FOR THE BROTHAS: AN INTRODUCTION
It must have been about 20 years ago when I first began thinking about creating a "Cultural Salon" as a reaction to the mundane social circles In Washington D.C. The richness of intellectual and artistic interchange had died, college friends had moved, the internet had not yet become the phenomenon it now is... I romanticised about the Salons of the mid to late 1800's in Paris, London and Berlin and the cultural dynamo of the Harlem Rennaisance. I was fortunate enough to meet a gentleman, an artist who lived and traveled with James Baldwin... Jimmy he affectionately called him, and he spoke often of their small cottage in southern France and of the many Artists, Poets and Luminaries that dropped in to chat and relax. Well, the impressionists, cubists, modernists, etc. all hung out together famously in those days and shared their ideas with one another creating a creative greenhouse in a world that was rapidly changing. I longed to have lived in those times, to have met Cassat, Rodin, Ellington, Fitzgerald, Baker, Balwin, well I did finally meet Baldwin and others purely for the joy of intellection upon the arts. This was in the late 1980's and by the mid 2000's I happened to run into a friend of mine from Hampton University who had been living in New York since he graduated in the early 90s. Well, I was surprised to hear him comment that in all of the wonder that is New York he never met anyone who ever really had anything interesting to say about art, literature, architecture, science, fashion or anything... I was so surprised to hear this since it had also been my experience. Well here I am in 2011 attempting the Virtual Salon...
Monday, April 27, 2015
POLICE VIOLENCE CAN BE ENDED BY DOCUMENTING THEIR EVERY MOVE, A COSTLY BUT NECESSARY DUTY OF CIVIC VIGILANCE
THE CIVIC VIRTUE OF VIGILANCE
Is it our civic responsibility to speak up when we witness crime and injustice? Even if we cannot physically intervene when we witness wrongdoing are we not bound by virtue of the loftiest principles of humanitarianism to speak up, speak out either directly or anonymously? If we fail to act after seeing evil prevail does our apathy reinforce the right of others to do evil? Do we have a right to expect renumeration in any way other than apathy when we become the victim of injustice?
Anyone who lives in a major urban area where there is a large subway or airport is familiar with the ubiquitous public announcement encouraging the masses to “Say Something” if they’ve witnessed a crime or potential terrorist activity. An appeal is being made to our moral and ethical constitution that assumes we are fundamentally responsibility to take positive action whenever we see that an injustice has been or may be done. In a truly democratic society focused on protecting the individual and collective welfare of its citizens this philosophy totally works.
Let us then ask ourselves if we live in such a society? The theory of collective responsibility assumes that we have each other’s back and can therefore expect a return on the support that we give to the unified team. But in a country where there are historically opposed teams the level of return is directly proportional to the sophistication of resources each team can draw from. Teams with the best resources can expect the best response and outcomes while everyone else… well… we all know how that cookie crumbles. Teams or should I say communities having little or no resources can only expect a proportionally small response and outcome to injustice. When we factor in racism as a variable the squeakiness of the wheel really has no relevance at all for the disadvantaged community reaching out for assistance because it is strategically, structurally cut off from political and economic power. Obviously the primary reason these communities are disadvantaged in the first place is because they have no political or economic power therefore if they are to survive they must manufacture their own power in creative ways that will make them unavoidable and formidable. The philosophy and practice of being thy brother’s keeper has selectively been denied black American men in America and they have been excluded from the decision making sectors of our government and private industry. Outside of the angry rantings of urban rap and hip-hop black men in this country have no voice of power. America has cultivated a blind-eye when it comes to the protection of the rights, and well-being of black men allowing its citizens to witness all manner of social atrocities being committed against them without indulging them to “Say Something”, do something or change anything that would deviate from the historic path of oppression and indifference. Culturally this problem plays itself out like a broken record numbing everyone to the tune without ever making an attempt to get a fresh record and needle or even a new machine. It is quite clear that American culture does not care about the welfare of black men and has set aside vast prisons as a strategic reservoir for locking them out of its consciousness. Over the past few years while social atrocities have continued to be committed against men of color there have been no public service announcements to proclaim the intrinsic ethical and moral responsibility of American citizens to speak up and intervene whenever they see a black American man being publicly lynched or murdered by the police or even worse by random vigilantes. This is due cause to ask ourselves if there is any difference between the deliberate assassination of black American men by police and the potential of some random act of violence perpetrated against humanity by an unknown terrorist? The obvious conclusion is that the police are actually the terrorists, their violent acts the primary threats of terrorism that Americans should report as suspicious and malefactious. Only by virtue of some mesmerizing hypnotism has the media successfully brainwashed the American people into ignoring what the rest of the world sees as the cold blooded murder of black men. The sport of lynching black men is still the national pastime; it is the official national sport after over 300 years! Publicly condoned atrocities against black men, their families and community go back hundreds of years in this country setting a legal and social precedent for what can only be viewed as a specialized genre of racial terrorism. So while the media broadcasts programming designed to make Americans tremble and cower in their couches, on planes, trains, buses, in automobiles and places of public assembly in fear of foreign terrorists plotting to bomb, shoot, main, behead and destroy America another silent terrorist attack is being inflicted on black men in America. America must decide which terrorist group it needs to fight first, the internal terrorists that continue a racial war on black men in America dividing this country or foreign terrorists who will use the racial division in this country to undermine the whole. The internal terrorism is not proclaimed as a threat to the American people, it has been kept silent, like a covert military operation at least until recently with the advent of global social media where its grisly images have outraged the world. As the murders and images keep coming forth it becomes all too clear that the power structures represented by the Justice Department and the local jurisdictions where these civil rights atrocities occur do not have the best interest of the black man or his community at heart. Where then does the black community turn for support? What should the black community do in reaction to the unrelenting reign of terrorism launched upon it for hundreds of years? There are really only two ways the black community can act and neither of them promise immediate results. The first choice is rioting and violent retaliation which is certainly the least desirable choice and clearly not a viable solution in the long run. The second choice involving the organization and perpetuation of a strong economically and politically leveraged platform is the most viable solution but one that would take considerable time to accomplish. The second choice is an investment that will see fruition in time but it will see countless souls lost through attrition until an economic and politically viable foundation is prepared to carry the weight issues it must combat. As the civil rights violations against black men rise time is a luxury the black community does not have, it must quickly galvanize itself as a comprehensively effective power to counteract what can only be viewed as a flagrant challenge to its very existence by the police and the municipal and private institutions that have historically supported them. So when someone who is not black asks why so many black Americans do not trust the police we can easily answer with, “Just google it baby!” There is a third choice that includes an attempt within the black community to compromise with forces which have historically acted against its best interest. That difficult dialogue has been put off far too long and it must be initiated by a community armed with burgeoning self-empowerment.
