Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Holidays are here and New Year is Upon Us.

The holidays are upon us and I am looking forward mainly to new year’s eve. I have always loved the idea of a new beginning. My moving to Dallas away from Memphis four years ago was a new beginning in my life. This is not to say that I will always live in Dallas, but this was definitely a good place to start for me on my journey to a new beginning. As a single man with no children, I can see myself moving to another place in a few years like Miami Beach or somewhere south of the border. I can see myself reaching the goals that I set for myself years ago in my youth. Changing one’s environment means a lot when trying to reach personal goals.

As we move closer to the New Year, I have the highest of hopes for myself, my family and my friends. Those of you who take time out to stop and read what I have to say on a weekly basis, I can truly say that I appreciate you. I appreciate the honest responses and feedback. Believe it or not, it helps me to grow more and more with each blog-post that I write. Granted, my growth may be different from your growth. According to an old Gramblinite and former friend, last week, I have not grown racially or in my perspective on race. Of course, I beg to differ. I think what he meant to say that the American people have not grown in regards to race.

I learned a long time ago that when it comes to the topic of race and obviously race-related issues in society, people are sensitive and people are fine with being in denial about race. I, on the other hand, welcome the topic of race. No, I have not had sex with, had children with and even dated anyone outside of my race. I am very proud of myself for this. However, I am open to dating outside of my ethnicity (as long as she is not white) and as long as she has melanin flowing through her body, it’s all good. This is not to say that I can’t be cool  and be friends with all people of all races because I am cool with all people of all races I am friendly with people of other races and even sexual orientations. I just choose not to share my bed or my seed with a non-black woman. Is this a crime against humanity? I think not. Sadly, many in my own race believe that this is a crime against humanity.

With the New Year approaching, my hope is that we all grow in our own special ways. I want us as Black people to finally stop casting out those of us who are fine with just loving Black people. This does not make us less intelligent. This does not make you (with your white spouse/mixed kids) any more racially aware than those of us who have chosen not to go that route when deciding to date and create a family. This does not make us hateful towards white people or another ethnic group. This does not make us hateful towards Black people who have chosen to date and make with whites and other ethnicities. This does not make us less intelligent than you. As a matter of fact, I think this makes us more secure in whom we are as Black people, believers of God and more knowledgeable of our culture what we have to go through in this country historically and currently.

What I just said strangely does not have to be said when it comes to White Jews, Italian, Asians, Hispanics, Latinos, Greeks, and W.A.S.P.S because somehow it is expected for them to date and mate within their own racial and ethnic groups and not be criticized or labeled racially immature because they not only BELIEVE but PRACTICE love amongst their groups. Sounds interesting huh? As I grow, I want to you grow with me. As I continue to love you (despite our different views on certain topics) it would be nice if you continued to love me even into the New Year. I don’t write and share my thoughts for the purpose of creating enemies. I write and share my thoughts because I believe that we can still can talk, disagree, agree, come up with solutions, and after the conversation is over we can hug one another and appreciate the light we both shared that opened us up to a perspective that we probably had never considered before.

Anyway, I have one more article to post for this year. It won’t be anything new. It will be a repost of an article that I wrote a couple of years ago addressing another pertinent issue in society, which is the ever-group trend of Teen Pregnancy. Yes. I will definitely go out this year with a bang. If I don’t see you or speak to you before the New Year, I would like to take this time to wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year. If you are in Dallas, I may see you at one of the New Year’s Eve parties somewhere in the Dallas metroplex.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sometimes I hate being a Conscious Black Man!

