Claim to Fame…Rise Up!

Claim to Fame: an excerpt from the book Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now, written by Gary A. McAbee

An important idea that African Americans can use is the concept of making claims. Making a claim is another way of saying making a declaration about something. The degree to which we believe in the claims we make is the conviction that we have when we actually make the claim. It is also all about faith. More faith means that we can make more powerful claims. More powerful claims are destined to become reality if we believe that they will come true.

There are different types of claims we can make and different expectations that African Americans can have for each claim. The first type of claim is what we can speak into existence. When we speak it, it becomes ingrained in our thoughts and daily routines. The claim becomes a call-to-action. The call-to-action puts us to work on what we have spoken. It is just a matter of time before the work we put in will produce the results we want.

If you want more peace in your life, speak it into existence. Your actions will lead you to find peace. If you want more money, speak prosperity into existence. Your actions will lead to greater wealth. If you want love in your life, speak it into existence. Your actions will lead you to find a suitable mate. We must be aware that the claim must be supported by effort or it will not come to pass. Faith without works is dead.

Another method of claiming is to know your best friend: you. Based on what you know about yourself, you can figure out how to make the right claims based on your talents and abilities. The idea is to use your talents and put them toward a goal that is attainable. Many people shoot for the moon with a slingshot, then question why their expectations do not come true. Instead, we should learn how to match our skill sets with our desires and claim what we want based on accurate conclusions.

What is your claim to fame based on what you know about yourself? Do you handle crisis situations well? Your claim to fame could be helping others. Maybe it is the care and concern you show for others. Do you handle your business effectively? Your claim to fame could be running your own business. If you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can make your claims based on your potential to be successful.

An example of the concept of making your claim to fame is finding your passion. Another way to look at passion is identifying what you are good at doing. Is there anything that you wouldn’t mind doing for free as long as you do not need it for financial support? Your passion is something that you do that makes you feel alive and at your best. It does not have to be work-related or tied to a specific job. Passion makes us commit all of our energy to what we want to accomplish.

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After African Americans identify their passion, we must claim it. Let the world know your talents and abilities. This is the reason why we are given our talents. It does no good if an African-American woman or man is blessed with unique abilities, but does not live up to their potential. As a race, we all suffer every time this occurs. We must build upon our talents to make a difference in our communities. It all starts with making a claim.

Those who do not excel when they know their passion are usually good at claiming failure instead of success. How many African Americans do you know who choose defeat before getting started? It is surprising how many people accept failure before making an attempt. Also, if they speak failure into existence, failure will be sure to arrive. The concept of claiming your fame works both ways.

The enemy of making a positive claim is fear. When fear is present, it prevents people from seeing positive outcomes. Instead, we close the door to success. There is a familiar story of a man who worked at the US patent office in the 1800s. He was confident that everything could possibly be created was already invented. He made a claim that humans could not invent any more things, so he quit working in the office. This man’s claim to fame was underestimating the power of human creativity, ingenuity, and imagination. His claim to fame is also having his story used as an example 150 years later!

The example leads us to an important part of the process. If we make the correct claim to fame and make it come to pass, we will be remembered for our accomplishments. The highest achievers in our race made their claim to fame. Benjamin Banneker’s claim to fame was mathematics and astronomy. Lorraine Hansberry’s claim to fame was writing plays and essays. Matthew Henson’s claim to fame was exploration. Madame CJ Walker’s claim to fame was invention.

Imagine what would have happened if these great African Americans would not have claimed their fame? What if they did not speak about their vision and goals until they became reality? Suppose they did not find their passion and pursue it until they realized their dreams. These people, along with countless other African Americans, claimed their fame. As a result, our race is better off because of their successes. Our world has reaped the benefits their achievements.

Just like we will be remembered for our achievements, we will also be remembered for our shortcomings if we do not live up to our potential. So once again, we end up back at the same starting point. Claim your fame and work to make it a reality. Claim positive results and positive results will come to pass. Find your passion and make it the driving force behind your success.

 

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Identification: Who Said You are _______? Do You Believe Them?

