If the YOU Fits, Wear It

baby Shoes

If the YOU Fits, Wear It

Colin Kaepernick (and countless others) tried to prevent the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by trying to get YOU to talk about police brutality. They tried to get YOU to understand, or maybe just show a sliver of empathy. It was done peacefully. In Kaepernick’s case, he went as far as contacting Retired Army Green Beret Nate Boyer to find a method of protest that would be appropriate. Mr. Boyer and Kaepernick settled on a taking a knee. Maybe they found a way that would get YOU to take notice. Maybe this time YOU would listen.

YOU chose to disregard the message. If the YOU fits, wear it.

The message was clear. We need to finally have a conversation about the way black people and black communities are policed. We need to address the issue of police brutality. We need to discuss justice for those whose rights are violated unjustly at the hands of the police. Finally, we need to improve police training and tactics so black people can feel safe in their own communities while seeing police as an ally, not an adversary.

YOU chose to twist the message. If the YOU fits, wear it.

Suddenly, Kaepernick’s protest was about disrespecting the military. How can that be true? He consulted an Army veteran to discuss a respectful method of protest. It was agreed that kneeling would be appropriate. Thousands of veterans from all races and walks of life support Kaepernick and his method of protest. But by your standards, kneeling in silence is too loud! YOU also said it disrespects the flag. In what way? Did he break any of the good ole American “revere the flag” traditions? He did not burn it. He did not let it hit the ground. He did not wear it as a garment. When did Kaepernick disrespect the flag?

YOU always use your privilege to define what is right and what is wrong. If the YOU fits, wear it.

Your privilege says YOU still have the “right” to define right from wrong. Your privilege “allows” YOU to redefine the protest, push the wrong ideology, and garner support by using a false narrative. Your privilege “warrants” the ability to tell everyone else how to protest, when to protest, where to protest, and why to protest. If any protest falls outside your views, then YOU also decide we can not and should not be allowed protest. But isn’t it ironic that YOU always defend your right to protest as it is written in your Constitution? That is privilege. It says to me, your Constitution was not written for us.

YOU chose to (dare I say) shoot the messenger instead of reading the message. If the YOU fits, wear it.

It is unfair to discuss Colin Kaepernick without mentioning protesters and leaders who preceded him. The United States of America has shown an interesting pattern: vilify the leader of the protests if they are black. Regardless of the protest or the real reasons for the protest, the response is always the same. YOU choose to discredit the messenger to twist the message. YOU did it to Frederick. YOU did it to Harriet. YOU did it to Sojourner. YOU did it to Marcus. YOU did it to Martin. YOU did it to Fannie. YOU did it to Malcolm. YOU did it to John Carlos and Tommie Smith. YOU did it to Sharpton. YOU did it to Colin. And the sad part is, YOU do not know more than 2 or 3 names on this incomplete list, nor do you know the protests they led and the messages they tried to deliver.

YOU do not allow us a remedy when we have a problem. If the YOU fits, wear it.

Each of the people referenced had an agenda. Each had a message. Each had a concern. Each had a remedy for the issues they tried to discuss. In fact, all these messengers and the protests they led pointed to a fundamental truth about America. Your country has never lived up to the promises it “made” to us:

  • Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
  • Equal protection under the law
  • Rights protected and defended in the Bill of Rights and amendments to the Constitution
  • All men are created equal
  • Government as the protector of the people and the rights bestowed upon them as Americans

Believe it or not, America has not fully lived up to these basic, fundamental principles as they relate to black people. I know this is the part where, once again, YOU get to tell me I am wrong. YOU get to define my experiences in this country even though I live them daily and YOU do not. YOU have the right to tell me to love America or leave America even though neither of us started here. YOU get to defend your beliefs, while I do not get to defend mine.

YOU choose to ignore the problem yet again. If the YOU fits, wear it.

YOU choose to stick your hand in the sand, while we tell YOU repeatedly that we do not feel like we are full-fledged American citizens. YOU choose to disregard our challenges, many of which are as American as apple pie: racism, economic distress, basic and human rights, lack of protection under the law, poor education, incarceration, destruction of our families, and police brutality. By the way, this is NOT an exhaustive list of the challenges we face. Why does it take protest for YOU to understand these issues? Why does it take protests for YOU to “hear” us? I have a better one. Why have Harriet, Marcus, Martin, and Colin had to protest the same problems over and over again, yet YOU still choose to ignore them?

