A freestyle rhyme on #timesup, #blacklivesmatter, #metoo, water, and more!

The learning burn

Preserve flows like an urn

Other folks had their shot, it’s my turn

Classic Mobb Deep, my mob deep and we creep

Straight from the streets of the hood in Southeast

DC, home of the sloppy dreams

Where the words “#allcaps” don’t represent a hockey team

Grand Washington Wizard occupies 16

Still rock the name of a racist football team

Jockey dreams, trap brothers and broke teens

Gentrification, still killin’ dreams

Triple beam pay like $1.15

Freakonomic ebonic brother, the flow’s clean

Can’t say the same for water up in Flint, MI

Where government intentionally watched folks die

Drank ‘em to death, whole towns nothin’ left

Glad they changed the gov cause homey was tone def

Speakin’ of dyin’, dunno why they keep lyin’

Shootin’ our brothers down unarmed too many cryin’

And sisters too, get it as bad as we do

For every Sandra bland that never made the news

Yo we got you too, never forget you

Cause #blacklivesmatter #timesup #metoo

And forget Cosby, watchin’ him was my hobby

But when you disrespect a woman you get kicked out the lobby

Or get bodied, we gotta have higher standards

Let me make it clear so you overstand, word

Ya heard, lyrically I’m flippin’ birds

To anyone defendin’ rapists and drugging herbs

Cosby, Weinstein, Kevin Spacey yo

Shout out to Tarana and Lupita Nyong’o

And all those who found the courage to come forward

And other silent victims still looking for words

I’m bringin’ havoc, I told y’all it’s the learnin’

I’m a standup for anybody out their yearnin’

For a day when we don’t care for what a predator’s earnin’

And care more for the victims still cryin’ and hurtin’

So if you’re heart lurkin’ and somehow stopped workin’

Hear my now and help us all stop the burnin’

Yeah it burns deep when the world don’t believe you

And money makin’ media keep wantin’ to deceive you

They just care about ratings and clicks, what up Moonves

Bout to make a midnight run but I ain’t Nunes

More like Fabian or Ocasio-Cortes

New voice need no roscoe to rock flows breth-

-ren, I go hard like Bushmaster

I’m a hard man fi dead you gon’ feel the rapture

Wildfires, floods, crazy natural disasters

Like the world’s comin’ to an end but it don’t have ta

If we show the world good sermons don’t preach ’em

If each one grab one and just teach ‘em

We’ll see how quick the tide can suddenly turn

Like switching the learning burn to the burning learn

It’s OD, don’t act like you don’t know me,

Next prodigy on the flow the one and only

I’m an upstander, I will never stand by

Think you can shut the people down don’t even try

Bye!

 

7 Steps To Raising Confident Black Children

Acclaimed lawyer and talk show host Laura Coates touched all of our hearts with her frustrations over raising her children to be proud of their blackness. Before she even broke into tears, I was right there with her. My wife Kendra and I are raising 3 children; 12 and 10-year-old daughters and a 3-year-old son. From school choice and television intake to food choices and music consumption, we have had a several experiences of successes and missteps that I feel may help parents raise confident black children in this new millennium. I hope you find them instructive. 

  1. Curate their music

When I was an elementary school teacher, I became increasingly frustrated with parents who would drop their children off with the vilest songs playing in their car , and unedited on top of that. I am also a rapper and spoken word artist. Hip-hop is the soundtrack of my life. With that said, I cannot imagine letting my children listen to songs, hip-hop or otherwise, that have vulgarity. My children listen to songs from Kendrick Lamar & JAY Z to Taylor Swift & Lou (French teen pop artist) but they are songs we choose for them that are positive and contain no vulgarity. Kendra & I introduce new music to them.

I am not naïve. I know that at 12 and 10, our daughters are hearing other music from their friends but since they have been fortified with positive songs or even just fun dance songs, they actually find the more vulgar songs to be offensive and degrading. If we started them off with all the music out there that I listen to as an adult, we would be raising them to think it’s OK to use that vulgar language or see themselves as bitches and that was unacceptable for us. So yes parents, this may mean you’re playing Biggie’s “The 10 Crack Commandments” on the way to get your kids but switching to Elmo’s alphabet song or something from Alicia Keys when they get in the car!

