My #Urban Dilemma

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My Urban Dilemma
I was ashamed of being from Montgomery County, MD because it was a predominately white middle-class jurisdiction. I wanted to be sure that the world knew I was real which to me was an authentic black person who didn’t act white.

The only problem here is, I took my cues about being real as well as acting white without an accurate understanding of Global history. I had that flawed, watered down, anecdotal understanding of racism, yet totally oblivious to how all societies are manipulated and organized by systematic oppression.

If only my K-12 curriculum had thoroughly introduced me to the African diaspora and the purpose of Black Liberation Movements, I would have then been proud of being from Montgomery County, as I am today.

At some point, I wondered if acting white was the better option as opposed to being real. I had the choice after all, right? I was actually trying to understand what either really meant and the implications of choosing. The Urban Dilemma was born because I realized this kind of split personality. A dilemma.

I couldn’t decide what I wanted to be anymore. Do I want to make my way through corporate America (“sell-out”), or do I want to build something from the grass roots (for “my people”)? I have the knowledge and skills to do either. I realized I just needed to express myself and this blog is a result of that. It’s therapeutic.

Experiences
Two opportunities I wouldn’t trade for a million dollars is one, moving into The District of Columbia to experience the inner-city living first hand and two; majoring in Liberal Studies (concentration: African American Studies) at an HBCU deeply embedded into the Civil Rights Movement.

I was finally learning what I didn’t even realize I was in search of my whole life. Answers to the race relation dichotomy between blacks and whites. I learned that “real niggas” are actually poor and of poverty culture, not authentic black culture. This revelation finally hit me while analyzing data for my Senior Research Project on the High School Drop-Out Epidemic.

Before researching in an academic setting, I assumed most black people failed and struggled because they, like me, decided to be real and not act white. I didn’t acknowledge my privileged up-bringing versus theirs or that I was choosing to be ghetto while they were conditioned and had no choice of surviving by any means.

Ultimately, I didn’t realize there was a myriad of authentic black culture and success was more associated with access to opportunities. Out of this myriad of black culture come the noble people, the pioneers of jazz, hip-hop, and the Black Arts Movement preceding it. The people who are aware of The Urban Dilemma and uplift the positive aspects of poor and poverty culture, denouncing the status-quo unapologetically. That’s who I want the world to see me as.

I didn’t realize what strides my single mother took to raise my sister and me. I didn’t realize her relentless effort to do what was necessary to have her daughters live the “good” life versus the “hood” life. I didn’t realize we lived in Montgomery County because it had clean and safe neighborhoods, home to some of the best schools in the nation.

I didn’t realize I wrongfully assumed black people in Montgomery County weren’t authentic black people because I didn’t know being authentically anything is a result of your individual environment and collective culture. There is no actual standard for “blackness” or “whiteness.”

I didn’t realize that acting white was made out to be anything not black because black and white are social and political classifications determined and assigned by the dominant culture, who make up the global oppressors of all people.

Being real and acting white can be more accurately described as being ignorant or acting intelligently, respectively. It’s choice, not biology. Being noble means working in the best interest of your family and community to fight against adversity.

My mother wasn’t, by any means, trying to act white or assimilate into white society by residing in Montgomery County. She simply worked hard and reaped the benefits of that ethic. She was being noble.

Thanks for reading!

 

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The Radical Rant

It ain’t easy being me.

Because I didn’t necessarily grow up “in the ghetto” but also wasn’t raised by “white washed” parents, I’ve always felt like one of those lost tribe motherfuckers 2pac rapped about. Like I didn’t belong. I am anti-religion, pro thug shit .. but why? It’s like I’m carving out this identity for myself and people like me. Where it’s anything goes, except dishonesty.

Is that just me being a cynic? No. It’s taking what I know (good with the bad) and making decisions that will get me from point A to point B through point Z without going ape shit crazy.