YOU are surprised that peaceful protests become violent protests. If the YOU fits, wear it.

YOU think our protests are riots. Not true. YOU think our protests are about looting. Not true. YOU think protests are bout violence. Not true. Let me be clear: our protests are an attempt to get YOU to at least hear our concerns. Yet YOU chose not to be concerned. YOU choose not to learn. YOU chose not to show empathy. YOU choose not to care. YOU choose not to listen. Human nature leads the messenger to turn up the volume of the message until YOU can hear it. When protests become violent, it is because your ears are closed. Your mind is closed. Your heart is closed. Honestly, I am amazed there are so many peaceful protests because they have not been “effective” yet. YOU still do not hear the message.

YOU do not listen regardless of how the protest occurs. If the YOU fits, wear it.

We protest by negotiating, ask Frederick. YOU do not listen. We protest by sitting, ask Rosa. YOU do not listen. We protest by giving speeches, ask Martin. YOU do not listen. We protest by marching, ask John (Lewis). YOU do not listen. We protest by taking a knee, ask Colin. YOU do not listen. Do YOU notice a trend? We protest, and YOU do not listen. Each of these protests were peaceful, but still YOU did not listen and I know why. In your view, we do not have the right to protest. Remember, your Constitution was not written for us. We should be happy to be American, right? We should be happy to live in the “greatest country in the world”, right? We should respect all things American, even though most of those things never respect us, right? We “are” American so why should we even consider protesting? To YOU we should, dare I say, get on our knees and thank our Creator for being “American”. Under these false beliefs, I can almost understand why YOU believe YOU do not have to listen to us.

YOU want acceptance of the status quo because it benefits YOU. If the YOU fits, wear it.

YOU need law and order to protect your interests, not mine. IF the YOU fits, wear it.

YOU have the inherent right to force you views upon me and I must agree. If the YOU fits, wear it.

YOU cannot possibly be wrong under any circumstance. If the YOU fits, wear it.

YOU are not concerned, as long as my issues do not affect YOU. If the YOU fits, wear it.

YOU have been conditioned to think a certain way because of your privilege. If the YOU fits, wear it.

As a final thought, because YOU choose not to listen, YOU can expect more civil unrest. Because YOU choose not to care, YOU can expect more peaceful protests. Because YOU choose not to help us, YOU can expect more violent protests. Because YOU do not feel the need to see things from our perspective, YOU can expect deeper divisions in our country. We tried to tell YOU. Harriet said it. Marcus said it. Malcolm said it. Colin said it. In fact, he even asked BEFORE he said it. Still YOU do not understand. YOU do not support us. YOU do not respect us. YOU do not want us here. YOU do not accept us as equal. YOU do not listen.

If the YOU fits, wear it. At least we will know who YOU are.

Do YOU know who YOU are?

 

Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary can get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.

 

Join Gary A. McAbee on social media!

 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/garymcabee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wakeupandriseup

Twitter: https://twitter.com/McAbeeGary

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/garymotivation/

FREE APP FOR ANDROID: TO DOWNLOAD 2MOTIV8U: THE MOTIVATION FOR THE WORLD APP VISIT THE GOOGLE PLAY STORE- SEARCH: MOTIV8

 

Just Pass the Damn Bill!

Bill

Just Pass the Damn Bill!

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, several things have happened to wake up Americans. One of these things is our government’s inability to pass the damn bill! There is always bickering back and forth between the two political parties about their reason for and against most bills. The process is then drawn out, and it could take months for a “sensible” bill to become a law. It is what pisses me off about politics: they take too long to pass the damn bill!

In the midst of the debate over the merits of a bill, the political spin and gamesmanship takes center stage. Both Democrats and Republicans exchange shot after shot at each other, while an important piece of legislation hangs in the balance. It’s all a game, but do we really understand how the game is being played? The best way to explain it is with a simple example with a few exaggerations just to prove the point…

There is an intersection in your city without a stop sign. The street leads directly into a school zone. Cars speed through the intersection and a lot of drivers speed through the intersection, blow past the warning signs, and pass the school. One day, a crossing guard and a child got hit and killed by a motorist. Now the community wanted action to fix this problem. A local congressperson in the Orange Party decided to write a bill to pass a law to add stop signs at this dangerous corner and regulate speed in a new school zone.

