Browsing: Cultural

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: A Conversation with our Future

January 18th, 2010 | By

How do you teach a 5 year old the importance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?

Sky(my daughter): Hey Mom, I want to read my new book to you.  I know you’ll like it, it’s about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Me: Sure, I Love to hear you read.  But first, tell mommy about Dr. King’s dream.

Sky: My teacher didn’t talk about his dream.

Me:  So, I talk to you all the time about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  I talk to you about his dream.  Now, what was it?

Sky:  Let me read the book first.  Then you’ll know about Dr. King.

Me: O.K.

Sky(Reading):  Martin Luther King Jr. was a Civil Rights activist.

He marched for equal rights of black Americans

Martin Luther King Jr. won a Nobel Peace Prize.

Me: That’s it?

Sky:  Yup.  Martin Luther King Jr. won a Nobel Peace Prize just like Barack Obama.

Me:  Hold up!   Wait a minute.  Who told you that? (thought I was going to have to spend more time in her classroom)

Sky:  You did.  You said Barack Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize.

Me: OK.  Let Mommy tell you the difference between Dr. King and Obama.  First, what was Dr. King’s dream?

Sky: Judge a man on his color, not his content (she paused for a moment and did her reverse dance)  I mean judge a man on the content of his character and not he color of his skin.

Me:  Yup.

Sky: But what does Civil Rights mean?

Me: Well back in the day, white and black people weren’t allowed to go to the same schools, the same swimming pools, or playgrounds. 

Sky: That’s stupid

Me:  Sure is.  But its a part of our history and as you get older, you’re going to learn more bad things about how blacks were treated in America.

Sky: But we’re not black, we’re brown

Me: Sure are.  But let me question you this, does it matter?  If our goal is to live Dr. Kings dream than does the color of our skin make a difference?

Sky:  Mom, I just wanted to read you a book.  Not have this long conversation.

Me:  Too bad.  You are going to grow up in a world where you get it from both sides.  There are white people who will hate you, just because you’re black and there are  black people who will hate you because you don’t show hate towards other races.  My job is to teach you how to navigate through with the same dignity, pride, love and preservernce as Dr. King.

Your father and I work hard to ensure you can achieve that dream.

Sky: What is prese……?

Me: it means to never stop.  You want to become a veterinarian, than you work hard to achieve that dream.  If someone tells you you’re not good enough, prove them wrong.  If someone tells you it can’t be done, do it and inspire them to follow.  If someone tells you its impossible, tell them you are the master of impossibility. 

Sky: Master of impossiblity, that sounds like a Super Hero

Me:  it does, doesn’t it.  Fly, Master of Impossibility, Fly

(Sometimes you just have to let a kid be a kid.  Maybe it’ll get easier at age 6)

Black History: February 2nd

February 2nd, 2009 | By

Drusilla Dunjee Houston

Writer, Educator & Activist A master at African Studies, she was most famous for her research in the self-published book “The Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire” in 1926.

“Out of anthropology, ethnology, geology, paleontology, archaeology, as well as history, I have dug up an irrefutable arsenal of facts that Harvard or Yale or cowardly scholarship in our race dare not refute. How can a leadership point the forward way that is utterly ignorant of the past?”

Ballin’ While Broke: My Prospective of Dr. King’s Dream

January 20th, 2009 | By

Yesterday, I took the President Elects advice and committed myself to a day of service. It did not turn out as I plan, which is always the case. I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow. I still have to wrap my brain around the enormous generosity of the American people, even in the hard economics we are currently facing.

Yesterday was special for another reason. I got to tell my daughter the complete history of the Martin Luther King Jr. legacy. Not just the version that was taught to me.

I told my daughter that the liberals hated Dr. King. They thought he was the most dangerous man in the United States of America. A man that only preached non-violence was placed on thewatch list of all major government entities.

My daughter looked up at me and asked “What is a Liberal?”

I responded “most democrats”. Maybe a stroke with a broad brush but it fits.

I thought about going off subject and explaining to her the concept of political parties but this was a moment to teach her a much better lesson. I’m perplexed on how to bring up racial issues to my daughter. If I tell her of the black man’s struggles before she is ready, I could scar her for life. If I wait to long, someone else can get to her before I have the chance.

So, I thought it better to talk to her about the other side on Dr. King’s Dream. We instantly think of Dr. King as a civil rights advocate. But we forget he was a poor rights advocate. See, he realized something we refuse to see. It’s not the color of your skin that holds you back, it’s the lack of money in your pocket.

