Tag Archives: African-American

A State of Conscious Rage in 2016

A State of Conscious Rage in 2016

James Baldwin

Photo courtesy of QuoteHD.com

African-American novelist and playwright James Baldwin said it best: “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”

The only way to appreciate this famous quote by James Baldwin is to listen and learn. If you are truly interested, you should try to see how it plays into my daily activities, and how it leads to the state of rage Baldwin speaks about. At least I can control it; many cannot. What is this rage? It refers to the constant and endless bombardment of the outside world telling us that we are inferior just because of the color of our skin. It is also because we are repeatedly told we should just get over “it.” We have no right to feel the way we do about injustices against us, both real and imagined, even though they continue to happen right before our eyes.

We recently heard stories that John Ehrlichman, former aide to then President Nixon, said that the war on drugs was really an affront to go after black people and anti-war protestors. This is a damning revelation, but are we really surprised about it? While this admission is really old news, it both confirms and reinforces the stories of countless African-Americans who believe the “system” is rigged against us. It is simply confirmation that we didn’t need. It is one of many reasons for my rage.

Why am I in a rage almost all the time?

  • The Oscars celebrate the best work in films and entertainment, but not one of the major categories has a single black nominee…
  • The Sportsperson of the Year Award given to Serena Williams is questioned because a horse had a good year too…
  • Some states are limiting the hours for voting, while others are insisting on various forms of ID that will disenfranchise many poor and elderly people…
  • The Flint Water Crisis and all the effects of drinking lead tainted water will ultimately produce…
  • President Obama is criticized for every move he makes, from visiting Cuba, to speaking briefly about police misconduct, to nominating a Supreme Court Justice…
  • The Black Lives Matter movement is labelled as a hate group, but its objective is to raise awareness about issues far too often ignored in our society…

These are things happening on a macro level, so how do they psychologically affect my personal life? Why am in a rage almost all the time? In 2016…

  • I was recently stopped by the police and one false move could have ended in jail time or worse…
  • My neighbors still give me with a less then friendly greeting even though I am always first to acknowledge their presence…
  • My son was labelled as a problem because he was in the wrong school at the wrong time of his academic journey…
  • I was alive while black when a store clerk, who handed the person right in front of me his change and thanked him, dropped my change in the palm of my hand without saying a word…

I could go on and on, but doing so will only overstate the obvious:

“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”- James Baldwin

 

More than an Innocent Prank: T-Shirts Today, Discrimination Tomorrow?

Recently six white Arizona teen girls used extremely poor judgment when the posed in a photo wearing t-shirts that spelled “NI**ER”. I think everyone who analyzed the incident displayed all of the normal reactions to the photo. The media and social media outlets plastered the photo and sparked the outrage of many. Critics called for the expulsion of the girls from school. Even some supporters called it an innocent childhood prank based on poor judgment that occurs during those confused teenage years. While I can see both sides of the issue, my mind immediately jumped to a much different conclusion. It is the same place I go every time one of these “news” stories comes to light. Honestly, I am beyond outrage when these events occur. Instead, I think about what this “innocent prank” could lead to in the future.

I am NOT saying these girls are racist. I do not know them, nor do I know what is in their hearts and minds. Despite the “evidence” of the photo, I reuse to judge them for their poor choice to arrange themselves in a pose that spells out such a cruel word. However, to make my point, I need to use them as an example and use a hypothetical what if one of these girls is racist, and that thought-process stays with them throughout their life.

There is a possibility that at least one of the girls pictured in the controversial photo is a racist. What could the potential impact of this one girl possibly be? Let’s say she grew up in an environment where racism thrived, or at a minimum, was subtly a way of life. This girl could choose to think white people are superior. This could cause her to look down on people of other races due to prejudices built up and reinforced over time. In all honesty, she is entitled to feel this way. However, her thought-processes will eventually manifest themselves in actions, and this is where the problem “starts”.

N Word Pic

Photo courtesy of: New York Daily News | CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN

Don’t get me wrong, I hope this girl gets a good education and becomes a contributor to our society. The question is; what will her contribution be? Suppose she eventually works her way into management and has the responsibility of hiring personnel. She screens resumes to find potential candidates and runs across resumes from qualified applicants Tawana Jones or Ricardo Lopez. What do you think she will do with those resumes? Suppose she eventually owns rental properties and has the responsibility to screen rental applicants. When she searches, she is visited by qualified potential renters named Sun-Li Bok or Jamario Johnson. What do you think she will do after she shows them the properties?

