Archive for January, 2011

The Bridge: The King Dream–Forty Years Later

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags , on January 18, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

More than forty years after evil men assassinated The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we celebrated another King Holiday Weekend in this nation.

Many celebrated, but most have no real reflection on the man and the legacy, nor on our own obligation to keep the dream alive and to make it come true.

Far too many Americans, and yes, that includes African Americans, are so focused on the wrong thing that we are more likely to see a nightmare come true than any dream.

For example, few of us have the testicular fortitude required to stand in the shoes of a man like Dr. King, yet gutless mouthy weaklings who sit in the comfort of the new century dare to cast aspersions on the man and the legacy.

I hear people talking about how King didn’t do much for us, but the reality is that we didn’t do much for a man who died for us. He fought for our right to go anywhere, not for the right to leave our own community and never look back. He got it started and many of us just left it alone.

On the other hand, far too many of us are holding on to nothing else but Dr. King’s memory, instead of creating our own dream to add to his. We live for a messiah and without an icon to hitch our dream to, we simply fall asleep.

And we fell deeply asleep right after the election of President Barack Obama, whom far too many expected to save the world, cure cancer and deliver Reparations to African descendants in America. All this without any action on our part–because we are still looking for a savior.

Without a savior to guide us and die for us, we are divided and confused and so we rally around things that sound good, but have little substance.

Take the effort to memorialize Dr. King in the nation’s capitol with a piece of rock. That effort is moving toward raising more than $100 million for a monument to The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m torn because on the one hand, there may be renewed interest in the struggle of the Sixties among our youth.  That is a good thing.

But on the other hand, there is still that gnawing voice within me that says “What about our most pressing and REAL causes?”

While Dr. King’s fraternity leads the charge to raise $100 million dollars, Morris Brown College struggles to exist and little Johnny from Compton, Chicago, Cleveland or Harlem can’t read because his school doesn’t have enough books.  Little Johnny can’t properly prepare for the colleges he can not afford and that may not admit him, because his school doesn’t have enough teachers who still care after their paychecks run out before the end of months filled with gang threats and violence in overcrowded, underfunded schools.

While money is being raised to create a physical memorial to one of this nation’s greatest men, young Black girls are opening their legs to disease and pregnancy and opening their veins to drugs and death in dark alleyways and in their parent’s living rooms.

While the national monument for our brother Dr. King is being pursued and making some of us feel that we are doing something worthwhile, the nation’s prisons are being filled with young Black men whose promise has evaporated.  The calls for their very few choices for uplift have been diminished by the strong call to succeed through sports, rap music with self-hating lyrics or drug dealing, while mean-spirited, ignorant people—Black and white—blame their conditions on them.

While the charge is being lead for a national monument to Dr. King, many of the civil rights he fought for are being eroded, and the stone will do nothing for the shameful voting rights violations made public by the 2000 presidential election and quickly made private after the election of President Obama.  Nor will it stop the attacks on Affirmative Action.

While national celebrities donate their time and money for a piece of stone in the nation’s capital, Blacks are still struggling, financially, for a piece of the rock in an economy that is in the toilet, flushing Blacks first and fastest out of downsizing companies.

While Dr. King’s legacy was being turned into symbolism, Blacks disproportionately placed their lives on the line in a series of wars with no truer purpose than oil, only to come home to a war on drugs in our communities.  The war in our communities is really a war on us, because the only casualties are Black men and women who never went to a cartel to import drugs, and who invented many things, but not the formula for crack cocaine.

There are those who say that the monument will give Dr. King his rightful place among other great men of this nation, and that the monument will remind us all that Dr. King’s dream is yet unfulfilled.

I believe the same things were said about making his birthday a national holiday.

While Dr. King’s birthday was being made a national holiday, the number of young Black men in prison was rising.

While the holiday was being adopted from state to state, the AIDS epidemic was running rampant through our communities, damaging more and more Blacks, while fingers point back and forth across the gender divide.

While national celebrities raised money and awareness for his birthday, police across the country were violating the rights of Blacks, setting the stage for nationally prominent crimes by police. Those crimes included the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles; the shooting of Timothy Thomas in Cincinnati; the broomstick sodomizing of Abner Luoima in New York, and the shooting, forty-one times, of Amadou D’iallo, also in New York.

While the nation began to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday in the same fashion as the day for presidents, many of us barbecued and relaxed, while losing more ground gained by his leadership.

