Racism, To My Understanding,

Racism, to my understanding is as American as baseball. It is so deeply woven in the fabric of America that to pull on the string would undo the whole tapestry. You have to see when we see the consistencies between your behavior and that of your ancestors that we are employing a survival tactic our environment forces us to master (even still its accuracy is never 100%). We know when we see the white people outside of the school in 1960 screaming at Ruby Bridges as she integrated that elementary school, that their descendants are not anatomically better, and are capable of the same emotion. This emotion, that conveying only confirms what we’ve been told by our elders about the real world. 

It’s hard to be anti-Kaepernick and not seem as if you too would hate and the heavyweight boxer from Kentucky who decided he would not go to Vietnam. The lack of caring about these black men and women being shot down harkens back the videos and recordings of white folks speaking on what they thought of black people decades ago. The vile answers given by those people hurt just as much as your silence and sometimes we would even prefer the vocal hate because then it reveals to us exactly where you stand. Even that is more comfortable than the schizophrenia brought on by never being able to be sure. Are you really an ally? Or do you side with me only in my presence? The people in those videos are your ancestors, actually of only 1 generation or 2, and we can’t be so sure that vitriol and hatred that they spoke with just evaporated. It is hard to imagine that at home we don’t come up, and a somewhat overall opinion of us. Even the topic of our killings by the police, that has to come up sometimes doesn’t it? What happens when it comes up? Does someone get angry? Does someone justify it? Doesn’t somebody defend us? Or is it a quick moment of polite sadness and then you move on? Now what if that conversation never comes up? Does that say even more? Racism is so unnatural a thing, that even dealing with it, can never be something we get used to. It becomes like an invisible bully that can reveal itself whenever it likes. It seems that everyone with a solution on how to fix it is murdered or has their character assassinated which leaves us with a rational belief that we will die long before racism does. This can be quite the burden to carry while carrying everything else life throws at us. You must see now why cultural colonialism can be so offensive. You want the rhythm without the blues. It seems you want a piece of all we make but would rather not be forced to see us. Even our neighborhoods are seen in some places as “places you just don’t want to go if you’re in Chicago.” But I should say whether you live in one of those neighborhoods or not. Racism is allowed to play an overarching role in your life. Even in denying racism that privilege we are convincing ourselves that something won’t stop us, not actually acknowledging something that is in fact, there. Our feelings of its presence are more Important even, for our daily survival, than our world view. Racism is one of the cancers our world faces today and like other forms of cancer, its ability to change forms and spread throughout the body, is what makes it more powerful. With our understanding of the human body we must come to a collective agreement that as long as that cancer that is racism exists somewhere, it affects us all the same.

Pressure

After detailing to you what this upcoming trip to Haiti, that is about a month out means to me, I must now tell you how much the gravity of the trip is affecting me now on the day to day. After being approved for the days off, I now realize there is nothing between myself and eight days in the country where my forefathers, African men and women turned warriors, freed themselves from the rule of the French “Republic”. A country where those freed former slaves built the world’s first true democracy (as the others at the time still participated in slavery) but underestimated the evil of the European powers and were subsequently blackballed from the global economy thus, spiraling down centuries of corruption, poverty, and incompetent healthcare.

In a little over a month I start my journey in helping play my part to raise my parent’s homeland to its feet as best I can. Though this is not a task I take on alone; Haitian’s worldwide are slowly coming to realize that our country’s position in the global economy is not at the fault of itself, and in return are also making their own attempts at aiding the nation. I do realize I must do all I can before I decide that is what we all must do being the descendants of those warriors. We are not expected to do nearly as much as they, but the significance remains.

The book I will be writing is also something I think about often, as I have never taken on a task so daunting and to be honest, writing at length is a fear of mine as I do not want to lose you, and I fear writing at length not only loses you, but deters you from sharing my work with your friends who you assume don’t have the attention span that you do. Perhaps it is also a confidence issue with myself, also an idea that I have to consider. This book however has been paid for already by those who donated to my GoFundMe and I closed the donations shortly after I surpassed the goal. Although the thought of the challenge brings forth a kind of anxiety that I’m sure all creative minds can relate to, it also brings forth an excitement that is hard to describe. All I can say is, I will deliver the best book possible to you, my friends, as you deserve, as well as the people of Haiti, the best version of myself.

Now for those who are reading this and did not donate to the GoFundMe but wish they did, I am opening the campaign again for donations for 48 hours starting now. Your book and personalized note will be delivered the same as those who initially donated. This re-opening of the campaign will not be shared on social media by myself, so it is truly for those of you who are reading this who may feel you missed out.

That so many people believe in me is an honor I will never forget. I hope to make you all proud.

Yours truly,

Baudelaire

P.S The link to donate/receive a book is below.

https://www.gofundme.com/baus-volunteer-trip-to-haiti&rcid=r01-15369262432-6567a9e6d2e64e8c&pc=ot_co_campmgmt_w

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What’s in a Name?

