Ahhhh, Haaaaa, Epiphany, Einstein, Mohammad!

What more can I say?
Not much I add, life and its fruits are produced by labor,
Toil and the sweat of your brow!
I sit and I think, while basking in the glory of the Lord.
Nothing is promised but the promise of life everlasting with the Lord for the righteous and faithful few.
I ask, what more can I say?
I hesitate as I ponder, what more is there to say?
Ahhhh haaaaaa, epiphany, Einstein, Mohammad!
At last I come to clarity, sometimes it’s nothing more to say, yet show
How far will I go if I let life throw me to and fro
Ahhhh haaaaaa, ephipahny, Einstein, Mohammad!
I realize that life is a battle
Good and evil, two wolves, both dying of starvation
Which one you feeds determines your elevation
Or devaluation. Steady pacing,
Thoughts on top of thoughts, cloudiness
Which way should I go, which words should I say?
Mouth dry, tongue limp, I gulp unsure how to respond.
Ahhhh haaaaaa, ephiphany, Einstein, Mohammad!
Don’t say much, Enjoy the rush
Let people see who you are through
The lens they create, the brush they embrace
Perception isn’t reality, it’s just their mentality
I rest, pen down brain at ease
Step outside and enjoy the sweet summer breeze!

 

Obama’s Farewell and the Current State of America

Delivered at the McCormick place Convention Center in Chicago, Illinois, 44th President of The United States of America, Barack Obama started his farewell address to the nation and city alike by first thanking the world for their words and show of support throughout his 2 terms of presidency. Transitioning and traveling down memory lane, he spoke of his coming to his adopted hometown of Chicago, Illinois in his early 20s searching for purpose and who he was and found himself in the shadows of closing steel mills with organized church groups. It is in that pursuit of purpose that he was shown the true power of faith. He worked hand in hand and side by side with humble, working class people in the face of struggle toward a common goal to get involved, engaged and demand change for the environments around them. Through this he tapped into the promise envisioned by our founding fathers of the great gift to chase individual dreams through sweat and toil while striving together to achieve common good. This he says, through the instrument of democracy, shows the capacity to change and make life better for the next generation.

This fabric is what lead patriots to choose republic over tyranny in the early onset of America as a nation. It is the same fabric that lead pioneers to track west in pursuit of expansion, slaves to brave makeshift railroad to freedom in the pursuit of something greater. It is that which pushed women to reach for ballot in the early 20th century in pursuit of gender equality, it told workers to organize for better wages, job conditions and benefits alike but finally it powered people across oceans and the Rio Grande to a free land the has boundless capacities for progression and growth.

Obama realizes a great fact and that is Democracy doesn’t require uniformity; instead, it requires a basic sense of solidarity. He goes on to say either we rise or fall as one. In citing that notion, he spoke of many of the victories we as a nation have accomplished together under his 8 year term, those victories are captured below and are things we all should be proud of:

Successes over 8-year term

  • Reversed Great Recession
  • Rebooted failing American auto industry
  • Unleashed longest stretch of job creation in American history
  • Shut down Iran nuclear program without firing s a shot
  • Ensure marriage equality for all citizens no matter sexual orientation
  • Provide healthcare to millions of people who were previously uninsured

With great successes also come viable threats that can’t be overlooked or treated as water under the bridge. In this light, Obama began to speak of his list of threats that if unattended may diminish the prospects of a prosperous future for generations to come:

Threats to Democracy

1. An unequal economic playing field for all citizens alike.

  • We must realize it wont grow unless we come to terms that everyone has economic opportunity
  • Unemployment rate is at a 10 year low
  • Healthcare cost are rising at slowest rate in history
  • Will support any healthcare plan that is demonstrably better than his
    • Not looking to score points or take credit, just wants it better and accessible for more people than it is not
  • Too many families in inner cities and rural counties are feeling the pain of top 1% amassing an unequal share of gain
  • Creates more cynicism and polarization of people in political parties
  • Stop laws that afford discrimination in housing, employment, education and in the criminal justice system.
    • Laws alone aren’t enough, hearts must change too

