Archive for the Gary A. Johnson Category

We Have A New Website

Posted in Black Men, Black Men In America, Gary A. Johnson with tags , , , on January 1, 2015 by Gary Johnson

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We have a new website and a new look.  Click here to visit the new website. If you are a subscriber to our posts or e-mails you will have to sign-up on the new website.  Please check out the new site now!

Gary Johnson
Founder & Publisher
Black Men In America.com

The N-Word: An Interactive Project Exploring a Singular Word

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Diversity, Gary A. Johnson, Racism with tags , , , , , on November 10, 2014 by Gary Johnson

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By Gary A. Johnson

The Washington Post has a fascinating interactive project exploring the use of the N-word.  Written by Dave Sheinin and Krissah Thompson with contributions by Lonnae O’Neal Parker, this N-word project is described by the Washington Post as follows:

“Following several incidents involving players using the n-word, the National Football League this year instructed game officials to penalize players who used the word on the field of play. The policy, though, was widely criticized as being heavy-handed and out of touch. As the league wrestled with the issue, a team of Washington Post journalists examined the history of this singular American word, its spread through popular culture and its place in the vernacular today.”

In short, this project features 34 people, 9 questions and 1 word.

According to search data on the social media analytics website Topsy.com, the word is used 500,000 times a day on Twitter — as “nigga.”

The N word project allows you to select several topic areas that lead to a custom video.  You can also watch and listen to 34 conversations or start a conversation by posting a question about the N-word and sharing it with your network.

Here’s a sample of some of the aspects of the word explored in this project:

  • Are we giving the word too much power or is the word just that powerful?
  • Why would anyone willingly use a word that’s only meaning is one designed to make someone feel bad for being born the way they are.
  • Why do white people want to use a word that would only make situations awkward in the context of their skin color?
  • Does avoiding the word actually deconstruct racism, or does it simply hide ongoing prejudice under a veneer of political correctness?
  • Why is it okay for African-Americans to say it, but only okay for whites to say the n-word when an African-American gives them a “pass”?

Click here to get started and join the conversation.

Photos courtesy Nikki Kahn and Michael S. Williamson

GJohnson Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In America.com a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In America.com Blog. Gary is also the author of the book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.To learn more about Gary click here.

This Ross Is The Boss Too!

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Gary A. Johnson, Music, Women's Interests with tags , , , , , on March 14, 2014 by Gary Johnson

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Rhonda Ross Logo

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com

Last night, I had the pleasure of having front row seats to see singer Rhonda Ross perform at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, located just across the Washington, DC line in Bethesda, MD.  I also met Ms. Ross after the show.  Rhonda Ross is the daughter of singing legend Diana Ross and Motown-Founder, Berry Gordy, Jr.  This Ms. Ross proved that she too can be the BOSS and in a very different kind of way. 

Rhonda Ross is a singer, songwriter, actress and writer.  One of the things I learned about Rhonda is that she is most proud of being a mother and co-parent with her husband of 15 years Rodney Kendrick.

Make no mistake, Rhonda Ross is NOT trying to be her mother.  She is carving out her own path and establishing her own musical identity.  Rhonda holds her mother in the highest regard–as a mother, but she is not trying to emulate Diana Ross the singer.  I’ve seen Diana Ross perform live and there are some similarities.  Rhonda Ross has stage presence like her mother.  When Rhonda stood center stage in that long flowing dress with her arms outstretched, she reminded me of Diana Ross.  That’s where the comparisons end.  Rhonda sings in a slightly lower register and has a stronger voice.

Rhonda Ross

I would describe Rhonda Ross’ as a Neo-Soul and jazz song stylist.  In my view, Rhonda Ross’ music is purposeful and inspiring, largely due to the fact that she writes a lot of her music.  Last night Rhonda spoke with the audience between songs.  It was clear to me that she is a spiritual and religious woman with a lot of inner strength.  When she sang the song “Nobody’s Business,” she explained that “your joy comes from the inside and that it’s nobody else’s job to make you happy.”

Ross’ live performance moved her and some in the audience to tears when she sang a song that she wrote that pays tribute to her mother.  Other songs were motivating and inspiring.  There were probably more women in the audience than men.  The Masters of Ceremony (MC) was Dr. Jeff Gardere aka “America’s Psychologist.”  Dr. Jeff reminded the men that we should take heed and listen to the lyrics too.

If you get a chance to see Rhonda Ross perform, do it!  Treat yourself to some nourishing and fulfilling entertainment.  To learn more about Rhonda Ross click here to visit her official website.

I would personally like to thank Miriam Machado-Luces of TVA Media Productions, Ltd and Elva Mason of Mason Management for the royal treatment afforded me.  Ladies you are the best!