Religion like, gives you a predetermined lifestyle. It provides rules, regulations, rewards and punishments with an ultimate outcome. But it’s all made up, obviously. Being a thug for some reason is associated with being ignorant .. but what if you aren’t ignorant?

Then you should know better than to do thug shit right? But isn’t following a religion more ignorant than physically and mentally resisting a state of destitution? And what happens when you do everything you were told, everything that you saw others do to succeed.. but are still marginalized? Then is it ok to be a thug? Or Nah?

I just don’t understand where people with a radical paradigm like myself can exist, peacefully. Everybody who I look up to from the past is dead or jailed as a political prisoner. That’s not fair, why isn’t anybody with a voice and ability to reach people like me .. able to? It’s 2014. There is definitely enough to go around, who is secretly keeping the status-quo jumping?

Who was it calling Donald Sterling about reprimanding V. Stiviano for hanging with heavily melanated people? Who fostered the environment where it was okay for her to change her name to be more acceptable? What the fuck does it mean to be more acceptable?

Thanks for reading!

Donald Sterling & New Slaves

Real Quick.

First thing I want to say is, word to @KanyeWest, #NewSlaves require #NewMasters. So with that being said, I don’t see what all the fuss is for. Why is it so hard to believe that an owner of a NBA team is a bigot?! Why?!

Are we still confused as to how capitalism operates? Apparently. This has inspired me to research the National Basketball Association, more specifically how it’s a private league ran and operated by, mostly, old white (Jewish) men. Much like most institutions of influence in the European version of America.

My recent trip to Colorado made it very clear how Europeans intentionally slaughtered the Indigenous population of this country to make it their own. So again, why are we shocked?

The chick, is dead ass wrong. I commend her, and am elated that this happened. But bitch, you knew from the jump he was a racist prick and you only care about advancing your personal agenda. Which is to fuck and make appearances for money. Now, I don’t knock her hustle whatsoever. By all means boo, do you. However, don’t wait until your gravy train is coming to a screeching halt to get brand new. Even if your train wasn’t ending, don’t play both sides. Be loyal to SOMEBODY. Shit.

CC: Racism; We Are All Victims, What Rappers Can Learn About Donald Sterling 

Thanks For Reading!

The #Ghetto Is Man Made

theghet

These are my observations of The Ghetto. MY OBSERVATIONS.

  • Direct descendants of systematically oppressed people reside in the ghetto.
  • I’m speaking in particular about those who didn’t make it out, and those who didn’t make it out without first slipping through the engineered cracks of society.
  • Access to capital is virtually non-existent.
  • Offers a market; unemployment runs rampant due to members being ostracized and marginalized, mainly because of poor education resulting from poor public policy.
  • Underground Industries include: dealing drugs, boosting clothes, scheming, jacking, pimping/prostituting. An array of “illegal activity.”
  • Other income generating activities include doing hair, babysitting and other odd end jobs.
  • Neighbor “hoods” are made up of families who live within them. The children and teenagers are protected by the old heads, the older members of the community.
  • Offers security, if your family is known you are protected and insulated from stupid mistakes.
  • Naturally conflict and beef arise within this microcosm of society hence “Black on Black” crime.
  • Foreigners and enlightened people in general seeking a better life through entrepreneurship have this community to exploit. This halts self sufficiency and “Black owned businesses.” (Why aren’t White and Asian owned businesses classified this way?)
  • “Black on Black” crime exists because outsiders don’t reside in the hood, therefore are somewhat safe guarded from the ill activity. Outsiders can be seen as unfairly advantaged and as easy targets. Misguided anger leads to unfortunate confrontation.
  • The police do their best to keep these communities segregated, seeing the ghetto folks as the usual suspects and the outsiders as innocent victims.
  • Jail can be seen as a rites of passage. In a way many are expected to go, and often times revered when released and celebrated as a homecoming experience.
  • Doing a bid is something that results from being forced into hood industries. Some just straight up rebel and rage against the machine though.
  • Typically youth receive a slap on the wrist from the criminal justice system; negative conditioning results from rewarding poor behavior.
  • Other members suffer from mental disorders and don’t receive proper diagnosis or treatment at any stage in life. Some mental disorders arise from no fault of one’s own; some from being in an oppressive, poverty-like environment. This can be misinterpreted as being deviant from society, also resulting in incarceration.
  • It’s not beneficial to anyone to “glorify” the ghetto, but it’s also extremely detrimental to all to act as if these people don’t exist. Why is their condition such? Let’s go backwards and see. Let’s divide the accountability accurately. Always be careful of a critic’s perspective and purpose.
  • In the movie Friday (1995) Ice Cube wanted to show that though life wasn’t all luxurious, it wasn’t all gloomy either and they knew how to have fun. Not everyone was shady, however everyone was connected and suffered from each other’s actions.