  1. Curate their television

One of several mistakes we made with my daughters is allowing them to watch all the Disney films with white princess and other television shows without context. It was easy for my daughter when she was 2 to say she’s not a princess because all she saw was not only white princesses on television (pre Princess & The Frog) but white princesses with the purest of names to highlight their beauty such asSnow White, Belle (“beautiful” in French), Sleeping Beauty, and so on. When we started to “go in” on reprogramming, we let our kids watch all of the same shows but asked them questions like “Why don’t you see any black people?” or “Why are the black men acting like idiots?” Other questions included “Why are there no black fathers in this show?” and “Why are the blonde-haired women always silly?” This helped our daughters develop critical thinking skills and now, they tell us about the problems in the shows they see without our even asking.

In addition to using television to build their critical thinking skills, we did the extra work needed to bring black cartoons into the home such as Teddy P. Brainsand The Adventures of Brer Rabbit. Since Princess & The Frog, there have been many other television shows and movies portraying black people positively such as KC Undercoverand The Black Panther. I speak to those shows particularly because they show women in roles of strength as opposed to a male-dependent princess and there is a presence of fathers. Again, you have to be intentional about doing this work. My oldest daughter now calls us Queen Mother & Baba and is obsessed with Wakanda because she grew up seeing her identity as an African American celebrated in our household and then it was validated on the big screen. This also helps them being in majority white schools all of their lives. They feel validated in who they are. We intentionally sent them to private, majority white schools because we wanted them to be confident at a young age that they could compete with people of every background, but we make sure we takethem to school before they goto school by making sure they know their culture!

  1. Be intentional with your language

This is adjacent to music point. Our children are going to think they are what societies tell them they are and that includes you. If you are using terms like “nigga” or “bitch” all the time, and even calling our children these terms and others, your children will become what they think wethink they are. We live in a society that actively works to denigrate our children every single day. Why have them experience the same thing at home? Our children need to see their parents in healthy relationships. They need to be able to see their parents argue without condescending and demeaning each other. If they see or hear you refer to each other in demeaning ways or even witness physical abuse, they may internalize this in their own relationships

  1. Give them names that mean something

This is not a Bill Cosby rant about made up names. Never that. What I am suggesting is that whatever name you give your children, make sure it is grounded in something. Whether it’s an African name like Lumumba, naming your child Katherine after NASA’s Katherine Johnson, or naming your child Laquita after your grandmother, make sure your children know something positive about the history of their names. My seventh grade year was a turning point for me. I was depressed and suicidal. The main thing that turned me around was finally listening to all of the stories about black history that my parents were trying to teach me. It made me not want to embarrass my ancestors. Once I understood the origins of my name and learned my history, my entire trajectory changed. 

The same school I was held back in in the seventh grade was the same school I graduated from as a member of the National Honor Society once I knew my history. Knowing my history gave me something to be grounded in while living in a society that told me I was less than white people. The names our children are given should be the starting point of that journey towards positive self-esteem. If we do not start them with a positive conception of self, how can we expect anyone else to?

  1. Create a strong diet

To the best of your ability, introduce healthy foods and water to your children. I understand that some of us live in food desserts where healthy foods are hard to find or food swamps where junk food is abundant. That may mean that you may need to grocery shop in the places you work if the food options are better. If we are serious about building community and one person has a car on your block, maybe you can organize trips to the supermarket and cover gas. If you live in an area where this is not a challenge and you still allow your children to consume an unhealthy diet, you have to understand that malnutrition does not only manifest itself physically.

There is a correlation between diet and disciplinary issues in our children today and you need to be mindful of that. If you have a stove and a refrigerator, you can boil your own water like my family did as a child and then chill it. Of course, this does not speak to areas in severe crisis such as Flint, Michigan, but the main point is that we have to use whatever resources possible to aid our children in eating healthy foods. Some of the fast food restaurants in our neighborhoods do indeed have salads as an option, for example, but even still we choose the items that are not beneficial to their overall health. We must do better.