I have one last and deserving shout out that goes to Rick Brown, the Proprietor of the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.  Rick you have done a great job.  Everything was great from start to finish including the Coat Check personnel, Wait Staff, Ushers, Bartenders and Chefs.  Your establishment is one of the best kept secrets in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.  I will be returning to your supper club soon.

Gary J. & Rhonda Ross

Gary Johnson and Rhonda Ross after the show.

Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In America.com a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In America.com Blog.  Gary is also the author of the book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.To learn more about Gary click here.

The Fall Of Detroit: A Story Told In Pictures and Words

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Gary A. Johnson, Money/Economics, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2013 by Gary Johnson

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By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com (July 27, 2013)

The city of filed for bankruptcy last week.  The Motor City is reportedly $18.5 billion dollars in debt.  This is the the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.  Looking back it was pretty clear that the city was mismanaged for decades and that led to a steady population drop over the years and a staggering loss of tax revenue.  I’m not an economist, but I don’t think you need to be one to know that there will be staggering aftershocks as a result of this filing.

Detroit is not alone.  They just got here first.  The Wall Street Journal recently cited Oakland, Philadelphia and Chicago as other big cities with the potential to follow Detroit’s lead and file bankruptcy.

How did this happen?  I don’t have enough time or space to tell you, but the keyword here is “decline.”  Here are the highlights.

  • In 1960, the richest per capita city in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was Detroit.
  • Sixty percent (60%) of all of Detroit’s children are living in poverty.
  • Fifty percent of the population has been reported to be functionally illiterate.
  • Thirty-three percent (33%) of Detroit’s 140 square miles is vacant or derelict.
  • Eighteen percent (18%) of the population is unemployed.
  • And 10.6% of Detroit’s 713,777 residents, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, considered themselves white.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Detroit had five decades of fiscal mismanagement, corruption and cronyism.

From all of my research I would say that the main reason for Detroit’s economic problems was the loss of jobs.  According to the U.S. 2010 Census data, Michigan lost 48% of all its manufacturing jobs from 2000-2010 with Detroit being impacted the hardest.  This led to massive “white flight” and exits by rich folks (including Blacks) and others people of means leaving the city with a shrinking tax base.  In other words, those who could afford to leave for greater opportunity elsewhere did just that leaving the city with a poorly qualified workforce and few job opportunities.

Given the economic environment around the country and the world, I hope and pray that a solution can be found to stop this economic decline and that we don’t see a spread of bankruptcies in other major U.S cities.   As I read through pages of Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and newspapers and economic journals and articles, I felt compelled to tell this story in pictures and song for people who don’t have the time to do research and get the facts.  Click on the video to view.

Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In America.com a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In America.com Blog. Gary is also the author of the book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.” 

To learn more about Gary click here.

The Power of the Black Voice: If We Speak, They Will Listen

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Feature Interviews, Gary A. Johnson, Guest Columnists, Music, Music and Video Releases on June 8, 2013 by Gary Johnson

Rappers

By H. Lewis Smith

Hip-Hop music is an art form all unto itself.  Its unique rhythmic beat and craftily-packaged rhymes can be very catchy, entertaining and stimulating. Because listeners are often caught up by the beat and impressed with the artist’s literary creativity, and, perhaps are just happy to see one of their own finally make it, they tend to overlook and/or downplay the real message(s) being conveyed; this may help to explain why some rap records with self-destructive, violent, demeaning and insensitive lyrics in nature can be so popular. Rappers feel that they are just entertaining, storytellers, saying what “sounds good”, but the truth of the matter is that their messages do carry clout, are influential, and can evoke action; as such, they must be mindful of what they say, and the artists and their sponsors must be held accountable for the artists’ actions and words.

Self-respecting people are tired of being sold out by heartless, money-hungry rappers. They are becoming less passive and apathetic about the images and messages being conveyed, and are now gaining the gumption to speak up and out against the undignified portrayals rappers promote. Rap artist Lil Wayne came under fire in February for lyrics comparing the 1955 heinous, murderous beating of teenager Emmett Till to his sexual prowess when interacting with female genitalia; in May, he lost a multi-million dollar endorsement deal with PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew as a result. In April, in the face of PepsiCo’s situation, Reebok also decided to proactively sever ties with hip-hop artist Rick Ross because of his own offensive lyrics related to date raping women.

Ultimately, media giants and corporations are in business to make money. Any activity that supports that objective will be played up, promoted and sold like hot cakes to keep making their pockets fatter. On the other hand, any activity that negatively effects or even looks to threaten their wallet will be severed immediately. Emmett Till’s family did not sit back, pass and allow Lil Wayne to have carte blanche to trample over and dishonor the death of their family member. By their speaking out and protesting the beverage company, events were placed into motion, which ultimately led to the loss of Lil Wayne’s endorsement deal. Others found the fortitude to speak up against Rick Ross, and Reebok smartly elected to forgo any negative publicity and resolved their potential issue before it could even become one.