Only in the past decade has the camera phone and personal video recorder taken subjective media control out of the hands of the major broadcast industries placing them in the hands of the ordinary citizen. The potential of an individual to refute and reverse racist propaganda that could be interpreted as lies and prejudices actively promoted and perpetuated by a mass media historically insensitive to the community of black Americans is limitless! The assassination of a black man by a police officer in Alabama was instantaneously documented on a private citizen’s cellphone. The cold-blooded murder of a black man incarcerated by Baltimore City police was documented in fragments allowing the police time to administer an organized but impotent non-assassination scheme during an interstitial time after his arrest where objective cameras were not able to document what had transpired. But when a man dies from a severed spine after being detained by the police and the arresting officers say they don’t know how or presumably why he died we have a game of ruthless but primitive wits to expose. On the street there is an old saying used to call out someone who is lying bold-faced in spite of the fact that it is an obvious deception. On the street if someone told me the story that the Baltimore police have told the public I would say, “YOU MUST THINK THAT FAT’S NOT GREASY”. But we all know that fat is greasy, it always has been and it always will be greasy. What racially motivated police terrorists must understand is that black Americans and the American peoples will no longer agree to affect blindness to their terrorism, they will be held accountable for their actions and the tradition of lynching will forcefully end. So we must step back from the Baltimore slaying to contemplate what reality the police who arrested this newest victim of police violence are attempting to sell the world? Are they building a twisted parallel reality theory comparing for example spontaneous human combustion to a self-severed spine? Can anyone really believe that a perfectly healthy man could burst into flame mirroring the Baltimore case where we are led to believe a man’s spine mysteriously severed itself? Can we intuit the “I don’t know” of their testimony serves to answer their own fears and insecurities about why they chose to murder him in cold blood! This case in particular confirms my personal theory that humans are capable of some of the most reprehensible crimes which they will all too easily rationalize away if they are allowed to get away with it. Humanity must make certain these murderers do not get away with their crime! We must hold these and every other murderer accountable…
If permitted police terrorists will continue to defer to a technique where they can administer their cruelty off-scene, away from the scrutiny of ordinary taxpaying citizens. For this reason 100% surveillance is necessary from the time a person is approached even while he is in his cell awaiting trial. If anyone asked me whether the cost to support this level of surveillance was justified I would say certainly, yes. The cost to policemen who fail to produce seamless video documentation of an incarceration gone awry must also be instantaneous and irrevocable conviction. When racist and violent, homicidal police understand they are being watched this kind of violence will stop! It is quite clear that we cannot rely on the integrity of our police forces, they must be watched at all times in order to ensure the safety of every American citizen, it has come this this bleak standoff between the taxpayers and those charged with the lofty task of enforcing and protecting our personal safety. For my part I opine that the police have created conditions that have ultimately come back to haunt them and after hundreds of years the general public is finally paying attention to every breath they take and for good reasons. We are close to the end of an era of police terrorism but it is not over yet. No person and especially no officer charged with the protection of the well-being of citizens is above the law and it is about time that we stopped affording them carte blanche amnesty from evildoing. We must place them under the same microscope that the rest of the American citizenry is placed. Yes it’s about time!
But let me get back to the underlying theme of this article. This essay is an appeal to the individual. It is a proclamation that charges every American citizen with the responsibility to speak up and be held accountable to defend the human/civil rights of everyone around them whoever they might be, regardless of sex, race or ethnicity. Although we may ignore this responsibility apathy will not make it disappear and we all run the risk that our blindness may someday come back to haunt us. I opine that as citizens of the larger collective of humanity it is our incontrovertible duty to be our brother’s keeper. So if we ever witness or suspect any evildoing we are bound by a higher moral and ethical force to take that knowledge to a responsible person or body of authority. I do not believe we have a choice in the matter because it serves to keep in balance that sense of karma in which a deed is exchanged for a deed of equal value. In this we should not be focused on remuneration, we should only be selflessly focused on our ethical and moral responsibility. We as humans are ethically and morally responsible to do whatever is within our power to balance the scale of evil and injustice. We are bound by a soulful covenant with our humanity and with all creation to practise the civil virtue of vigilance taking action against injustice and evil by exposing them in every way we can to end police terrorism freeing up society to pursue the greater good of a unified American people.
WRITTEN BY BIGDADDY BLUES
Saturday, March 14, 2015
HOW TO GO OUT IN STYLE?
ANSWERS TO A SINGLE MAN’S QUESTIONS ABOUT MANAGING HIS ESTATE
Every single mature man has thought about the possibility of his death and has considered what will happen to his belongings at that time. Whether you are a wealthy man with property, stocks and extensive financial and material assets or whether you are like many men with only a few precious assets this debate should be happening. If you are at least in your mid-thirties and up and especially if you are forty or older it is time to make your first will or trust.
There are many reasons why a single mature man needs to look ahead to make plans to manage his care when he becomes ill or to manage his assets at his time of death. As if in ironic contrast to the extended life span of twenty-first century humans the trend has been that many men are dying earlier than ever before due to unexpected health issues. The lightning fast economy in which we live can potentially devastate a man’s assets in less than a months time if he is not well enough to manage them properly. In today’s socially disconnected society the roles of stewardship formerly assumed by a man’s beloved family are no longer set in place. When a bachelor of advanced years becomes ill it may easily be assumed that he may no longer have any family members alive to care for him. Furthermore, there may not be anyone close who is responsible enough to manage his health or financial affairs after he has died. Many single men become overly self-sufficient to a fault, having no plan “B” to fall back on in times of crisis.