Thanks for reading!

Reagan, Len Bias, The Media & Hip-Hop

LB

C.O.R.E: Children of Reagan’s Era.

I feel like the kids who were disproportionately affected by The Era are finally making music. We are the children and children’s children of the The Era. My parents were mid 20’s, early 30’s (my age today) during The Era.

My generation has been through a lot of shit. We’ve seen the rise and fall of Black and Brown life in a way unlike the generations preceding us. We’re an assortment of attitudes; assimilators, resisters, gangsters, “get wits” … all here at the same time with microphones and computers. From the wrestling stars of my time being referenced to the headlining news stories of my childhood frequenting the lyrics of the music I enjoy today; I finally feel like I belong and am being fairly represented.

I was about 5 months deep in the womb when Len Bias died from Cocaine overdose. It was during the midst of the epidemic, give or take a year.

His story was the pinnacle of The Reagan Era as I understand it; it’s when shit got real. It represents the crossroads of many cultures; youth, race, poverty, affluent, drug, political, sports, college, etc.

This is especially relative to me because I am from Maryland, like Bias, and very aware of how Washington, D.C.’s political environment shapes our affairs due to proximity. All of the dirty dealings of a shady government seep across our borders and Washington can’t have a national embarrassment take place so close to the seat of government without repercussion.

The 80’s were when the infamous crack babies were cooked up, the children most affected by Reaganomics. The fact that Reaganomics isn’t marked as misspelled in Microsoft word says a lot. The conditions are well documented and won’t be discussed here, but I’m pretty sure you have a slight idea. The Planet Rock Documentary atop this page is a good place to start. Without Bias, a documentary about the circumstances surrounding the rising star Len Bias’ tragic death is also very resourceful in getting some background information. It’s on the flix.

To sum it up though:

  • Poverty
  • Quick Money
  • Poor Morals
  • Distorted Values
  • Broken Homes
  • Tarnished Communities
  • Lives of Crime
  • Mental Anguish
  • Scapegoating
  • Pop Culture

There is a major difference between “glorifying” the street life, speaking on the street life and living the street life. All perspectives are valid, however be careful of your definition of “glorifying.” Be careful not to forget these people really do exist, really are marginalzed, and are really misunderstood due to White Supremacy’s agenda.

As far as C.O.R.E’s are concerned, we never existed without Gangsta Rap and Trap Music and we know for certain it will never fade away. Though it may become less valuable to those who exploit it for their personal gain and our detriment; there will always be an authentic and gritty aspect to our music regardless of how it’s reprimanded by public opinion. It’s embedded in us.

Bad things happen and we must express ourselves, among each other as well as the general public. They are out-crys for a better understanding of the complexities of life.

We grew up listening to Snoop, Onyx, Junior Mafia, Bone Thugs, Pac, Nas, Ruff Ryders, Wu-Tang, NWA, Three Six, No Limit, Cash Money, UGK …  Terror Squad, Jay-Z, G-Unit, Eminem, Jeezy, T.I. etc. This hard ass music has conditioned us, whether we realize it or not. It also tells some of our tales, and the tales of our old heads.