There are some days where I do not feel like a writer at all. Most days, even.

The higher power (God, Allah, The Universe, really whatever you want to call it) ensured I never forget I am a writer at heart by allowing my father to decide, and my mother agree to name me Baudelaire (he really wasn’t a fan enough of Charles Baudelaire to credit that with why he chose the name, which is why I give the credit to a higher power). It is fate that I was named after not just a great writer but a morbid one. I believe it was to remind myself both of my capability and the always possible outcome of failure and despair. Not necessarily in a depressing sense (though when I do suffer from depression it doesn’t help) but just the reality that is more likely should I become stagnant.

I remember when I first felt that feeling of reading Charles Baudelaire’s work and thinking I am nothing like this man and never want to be, but at the same time loving the challenge (given to myself mostly, I don’t think anybody feels that kind of connection to their namesake) of improving myself and staying as far away from that image as possible. Self improvement and the improvement of my surrounding, is a commitment I have made a lifelong one and throwing in the reminder that I am named after a literary legend, is a bonus. For on my best days, I feel I am also a great writer. From the uncomfort incurred from the two instances in my life (both strangely being in the past year or so) where people recited Charles Baudelaire’s poetry in French to me in public upon finding out he was my namesake (If you know how dark at times Baudelaire’s poetry can be, you would see how this can bring about an awkward moment), I gained a comfort in my destiny. Now Charles Baudelaire is not my favorite writer, or even one of them (Richard Wright being my favorite and James Baldwin being my greatest inspiration), but I do appreciate more than perhaps anybody knows or can understand, being named after him. It is an honor I wear proudly.

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Acknowledgement is Key

The below is a true story from late last year (2017).

Acknowledgement

[ak-nol-ij-muh nt]

noun

1.       recognition of the existence or truth of something

A homeless man while I was on the way to the bank asked me for some money. I looked at him and shrugged as to say “Man I don’t have anything” (funny, I was actually walking to the bank to deposit the money I did have to get my account out of the negatives) and he said “its ok brother, acknowledgement is key”. I nodded and continued to the ATM all the while “acknowledgement is key” is stuck with me. After I was done I went back to the guy and aid “Why did you say that?” He said “Because people walk by me here all day like I’m not even here and when I asked you, you looked at me and acknowledged me. Above all else, I’m still a person. But you liked what I said huh? Haha!” I proceeded to laugh with him for a second and we both wished the other a goodnight as I walked on home.

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Renée Simone II

Writing about her hasn’t gotten any easier. But I realized something today. I have been preparing to love her, my whole life. What I lament about my past can no longer be held as regrets because somehow it all playing out exactly as it did, led me to her. That is a life changing realization and I have nothing else to credit that to but her majestic way of being. I continue to stare at her and have yet to figure out how she manages to be such a wonderful person and I could have never imagined I would be with a woman so astounding so memories of my days without her only serve as reminders of how much I appreciate her time and all that she brings to my life.

A man who fears nothing is as dangerous as the woman next to him who rids him of such fears. In months she has managed to challenge the man I am and shift the direction of who I believe I can be. She continues to inspire me to do more without ever insisting I should. Her mere presence is enough to shift my attitude and her insight is always thought-provoking.  She exemplifies all that is special about black women, and for that reason, among many others, I love her.

 

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The Plan

To Whom It May Concern,

I have decided recently to forever change my relationship with Haiti. Like most children of immigrants, I looked at the land my parents immigrated from with a mix of wonder and grandeur but since the earthquake 8 years ago; those feelings have been mixed with a survivor’s guilt. I’ve come to realize this guilt came from seeing the suffering of thousands of children in Haiti as well as the devastation brought on by the earthquake. Included in the suffering brought on by the earthquake is my father having to deal with the passing of his youngest daughter. Seeing him be forced to deal with that reality everyday has become a driving force in my desire to be able to help my father’s home country in any way possible once I became older.

 As you can see that statement is a bit vague and that has never helped ease my conscious. I always knew the day would come where I would have to be a bit more specific about how I wanted to impact the country of Haiti. While I enjoy a life in a land of as many opportunities as the United States there are children in Haiti that could only dream of half of the experience I was blessed to have been able to go through. I have always wants to help those children in particular. Children that may or may not leave their home country but still need to know the world is still theirs for the taking. I was recently talking to an old friend from UMass about volunteer trips to Haiti and she told me about one in particular called Partners in Development. The program is great and really allows volunteers the opportunity to do the boots on the ground work that can only be done by those willing and able. Half of the time spent in Haiti through the program is spent building homes and the other half, working with children. My decision to sign up for this volunteer experience with Partners in Development is what will begin the changing of my relationship with Haiti.

I have had dreams of one day opening up a school or perhaps a children’s park in Haiti and naming them after my sister but what I’ve come to realize is all that is just talk until real work is put in. I must give Haiti as much time and energy as possible to see those dreams come true. And after all that Haiti has given me, I believe it is only right I get to work as soon as possible.

