You all know that I love the youth and I love it even more that Bryant Cross is discussing some of the psychology behind the murders of many young black men and how it’s rooted in the need to be respected.
We have to do better hip-hop – MUCH BETTER and I think this message has to come from those of us who love and represent hip-hop culture, as I do. Promoting rape in hip-hop is the bastard child of the pervasive misogyny in hip-hop culture. It’s always been there, as it has been in cultures around the world, but in the 1980′s, there was balance where you had just as many artists calling women queens and demanding respecting for women as you did the Too Live Crew types. Now things have become lopsided and the culture of respect for women within hip-hop has taken a dive into a dark, musty, dangerous place. As a parent, high school teacher and mentor, I see it in the hallways of my child’s school, the schooI I teach at, and on the Green line train as I bring my weary bones home in the evening.
Our youth drink in the music like water, their sustenance, as I did as a child and they sing it loudly as their anthems. But instead of “Fight the Power,” ala the 1980′s, I now hear an imbalance of “Off that Molly I’m sweatin, Wooh!” or inane lyrics about all of the ways that women can give sexual or visual pleasure to men by dropping “it” or sucking “it”. As if that wasn’t horrible enough, now you have Rick Ross (and other cretins) suggesting that he rapes women by ”Put Molly (ecstasy drug) all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it. I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.” What?! Then he had the nerve to say in a recent radio interview that he was not promoting rape and that he’d never do that. Well, you just did, Mr. Ross. And the children are listening – to all of us. What are we really saying to them? What have we taught by example, Hip-Hop?
Reading the text messages and court trial comments of those young rapists and their allies who were involved in the Steubenville tragedy where the young girl was raped repeatedly while she was unconscious says that the societal messages they are hearing from us adults are dismal ones, not just within hip-hop, but within American culture. This is bigger than Nino Brown. It was so acceptable within that school/town culture that many blamed the young girl and tried to leave the perpetrators blameless. Hip-Hop, do we think that the youth aren’t listening and responding to the water we’re serving them? Well they are and it’s poisoning them. We have to be more responsible. This isn’t just music, this is culture. This is life with real life consequences. We have to stand up for our women, protect and raise our girls and raise and protect our young boys. We know all of the reasons why and we see the effects of not doing so. So let’s stop making excuses and STAND UP.
Sign the petition at Change.org. Speak out. Raise these children right.
Happiness is not just about rolling around in a million crisp dollar bills. It’s actually better because it’s something that is constantly replenished by you and for you. Moreover, no one can take your happiness away unless you allow it. Unfortunately, some try to steal your joy and here are a few tips to keep the shalackas at bay and happiness in your heart.
shalacka: noun; person who stands in the way of happiness; jerk or other undesirable
First, figure out what makes you genuinely happy. As a matter of fact, write down 50 things that make you happy. Seriously. Make time to do that sooner than later. Do at least one of these things each day, from looking up at the beautiful moon tonight or taking that stepping class you’ve been thinking about or saving for that trip to Bali.
Second, remember to smile and think positive. It’s infectious. When you smile, others are naturally disarmed and feel happier around you. This brings about good vibrations inside and out. Happiness is a lifestyle. Life will bring you some crappy situations and crappy people, but you can choose to wallow in it or flush. Flush often, clear the air and remove that miserable frown off your face, get your mind right and choose happy. Now smile.
Third, be thankful and acknowledge all that you have each day. Perspective is everything. Think in terms of abundance. Instead of counting someone else’s money and lamenting about what you don’t have, cherish what you do have. Each day, say a silent or obnoxiously loving, “thank you” to God for what you have and claim abundance in your life. Remember, it’s all good.
From the murder of Hadiya Pendleton here in Chicago to Chris Dorner’s manifesto and triple murder, my heart is raw from aching. On one side, violence and on the other, the societal issues that keep the violence, pain and hate growing among us. What are your thoughts about how we can root out the issues that are causing this pandemic violence?
Originally posted on Davey D's Hip Hop Corner:
As the massive manhunt continues for former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, Reverend Jesse Jackson has stepped in and penned an open letter to him… I hope Jesse uses his clout and organization to investigate the allegations of corruption within LAPD.. Your thoughts on this?
Dear Christopher Dorner,
I understand your feelings of hurt and pain. I make this plea to you to stop spreading the pain, the hurt, and the fear. Please stop. Don’t take any more lives.
Christopher, your mother is distraught and deeply concerned for your safety. There are many good and credible people in Los Angeles who will help you. Danny J. Bakewell Sr. (The Los Angeles Sentinel’s Executive Publisher/CEO),
Bishop Noel Jones, Bishop Kenneth Ulmer and Rev. Charles Singleton are all individuals I know personally. I promise that they will gladly receive you.
