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Black Panther: A Trailblazer Long Overdue

Black Panther: A Trailblazer Long Overdue

kente cloth

What is a trailblazer? A trailblazer is a pioneer; one that blazes a trail to guide others. Usually the trailblazer is the first one to accomplish something. Sometimes, these accomplishments are considered great, groundbreaking achievements. Make no mistake about it, the movie Black Panther is a trailblazer. It is the first movie of its kind: a movie from a major franchise (Marvel) with a black superhero as the lead character. It’s release is during Black History Month, which adds to the lore of this film.

Why is this important? For some, it isn’t important. For me, it is important. This is because all of the super heroes we all know and love are white characters. DC comics characters Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman is the obvious parallel to Black Panther as a female lead character), and many others are all white. Marvel comics has Spider Man, Iron Man, Thor and many others as lead characters who are white. Black Panther breaks this mold. He is the first of his kind: a black lead superhero.

NOTE: I must pay homage to other black superheroes such as Blade (played by Wesley Snipes) and Catwoman (played by Halle Berry). They are also important characters in the own way. However, those characters are more singular, unlike Black Panther, who is a part of the much larger and more popular Marvel franchise.

In order to fully understand, we must talk about black “firsts” to put the importance of this film into perspective. What is a black “first”? It is the first time someone black accomplishes something significant in history. It is usually a monumental achievement, due to the fact that many of these trailblazers face significant challenges on their way to success. (By the way, let me be the first to “apologize” to anyone who is tired of hearing about black “firsts”. Unfortunately, our inclusion into many American institutions occurred so late that we still have black “firsts” in 2018. You will continue to hear about black “firsts” for a long time to come).

Although it is not on the same level, this movie is the latest of black “firsts” that changed the world we live in. It is groundbreaking like Barack Obama’s ascendancy to become President of the United States. It is like Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier of Major League Baseball. It is similar to Ruby Bridges integrating an elementary school in New Orleans. Each of these black “firsts” opened doors for so many black people, as well as other minorities, people with disabilities, and LGBT as well. People like Barack Obama, Jackie Robinson, and Ruby Bridges are trailblazers: the first of their kind. The movie Black Panther qualifies as a trailblazer as well.

Black Box

  • Black Panther contains imagery, costumes, and scenery that will impress and delight moviegoers.

It depicts a fictional country, Wakanda, and all of its majesty and splendor. It is patterned after the imagery of many areas of the continent of Africa. I guess you could call it a futuristic look the continent that also has images of Africa’s past and present look. This is very important and groundbreaking. It gives positive images of a black civilization and what it should look like under the right direction and guidance. On another level, it shows what some black communities in the United States used to “look” like before urban blight and decay took over. The move Black Panther presents a glimpse of a thriving black community which should not be overlooked.

  • Black Panther depicts a black king, along with other members of his royal family.

Their exploits resemble those of real African kings and queens. We have heard of kings and queens of Africa, yet many of us know little about their accomplishments. The lead character in Black Panther is T’Challa, the new king of Wakanda. All you need to do is research kings like Mansa Musa, Akhenaton, Imhotep and you will see the obvious parallels between them and Black Panther’s T’Challa. T”Challa’s mother Romonda is the Queen of Wakanda. All you need to do is research queens Hatshepsut, Makeda “The Queen of Sheba”, and Ann Nzinga “Queen of Ndongo” and you will see obvious parallels between them and Black Panther’s Queen Romanda. In this regard, the movie Black Panther serves as a connector to former kings and queens in Africa.

  • Black Panther will instill a sense of pride and accomplishment in many black men, women and children.

Let’s face it: we need to see more images of positive black people who are doing great things. Even though this is just a movie, it sure feels good to see this character on the big screen. It sure feels good to get positive images of “Africa” on the big screen. It sure feels good to know we can be heroes too. It sure feels good to finally be included in this genre of films. The thought of Black Panther just feels good.

The movie Black Panther is a trailblazer that was long overdue. The use of a black superhero in a leading role of a major movie franchise is a remarkable achievement. For me, it is a game-changer. It is another black “first” that needs to be celebrated. I suggest you celebrate by going to see this film, and/or buying it on video. Based on most reviews, it is an outstanding picture. By the way, it will not be long before we see the second installment of Black Panther so enjoy the ride. You are witnessing a trailblazer.