  1. Monitor (or ban outright) social media & Internet usage

I have spoken to thousands of students in America and across the globe. I have spoken in many K-5 schools where students have proudly told me they have Facebook pages! There is nothing positive that can occur from a 10 year old having an unmonitored social media page. Our daughters have friends with social media pages, but they have no interest in having a page at such a young age. Youshould be the one to teach your children how to use social media and the Internet or take them to the library where they can get assistance if you cannot aid them. Lastly, many parents I know do not use kid-friendly versions of search engines like YouTube Kids. Our children are more susceptible to click-bait than we are and so we have to be mindful on how exposed they can be to negative influences online. 

  1. Go beyond Wakanda

The blockbuster movie The Black Pantherimpacted our community in ways that we could not foresee. So many black children were inspired by that movie. When I was a child, we were tormented because of our African identity. Groups like Public Enemy & X Clan made it cool to be African temporarily but African kids (even American born ones like me with no accent) still get tormented just because of our names. The Black Panthermovie opened up an entire new generation to the beauty of the African continent. We as parents cannot let these affects be temporary. Many children have an interest African stories now.

 Currently, my children are watching Dr. Henry Louis Gates’ Africa’s Great Civilizationsdocumentary series on PBS. They are watching it now not as some boring parental assignment. They are seeing themselves in the stories and The Black Panthermovie is part of that. We should not lose the gains from this movie so make sure you are finding as many ways possible to bring their history into their lives. There are many free resources that can be used just from our phones but if we only use our phones for frivolous entertainment and negative news stories, we are losing a vital opportunity to educate our children beyond the school doors.

The time is now!

If you find yourself proficient in most of the seven steps here, pick the one that challenges you the most and work vigorously on making the necessary changes. Our children are worth the effort. All of us will have challenges raising our children as it relates to their positive identity development. In my 12 year old daughter’s summer camp, she said to her classmates “My name is Ngolela. To call me anything different will be disrespectful.” I do not know what the future holds, but today she is grounded in her identity. At that age, I let everyone disrespect my history and call me “O” just so I can fit in and my performance in school and society overall reflected that. I was lost and acted accordingly. We need to teach our children that they were never meant to blend in. They are meant to stand out. We have to be intentional in our efforts to keep them grounded in their culture so that they can grow up knowing that they were validated at birth. If we can do that for our children, that will be more valuable than anything we could physically leave to them. Godspeed.

The Problem With White Allies And Anti-Racist Education

I have worked in the field of cultural competency, diversity education, and teaching black & brown boys for decades. Every seven years or so, there is new terminology that develops that seeks to better encapsulate the work that so many of us are passionately engaged in on a daily basis. From cultural competency and culturally relevant education to inclusive curriculum and implicit bias, we find ourselves regularly creating new terms that best represent what we do. This is also the case in other spaces such as the corporate, government, and entertainment worlds. Two terms that have gained steam in recent years are “white allies” and “anti-racist education.” While I have used the term “anti-racist” education as recently as this year, I have never felt comfortable with the term and something never rubbed me the right way about the term “white allies” so I will start there.

The term “white allies” has come to define the need for white people to speak up more and directly challenge the racism that exists in America that is specifically expressed by other white people. There is this philosophy that some white people only will receive words that can change their racist views from other white people. I have never believed that but the bigger issue is that the way we insist on the need for “White allies” comes off as if we’re begging for a savior and this is problematic for several reasons, which can indirectly reinforce notions of white supremacy. As Derrick Bell said: “Our actions are not likely to lead to transcendent change and may indeed, despite our best efforts, be of more help to the system we despise than to the victims of that system whom we are trying to help.” To counter this, we should heed the words of Dr. Maya Angelou.

Dr. Angelou is quoted as saying “I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me.” To me, this quotation means that the mentalities of the “ally” creates a belief that white people are somehow above black people and need to descend down from some perch to help us. White people should be actively engaged in finding an end to racism and white supremacy because their fellow human beings are suffering. An “ally” is almost like a sports fan. An ally can come to the “game” so to speak, cheer on the people on the court (black & brown folks) and then go home until they’re called on again. I know this is an over simplification but the main point is that I am seeing a certain level of arrogance developing in the “white ally” movement that is frustrating. I, for example, am not gay but I am not going to call myself an ally to the LGBTQIA community because people in the LGBTQIA are my human brothers and sisters. I’m not going to go somewhere, challenge some people, and then go home to watch my favorite tv show (with possible anti-gay themes but that’s a story for another day). I am actively engaged in the struggle for LGBTQIA rights because it’s the human thing to do, not because “they” need me. The terminology must change, which leads me to anti-racism.

