Thursday, May 26, 2016

Breaking the Bond

The bond between a father and a child is a bond that is difficult to understand. Whereas a mother has 9 months to bond with a child and build a connection from conception, fathers must work a little harder at it. It is like a stranger meeting someone else’s child for the first time and accepting the responsibility to be their provider. The intent is there, but the bond must be forged. It is a difficult bond to understand and one that must be built over time with hard work and dedication. This was the case with Danny and Jason.
Danny had great dreams for Jason from the moment his son was born, and there was hardly ever an occasion where you would see one without the other. He planned to instill in him all the things a man should be and teach him important lessons such as never pick a battle but never run from a fight, treat women with respect but never be their doormat, repay all his dept, never make a promise he couldn’t keep and above all else be a man of his word. Unfortunately for Danny, the dreams of the father are often unrealized by the child. His son, Jason, was a quiet and meek child. Short and thin in stature, he couldn’t catch a ball when it was thrown to him and had horrible hand to eye coordination. When he was ten, where most boys his age were outside running and tackling each other in a game of football, Jason spent his time indoors drawing, coloring and keeping to himself. The only friends he cared to have were his two younger sisters.
Danny tried his best to be understanding of his son but at times it became frustrating seeing his son not fit in with the other boys around the neighborhood. He reached the height of his frustration one summer day when he convinced Jason to go outside with him to throw a baseball back and forth. Every ball he threw Jason missed or let slip away in such a way that to Danny it seemed like Jason wasn’t even trying.
“Come on Jason concentrate!” Danny yelled sternly.
“I’m trying!” Jason shouted back on the verge of tears.
“Stop that crying boy!” Danny snapped. “Now we gonna stay out here until you catch at least one ball.” Angrily Danny pulled back, tightening his grip on the ball and released it nearly full force powerfully striking Jason in the chin. No sooner than he released the ball did Danny realize what he had done and rushed to comfort his son. Quickly rushing him into the house and examining the bruise. After that day he never asked Jason to play baseball again.
The next time Danny’s anger caught him off guard and caused him to hurt his son occurred when Jason was twelve. Coming home from work he found Jason playing dress up with the girls, wearing clip on earrings and makeup smeared across his face. It was all fun for Jason which made it harder for him to understand when Danny whopped him uncontrollably. After that night Jason made sure to never let his father catch him playing dress up ever again.
When Jason was fifteen he had a best friend by the name of Glover, whom he did everything with. Danny was ecstatic to see his son bond with another male and have a genuine friend. He encouraged the two to always be together until one night when Glover was sleeping over and Danny caught the two closely sleeping together in the same bed. Danny kicked Glover out of the house, telling him never to come back and once again whopped Jason. Jason swore to never spend the night with another male ever again.
Once Jason turned eighteen, he moved out of his parent’s house and went away to school. When he was twenty-two he moved back home, worked to save up money and buy his own house. At twenty-five he met a girl, dated her for six months and by twenty six he was married with his first child on the way.
Danny couldn’t be more proud of Jason, never knowing that at night his son dressed in women’s clothing and slept with men, but lacked the courage to tell his father. To this day Jason still cannot catch a baseball.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Oops...I Did it Again: Anger, Resentment and a Harmless Post

Recently I began getting more involved in participating in Google+ communities, and so far it has been an enjoyable experience. There are some truly unique and brilliant minds in these communities, but as always where there's good bad is never far to follow.
After viewing the image to the left, in one community, I decided to like and share, and chaos ensued.

Whoa, what had I started? All of this over a Malcolm X quote (addressing Blacks nonetheless). It was then that I noticed that I'd shared the image in a "Thinkers" group, instead of the African American group I intended to. The irony was funny, but since the message was received negatively, by most, I thought it important to stand by the post and it's message.
Firstly, the post/quote was specifically addressing Blacks/African-Americans/P.O.C so for anyone nonP.O.C. to be offended would be ridiculous. The post was never intended to place blame on any one group, but simply to point out the power of self-awareness.
There, of course, were those who neglected the message altogether and decided to play the blame game when it came to the responsibility of slavery.

Yes, Africans sold/traded Africans into slavery, but of course, they were not aware of the cruelty that awaited on the west of the ocean; however, this does negate the fact that Africans were also kidnapped by Europeans and placed into slavery. Furthermore, the effects of the institution of slavery are still present in today's society seen through the American legal and political systems. If anger towards a group could be excited by a simple picture or quote then it is time to address those linger feelings and label it appropriately as the racism that it is. It may be alarming at first, but relax plenty of racists are not aware of their racism.