As a Black man in America, and as a brother of Dr. King’s fraternity, I hold his memory near and dear to my heart.  I try to live my life walking in the path he and other brave men and women blazed for me with their very lives.

I find it embarrassing that more than forty years after his death, the best that we can do is to erect a monument in his memory, while the memory of his dream is waking us up to a nightmare of broken promises.  We are waking up in a cold sweat to that same non-negotiable promissory note written to the sons and daughters of slavery in America by a nation that has never looked at us as full human beings.

Dr. King led a fight in the streets of America, forcing her to face her crimes against us in front of the world.  He was followed by millions of humans in this nation and around the globe.  He inspired us all to dream of a better world and to claim the right to have it.

A monument can not do that.

Forty years after The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated for daring to dream of a better world and for fighting for our right to have it, Black people are uniting to raise money for something that may make us feel good, but will do little to further the dream of the man himself.

My point?

Simply this:  We don’t need a symbol, we need something real.

Dr. King had a dream.

It is up to us to make that dream come true, or at the very least, to dream our own dream.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames, relaunching on Sundays from 6-8pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

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Annual Letter To Dr. King

Posted in Black America, Black Men with tags , on January 17, 2011 by Gary Johnson

Raynard Jackson
You didn’t know me when you were here,
But through your words I feel you are near.

I was too young for the demonstration,
But I learned about you in my education.

You said we all were created equal,
But maybe now we need a new sequel.

Because I don’t know what happened to the dream,
Nor the members of your team.

Yeah, Andy’s made a name,

Jesse got some fame.

But what happened to the vision?
Seems it’s been lost to indecision.

Do we continue to blame whites for our plight,
‘Cause it’s easier than to stand and fight?

Do we need integration to survive?
We did pretty good without it, to my surprise.

Should we attend college at an HBCU,
Or go to Harvard, Princeton or even Purdue?

You said we should not be judged by the color of our skin,
Does that apply to the political party I’m in?

Some ask me, “How can you be Black and Republican?”
Because, like you Dr. King, I believe in the “I CAN”

You were invited to the White House for conversation,
Because everyone saw your dedication.

Now we call the president bad for blacks,
But look at how these leaders act.
They call him evil and a racist man,
Though his cabinet shows he understands.

Did you ever dream of a Black secretary of state?
We’ve come a long way from that era of hate.

Did you dream of a Black national security advisor?
Maybe white folks have gotten a little wiser.

To put Blacks in a position where a lot fail,
Because most of the time we excel.

Lenny Wilkens in the NBA,
DeWayne Wickam at USA Today.

Barack Obama in the Senate;
Ran because he thought he could win it.

Dr. Ben Carson with the knife,
Saves life after life.

But how did we come to this place,
Where we now curse our own race?

Rappers call our women bitches and ho’s,
Where it will stop, God only knows.

Our teenagers are committing crimes,
And getting locked up for a helluva long time.

Who is there to show them the light,
‘Cause their fathers are nowhere in sight

So our women accept living with anger,

Which is only one letter short of danger.

I have kept my nose clean and finished school,
But, I am becoming the exception to the rule.

Marriage before kids is how I was raised;
Why are women so amazed?

Having a family is a serious thing,
No kids without a wedding ring.
We have allowed drugs to devastate our lives,
Preachers, where are your righteous cries?

We have cursed Bill Cosby’s name,
When he should be in our hall of fame.

Dr. King, please explain your dream,
I am not sure if it’s what it seems.

Everyone is now invoking your name,
Just to get political gain.

Some say you would be for gay rights,
Was that really part of the fight?

Some say you would be Republican or Democrat,
But neither is born out by the facts.

You just wanted the powers that be to be accountable,
Because back then, the mountain seemed so insurmountable.

We have more education in our head,
But more of our people are ending up dead.

We have more freedom to move around,
But our quality of life seems to be going down.

Among our people are so many divisions;
Whatever happened to your heavenly vision?

Dr. King, if you were here today,
I would be ashamed of what you would say.

We have strayed so far from the path.
How much longer can this stuff last?

We must get back to the dream,
But, please tell us what does it mean?

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm.  He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com) & U.S. Africa Magazine (www.usafricaonline.com).

Book release date:  Spring 2011

Raynard Jackson has been named to Talkers Magazine’s “Frontier Fifty.” The “Frontier Fifty” is a selection of Outstanding Talk Media Webcasters.

The Bridge: We Think, Therefore We Are

Posted in Black America, Black Interests with tags on January 11, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

We think (bad about ourselves), therefore, we are (bad to each other).