The University of Calgary defines anti-racism as “the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.” There are other working definitions but I will use for now. I am committed to doing this and that will never change. The words of Mother Theresa, however, ring in my head whenever I hear this terms. Mother Theresa said she would never attend an anti-war rally, only a pro-peace rally. This is extremely important in the era of President Donald Trump. Everyone is caught up in what they are against that we often forget what we are fighting for. Language matters. I now believe in using terms such as “pro-equity” or “pro-equality” education. Again, this may seem like semantics to some but there is serious energy in the language we use and the intentionality of our work.

Several of my colleagues find themselves getting fatigued and frustrated in our line of work. I include myself on that list. Sometimes we are so caught up in the negative that our work risks getting compromised. In order to keep ourselves motivated and focused we need to change our language. We need to refocus our efforts and our energy because there is only going to be more work to do. Human beings working for equity and equality for all is much more powerful than the need for white allies to help with anti-racist education. We need all hands on deck in this movement but we need all hands in, not handouts.

 

We must stop using the term “Hotep Brother”

Over the years, I have constantly heard people in the black community use the term “Hotep brother.” It has permeated our music, literature, television shows, and more. There are several definitions of this term, but I think Damon Young captures it best in his article on The Root. He states that signs of Hotep brothers include:

  1. a steadfast belief in illogical conspiracy theories
  2. an arrogant adherence to respectability politics
  3. sexism and homophobia that vacillate from “thinly veiled” to “If being gay is natural, how come there ain’t any gay elephants?”
  4. unbowed and uncompromising support for any black man accused of any wrongdoing, even if said man’s guilt is clear
  5. ashy ankles

While some of these ideas may be meant to be tongue and cheek, the overarching idea is that there are brothers and sisters (especially brothers) in our community who could be considered “trifling” (sneaky, shady, insignificant, etc.). There is an inherent danger in using the term “Hotep brother” as a derogatory term.  The problem is that I couple this term with another term that has made its way into the American lexicon—ISIS.

If you google “ISIS”, 99% of hits on the first page will tell you that ISIS is a terrorist group meaning Islamic State In Syria as well as Iraq. In other countries, the term Da’ish or Daeshis used to refer to ISIS in other countries but ISIS has taken hold in America. Chances are you probably have casually used the term ISIS in casual conversations about terrorism but why is this is a problem for black America?

Imhotep was an ancient Egyptian deified polymath or a person with wide ranging knowledge. He was a poet, judge,engineer, scribe,astronomer,astrologer,and a physician. Isis was an Egyptian goddess and part of the original holy trinity along with her husband Osiris and son Horus. In short, these are two of the most powerful symbols that we as black people have tracing back to the earliest days of civilization and we allow these terms to be used negatively.

Between “Hotep brother”, ISIS, “nigga”, “bitch” and several other terms that fall in between, we should not be using terms that refer to our ancestors as demeaning and degrading terms. In the era we live in today, we are having several conversations about our direction. We are looking at ways to become more active in the political process, take control of our education like LeBron James and others, create and support more black businesses, and so much more. Part of our conversation about nation building has to focus on not using language that degrades us or our history.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen parodies of Harriet Tubman having sex with her slave master, our first African American President and First Lady of The United States be portrayed as monkeys and terrorists, history books being re-written to reflect Slavery as a system for voluntary migrant workers, unarmed members of our community being slain by law enforcement and then their character further slain in the media, people calling the police on us for just living #whileblack, and so much more. We are in a continued battle in this country to preserve our history and culture. We have to be more intentional about the language we use towards each other. We can challenge the members of our community whom we do not feel bring out our best without degrading our ancestors and the few symbols that have stood the test of time. We can and must do better if we are serious about nation building.

Take control of your future!