The Kingdom of Wakanda awaits!

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R&B Music: They Just Don’t Make ‘Em Like This Anymore

R&B Soul

R&B Music: They Just Don’t Make ‘Em Like This Anymore

I long for the days when R&B singers used to sing. Not only did they sing, but they made timeless R&B classics that will live on forever. All you need to do is tune into the radio and find the Quiet Storm. You can dig into the crates and find your favorite tunes on wax. You can sort through your tape collection and find the artist and album of your choice. No matter how you do it, go find your favorite old school R & B music. R&B Music: They Just Don’t Make ‘Em Like This Anymore…

I’m talking about Marvin Gaye. I’m talking about Gladys Knight. I’m talking about Luther Vandross.

It’s time to go down memory lane. What made R&B music great was the effort that was put into creating music. R&B singers sang about passion and feeling. They sang with power and emotion. They sang about joy and pain. They sang about love. All of these artists captured feelings and emotions and turned them into forms of art. R&B Music: They Just Don’t Make ‘Em Like This Anymore…

I’m talking about Minnie Riperton. I’m talking about Freddie Jackson. I’m talking about Stephanie Mills.

It’s time to go down memory lane. R&B music of the past was accompanied by smooth, often sensual music. It set the mood for love and romance. When the lyrics of some of the greatest songwriters were added, it created the right mix of soul, funk, and rhythm. Music like this is affectionately known in the black community as “baby makin’ music.” In fact, I am sure a lot of us 70s and 80s babies were conceived while some smooth R&B played in the background. R&B Music: They Just Don’t Make ‘Em Like This Anymore…

I’m talking about Barry White. I’m talking about Shirley Murdock. I’m talking about Babyface.

It’s time to go down memory lane. I genuinely believe that our music reflects the times we live in. Like today’s society, our music (in general) no longer reflects the love we had for each other years ago in the black community. Male R&B singers of the past referred to women as treasures; not objects. Female R&B singers referred to men as providers; not takers. R&B music used to spread unity and love. We need to get back to hearing these messages in our music. R&B Music: They Just Don’t Make ‘Em Like This Anymore…

I’m talking about Stevie Wonder. I’m talking about Chaka Khan. I’m talking about Peabo Bryson.

It’s time to go down memory lane. All you need to do is tune into the radio and find the Quiet Storm. You can dig into the crates and find your favorite tunes on wax. You can sort through your tape collection and find the artist and album of your choice. Enjoy yourself. If you remember some of these songs, you know exactly what I am talking about. As a sample, I have provided a short list and links for some of my favorite R&B songs. Feel free to comment and add to the list!

R&B Music: They Just Don’t Make ‘Em Like This Anymore…

If Only You Knew- Patti LaBelle

You Should Be Mine- Jeffrey Osborne

Cause I Love You- Lenny Williams

The Morning After- Maze featuring Frankie Beverly

Living All Alone- Phyllis Hyman

Love’s Train- ConFunkShun

Between the Sheets- The Isley Brothers

Anticipation- The BarKays

Betcha By Golly Wow- The Stylistics

Let Me Be the One- Angela Bofill

The Chi-Lites- Have You Seen Her

The League, The Anthem, The Truth

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Welcome back NBA! Now that the 2017-2018 NBA season has started, we have a little housekeeping to do concerning the National Anthem. I am sure everyone is waiting to see what players on teams around the league will do once the anthem is played. For the record, I hope they do something, and continue to do something throughout the season. If they take a knee, I will applaud them. If they sit down, I will applaud them. If they stand up, I will applaud them. In my opinion, as long as some of the players show their support for the cause, I will applaud them.

Of course, one must ask what cause I am referring to. I am referring to the original cause. You know it by now: protesting during the anthem against police misconduct and brutality in communities across the nation. THIS IS THE CAUSE. It is the cause started by Colin Kaepernick of the NFL. As Kaepernick said, this is not about the flag, nor is it about disrespecting the military or soldiers. Instead, it is a simple, yet powerful statement to raise awareness of police brutality towards people of color.