 

The year is 2017 and we as people of color have more opportunities than ever. We have proven that we can compete in the classroom, newsroom, and the boardroom. We have a proven track-record of excellence across many disciplines. Many of these achievements are in fields of endeavor that our ancestors thought would never become open to us. In fact, they could only imagine living in a world full of opportunities like we have today. Ours is truly an amazing story, and an even more amazing journey.

Along the way there have always been obstacles put in our way for us to overcome. There have always been challenges for us to recognize and face. There have always been questions we needed to answer just to become qualified. I think we have overcome numerous obstacles, faced several challenges, and answered all of the questions correctly. Now we must take the next step by defining our true identity.

During our journey, we have been identified in many ways. We have been called many names. We have been given many titles. Our character and worth as a people has been defined for us, and often not in glorious terms. We have been told we are inferior, unworthy, incapable, unlovable, unredeemable, ungodly, unlawful, uneducated, unteachable, unreachable, lazy, and ugly.

Now I ask a simple question: Who said you are _______? Do you believe them?

If you believe them, then they have won. They have defined your character for you. I am here to refute everything they have said. I am here to break every stereotype they can find. I am here to correct every false opinion about us.

Question Mark

Now I ask a simple question: I say you are __________ . Do you believe me?

If you believe me, wake up and seize your victory. Use self-identification to define your true character. Live up to everything I am about to say. Break every stereotype about who you are. Correct every false opinion they have about you.

 

Who said you are inferior?                                         I say you are superior!

Who said you are unworthy?                                     I say you are worthy!

Who said you are incapable?                                      I say you are capable!

Who said you are unlovable?                                     I say you are lovable!

Who said you are unredeemable?                             I say you are redeemed!

Who said you are ungodly?                                         I say you are God-fearing!

 

Who said you are unlawful?                                       I say you are law-abiding!

Who said you are uneducated?                                  I say you are educated!

Who said you are unteachable?                                 I say you can be taught!

Who said you are unreachable?                                I say you are reachable!

Who said you are lazy?                                                I say you are energized!

Who said you are ugly?                                                I say you are beautiful!

 

Now that you have been correctly identified, rise up and find success! The year is 2017 and we as people of color have more opportunities than ever. We have proven that we can compete in the classroom, newsroom, and the boardroom. We have a proven track-record of excellence across many disciplines. Many of these achievements are in fields of endeavor that our ancestors thought would never become open to us. In fact, they could only imagine living in a world full of opportunities like we have today. Ours is truly an amazing story, and an even more amazing journey.

 

 

Mass Incarceration: Maybe the Last of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

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Mass incarceration has affected millions of people across all races, and the result is many of these people become a part of a permanent underclass who will struggle to live a normal life. Of course, many of the people who are incarcerated committed heinous crimes that need to be punished. These are not the people this is meant to address. Instead, we must take a closer look at people who were sentenced for minor crimes and misdemeanors, either justly or unjustly. In these cases, incarceration causes an enduring legacy that disqualifies millions of American citizens from returning to a normal life. Far too often, these people are poor, uneducated, and minorities. This is why along with  credit, education, and voting rights, mass incarceration might be the last of the remaining great disqualifiers.

Mass incarceration is a great disqualifier because a criminal record will follow and ex-offender even though they may have paid their debt to society. Although prison is supposed to rehabilitate its offenders, we know it does not do a good job of rehabilitation. Upon release, “reformed” criminals who try to straighten up their lives have a hard time erasing the stain of their criminal record. It follows them as they seek employment, housing, and voting rights. This is due to the requirement to disclose prior convictions on applications to “determine” eligibility. We know the deal here: this disclosure is more likely to disqualify people from a proper evaluation and consideration. Who gets caught in this trap: primarily minorities, immigrants, and poor people who get incarcerated.