I will do whatever I can do for you without hesitation. Please contact me through Danny Bakewell at the L.A. Sentinel at 323-299-3800
Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Sr.
Coalition-Keeping Hope Alive
Many of my single friends are stressed about finding a good man. Some are in true panic mode. Most are in their late thirties and forties and have been around the block and had their share of knuckleheads. They are ready for love and fear that their prime is slipping away. They talk of biological clocks and the need to get “started.” They are successful, know what they want and hope to get it – ASAP. They are driven, wonderful and stressing themselves the hell out about whether love will ever find its merry way to their doorstep. Well, if this sounds remotely like you and this stressful state no longer serves you, let’s try something else. Try living meaningfully in the meantime.
The brilliant Iyanla Vanzant taught us about the “meantime.” This is the time in between starting your journey and getting where you intend to be. Imagine that you are taking a car ride across the country and though you know the final destination, you have yet to arrive. You might be anxious and just want to be out of the car and there already, but there’s so much to do in the meantime. What would you do while in the car to make your journey more fruitful? Would you listen to books or brush up on your Spanish? Would you sightsee and journal at pit stops? Would you pray and enjoy the silence? Would you stop to get rest? Maybe you pause to eat delicious meals, collect rocks on the side of the road and visit long lost relatives. Whatever you’d do, it should involve being present, prayerful and grateful. There should be an instinctive trust that you are prepared for the journey, and that you will eventually arrive safely and at the precise time that you need to be there.
On the journey to finding true love, we must commit to doing some of the same things we would on a road trip. We ladies can get anxious and impatient when it comes to finding love, especially the “older” we get. We want a partner now, today, or preferably – yesterday. And we are frustrated and a bit depressed and questioning whether it will ever happen. Some of us have already picked out the ring, the house, the kids names, and the wedding location – all without the input of the partners we intend to get. Some would call this good visualization while others might call it pressure. When we rush love, it seldom works. Haste makes waste. Don’t place that kind of strain on yourself. Be content within yourself. Trust that your remarkable love life will work out as it should – in God’s time and not yours. Shift your focus to yourself instead of the external. The meantime is precious time that should be valued and nurtured.
Use this freedom to do all the things you want to do. Be selfish and explore the beauty and wonders of you. Take time to determine what your needs are and work to fulfill them on your own. Fall in love with yourself. Sweet talk yourself. Hug yourself. Compliment yourself. Write yourself a juicy love letter. Travel by yourself. Touch yourself. Make yourself a mixtape. Take yourself to dinner. Rest yourself. Laugh at and with yourself. Be your own best friend. Dance with yourself. Treat yourself. Be kind and patient with yourself. Take time for yourself, real time. Be sexy for yourself. Trust yourself.
Whoever your partner will be, that person will be a reflection of you. So if you can truly and selflessly do all of these things for you, then you are equipped to do it for someone else – without losing yourself in the process. Charity starts in the heart of self.
While you’re catering to your fabulous self, work on yourself. I mean it. Be honest with yourself. We all have things to work on because we are constantly becoming our best selves with each moment. Lovingly point out personal areas you could strengthen and use this time to work on them so that they don’t become a distraction in your relationship. Trust God. Check the ego. Be flexible. Make a choice to be happy. Be on time. Follow your dreams. Fervently slash items off the bucket list. Learn to nourish yourself properly. Gain some work-life balance. Watch the temper and the tone. Advocate for yourself and learn to speak up when it counts. Cut the debt. Cut the superwoman act and learn to be vulnerable. Release the fear that you won’t find love. Release the fear that you won’t find love. Know that what’s meant for you shall be. Ashe.
You are on a voyage and whether it’s a bon voyage or not is entirely up to you. Know that this trip is blessed and that you’ve packed just enough, but not too much because you left the major baggage at home. Love yourself, stay present and enjoy the ride until you get to your final love destination. I’ll see you when you get there. To love, Tina
1.) Make sure he/she loves you back. Love needs to be reciprocal and just because you love someone doesn’t mean they are obligated to love you in return. Be honest with yourself and determine whether this person is really deserving of your love or even wants your love. Sometimes we want love so much, that we accept anything shiny that comes into view. Stop chasing those who don’t want you and stop engaging those who aren’t worthy of your precious love. Choose your mate wisely and be sure that the feelings and level of commitment are mutually strong.