I read a quotation that you cannot control what happened in the past, but you can control the future. I would say at the very least you can planfor the future. What happens in the past is over. As Willie Jolley said, use your past as a place of reference, not a place of residence. Don’t get stuck in the past. Whether it was negative or positive, use it to fortify you and motivate you to go forward. As you plot out what you’re going to be working on for tomorrow, remember your car has a bigger windshield in a smaller rear view mirror so you can spend more time looking forward and less time looking backwards.

So today, start thinking of how you can have a forward vision and an idea that’s going to propel you into the future as opposed to a practice that’s going to keep you in the past. You weren’t meant to stay there. Go forward because that’s where your greatness lies. Use your past as a place where you can learn from what happened so you could have a stronger future going forward and start today. You’re worth it!

If you want to watch video of this, please visit my YouTube channel.

Take control of your diet!

Let’s talk about that diet family! Some people say, you are what you eat or you eat what you are. Look, track star Carl Lewis said you cannot outrun your diet. You have to remember that we can work out and do all the things that want to do in terms of getting in shape, but if we don’t incorporate the diet, we’re really wasting our time and we’re not going to get the gains that we really want to see, especially as we age. Exercise is important, sleep is also important, but the diet is as well.

So today start looking at maybe drinking one extra glass of water a day, getting more fruit, one extra piece of a vegetable of some sort. Maybe deciding that if you can’t pronounce the ingredients on something you’re eating, then you shouldn’t be eating it. Maybe look at how to get rid of the artificial colors that are in your diet. Everybody can do something, but it has to become a daily habit. It took a while for us to build up that diet that might be unhealthy. It’s going to take time to get it where we want to be, but you are worth it. So today, work on that diet to get to the shape and the mentality you want to have! Peace!

If you want to see a video of this book, check out my YouTube page.

7 Steps to Reduce Work Stress

According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS), “job stress is far and away the major source of stress for American adults and…it has escalated progressively over the past few decades.” Despite all of the technological advances that were supposed to make life and work easier, we as a society find ourselves more burnt out than less. AIS states that the top four stress related issues are workload (46%), “people” issues (28%), juggling work/personal lives (20%), and lack of job security at (6%).

Work stress has been linked to everything from emotional disorders to heart attacks so it is imperative that you do everything possible to achieve the work-life balance that can lead to as little stress as possible. Below are 7 steps you can implement (some immediately) to reduce your own workload stress.

  1. Choose your work associates wisely.

Like attracts like! If you surround yourself with people at work who are constantly negative and complaining, you will become that person as well and by default become more stressed. It is amazing how in the very same job, one can find people experiencing near heart attack level stress while others have never been happier. Sometimes it is related to the company you keep. Make a list of your top 3 associates at work. Are they bringing you up or brining you down? Are YOU bringing them up or bringing them down? Surround yourself with people who are positive and enthused about work and it will rub off on you.

  1. Make a workout routine and stick to it.

You are the number one person responsible for your health. Regular exercise can help you deal with work related stress. Commit to working out at least 30 minutes a day. While at work, engage in activities that keep your body active such as taking the stairs instead of elevators, sitting on a Swiss ball instead of an office chair to better stabilize your core, utilizing chair stretching routines, and walk outside during lunch time. Too many of us have jobs that are extremely sedentary but if you happen to have that type of job, you can still find ways to move.

  1. Pack your lunch!

Bringing your own lunch will prevent you from spending money on junk food every day, which you’re more likely to do if you’re stressed at work. Too many of us are stress eaters. At the very least, you want the foods you stress eat to be healthy. The more healthy food you can bring from home, including snacks to keep at your desk, the less likely you will be to consume food that is not healthy for you. Also remember to drink more water! The water cooler should not just be a place for gossiping. Drink the water!

4.  Leave work AT work!

Do your best to not put yourself in a position where you are always available via text messages or emails by your supervisors. Your time after work should be YOUR time! Some of us get excited to have a nice work phone that makes us look more important. The problem is that doubling the number of phones you have can double your stress. Some of us also work in jobs where we work with people overseas, which can also lead to constant interaction with your job at all hours of the day. Set proper boundaries so you are not, in essence, “on call” 24/7.