African descendants in America may not be aware of salient political issues, but we sure do love to discuss relationship issues–purely from a position of blame. “What’s wrong with (insert Black men or Black women here)?”

Open a discussion on the minute details of ObamaCare and five people and some crickets will show up. Speak on relationships and the discussion will get hot! Sadly, people aren’t really into discussing alternate views, but in proving that what they think about the other gender is true (whether it is or not).

Americans in general have changed the ways in which we find each other as a society, while Blacks think it is only us. And then we point to the worst of us to indict the whole of us and to imply that the bad people within the other gender are the reason for our individual inability to find love.

It’s everyone.

Whites, Asians and Hispanics understand that it’s just hard for good people to find each other, but Black people blame each other across the gender divide as though we dislike each other, and sadly, it’s becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy for more and more of us. We’ve become divided and it has nothing to do with white people–just us.

For example, we hear the complaints that there are more Black women in college than Black men, but guess what?  There are more white women than white men in college.

And what of the Black men in prison piece? White men are in greater numbers (and percentages) in prison as recidivists and for horrible crimes against humanity. White women also fear that white men are down low (although they don’t use that term, more white men are gay than any other group), child molesters and violent in the home (statistics prove they are more prolific in these pursuits). A growing pool of white males are failing and circling the drain, because America is. Yet, there is no mass exodus from the white community, regardless of how much our race thinks that their men or women are dating us–they fix, we flee, we focus…on them…

As a race, we have allowed propaganda and unresolved issues from the past (individually and as a race) to divide us in public as both genders point fingers.

We are so divided that we talk at each other without even listening. We ask to be heard, but fail to return the favor. As an example, I respond to the things I hear Black women say about Black men in the media, because, well, because I’m a Black man. The overwhelming response I get from Black women is that I’m angry or that I hate Black women. The only two responses that are accepted without such charges are silence and acquiescence–no strong Black woman should EVER want a Black man to deal with issues this way. Yet, if I curse or speak strongly, people act like it’s a problem–even though they curse regularly themselves.

Too many Black men have failed to stand up as men, allowing our people to fall because it is simply too damned hard to keep facing people who hate you because they disagree with you, not recognizing that there is freedom in not giving a shit. We no longer need to march in the streets, but we do need to stand up for our children and protect our image–even from ourselves. And, we need to define ourselves, rejecting definition from ANYONE–including our women.

It’s been said that the key to the demise of any people is through the female and many Black women don’t like hearing that–even when it comes from other Black women. But when you forget how much power you wield over men, that power is easily used against you and your men. You don’t have power over a man because you have a vagina, you have power because you can capture a man’s heart, give him a family and change his focus to protector because he has a reason to protect, not because you say that he should protect you as you place yourself and he in danger.

In differing ways, we need to protect each other. Back to back, us against the world, individually and communally. But instead, we stand as individuals and judge each other for not doing what we think the other should do.

But being judgmental over nothing is one of our greatest wedges of division. Instead of searching for common ground to unite as a community, to become friends or to even date, we search for irrelevant differences and then we judge and dismiss. We spend a great deal of time focusing on the white community, yet we fail to do the things they do that WORK.

The now former governor of California is a staunch Republican, but he married into the most staunchly Democratic family in the history of our nation–the Kennedies. Yet, if one of us is Republican instead of Democratic, spiritual instead of Christian, Buddhist instead of Islamic, we are promptly judged and dismissed.

I’m not angry or jaded about all Black women–only Black women who see Black men in a negative light and I don’t think that is all or even most Black women. I love Black women and the only problem I have is when a Black woman sees Black men through the media and statistics, because I am not a statistic.

I don’t see Black women as statistics.

I don’t see Black men as statistics.

I refuse to allow our children to be viewed as statistics in ANY discussion.

Honestly, the greatest problem we have is that we have changed the ways in which we view each other, which dictates reality for us as individuals who embrace such reality.

Malcolm X said it and it’s still a mandate that we need to embrace or become irrelevant:  “We have to change our minds about each other.”

Otherwise, we will continue to become irrelevant.

We need to understand that we really don’t have to exist.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames, relaunching on Sundays from 6-8pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

The Bridge: Top Ten Thoughts From 2010

Posted in Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags on January 4, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

Ten years into the new century and just where are we?

As a people, it’s been like A Tale of Two Cities—The worst of times and the best of times.