2.) Know that he/she doesn’t belong to you like a pet or a toy. If God has ordained it, then it’s meant to be. You can’t control whether someone goes or stays. Don’t be jealous, overbearing and overly concerned about his/her whereabouts and his/her need to be alone at times. Both of you deserve a certain level of independence where you can have guiltless time away from each other. This means you need to trust him/her and his/her intentions. If you don’t, maybe you shouldn’t be in the relationship because distrust causes unnecessary tress and drama.
It’s healthy to have your own lives and interests as well as mutual interests and quality time together. Sometimes we avoid being alone because we aren’t our own best friends first. You have to know, love and enjoy you before you can know, love and enjoy someone else because if you don’t have the former, you will find yourself lost when your partner tries to have his/her own life. A relationship isn’t a melting pot where both people need to lose who they are in order to be together. Positive alone time can help you grow together and appreciate the time that you do have.
3.) Be happy in your own right. An unhappy person will eventually make his or her partner unhappy and the relationship will fail. Happiness in self is a prerequisite for happiness in a relationship. Do you know how much of a gift you are to this earth? Are you manifesting your destiny? Are you love personified? Do you know that happiness is your birthright and that only you can claim it for yourself? We have choices and some of us choose to be miserable, to complain incessantly, to feel we aren’t worthy of true love, to believe that we can’t have the things we desire most, and to believe that we can’t be genuinely happy. Well, that’s poppycock.
It’s all about saying yes to the best outcomes of our lives and about how we positively deal with the many challenges that will come our way. Circumstances can be crummy at times and we can still make a choice to be happy and thankful for the things we do have. Being happy by any means necessary literally changes your whole vibration. Happy people attract good energy and everyone wants to be around one with positive energy – including the one you love. That actually makes you more attractive. The more you work on yourself and fulfilling your passions, the more powerful, loving energy emanates from you. If you have someone who is secure and is on the same path, this is a huge turn-on and will make him or her love you even more – the beauty they see in you being your best, most fulfilled and loving self.
Caitlin Law Ryan reviewed my book, Let’s Get This Straight:The Ultimate Handbook for Youth with LGBTQ Parents, in the Journal of LGBT Youth and this is what she thought of the book: Queerspawn Speak Out: A Review of Let’s Get This Straight.
I’ve been upset about all of the violence percolating in Chicago, primarily concentrated in poor African-American communities like mine, but I’ve not been upset enough. I haven’t marched or attended a vigil or worn a hoodie. I haven’t written letters to the chief of police and Mayor Rahm Emanuel about this particular issue nor have I joined Cease Fire or posted one of those “Don’t Shoot, I Want to Grow Up” stickers in my front window. I haven’t sold my home for half of what it’s worth in order to escape the hood, keep my child safe, have a “better” quality of life, or simply ignore the issue. Maybe it’s because I know that even if I disassociate and fall prey to black flight, the issue is still there, looming and lurking.
This still doesn’t explain why I’m not exponentially more phased by the violence in my backyard. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been desensitized by the gunshots I can often hear on hot, summer nights. Maybe it’s because this level of violence isn’t new to me, to us. I remember the 1980’s when Los Angeles youth seemed to be dying in bullet-ridden droves as a result of the long-standing feud between the Crips and Bloods. In the 90’s, I vividly remember when Washington, D.C. a.k.a. the Murder Capital, Baltimore, Maryland a.k.a. Bodymore or Murderland, New Orleans, Lousiana a.k.a. Chopper City, and Little Rock, Arkansas all had their deadly spurts and were splattered all over the news as the most dangerous cities in America.
Now it’s Chicago’s turn to rise to a level of malaise that stirs the nation into taking a tiny peek into the dark underbelly of the Black community, this culture of violence that manifests like shingles, always in the blood and ready to flare up as soon as the conditions are ripe enough. The reason why many of us don’t bat an eye about the violence, though we may shake our heads is because we are accustomed to being sick. We are used to this illness that pervades our communities and though it may simmer down occasionally, we know that when we are weak socially, spiritually, and economically, the disease will be triggered again, albeit in a new location.
The black community is a microcosm of American society which is also steeply entrenched in violence as a means of power and control. We’d like to think that we only fight in the name of freedom and it’s the narrative of many Americans who fight to keep their guns in order to be able to kill at will. We use our guns not to fight for freedom oftentimes, but to terrorize each other and other nations. And it is shameful and regressive. Like our fellow Americans, we have become intracultural terrorists, killing and instilling fear in our own. Though we know what we have become, we refuse to be accountable. It’s easier to blame an “enemy” outsider ala the Trayvon Martin murder. When it’s a non-Black who kills one of us, we mobilize and protest the horror and inequality of it, but each day we murder each other across America and too often, the deceased gets no more than some flowers, balloons, and a cross tacked to a tree or lamp post along a city street. When we kill each other, it’s not outrage we show, but destitution.