There are economical ways to manage one’s health and estate in times of crisis. A more permanent method for dealing with ones asset’s after they have died is by composing a will. A savvier method of managing ones assets while alive extending after one has died would be the establishment of a trust. As with all legal arrangements there will be some cost involved in the creation of a sound will or trust but it is well worth it considering the many frivolous things we expend our financial resources on during our lifetime.
A will is a legal document that outlines how the deceased desires their assets to be distributed after death; it may include instructions regarding the administration of power of attorney in the event the grantor becomes too sick to manage their affairs. One thing every single man should know about a will is that it can be legally contested in a court of law meaning that it might be possible for a relative to maliciously dismantle the well-intended offerings of a man’s last will and testament.
A smarter solution to the management of ones living and dying provisions would be the establishment of a trust. A trust is nothing more than a legal entity, like a business, created to manage a person’s assets while they are alive and after they are deceased. The trust is rock-solid, it cannot be contested or corrupted by any relative or outside entity. The trust is designed to both manage the day to day financial obligations of a man’s estate and his own healthcare in the event that he is rendered incapable of making his own decisions. The trust ensures that bills will continue to be paid and assets will continue to be cared for and maintained during a man’s illness and even after his death if he so desires. Furthermore, it assures that assets he desires to will to others will be properly delivered. A trust will also manage the allowance of monies to friends, relatives and charitable institutions. For a single man who may not have anyone close to manage his affairs a trust is perhaps the best friend he will ever make.
One of the strongest arguments for gay marriage came about during the height of the AIDS epidemic when gay couples who had grown and shared assets together lost them in bitter legal battles with unsympathetic families of the deceased. Furthermore, these men were forbidden the power of attorney during the last days of their loved ones life after managing them while they were both alive and healthy. Last wills and testaments were bitterly fought and many men lost these legal battles because of the larger stigma associated with the gay lifestyle. Had there been a trust in place however even the strongest bias could not have prohibited administration of the legal provisions encompassed therein. It is not my intent to oversimplify the establishment of a trust, only to warn mature men through this example that nothing is guaranteed unless it is laid out in plain legal English. The time to discover that you have not adequately planned for the inevitable is not when the crisis hits, it is here and now while you are in the prime of your life!
If you are curious in the least I implore you to explore this matter further using the links I have attached at the terminus of this article. They go into much greater technical detail about the nature of trusts. I leave you with two timely suggestions posed as challenges.
1. Set up a trust or will to manage your affairs and set a deadline of not more than a month to begin setting it in place.
2. Make certain that the will or trust includes clear instructions for how your health is to be managed in a time of crisis identifying a responsible trustee.
Living is a wonderful gift and part of living is the management of death, yes even our own post-mortem affairs. Single mature men are closer to a day when they will have to deal with the sobering realities of a serious illness or death, so it is best to be prepared ahead of time. As we grow older we see how our close friends and relatives begin to transition, many of their deaths are followed by bitter disputes over assets, and nobody wants those kinds of circumstances to put a shadow on their legacy. Plan now and live in relative comfort knowing that your affairs are duly ordered. Do this not only for your own serenity but for the peacefulness of those who survive you…
WRITTEN BY: BIGDADDY BLUES
1. Estate Planning: Is a Trust Necessary?: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson21/index6.htm
2. Establishing a Living Revocable Trust:
3. The Pros and Cons of Setting Up A Family Trust:
4. How To Set Up a Trust Fund If You’re Not Rich:http://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/12/set-up-a-trust-fund.asp
Thursday, January 29, 2015
IS THE BLACK AMERICAN COMMUNITY
OF ITS OWN SHADOW:
A CANDID EXAMINATION
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT
AND ORIGINS OF
BLACK ON BLACK CRIME ON BLACK MALES
|Hiram R. Revels won Jefferson Davis's Congressional Seat in Mississippi Senate in 1870. He was the first Black American elected to the U.S. Senate. His predecessor was President of the Confederacy.|
Of the many challenges facing black men in America coping with the reality that they may be more likely to become the victim of crimes committed by another black male ranks as one of the most formidable stresses and contradictions within a social structure that would most benefit from gender and racial solidarity. In a country more keenly focused on racial tensions between different cultures and races the phenomenon of black on black crime continues to go untreated by the Black American community perhaps because of the tough internal realities it will be forced to confront. Many believe that the black community has never effectively organized itself against this problem attributing peaks of black on black crime statistics to shifting trends in economic opportunity and decreases in crime to attrition due to temporary incarceration and a troubling steady rate of homicide. It is an historically unpopular view within the black community to place responsibility on itself. Denial of its culpability continues to weaken the ability of the black community to sustain itself by effectively challenging mainstream culture and policy to revise prevalently latent vestiges of institutionalized racism set in place over hundreds of years.
Every Black American man who has seen the handsomely styled, gangster film classic Sugar Hill will undoubtedly remember its underlying theme, “I Am My Brother’s Keeper”. In many ways this beautifully produced and acted film metaphorically captured the far more sinister realness that many black men in America are literally afraid of their own shadow because to them the image of a black man holds a bittersweet irony. The struggle that most defines and unifies them also challenges them to survive one another within a treacherous arena of social and political razors focused on eliminating both of them. Pitted against one another black men rarely have time or incentive to question why they have been so challenged neither do they have the resources to step back from the horror playing out before them to combine forces to vanquish the common foe that has set them upon a path of intertwined destruction. Mirroring the staggering statistics of black on black homicides in the 1980’s Sugar Hill forced the issue of family upon the consciousness of what had become a barbaric black community torn apart by the desperate ravages of crack addiction on one side and the deadly oppression of street gangsters on the other. Everywhere the threat of a violent death loomed before the faces of black men in America no matter how distanced they were from the bitter debacle for chemical freedom or instantaneous wealth overwhelming the streets. Simply by virtue of their black maleness they found themselves interminably linked to this frenzied pattern of cultural decay.