So it is on that note that I start this GoFundMe campaign to fund this volunteer trip (all information below, and on my Facebook page). Now my problem with GoFundMe campaigns is for the most part they are people asking others for money and giving back almost nothing in return. Weeks before my trip, while in Haiti, and the following days after I get back I hope to write out posts and poems on my feelings about the trip and on Haiti in general. I will put the writings together into a work (along with pictures taken while in Haiti) and release them together in a book available only to those who donate $25 or more to the GoFundMe campaign. I will not share these posts or pictures on social media or on my site. The only way to receive them will be in the form of the book. I will have the books hopefully delivered by the end of this year and plan to write a personal message in each book for the recipient.

I appreciate any donation made to the campaign.

Thank you,

Baudelaire Ceus

https://www.gofundme.com/baus-volunteer-trip-to-haiti

https://www.pidonline.org/programs/haiti

https://www.facebook.com/baudelaire.ceus

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The Warriors

I find social media to be, at times, more about being succinct and clever then actually doing anything. These tweets and posts spread awareness which is amazing but now that you are aware, you must do. Not just for yourself, but for your fellow citizens and the country as a whole. I’m not going to completely throw away the benefits of social media and its necessity in today’s social justice movements, but we can’t pat ourselves on the back too much for expressing ourselves to people who (for the most part) agree, or think similarly to us anyway. Especially when there is so much work to be done.

Now excuse me if you find my analogy a bit vulgar, but I find social media activism the equivalent to masturbation. You get the same sensation as if you actually had sex but in fact what you did was only self-satisfying and you didn’t really do anything at all. That is no different than when you close your app after posting your (or reposting another’s) opinion on the latest act of injustice that has gone viral. Now I may be a cynic for this opinion, but I feel those in positions of power do not truly fear these acts “going viral” because they are well aware, that only a fraction of those who are now aware, are going to actually do anything. In other words, Donald Trump does not care in the least bit about your “Fuck Trump” posts. I’ve protested outside of Trump tower and screamed shame at the Trump children as they walked out of the building with thousands of people chanting with me and what really stuck with me from that day was their faces as they ignored us and went about their business being escorted to their car and driving off. Now if they could even put on an act, that well, of being unfazed by the thousands screaming behind security blockades, then they certainly do not care about your posts about what a joke their father is.

Now last year, while I was dealing with bouts of depression, I deactivated all of my social media accounts. I found that the scrolling or posting didn’t actually make me feel better even with the socially responsible way (for the most part) I was using the apps. I felt like there was still something missing. Like there was something I was doing wrong, or missing out on. I was expressing myself and speaking out on social injustice and calling out some of my peers for being ignorant when it comes to causes that I felt where far too important for them to ignore. All of that was great, and I hope I, and others, continue to still do that and join uncomfortable conversations while there is an opportunity for them to be had but what I soon found was that it seemed the internet became the only place where those conversations were being had. Thus leaving the effect un-measurable as most people left the argument on the timeline and put their headphones on as they moved through life. Among other things (by no means am I placing my depression solely on this) this really started to bother me and the only thing I felt I could do is leave social media altogether and really figure out how I wanted to impact society.

It was, almost a social tax, I feel I owed.

You can have a million arguments over the internet (99% of which end with both sides only standing more firm in their position) and avoid the fact that there are real lives out there you can affect if you really want to. And that leads me to what I’m most proud of from this past year, my mentorship of this 10 year old boy, Elijah. I’ve written countless blog posts about politics, black improvement, and have had a hundred social media arguments with people and trust me when I say none of that even compares to when Elijah told me last month that he hasn’t been getting in trouble in school as much. Now I wasn’t scared to get in trouble I school and I’ve made it my job to mention, every time  I hang out with Elijah, that that was really only to my detriment and getting that clever remark in to the teacher really wasn’t ever worth it. So three months into my mentorship of him, him going out of his way to let me know he’s really trying really made me proud. And I’m not presenting Elijah as the reason I can now be critical of my peers because I know I am still capable of much more and that’s one of the things I am focused on for this year. I am moving in that direction and I believe, if we all worked towards real impact, and had more patience than this quick reaction social media frenzy world we live in sometimes allows, then we would see the effects.

Now I write this today challenging you, the reader, who probably more or less agrees with my way of thinking at least enough to care about my opinion, to go out and be hands on about something. Mentor, volunteer, or anything that feels genuine to who you are as a person. We all don’t have to be Martin Luther King Jr., or Malcolm X, but if we all just contributed something tangible, I feel we would be doing ourselves, the children of today, and future generations, an enormous favor. Now I’m only speaking for myself when I say this, but I came to find the social media activist thing was just not enough.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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Renée Simone

Sometimes while we’re on the train she catches me staring at her and I’m sure she believes it’s, at least for the most part, due to her immeasurable beauty. I’m actually staring because I’m trying to figure out how a woman who wears so many hats can make it all seem so effortless. Now perhaps it isn’t effortless, and this is just a mask but I will see to it that she means it when she responds that “everything is fine”. I cannot ensure that everything will always, in fact, be fine but, I can ensure that my effort will always match her’s in making it that way.

