Tag Archives: Black America

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?
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African American Cultural Norms

kente cloth

These are the cultural norms of African Americans…

The Extended Family

  • Cousins, Aunts, Mother, Father, Uncle

Informal Adoption

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

Religious Orientation

  • Involved in some type of church religious activity

High Value on Children

  • Children come first

Respect for the Elderly

  • Always respectful to adults and especially to the elderly

Flexible Family Roles

  • Mother working and father taking care of kids

Respect

  • For self and community

Restraint

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

Responsibility

  • To self, family, and community

Reciprocity

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

 

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

kente cloth

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

Learn Our Story: We Are Successful!

Learn Our Story: We Are Successful!Black History Heroes

…from the book Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now, by Gary A. McAbee

Thanks to the advances we have made from slavery to the Civil Rights Era; we have been left a remarkable gift by the highest achievers of our race. The gift is their stories of success. We all MUST learn about each of these successful people and many more if we are going to tap into ways that will lead to greatness. We need to understand that most, if not all, of the successful people in our race started with little or nothing. Yet, they were able to use what they had to achieve great things. If they could achieve success, why can’t we, with all of the resources we have in the 21st century, become successful too?

We all know about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is because he is one of the few African-American leaders we learn about in school. This is why there is an old joke that goes around about trying to answer a question about a successful black American. The “answer” is always Martin Luther King. Who was the first black American to run in a marathon? Don’t know? Say Martin Luther King!

It is a funny joke, but not because it makes you laugh. It’s funny because it is a true, yet very sad commentary on our knowledge of successful black people. We just don’t know enough about black pioneers and creators. There are thousands of books that contain the “secrets” of our race. We have autobiographies of black Americans such as Booker T. Washington and Malcolm X. We have poetry, created by Phyllis Wheatley and Maya Angelou. We have the magazines produced by John Johnson and Earl Graves.

All of this means that finding and reading literature created by or written about successful black Americans should not be a problem. We have been active in the political arena. Our political leaders have scored countless victories that have not only benefited black Americans, but all races of people. We should be proud of their accomplishments and celebrate their successes. Shirley Chisholm and Maxine Waters are shining examples of the impact African-American women can have in politics. Douglas Wilder and Tom Bradley proved that black men could be elected and handle state and large city governments. They all proved to us that it can be done. We simply need to find out how they became successful and use their methods to duplicate their success.

In order to build upon the success of others, we must learn about them. Unfortunately, as a whole, African Americans don’t read enough or do our own research unless we have to. We should be willing and able to learn about our true heroes: successful black Americans who paved the way for us today. The internet is a blessing to us because we can easily find all there is to know about successful African Americans. There is no excuse why we do not know about the highest achievers in our race.

So the readers of this book have an assignment: to learn more about the following African Americans. First, search for their biographies. What were their beginnings? Next, read about their achievements. What were their goals? What obstacles did they overcome? Finally, learn their secrets to emulate their successes. What achievements make them famous?

The following list of famous African Americans should be researched to learn more about their legacies and contributions to our race. It consists of African-American men and women who achieved greatness in various walks of life. Purposely, it does not include famous athletes or modern day entertainers. Although their contributions are very important, if asked, I am confident that most of them would attribute their success to people on this list. If not, then they have an assignment too!

Some Famous Black Americans

  1. Fannie Lou Hamer
  2. Paul Robeson
  3. Marian Anderson
  4. Mae Jemison
  5. Earl Graves
  6. Booker T Washington
  7. Benjamin Banneker
  8. Madame CJ Walker
  9. Ben Carson
  10. Frederick Douglas
  11. Thurgood Marshall
  12. Shirley Chisholm
  13. Phyllis Wheatley
  14. Mary McLeod Bethune
  15. Sojourner Truth
  16. Matthew Henson
  17. W.E. B. Dubois
  18. Granville T. Woods
  19. Frederick Douglass
  20. Bessie Coleman

After learning about these outstanding examples of success, we should not let our research about the achievements of African Americans stop here. These are only 20 out of millions of successful black Americans worldwide. Our race has produced some of the brightest, most creative minds in human history. We can learn volumes from these people and put their action plans to work immediately. The question is: are we as a race ready, willing, and able to use our heroes as our role models so our race can become successful?

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.

 

 

 

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…