Sometimes I get frustrated being a conscious Black man among so many of us who are UNconscious. Meaning, I often become frustrated at being a lover of Black people. I sometimes become frustrated at being a lover of Black women (only). I become frustrated at being a lover and a staunch advocate for young Black males. I remember when I was a young man back in college on the campus of  mybeloved Grambling State University in early 1990s. I wrote an Op-Ed column here and there for the university’s campus newspaper called “The Gramblinite.” I was not a writer for the Gramblinite or anything. The paper accepted weekly submissions from students on campus and I just submitted an opinion every week. LOL! Each week I would submit an opinion or thought about a subject that was a part of society or just an issue that was exclusive to the campus itself. Each week, people scrambled to get a copy of the issue where I was sharing my thoughts. Yes. My thoughts often created a campus-wide stir among the students as well as the faculty and administration. I was even asked by the faculty editor of paper to write  an article from time to time on various topics because I generated such a buzz throughout the university with my writing style. I guess the rumbling was too much for the administration because out of no where the faculty editor of the Gramblinite just stopped accepting my submissions to newspaper.  Hey, it was all good because I went on to create my very own campus media outlet, which was my very own campus newsletter called, “In My Opinion” by Rico Rivers.

In my newsletter, I was able to be as expressive as well as “real” as I wanted to be. However, my wanting to be free to express my thoughts without any limits came with a price. The price was the reality of being shunned by the very people whom I thought I was trying to educate about the many ills in our community, on our campus, and in the country we live in as Black people. Well, when you speak truth without a filter, there are those will not be ready for the truth. So much that they begin to plot and pray to God for your demise. I remember a many evenings walking home alone and not understanding why so many students and faculty expressed outward dislike and even hatred for me after a newsletter would drop. Yes. I reported on the messed up behaviors on students on campus. Yes. I broke a lot of stories in my newsletter that The Gramblinite just would not touch. Yes. I was very outspoken and very vocal on issues that the appointed leaders on our campus just would not touch. I was that alternative voice to that scripted mainstream voice on campus. Strangely, I was viewed by many at the university as what was wrong with the university during the four years I reigned as the much needed and desired alternative voice to the mainstream voice at the university.

You see. I thought I was delivering a much needed message to the students and those at the university who felt that they did not have a voice. However, it did not dawn on me until later that it was not ok in the minds of quite a few at the university to air out the university’s dirty laundry. I also learned the hard way that speaking the truth also meant putting some people and groups on blast. A lot of people back then did not care for me speaking the truth on campus about their favorite professor, church, fraternity, sorority, religion, and even about race. However, there were those who did appreciate what I doing back then. They often came to my defense when those who decided that they did not care for my commentary attempted to bad mouth me or my character. By the way, none of this ever swayed me from telling it like it was back in the day. Yes. My feelings were hurt often by the backlash I received often from an article I wrote that uncovered and exposed a wrong doing at the university.

Some people actually believed that I got a thrill out of exposing people who were essentially hurting the university and misleading the student body. I did not. I walked home alone often emotionally and mentally exhausted and even physically worn-out from distributing a newsletter that I knew would create a not so positive stir on the campus because of the nature of the articles written in that particular issue. I would walk home feeling like the bad guy even after I had just written an expose’ on an actual bad guy on campus. I remember sometimes walking home alone and crying and asking God, “Why did you choose me?” “Why did you choose me to be one of those people”? Then, I as would get closer to home, I would have this thought, “You know. I guess I am supposed to do this now.” When I got home, I’d wipe away my tears and just collapse on the bed and just sleep. I mean sleep until I had no more sleep left in me.

Sometimes, I feel the same way these days. In the midst of all the craziness that is currently going on in the Black community and in the world, I have often found myself not wanting to say anything about some of these issues that are going on today. I know that I will say and write something that will be the truth, but will be the truth that people are not ready to hear right now. It is not that I am afraid or anything. It just gets tiresome and repetitive. People becoming upset with me because I have the balls to point out the pink elephant in the room is that all that great. It’s not even worth pointing out the pink elephant in the room any more. My thoughts on racism, religion, interracial dating, obesity in the Black community, reparations, education, out of wedlock births, homosexuality, white supremacy, teen pregnancy, drugs and crime, etc, really don’t coincide with the current mainstreamed thoughts of most people. In this era of multiculturalism and diversity, my people, black people are still not ready for a conscious Black man’s thoughts. This still saddens me. I will continue to share my thoughts as a conscious Black man, however, what’s makes it different for me these days is that I now know why God chose me way back then and I am now ok with the price tag that comes along with being a conscious Black man.