Recently I had to look for a job, and I was surprised at the new levels of questions that ex-offenders have to answer. Basically, these questions ask if a person has been convicted of a crime. Depending on the organization or company, a “yes” answer leads to a series of additional questions. The most important of these questions is probably whether the crime was a felony or misdemeanor. I do not have statistics, but I am willing to bet that people who disclose their felony conviction are far less likely to be considered for employment than those who commit misdemeanors. Factor in those who have not committed crimes, and you can see how far behind ex-offenders are when looking for employment post-incarceration. When seeking employment, ex-offenders can easily be disqualified. Mass incarceration is one of the last remaining disqualifiers for them even though they have paid their debt to society.

Ex-offenders are also left way behind when seeking housing opportunities. Once again, an application will probably ask if a person has been convicted of a crime. This time, a potential landlord has the power to determine whether or not the answer to this question will disqualify a person from obtaining housing. I do not have statistics, but I am willing to bet that people who disclose their felony conviction are far less likely to be considered for housing than those who commit misdemeanors. Factor in those who have not committed crimes, and you can see how far behind ex-offenders are when looking for housing post-incarceration. When seeking employment and housing, ex-offenders can easily be disqualified. Mass incarceration is one of the last remaining disqualifiers for them even though they have paid their debt to society.

We have seen wave after wave of challenges to voting rights in America. Perhaps nowhere is this challenge stronger than establishing, or reestablishing the right to vote for ex-convicts. Some states allow ex-felons to return to voting rolls once they are released from prison. Other states do not allow them to vote. The recent trend is to either prevent ex-offenders from voting, or to strike them from voting lists. Once again, ex-offenders are required to disclose their convictions upon reapplying for the right to vote. I do not have statistics, but I am willing to bet that people who disclose their felony conviction are far less likely to be considered for voting than those who commit misdemeanors. Factor in those who have not committed crimes, and you can see how far behind ex-offenders are when looking to reestablish their voting rights post-incarceration. When seeking employment, housing and voting rights, ex-offenders can easily be disqualified. Mass incarceration is one of the last remaining disqualifiers for them even though they have paid their debt to society.

I have provided just a few examples of how mass incarceration is one of the remaining great disqualifiers for minorities, immigrants, and poor people. Simply put, being incarcerated can disqualify a person for life because their rights post-incarceration are never fully restored. These people will find it difficult to get employment. They will find it difficult to find decent housing. They will find it difficult to vote. It is not a pretty picture, especially for those people who get entangled in the criminal justice system for “minor” offenses. For these people and millions of others, mass incarceration will remain one of the last remaining great disqualifiers. We need to ask some questions…

Is there something sinister at work that is designed to ensnare certain group of people into the web of the criminal justice system?

Is there a secret “system” in place to create a permanent underclass based on mass incarceration?

Is mass incarceration another disqualifier on the same level as credit mismanagement, a lack of education, and denial of voting rights?

 

We need to find answers. What do you think is the cause of mass incarceration: the last remaining great disqualifier?

 

This is a follow-up to my original posts:

Credit: One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Education: Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Voting Rights: Yet Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

 

Faith: Motivation for the World, One Word At a Time

Conversations we need to have… original post from the Motivation for the World blog written by Gary A. McAbee

Motivation for the World

Faith… an excerpt from the soon to be released book:

Motivation for the World, One Word at a Time by Gary A. McAbee

Faith

In the Book of Hebrews, faith is defined as: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. What this means is simple: you have to have faith to believe that things can, and will happen, even when it looks as if they are impossible. This is when many people lose what it means to be faithful. They can’t see the results they want, so they believe that they are not attainable. They believe they cannot achieve a victory. Nothing is farther from the truth.

Being faithful means to know and anticipate things that will come your way. Faith will bring you the things you want. It is critical to understand that having faith is an element of all creation. Creation requires starting…

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Victory: Motivation for the World, One Word At a Time

From the Motivation for the World blog by Gary A. McAbee…

http://motivationfortheworld.wordpress.com/

Motivation for the World

Victory… an excerpt from the soon to be released book:

Motivation for the World, One Word at a Time by Gary A. McAbee

Victory

I believe one of the greatest joys is when we successfully overcome an opponent, difficult situation, or challenge. At least, this is the way I feel when I achieve a level of success that I did not expect nor anticipate. For me these are special achievements and I consider each of them a victory. I thank God every day for small victories, because sometimes that is all that goes right in a given day. Major accomplishments take time, and finding your victory when pursuing major goals may be a prolonged wait. Unfortunately, sometimes the ultimate victory never comes along.