Overall, these situations serve as testimony that when the Black community DEMANDS responsibility and accountability from one of their very own, people do listen and the results can be immediate, profoundly impacting, and have a huge domino effect.  This card of power has always been available to the Black community to play, but in its refusal to hold their own accountable and responsible for anything, the group has always passed on using it.

An old adage, slightly modified for relevance and greater impact, says that he who forgets the past—or even worse, is ignorant to his past—is doomed to REPEAT it.  Gangsta rap promoting street violence, crime, misogyny and use of the n-word are replicas of messages that were browbeaten into the hearts, minds and souls of African-American enslaved ancestors for more than 300 years.

A strong need was and still is felt to emasculate the manhood of the black male and a relentless campaign was undertaken to do just that. This dehumanization process and psychological onslaught of the human mind, implanting a whole new personality in heads, hearts, minds and souls, created an unwarranted image of a subjugated people categorized as n**gers.  Since n**gers were looked upon as sub-human and 3/5 of a person and not considered as human beings, they were, as a result, subjected to the worst form of inhumane treatment—mentally and physically—ever known to humankind.

Enslaved Africans were not willing participants of enslavement and their will to resist had to be broken, therefore, they were programmed and conditioned into assimilating a newly-created inferior status of themselves. Minds of black men were unbelievably mentally abused and broken.  They were forced to believe they possessed moral, intellectual, social and physical characteristics of a bestial savage beast, and a lazy, stupid, dirty, worthless parasite; forced to accept a lesser image of themselves as lethargic, intellectually childlike and ignorant, and obsessively self-indulgent angry animals prone to wanton violence. The enslaved were browbeaten to believe that their dark hue of skin was to be looked upon as physically unattractive, which explains the unhealthy color awareness consciousness in the Black community today.

Any sort of brutal act perpetrated upon the enslaved was always fueled with the rallying cry of the word n**ger as if this would make any unconscionable acts executed upon a so-called “non-human” n**ger acceptable in the eyesight of their Christian God.  While the hanged, beaten and maimed drew their final breath, the last words the victimized would always hear were the chants of n**ger, n**ger, n**ger ringing in their ears. Ironically, contemporary African Americans embrace the pejorative term FAILING to understand why they do, that this is not what they are and more importantly that there is NO such thing as a n**ger/n**ga.  During Hitler’s mistreatment of the Jewish community and experimentation in Eugenics, President Roosevelt admonished him for such conduct, to which Hitler replied, “Everything we do to Jewish people was learned from your treatment of the America Black people.”

Gangsta rap speaks of struggle, strife, and the negative experiences endured in a tone of self-loathe and hate. Because African Americans refuse to learn and fully accept their past as well as see the seriousness in continually giving life to remnants that should have all been left in the past, the feelings of inadequacy and frustration laced in every line of rap music are internalized and treated as legacies that are passed down from generation to generation. The unrelenting 400 year old daily assault on the Black psyche was and is designed to corrupt African Americans’ sense of racial unity and cohesion, mold the character of self-hatred, engender self-doubt and distrust among the group, thus, pulverizing Black unity and halting Black upward mobility.

In this 21st century history is repeating itself through the self-destructive lyrics of rap music.  The impressionable young minds of our Black youth are treated as garbage disposals, dumping anything and everything into it that’s debasing—ALL for the almighty dollar—simultaneously promoting criminal behavior; and it’s happening with the blessing of the Black community since the group collectively refuses to put its foot down and say enough is enough.  Control of the precious minds of Black youth have been handed over to money-hungry rappers and indifferent comedians, actors and actresses, while the intelligentsia, ministers, community leaders sit back and do ABSOLUTELY nothing to stop it, this habitual practice of self-inflicted cultural genocide is totally foreign to other groups around the world.

This 400-year-old on-going indoctrination process needs to be stopped, just as Lil Wayne was stopped by the Till family. Black America must either stand up to these entertainers and the industry that have made billions stomping on the dignity of Black/African-Americans and no longer allow them to do it, or continue to be willing participants in the cultural genocide of black people. Just as slavery and the African-American Holocaust was no joke, cultural genocide is no laughing matter either.  African Americans must somehow learn to separate itself from the minstrel syndrome stop taking themselves and the n-word as a joke.

Today, the n-word is still alive and well because contemporary Black Americans have yet to demonstrate the ability and mental fortitude to let go of an 18th century slave mentality.  Promoting, marketing, and commercializing the n-word globally contribute to keeping it alive and, in the process, are keeping its wicked and abhorrent history alive.