Side note: Whether you agree with it or not, this is the cause he stated as the reason for his protests during the National Anthem. To put any other label on the protests is unfair, especially when the cause has been clearly stated. It is true, you have your right to your own opinion, but changing the narrative that has been identified to wrong.

Now that the NBA is back in season, one must wonder what the reaction will be if players protest. I have a good idea based upon what we have heard already…

…the players have no respect for the military.

…the players have no reason to be upset because they are doing well financially.

and the kicker…

…the players should be doing something about black-on-black crime (or the gun violence in Chicago).

If the players protest, you and I both know it’s coming! Let one NBA player protest the anthem, and I guarantee you will hear at least one of these reactions. Well I am here to dispel these ideas that NBA players (and athletes in general) are not on the frontlines standing against issues that affect their communities. Let me be even clearer: black athletes are consistently involved in making a positive impact in the black community. Black athletes deal with issues like poverty, violence, and education in our communities.

Critics want proof. While I am not here to provide an extensive list, I will provide information easily found online to defend NBA players against the attacks that are sure to come. These examples show NBA players, through their own charitable foundations, and NBA teams in action fighting against social issues. In fact, the NBA has programs that work with the military and police as well. All of these and numerous other examples can be found by searching online.

So remember, if you see NBA players take a knee or take a seat during the National Anthem, please understand that they are more than just athletes. They are aware, concerned, and fighting against issues in black communities across the country.

 

NBA Cares

NBA Cares works with internationally recognized youth-serving programs that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes, including: Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Special Olympics, YMCA of the USA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, UNICEF, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Share Our Strength and GLSEN.

http://cares.nba.com/

 

NBA Cares Hoops For Troops

NBA Cares Hoops for Troops is a year-round initiative led by the NBA, its teams and players in collaboration with the Department of Defense, USO and other military and veteran-serving organizations to honor active and retired service men and women and their families.

http://hoopsfortroops.nba.com

 

NBA Cares My Brother’s Keeper

In 2014, the NBA family set a goal to recruit 25,000 new mentors over five years, with a focus on adult males of color. Less than three years into the partnership and less than one year since the campaign’s launch, more than 25,000 Americans have already signed up to become a mentor and been connected directly to a mentoring program in their community.

http://cares.nba.com/my-brothers-keeper/

 

Chicago Bulls Charities

http://www.nba.com/bulls/gallery/chicago-bulls-youth-guidance-and-chicago-police-department-host-basketball-tournament

On July 18, the Chicago Bulls and Jordan Brand hosted a basketball tournament and conversation circles at the Advocate Center for students in Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man (BAM) program and Chicago Police Department officers.

 

Joakim Noah, Player NY Knicks- Noah’s Arc

Noah’s Arc arts programs give young people in under-served areas and those who are dealing with emotional and/or physical adversity the opportunity to engage in powerful self-expression.

https://www.noahsarcfoundation.org/

 

Dwayne Wade (Chicago native), player Cleveland Cavaliers- Live to Dream Program

The Live To Dream program was developed in part to assist the City of Chicago in their continued efforts to decrease the violence and fatalities by providing safe havens and high quality programming for youth.

http://www.wadesworldfoundation.org/livetodream/

 

 

What Would Have Been Your Reaction to Racism? Which Person Are You?

Which person are you? 

Question Mark

Recently there was a primary to select candidates who will run for the office of mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida. During the campaign, the candidates had the opportunity to participate in a forum. There were six candidates at the forum. The rules for the forum were strict, and guidelines included how candidates could respond. One candidate was asked a question, and then the next two candidates had the opportunity to respond. After this, a new question would be presented and the next candidate would start the question and answer process again. In this way, the moderator could keep order during the forum and all candidates could get equal time to speak (remember this key point).

For context, I will provide an answer to a question by one of the candidates and the response it received (NOTE: the focus here is not on the answer, but the response that was given. I welcome debating the merits of the answer at another time in another forum)…

Answer: “My commitment is to reparations to the community, to the black community that has suffered these damages under these current administrations,” …answered, adding that “no amount of playground or recreation centers could “heal the wounds” of victims’ families of died at the hands of law enforcement officers”.