If you think these are just hypothetical situations that do not happen on a daily basis, feel free to stop reading now. Unfortunately, I do not have the horsepower to convince you of anything different. For those who are at least open to the possibility of these scenarios existing in 2016, I applaud you. Now suppose our t-shirt wearing teen becomes a teacher at a local school. By now, she is in her 50s, and her deep seated racist beliefs have been etched in stone. She encounters a young black male student, who has the ability to be successful, but does not respond well to her. Maybe he senses something about his teacher that makes him uncomfortable. He has disciplinary issue, and she sits on the school’s disciplinary review board. What do you think her recommendation will be?

So yes, six teenage girls who choose to spell out a distasteful slur take a picture that goes viral. It sparks outrage by those who are “offended”. So be it. It even sparks support from those who defend, or at least, “understand” their innocent prank. So be it. For me, this is not a question about a “temporary” lack of judgement. Instead, it is the fear that it shows the potential racism that lives in one of these girls. As this cancer of racism grows inside this young lady, how will it eventually manifest itself in the future? Who will it negatively affect somewhere down the line? When will it be used as a means to get ahead, or stay ahead of another person?

As a final thought, how many young people in our society think this was just an “innocent prank”, and how many of them will act in the future on racist feelings they possess in the present? The next time one of these issues come to light, these are the questions we should be asking ourselves.

 

*** At the time of this writing, one of the girls came forward with an apology for the incident. Hopefully she has learned a lesson that she will use in the future to create more positive outcomes, such as granting interviews on the basis of merit or renting to people regardless of their race.

 

 

 

If Black Lives Matter, Why Don’t Black People Protest About “Black-on-Black” Crime?

Black Genocide

Photo: http://www.voguevoice.com/but-nobody-protests-black-on-black-crime/                            Black-on-Black Crime Myths Discredited

Many opponents of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement point to the issue of “black-on- black crime” and question why we do not protest when a black person kills another black person. Their argument is to say that crimes committed by black people against black people are an epidemic not being addressed by the black community. Instead, our focus is misplaced and amped up when a police officer kills an unarmed black person. They say black lives matter then, but not in our communities where crime and violence is rampant. The “we ignore black-on-black crime” narrative then overshadows, or at the very least is used as a counterargument, against the issue of potential police misconduct against black people.

Let me begin with the false notion of “black-on-black” crime. First of all, this is a myth because research shows that people are more likely to be a victim of crime from someone they know, or the ethnic group from the place where they live. If a black person lives in a predominately black community, it is more likely they would become a victim of crime at the hands of another black person. Critics of Black Lives Matter and those seeking to race bait somehow gloss over this fact. By the way, the same concept holds true for white people who live in predominately white communities. Do we call crime in these communities “white-on-white” crime?

How about “yellow-on-yellow” crime, as a derogatory reference to Asian people who commit crimes against other Asian people? How about “brown-on brown” crime, as a derogatory reference to Hispanic people who commit crimes against other Hispanic people? Here’s a great one: how about “red-on-red” crime, as a derogatory reference to Native Americans who commit crimes against other Native Americans. Just say these references aloud a few times and you should realize how ridiculous each sounds. Then ask a question: why are these terms not used, even though crime statistics support their “validity”? Again, people are more likely to be a victim of crime from someone they know, or the ethnic group from the place where they live.

For the sake of argument, let’s give some validity to the “black-on-black” crime narrative. Critics of movements like Black Lives Matter will say we sit back and allow “black-on-black” crime to occur in cities across the country. Where are the protest marches when a teen is gunned down in Chicago? How about when there is a gang-related shooting in Memphis? What about drug-related violence in St. Louis? Where is the outrage in the black community?

Let’s think about this for a second: again, people are more likely to be a victim of crime from someone they know, or the ethnic group from the place where they live. Do you think for one second that black people who live and work in Chicago are not anxious about the safety of their children on the way to and from school? Do you think for one second that black people who live and work in Memphis are not worried about their children getting caught up in gangs and criminal behavior? Do you think for one second that black people who live and work in St. Louis are not concerned about drug-usage in their community and the violence that usually follows? I question the motives and sincerity of anyone who would dare think we are not disturbed about these issues in our communities. They say: If Black Lives Matter, Why Don’t Black People Protest About Black-on-Black Crime?