My sister is 10 years older than me and my mother loves hip-hop (i’m talking about the real raw shit too). So before I even knew how to listen music; Run-DMC, Special Ed, Heavy D, Chub Rock, LL Cool J, KRS-One, Slick Rick, Rakim, Roxanne Shante, Monie Love, A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Apache, BOSS, Queen Latifah .. I can go on and on ..  were shaping my conscious and perspective. I STILL have all of these CD’s, actual CD’s in a closet. 

Not only is that music the soundtrack to our lives, but the lifestyle many of us were exposed to in one way or another. The prison industrial complex is real. The war on drugs is real. The aftermath of Reaganomics will be felt for generations to come.

C.O.R.E. is my shit DO NOT BITE MY SHIT.

wu

Thanks for reading!

#Racism; We’re All Victims

mindcontrol

 

Remember the Follow Your Passion Post? Well that same student and I had an argument about which was better, being black or being white. Of course I defended my ignorant position, that being black was obviously better. And as you can see, although we had this argument, we apparently got over  it and remained cordial.

I was never ashamed or felt less of because of being black. I certainly felt slighted though, and I would spend the rest of my life trying to understand how society got fixed to where black people were on the bottom. I knew in my psyche and soul that this wasn’t natural. And no shade, but this was one of those white girls, you know .. trailer park trash. She wasn’t of the affluent white or Jewish kids I knew. I didn’t realize it then, but I did later on.

This made me realize we are ALL victims of ignorance at some level. We are ALL divided to be conquered, stripped of our authenticity, re-branded, re-packaged and then sold to the masses all in the name of maintaining the Status Quo. It’s always been about the wealthy versus the poor, never about one race versus the other. It’s about Power. It’s about control. It’s about exploitation.

An environment unfortunately developed where a group of people gained superior knowledge; not superior genetics or skills. In order to maintain power and control over this sacred information, people became bigoted and prejudice. That is, powerful people of all creeds realized how beneficial an ignorant populace is and that mind control is a very good, if not the best, tool in their arsenal.

“Sometimes you gotta put the whole world on mute, when you’re on the pursuit, to find out what’s good for you // Everybody on the move tryna get their loot too, don’t be a scapegoat, don’t let them persecute you // Don’t be a fool dude, watch who you salute to, never be a tool in somebody else’s arsenal. Psychological warfare, what the fuck is going on here? // You only getting half the story, believing allegories.”

My ideology then is Multiply & Reclaim. Too many things separate us when we have so much more in common, particularly a common puppet-master pulling our strings.

I came up with this model: Input, Accountability, Mediation, Output. Be accountable for what you consume and allow into your life, be very conscious of the meaning of emotions surrounding those things, and before you continue or convince someone else to feel the way you do .. ask who will benefit and who will suffer.

It is important that our communities become educated on the principles of politics, how public policy is created and be aware of their socio-economic implications. Massive progressive reform is necessary for our economic and social development and it will only happen outside of the mainstream and through a coalition of our own Grass Roots organizations, advocacy and special interest groups.

Thanks for reading!

Fake #Money & The Real #World

yelyrics

I grew up spoiled rotten. I had everything I needed in addition to virtually everything I wanted as a child. I had a new gadget and wardrobe every week it seemed. I became popular off the strength of my new shoes alone. This went on throughout my teenage years. I didn’t have my first job until I was 19 years old, mainly because I wanted one. I spent those checks on frivolous shit I already had and didn’t need more of. Shit people took the lives of others for, risking theirs. Although I was spoiled, I wanted to get out there and work to supplement my spending habits. Work is a lot more complex than I realized however, and it tied into the real world. The world of labor and wealth producing resources. This is how I got from point A to point B, from a spoiled child to the scholar I am today.