In closing, I just want to say just in case you are wondering. My concern has never been what white people about my opinions or my positions on issues. My feelings and my heart have always been in tuned with Black people. However, it has become too much of an emotional burden for me to invest as much time and energy in speaking to my people about what “We NEED TO DO” to make things better in our communities. This is why I changed my focus over the years. Less talk conversations and more action. I have work to do. However, it does get at me a little sometimes to just sit and watch our people destroy itself out of ignorance and fear of being referred to by whites and Blacks who have really bought into the Whoopi Goldberg, Kerry Washington, RG III, O.J. Simpson, and Tiger Woods love affair with the European mindset as prejudiced or even racist.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Single/Never married women should not be awarded child support payments by a court of law.

I think Single/ Never Married women should not be awarded child support by a court of law when she nor the father EVER signed a legal document that would support the legal reasoning behind the awarding of such payments. What I mean by supportive and legal documents are: A marriage license that was signed by both parties or a birth certificate signed by both parties after a DNA test has proven that he is the father. Hell, I would even accept a recorded verbal agreement between the two single people who decide to lay down in moment of lust and have unprotected sex. Just because it is a moral thing to do which is a man stepping up to the plate to take care of the child he helped to create, it should not be allowed to be turned into a LEGAL matter if no supportive legal documents were ever signed. I figure if this single woman was woman enough to get him sleep with her, she should be woman enough to get this same single man to help her support the baby that she gave him permission to place inside of her. Nooooo. This sounds too much like right when the female is being called upon to not only take responsible for her actions, but also be charged with protecting her own body.

Let me say this. Morally, I think it is horrendous for ANY MAN to just walk away from a child he helped to create. However, on the other hand, I don't think that he should be held liable legally and monetarily for the WOMAN's CHOICE to ALLOW HIM to IMPREGNATE her without being a woman and getting the necessary legal paperwork signed. Since she gave him PERMISSION to go up in her without a condom, she should woman up and be prepared to go with the consequences of her actions and NOT CRY ABOUT HER CHOICE to a court of law. The court of law needs to stay out of single people's business and bedrooms. Again this sounds too much like right when the court system makes a profit off of child support payments being paid out by the man and in some cases the woman. This to me is gender bias on the deepest level. Maybe some of this behavior can be stopped if the female, who happens to be all in love with Jesus Christ and who professes to be the follower of God's word, would just keep God's word in mind when deciding to have sex out of wedlock with a man who is not her husband.     I J S.   :)

Before I am asked, "Rico, what about the man?" Well, what about him? He can only do what he is ALLOWED to do. Get it? Legally, a single man should not be harassed by the courts for money that is not legally due to a single woman or a child that she had out of wedlock or shall I say without having any legal documentation in place to justify such payments.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

I am just asking a question about AIDS/HIV and RACE!

World AIDS Day has come and gone and the conversation about AIDS/HIV continues. The cure has yet to be found and the national campaign to get us all tested for HIV/AIDS continues. However, every year the focus or the theme of World AIDS day seems to be Africa. Please forgive me, but I never knew AIDS saw race and/or color. Yes, in the beginning of this AIDS epidemic, which was back in the very late 1970’s, it appeared that somehow AIDS recognized sexual orientation. Strange, huh? AIDS/HIV was initially referred to as the gay white man’s disease. The disease was supposedly spread through gay sex being had among white males. Then, the disease became known as a Black people’s disease (as if sickle cell anemia wasn’t enough). Now, according to the latest statistics from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, it has a become a Black female disease, which is supposedly mainly spread to these women by having sex with Black men on the "down-low" and men coming out of prison. Ok. I always thought that the virus was passed along from one infected person to non-infected person. Hmm, how does a few brothaz who get released from prison make such an impact that is being suggested by these statistics? How do a few cheating “down-low” Black men even measure up to the statistic that the CDC in Atlanta has presented to us as facts?