  1. Keep work at work.

This is a little different from #5. Do not go home talking negatively about work and obsessing over things you cannot control. Use home to reconnect with family or engage in other hobbies like reading, exercise, and sleeping. We are not getting enough sleep in our society and adequate sleep is a major part of stress reduction. Also institute rules at home like “No tech at the table” so family meal times can be devoted to conversation or maybe journaling if you live alone and want to enjoy quiet time. You have to be proactive in putting your tech to the side so you can focus on getting back in touch with yourself.

  1. Seek out mentors.

If you really want to advance at your job, finding a mentor can prevent you from reinventing the wheel. Find someone at your job who can show you the ups and downs of the job. I have spoken to so many workers who had an “If I only knew then what I know now…” mentality. You can reduce a great deal of stress by learning from people who came before you. Do not expect people to volunteer to mentor you. You have to actually ask someone.

  1. Keep building on your skills.

The economy and skills that are valued are always changing. Always look for opportunities for growth. Take additional courses, read more books, look for other certifications that can help you advance. Watch more instructional YouTube videos instead of music videos and sports stories (unless they’re related to work). If you can show that you are committed to actual growth, you are going to gain more attention from the powers that be. Too many times people complain about their position at their job but are not doing anything to advance themselves. Do not fall into that trap!

At the end of the day, your happiness matters. To the best of your ability, find jobs that you are passionate about. As Zig Ziglar said, you career is what you’re paid for and your calling is what you’re made for. If you have not yet found that job you are passionate, at least put yourself in environments where you are celebrated and not tolerated, as Les Brown advises. Also consider starting your own business since many of us are building up the bottom line for our bosses while our own lines are bottoming out. You deserve the best and that requires dealing with as little stress as possible. Work should be a daring adventure, not a place of endless anger, frustration, boredom, and anxiety. You have the power to make it happen. Get to WORK!

March For Our Lives

You can listen and download the song for free here:

We’re the leaders of today and the leaders of tomorrow
Tired of the deaths, funerals, and sorrow
We’re takin’ a stand so you understand
We’re marchin for our lives and the future of our land

Time to march for our lives time to march for our lives
We wised up on the NRA and politician lies
We despise the compromise with our politicians
And a lobby meant to fill the streets with more ammunition
We ain’t askin’ permission now it’s time that you listen
To the ghosts of Parkland it’s for them that we’re livin’
For the kids of Newtown who are shinin’ in heaven
For the kids of Columbine who are no longer present
For the kids in every hood caught up in the crossfire
Innocent bystanders hit by rapid fire
For the kids at Pulse who no longer have a pulse
Guns don’t kill people…we know that’s false
So hey hey…NRA,
How many kids did you kill today?
How many young kids gotta make wills today?
How many coffins will we fill today?

We’re the leaders of today and the leaders of tomorrow
Tired of the deaths, funerals, and sorrow
We’re takin a stand so you understand
We’re marchin’ for our lives and the future of our land

Armin’ teachers? That just leads to more preachers
Providing eulogies for kids who will never reach a
Higher plateau these ideas gotta go
Will teachers need body cameras too? No!
So we gonna keep walkin out, we in control
You can suspend us from school but can’t suspend our soul
Give us detention but you can’t detain our role
In creating change startin with more gun control
You’ve been put on notice take this song and quote this
Too many lost souls they’re the ones who wrote this
We’ll vote you out of office if you don’t switch focus
And that goes for all a y’all even you too POTUS
The future is in our hands so you best understand
It’s a united front gonna save this land
If the people lead we know the leaders will follow
Our march to the future for a better tomorrow

We’re the leaders of today leaders of tomorrow
Tired of the deaths, funerals, and sorrow
We’re takin a stand so you understand
We’re marchin’ for our lives and the future of our land

A Motivational Speaker’s Take on White Supremacists

            Motivational speakers are supposed to be objective. We are supposed to speak about how there is always a window opening when a door closes. We are supposed to speak matter-of-factly that life doesn’t care about our excuses, only our results. We are expected to be apolitical and focus on the bright side no matter what. While I have been proud to call myself a motivational speaker, I was an activist and an upstander before I was anything else. Whether I am motivating, teaching, or rapping, fighting for social change will always be at the root of what I do.