While there are more of us visibly doing better, there are actually more of us doing worse, and while most of us are marrying each other, more of us are not finding our way to marriage at all. And while we’ve placed a Black man in the white house, we are still coons, buffoons and overall clowns on the world stage thanks to rap music, comedy and productions by Tyler Perry.

President Obama has pushed his health care through and is making overtures to ending the war in the Middle East, even as some are now mounting the argument that he is a puppet for the machine—which is actually a more sophisticated argument than demanding that he save Black people and give us reparations.

2010, some of us loved you and some of us hated you. 2011, you will get much of the same.

Yes, indeed—the best of time and the worst of times.

In another top ten list, here are some of the thoughts that are on my mind as we embark on a new year:

Top Ten Thoughts From 2010:

1.  Barack as a puppet of “the machine.”

As a son of Chicago, I understand machine politics perhaps more than most. But my heart just isn’t in the whole puppet argument, so here’s the most I can give: If people promise not to claim that President Obama is a puppet because he’s Black, then I’ll concede that most presidents in recent years have been propped up by a machine of some sort.

2.  Black Male Graduation.

We can accept the dire statistic that says only one out of every forty Black males will complete college, or we can stand with Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy and believe that the numbers can be improved. Holding such a strong belief mandates action, and in June of 2010, the entire graduating class of 107 Black males was accepted to four-year colleges, even though only four per cent of them were reading at grade level when they started as freshmen. Call it small if you want to, but progress of this magnitude portends progress in other areas of the land. I smell change…

3.  Barack and Health Care.

While “ObamaCare” as naysayers have labeled it hasn’t been the panacea for the nation, what it has done is extend health-care benefits to young adults on parent’s plans up to age twenty-six. It has erased the denial of coverage for children who have preexisting medical conditions, including “retroactive cancellation. And, it has erased copayments for preventive care, including immunizations and mammograms. Not as much as all of us need, but more than some of us had before.

4.  The Black Man’s New Enemy.

In 2010, Tyler Perry officially became the Black man’s new enemy, gratuitously unleashing negative Black male stereotypes, and tacitly defending such characterization of Black men as he pandered to his staunchly supportive Black female audience. If no one beats his ass for “Meet The Browns,” then we should at least choke him for bringing “For Colored Girls…” to the big screen. Discussions over this cinematic drivel have divided the genders—When Black men cry foul, the response of many Black women is to simply “get over it.” Umm…okay…

5.  Strengthening Economy.

While there is no full-scale turnaround, there are definitely signs. In 1010, governments on both state and city levels were actually recording surpluses for the first time since 2007, and quite a few cities were showing the lowest mortgage rates in fifty years.

6.  Haiti’s disaster.

Haiti’s disaster taught the world a thing or two. In the midst of it, Wyclef Jean emerged as a hero and made a run for president of his home nation, while technology changed the way people give. People were texting HAITI to 90999, which added ten dollars to donors’ cell-phone bills. In less than three days, the effort raised over eight million dollars for the American Red Cross, and by March, more than thirty-two million.

7.  Oprah’s Network.

One hour each day during the week was not enough of Oprah’s Black man hating. Now, its twenty-four hours on her OWN network and I’m a little depressed.

8.  The Death of Teena Marie

Teena Marie was so deeply embedded in the culture and the music that many of us argued over whether she was really a white girl from Venice, California. But it is Square Biz that she was too funky to be kept Behind the Groove and we were all Suckas for the Love she gave us in a voice oh so sweet…Oohh La La La.  Our hearts go out to her children even as we enjoy a small comfort in the fact that she and Rick James are now singing together again in heaven—call it Déjà Vu.  Do we love her?  Yes Indeed.  R.I.P. Vanilla Child.

9.  The Return of Michael Vick.

People who thought his imprisonment was justified are dumber than dog feces and blind. But the people who want him to fail after he has paid his debt to society are just plain jackasses. Leave the man alone and let him do what plenty of murderers and child molesters have done after paying a debt and remaining white—move on.

10.  Stupid Ass Sarah Palin.

This ignorant glossy piece of trailer trash is the beast that wouldn’t die. I don’t know which is greater—my anger over people taking her dumbass seriously or my shock and fear over people taking her dumbass seriously. In all sincerity, if the Republican Party can’t find a better candidate, then they should just put a life-sized picture of Ronald Reagan on wheels and roll him out in her place. The cardboard cutout would have more brains than Palin, and certainly more interesting conversation.

Here’s to hoping that 2011 will be better than 2010, and if not, at least not worse. It really wasn’t that bad.

Happy New Year!

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames relaunchingon Sundays from 6-8pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

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