2. Post-racial America, meaning racism and social views didn’t just change in the 60s with the dismantling of Jim Crow.

  • Relations remain a potent and divisive element in our society
    • Consider a persons experience from their point of view (Atticus Fitch)
  • Every economic issue cant be framed as a inner city, undeserving person against a hardworking white middle class
    • Allowing wealthy to go further into their private enclave while those groups are left fighting for scrapes
  • We can’t be unwilling to invest in children of brown kids as they will represent a large share of American workforce
  • Minority groups voicing discontent isn’t just reverse racism
    • Practicing peaceful protest isn’t requesting special treatment but equal treatment that our founders promised
  • Same stereotypes said today were said about Irish, Italians or Polish
    • These folks embraced Creed and America was strengthened not made worst as some expected

3. Selective sorting of the facts; reality has a way of catching up to you. So ignoring or not facing the facts doesn’t make it go away, it merely postpones the inevitable.

  • Must stop retreating in our own bubbles surrounded by people that look and think like us, never challenging or accepting the facts around us
  • We become secure and only seek to legitimize our opinions, as the world is becoming a cookie cutter, individualistic society
  • Science and reason matter as we are talking past each other and not conceding when our opponent is making a valid point

4. Must remain vigilant against both external and internal terrorism aggressions while not being afraid.

  • Those targeting racial groups and placing dissent and tyranny into the machine with false propaganda, lies and stirring emotions towards extremes are threatening our order.
  • Fight against authoritarianism, chauvinism and fascism
  • We must avoid radicalization in places like Boston, Orlando, Ft. Hood and San Bernardino

5. Democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. We have to stop saying some of us are more American than the other of us. We all share one ideal; citizenship in America!

  • Voting rates are the lowest of developed countries
  • Must instill and nurture trust in our structures and political/governmental bodies not constant discontent
    • Push them to common sense and not rigid extremes and stalemates
  • Must give our constitution power by participating and not solely relying on the piece of paper to work for us.
    • It is an contentious process but must be done
  • President George Washington said, “Self governing is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity and liberty.”
    • With jealous anxiety we must reject the first dawning of any effort to alienate and divide the fabric that makes us one
  • If something needs fixing participate in the change and don’t merely be the wagon with the squeaky wheel, complaining
    • Lace up your shoes and start organizing.

It is my hopes in condensing the final speech delivered by Obama to help its substance reach the hearts and minds of those that may have overlooked its content in light of other reasons whatever those may be. I found myself inspired, motivated and prepared to continue, to say the least, the perilous journey ahead with the writing of America’s next chapter. What are your some of your thoughts concerning the speech? And are you prepared to welcome our next President elect Donald Trump in 8 days?

 

The Liberation of King James: A Ohio Legacy Solidified

jamesJune 19, 2016 was a remarkable day in sports and American  history. First, it marked the 151st Anniversary of Juneteenth, a celebration commemorating the announcement of the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery in America–liberating the African American class of people. Along that same vein, Akron, Ohio native Lebron James, most notably dubbed ‘King James’ liberated faithful Ohioans from a 50 year drought of any professional sports team winning a major championship. James won his his 3rd NBA Title, helping the Cleveland Cavaliers defy odds by overcoming a 3-1 deficit en route to defeating defending champions, Golden State Warriors.

James described his feelings in a post game interview as extremely rewarding and a childhood dream come true. He remarked, “I don’t know what it is about the hard road but we take the hard road and I’m at peace knowing the man above always will see me through.”

Oftentimes we overlook that magnitude in which sports figures influence our life. 6 years ago when Lebron announced his decision to “take his talents to south beach,” Ohioans were outraged. Some displayed this anger by burning his jersey and sharing outlandish videos and photos showing their disgust with his decision. James clearly had a plan for his home state and was able to win 2 Championships with Miami; thus, elevating his talent and knowledge of the game, only to return to Cleveland and in his second year since the return take them to the promise land and walk away with the prize possession of a championship trophy in hand!