Black/African-Americans must, on the whole, adopt the attitude of the Till family, by standing up and speaking out against the mental abuse of our youth via gangsta rap music with its promotion and encouragement of criminal behavior, use of drugs, glorification of violence and the promotion of the n-word.  No one is an exception; EVERYONE is required to use their voice, stand united, and hold to the fire anyone that attempts to continue to tear down the Black community.  Sacrificing the minds of our youth, glorifying and applauding the status of those who are now financial tycoons as a result of their predatory ways speaks volumes about the over-all unhealthy mentality of the Black/African-American community, our youth deserves more, infinitely more.

H. Lewis Smith H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc. (www.theunitedvoices.com),  and author of “Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word”. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thescoop1

Tom Joyner: Tavis Is Fascinated with His Own Legacy

Posted in Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Gary A. Johnson, President Barack Obama with tags , , , , , on January 27, 2013 by Gary Johnson

Tom and Tavis

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In America.com/January 27, 2013

Here we go again.  Can’t we all just get along?  I don’t know who’s in the news more these days.  Tavis or Rhianna?

PBS host Tavis Smiley and his colleague and partner  former Princeton professor Cornel West, criticized President Obama last week for using a bible belonging to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for the President’s inaugural swearing in ceremony.  I’m not sure about the criticism.  It’s not like the President stole the bible.  The King family gave the bible to the President.

Well, Tavis’ former employer, syndicated radio host Tom Joyner apparently heard enough.  Last week Joyner wrote a commentary called “Tavis vs. MLK,” published on Black America Web.com.  Here are two prominent highlights in Joyner’s commentary:

  • Tavis is fascinated with his own legacy, and that’s not good. He wants more than anything to be remembered the way Dr. King was, and to some how make that kind of mark on the world.
  • Tavis is afraid of what will be said about him and it’s driving him crazy.

Tavis has consistently claimed that he holds no ill will towards the President and that he is simply attempting to hold the President accountable.

Most people who follow Tavis are not neutral in their view. For another perspective read Harold Bell’s recent commentary “There’s A New Sheriff In Town.”

What do you think?

(Photos from Getty Images/AP)

New Film Shows That “Soul Food” and Black Folks Aren’t Always a Healthy Match

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Gary A. Johnson, Health & Fitness, Women's Interests with tags , , , , , , , on December 28, 2012 by Gary Johnson

Soul Food2

By Gary A. Johnson

  • Fact:  Soul food and southern style cooking is high in saturated fat.
  • Fact:  Fat tastes good.
  • Fact:  Black people are twice as likely to die of stroke before age 75 than other population groups.  

“Soul Food Junkies,” is a new film by Byron Hurt which will air January 14, 2013 on PBS.  In the documentary Hurt explores the addiction that black people have with “soul food.”

Hurt also explores the health advantages and disadvantages of “soul food” and peers inside the unhealthy side of the food industry and the growing food justice movement.

Hurt interviewed a wide variety of people including chefs and health experts and concluded that black folks’ addiction to soul food is killing them.

I’m not sure that we needed a documentary to confirm that, but if a film helps to spread the word that people need to adopt healthier eating habits, then let’s get everyone we know to watch this film.

Growing up I was raised on fried and fatty foods.  My father would cook grits, bacon, pork sausage and fried eggs for breakfast and pour the grease from the pan on top of the grits for extra flavor.  That leftover grease would then be poured in a jar on the stove to be used for the next meal.

There was no thing as “turkey sausage” in my house.  I didn’t learn about “turkey sausage” until I was in my late twenties.  Turkey sausage is an insult to pigs everywhere.  There is no substitute for the taste of bacon.  If I was running the pork industry; I would move to legally prevent the turkey industry from using the term “bacon.”  At best, they should call it “turkey breakfast meat.”  I know that I have offended turkey lovers with those comments about turkey bacon.  What can I say?  I told you that I still struggle.

As I learned more about healthy cooking, I had to break some of my “cultural conditioning” when it came to food.  It was not an easy transition to rid myself of those unhealthy cooking habits.

Today, I still struggle.  I do the majority of the cooking and grocery shopping in my household.  I have an emotional connection with my food.  I struggle every day to eat healthy.  I win the battle most days and offset my weak days with regular exercise.  I don’t recycle cooking oil, I buy fresh vegetables, I bake much more than I fry and I get regular exercise.  Despite this effort, I still struggle with my weight and battle my predisposed genetics.

Thank goodness my children are healthy and health conscious.  “Soul food” can be healthy.  We have to make better choices in our cooking and eating habits.

Watch a preview of the documentary below.

Byron Hurt Byron Hurt is an anti-sexist activist who provides cutting-edge male leadership, expert analysis, keynote addresses, and workshop facilitation in the field of sexual and gender violence prevention and education.  You can learn more about him by visiting his web site at www.bhurt.com.

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