“No black male was safe,
no child, adolescent, man or elder…
there was no immunity from an untimely death
or some random criminal victimization
by the hands of another black man!”
In 1997 Michael Smith completed and released an internationally renowned independently produced documentary after completing his master’s degree in journalism at U.C. Berkeley called “Jesse’s Gone”. Mike Smith studied under the prolific documentary powerhouse, Marlon Riggs, I remember his enthusiasm when he was accepted into that prestigious school. When I visited him at the end of his first semester he stood out in his class and Marlon was dying of AIDS, it was a difficult yet promising time.
“Mike named the documentary “Jesse’s Gone” because it touched him profoundly; being a young black man himself, that such a prolific and promising young life could actually be assassinated because of another young black man’s lust for street credibility.”
The black man who shot and murdered Jesse chose street credibility over community and family accountability. Not that it would have made matters any better had Jess’s assassin actually hit his intended target because at the end of the day it statistically was and was not just another black on black crime. Jesse’s Gone made certain that this homicide at least amidst many thousands would not be forgotten as had every other senseless killing of one black man by another. It was a powerful summary of a singular murder typifying a wave of black on black crimes in southern California.
“Jesse was an innocent bystander slain at unawares by a misguided bullet. But the misguided bullet was not the hot metal projectile that severed this man from his life it was the black man who pulled the trigger.”
Like many of us Michael certainly wondered what preternatural variables created the reckless human being that killed his target in cold blood. Nobody can lay blame on any white man or anyone from any other race for perpetrating this crime, the full blame must fall upon the ensanguined hands of the black man who committed the murder and the black community that created him. In the end neither man nor his community rose to the occasion of being their brother’s keeper.
“Jesse’s murder and the assassinations of millions of Jesse’s across these United States sends an official but anonymous letter of fear, mistrust, anger, hatred, and violence to every black male, that no black man can ever be expected to assume responsibility as his brothers keeper!”
The result, juxtaposed against the larger reality of racism in America has created a noxious malaise within the psyche of Black American men feeding the conflagration of self-hatred like a self-destruct button smoldering from overuse. Police brutality and antiquated legal policies continue to intensify the real struggle for a peaceful existence in America for black men but they only mirror on a much smaller scale the brutal way that black men treat themselves.
“As outside observers, people from other countries and races are often astounded by the phenomenon of black on black crime and they are even more amazed at the way Black Americans appear to be completely blind to it.”
Many immigrants to this country unaware of the history and struggle of black peoples in America immediately notice the extraordinary power of black on black crime as a culturally destructive force. They are even more confused by the resistance of the black community to acknowledge it as a major obstacle to social and economic progress. The world sees a black community in desperate denial rationalizing black on black crime as somehow less of a problem than white on black violence. We should all understand that violence is violence, simply put, and we can no more ignore the history of racism in America than we can absolve the black community from its responsibility to end its internal violence.
“For a black community embattled on multiple fronts… ending black on black crime is a simple remedy for treating racism from the inside out.”
If black communities are ever to be restored to any degree of stability the destabilizing climate of apathy must be dismantled. The black community must commit to prosecute men who have committed black on black crimes… every offender past, present and future must be wrested from the comfort of the ethically deficient landscape insulating them from justice so they can be held publicly accountable. Whether these black men have committed crimes against their own people and communities or others they must be locked away long enough to prevent systemic re-infection allowing assailed communities to recover. When I use the term community I do not only mean houses, streets, schools, sacred spaces, public parks, retail and commercial structures; foremost I mean the people they serve because without people these features would be purposeless… It is so difficult to quantify the profound the gravity encompassing and engaging the condemnation of a man to a life sentence.
“But if the alternative would be to continue a now clearly failed experiment in social science festering after more than 50 depressing years many would opine that a different and far more restrictive solution should be applied. The terminus of the current path is hauntingly absolute, it precludes the irreversible destruction of the black community!”
Imagine the effects of black on black crime on a young, black, male child who has been cautioned from infancy to fear other black males pursuant to a real threat of violence. The cumulative effect might be to fear rather than revere his black male counterparts and elders to whom he might otherwise look to for friendship and mentoring throughout his journey to manhood. How will this male child come to see himself if not as a reflection of those men closest to him with whom he shares a similar cultural history? The result may be that he will either assimilate the stereotype, isolate himself from it or play the middle line as a strategy for survival. After placating the expectations that his world imposes upon him to be a gangster at what point might he give up and begin to believe the violent mirage he has masterfully manufactured just to stay alive? In any event, his ability to absorb and process the essential elements of manhood will always be managed against a guarded threshold, his ability to bond with other black men to establish a healthy sense of brotherhood will be potentially corrupted by the real struggle to balance reality with human nature. And this young man’s understanding of human nature will necessarily be colored by his ability to comprehend the real threat to his own existence as represented by other black men in his environment who might be his potential attackers or assassins.
“One must ultimately ask the fundamental question, “How can you be the parent, brother, sister, relative or friend of a black male and justify turning your back on the crime that poisons his community against his survival?” If a black man’s street credibility is predicated upon the fact he is a well-known criminal and murderer in his community then how can anyone snitch on him when his reputation is common knowledge?”
Perhaps we should exhume the corpses of all the men murdered in black on black crimes and pile them up in the neighborhoods where they died to remind those communities how devastating their silence has been…
At the beginning of the twenty-first century black men searching for solutions to redivivate deteriorating communities dead end on the issue of cultural solidarity and in particular black male unity largely because of the phenomenon of mistrust, self-loathing and self-induced blindness fostered by violent crimes committed against black males by other black males. Nobody wants to deal with the hard reality that in order to clean up black communities’ men who are committing or who have committed black on black crimes thriving in criminal enclaves established for decades will have to be locked away from society indefinitely to give these communities a chance to recover.