Response: “…you and your people talk about reparations. The reparations that you talk about… your people already got your reparations.  Your reparations, your reparations came in the form of a man named Barack Obama.  My advice to you, if you don’t like it here in America, planes leave every hour from Tampa airport. Go back to Africa. Go back to Africa. Go back!”

After this exchange, the candidate who offered the answer could not respond because it was no longer his turn. Shortly thereafter, one candidate broke the rules of the forum to address the response he heard. He offered a harsh rebuke to the tone and substance of the response. Another candidate wanted to rebuke the response, but chose not to draw more attention to the response. (Instead, he offered his response and rebuke the next day). Other candidates chose not to comment on the response.

Who are the candidates?

  • The candidate who supplied the answer: Person A
  • The candidate who supplied the response: Person B
  • The candidate who supplied the rebuke at the forum: Person C
  • The candidate who supplied the rebuke the next day: Person D
  • The candidate(s) who chose to say nothing: Person(s) E

What Would Have Been Your Reaction to Racism? Which Person Are You?

Are you Person A: someone who would have offered a response to racism if given an opportunity?

Are you Person B: someone who makes racist comments or fans the flames of racism?

Are you Person C: someone who hears about racism, and speaks out against it regardless of the circumstances?

Are you Person D: someone who wants to speak out against racism, but does not know the time or place or how to do so when a racist comment or incident occurs?

Are you Person(s) E: someone who chooses not to respond to racism at all for unknown reasons?

 

Before you answer, think about each person and SOME POTENTIAL reasons for their behavior.

Person A was “silenced” so his voice and opinion may “never” be heard. He represents those who do not have a voice or platform to speak out.

Person B used the forum as an opportunity to publicly use racist language without concern for who it might offend. He represents those who want to fan the flames of racism for unknown reasons.

Person C used the forum to respond and “fight” against racism. He represents those who speak out against racism as soon as they recognize it.

Person D did respond, but after thought and consideration led him to speak out later. He represents those who know racism is wrong, but may not be comfortable with responding to racism or the method to do so.

Person(s) E turned a blind eye to racist language and remarks. They represent those who choose not to respond, possibly because it does not affect or offend them personally.

 

You are now a spectator at the forum for the candidates for mayor of the city of St. Petersburg, Florida. You just witnessed the question, the answer, the response, the delay, and the silence…

 

What Would Have Been Your Reaction to Racism? Which Person Are You?

Article: http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/pinellascounty/st-pete-mayoral-candidate-during-forum-go-back-to-africa/457867422

 

Gary McAbee is an educator, author and motivational speaker. He has written three books: Wake Up!, Rise Up!, and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.

They Wanted the Presidential Pendulum to Swing, So They Voted Against Their Own Interests

Analysts, pundits, and even voters have questioned how the political rise of Donald Trump happened so quickly. There are several narratives to explain Trump’s ascent to the Presidency. He is an outsider without “ties” to Washington. He is not a politician. He is a job creator. While each of these statements is true to some degree, I believe there is a different reason for Trump. To me, it’s obvious: the main reason why Donald Trump is now the President of the United States is because a lot of people wanted the “Presidential Pendulum” to swing as far away from Barack Hussein Obama as possible.

pendulum

  • A lot of people cast their vote , in large part because they wanted the “Presidential Pendulum” to swing as far away from Barack Hussein Obama as possible.
  • A lot of people can see our demographics changing, so they wanted the “Presidential Pendulum” to swing as far away from Barack Hussein Obama as possible.
  • A lot of people desire to “Make America Great Again,” so they wanted the “Presidential Pendulum” to swing as far away from Barack Hussein Obama as possible.

Opponents and critics intentionally presented doom and gloom scenarios about a Barack Hussein Obama Presidency to scare people. Even though many of the doomsday scenarios the Obama Presidency was sure to bring never occurred, people were scared. Even as the Obama Presidency came to end, people were still scared. Even in the post-Obama era, people will be scared going forward. They needed someone to alleviate their fears. They chose Donald Trump. They wanted the “Presidential Pendulum” to swing as far away from Barack Hussein Obama as possible.