In doing so Lebron demonstrated a few lessons that tie into the next significance of June 19, 2016, which was also Father’s Day. Father’s play a huge role in the lives of children, but what does it mean to be a father and what subtle teachings are passed down to younger generations by great men? I argue with last nights performance James exhibited a few key elements that many father’s also display and share with their loved ones, those being: 

  1. The power of the mind/belief in yourself and what you can accomplish when you set your mind on it
  2. How will come sometimes supersede skill, more importantly how skill and will ultimately benefit one another
  3. The humility in humbling yourself along the way to silencing your critics
  4. The drive and energy you get from performing that which you are most passionate about

As the 2015-2016 NBA season comes to a close, it is rightfully fitting that we all take a moment to ponder the synanamous nature of sports, life and the constant pursuit of greatness!

Happy Juneteenth, Happy Father’s Day and more importantly congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lebron James and the entire state of Ohio!

It’s Best To Wear That Latex, When It Comes To Practicing Safe Sex: In Georgia At Least!

The Black & White:

Numbers tend to have an unique effect on the imagery they can potentially draw. With numbers one can fill in the blanks of an obscure picture and many times walk away from a situation with a firmer understanding of reality versus perception. This weekend the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released telling numbers that identified Atlanta, Georgia as a domestic hub of the viral, yet deadly disease known as Human Immunodeficiency Virus. YIKES!

Before we dive into the number deeply let’s put this all into perspective. Georgia, the 24th largest state in the United States in terms of land mass and the 9th most populous state, has a documented population of 10.21 million. These numbers are result of the 2010 census data. Atlanta, GA, the metropolitan mega-center of the southeastern region and the state’s capital boasts a population of 5.6 million! That’s right, half of the state’s population lives in the Atlanta region, but hear this: 1 in 51 Georgians now have or will contract the HIV disease-about 200,000 overall. 

The Grey:

The bleakness of those numbers are important on so many levels but mainly because this happens to be The United States of America. What do I mean by that statement? We pride ourselves on being a domestic, civilized, sexually responsible nation; also, a healthy, medicinally conscious nation of people. I then am forced to ask: Why does a region, better yet city of mainly minorities have a HIV rate that rivals Zimbabwe, a country ravaged by HIV and one to this day lacking the infrastructure or technology to research and combat the HIV/Aids epidemic?

One can reason about these daunting numbers and offer numerous possibilities but nonetheless, this is a conversation and topic that cannot be overlooked as a passing, insignificant or trivial matter. 

Maybe it’s massive amounts of unprotected sex. Maybe it’s protected sex but irresponsibility in getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases at least two or three times per year. Maybe it’s physician’s dropping the ball and not informing infected beings of the magnitude of their diagnosis. Maybe it’s individuals just not caring who they infect even if they know they ramifications. Or perhaps it’s a concentrated genocide to eradicate a group of people. No matter the reasoning or logic we land upon in identifying the issue, one thing remains true: something has to change by way of a meaningful solution and purposeful discussion!

The Legacy of Barack Obama And His Timely War on Mass Incarceration

The Black and White: 

President Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America catches a lot of heat and backlash for his involvement and stance concerning issues related to race and relations in America. His fiercest opponents go to great lengths outlining how his lack of public discourse and action oriented solutions regarding, most notably, criminal justice reform is without a shadow of a doubt in their opinion, lackluster. These opponents are not limited in their racial sphere, and often times than not his largest rivals are those of melanin skin tones. These opponents have come to firmly believe Obama can do more to help minority families and minority males in particular to realize a more promising future free of heavy encounters with law enforcement and incarceration behind bars.

Perhaps as an African American male President Obama could have or should have done more in expressing his sentiments for the effects of mass incarceration and the war on drugs in minority communities. But one point that maybe conveniently overlooked by the public camps that seek to illegitimize his legacy thus far is: Obama vowed to be President of the United Stated of America and not merely the Black United States of America. I can only imagine how tough it is maintaining balance in action taken towards the cause, while also displaying unbiased decision making for an entire country, especially one as diverse as ours.

The Grey:

The reality of the matter is that some critics only view the picture with hindering limitations as their frame of mind is captivated by sudden, yet typically temporary changes. I argue that Obama’s actions are systematic, well thought out and have a greater chance to stand the test of time.