Another congressperson in the Purple Party knows an owner of a liquor store chain. He donates money to her campaign and the Purple Party. The owner has an eye on opening a store on corner of that same intersection. He calls the congressperson about the store and reminds her of his generous donations. They will help her get reelected. Now the congressperson wants to add provisions in the stop sign bill that would allow the liquor store to open on the same corner. These are two totally separate issues, but somehow they are associated with the same bill.

The leaders of the Orange and Purple Party argue the merits of the bill. Eventually, they work out a compromise and both measures are included in the final version of the bill. Now it goes to a vote. Officials in the Orange Party want the stop signs, but can’t vote for the bill because of the liquor store. Since they have the majority, their votes override the members of the Purple Party, who favor building the store to satisfy their party member and her generous donor. Now that the bill has been defeated, the games begin. The Purple Party broadcasts the following outcome:

The Orange Party is anti-child safety because they voted against adding stop signs near a school zone!

Because the bill in this simple example is really 1400 pages long, (1350 of those pages are about the stop signs and 50 pages are about the liquor store), it is hard for the public to “see” why the Orange Party struck down the bill. It is also difficult for the Orange Party to refute the anti-child safety claim. The narrative sticks and the public blames the Orange Party every time another incident occurs at the intersection. Meanwhile, the Orange Party voted against the bill because it did not want a new liquor store near a school. At least they “won” that battle.

While this example is purposely far-fetched, it is a snapshot of what happens in our government. There is no such thing as what I call a “clean” bill: short, sweet, and to the point without extra provisions. In my opinion, they should vote on single-item bills. In our example, there could be two “clean” bills: one for the stops signs and another for the liquor store. Then we can get the votes, accept or reject each bill, and implement any laws that pass. Instead, we get 1400 page bills stuffed with pork: extra provisions that are added to satisfy all parties involved in the bill. The pork in our example is building the liquor store. Notice that the will of the community is never addressed after the problem is identified.

I am sure it is impractical to have “clean” bills because of sheer volume. Our representatives would be expected to read and understand all of those bills before they vote. By the way, a lot of them don’t read the 1400 page bills they vote on now anyway. Maybe writing short, “clean” bills a few pages long would change that fact. But I suspect they still wouldn’t read. Instead, they would continue to vote based on their party affiliation, while supporting their colleagues and donors, rather than doing what the community wants and needs.

There has to be a better way to pass the damn bill that someone much smarter than me can figure out. In the meantime, our only hope is to take more interest in what our officials vote for and the reasons they do it. If they hold to the party line or satisfy donors without helping to pass “sensible” legislation for us, then we should notate it, remember it, and vote their asses out during the next election cycle. It is much easier said than done, because they know we do not hold them personally accountable for their votes. We must take back our voting power and get our official to break the gridlock to get things done.

To our elected officials across the country:  just pass the damn bill!

 

Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary can get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.

 

Join Gary A. McAbee on social media!

 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/garymcabee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wakeupandriseup

Twitter: https://twitter.com/McAbeeGary

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/garymotivation/

FREE APP FOR ANDROID: TO DOWNLOAD 2MOTIV8U: THE MOTIVATION FOR THE WORLD APP VISIT THE GOOGLE PLAY STORE- SEARCH: MOTIV8

Coronavirus Exposes the Truth About America

42446260 - 3d rendering of the retro black bomb

The coronavirus outbreak reveals a truth most Americans already know. There is a divide in our country driven by inequality that exists in plain sight. Our systems cannot, and do not support all Americans, for various reasons. Our politics has not worked to reduce the problems confronting many Americans. Just look at SOME  of what this crisis has “uncovered” …

  • Our health care infrastructure is inadequate. Too many people cannot afford healthcare. Others cannot afford to take time off work to receive healthcare.

 

  • Many people live paycheck to paycheck. They cannot afford to take a day off and miss a portion of their paycheck.

 

  • More children rely on school meals than we thought. They need meals provided by schools just to avoid hunger. Even with these meals, far too many children still go to bed hungry.