One thing about the transition of power from Barack Hussein Obama to Donald Trump is many people chose to vote against their own interests because they wanted the “Presidential Pendulum” to swing as far away from Barack Hussein Obama as possible. Let’s apply some logic by using a couple examples. To be clear, not all voters use one criterion to determine their vote. Also, not all people in deep-red states blindly vote Republican. Nevertheless, the examples that follow are worth consideration.

If Obama was the “Food Stamp President” and voting for Hillary Clinton was an extension of his policies, then why would deep-red states vote Republican? Take Mississippi for example. In 2015, Mississippi ranked first in the percentage of residents on food stamps (21.7%), and had over 650,000 total recipients. Although this is not the only reason to cast a vote, if I was a food stamp recipient in Mississippi I would strongly consider voting for any Democrat, especially the “Food Stamp President” (similar food stamp statistics also exist in deep-red states like Tennessee, Louisiana, and West Virginia to name a few).

Sure, this is only one example of people potentially voting against their interests because they wanted the “Presidential Pendulum” to swing as far away from Barack Hussein Obama as possible. Another example is healthcare. As we all know, the controversy surrounding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has been tremendous. Republicans have held numerous unsuccessful votes to repeal Obamacare. Now that Donald Trump is in Office, the race to repeal Obamacare has picked up even more steam. Yet voters in deep-red states have enrolled in and benefit from Obamacare, so repeal would cause them to lose, or at least change, their healthcare options. Keep in mind that a lot of these people were uninsured before Obamacare.

A list of Obamacare enrollments in some deep-red states as of January 17, 2017:

  • Alabama: 178,414
  • Georgia: 493,880
  • South Carolina: 230,211
  • Tennessee: 234,125
  • Texas: 1,227,290

To be clear, this does not mean all of the Obamacare enrollees voted Republican, but you can be sure some of them did. It also does not mean those who voted against this interest would have turned the result of the election in each particular state from Republican to Democrat. Yet it does show that people in deep-red states, who have been “told” how bad Obamacare is, still benefit from the law. If I was an Obamacare enrollee in Tennessee I would strongly consider voting for any Democrat, because their party introduced Obamacare.

These are not the only examples of people potentially voting against their interests because they wanted the “Presidential Pendulum” to swing as far away from Barack Hussein Obama as possible. If you want more, look for thing like “Obama Deporter-in-Chief”, Obama phones, and Obama and The Dodd-Frank Act as three additional reasons why deep red state Republican voters could have leaned Democrat instead of voting against their self-interests. Careful review of these, and many other examples, leads me to believe that there was a reason for the vitriol against Barack Hussein Obama and the love for Donald Trump (not to mention the hatred for Hillary Clinton).

For me it’s obvious:

They wanted to slow the demographic shift of the United States, so they voted against their own interests.

They wanted to erase the legacy of Barack Hussein Obama, so they voted against their own interests. 

They wanted the “Presidential Pendulum” to swing as far away from Barack Hussein Obama as possible, so they voted against their own interests.

What is not so obvious is who are “they”?

 

 

 