“Quite bluntly, many believe that if there is no commitment to prosecute and lock away men who commit black on black crime so that community building efforts can take root, grow and enjoy several generations of prosperity this problem will never be solved.”
Certainly crime will always exist however the proportion of black on black crime to overall criminal activity can be significantly reduced through structured community involvement on a national level but this must be coordinated with the criminal justice system to ensure that fugitive criminals are quickly incarcerated and permanently removed from society where they have already forfeited their “Raison d’etre”. The question is,
“By substantially removing the criminal element precipitating black on black crimes from society will black men feel less threatened by one another? Will they begin to trust each other enabling them to form more cohesive and functional bonds, developing the kinds of economic, social and educational partnerships required to re-build the infrastructure of the black community?”
The answer is that this is only one critical part of an holistic solution which is itself a complex, many-layered organism. In order for the holistic model to function effectively this aspect of community reform must be in place… There are other aspects of community reform that will play an essential role in the success of the holistic model such as prison reform, welfare reform and the reform of child support laws all on a national level. The issue is so vast that it will certainly require the effort of several think-tanks having the ability to focus on different pieces of the puzzle, sharing their data across institutions and coordinating their extrapolation of this data into the creation of tangible and practical solutions.
I have always imagined that a young, black, male child seeking the comfort of belonging will gravitate to a place that feels most like a home where he can thrive. So when historic facts preclude that his peaceful existence will be compromised in an environment where it is highly likely he will be predated by other black males he will be forced to entertain and implement, (if he is to survive), a pathological, Machiavellian rivalry with them reserving the potential to play itself out with only one man standing. A black male is continually pitted against these odds never certain what fate will deal him. In many landscapes of the black community where death is always hyper-tangible this variable creates an exponentially exaggerated instinct for survival. But the sheer number of young, black males forced to survive against identically lethal odds do not have time to comprehend what caused them to kill or die in spite of or because of their early preparation for death.
“How many lives of black men have been and will be lost through a dripping faucet of attrition? As the brutal game plays itself out generation after generation the spigot will finally rust shut or erode itself away spewing a last desperate flood of death before the flow expends itself or is cut off. For these black men who seemingly await certain death, an untimely mortality will either be prevented as a result of effective reform or death will systematically extinguish itself down to the last human life. What a precarious and preventable drama lay ahead for black men in America.”
We can assume that as a result of black on black crime a self-perpetuating network of animosity and hatred has been generated reflecting innumerable homicides playing out as gang wars, family rivalries and other acts of violence and that vendetta’s will be carried from generation to generation especially among poor peoples who are often forced to live among mortal enemies.
“Death may be instantaneous
but the grief built up behind murder
is a slow-burning candle…”
We know it will take generations in order to repair the psychological scars black on black crime has left upon the community. What appears not to be understood is the urgency with which reform must ensue. The degree of denial stifling the black community regarding its own self-destructive path may ultimately be its doom.
“Everyone says they are down with being their brother’s keeper but when the time comes time to make good on that promise all contracts are conveniently breached. This is because the black community and the country are degraded to the point that they are literally in bed with the criminals who perpetrate black on black crime.”
If a black, male child is fortunate enough to make it to adolescence and enter manhood without the fetters of a criminal record, a legacy of gang involvement, drug or substance abuse either documented or undocumented he faces a world that more than not sees him through a camera lens that instantly evaluates him as if he were a fugitive from a violent crime scene.
“The imagery of racism made powerfully manifest as a systematic defamation of the black male image in America acts as a great levelling device reducing all black men to savages and barbarians regardless of their extraordinary achievements as compared to the whole of humanity. This mainstream trend exacerbates the self-deprecating, psychological effects of black on black crime but it cannot be seen as the entire blame for this phenomenon. If anyone is to be blamed it must be the individual who allows himself to succumb to the default. Society has not held a gun to any black man’s head forcing him to kill another black man. Every Black American man can choose to be his brother’s keeper defying the odds so let the blame lie on the heads of the men who opt for crime over conservation!”
As objects of a biased lens every black man is filtered through a predictable range of possibilities by those who encounter them and nearly every parallax visualizes a high likelihood these black men will be illiterate, poor, desperate, violent, irrational, and dangerous! Fortunately most black men learn early on how to manage perceptual racial bias but the fact that it is even necessary poses its own problems in their cumulative psyche. It is purely reasonable to assume that in response to and in spite of this kind of perceptual bias Black American men have historically fortified themselves with role models they see as positive. These role models serve to amplify their intrinsic self-esteem as armor against externally applied and anticipated aesthetic rejection. The genre of filmmaking called “Blackspoitation” featured examples of black male heroes with provocatively exaggerated sexual and physical attributes whose urban prowess magically assuaged the outrageous bias their peoples were forced to endure.
“In many positive ways these larger than life icons validated black manhood and soothed a deep fear many black men had for one another because of black on black crime. They allowed themselves to bond and identify with another black male as a conceptual ally rather than as a physical enemy. The problem is that this brand of brotherhood was only sustainable on an artificial, antiseptic level and had no relevance to the realness of brutality on the street. Imaginary heroes such as these can be a wonderful supplement to an established history but in the case of black American men the actual historical superstars forming the fundamental hierarchy who should have been universally revered and emulated such as Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Dubois, Thurgood Marshall and others became obscured by a fictitious rabble of racially stereotyped media icons created by persons who were not invested in the establishment of an historically relevant pantheon of Black American male icons.”