Here are a few changes Obama has implemented while serving as Potus:

  • Yesterday he commuted the  sentences of 58 federal inmates; 18 of which were previously serving life sentences.
  • To date, Obama has commuted the sentences of 308 inmates (this may be a drop in the bucket in perspective of the nearly 2.8 million inmates in federal and state holding facilities but…….
  • It is clear that Obama is concerned with mass incarceration and the effects the war on drugs has caused families (side note how do you have a war on drugs, usually wars are country against country). He has gone on record saying:”It just doesn’t make sense to require a nonviolent drug offender to serve 20 years, or in some cases, life, in prison.” He went on to add,

    “An excessive punishment like that doesn’t fit the crime. It’s not serving taxpayers, and it’s not making us safer.”

  • Obama has appointed 2 Supreme Court justices to the court (Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.) One Supreme Court judgeship is still vacant and very well can be filled with an Obama nomination before his term ends. Remember Supreme Court Justices serve life terms and typically aren’t replaced until death.
  • Obama has nominated and had confirmed 324 judges by the U.S Senate. (These posts include the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Courts of Appeals, district courts, and the United States Court of International Trade.
  • The number of nominations can increase before his term concludes because 57 nominations are still pending Senate approval.
  • Obama can possibly nominate 92 more judges to various posts on various court levels before his term ends as current holders retire and/or decide to move on with other engagements.

All of these things are important in the grander scheme of politics and creating a platform for change that can become generational and not as short as a Senator’s office term. Although Obama isn’t blowing the country away with daily conversations and actions, his work thus far speaks volumes to his understanding that the challenges we face as a nation can’t be fixed overnight with one decision. Instead, the solution will come from a top down approach that is catered to by President, Judge, State’s Attorney, Prosecutor, Defense, offender, victim, community members and all of the sort.

There is an old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” in this case, it will take a nation, bound together in commonality of cause to create the overarching changes we so desperately need!

 

Rest on Mrs. Afeni Shakur-Davis, Your Job Is Well Done!

WOW!!! Just a few weeks ago the music world was shaken with the untimely passing of one of music’s greatest gifts known as Prince. This morning another music legend in her own right passed away, that being the mother of the late, great rap superstar Tupac Shakur.

Although Afeni Shakur did not make music directly, she is most notably known for her business expertise regarding the distribution and marketing of her son, Tupac Shakur’s legacy.  In the late 90s she challenged Suge Knight and Death Row records and won an appeal to exclusively own the rights and forward facing direction of Tupac’s legacy after his death on September 13, 1996.

Initial reports lead to the notion that Afeni Shakur passed away due to natural causes earlier this morning. Shakur was born Alice Faye Williams on January 10, 1947 in Lumberton, North Carolina. Being raised in the turbulent times and in the segregated south pushed Afeni to identify and support causes that celebrated black empowerment and black progression.

Tupac was once quoted saying “My momma used to always tell me, if you can’t find something to live for, then you better find something to die for.” Mrs. Afeni found her purpose in life and gave back to the community through the various organizations she intertwined herself with. Her involvement and imprint on this earth will be long felt as she was an adamant Black Panther, philanthropist and amazingly robust business women with the capacity to pinpoint and define goals. To say the least, she was a powerful force that had the rare ability to make things happen exactly how she wanted them to!

Afeni spearheaded an arts program for young youth named after her fallen rap legend son, Tupac Shakur. The Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, a Georgia-based company provided a platform for youth to explore the arts and creatively express themselves utilizing the many mediums art offered. This was just one of many endeavors conquered by Afeni, she was also the brains behind the mother company that controlled all of Tupac’s music that was released post death named Amaru Entertainment. Afeni further exemplified her business skills as she ensured all proceed generated through album sales and the sales of the ‘Makaveli’ clothing brand were trickled into the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation.

In homage of Afeni Shakur and the magnetism she invoked on the world, this afternoon/evening take a moment to listen to “Dear Momma” by Tupac Shakur!!!