Now when she catches me staring, she should know that I am not staring but marveling at her. Astounded that a woman so phenomenal can come into my life and make me realize that my greatest fear is something I should have never feared at all. The Queen I always dreamed of is the toughest person to write about. And thats only because, I feel nothing I could write would get across exactly how astonishing she really is.

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The Second Excerpt

(To be read only after reading the first Excerpt)

There is something about that bittersweet feeling of realizing you no longer care for someone as you once did. The beauty of it being in the fact that you can focus on seemingly more important things while the negative being the thought was once comforting, and with its absence comes a void. It's not a complete detachment but its just enough for the idea of being in the company of that person to not be a prevalent thought as you try to go about your day. 

 

Man, isnt life something? 

The Anxiety Machine

anxiety

noun, plural anxieties.

1. distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune:

He felt anxiety about the possible loss of his job.

2. earnest but tense desire; eagerness:

He had a keen anxiety to succeed in his work.

3. Psychiatry. a state of apprehension and psychic tension occurring in some forms of mental disorder.

I was watching this Wale interview where Nadeska Alexis (the interviewer) mentioned a Fairly Oddparents episode where because of something embarrassing that happened at school, Timmy wishes that he would have absolutely no feelings. The next day Timmy walks through life with zero emotions and instantaneously becomes the most popular person in school and town because people are amazed at his lack of empathy.

Now, I tell that quick story for a reason. That don't care=cool mentality follows our generation to present day where we all care and, can made to feel anxious in any given situation but for some reason, make it seem like we actually don't care about anything, and coast by life that way while in all actuality, we constantly worry about the issues that really plague our life but we refuse to share any of it in fear of seeming weak or just not cool.

Take the anxiety of being on a packed train without headphones or a book and having to look around and make uncomfortable eye contact with a bunch of people for example. Or when you post a picture with a new hairstyle and nobody mentions the hairstyle so you think to yourself “Does this mean it's trash?” Or replaying scenarios in your mind and wondering if you did one thing differently how would your life have played out and the probability of that decision putting you in a better place today. Or even the more broad anxieties of not being satisfied with your job, relationship, friendships and/or family life and not knowing how to change it so you allow those thoughts to eat at you. 

Or how about hating your job so much that you grow less and less able to smile through the “Good Mornings” when you first walk in so you just turn your attention to social media and follow people doing what you want to do. Seeing them enjoy their position doesn't necessarily elicit jealousy but rather anger that you're not there yet. What social media won't show you is that they aren't really enjoying the position as much as snapchat’s allowing them to show, and deep down they wish they were doing something completely different. 

We all lose at some point. There is always a point where the bullshit seems like it isn't worth it. Now if we all go through these emotions but then get on social media and see a best-of reel of our friends lives then that would only reinforce those ideas that we are in some way failing. People only post their “wins”, which I’m not here to say is wrong but our interpretation of it is. This creates a false sense of pressure to match or live up to the lives of people we almost know must be going through the everyday struggles of life like we are. Social media somehow convinces us this can't be true. Pre-social media, when your only interactions with people were real life interaction. An analogy I just thought of is if every artist made an album, then only compared that album to other artists’ greatest hits albums, the morale of the artist would suffer. When piling on the insecurities about our own appearances and lives that we have normally as humans, we end up as anxiety riddled people that feel that we’re living this monotonous life of struggle.

You gotta think of social media like this assembly line where we start off on the line with  pure intentions on what we want to do with what social media offers us (reconnect with old friends, share news, express ourselves), but then we come out on the other side with these strange and almost wicked desires. It becomes more of a mechanism to express our individual vanity.

But it's not all social media’s fault. And perhaps social media isn't the only part of this machine that is faulty (or perhaps working just as planned, depends on how you see it). In a capitalistic society that demands more and more of its citizens and tells us that we should desire a new iPhone, car, etc. every single year because if something’s a year old then it must be obsolete. The average person is just a hamster on the hamster wheel in this system. The plan is to keep people unsatisfied with their lives so they keep wanting more and have to spend more, but to spend more than they have to work more. You see? There's only so much one person can stand to work or so much one can desire before they decide everything they do have, is worthless (no matter how untrue that statement may actually be).

The night before Thanksgiving, one of my friends told me about how she agrees completely with what me and my brother say on social media when we speak on social issues but she feels that she can't speak up like we do so instead she says nothing. She apologized (for some reason) for it and I really appreciated her letting me know how she felt (after all that is more meaningful than a “like”) but it got me thinking. In the current political and social climate people should feel comfortable expressing themselves and their feelings in whatever way they know how especially when it's with words. Just because you can’t put something as plainly or as eloquently as someone on your timeline doesn't invalidate your feelings on the situation. Your perspective matters and when those who feel too afraid to speak up, do, then we can have real dialogue on how to progress as a people. You see what social media did there?