While we see images of BLM protests that spring up when a police officer kills an unarmed black person under strange circumstances, we do not see images of community rallies when crime gets out of control in inner-cities. These protests exist, and they are more abundant than protests when law enforcement officers shoot unarmed black people. Let me repeat: These protests exist, and they are more abundant than protests when law enforcement officers shoot unarmed black people. I am sure critics who read this will not believe this fact, so let’s dispel the myth once and for all that we do not care about “black-on-black” crime. We do, and black people around the country protest violence in their communities, and work tirelessly to bring forth change.

The following list, though not exhaustive, documents several “black-on-black” anti-crime protests conducted in 2015 alone. Why was there little coverage of these events? Maybe it is to keep the disproven narrative of “black-on-black” crime alive. Or maybe it is because the rallies below are not a sensational as rallies against allegations of police brutality. In either case, the only way to dispel the myth that black people do not protest against violence in their own communities is to do some research. An even better approach is to join one of the anti-crime rallies orchestrated and led by black people around the country. Then everyone will know that Black Lives Matter in black communities, even when we don’t hear about it or see it in the news…

East Flatbush, NY: Dec, 2015

http://interactive.nydailynews.com/2015/12/former-gangbangers-reduce-gun-violence-brooklyns-streets/index.html?utm_content=buffer2b6f4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Jersey City, NJ: Nov 2015

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2015/11/jersey_city_residents_march_to_stop_the_violence.htm

Chicago, IL: Nov 2015

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/alphas-in-the-streets-march_565364c2e4b0879a5b0be458

Harrisburg, PA: Nov 2015

http://fox43.com/2015/11/28/harrisburg-community-protests-violence-after-two-men-killed-in-two-different-shootings/

Charlotte, NC: Oct 2015

http://qcitymetro.com/2015/10/19/marchers-carry-anti-crime-message/

Irvington (Indianapolis, IN): Sept 2015

http://wishtv.com/2015/09/13/irvington-holds-anti-violence-rally/

Portsmouth, VA: Aug 2015

http://wavy.com/2015/08/14/movement-against-gun-violence-grows-in-portsmouth/

Rockford, IL: July 2015

http://www.wifr.com/home/headlines/Community-Marches-Against-Violence-and-Crime-317039821.html

Ypsilanti, MI: July 2015

http://photos.mlive.com/ann-arbor_photos/2015/07/ypsilanti_community_protest_to_18.html

Pittsfield, MA: June 2015

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/ci_28467320/pittsfield-residents-rally-protest-violence

Brooklyn, NY: June 2015

http://www.ny1.com/nyc/brooklyn/news/2015/06/11/anti-violence-activists-rally-amid-crime-spike–launch-of-summer-all-out.html

Hartford, CT: June 2015

http://www.wfsb.com/story/29257037/rev-al-sharpton-leads-anti-violence-rally-through-hartford

Tampa, FL: March 2015

http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/stop-the-violence-rally-held-in-response-to-surge-in-tampa-shootings/2222624

Joliet, IL: March 2015

http://www.theherald-news.com/2015/03/14/joliet-residents-and-leaders-urge-community-to-stop-the-violence/am2fujq/

Milwaukee, WI: March 2015

http://milwaukeenns.org/2015/03/20/unite-milwaukee-summit-seeks-to-address-violence/

Baton Rouge, LA: Jan 2015

http://www.wbrz.com/news/family-holds-rally-for-bloody-start-to-new-year/

 

Good Times Teaches Lessons Learned Yesterday from the Headlines of Today

Good Times

I have learned valuable lessons from the 1970s hit television show Good Times (1974-1979). The show followed the lives of the Evans family as they tried to survive through hard times. Good Times is regarded as a classic sitcom because issues covered by the show still exist today. Unemployment, bullying, and gun safety are a few of the many subjects in Good Times that are in the headlines today.

Lesson learned: we are still dealing with unemployment in our communities.

James Evans was the hard-working father who worked tirelessly to provide for his family. It was the only way of life he knew. James dropped out of school to work and support his family. Since then, he had a hard time finding and keeping stable employment due to his lack education and the shortage of available jobs. Sound familiar?