The road to success is littered with obstacles, hardships, and challenges that must be faced on a daily basis. If we are not careful, these hazards can…

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Join the Political Debate

Join the Political Debate: a chapter from the book:

Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now, written by Gary A. McAbee

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NOTE: this excerpt was written in 2012, when I encouraged all people to get involved in the political process. It was an attempt to get people to wake up, and learn about the ways politics affect our daily lives. Today, the idea that people should pay closer attention to politics is more important than ever. As a country, we need to read and educate ourselves every day to join the political debate…

 

Now that we have an African-American President, there really is no excuse for black people to doubt the validity of the political process. The system still has subtle inequalities and injustices here and there, but for the most part we can believe that it works. We can believe that our votes are counted and they have meaning. We can believe that our voices, so often ignored in the past, have been heard. Now there is no excuse why we should not be more involved in politics, and issues that shape our communities, and nation as a whole.

How many ways are there for African Americans to contribute to the political process? We can start by voting. Barack Obama’s candidacy energized a new generation of voters while reawakening so many disenchanted ones. Let’s face it: many blacks were turned off by politics until Barack Obama came along. As a result, our voter turnout results were among the lowest of any race people until 2008. This is a trend that can continue if we ride the political wave that we are currently on.

We cannot forget the sacrifices that our predecessors made so that we can vote today. By voting, we can validate their efforts and the hardships they endured for future generations of African Americans like us. Until recently, our heroes such as Fannie Lou Hamer and Frederick Douglass would have been disappointed in us because of our spotty voting history. However, this disappointment would undoubtedly be turned into pride now that we voted en masse and helped to elect our current leader. In the future, we must continue to honor the legacies of those who paved the way for us to vote today by filling the ballot box.

African Americans can join in the political process by remaining aware of the decisions made on the local level. The decisions made by our city councils have long-lasting impacts on the issues currently affecting our lives. For example, I spoke in this book about the amount of bars and liquor stores in my old neighborhood. It takes licensing and zoning laws to operate businesses, so how can we have so many operating in a given area? The answer is because it is legal and allowed to happen. What can we do to change this?

We can start by getting involved by letting our local elected officials know that this is not acceptable. One thing we can do is voice our displeasure so that more of these places are not allowed to open in our communities. Take this action a step further. If we are not satisfied with our local representatives, we can email, call, or visit them! After all, they work for us and we can vote them out. Our strength lies in the fact that they are aware of this. So, if enough African Americans in Jersey City, NJ choose to complain about the establishments in our neighborhoods, changes would surely follow.

Moving on, education must become a part of the debate when joining the political process. Our schools do not place enough emphasis on the workings of government; therefore, we are left out of the loop when it comes to political matters. We can easily overcome this by using a very powerful tool at our disposal: the computer. With the advent of the computer, there is no excuse for a lack of knowledge in today’s society! We can learn about politics, the legal system, and policy formulation all by accessing the internet. As a result, we can be better prepared to join the political debate.

Increasing our knowledge base would lead to more African Americans who can become involved in the political process as candidates. A great way to influence and direct change in our communities is to elect our own officials. Our elected officials are vital to our agenda of better education, better and safer schools, and cleaner communities just by their presence alone. Their voice in government is better than having no representation at all. Therefore, we need to be sure that we are raising our next generation of politicians who will shape the future of African Americans.

This influx of talented minds would help to close the gap of a lack of African Americans on the national political scene as well. We are not visible enough in national politics. An illustration of this point is from studies of the Sunday early morning and daily cable news political shows and roundtable discussions. These are the best opportunities for elected officials to join the national political debate in front of millions of interested viewers. The studies paint an interesting picture.