 

  • Many people cannot afford daycare. As a result, so settle for smaller day cares that barely meet the standards they should uphold. Other people chose to let their kids stay home alone.

 

  • Many people do not have adequate savings to handle a disruption of daily life. They will have a hard time should businesses and workplaces shut down.

 

  • Many people do not benefit from the tax structure in our country. While some receive tax breaks from their tax status, others are penalized for various reasons.

 

  • Many people suffer from inadequate access to affordable housing and rent control. Inability to afford rent relegates millions of people to high-density, yet low quality housing.

 

  • Our regulatory systems do not benefit enough Americans. Businesses can take advantage of holes in regulations that negatively affect people in ways they will never know or understand.

 

Unfortunately, the coronavirus has exposed the truth. Compassion and empathy should prevent people from finger-pointing. Instead, we need to work together to support each other. We need to work together to end the threat of the coronavirus and prevent future pandemics. Our work begins with knowledge and awareness of these (and countless others not mentioned here). Our next move is to work on bridging the gap between those who have and those who have not by tackling these issues.

If nothing else good comes from this crisis, think about the fact that maybe, just maybe, all Americans now know what was “hidden” in plain sight: there is a divide in our country driven by inequality. Until we address the inequality in our society, events like the coronavirus will continue to pull our country apart. Let’s work together to keep us together.

 

Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary can get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.

 

Join Gary A. McAbee on social media!

 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/garymcabee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wakeupandriseup

Twitter: https://twitter.com/McAbeeGary

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/garymotivation/

FREE APP FOR ANDROID: TO DOWNLOAD 2MOTIV8U: THE MOTIVATION FOR THE WORLD APP VISIT THE GOOGLE PLAY STORE- SEARCH: MOTIV8

Summarizing Trumpism with One Quote from LBJ

LBJ

I can summarize Trumpism with one quote from LBJ. But before I begin, we need to think about the history of class, economics, and politics as they affect minorities in our country. No one can deny our country’s record on these issues. It has been a failure. Let’s start with the climate in our country when former President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) made a quote that summarizes Trumpism today. This quote was made in the 1960s. Then (not now), the country was divided by several issues, including the intersection of politics and racial tensions. Sound familiar?

Democrats and Republicans made policy shifts then that still stand today. Democrats, led by President Kennedy and later Johnson, inched toward Civil Rights reforms that would benefit minorities and marginalized people. Republicans, led by a new dependence on Southern white voters, galvanized around keeping class and economic systems intact that benefited whites in America. It was quite a showdown, and it is a battle that continues now.

With the volatility of life in the 1960s as a backdrop, LBJ offered the following quote. It summarizes Trumpism today…

 

“I’ll tell you what’s at the bottom of it. If you can convince the lowest white man that he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you”. – President Lyndon Johnson

 

  • Trump and people who think like him have convinced, and in some cases, reaffirmed, “the lowest white man’s” belief that they are better than people of color. Therefore, they can base their anxieties about race, class, economics, and a myriad of other issues on people of color. People of color are the problem! As a result of this thinking, they can scapegoat black people for crime while blaming immigrants for taking jobs. They must keep the myth alive that their skin color makes them superior to “the best colored man”.

 

  • Trump and people who think like him have convinced “the lowest white man” that a vote for a Republican is always in their best interest, even when Republicans oppose things they need. Some of “the lowest white men” and their families depend on social programs, yet Republican agendas consistently cut or try to completely end these programs. Yet they are convinced Republican will take care of them on other issues, like scapegoating black people for crime while blaming immigrants for taking jobs.

 

  • Trump and people who think like them have convinced “the lowest white man” that conspiracy theories abound, and all of them are designed to destroy white people in America. Most of these theories help “the best colored man”, and dare I say, women more than “the lowest white man.” So, minorities and immigrants get welfare, free healthcare, affirmative action, and even separate schools that whites do not get. Conspiracy theories like these run rampant and fuel anti-minority and anti-immigrant sentiment.

 

  • Trump and people who think like him have convinced “the lowest white man” that the county he knows, and loves will disappear as demographics shift. It’s a fact; whites in America will become the “minority” when their numbers are compared to non-white people in this century. Our country is getting browner, and this means America will change. White people will lose their rights! To counter this threat, the “lowest white man” believes in the “need” to make America great again (by keeping America white).