Lesson learned: we are still dealing with bullying in our schools.

In “The Lunch Money Ripoff” (1975) episode, youngest son Michael Evans was the victim of a bully at school. He had to give up his lunch and money every day, or face punishment from the bully. Michael invited the bully to spend the weekend with the Evans family to solve the problem. It was one of the few times the bully saw a loving family led by both parents. Sound familiar?

Lesson learned: we are still dealing with gun safety in our homes.

In “The Family Gun” (1975) episode, the community is rocked by crime due to unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, and poverty. The family needs protection, so they keep an unsecured gun in a closet. The gun is supposedly hidden, just like many homeowners claim today. Everything appears to be alright until the gun is missing. Sound familiar?

Lesson learned: we are still dealing with violence and gangs in our communities.

In “The Gang- Part One” (1974) episode, oldest son JJ Evans was being forced into joining a gang. He was needed to help win a fight with a rival gang. JJ realized that gang life was not for him, so decided he would do anything not to get involved. He was shot when he refused to go to fight with the gang. Sound familiar?

Lesson learned: we are still dealing with the need for two-income households.

Florida Evans was the strong-willed mother and backbone of the Evans family. She spent the majority of her life being a housewife. Florida realized she had to do more to supplement the family income, so she went back to school. Later she entered the workforce too, even though it meant less time to spend with the family. Sound familiar?

Good Times covered lessons from the past still in headlines we see today. The show taught me a lot about families and the ties that keep them together. If you have not watched this iconic sitcom lately, I suggest you find Good Times to learn some valuable lessons too!

What is the Presidential Effect?

… an excerpt from Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! by Gary A. McAbee

Obama

Being totally honest, I shed quite a few tears when President Obama gave his victory speech on election night. I thought of all of the black people who fought, cried, survived, and died so that I could see that moment. Personally, it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Wow! Anything and everything really is possible. Then, just moments after the President-elect, his running mate and their families left the stage, the weight of his victory crashed down upon me. I felt the burden of helping to improve Black America again.

I realized the importance of finishing this book to do my part. The bottom line is: Barack Obama did his part; our ancestors did their part.

When are we, and I mean each and every one of us, going to do our part? When are we going to clean up our neighborhoods? When are we going to educate our children? When are we going to encourage and support each other?

 The amazing thing about President Barack and Michelle Obama is that they embody exactly what is in this book. Starting from the beginning, they know OUR STORY, in part because of Barack Obama’s diverse past and experiences. They know the importance of EDUCATION for themselves and their children. Their lives prove that they are SELF-MOTIVATED, and they will do what it takes to remain successful. They are both interested in SELF IMPROVEMENT; their pursuit of higher education demonstrates this fact. They are both outstanding COMMUNICATORS who can relate to people from all walks of life.

They SUPPORT each other and their children constantly. They have learned important LESSONS that they put into daily practice. Their FAMILY is the model that all families should strive to be. They are conscious of their FINANCES and know how it feels to survive off a little until blessed with more. Their lives have included providing SERVICE to others. They have always been ardent supporters of their COMMUNITY, long before President Obama’s days as a community organizer. Finally, they have been called to lead our SOCIETY into a better future. As I said before, they are doing their part and living up to the ideals in this book. The question is: can you also live up to these ideals Black America?

 This is why, his life, as well as the life of our wonderful First Lady Michelle Obama, must become THE example of how we should live our lives as African Americans. We must be college educated. We must find the best mate possible and build our families. We must work for a living to support our families. We must volunteer in our communities. We must raise our children in two-parent households. We must totally support the dreams and goals of our companions. We must provide the best educational opportunities for our children. We must support our parents as they become older. We must grow, thrive, and prosper as African Americans.

 So the challenge, whether or not history tells us that Barack Obama was a great President or an awful one, is to wake up and contribute to fixing the problems of the black community, while strengthening the numerous positive aspects that we already possess. In this process, we will be building our society as a whole. There are no more excuses. There is no longer a “need” to wait for someone else to do it for us. We must make sure that we tell our children that anything and everything is possible, regardless of our race, gender, economic situation, education, or perceived disadvantages that may, or may not exist.