I am one who hates to use statistics, because statistics can be analyzed from many different viewpoints. However, the following statistics about the lack of African-American viewpoints cannot be denied. For example, during a 16-month study on the Sunday morning talk show circuit, only 1 out of every 10 political figures invited was African-American. In fact, 60% of these shows had no black guests at all during the study. As a final thought, 69% of all African-American appearances were made by only three people: Juan Williams (author and FOX News correspondent), and former Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.

This lack of representation points to the fact that our underrepresentation must be challenged and improved. Even if these political figures could push an agenda favorable to African Americans, how much impact could they really have on today’s political discussions? Therefore, we need more African Americans in politics to keep issues that affect us on the table.

There is one last point to be made about today’s political landscape. This is a reminder to our people, as well as our politicians, not to get caught up in the typical gridlock in our politics thanks in large part to political affiliations. It shouldn’t matter that Barack Obama is a Democrat. Nor should it matter that JC Watts is a Republican. It should not matter to us that Al Sharpton attracts negative publicity. Nor should it matter that Clarence Thomas possesses conservative views. They are all African-American political leaders that we can learn a lot from if we are open to joining the political debate. Their ideals can help us become more interested and educated about the political process.

Tearing Down Barack Obama: Who Will Finish The Job of Erasing His Legacy?

The Presidency of Barack Obama was historic for so many reasons. The most obvious is that he was the first African-American to serve as President of the United States. As a black man, I gushed with pride knowing that the ultimate glass ceiling, the office of the President, has been shattered by Barack Obama. Now young black males can look to the example of Barack Obama and dream of one day becoming the second African-American President of the United States. If you do not understand the importance of this, I suggest you think about it and try to find some empathy to comprehend the magnitude of this achievement.

Of course, the Presidency of Barack Obama had to come with a price. The price was the typical back-and-forth debates that happen constantly in Washington. Members of both political parties, Democrats and Republicans, play a significant role in these occurrences. Both political parties would like to limit the power of success of the other, all in an attempt to push their agenda through. It was under this backdrop that Barack Obama took office eight years ago. Naturally, he would be subject to the political wrangling and scrutiny that all Presidents must face while in office. However, upon careful review, I am one person who wonders if the scrutiny President Obama faced was typical, or greater than previous Presidents.

(…if you lean Republican, have conservative ideologies, or possess another motive not to be discussed here, I hope that you continue reading anyway. I am sure that your natural tendency is to immediately dismiss the premise I am about to present. I will give you that. However, I will not give you the right to discharge my point-of-view without at least trying to understand it. Without trying to frame his Presidency within the historical terms of black people in America, It will be difficult for you to accept what I will say next, nor agree with it at all. I only ask that you proceed and make an honest attempt at gaining some understanding…)

Post-election, was there a concerted effort to tear down Barack Obama, his Presidency, and the legacy he would leave behind? Let’s tart from the beginning and see where we go. It is known and proven that leaders of the Republican Party met behind closed doors immediately after the first election of Barack Obama. Their mission was laid out. They would obstruct President Obama at every turn, as well as try to render him a one-term President. I suppose this is normal and a method both Republicans and Democrats use once the other party wins the Presidency. However, was this the first time such a meeting was confirmed to have taken place?

I could be wrong (and feel free to provide facts that will do so), but I have followed American politics closely since the 2000 Bush vs. Gore election fight. I do not recall immediate opposition to President Bush, or at least not a backdoor meeting that went public. Nevertheless, the stage was set for opposition and obstruction of President-elect Obama. This is undeniable.

Now back to my original point: how does it look when the first African-American President faces obstruction and purposeful attempts to “sabotage” his Presidency from day one? How am I, given all of the obstruction black people have faced in America, supposed to feel  when I know there are member of our own Government dead-set against this President?

Let’s fast forward to how many times during both of his terms that Barack Obama was “delegitimized” as President. In other words, how many times did his critics act as if he never won, or should have won the Presidency twice? Obama has been called weak at foreign policy, yet a dictator over us about domestic affairs. He has been questioned about his use of executive actions, when he has done this fewer times than his predecessors. He has even been about his vacation time, even though he was away from Washington fewer days than other recent Presidents. Again, these things are always things a President, regardless of political party get scrutinized for doing. But it seems to me Obama got a little more backlash than other Presidents…

Remember in one of his first reception lines, how Russian dignitaries skipped over President Obama by not shaking his hand?