 

  • Trump and people who think like him have convinced “the lowest white man” the only way to stem the threat minorities and immigrants present is to prepare for the next civil war. White supremacists carried out terrorist activities throughout our history to terrorize and intimidate. Today we see these acts as a desperate attempt to fight back and stop minorities and immigrants. Why do you think “the lowest white man” refuses to give up his Second Amendment right to own guns, especially guns designed for war? He needs them just in time to make America great again.

 

  • Trump and people who think like him have convinced “the lowest white man” that he will be at the bottom of society if “the best colored man” takes over America (see Barack Obama). We can go a step further. They are convinced, and probably afraid, that all the injustices perpetrated against people of color in America, will be done to them. Maybe they will be imprisoned at higher rates. Maybe they will receive lower wages. Maybe they will have their voting rights restricted. What happens when “the lowest white man” is treated like a second-class citizen?

 

I believe that most white people in America do not agree with “the lowest white man”. But some are not ready for the changes future demographics will bring. They think in terms of one or two issues Trump, and “the lowest white man” fear. It is unfortunate that Trumpism relies on both sets of people to make America great again. It relies on “the lowest white man” to vote for him because of his paranoia. It plays on the fear of some white people who are afraid of what will happen as the country becomes darker.

Lyndon Johnson said it best. I’m sure he had no idea his words would still apply in 2019… and 2029… and 2039…

 

Need more proof? These stories are hot off the press…

 

New Jersey Police Chief Who Called Donald Trump ‘Last Hope for White People’ On Trial for Hate Crime

White supremacy connected to rise in hate crimes, ADL reports

A Former ICE Chief Melts Down

Candace Owens to Congress: White Supremacy and White Nationalism Are Not a Problem

Trump Official Says Statue of Liberty Poem is About Europeans

 

Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary can get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.

 

Join Gary A. McAbee on social media!

 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/garymcabee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wakeupandriseup

Twitter: https://twitter.com/McAbeeGary

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/garymotivation/

Jay-Z and the NFL: Time Will Tell

NFL Headquarters

NFL Headquarters: New York, NY  Photo courtesy of hiconsumption.com

Jay-Z and the NFL: Time Will Tell

By now we have had a chance to digest the news that Jay-Z has signed a partnership agreement with the NFL. This agreement paves the way for him to be involved in decision-making that affects the league. It also paves the way for him to become an owner in some capacity in the future. I have read a lot about the deal and watched as two camps of people emerged: those who support his actions and those who criticize his actions. Naturally, as an African American writer, I am looking at this issue primarily with an African American viewpoint.

Those who agree with Jay-Z’s partnership with the NFL believe it is good to have a black person with a seat at the NFL ownership table. They think his presence will influence change. Advocates hope he can get Colin Kaepernick on an NFL roster. Finally, they believe Jay-Z will force NFL owners to think differently about the players they employ. I agree with these opinions (but it is up to Jay-Z to make this work).

Critics of Jay-Z are saying he is a sellout to Colin Kaepernick, black NFL players, and black people in general. People think he is being selfish, and out the chase more money and fame. Some say he’s misguided because he is cooperating with the oppressors. Others say he will become just like the other owners in the NFL: taskmasters who are exploiting black players. While I understand and respect each one of these viewpoints, I disagree with all of them. I have reasons that few people have stated on either side of the argument.

People who achieve the level of success Jay-Z has achieved think differently. It is one of the reasons why they are so successful. There is a high probability that most people have never met anyone who thinks quite like Jay-Z, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and so many other high achievers. They are rare. The way they think is rare. We should remember this fact as we throw criticism their way.

Believe me, this is not meant to put down anyone and I’m sorry if it sounds like one. Before we criticize Jay-Z, there are a few questions we might want to ask ourselves.  Do we think at a level high enough to truly grasp what he is trying to accomplish? Seriously, do we know how hard it is to become a millionaire? Now multiply that by 1,000 and that’s the “level” of thinking we’re talking about. As it relates to the NFL, most of us are thinking about “minor” details while we can assume Jay-Z is thinking about a much bigger picture.