One of the most complex and under-examined social and mental issues that many psychologists believe to have been created within the psyche of Black American peoples due to the effects of racism is a hyper-intensified insecurity syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by an overly developed need for external acceptance and respect from others substituting what in most people is an intrinsic sense of self-worth or confidence. Some psychologists believe this trend may be linked to the brutal mental and physical abuse endured by black peoples whose pride and dignity were broken by the institutionalized racism of slavery. If this theory is true it could explain why street-credibility has become so important in the black community exposing a deeply problematic vein of insecurity hundreds of years in the making. Nearly everyone would agree that there has to be some rational explanation for the thousands of incidences of black on black homicides, there has to be a common pattern unifying these crimes and it is far more complex than the mere happenstance of proximity. There is a reason, (or there are closely interrelated reasons) why these crimes were committed by black men against other black men and not any other race or ethnic group and many believe that the time is far overdue for the black community to seriously study and produce viable solutions to end this problem.
“It is difficult to delve into this uncharted region with an objective mind blind to the biases and stereotypes already manufactured by the machines of racism highly likely to have but shy of a proven intent to set into motion this self-perpetuating evil. We must remember it is one thing to conjecture premeditated mal-intent and another to empirically prove it. The black community has charged racism rather than internal flaws in their own community to be the fundamental cause of black on black crime for so long it is now high time to prove it or let it go!”
Evaluated against this dichotomy in outline form alone one can visualize the possible origins of this trending madness causing generations of Black Americans to react with excessive sensitivity and recklessness when they feel their image, dignity, manhood or street credibility has been abused. It is a perfectly natural reaction for people whose image has suffered continual attack by mainstream culture. For this reason positive image building has always been a paramount in Black American culture if not only to creatively refute the negative images of slavery and the legacy of ignorance and impoverishment forced upon it. Black men and women have always been overly proud of their appearance and decorum as a means of distinguishing themselves from the stereotypical “Coon” image promoted in mainstream American culture.
“The image of a black man as conveyed by mainstream culture in 2015 has evolved from the outlandish engravings created by Courier and Ives in the mid to late 1800’s but sadly many of the underlying elements conveyed in modern media still promote the bottom line upheld in this country to justify the wholesale disenfranchisement of an entire race of people.”
During the 1960’s and 1970’s the “Black Is Beautiful” and “Black Power “ campaigns began to aggressively address this blemish in the self-image of Black Americans. While flooding the market with products and media celebrating the beauty of black peoples was not enough to heal centuries of psychological abuse it was a positive beginning. The movement successfully linked the physical beauty of black peoples to their ancestral heritage on the continent of Africa at a time of great cultural prosperity reviving historic links that had been forgotten and obscured by racist propaganda in America. Centuries had now passed leaving black men to face the reality before them in a place that could not have been farther removed from those glorious civilizations of ancient Africa. In America right here and right now black men are and have been oppressed beyond comprehension but they remained proud and industrious men. Because many black men have had to endure levels of poverty frowned upon by mainstream culture there has always been a strong desire to conceal their economic reality beneath the trappings of prosperity. Also, because of the documented trend of racism to attack the prosperity of Black Americans in order to preserve the status-quote many conservatives have been careful to play down their economic successes for fear of retaliation. This is also a huge factor weighing in on the virtual invisibility of black industrialists and intelligentsia. Historically media such as Jet, Black Enterprise and Ebony have focused on this less conspicuous realm of the black community. Many Black Americans have historically banked on their ability to gain economic success without formal education and by operating outside of traditional and lawful business structures. Racial disenfranchisement made these occupations necessary up to a point but they became less viable alternatives after desegregation. Enter the rise and fall of the image of the black male hustler… During the height of black on black murders in this country the image of the black man as “Hustler/Gangster” was also at its peak.
“The image of the drug lord was virtually worshipped as a god in the black community and since these men brutally exercised their powers over the life and death of thousands of their victims it might be a stretch but one could say they temporarily usurped the very throne of the almighty himself.”
Nearly every Black American man worshipped and wanted to emulate the image of the gangster/hustler whether they actually were part of that street hierarchy or not.
“Although it was quite evident that image alone had no cash-in value at the local bank to desperate men accustomed to poverty the transient luxury afforded by merely appearing to be economically well-endowed was as intoxicating as the transient high they got from drugs that paralyzed their community.”
Sugar Hill successfully portrayed the grizzly occupational hazards of ill-gotten wealth but human instinct will always fantasize that it can be that exception to the rule. No matter how many would-be exceptions fill the cemeteries of urban consciousness it will always be the nature of true desperation to die for a dream when it has nothing else to lose. And there are so many different dreams among black men, many of them so simple in scope, feeding only the need to experience the feeling of success without regard to its ethical or moral foundation.
“In contemporary culture this need for success, and to bolster ones image has caused some black men to murder other innocent black men for nothing more valuable than a coat, a pair of sneakers or other material and conceptual symbols of wealth and status.”
Desegregation was the first critical step in the direction of self-esteem for many black men. When viewed within the total picture of human social evolution it is clear that desegregation afforded black peoples in America a tangible reference point from which to begin to visualize themselves as equals to other people and as humans. One has only to Imagine what desegregation meant to men, women and children who had been told they were inhuman forced to endure a brutal, unrelenting campaign of physical abuse and racial character assassination. Can you understand the sheer power of racism to evoke the most profoundly embedded sense of self-loathing in the peoples who suffered hundreds of years of hopelessness? If you can fathom this then you can understand how precious a gift desegregation was for black peoples seeking to re-establish their image and status as members of the human race after it had been kept from them for hundreds of years. Racism has created a false vacuum of non-identity.
“Black men in America yearn for established and diversified role models they can easily identify in mainstream culture. There is a plentitude of positive black male icons spanning the centuries of oppression but their legacy has been marginalized and hidden from mainstream history; American history was simply written around them.”
Ironically, contemporary American culture has developed a disdain for history allowing it to neglect careful revisions that would systematically insert Black American men into their proper positions of importance. It is a typical human reaction when forced to admit that history as you knew it is no longer valid or stacked in your favor to lose interest in the importance of history.
“Rather than embrace a fair recalibration of American history to include the contributions of the diverse cultures and peoples who have shaped it mainstream America has chosen a policy of historic amnesia developing a sudden disdain for the importance of historical education as if it is somehow now irrelevant to the flow of modern life, unimportant to the struggle of day to day survival. Desegregation ushered in a new social admixture that anticipated the recalibration of human facts.”