When I see our nation facing increasing hostilities from white supremacists who blame others for their own station in life, I am obligated to speak. To that end, I would like to share some words that I hope will inspire these individuals to see the real problem that is facing their advancement—themselves. There are certain motivational principles we speakers share that in the end, will help these individuals take control of their lives and stop attempting to destroy the lives of others, if they have the will to do so.

  1. “When you point a finger at someone else, there are three pointing back at you.”

Les Brown once said that life doesn’t care about your excuses, only your results. While you attack immigrants for taking your jobs (they’re not), DACA students who became valedictorian over your child, or grab your TIKI torches, the question you should be asking is what have you done to improve your life in the last few years? Have you signed up for any certifications? Have you decided to go back to school? Learn a trade? Learn a language? It is impossible to look at yourself and take personal responsibility when you spend so much time looking down on others. As we say in the ‘hood, do YOU! Part of the reason hatred is so strong towards others is because it is partially rooted in envy.

  1. “A negative mind will never give you a positive life.”

You will be whatever consumes you. If you are consumed by hate and ignorance toward someone else, that feeling will eat you alive. When the late South African President Nelson Mandela was released from prison after 27 years, one of the first stops he made was to the home of his prison guards to show that he forgave them. The hate you give others could be a manifestation of some form of contempt for yourself. How much time is spent thinking positively about your future as opposed to practicing evil against others? Your hatred towards others is literally preventing you from forging a path that could change the course of your life. Once you run out of people to hate and attack, you’ll have no one else to judge but yourself. Self-reflection is harder than negative outward projection but in the end it’s worth it.

  1. “Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.”

These powerful words spoken by Carol Burnet should be your mantra. There is no cavalry coming for you. No matter how much ignorance you express online or in real life, you still have to look at yourself in the mirror and do something with your life. Someone once said to pray as if it all depends on God but act is if it all depends on you. What is one thing you did today that helped advance in your own life, build on your knowledge, or improve yourself professionally? If your answer is “nothing” than you have no one to be upset with but yourself. If every person whom you hold in contempt disappeared today, it still would do nothing to improve your chances of success if you have done nothing to improve your chances for success.

In closing, it is important to remember that whiteness is a construct, designed to ascribe a certain set of privileges to white people that they neither earned nor had to compete for. As the country has become browner and a bigger part of the global community, there is no way to avoid competition from others. Extremism is on the rise in America in part because of a perceived threat of the “other” coming to take jobs and other opportunities from white people. In 2017, most of the acts of terrorism committed on American soil were committed by white men, emboldened by an administration that has members with their own history of racism, including President Trump himself. If the same anger was focused on looking inward instead of acting out, these individuals may learn that there is indeed a better future for them if they are willing to do the work to prepare for it.

Is Leadership In YOU? (a poem)

The chosen few are the few who chose

To step up and open doors tightly closed

So you call yourself a leader, but what does that mean?

Getting green, turning green, badly running your team?

Sadly killing the dreams of a hopeful teen?

Madly willing your ideas, not even listening?

Does it mean you celebrate on election day

Because you can add your new position to your resume?

Can you handle criticism when your peers dis’ you?

Because you don’t care about theirs but only your issue?

Pass the tissue, makes me sad how some leaders let

Power get to their head, constituents they forget

You’re just a leader in name if you’re just searching for fame

For acclaim, it’s a shame why some get in the game

Leadership ain’t for the lame, don’t take it in vain

Time to rethink your position, understand why you came

You see a leader’s someone who listens firsts then speaks

Someone focused on being the change we seek

Leaders understand they represent all people

Don’t do that your leadership will never have a sequel

Do you seek to understand before being understood?

Do you take time to visit other neighborhoods?

We need real leaders to step up to the plate

To take a swing at racism other types of hate

To stomp out bullying, help end genocide

Do your best to help others hold their heads with pride

A leader builds a team, can’t do it all by yourself

And a leader remembers to practice good health

Because you’re no good to others if you’re no good to you

So let me ask you again, is leadership in you?