Tag Archives: Black America

Let America Be America Again

Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

Gary A. McAbee, Author and Blogger: JOIN ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

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You Think I Don’t Know? You Don’t Want Us to Vote!

You Think I Don’t Know? You Don’t Want Us to Vote!

Our voting rights are always under attack. As black people, we have faced wave after wave of laws and actions designed to prevent us from voting. There has always been opposition to seeing us vote in large numbers. For a long time, this meant preventing us from voting altogether. Eventually, measures (like poll taxes) prevented us from voting in large numbers. Then, the idea that we chose not to vote led in “relaxed” measure to prevent us from voting. Fast forward to 2008 and 2012 when Barack Obama ran for President and you saw black people vote in record numbers.

You Think I Don’t Know? You Don’t Want Us to Vote!

Without Obama on the ticket in 2016, we did not vote in the same numbers and it resulted in Donald Trump’s Presidency. After four years of Trump, I can tell you every black person I know was on a mission to vote and get Trump out of office. If you prescribed to the pre-Obama notion that black people would stay home instead of vote, then you would have believed Trump would win. Yet in state after state, the strong turnout of black voters proved to be the difference that swept Joe Biden into office. Remember, there has always been opposition to seeing us vote in large numbers.

You Think I Don’t Know? You Don’t Want Us to Vote!

So now we are seeing voting laws enacted by Republicans in states all across the country. These laws are being presented under the guise of illegal voting. But, in reality they are designed to stop people of color from voting in large numbers. They know our votes matter and it scares them. Republicans understand this simple fact: by 2050 (and by some estimates a lot sooner) America’s minorities will outnumber the current white majority for the first time in our history.

You Think I Don’t Know? You Don’t Want Us to Vote!

This means, in their mind, members of the new majority will register and vote as Democrats in massive numbers. If this happens, they will be hard-pressed to win elections in the future. Their only way to stop this is to make it harder to vote. They are doing it by reducing polling places, limiting early voting, and purging voter rolls. These actions have a target: black Americans, and to a lesser extent, people of other ethnic groups and those seeking equal rights. My question to you is what are we going to do about it?

You Think I Don’t Know? You Don’t Want Us to Vote!

Here’s a blog post I wrote back in 2018 to discuss this issue in more detail…

Voting: Vote Suppression 101

Next blog post: You Think I Don’t Know? My Blackness is a Threat

Gary A. McAbee, Author and Blogger: JOIN ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

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If the YOU Fits, Wear It

baby Shoes

If the YOU Fits, Wear It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do YOU know who YOU are?

 

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

 

Join Gary A. McAbee on social media!

 

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Another Clothing Brand Gets It Wrong… Still Down?

Knowledge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some things to think about…

Have you ever seen Bill Gates wearing Gucci?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

Join Gary A. McAbee on social media!

 

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Black Life: Misunderstood

Black Box

Sometimes being a black person in America is unnecessarily hard. We are viewed differently, judged differently, and treated differently. It is something a black person must face, and in many cases, overcome daily. At work, at school, and in other public places, black people are under surveillance. Sometimes it is just to see what we will do in certain situations. Other times it is to exclude us from certain activities. Either way it makes black life misunderstood, especially when the spotlight is so bright we become aware of it.

Some who read this will not understand. If you think we as a people have made it; this is false. Sure, some of us have “made it”, but many of us have not. You might be wondering how this could be. Barack Obama was President. Jay-Z and Beyonce are billionaires. Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever. These are all great accomplishments indeed. But what do these accomplishments mean for millions of black people on their daily grind. Their success does not translate to our lives when we are being watched and judged while doing our daily activities. We are misunderstood even more thanks to today’s view of black people.

I believe today’s society uses black people of wealth and prestige as the measuring stick for the rest of us. Naturally there is an element of “if they can do it, so can you”, which is built in to following successful black people. This is not what I am talking about. Instead I am referring to people of different races who use our celebrities as the examples of what black life is like. If you think the Real Housewives of Atlanta are the real housewives of Atlanta, then you have not been to Atlanta (or Detroit, or St. Louis, or Philadelphia). The real housewives of Atlanta work at jobs, take care of home, raise families, and serve as the backbone of our communities. Any other explanation is of black women faulty at best.

This is a stark reversal of a phenomenon that happened to black people in the past (and still happens today). Back then, society used examples of unsuccessful black people or even criminals, as a measuring stick for all of us. All you had to do was see a black person doing the wrong thing, and then that black person’s sins were carried by all of us. Even worse, their behavior convinced many people that we all behave like that. We are all criminals by nature, unintelligent, lazy, and hostile. If you did not live up to these stereotypes, you were the exception, not the rule. Millions of black people chase the American Dream every day and do it the right way, yet the incorrect actions of a few black people defined our lives and culture?

So here we are in 2018 and we are misunderstood.

  • Some people view ultra-successful black people as their idea of who we are or what we could be if we try.

Or…

  • Some people view unsuccessful black people as who we really are and how we really act all the time.

Either way, we are put into a box that is difficult for the many black people to escape. The by-product of this is when tend to live up these ideas. Some of us want to live like our celebrities, so they spend and consume as if they already do. Others can’t live like them, they resort to activities that will lead to money and fame that brings celebrity status. Meanwhile, the hard-working black man, and the hard-working black woman are misunderstood daily. We are the bedrock upon which our culture and experiences are built. We deserve a little understanding.