You see because we don't look within and decide if we're satisfied with life. We often look to the external world for this satisfaction (which is why it’ll never happen). Our generation has added social media to this list of places we go to to compare our lives to others and see if we match up well or if we're not doing so well etc. This makes it so that it’s not just celebrities we envy like other generations; it includes our peers as we grow more disconnected from them in terms of true interaction and only see this shiny version of themselves that they post on social media. Our happiness is far too comparative and having social media at our fingertips may be too much for us to handle some days.


The anxiety machine that is life is only amplified by social media and creates distorted ideas of what we think life should be. No to say social media doesn't have its benefits but the benefits offered are rarely the true reasons we obsess over it. Perhaps social media should be seen as just entertainment where we can dive in fully and enjoy it for small spurts but always come back to reality with the no connection to the world through the lens of social media. The problem today is, we never really disconnect from social media. Its easy accessibility has caused us to become far too attached to that world to the point where we're doing things in reality based on how they're going to look in the alternate reality that is social media. Now, our generation has already seen the effects of social media being introduced at a highschool or later age range. Now imagine what these kids behind us, that are aware of social media’s existence their whole lives, are going to be like. We may one day see a world where nobody faces their anxieties head on, rather we turn to the world we can more carefully curate. Where we can convince ourselves the false reality is our true reality. In my opinion, this is a world that’ll be more anxiety-ridden and “awkward” than we can even imagine. Now, my question to you is; Does social media really make you happy?

Amaru

The first thing one must understand, when trying to really understand Tupac Amaru Shakur is that he died at only 25 years of age.

Twenty-Five years old.

Had Malcolm X died at 25 his story would have ended as a prisoner, Malcolm Little, who died while beginning to study Islam. Had Martin Luther King died at 25 his story would have ended as a newlywed ordained minister that had yet to lead a single protest or boycott. Had Thomas Jefferson died at 25, his story would have ended as a recent college graduate who loved books and had yet to even leave his home state of Virginia.

So before you judge this man fully, understand how short his life was and all he was able to accomplish in that short life. He accomplished more and touched more hearts in his 25 years than most men do in a lifetime. However, his youth did show in some of his actions.

Tupac Amaru Shakur was a man guided by passion. The passion of the have-not fighting for every single breadcrumb is the passion with which Tupac Shakur faced every obstacle. Whether it be the Vice-President of the United States calling him an irresponsible thug or in his response to what he felt was a betrayal by a man he had considered a close friend. Tupac’s passion was the driving force to that 25-year-old man being able to accomplish all that he did in his life. It is only while truly believing in that which you are doing, that you can approach obstacles with the energy Tupac did. Like a car going 150mph, passion like Tupac's could get you closer to your destination if you're going the right way but further than you ever imagined if the car is going in the wrong direction. 

Tupac always remained true to self. That was, what he believed to be, our only responsibility in life. To be ourselves at all times and remained connected to our innermost self so as to not ever make a decision that we will later regret or be ashamed of. For as long as one is true to oneself, then what is the need for apology? Perhaps one can be misguided by the wrong information, which happens. But, the case can then be made to the accuser that if given the same misinformation, they would have done the same.

His logic was that he would follow the same method that lead to the end of the Vietnam War. The media showed the most graphic and violent images of the soldiers fighting in Vietnam and that led to the American public demanding that the war come to an end. This logic went wrong when Tupac decided he will give middle America a glimpse into what was happening in THEIR OWN country on a daily basis and rather than demand that the suffering of the people Tupac spoke of end, they instead demanded he shut up. Implying either that he was lying about what he was telling them or those people put themselves there. Both of which we know aren't true.

For those that criticize Tupac, and call him a hypocrite, I ask you to point to a 20-25 year celebrity that has come from nothing who has not been trapped by the evils of fame. Yes, Tupac at times was a victim of his own success and at some points the message could be seen as a bit cloudy. But, there was always a method to the madness. Tupac understood fully that he was not speaking to a well informed, and educated populace. He knew he was speaking to societies forgotten babies that were now considered thugs and criminals. He knew how to bring them closer to him so they could hear songs like "Words of Wisdom", "Brenda's Got A Baby", or "Keep Ya Head Up". I would argue that most rappers, especially in the early nineties that had those kinds of messages in their music never reached those "thugs". So in Tupac, the thug was cured by Tupac's ingenious way of hiding medicine in the candy. Lyrics like those below really connect to that young man who feels like his life is hopeless and nobody understands. It is through this connection formed that Tupac can show that young man more about life and how to maneuver through it.

for multiple years, witness peers catch gunshots
Nobody cares, seen the politicians ban us
They'd rather see us locked in chains, please explain
why they can't stand us, is there a way for me to change?
Or am I just a victim of things I did to maintain?