We think Jay-Z should be thinking about kneeling players on a sideline; he should be thinking about opening the lines of communication with those players. We are thinking about Colin Kaepernick being blackballed; he is thinking about how to effect change, so it never happens again. We think about another black player being used by a white owner; he is thinking about how to sit at the table with white owners to change the power structure that’s been in place since the inception of the NFL.

We should give Jay-Z the same benefit of doubt when joining the NFL fraternity that we gave him when we bought his albums. No one questioned his ability or motivation when he grabbed the mic. We were all in on Jay-Z when described his upbringing in his songs. We were rocking Roc-a-Wear everything because it was his clothing brand. Now when he rises to a level well beyond record sales is when we doubt him?

Personally, I do not put my trust in any human being in any given situation. This includes Jay-Z and his attempt to break into the NFL. Add to the mix the amount of money involved, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Jay-Z is in in for all the selfish reasons his critics have said. It wouldn’t surprise me if he becomes just like the other owners in the NFL. It wouldn’t surprise me if never does anything to help black players.  It wouldn’t surprise me if he does “sellout”.

But I think he deserves the chance to “prove” to us what he’s joining the NFL ownership club to accomplish. Jay-Z turned his street corner hustle into a lucrative rap career. Jay-Z turned his street corner hustle into a billion-dollar brand. Jay-Z turned his street corner hustle into a deal with the NFL. So, it is his right to decide whether to use that same street corner hustle for selfish reasons or to influence change in the NFL. He has worked tirelessly to get in position to have a seat at the NFL table.

I hope Jay-Z uses his seat at the table wisely and holds the boardroom door open for others. Time will tell.

 

Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary can get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.

 

Join Gary A. McAbee on social media!

 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/garymcabee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wakeupandriseup

Twitter: https://twitter.com/McAbeeGary

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/garymotivation/

 

Do You Get Mad, Indifferent, or Take Action?

Picket Sign

When you learn about injustices that occur on a daily basis, do you get mad, indifferent, or take action?

When you hear about another mass shooting, do you get mad, indifferent, or take action?

When you see someone do something politically incorrect, do you get mad, indifferent, or take action?

When you watch a video about a traffic stop gone bad, do you get mad, indifferent, or take action?

When you know someone is being taken advantage of, do you get mad, indifferent, or take action?

Getting mad is easy. In today’s cell phone driven society, people are recording life. We see a lot more things happening. We see more injustices unfold right before our eyes. A natural result is we finds thing to get outraged about, sometimes on a daily basis. Some of these things make us mad, but not mad enough to do anything. Sure we might comment on a post, or complain a little to a “listening” ear, but our “anger” does not elicit a response that will provide a solution or remedy.  We just don’t care enough to take action.

See: police misconduct

This leads to a feeling of being indifferent when certain things happen. Again, we are not moved to care enough to take action. Indifference sets in when we see or hear about the same injustice time and time again until it becomes normal. It no longer shocks, angers, or moves us in any way. We simply accept it. It gets worse when we justify injustice. We say things like: “that’s the way things are” or “he /she always does things like that”.  We rationalize things and dismiss them as if they are routine. Our indifference shows and remains until things change.

See: mass shootings

Taking action is the hard part. What things get you so upset that you must take action? I am sure the list starts with people we care about. Let some injustice fall upon a loved one. We will respond. But will we take action when something unfair happens to a total stranger? How about those times when we see something on social media? Shouldn’t we be moved to action then? I think we know why to take action: injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. We have to learn when to take action and how to effect change. Then, we will make a difference when injustices occur.

See: Trump protests

I will leave you with this. When you see injustice, regardless of what it is and who it is against, do you get mad, indifferent, or take action? I suggest you figure out what gets you mad and take action. I also suggest you figure out what makes you indifferent change it into action. In both cases, you make a conscious decision o get involved. When more people get involved, more injustice gets eliminated.

It’s your move. Will You Get Mad, Indifferent, or Take Action?

Another Clothing Brand Gets It Wrong… Still Down?

