Tag Archives: Black Lives Matter

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

Which person are you? 

Question Mark

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

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

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

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

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

Who are the candidates?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

African American Cultural Norms

kente cloth

These are the cultural norms of African Americans…

The Extended Family

  • Cousins, Aunts, Mother, Father, Uncle

Informal Adoption

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

Religious Orientation

  • Involved in some type of church religious activity

High Value on Children

  • Children come first

Respect for the Elderly

  • Always respectful to adults and especially to the elderly

Flexible Family Roles

  • Mother working and father taking care of kids

Respect

  • For self and community

Restraint

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

Responsibility

  • To self, family, and community

Reciprocity

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

 

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

kente cloth

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

Claim to Fame…Rise Up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cropped-rise-up.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Question Mark

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

Black Lives Matter Explained Yet Again

One house in a row of five houses is on fire. One of the houses that is not on fire is a blue house. The fire department is called to the neighborhood. They immediately rush to the house on fire and commence to their spray water. As they do this, are they saying the hell with the other houses that are not on fire? Ask yourself, are they neglecting the houses that are safe? Are they making a conscious decision to disregard the people in the blue house?

No, they are addressing the problem: one of the houses is on fire and we are here to address the problem. The house on fire is #BlackLivesMatter. The houses that are safe are #AllLivesMatter. The people in the blue house are #BlueLivesMatter (#CopsLivesMatter). In the case of the blue house, things appear to be normal, but maybe a closer inspection will uncover that their house needs attention too. But even in this case, is the blue house in more danger than the burning house?

I can’t understand why it is so hard to understand this. If you are reading this and you still don’t get it, let me try to explain it again because this issue is so important to me…

  • October will be Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Does this mean in October we will say who cares about lung cancer awareness and those who suffer from that illness?

  • Save the rainforests and save the whales? So I guess the other forests and sea animals don’t matter.

  • A doctor is an eye surgeon. Does anyone have the right to tell her or make her also perform root canals?

Each one of these examples is utterly ridiculous. They are so ridiculous that they can be dismissed immediately. Yet when we discuss #BlackLivesMatter, critics can’t seem to comprehend that these examples are the “exact” same thing. Again, black lives matter DOES NOT MEAN we say who cares about white lives. Black lives matter DOES NOT MEAN other lives don’t matter. Black lives matter DOES NOT MEAN their cause can be told or forced to perform a different action, such as address the false narrative that is black-on-black crime.

Not clear enough yet? Let me politicize this for those who might choose to ignore or disregard those examples…

  • For the military crowd:
    • Support our Troops in Afghanistan… does this mean forget about the ones in Iraq? How about the ones in South Korea?

  • For the gun control crowd:

    • We want to protect the rights of handgun owners, so the rights of shotgun owners do not matter.

  • For the support the veterans crowd:

    • Unfortunately, many of our veterans are suffering from combat-related illnesses. Should we concentrate on them, and let those veterans who are just homeless fend for themselves?

To be clear, I do not consider myself the smartest man in the room. I might think I say brilliant things, but never have I considered myself a genius. Honestly, I just consider myself an average person who has a pen, blog, and something to say. So I do not say this lightly…

…if, after all of these examples, you still do not understand #BlackLivesMatter, then something else must be going on. I have two potential explanations.

Explanation #1: There must be something more sinister that is directing your misunderstanding. If this is true, it is probably because of the inclusion of one small word. The inclusion of this word, dare I say, (Donald) trumps all ability to use reason to see what this issue is all about. The word is BLACK. Somehow this word, when it is used to discuss issues related to black people, is always perceived to be a threat (see Black History Month, Congressional Black Caucus, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, etc.). We are talking about a word! Can you imagine how some people feel when using this word is not enough, so we start marching in protests (aka #BlackLivesMatter) in cities across the country?

Explanation #2: There must be an intellectual gap that is directing your misunderstanding. This could be as simple as not understanding words or the analogies presented here. It could also be as simple as adding personal opinions and biases to this issue. Or it could be listening to those who are purposely and intentionally telling you not to use your ability reason and use common sense (this is called intellectual dishonesty). They tell you #BlackLivesMatter is a hate group, so you listen without investigating for yourself.

I will let you decide which explanation works for you if you choose not to understand. For some, nothing can convince them that #BlackLivesMatter does not mean “all lives” or “blue lives” do not matter. I guess we let those folks wear the shoes that fit them.

By the way, because I just mentioned shoes, does it mean I am anti-work boots?

Ferguson

Let me know what you think! I welcome your opinions and encourage meaningful dialogue…