To all my people who are trying to make ends meet, making ends meet, or struggling to make ends meet, I am with you all the way. Do not let society’s misunderstanding who we are and what we do define you. Instead, hold your head high, find like-minded individuals, and work together to build better lives. It’s the only way we will continue to grow, while facing the challenges of being misunderstood.

Until we meet again, wake up and rise up!

 

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

 

Join me on social media!

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/McAbeeGary

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

Calling the Police on Black Folks: Do We Represent Clear and Present Danger?

Calling the Police on Black Folks: Do We Represent Clear and Present Danger?

For a long time in America, black people have represented a clear and present danger to people of other races. When this occurs, some people chose to overreact, rather than learning to live and let us live. In 2018 alone, we have seen people calling the police on black people who:

  • slept in a common area at a college
  • sold water in front of a stoop
  • went canvassing door-to-door to gather information
  • attended a local pool
  • left a Airbnb property
  • barbequed in a public park
  • waited for a colleague in a coffee shop
  • mowed a lawn
  • collected money for a youth sports team

We have to remember that these incidents ARE NOT on the rise. Instead, they are being filmed now. Can you imagine how many black people had the cops called on them, got arrested, or worse, when there were no camera phones around to record these incidents? Let’s face it: some people, whether it is 1818 or 2018, chose not to mind their own business. They choose to get involved when it might not be necessary. They choose to call the police and expect them to take action. If this is you, learn to live and let us live.

Who exactly are these people? They are the people who, for some strange reason, want greater control in certain situations. If they cannot be in control, they have to get someone who can. They also possess a certain level of paranoia that makes them perceive “threats” and dangers that do not exist. They want to feel comfortable, and they will do whatever it takes to ensure their comfort is secured. Most of the time, their method of control and security is to call the police. Learn to live and let us live.

What do these people think will happen when the police arrive? Whether justified or not, the person who makes the call has to know the potential outcome of their actions. The potential “threat” could, at minimum, be questioned by the police and/or arrested. Does the punishment fit the crime? The potential “threat” could be in a life-or-death situation if they, or the cops who approach them, become overzealous or irate. This is a not a concern for someone who seeks comfort in these situations. Learn to live and let us live.

I wonder why some people can’t live and let live. If you witness an obvious crime, then by all means call the police. On the other hand, if you witness something that bothers you, but does not jeopardize your safety, then go on about your business. I guess it is empowering to be able to call the police on someone and watch them get “put in their place” or even arrested. Where is the enjoyment in that? Learn to live and let us live.

I have never thought of calling the police on anyone who is not a clear and present danger. Perhaps this is where we should draw the line: by defining a “clear and present danger”…

  • A clear and present danger is threatening to get or use a weapon.
  • A clear and present danger is menacing, or causing a public disturbance.
  • A clear and present danger is intimidating, harassing, or bullying another person.
  • A clear and present danger is destroying property.
  • A clear and present danger is committing a crime or violating someone else’s rights.
  • A clear and present danger is acting with clear intent to do wrong or harm another person.

Call Police

Here’s a tip: If you don’t see things that present a clear and present danger, then chances are the situation does not warrant calling the police. This does not mean we should not be aware of our surroundings or watch for unlawful activities. On the other hand, it does mean that we need to improve our discernment as it relates to other people. Learn how to tell the difference between a “normal” black person engaged in a regular activity and a black person (or any other race) about to commit a crime (I have several of my own alive while black experiences to share). If you can’t tell the difference, then maybe you should learn how to use better judgment. Learn to live and let us live.

Black people should be able to do things anyone else can do without fear of being thought of as a criminal, especially in public places where people of other races conduct the same activities. We should be able to catch a nap in a common area, if students of other races also do it. We should be allowed to swim at a pool, if residents of other races also do it. We should be allowed to rent an Airbnb, if vacationers of other races do it. Learn to live and let us live.

Let’s move on to activities that could be considered unique to the black experience. We should be able to barbecue in a public park. We should be able to sell water on a hot day. We should be able to collect money for a youth team or organization. If any of these situations violate any local laws or create unsafe environments, then let the affected property owner or local police patrols handle it. We don’t need an “outsider” who feels violated calling the police and overstating the level of the danger or perceived threat. Sooner or later someone will get hurt because of it. We don’t need any more of that!

Learn to live and let us live. Stop calling the police o black folks when it is not necessary.

 

UPDATE: Since the initial release of this blog post, we have seen several more incidents of calling the police on black folks when they…

  • entered a building to get to their apartment
  • had white kids in a car while they were babysitting
  • tried to buy drinks after a peaceful protest rally
  • did not turn down the car radio for a Lyft passenger
  • spoke in their native Somali language while at a drive thru microphone
  • filed a damage report for luggage at an airport
  • talked to an athlete during a game to prevent him from disrespecting an official
  • bumped into a woman in a store with their backpack

 

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

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Black Panther: A Trailblazer Long Overdue

Black Panther: A Trailblazer Long Overdue

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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!

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

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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?

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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).