As a final thought, we MUST UNDERSTAND that it will take education, hard work, sacrifice, diligence, love, creativity, passion, desire, inspiration, motivation, networking, understanding, enthusiasm, wisdom, planning, risk taking, dreaming, goal setting, writing, reading, and intelligence to be successful. This is why Barack Obama has been successful. This is how we all can be successful too. This is how our children can be successful. The time is RIGHT NOW!

This is the Presidential Effect…

Black is Still Beautiful

Black is Still Beautiful, from Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now, written by Gary A. McAbee

Throughout the Civil Rights era, something great was rediscovered. We remembered that we are a beautiful race of people, on the inside as well as our outward appearances. Black Nationalism, a belief that blacks in America should take pride in our race, took shape. The sayings were numerous, from “I’m black and I’m proud” to “black is beautiful”. These sayings helped to establish pride in our communities and lift our collective spirits. African Americans finally realized that we are a beautiful race of people.

Sometimes it seems that adversity brings about change, so it is easy to see why the adversities faced during the Civil Rights Era would spawn a movement of Black pride. Using that logic, one should conclude that today’s troubling times would be right to cultivate a new movement of black pride. However, universally this is not the case. We are making progress, but the progress we make seems to be in small circles. A challenge from an outside force that we all can clearly see is the only way we will get the masses of African Americans back to believing in black pride, and believing that we are still a beautiful race of people.

Right now, we are too separated; we are not united by a singular cause. Although many issues standout such as crime, the lack of quality education, or single-parent families, we are still in need of a rallying point. We need a lightning rod to unite us, then our pride, determination, and beauty would rise once again. The main reason why this has not happened since the Civil Rights Era is our comfort level in this country. We, as a race, are comfortable where we are today. Therefore we make a huge mistake when we allow the wrong things to show the world our beauty and black pride.

Black America, you are too comfortable! You are resigned to the “fact” that our problems are either too widespread, or too far gone, to understand that we need a dose of our beautiful black pride. We need to get back to our roots, and to learn how our ancestors managed to persevere through situations far more difficult than we face today. We need to learn that the beauty in our race starts from within, from our spirit and strength that can not be destroyed.

Our spirits have been bruised, tortured, and scarred, but we as a people have always moved forward. The only explanation for this is our beauty. The same beauty that existed 1,000 years ago in the kingdoms of Africa still exists today. The same beauty that helped our ancestors survive in slave ships while being transported across the ocean to foreign lands still exists today. The same beauty that kept us while we were in shackles through years of hard labor still exists today. The same beauty that endured public segregation and humiliation still exists today. The same beauty that faced the injustice of discrimination still exists today.

The wonderful thing about this is that each of us, as black Americans, have this beautiful power in ourselves, and in our families. It is there, waiting for us to discover it, explore it, and embrace it. Beauty is ours! A key to waking up Black America is to examine “Our Story” to help us find solutions to our problems. We must accept the fact that Black was, is, and always will be, BEAUTIFUL!

Join Gary on Twitter and Facebook to keep the conversation going!

Alive While Black

In December 2014, Twitter exploded with thousands of tweets using the hashtag #AliveWhileBlack. Alive While Black was a Twitter movement that focused on sharing stories about negative experiences of African Americans. The current climate of accusing the police of brutality at every turn was the original concept behind Alive While Black. However, the “movement” quickly turned into examples of experiences that so many African Americans face on a daily basis. Of course, this has to be done in 140 characters, so the stories had to be short, condensed versions of episodes like this…

AliveWhileBlack3 (2)

The idea was a noble, but feeble attempt to show that many African Americans experience things that other people of color can understand. It was also an attempt to educate people of other races that these experiences are not imagined. Instead, they are real. We get stopped by police based on suspicion. We get followed in stores regardless of our appearance. We get treated as the help when we are really the boss. Yes, all of this occurs in 2015. However, many people disagree and call these experiences a part of our imagination. Sorry, my imagination is not this good…

AliveWhileBlack5 (2)

So Twitter was ablaze, and I read countless, heartbreaking Alive While Black tweets and I started to think. I have numerous stories I could share as well. I am not a Twitter aficionado (see my 1,400 tweets in 3 years), but sometimes I do have something important to say. So I took to Twitter and shared some of my Alive While Black stories. It was a brief moment of cleansing that I “enjoyed”. I have to be honest though: 140 characters do not adequately explain the memory of these episodes that I carry around every day. I was pleased to have several people re-tweet and even share my anecdotes, as if doing so was their validation of each situation and an indication of having similar shared experiences.