Remember former Governor Jan Brewer, and the time she stuck her stuck her finger in President Obama’s face?

Remember the congressman, who interrupted the State of the Union Address to say the President lies?

Remember when President-elect Trump delegitimized the President by asking for Obama’s birth certificate time and time again…

I could go on and on with example after example of attempts to delegitimize the Presidency of Barack Obama. 

Now back to my original point: how does it look when the first African-American President faces obstruction and purposeful attempts to “sabotage” his Presidency while he is in office? All of these slights play out in the public eye, so the world saw and paid attention to these things. Not only that, but people of all races, supporters and non-supporters, friends and foes, also saw the treatment President Obama received. None of these things should have ever happened to the President of the United States. Personally, I do not care who is in office, Democrat or Republican. There is a level of dignity and respect owed to the President at all times.

So what was I to say as I witnesses outward expressions of “hostility” toward the first African-American President? How was I supposed to feel, as a black man, as people tried to tear down President Obama? Please provide me with tangible evidence that warranted this “hostility” as proof that his Presidency was such a disaster. In the meantime, I will share this…

For the record, Obama was reelected in 201, but unemployment did not stay above 8% as predicted by Mitt Romney

For the record, gas prices did not shoot up to $6.00 per gallon as a result of Obama’s reelection…

For the record, the stock market did not crash during either of Obama’s two terms in office…

For the record, Obama did not plan to suspend the election of 2016…

For the record, Obama did not vow to stay in office after 2016 (if Trump won)…

All of these “stories” were either outright lies, or distortions of the truth to make some people fear the first African-American President even more. What makes this sad is the people responsible for the untruths knew they were lies, yet they told these stories anyway. Their goal was to play of the fears of people who are uneducated about civics and the functions of government. It worked! Yet Obama continued to serve as the President of the United States with dignity and class.

Let’s fast forward to the election of 2016. Even though most economic numbers have improved dramatically during his Presidency, this election turned into an indictment to some degree of Barack Obama. As a result, we saw the rise of Donald Trump and his appeal to those who rejected Barack Obama from the start. President-elect Trump rode this wave all the way to the White House. Of course, he used his platform to bash the President and claim how much he has failed after eight years in office. While this is normal during an election season, who can explain why this happened while the President’s approval numbers are at their highest point right now?

Now back to my original point: how does it look when the first African-American President faces obstruction and purposeful attempts to “sabotage” his Presidency as his time in office comes to an end? Given the treatment of so many of my ancestors (and myself and countless other African-Americans), this feels like the ultimate slap in the face. I understand the nature of politics and the desire to downgrade members of a different political party, but really? President Obama’s successes and failures will be scrutinized objectively by Presidential scholars. This treatment is to come later. Right now, to me it feels as if someone is ready to finish the job of tearing down Barack Obama, once and for all.

A wise man posted this on social media back on November 7, 2016, one day before the 2016 election…

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An even wiser man (Van Jones) made a compelling statement concerning the treatment of Barack Obama, especially as a result of the brilliant victory of President-elect Trump. Van Jones could not have said it any better. To paraphrase his comments, he called the victory of Donald Trump (in part) a “whitelash” against President Obama and the demographic shift occurring in the United States. Once again, to fully understand his (and my) point-of-view, you should take into consideration the treatment of black people in America. What are we supposed to tell our children?

See full clip here: Van Jones- CNN November 8, 2016:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdgewCeLtrU

As a final thought, I say we should just let this play out. If you are concerned or need to find additional evidence, please stay tunes and watch how soon the attempts to erase President Obama from history start to occur. Remember that you read about it here “first”. Let’s see, repealing ObamaCare, whether you like it or not, is already the first of Obama’s accomplishments in the crosshairs of the new Congress as soon as Donald Trump takes office? What will be next? I am sure it will not take along before we see several additional attempts to tear down Barack Obama. Who will finish the job of erasing the legacy of Barack Obama? Time will tell…