Desegregation finally opened the door to legal if not genuine human acceptance and inclusion for which Black Americans had waited centuries. However because they did not carefully navigate their immersion into mainstream culture the black community prematurely sacrificed many of their long-standing institutions hoping they would be invited into formerly white institutions many of which had a long history of racial imperviousness.
“Once dismantled black people realized how difficult if not impossible it was to revive the dying legacies of Black American industry and ingenuity which cumulatively celebrated so many difficult decades in the building.”
Today black men yearn for that unrealized promise not only of conceptual and physical freedom but of true racial freedom or as it might be visualized, for the absence of racial self-consciousness. Today Black Americans as a whole are revisiting the formidable task left dangling some 5 decades ago by unravelling centuries of encrypted institutionalized bias and replacing it with honest to goodness justice. It is a sobering hallmark of these times that so many black men continue to struggle with their identities on many levels unable to connect with the glorious heritage of their past and driven by the mean offerings of a mal-focused present that cannot comprehend why it prioritizes street credibility at the cost of fundamental human ethics, morals and community sustainability.
“An observer focusing on contemporary American civilization for the first time might opine that Black American culture has become highly efficient at loving and hating itself to the point that neither is distinguishable as a dominant virtue.”
If anything is certain it is that someone eventually has to speak the unmentionable delivering a candid critique of Black American culture removing the pretense of political correctness and saccharine obsequiousness to tell it like it is. The black community has historically mistaken constructive criticism for a beat down.
“Black Americans who air their race’s dirty laundry outside of their community are frowned upon, the black community is in the closet with its inability and unwillingness to confront and solve its own problems. Outing it is in its own eyes tantamount to sedition!”
There is a time when it is best to ignore the advice of the crowd and likewise there is a time when it is wise to follow the crowd’s advice. When everyone else can see what the black community cannot see about itself it is a clear sign that it may be high time to listen to the crowd… or at least carefully weigh-out the validity of their warnings…
Self-imposed isolationism and denial casts so many black men into a paranoid state of insecurity. Society offers little substance to decorate the vacuum which stands in the place of self-identity and in the absence of reason there reigns the unchallenged spectre of sheer and utter chaos!
“No matter how carefully a black man insulates himself from his black brother he knows the odds are high that he will be victimized by crime and it will be inflicted upon him by another black male. This reality has to have a profound effect upon all black men and cumulatively upon their culture and community.”
As a result many people are waking up to the irony demonstrated by the myopic focus of the black community on white on black crime whilst ignoring the larger crisis of black on black crime. It raises the tough question, “How the black community can effectively manage externally inflicted crime and racism when it is afraid of its own shadow”?
BY BIGDADDY BLUES
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
THERE IS A NEW SALVATION AFTER A MAN OUTGROWS HIS RELIGION… BUT HE MUST LOVINGLY SHED ITS CONFINING ROBES TAKING THE RAIMENT OF INFINITE CONSCIOUSNESS…
I HAVE A FRIEND WHO IS AN AMAZING HUMAN BEING AND I LOVINGLY PULLED HIM ASIDE INFORMING HIM THAT I WAS CONCERNED HE HAD OUTGROWN HIS RELIGION... AT FIRST HE DID NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT I MEANT, SO I EXPLAINED… CHRISTIANITY WAS TOO NARROW, CONFINED TO A 4,000 YEAR BIBLICAL PERIOD THAT ONLY REPRESENTED 4 PERCENT OF ALL HUMAN HISTORY IGNORING THE OTHER 96 PERCENT OF THE HUMAN CONDITION. IT HAS BECOME DOGMATICALLY SELF-ABSORBED IN BEING RIGHT, A CHILDISH AND PITIABLE STATE FAR TOO PETTY AND VAINGLORIOUS FOR HIS LEVEL OF SPIRITUALITY. SO I TOLD HIM THAT IN ORDER FOR HIM TO CONTINUE TO GROW SPIRITUALLY HE MUST LEAVE IT BEHIND LIKE A COMFORTING CHILDHOOD MEMORY FREEING HIMSELF TO EXPLORE THE INFINITE NUANCES OF CREATION... THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE CAUGHT UP IN THE RUT OF THEIR RELIGION AND THOUGH IT IS DIFFICULT TO SAY GOODBYE TO FAMILY RELIGION CAN ONLY TAKE THEM SO FAR, IN ORDER TO GROW A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EXISTENCE AND HUMANITY A MAN MUST EMBARK UPON A JOURNEY THAT ABANDONS EVERYTHING HE HAS EVER BEEN TAUGHT OR HAS CONCEIVED SHOWING HUMILITY BEFORE THE LARGER TRUTH OF INFINITE WISDOM...
Saturday, December 20, 2014
THE SUPPLY SIDE OF THE EMERGING MARIJUANA INDUSTRY: WHO WILL BE THE NEW ECONOMIC KINGPINS?
WILL THE PIONEERS OF THE MARIJUANA INDUSTRY, THE STREET HUSTLERS, BE MUSCLED-OUT OF THE MARKET NOW THAT POT IS BEING LEGALIZED? WHAT INTERESTS STAND TO MAKE BILLIONS ON LEGALIZED MARIJUANA ON THE SUPPLY-SIDE OF THE EQUATION?
Will the legalization of marijuana empower those whom are today illegal street hustlers making them the rightful beneficiaries of a potentially billion dollar industry once it becomes fully street-legal? If so, for these undocumented entrepreneurs it may be a simple matter of applying for a business license with their local jurisdiction for them to turn a life-long hustle into a legitimate enterprise? But if the laws legalizing the sale, manufacture and distribution of this commodity attempt to impose restrictions against persons with criminal records it could lock them out of one of the most lucrative enterprises to open up in this nation’s economy since the legalization of alcohol. This begs the question, “Will decriminalization of marijuana precipitate total amnesty for those who were previously prosecuted under marijuana laws or will it continue to haunt them, even perhaps preventing them from establishing themselves in a business for which they wrote the book”?