Money
Being spoiled was bittersweet because I grew up not understanding what money was or how it actually worked. My father would always tell me to save money and stress delayed gratification; I wasn’t hearing any of that (imagine my guilt when I learned about the concept of planned obsolescence). I thought there would always be an endless flow of money at my disposal. In the grand scheme of things, in terms of economics, finance and capitalism, I had absolutely zero knowledge of how money worked. In the back of my mind though, I was always curious. I read a fortune that said “you will never have to worry about a steady income” and took that to heart. Don’t worry about it, pursue it and it’ll come. I played the numbers on the back and everything, won $35 bucks. I thought I had cracked the Ancient Chinese Secret.

By the time I fully grasped the concept of money, I held an exorbitant amount of student loan debt after receiving 2 degrees from both a State and Private institution. Me. Not Mommy, not Daddy, not my friends. Just me in exit counseling both times, all by my lonesome. But… I just knew I’d graduate and get a well-paying job within 6 months of graduating, just in time to begin paying my loans back. Loans had I realized would be mine and did the math on even as a naïve 17 year old, I may have had second thoughts taking on. I went to school so I could get a good job and buy more stuff. I finished undergrad in 2009 during the midst of the economic crisis. The DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program paid for majority of my undergrad expenses. In hindsight, I wish I had just stopped there.

Oh, don’t worry. Just go ahead and get your Master’s, things’ll get better.” I was so very hesitant to continue after taking my first course, but wanted to “do the right thing.” I always finish what I start. I finished alright, with a lot more debt than before in 2009. Currently, obtaining it is thee biggest and most expensive mistake i’ve made thus far. It’s the sole regret I have to date, I just wasn’t ready.

The Real World
I always hated school but loved to learn. And even though my Master’s degree is the root of my stress, during my quest for it I discovered the source of my motivation to truth seek. It was during my Constitutional and Administrative Law course when I finally decided to reject school and follow my heart, my soul, my inner dialogue. I had learned enough to confidently challenge what didn’t make sense to me.

It was while reading the text for this course, a passage about the origin of The United States criminal justice system, that I had my Eureka moment. It was talking that Greek shit; no mention of any preceding Ancient Civilizations in which they borrowed  from. I had just spent 4 years studying an abundance of histories and cultures, including those that preceded Western Civilization. Nothing. When learning how our system of public policy was rooted in Greek Philosophy, I wondered why Greek? How can European philosophy be used to police me or any black person for that matter? I thought about all the students who weren’t as familiar with World History as I was and how they perceived this.

This was the beginning of me learning about global oppression and the identity and space created for me to be conditioned to fit into. It’s what led me to research the Federal Reserve System which just blew the lid off of everything I thought I knew about law and government, civil and human rights. I finally understood what Dr. Barnes was asking in American Government & Politics when he asked “exactly, what is government? exactly, what is politics.” Though I had guidance, I basically taught myself the most important lessons.

Learning about our system of economics and how it ties directly into controlling natural wealth producing resources, including people from across the globe, blew the lid off of imperialism, colonialism, democracy and so on. I was finally shifting my paradigm from what I had been programmed to believe; I could see the lies embedded throughout society and hidden in plain sight.

I attended a majority of classes with African adult students; this was a very precious experience I feel special to have had. My former professor was an Ambassador of Liberia to Nigeria. It was a mature environment with totally different perspectives from my own and those I’m bombarded with. We were able to form friendships and learn about each other in a space that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. I was able to speak on behalf of children of immigrants, like their own, as well as African American cultural influences on us.

A majority of my classmates intention’s were to receive their Master’s in Public Administration and return to their native countries to serve. This made me say, “well damn.” Maybe I should take my education and skills to Jamaica or somewhere it will actually benefit from, rather than falling in line and assimilating into the American way of making things better. Possibly even live The Good Life. Then I think about all the people outside of the United States who’d give anything to trade places with me at my lowest and never look back, regardless.

The real world has been a never ending rabbit hole for me. I’ve answered the most pressing questions i’ve had throughout my life and now I am able to observe and understand the world around me. I am mentally prepared for the ups and downs towards my pursuit of happiness. Money is just a medium of exchange for the things I love that have unfortunately been commodified and overpriced in the name of capitalism.