The humour of the situation aside I was left wondering why does Slavery make some White people so angry? Not uncomfortable, but angry. Although a common misconception, the African-American community is not looking for a pity party from any group. What we desire is for (White) America to finally and collectively acknowledge that Slavery still plays a part in the mechanics of American racism. Maybe then America as a whole could finally work together and build a truly united country. I know,  it seems like a long shot but hey I'm an optimist.

Until addressed, White anger will continue to be a prominent issue of (Colored) America and unbridled anger represents a danger to us all.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Google so Racist?

What's the difference between being labeled an African-American and Black? Is there a difference? Will there ever be? These questions and more were brought up during a facebook discussion centered around the search engine Google and its implied distinction between the two terms. Close your eyes and imagine three black teenagers. Their activities and actions are completely up to you. So, what do you see? More importantly, how do you see them? According to the search engine, Google, it is not positively. When 'three black teenagers' is searched through Google images what appears is a yet another example of the discrimination person's of color (POC) face as compared to White counterparts. Whereas searching 'three black teenagers' pulls primarily negative, and somewhat stereotypical images, searching for images of 'three white teenagers,'  presents that there is a stark contrast to how Google sees the two groups.
Strangely, searching Google for images of three black teenagers pulls a majority of mugshots. In the above photo, a snippet of the collective images presented, only one is a staged model, unlike in comparison to the images presented when 'three white teenagers' is searched. A snippet of 'three white teenagers' search results shows a majority of staged models, smiling, hugging, and laughing; nothing remotely negative. Why the different imagery?

As the discussion continued there were, of course, those who came to the defense of Google. One facebook user wrote, "use the proper term and you'll get the proper results."  It seems when 'three African American teenagers' is searched the images are more positive, and by positive I mean the photos are of staged models. Let's be very clear, regardless of referring to the teens as Black or African-American, there is no difference or distinction, and to present two clearly different portraits for one race is racist on Google's part.

My mission became clear, obviously more had to be done besides a Facebook discussion and the first step was to call bring the discrepancy to Google's attention. I reached out on the company's official Facebook page but have yet to receive a response.

With no help from Google, I decided that the best place to find the answers to my questions was the company website. So I asked, "how does google determine what image to pull up?" It's an interesting, and short video. but here's a brief synopsis:
Google searches over 60 Trillion individual pages, where after going from page to page, they sort the material by content and "other factors' and keep it all inside The Index. Using programs and formulas to deliver the "best results possible" and algorithms to "better understand" what the user means, these clues helps to pull "relevant documents" from The Index. Google uses over 200 factors to rank the results, which are delivered in a variety of formats. Maintaining that the company fights spam 24/7 to "keep results relevant" if any spam is found manual action is taken. "And that's how search works." To watch the video visit: https://www.google.com/insidesearch/howsearchworks/thestory/

So out of 60 Trillion pages of material the best, relevant results of 'three black teenagers' are a plethora of mugshots? Not to mention there's even a noose if you scroll down past the third row of images, but that's an even bigger issue. Confused? Angered? Me too.
Google has been given the chance to respond and has yet to do so. It's time for our voices to be heard. In the past few days, the conversation has moved from Facebook to different platforms with even a youtube video being made on the topic. Google has still yet to respond, but to be honest we don't need one. What we need is for them to correct this error and acknowledge they made it, but at the end of the day you have to determine for yourself if Google is racist.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

To Kill An Insect

What's the value of an insect's life these days?
So shortly numbered, and unappreciated,
Yet overly publicized and criticized
By unsympathetic bodies and eyes
That take pride in declaring,
There is no place, here, for an insect. (SMACK)

Who would have ever thought that an insect,
So black, so small, so insignificant
Could cause such an uproar with its intruding presence.
Uninvited, and feared
Why kill an insect? (STOMP)

Is it in spite of the insect's resilience?
Conquering farms and dunghills with pride.
Or leisurely boredom that leads to deciding
There's no meaning to the life of an insect? (CLAP)

Still, insects continue to strive
Only in the end to be recognized
By unsympathetic bodies and eyes
Declaring there is no place, here, for an insect. (SMASH)


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Power Struggle

There's something about the warm comfort of well structured, gripping walls
That won't allow a man to say no.
Who could deny the requests of such pleasure?
Surely the payoff would be worth it...so he agrees,
All the while losing himself, little by little.