For those that say Tupac was a fraud (I won't spend much time here because this perspective is small-minded). I say that the fact he didn't have a criminal record until he was already famous is something we should applaud. To think that a man must be imprisoned, to be validated by the community he grew up in, is immature to say the least. A friend of mine once said that the character we all know as Tupac was created in that Baltimore performance arts school as a sort of an act. To that I say that all of a man's experiences are ingredients that make up that which he will become. To discredit Tupac because he attended a performance art school and did not have a record is like I stated earlier, small-minded. A man who was blessed to live in a one-parent household in Baltimore, MD but still get the chance to attend a Baltimore School of the arts, Tupac spoke on the moment where he told his homeboys that Shakespeare was dope and they had no idea what he was talking about. He wanted to bring that level of education to the people that came from where he came from.  

Perhaps the argument can be made that all rappers who come from nothing supply that same inspiration that Tupac did. I say to that argument that no artist of any kind, before or after Tupac, had roots so deep in the struggle for social justice. From his mother Afeni Shakur’s high role within the Black Panther party his God Father, Geronimo Pratt, and his later formed relationship with Maya Angelou and his idol-ship of freedom fighters such as Fred Hampton and Assata Shakur, Tupac knew the history of poverty in the United States and its connection to racism. He informed his listeners of this connection in songs like “Words of Wisdom”. Most rappers speak of life in the impoverished neighborhoods of America and how miserable it could be. Tupac spoke on not only what it’s like, but spoke on how it got here and had more information on how to change it than any artist that came before or would come after him. This is why Tupac’s inspiration is like no other. He was a magnificent talent in various creative fields but it was his heart of a freedom fighter that separated him from the rest. 

If a man comes from nothing, and manages to make something of hisself and even provide for himself and his close circle, but is still met with resistance from middle America, what does that say? It is a way of saying that he and those around him belonged in the impoverished neighborhood with holes in the ceiling and roaches in the kitchen. Tupac was the messenger that reached the masses that reminded us all that not everything is ok. There are ills of society that must be dealt with, or else. Tupac reminded us of those ills and demanded that they be dealt with somehow. I am not arguing that Tupac Amaru Shakur was perfect, because even he acknowledged his many flaws. But like many 20-25 year olds, Tupac knew what he wanted out of his life, wasn't shy about expressing it, and was still in the process of figuring how exactly he could save his people from the shackles of injustice when he was shot on September 7th 1996. For six days, the world, and specifically ghettos all over the world, stood still until on September 13th, Tupac was taken off life support and passed away. Tupac Amaru Shakur reflected America’s innermost fears that some day it’s crimes against humanity would manifest themselves and look the country right back in the eye. The problems Tupac spoke of are just as relevant today as they were twenty years ago and are indicative of a society that has always refused to listen to its own children. Even in the passing of one of its most vocal, his message will forever live on through children of his philosophies.

“No matter what you think about me, I’m still your child. You can’t just turn me off”

 

Sidenote. 

It is because of the example set by Tupac that I can write a post like "The Excerpt" or "Sister". It is with the understanding that I am being true to myself that I am fearless in regards to what can be, or will be said about what it is I write. It is with that fearlessness that I pursue all of my goals in life knowing that my heart is, and always will remain in the right place.

Rest in Peace to the Great Tupac Amaru Shakur.

 

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The Excerpt

She was the level of beautiful that made you wonder why she would ever second guess the notion herself. Her features and dress just seemed to supplement what was already there. But, gorgeous was the first word that came to mind whenever she was in sight and the sight was truly breathtaking. The average bystander wouldn't even understand that he/she was only getting a glimpse of her beauty, and even then he/she only caught the surface level. Everyone deserves to spend time with someone as beautiful as her. There’s a sort of ease that comes along with her presence that I’m not even really sure she fully understands. But her beauty came just as much from her mind as it did from her smile.

 

Man… She was something special.

To Whom It May Concern,

To Whom It May Concern,

Hope all is well. I’m sure you’ve seen the news lately. It turns out there is bit of trouble within the black community pertaining to our relationship with police officers and their tendency to not be held accountable when they break the laws they swore to protect. As your fellow citizens, the black community has contributed a lot to American society whether it be in the form of inventions you use in our everyday life to genres of music (there was also that period of about 300 years where we were a huge help), and over the last half century or so we have even been able to become friends. Well friend, it turns out this police issue is really getting out of hand (and by out of hand I mean were at the point where we consider it a win just to see an officer who killed a black man even get indicted). See now I know you may think that this problem has nothing to do with you but I am here to convince you otherwise.