AliveWhileBlack4 (2)

I have included several of my Alive While Black tweets here. Take a look and let me know what you think! I will let my loyal readers be the judge. However, I want to be clear that these are all real stories and memories I will never forget. By the way, this is not even the tip of the iceberg. For you see, I have numerous other Alive While Black stories. Maybe I will turn them into the  next book I write. In the meantime, I hope you can at least appreciate that people of different colors do have different experiences. Saying these issues don’t exist is a way to minimize, if not totally ignore their existence. In my opinion, in order to bring people together, we need to start by accepting that we are treated differently sometimes. Then we can move forward to find solutions.

By the way, my Twitter handle is @McabeeGary. I need all the friends/followers I can get.

Gary A. McAbee

AliveWhileBlack 1

An Analogy About Ferguson: Black Lives Matter

An Analogy About Ferguson

Ferguson

A story might help people understand what we are witnessing in Ferguson… I was walking through a department store one time. I was in my 30s, well- groomed, and nicely dressed. As I went along I noticed someone watching me. It was a lady. Who knows, maybe she thought your boy was kinda cute! Then I moved on and noticed a man watching me. Who knows, maybe he thought your boy was kinda cute! However, after about five good minutes of seeing the same 2 people everywhere I went, I knew the deal.

Here’s a little more information for you. If you know me well, you know that I started as a retail manager who was also trained and certified to be a store detective. My job included hiring and training store detectives, so I know a lot about this. In fact, I can walk into a store today and pick out the store detectives just by watching people. Back to the story…

I am not the type to cause a ruckus, or make wild accusations without merit or enough proof. So I subjected myself to five more minutes of being followed just to be sure. I even went back to parts of the store just to see if they would come too. They did. Finally I said enough is enough. I asked the nearest employee to get the store manager NOW. He came in a few minutes. In the meantime, my followers stood dumbfounded and wondered what I was up to.

I told the store manager my issue. I have a problem. He said it was not true and it was my imagination! I repeated myself and told him I was being followed. Again, he insisted that it wasn’t true. I told him about my background and knowledge of store security and procedure. He said, “we don’t do that here.” HE NEVER LISTENED OR GAVE MY CONCERN AN OUNCE OF THOUGHT.

Now the “rage” in me came out. I raised my voice just enough and so that the two people following me could hear. Then I looked for them and pointed them out! The two floorwalkers stepped out with their jaws on the floor. The manager immediately backtracked and apologized for the incident. Then he went to his detectives and walked them away while saying something. Who knows what he told them? Maybe he scolded them; maybe he said nice job. But the key is that he had a CONVERSATION with them. That was good enough FOR ME. I never returned to that particular store, but I still revisit the memories of that incident.

Situations like this have been well-documented by black people. On Twitter, these examples were called being “Alive While Black“…

How does this relate to the ongoing situation in Ferguson, Missouri?

  1. You can’t tell someone they do not have a problem when they do. Instead, use empathy and try to figure out a starting point that might lead to a solution.
  2. When people can not tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys, bad things can happen.
  3. We need open dialogue, not finger-pointing, accusations, or misconceptions. Honest conversations can lead to reflection, which can lead to change.

As a final thought, the action I took of pointing out those who caused harm is the way that I looted and burned that store. Not everyone responds to perceived injury (real or imagined) the same way.

We stand with Ferguson!

Black Lives Matter

Setting the Record Straight: The Reason for Black History Month and Other Black Institutions

Setting the Record Straight: The Reason for Black History Month and Other Black Institutions

Gary A. McAbee

Any time something is new created, it happens because there is a need for something that does not exist, a lack of something that does exist, or the desire to make improvements on what has already been created. Remember those three elements as a starting point for all creation (need, lack, or improvement) as I set the record straight about Black History Month, Black Entertainment Television, and other black institutions.

Black History Month was created years ago, because there was a lack of information about black historical figures. They were not written about in our history books or recalled in our nation’s history. In many cases, black history did not exist. It had to be added to improve the history that already existed. For one month out to the year, the historical achievements of black people in America are presented to remember these forgotten contributors to the success of our nation. Every February we hear it: Why isn’t there a White History Month?