He realized that most whites that protested against him, were in the same boat as the blacks he stood up for. They to were poor and the thought of having more people to compete against scared them. Put that on top of the words of hate inherited from their parents and you had a recipe for disaster.

Just as when you take a poor black man whose parents have told him nothing about the success he could become, only of the pain they have endured. Then give him little to no opportunity to support his family and what do you get? A recipe for disaster.

By now, my daughter was ready to get away. I use every opportunity to teach her something new. And she hates it. I let her go and found myself watching the Dr. King special. It’s funny the things you don’t pay attention to because you don’t know they are important at the time.

I started yelling at the T.V. It’s one of my favorite pass times. Watching the history channel and yelling at the T.V. Off point. During the last days of Dr. King’s life, he was depressed. Severely depressed. The famous last footage of Dr. King’s birthday was set into place by his followers because Dr. King hadn’t smiled in months.

His “friend” in the White House Democrat Lyndon Johnson had turned on him because he disagreed with America’s role in the Vietnam War. Some of his top black supporters turned on him the moment he went against Democratic Politics. And his practice of non-violence fell on deaf ears to those in the black community.

Then it hit me. We shouldn’t be happy the day a black man gets into office. We should be happy the day a broke man gets into office. Could you imagine? A man with enough character to capture the hearts of the American people without the need for Union support or wealthy donors. A truly broke man with nothing but his morals and values.

Such a responsibility would be great and a real chance at the change we need. See, a broke man would look at the money being spent in Washington and realize it’s being wasted. He would know you don’t get out of debt by going into more debt without their being some consequence. He would say, “We have people losing their homes and you want to pay for wooden arrows”. I have a feeling a lot of bills would get vetoed.

He would remember how he signed papers before reading them and got stuck in a bad loan. So, when Congress demanded fast action on a bill, he would say “No. Fool me once, shame on you.” And Congress would have to fall in line. Oh! How much change would come to our country.

See, the poor man would remember the opportunities he let pass. The jobs he showed up late for, the ones he left early. He would understand job creation means nothing if you can’t capture the soul of the people. What good is it to create thousands of jobs, if a segment of the population is content with letting the government take care of them? He would understand that he needs to make the jobs available but he also has to entice the people who need them most to take them.

Hey! I just got a wonderful idea. Maybe President Obama should have a Broke Czar. He’s created a Czar for everything else. Run the report by the broke Czar with no fear ofrepercussions . Let him get on YouTube and tell the American People this bill is full of stuff we don’t need, without fearing the wrath of NancyPelosi or Harry Reid. That would be change we could believe in.

Or would we ruin it for ourselves? Like those who took advantage of the easy loans but instead of getting something they could afford, they wereBallin while Broke. Or those that blame Former President Bush for their economic troubles. Or parents who complain about their children’s schools, but spend no time working with their children to compensate.

O.K. These are the worse. Take an average High School in an Urban Area. Let’s say the statistics of those who can read at a high school level is 20%. O.K. Yes, the school plays a big part in this but so do the parents. If 80% of the parents don’t know their child can’t read or knows and doesn’t care, why are they spending time complaining about what someone else needs to do. You need to take the time to make sure your child catches up and stop waiting for help to zoom in.

Because you never know what the future holds and Obama may appoint a Poor Czar, let’s all start to get ready for the vetting process. First, we all must make sure we’ve made plenty mistakes of our own in this poor man’s war started by Dr. King over 40 years ago. We must admit to these mistakes and have stiff backbones to learn from them. Next, we have to be unafraid to tell our government what we really think. That means we must pay attention to local elections and hold representatives responsible for the votes they make, no matter the color of their skin orpolitical affiliation.

Most importantly, we all have to remember what it was like to be poor. Remember what it was like when credit wasn’t available to you and you had to pay for things straight out. Remember the pride you felt when you could accomplish this. Maybe that’s what’s lacking. The pride you felt when you worked hard for something, instead of the instant need to want more just because it’s easy to obtain right away.

We can’t forget what the last couple years has taught us. Ballin’ While Broke affects everybody. Further confirming the need for a change of battlefield. Since we now have our first African American President, let’s now fight for our first broke President. The new era of struggle in America.

Funny, how Dr. King knew it in the 60’s and we’re just starting to catch on.

Is Racism Stealing Our History?

January 15th, 2009 | By

I’m going to do my very best to be good.

Someone very close to me is making really bad decisions. In the current economy, jobs are hard to come by. When offered, an excuse for refusal should never be, “I ain’t working for no white man”. Should I have to say any thing else?

You would think not. But I had this conversation. Yesterday. And today, I am perplexed at the extent holding on to racism is ruining our country. The sad part is the perpetrators are not cloaked in white hoods.