This is not a black issue. This is a human rights issue. Fred Hampton once said we cannot fight fire with fire, we believe in fighting fire with water. We can not fight racism with racism, we must fight racism with solidarity.” Now is the time to stand in solidarity with your black brothers and sisters and let it be known that you are not on the sideline watching people that look like them be oppressed simply for the fact that they look like them. Black skin is what connects me to Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, and Alton Sterling and it just so happens that seeing that black skin is all their shooters needed for proof that their target deserved to die. So because of my black skin it could be me next, or perhaps my brother, or your best friend, or your neighbor. Before that injustice occurs, let your voice be heard. Stand with your black brothers and sisters and let them know that you understand that there is a system at work here that oppresses them and you will not stand for it.

This is not a time for division. This is, in fact, a perfect opportunity for unity. I spoke to a woman today that said, “Just because I don’t post on social media doesn’t mean that I don’t care”. Very true. However, it does help the psyche of the black man or woman to be on social media (a place we all spend too much time nowadays) and see that our fellow citizens stand with us. I’m sure the LGBTQ community appreciated our changed profile pictures and posts when their community faced a horrible tragedy weeks ago. In a world where we rarely have open and honest discussions about our social climate random acts of hate toward members of your community can make you think “Wait, do more people think like this? Do people think this is ok?” Now I’m sure, especially if you are a white Christian male then you have no idea what I’m talking about, as people that look like you or think like you do are rarely the targets of random acts of hatred. But from those of us that are apart of these communities (especially black) these acts, especially as frequent and spread throughout this country as these killings at the hands of police has been, things can get pretty scary as you truly do not know when or if you will be next or if you’re neighbor will even care. It’s quite the stressful life to live. The famous quote from Desmond Tutu goes “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

Sincerely,

                        A Black Man Who May Be Next

 

P.S

I leave you with a poem by one of my late heroes, the Late Great Dr. Maya Angelou

I don’t ask the Foreign Legion
Or anyone to win my freedom
Or to fight my battle better than I can,

Though there’s one thing that I cry for

I believe enough to die for
That is every man’s responsibility to man. 

I’m afraid they’ll have to prove first
That they’ll watch the Black man move first
Then follow him with faith to kingdom come.
This rocky road is not paved for us,
So, I’ll believe in Liberals’ aid for us
When I see a white man load a Black man’s gun.

                                                            -Dr. Maya Angelou

 

 

America's Step-Child (Brenda's Baby)

America’s Step-child (Brenda’s Baby)

Brenda had a baby

But Brenda barely had a brain

It’s a damn shame

Pac’s the reason I know my Momma’s name

 

Now you could say it’s not your problem

It was the hand I was given

Life isn’t fair

I was found in a trash heap

And if it was up to my step-father I would have stayed there

 

Born on the bathroom floor

My momma didn’t know what to keep

And in the midst of her hysteria

She threw away me

 

My grandfather was a junkie, grandmother wasn’t there

My mother would end up as a prostitute slain

But my step-father didn’t give a fuck about my mothers situation

And he put her there

 

Nowadays, with no authority guiding me other than that of my step-father

I do whatever it takes to resist the temptation

To sell crack to my own people

And avoid the jail cell one third of us are destined to be placed in

 

I’m not sure how much it helps

But some nights I pray as I fall onto my knees

Because in my country I’m treated like an unwanted step child

And my step daddy would rather see me like strange fruit hangin

From the Poplar Trees

 

I’ve been living with my step fathers boot on my neck

As if life wasn’t hard enough in my community

Someone how I made it to and finished college

And conservatives have the nerve to say the treatment is the same

between them and me

 

Maybe I can Garner support like Eric did

But hopefully it reaches me before I die

Suffocated by a system that’s mad I ever got the chance to be alive

I just want to be Granted the freedoms that Oscar was denied

 

But we carry on day by day striving for greatness

Regardless of what they think

Because no matter what levels of success this young king reaches

They will never cut the nose off this sphinx

 

Brenda’s baby is every “urban” black boy you dehumanize

Cops drive by and stare him down

As he stares back with his Momma’s eyes

 

So long live the rose that grew from concrete

When nobody even cared

But just in case you were wondering

Brenda’s baby is still here

Mantra

For years now my brother Evandro has been trying to get me to listen to Bob Marley. He is a HUGE fan (similar to, and maybe even greater, than my fan hood for 2Pac) and has been telling me how much I would enjoy his music if I just gave it a chance. Now I’m not really sure why I never gave Bob Marley’s music a chance but for some reason I just never did. Maybe I felt I wouldn’t be able to relate or maybe I was just dumb, I don’t really know. Anyway I was listening to a J. Cole interview on NPR where he spoke on how a song can reach someone at the perfect time in their life right when they needed it most. You can hear a song and really enjoy it and probably not even fully understand it but you give it time and eventually that song, and its message might click. In the interview he actually said he goes back and every year he learns more and more from the music of Pac & Bob Marley. He spoke on how the lines “Don’t worry. About a thing. Because every little thing…” and how to a kid that doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a really catchy song that sounds really good. But to a grown man, whos been stressed about alot of things that don’t really matter, that song means the world. It’s Bob saying don’t worry about all that its going to be good. That simple potent wise phrase will forever stand the test of time.