The answer is simple: There is no need to create a White History Month, because it already exists. Just choose a month. We already learn about the achievements of white Americans throughout history. There is not a lack of white history, because it is always taught in our schools, written in our books, and recalled in our nation’s history.

Black Entertainment Television (BET) was created years ago because there was a lack of black entertainment options on television. In many cases, black entertainment on television didn’t exist. It had to be created to improve on the selection that already existed. As an example, Michael Jackson was the only black artist in heavy rotation on Music Television (MTV) during the early years of the network. BET highlighted black artists to give them exposure in the growing video music industry, and it later expanded to other programming geared toward black audiences. It wasn’t long before we heard: Why isn’t there a White Entertainment Television?

The answer is simple: There is no need to create a White Entertainment Television, because it already exists. Just choose a network. We already see white entertainment in the vast majority of television programming. There is not a lack of white entertainment, because you can easily find it on regular network and cable television networks.

The same principles hold true for other black institutions that exist in American culture: the United Negro College Fund and Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Black Coaches Association, and on, and on, and on. There was a lack, need, or improvement required that led directly to the creation of these institutions.

I hope you have gained some understanding about the issues up for debate about our black institutions. However, two other key points need to be addressed before this debate should continue:

Point one: Intent… Some people who ask about our institutions are offended by one word in their titles: Black. The word “black” is just an identifier, which is not intended to exclude whites. Everyone can participate in Black History Month; everyone can watch Black Entertainment Television. NOTE: Be careful not to confuse these two examples with private organizations that can legally be selective of their membership. This is another topic for a different article.

Point Two: Institutions… Some people will say that it’s 2015, and one way to end racial strife is to eliminate or integrate black institutions. While this is a valid argument, it does not hold merit. Who has the right to determine whether or not an institution should be shut down? As long as they are legal, institutions have a right to exist. Once a lack is filled, a need satisfied, and an improvement realized, an institution might fade away on its own because it has fulfilled its purpose. It should never be forced to cease operations.

Now that we have set the record straight, welcome to Black History Month 2015! I hope that all people can learn something new while being inspired by the contributions African-Americans have added to our great society.

 

Just in Time for the State of the Union Address

Obama

The Presidency of Barack Obama: Bringing Out the Best and Worst America Has to Offer

Although it would be difficult to prove, I believe that Barack Obama will go down in history as the most polarizing president in American history. I am a supporter and advocate for President Obama, but I will not say that he has been successful or unsuccessful, nor does that concern me. Instead, I am looking at the current state of our country and our current situation. We have come to an interesting crossroads in our history, and I believe the Obama Presidency has led us there. In my opinion, Barack Obama has brought out the best and worst America has to offer. The question is: which will be the enduring legacy of his presidency?

Barack Obama’s Presidency has brought out the best in America. His election brought many people together and united our country. President Obama raised the call for service-oriented Americans to sign-up and volunteer. Many Americans heeded the call and accepted the challenge of helping others and pulling together to face the economic crisis head-on. Meanwhile, Obama called for a recommitment to education and continuing to fund educational programs. The objective is to use education as a way for Americans to become self sufficient during these rough economic times. Who can question the positive impact these two initiatives can provide? Both are examples of the best America has to offer.

President Obama’s election and re-election has brought out the worst in America. The amount of internal opposition to his presidency continues to rise one year into his second term. The Tea Party has gained a small, yet influential foothold in American society. Their objective is to limit the role of government, even if it means taking America back 50-100 years to achieve their objective. Meanwhile, militia groups and their numbers have exploded since President Obama took office. It is estimated that militia groups have membership in the thousands, fueled by the belief that the government led by Obama is coming to take their guns and guaranteed freedoms. Both are examples of the worst America has to offer.

Barack Obama’s Presidency has brought out the best and worst America has to offer. When weighing the two issues, I believe that the Obama presidency will be judged more because of the rise of internal opposition, instead of the amount of positive change during his years in office. My biggest fear is that the Presidency of Barack Obama will not be viewed in its proper context until the next African-American President is elected. Then, we will see if the election of the second African-American President brings out the best and worst of America. Until then, this Obama supporter can only hope that fair-minded people judge his Presidency on the results of his record.

This is my opinion. In your opinion, has the Presidency of Barack Obama brought out more of the best or worst our country has to offer?