They stand on street corners, not caring about the communities they ruin. They preach from pulpits, unaware the field of battle has changed. They represent political parties that push victimization.

I know, all things I’ve said before. Over and over again, I’ll admit. But it still rains true. Yet, I think I missed the point of how much history this romantic embrace with racism is costing us.

You don’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you came from, so let’s take a look back at history. Let’s imagine our current community mentality was present during the Civil War.

Imagine how we would crucify the slaves that wanted to learn to read and write. Think about this the next time you are watching roots and all the hate bubbles to the top. You have replaced the white man in those scenarios. You know the one you hate because he whipped a slave for having a book. Think about that as you bully a nerd in school.

Imagine how we would crucify Harriet Tubman. Who does she think she is? Uppity Negro thinking she better than us. Thinking she has the right to come and go as she pleases, while I’m stuck in these chains. But what about her struggle? What about her sacrifice? And there you are, safe, in your chains, complaining.

Let this seep into your mind when you are complaining about how they “just trying to hold a brother down”. Who is They? You. Did you laugh because the geek at McDonald’s got robbed of his paycheck? (I’m not going to lie, at one time I laughed.) What are we accomplishing by this behavior? I’ll answer that shortly.

Let’s imagine we lived along side, Booker T. Washington or W.E.B. Dubois. I won’t even evoke such hate on their memory. Instead, I’ll use my own personal experience. The great thinkers of our history would have been called “Uncle Toms”, “self haters”, or “house slaves”. Think about this as you shout about the accomplishments of those great men, then turn around and throw hate at me for attempting to follow suit.

Should I even bring up Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? You know I am. Imagine, if in the height of the Civil Rights era, our current community values took hold. Imagine, if after the dogs had been sicked on Dr. King, all the black people took to the streets and started destroying their own property. I can’t even write that with a straight face. Dr. Kings whole mission was non violent. Yet, think of the violence that occurs on most streets across the country that bear his name. Should I mention it’s mostly black on black violence?

Why was it impossible to stop slaves from learning? Why did Harriet Tubman continue to risk her life on the underground railroad? Why did Booker T. and W.E.B. demand on thinking for themselves? Why did Dr. King not met violence with violence? And why doesn’t our generation have the backbone of our fore fathers?

I’ll give you a hint. I mentioned the answer some where in this article. Think. Bingo. The battle field has changed. It was once us against them. We had a reason to stand and fight together. Now we destroy each other from the inside out.

We are a weak generation. Racism couldn’t stop great men and women from escaping whips and chains. Racism couldn’t stop enlightened minds from sharing information. Racism couldn’t stop thousands of white and black men and women from marching together for equality. Yet, racism can control us from the grave.

We spend so much time thinking about what was done to us, we forget what we accomplished. Even in the face of racism and hate. Why are we so easily broken when those before were so strong?

Sometimes I hating writing blogs like this. I always come up with more questions than I can provide answers. I feel like this should be easy. I mean, all the hard work has been done. We got everything our ancestors fought and died for and yet here we are. In a state of stagnation. Holding on to victim status like it marks our history more than the great people we talk about every February.

We can talk about how Dr. King died, with no mention of how he lived. We can complain about what we don’t have, when people have made it with much less. We can place blame on former slave owners, while copying their treatment of blacks around us.

Then we self righteously walk around like we control all matters of race. We do. And we get all the pitfalls of holding on to such a stigma.

Do you want respect or pity? I can give full respect to my elders who have actually went through the fire. They have the right to hold their memories and anger. It’s not healthy but it’s their right.

I hold an open mind to those slightly older than me that may have felt the remnants of a changing society. I never said racism doesn’t exist. Some people have been through horrible things because of their color.

I haven’t. Most of my friends haven’t. The person close to me making bad decisions hasn’t. What right do we even have to hold this stigma? We don’t. We can use it as an excuse though.

The person close to me has a lot of valid anger. He’s never met his father. His mother was an addict. And he’s spent the majority of his life feeling abandoned. Yet, when asked why he can’t get his life together, it has something to do with a white man.

And the credit for this thinking comes from whom? Dr. King? Harriet Tubman? Or does it come from the pride of holding on to racism instead of dealing with the real problems that plague our society?

When they write the history of our generation, what will they say? What song will they play to take our children back to the days of old? Other than Barack Obama, who will they say helped advance the position of black people in America? Or will the history books remain blank with our accomplishments? Not because racism still exist. Because we have nothing of value to add.

History tends to repeat itself. I’m just waiting for our generation to stand shoulder to shoulder with those before us. Tick Tock Tick Tock