 

Which leads me to my whole point in writing this post. There is a level that certain songs can reach that is beyond catchy and meaningful, it’s a combination of the two. A song like “3 Little Birds” and (One of my personal favorites) “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke have become mantras.

 

As someone who’s been meditating for 2 years now I understand the importance of mantras and the effect they can have on the human mind and body. Just those lines “Don’t worry, about a thing, because every little thing…..” can completely change your mood if you say them to yourself repetitively. “A Change is Gonna Come” has been a personal favorite of mine due to all of the changes going on in my life but a song like “3 Little Birds” can help navigate through those changes. The messages are universal, clear, and necessary. And that should be the ultimate goal of artists, to create something that people can take with them throughout their day and have it impact their day in a positive manner. Greater than just your favorite song, these songs have a certain charm that remains with you even when the song is over.

 

P.S

Below are youtube links for both songs. Enjoy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEBlaMOmKV4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaGUr6wzyT8

Politics as Usual

 

The two most powerful tools in politics are money & fear.

Money is brought in by the huge corporations and funneled to all of our representatives in Washington via lobbyist and a broken campaign finance system that allows the wealthy to give these ridiculously large campaign donations and if/when said politician becomes elected they are almost completely controlled by the man or company that funded them. So now think. How is that people we elect to represent us in government are selling their influence to these corporations as if they were selling shares of stock? It is because we live in a time where a Supreme Court ruling titled Citizens United (ironic) has allowed for an unregulated flow of money into politics. Thus causing politicians to care just enough about the average Americans problems to be able to campaign all across the nation “relating” to people’s struggles and begging for their vote just to not do anything about them once elected. Nothing is done because these politicians say that their debt is to the people during their campaigning, only to forget those promises and repay their actual debt to the corporate backers once in office. This isn’t just a republican or democrat thing. Politicians from every state have accepted money from big business and have worked in Washington to appease these backers and keep the cash flow coming. So the real problem here isn’t the politicians themselves, its that we live in a time where our democracy is for sale.

Fear has always been a tactic used to control people. Hitler used fear to control the German people and get them to allow him to round up the Jewish citizens and treat them however he wanted once they arrived at concentration camps. Fear was the main tool used by the then head of the FBI,J. Edgar Hoover as he pushed for the militarization of the police as the answer to the “black uprising” in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. Fear has always found its way into politics and today is used by politicians in how they will combat immigration. Fear that “too many” Mexicans will cross the border or “too many” Syrian immigrants will enter our country and ruin it from the inside is the tool some politicians are using to push for an immigration reform plan that will stunt the growth of a country that was created by immigrants. Even the idea that we entertain a candidate that called an entire country of people rapists, killers, and criminals proves that we are not as civilized a civilization as we may have previously thought.

Despite these two powerful tools we now have a candidate that refuses both in favor of the truth. Bernie is neither been bought nor has he ever turned to fear to garner support from the people. Bernie isn’t the only candidate promising to repeal Citizens United but he is the only one not benefiting from it (think about it). Bernie has not “dabbed” on national television to gain the black vote or ever called young black men “super predators” only to 20 years later call out to those same people claiming to understand that their lives matter. For those of you that have lost faith in politics I say I too believe very little in 99% of candidates. This one, however, has gotten through to me because of his unwavering support of the black community dating back to the March on Washington, his constant criticisms of the lack on income equality in the United States today and his support for debt-free college education (I once wrote a post about how ridiculous the current system is). So if you are one of those people that have given up hope then I say there is finally an answer with Bernie Sanders. But if you would prefer politics as usual then by all means vote for another candidate.

 

P.S

Enough with this “anyone but Trump” talk. If you think that way then the person that does enter the White House only has to be a little bit better than Trump for you to be satisfied. We should never allow a man like Trump to be the standard set for our next President. Educate yourself on all the candidates and choose one that best fits YOUR beliefs. 

Untitled

I am sure we all know that pro black does not mean anti-white and that pride in the history and culture established by one’s ancestors does not condemn that which was created by others. Above all else, I am pro-people and anti system and I understand that I say all of this while living in a system that taught us to see things as black and white (no pun intended). Rather, my frustration from seeing a young black boy get being shot execution style because he was playing with a toy gun comes from the fact I was once a young black boy who liked to do the same. I was no more threatening than Tamir Rice and had as much ill intent as Emmitt Till. The frustration comes from seeing black men being shot down in the streets and knowing that man could just have easily been my brother Eddie or when a black boy is shot because the cop “mistook” his toy for a gun or his immaturity for aggressiveness I know that little boy could have easily been my nephew Nehemiah. Now if either of those two were to pass in so unjust a way, I would be outraged and want other people to see where I’m coming from and be outraged as well. So when the black man is not my brother, or the black boy is not my nephew, it would be wrong of me to turn a blind eye and act as if everything is still ok. Because the one in front of the trigger could have easily been one of us.