Thanks for reading!

#Jamaican Mother, #Jewish Neighborhood

starofdavid

My mother was brought to the United States in January of 1968. To put this into perspective, she never experienced American racism or temperatures below 65 degrees. She was totally uncomfortable and afraid of this place.

As you know, Martin Luther King Jr. would be assassinated just months following her arrival. With the aftermath embedded into her psyche, she grew up somewhat politically and historically aware and decided to align herself with the “feminist-black power”, sprinkled in with some Rastafarian, paradigm. She has an Afrocentric, Grass Rooted point of view about life.

With this being said, I always knew certain ethnicities and groups didn’t fuck with other ethnicities and groups. History is taught so non-politically in school that I couldn’t make these connections myself. I would piece together what I could from conversations my mother and I would have as well as listening to NPR and other news outlets.

I lived the white-black racial dichotomy; I was aware of discrimination though I didn’t fully understand how it got this way, or why. I just knew white people made all the rules for everybody to follow, especially black people. This disturbed me to the core and it would take the last half of my life before I figured the whole White Supremacy thing out. For all of the years prior I pretty much accepted white privilege as the norm. For black and white people to have beef  made sense.. other groups though? What’s y’all problem?

All my life I would have these inner dialogues, questioning so many things around me, particularly things that didn’t quite make sense about race and ethnic relations. I think I felt embarrassed to ever question them because I felt it was conventional wisdom.

From ages 8 through 16 I grew up in a predominately Jewish neighborhood (Kemp Mill in Wheaton, MD); we had at least three synagogues and two Jewish schools I would see on the regular. I always wondered why they were so “special” and had their own institutions and establishments. Their school was located adjacent to our neighborhood park. They had their own basketball courts which were nicer than ours, one was short enough for us to try dunking on! They wouldn’t welcome us to play on their court, however they would come down to our shabby ass court at will.

It also appeared they had their own religion and way of life different from any I’d witnessed before. Of course their attire was strange to me, as well as their “stand-offish-ness.” I felt like they felt they were better than everyone else. And then there were the Jewish kids who I went to public school with who were my friends and nothing like the kids who attended the Yeshiva School. I even attended a Bat Mitzvah! My good friend Jaime would always make it a point to remind me that she wasn’t “orthodox”. While I didn’t quite know what that meant, I assumed it meant she wasn’t like the Jewish people in my neighborhood.

This opened my mind to a field of inquiry concerning the race and religion of people in general, but particularly Jewish people. I wondered, are Jewish people white? Can a non-white person be Jewish? Why does my mother wear a Star of David pendent on her chain? What is this 12 tribes of Israel stuff I hear Rastafarians talk about? Why do they require their own bible? Excuse me, Torah.

They even had their own grocery store (Kosher Mart) and pizza shop (Ben Yehuda). Hell, they even had Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum with Hebrew writing on the comic. Obviously, I had zero notion of the concept of nation building. Adding to my curiosity about race, religion and ethnicity were the other people who made up my neighborhood.

I lived in a high rise apartment building with 21 floors. The tenants were multicultural & multiracial; our community was also diverse as far as socio-economics are concerned. Now that I think about it, our community included a number of nursing homes and disabled people as well. There were residents from all ethnic backgrounds and class levels technically living under one roof. Diplomats from foreign countries would reside in my building, as well as their children, many my age. The same could be said about low income residents who lived in my neighborhood.

We had people from African countries, Eurasian countries, South and Central America as well as the Caribbean and so on. I could virtually play basketball with Jewish kids on Monday, street hockey with Albanian kids on Tuesday, soccer with Nigerian kids on Wednesday, football with American kids on Thursday, swim with Jordanian kids on Friday, play tennis with Vietnamese kids on Saturday and play baseball with El Salvadorian kids on Sunday.

Thanks for Reading!