For a moment I want to step aside from any ethical and moral argument about the cultural dynamics of this plant and explore cannabis as simply an organic substance, one that does not possess any inherent qualities of good or evil, just an ancient organism which has been growing on the earth for millions of years before man and which has been cultivated for medicinal purposes by him for over 3,000 years documented. Like many good things at some point in time men began to abuse and misunderstand this substance but that is a consequence not of the plant but of our failure to comprehend how to effectively integrate its use into our culture. The greater reality is that in this capitalistic society, there is both a demand and supply for cannabis that represents a billion dollar industry heretofore conducted off the books that will presently inundate our failing economy with a financially vivacious commodity. We should we asking how we can catch the wave of economic prosperity that certainly will ensue as marijuana products are gradually introduced into our marketplace.
Every American knows that the legalization of pot is inevitable but the federal government continues to delay this process bringing into question its underlying motives. Anyone who is even vaguely aware of the shady history of drug enforcement in this country knows the reason why the Federal government is loath to decriminalize marijuana is in part because of the questionably aggressive way they have prosecuted dealers and users in the past for crimes that will no longer exist in the future of drug enforcement! Because of the unsettling issues of its past there is really no way that the DEA and the federal government can save face. One must admit that it takes considerable gall to confront Americans admitting what was classified as criminal behavior so terrible it was punishable by years of harsh imprisonment including seizure of personal property and defamation of individual character is perfectly acceptable behavior today? Surely they cannot even imagine legalizing marijuana without completely expunging the records of those who were prosecuted under laws treating it as an illegal substance in the past? Since Reagan’s ineffective drug wars in the 1980’s it has been a long expensive and destructive road to the legalization of pot, now we are all genuinely relieved that the government is finally doing the right thing by absolving pot of its criminality but we have to ask ourselves how did such a magnificent mistake ever happen in the first place and what retroactive measures need to be set in place to rectify the considerable damage moving forward. It would be arrogant for the government to simply change its evil laws to good being allowed to get off with a guilty conscience knowing that its mistakes will continue to ruin the lives of millions of men and women for decades to come. If our government is to be forgiven it would only be fair for it to expunge the records of every man and woman touched by its indiscretion; this would be a humane application of the law.
There is however a much darker side to the story of legalization that will metaphorically put the new legal drug hustlers into the black economically.
The new purveyors of cannabis will not operate on the corner in an open-air marketplace or huddle in an urban alley, they will not pass off a hastily packed nickel or dime bag in a cheap plastic zip-loc micro-baggie through the window of a passing sedan. Like tobacco and alcohol marijuana will be robustly marketed as a premium commodity with all the sexiness of a full blown ad campaign by Ciroc, Cohiba, Absolut or Camel; it will open up an entirely new category in the stock market!
So the billion dollar question is who will be the lucky dogs to get in big on a market that will certainly capture the attention of every financial magazine and publication in the country? One thing is certain; it will not be the lowly street hustler. I spent some time thinking about what the brand names of these new marijuana products might be based on who might be manufacturing them, it was an interesting exercise the prospect of which caused me to realize that legalization of marijuana could encourage tobacco sales with everyone lighting up again. Once legalized the cannabis plant can be cultivated in the U.S. the same as any vegetable, grain or fruit is grown on a farm subject to FDA and other standards. What is not yet clear is how closely regulated this substance will be once legalized and that will make all the difference regarding how it comes to us in the marketplace. Companies who have access to large tracts of land for cultivation and manufacturing, packaging, etc. will immediately be able to flood the marketplace with their product. People frequenting farmers markets might find the stuff heaped high beside fennel, rosemary, sage and other herbs. In urban settings cannabis lovers might frequent upscale cafes selling marijuana in different forms, offering hand rolled cigarettes and exotic chocolates, pastry and other delicacies. It is logical that companies will manufacture marijuana cigars and cigarettes perhaps reviving the coin operated cigarette machine dispensing packs or even single cannabis cigars. If pot is completely legalized then street vendors would have to compete with more sophisticated and far better capitalized merchants but one can assume that when the stuff can be grown in a flower box outside of grandma’s window the demand on the street will ultimately die.
When Ronald Reagan presaged the economic shift from a manufacturing to a service economy in his 1980 inaugural speech digressing to romanticize a 21st century cottage industry I am certain he had no inkling that a brand new industry would open up in this country to suit and contradict his prediction and that that industry would be the sale of marijuana products. O how times do change… Now it is quite likely that the international market will seek to capture over the counter sale of cannabis products offering pre-packaged commodities produced cheaply overseas and sold cheaply in the U.S. to an eager and captive market of cannabis connoisseurs.
So it all hearkens back to the old supply and demand models we studied in macro and microeconomics our freshman year in college. Although it sounds boring excitingly enough it will ultimately play out something like this; the legalization of marijuana creates a demand and suppliers respond by offering a broad range of products and services from a broad range of prices to satisfy the demand across the entire scope of consumers. Depending on how the substance is legalized it could render it as commonplace as catnip. The key factor in pricing will be determined by the means of production, for instance, although many people smoke cigarettes very few of them bother to grow their own tobacco so while a few cottage industries will undoubtedly thrive most of the product will have to be manufactured by a very large corporation in order to meet the entire national demand. Eventually quality control and simple economic issues related to financing and marketing will cause smaller home-grown varieties to be overrun by corporate grown product. Smart companies will immediately develop branding to make their products distinctive and they will use advertisement to quickly make their product name a household name. The more refined products will quickly rise into favor in a market of convenience and so like its brothers,( tobacco and alcohol), marijuana will finally enter the world market as a legal product robustly traded on the stock market. We already know there is a demand for pot in these United States which is why pot is finally being legalized and because legalization represents the opening of an entirely new market potentially earning billions of dollars a year I want to see who is lined up for the windfall, I am keeping my eye on the supply side of the equation.
WRITTEN BY BIGDADDY BLUES