, is done with all the best intentions. But if you read between the lines, aren't we really saying that had he not been on his way to college, there'd be less to mourn?

That's dead wrong.

14Jan/140

10 Messages of Wisdom We Need to Give Black Youth

Sometimes I think we really over-complicate the basic messages and lessons we should be teaching our children. We can't overlook the nuts and bolts our parents and grandparents taught us.

An article by Ernest Owens posted yesterday on The Huffington Post reminds us of some of these basics. He covers a number of important reminders that many of us might take for granted, but that our young people need to hear consistently, and be prompted to reflect on.

The major points follow. Certainly worth reading the full article.

Lately, I have had the pleasure of spending quality time with my younger brother. Seeing him play with his fellow peers has felt more like ethnography than just playtime in the backyard. One thing that is certain and upsetting: The current issues that black adults are fighting about today are being carried out by their children. The colorism, teasing about blackness, and masculinity is being expressed at micro levels. Sadly, I have begun to fear that if anyone isn't out there encouraging the youth more socially, the cycle will continue.

...So here is what I've learned and my only hope is that others will carry it on:

  1. You are entering a world of prejudgment, but you can still redefine yourself.
  2. Don't ever let anyone question your blackness -- it's not their right.
  3. Success is not only through fame and fortune, but hard work and integrity.
  4. Athletes and entertainers are not the only aspiring role models -- search for mentors in your community and elsewhere.
  5. Being light or dark-skinned makes you no better or inferior of a person.
  6. Boys, it's okay to express your emotions; and girls, it's okay to exercise independence.
  7. Education is, and will always be, essential -- no matter what career you choose.
  8. Words are stronger than fists. Use them more.
  9. Let your inner beauty be shown through your personal creativity, not just from pop culture.
  10. You are smart and entitled to happiness just like anyone else in the world.

And concluding...

Lastly, I hope that many read this as a way to strengthen the black youth of today rather than just dismiss it as another guy preaching respectability politics. I am only 22-years-old and while many before me have tried to encourage blacks to "be just like the rest of them" or learn how other races do it, I am instead trying to pass down lessons that I have learned coming up so that one day my younger brother won't have to grow up to see lists like this or wonder why there aren't as many visible high achieving black role models outside of sports and entertainment that he can publicly look up to.

28Nov/130

Out with the ‘Knock Out Game’ Hysteria

Courtesy of mass media institutions wanting to stir up public hysteria, we have a renewed focus on groups of young people, especially Black youth, supposedly roaming the streets looking for people to assault for no apparent reason at all - except for the sheer thrill of it. Truth be told, this Knock Out Game hysteria is the latest iteration of a historical phenomenon, both the reality as well as the fiction surrounding it.

Of the various reports I've read, the one linked below ("Don't Believe all the Media Hype…") is one I've found most helpful in putting this craziness into perspective. With equal parts reporting, sarcasm and disgust, it's an appropriate response to this newest attempt at demonizing African American youth, and stirring up demands for more punitive policing efforts - all while violent crime continues to decline in most parts of the country.

Much appreciation to journalist and Hip Hop activist Davey D for this piece.

A brief excerpt first, and then the link just below...

I could go on listing things, but the larger point I’m getting at is that sadly mob violence is as American as Apple Pie. From the ‘Knock Out Game’ and ‘Beaner Jumping’ to lynchings and vigilante justice. There have always been cowardly folks who hid behind large numbers, weapons and badges who have reigned sheer hell upon innocent people. Its bullying 101 and folks of all stripes have had a hand in this. None of it is excusable. None of it should be accepted. It should not be excused as boys being boys or teens just doing a little mischief-making.  This is why the knock out game reporting has been so troubling, because it acts like this is something new and isolated to one group of people vs it being systemic with deep-seated roots in our country’s psyche. In fact the media sensationalizing and outright lying about a trend that doesn’t exist could be characterized as a game of Knock Out by proxy, because the end result will be folks reacting aggressively and maybe even fatally to imagined dangers conjured up by media hype. The case of Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin and now Renisha McBride are examples of this over reaction.

 

Don’t Believe all the Media Hype about the Knock Out Game-It’s Propaganda 101