You see the deeper he dives into crevices,
Battling waves of wetness,
Searching for buried treasure,
He knows that the heart he desires will never belong to him.
The further he proceeds the more his vision blurs, but he can't turn back.
Such pleasure has to be worth the fight.

There's something about the warm comfort of well structured, gripping walls
That won't allow a man to say no.
He holds it tightly and cherishes it deeply,
But it kills him to know that it will never be love.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Ratchet Woman: America's New Comedic Symbol



It’s no secret that in the African American community women are placed on a pedestal, or at least once upon a time they were. Insert rap music and reality television and women have suddenly been demoted to “B****’s,” “hoes” and “thots.” As a fan of rap I give a certain pass to lyrics as it’s almost become mandatory to defame women in music, but recently it seems that the disrespect has reached more disturbing heights. Sure the rappers who promote such language are AA themselves but think about the label owners and stockholders; white men and women who make a profit from the defilement of AA women. Once the last remaining figure of hope for the AA community, this image has continuously been diminished and tarnished with only a comedic symbol remaining. In order to reclaim the prestige and once again become a strong symbol within the African American community, the community itself has to examine the portrayals that have somewhat become the “token” of African American female representation.

The world of reality TV aims to show authentic sides and lives of characters, but as with all things on television nothing presented is authentic; especially when it comes to African American women. As I’m sure there are plenty of earlier examples of the diminishing respect for AA women, however my earliest memory begins with the first season of the VH1 reality series Flavor of Love; a show where black women (the majority), were pitted against one another for the affection of a man; and by pitted I mean fist fight, bitch slap, and be spit upon. This group of women were the first of the new millennium to showcase the decline of the AA woman. While the masses laughed, AA women and girls received brainwashing that this type of behavior was not only acceptable but normal. Keeping in mind that all of the contestants on the show were aspiring models, actresses or singers, it’s easy to notice the lack of authenticity within the show, but the effects are long-lasting. For evidence log onto Youtube, use the correct choice words for searching and allow the disturbing truth to sink in.

Moving on from career hopefuls, the media focused on yet another subset of AA imagery, with Bravo’s third installment of the Real Housewives franchise, which to me only projected the imagery that AA women don’t need a male to influence animosity towards one another, but can fight over anything. The Real Housewives of Atlanta has been the most successful installment of the franchise and of the Bravo network, which is not surprising at all being that 90% of the cast are AA women. One step above the Flavor of Love hopefuls, this group of women claims to fame came through the presence of the man/men in their lives. At the beginning of the series, no one on the cast is “employed” or has a career of her own. Instead, they have achieved their “status” through marriage. One does not have to imagine the negative effect this placed on AA women and girls, the results are evident by the lack of focus on education and rise in aspirations to one day marry a musician, athlete, or any man with enough money to make her life as comfortable as possible.
In hindsight, these shows haven’t been all negative. While the rest of the world laughed, large portions of AA women became angry. Instead of standing by while the media continued to destroy their image, women grouped together to ensure that their voices were heard. Their anger reached it's peaked when AA women banded together to demand the cancelation of VH1 series, Basketball Wives.
 Following in the shadow of Bravo, VH1 once again used reality TV to portray a negative image of AA women. The show Basketball Wives was a paradox from the beginning being that a large percentage of the cast weren’t actually married. They were instead the baby mothers, girlfriends, or exes of players, with one thing in common; they were black women willing to be exploited. A success from its beginning Basketball Wives had it all: hair pulling, drink slinging, booty shaking, fist fighting and more. Despite major protest, VH1 has yet decided to cancel the series—but why would they? I’m sure we all know what type of person makes the final call. It can’t be a coincidence that shows such as these continue to follow the same suit. 
The media and society have always been set against the African American male; media portrayals and music does enough alone to obviously discredit and discourage AA men, that it goes without saying. The African American woman, however, remained a prominent figure in African American homes for years; symbols of strength and perseverance. Of course, the media can’t have impressionable girls gaining self-esteem and respect for themselves, so they place the most deleterious, toxic images they can find  on television, (in many communities the babysitter). Young girls grow up thinking that it’s okay to emulate such behavior and future generations will only think that it’s natural to behave in such ways.
You may not have noticed the correlation between the degrading of African American women for the amusement of white audiences, but it’s happening with alarming results. Next time you tune in and laugh at the buffoonery think about that there is someone profiting from this exploitation, and all the while the image of the African-American woman continues to erode. At the end of the day who is really getting the last laugh?