We have become hopeless and complacent about the violence that has a chokehold on us and our youth. We know that most of the murders are happening due to gang and drug-related drama between poor, young black men while others get caught in the crossfire. And like the media and the courts, I’d like to write these young boys off as the problem and blame them for their actions, but it’s hard when I see what’s causing them to shoot. They are indeed to blame for their actions, but so are we. These young men have grown so violent and disconnected because we are. They reflect us and our communities at its worst. We have systematically stopped raising our children and as a result, have lost a critical connection with today’s black youth. Worse, we fear them more than guide them. One cannot connect with, support or love that which he fears. These children whom we see as little monsters are hurting emotionally and we know that hurt people will inevitably hurt other people or hurt themselves. Today’s black teens are angry because life is hard and many of the adults around them have failed them.
We have failed when these children don’t believe that we love them. We have failed when these children refuse to love themselves. We have failed when these children have never been shown affection. We have failed when our children walk around with no manners or self-respect. We have failed when our children think that manhood means being able to tote a gun instead of a book and are willing to kill anyone who threatens that sense of manhood. We have failed when our children no longer care about themselves or anyone else. And many of them don’t. We have failed when our response to the violence is, “It is what it is.” This is not what it has to be. We have a choice. We have solutions.
We must care again, care deeply enough to help the children in our communities (and not just the “good ones”) whose hate and anger is literally killing them. We must instill morals again instead of letting the streets, music and television raise our children. We must teach them skills and get them engaged in healthy, positive activities. In a city where only 6% of ChicagoPublic School students will earn a bachelor’s degree, we must make education non-negotiable. We must stop making poverty the excuse for poor graduation rates and poor character. They are not mutually exclusive. We must stop sitting in silence when we see our teens making horrible choices. We must speak up. We must be positive role models and mentor, formally and informally. We must stand up for our children. And indeed, the most revolutionary thing we can do is start giving out mass hugs to the youth. Our children need hugs, and big ones.
It sounds too simple and hokey to be effective, but I assure you it will work. Our children lack hugs, affection, care, protection, support, and love. When one doesn’t have his basic human needs met like the need for positive touch and affection, he isn’t able to connect with others. If one can’t connect emotionally, then he will lack empathy. Without concern for other individuals, those other individuals become objects – objects who are easier to kill like a video game where there is no remorse, feeling or thought of consequences. When we hear each other addressed as “nigga” more than “brother” or “sister”, we know that the connectivity has been lost. The fabric of the community has been torn and it’s up to us to sew it back together again. Just as we are responsible for creating our sickness, we are responsible for providing the cure. Violence is not our birthright. Our children and our community can be healed. Let’s prepare for surgery.
I took the summer off. I thought I’d do more writing with more time. I kicked it instead.
I borrowed writing books from the library and read the good parts. I thought it’d make me a better writer.
I bought journals and expensive pens. It could aid me in my best writing if I had the best materials.
I decided to quit my day job. I knew it would make me commit to my inner writer if only I had single purpose.
I revised old writing. I thought it would produce new writing.
I meditated about writing. I was sure it would put me in touch with my writing if I were quiet enough.
I talked about writing, my love of it and its hardships. And I talked more. More still.
I had an idea to start a writer’s retreat. I felt it would make me a leader in writing, helping those poor souls like me.
I marveled at the powerful and committed writers I know. They would surely inspire me to write since they do it all the time.
I pulled out the pen. I flipped open a crisp, new journal. I plugged in my flash drive. I stared at the blank page, the pulsing cursor. And stared. And an idea hit me. JUST WRITE.
More time will not make me write. Sheer determination will. Being unemployed will not force me to write. It will just make me bitter and filled with impoverished thoughts. Pretty journals will not make me write. Shit will only look good on the outside, but I’ll still be empty on the inside. Talking about writing is… well, talk. Beating myself up about why I don’t write won’t make me a writer. Learning the lesson and moving about the page will. Salivating over other great writers and praying for osmosis won’t make me a better writer. Writing will. Pulling out a pen won’t make me a writer. Dedication to using it will.
Today, I get off my metaphorical ass and pick up where my daydreams about writing left off. Today, I don’t talk. I don’t meditate. I don’t revise. I don’t read. I don’t covet. I don’t guilt trip. I don’t punk out. I simply write. Writers write. Ideas to manifestation, word by word, delete to plot, ugly to truth, beginning to end. There are no blocks but self – meaning there are no blocks at all. There is only the time I make and it is always enough, even with a job, family, play dates, homework, getting dinner on the table, grading papers, and life whirling by. I am all I need. I am who I was waiting for. I’m here. Ready to write. And so it is.