I’m Mad With Your Race

A lady I know, let’s call her 223, approached me and said “I’m mad at your race!” She is white. The “good” news is she felt “comfortable” saying this to me. I like to know where people stand on issues of race and culture. The bad news is I knew where this was headed. I responded with two questions:
“What race?”  
“The human race?”
Her response was “no, I mean YOUR race.” I replied, “oh, you mean MY race.”
Before we continue, let me provide a little background information. The debate about confederate flags and monuments, and Neo-Nazis and the KKK, is currently engulfing our nation. It seems that community after community is facing the question about what to do with Confederate monuments that are a sense of pride for some, and a symbol of hate for others. Here in the Tampa Bay area, removal of a monument of two Confederate soldiers has been a hot topic and it has spawned a heated debate. With this as the backdrop, 223 thought it was appropriate to say to me “I’m mad at YOUR race!”
Now that we established 223’s anger with “MY race,” I pressed on with the conversation. “Why are you mad with MY race?”
223 responded, “Because you want the monuments taken down.”
These are the times when I go into my interviewer/teacher/great debater role. I welcome these conversations; you know the ones about “MY race,” provided the person I am speaking to is willing to listen. Most of the time, I know these conversations probably will not resolve anything or change anyone’s opinion. But, I believe that if we talk these things out and try to listen to each other, at least we might get a glimpse (and maybe a little understanding) of how others think.  I tend to ask questions too, in hopes of getting my “opponent” to think and provide answer to support their point-of-view. Hold that thought…
So I engaged 223 with my interviewer hat on. “You do realize there are plenty of (using Donald Trump’s words) “very fine people,” I mean WHITE people who also want the monuments taken down too. Are you also mad at them?”
There was my first question. I threw that pitch right down the middle of the plate! I just wanted an answer that would confirm what I already knew, but hoped was not true: she was really mad at MY race.
She didn’t give a response! Instead, she launched into the next talking point (also espoused by Donald Trump). 223 said “who comes next: George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?” I was ready for that one. It was time to put on my teacher hat. “You do realize why Washington and Jefferson are viewed differently right?” No response to question two either.
Time to teach. Washington and Jefferson (and the other Founding Fathers), though neither saints  nor heroes in my eyes, at least had the forethought to put mechanisms in place to “decide” questions of race in the future. Although their idea was to produce a perfect union, they knew the society they created had flaws, which is one reason why the Constitution they created can be amended as needed. I give them credit for that. However, their reluctance to act upon their moral responsibility to end the “peculiar institution” has caused a, slow, but steady ripple effect that leads some people, even in 2017 to say: “I’m mad at YOUR race!”
Back to the story. This trail of logic would have been too much for 223, so I condensed it. I told her, “the difference is Washington and Jefferson never took up arms against the United States. The soldiers on this and other Confederate monuments (in particular Robert E. Lee) did. So monuments erected for them are viewed differently.”
Although this wasn’t a question, I thought maybe I could get a response worthy of continuing the “conversation.” Instead I got this: “well they were all involved in slavery.”  This is a valid point. But, it misses the mark because Washington and Jefferson are known more for the good they accomplished for our country. Robert E. Lee is known for his opposition to our country. I knew this response would require the great debater role in me. Should I take it there?
I did want to lay a tactful, yet pointed, smack down on my “opponent,” because unknowingly (I think) she put her foot in the slavery “debate.” All I needed to hear next was the talking point about how good slavery was for MY race back then. Believe it or not, in 2017, there are people who present and even accept as true the idea that slavery was beneficial…
Sometimes you should accept the fact that you have the high ground, and your opponent can’t take it from you. I was there. Any further conversation would have led to an “unnecessary” confrontation. I could not change 223’s heart or mind. It wasn’t worth it. I am the kind of person who can agree to disagree. By the way, I do like 223 as a person, and I think she likes me as a person too. However, I am not sure if our “acquaintance” trumps (pun intended) her opinion of “MY race.” It does mean I should keep 223 at the proper distance in regards to this topic, unless she chooses to have meaningful dialogue about it in the future.
I guess 223 is still mad at “MY race.”
What really concerns me is how many others feel the same way?

African American Cultural Norms

kente cloth

These are the cultural norms of African Americans…

The Extended Family

  • Cousins, Aunts, Mother, Father, Uncle

Informal Adoption

  • By blood relative and non-relatives… Play mom (Godmother, Godfather), play cousins, play nieces, play nephews, play grandmothers, play grandfathers)

Religious Orientation

  • Involved in some type of church religious activity

High Value on Children

  • Children come first

Respect for the Elderly

  • Always respectful to adults and especially to the elderly

Flexible Family Roles

  • Mother working and father taking care of kids

Respect

  • For self and community

Restraint

  • Not doing something that you know you should not do. Knowing right from wrong

Responsibility

  • To self, family, and community

Reciprocity

  • I keep the kids one day and you keep the kids the next.

 

Can you think of any examples of how these cultural values apply to you and your family?

kente cloth

Hill, Robert B. Ph. D 1999. The Strengths of African American Families- Twenty-five Years Later. University Press of America, Lanham, MD.
Sudarkasa, Niara. Ph. D “Interpreting the African Heritage in Afro-American Family Organization.” Pp 27-43 in Black Families, Ed. Harrielle, P. McAdoo, Newbury, Park, CA: Sage Publications, (1988).