Knowledge

Here we go again. Another clothing brand makes a racist product or ad and people start to scream boycott. How about we “boycott” these brands before we get evidence that these brands promoted something offensive? In other words, let’s start to improve our purchasing habits by being less materialistic and more practical. Let’s stop patronizing brands that promote a certain status or trend. By doing so, we will also cut out brands that are not made by us or for us. Black people its time to be better consumers.

We can start in many ways. However, given the spotlight currently on the clothing industry and brands, let’s start there. The clothing you buy, especially when it is made by “trendsetting” brands, reflects a mindset. It reflects a belief that wearing something with a trendy brand name is equal to a certain status. It means certain brand names make you appear to be wealthy. The clothing you buy means you want people to know you are wearing the “best” brands. It means you think materialistically when it comes to the clothing you buy.

For the record, I have never bought anything from Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Armani, or Ralph Lauren. I can add so many more brands to this list. First, for me it’s an economic issue. I can’t see myself paying top dollar for any article of clothing (except a business suit and complimentary shoes) just because it is made by a certain brand. Think about it, a clothing brand and a logo is an artificial concept. It is made up to give the illusion that it has a certain style or gives a certain status. It is a marketing tool designed to influence consumers to buy. In reality, it says nothing quality, dependability, value, or cost. Instead, clothing brands and logos speak to materialism.

Couple this information with our intrinsic need to be seen and respected, and it is easy to see why people gravitate toward name-brand items. Some of us must be seen wearing a certain logo! Next, we can also add celebrity endorsements of these products and brands to reasons why we wear these items. I get it. Celebrities, athletes, and entertainers need to have a certain look to get us to follow them. But does following them require buying like them? Does it mean we should also wear Gucci, Prada, and the like just because they do? They “have to” wear the logo, do you have to as well?

Now let’s discuss the elephant in the room: who do these companies really want to wear their products? I think these brands, and the executives who run them, love the fact that black people buy their products. Again, it’s an economic issue; our money is green too. However, I also suspect they are not happy about us wearing their products. A lot of it is not made for us! How do we know? Think about the sizing and cut of the material. Think about the colors and styles. Think about the marketing and advertising. Think about the decision-makers who work at these companies. None of it revolves around, nor caters to black people.

Need proof? You already know the stories. Gucci makes a dark brown turtleneck sweater with big, red lips as a cutout. Prada has a product line with black monkey-like characters with, big red lips. H&M sells monkey t-shirts and puts a black child wearing one in an ad. In 2019, can anyone tell me how these things go from idea, concept, creation, sale, and advertisement without someone noticing they are racially tinged? Or, maybe it was noticed and overlooked and ignored. Maybe they know that we, black people, will continue to patronize their brands despite seeing these issues.

Here are some things to think about…

Have you ever seen Bill Gates wearing Gucci?

Have you ever seen Denzel Washington in an ad for Prada?

Have you purchased a $200 or more jeans or purse, but do not carry $200 inside one of the pockets?

Have you seen racist or offensive ads from a company and still bought their products?

Have you ever heard any spokespeople for these brands say, “yes, we make this specifically for black people?”

 

I think it is time for black consumers to rethink their purchasing habits. (As a side note, in 2019 there are more choices than ever for black people to buy and support black-owned designs and clothing. At least we know these brands are created for us and by us.) I am not saying we should burn our Gucci or Prada collection. After all we “must” look good and fashion-conscious right? It would be nice you we stop wearing what we already have, but I digress. Instead, I am saying if a company or its spokespeople create a racially insensitive product or advertise it, we should stop buying from the company and stop patronizing their brands.

I love black celebrities, but I don’t need them telling me to boycott. I didn’t need them to tell me to buy these brands, so I don’t need them to tell me not to. I get to choose what I buy. My mindset tells me not to follow trends or brands to be viewed as trendy or rich. Too many people put too much stock in this, especially when brands are endorsed by celebrities or those who dress, and act like them. Too many people want to wear a logo as a status symbol. Too many people want to look “good.”

The decision not to patronize Gucci, Prada, and the like is personal choice for me regardless of what status they offer. Economics, dependability, value, and cost drive my purchasing habits. When it comes to clothing, I stick to a brand that delivers and these points. This includes brands made by black people. But you can believe that I will drop that brand if I see any racist of offensive products or advertising. It is my choice. It should be your choice too. Still down?

 

 

Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary can get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.

 

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