If this disease does not see color, race, gender, and even sexual orientation, then why aren't there staggering statistics among whites, Asians, Italians, and even Hispanics? How did Black people all over the world become so infected by this deadly disease? Please don’t insult me by saying that Black people are infected the most because of us supposedly being sexual risk takers or have unprotected sex more than any other race of people. I never knew it mattered how many times a person had sex without a condom with an infected person when comes to contracting AIDS/HIV. Also, sex was not just given to Black people by God. All people have sex. This how all races reproduce themselves. They are having plenty of sex (unprotected) in all of Europe and in all of the white suburbs all across America. Hell, in Italy, Paris, and London where wine is consumed heavily culturally, not only are these groups of whites having sex, but they are getting drunk and then having unprotected sex. So, why aren’t they contracting the AIDS virus and passing it around in their communities like it is being reported about Blacks all over the world. Also, if AIDS does not see color or race, how come these same statistics of Black women who have been contracting the virus from men have not contracted any AIDS from their white husbands and/or white boyfriends? You all do know that a lot of Black women do date/marry white men, right?

Is this to say that white men don’t have gay sex with other men in 2012 and cheat on their women? Come on now. I know you are smarter than that. Where are the statistics of biracial children born with HIV? If the virus does not see color/race, well this would mean that the Black mother to contract the HIV virus, she would have to go out and cheat on her white and Hispanic man with a Black man. This appears to be another message being sent about Black people’s alleged proclivity to bad sexual behavior and poor moral character. I’m just saying. We all know that everybody cheats on their lovers in ALL races and genders. However, the CDC and the World Health Organization gives the impression through “their” statistics and “their” purposeful focus on Blacks around the world, that we are a bunch of amoral, sexually reckless and promiscuous people. You and I know that this behavior is not exclusive to one race of people. So, what gives? Why is the focus primarily on Black people in Africa and Black people in America when it comes to AIDS/HIV?

Anyway, I just have to ask these questions sometimes because while we tend to celebrate certain days and causes, we tend not to really look deep into what we are celebrating or why the need for fundraising for a cure when there is clearly no intention of ever finding a cure. I am not saying don’t get tested. I am saying do some thinking about certain situations and even issues that are brought before you in this society that have been deemed very important. Don’t get me started on the cancer issue and this particular foundation that has made an economic killing off of people dying from cancer. This foundation is so savvy that it has gotten major corporations to fund its annual fraud for the cure campaign that’s got everybody wearing pink even the guys in the NFL! Corporate capitalism and fraud at its best.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"If you really love God so much, wouldn’t you would be more particular about the creation of children?"- Rico Rivers

Yesterday, I was having a late lunch at Wendy’s with one of my younger cousins, Arrias. We were discussing abortion and teenage pregnancy and how we both did not seem to have a problem with it in regards to children being created by silly teenagers and adults who are having sex just for the fun of it or while under the influence of drugs/alcohol. This usually means that a child will be brought here to planet earth to parents or a parent who is uncertain or just really had no plans on creating a life, but who were just enjoying the act of having sex. Also, I shared with my cousin a scenario of a child being created by two people who don’t really like each but were both driven by lust. Hell, in some cases the two people actually hate each other, but were both “just doing some” because sex does feel good and it serves as a pretty good and most of the times, welcomed escape from the norm for a while. Maybe this is why so many poor people have such a large number of children.

However, during our conversation, the subject of God was brought into the conversation. The subject of God and the act of abortion in the same sentence has always pissed me off. My said, “You know, Rico. People often use God as a reason for not getting an abortion when it is obvious that an abortion is in order.” I was like, “Man, that it is trip.” I say this because I have always been turned off by the hypocrisy of people when it comes to God, Jesus, and the whole religion bit whenever it is convenient for whatever it is I really want to do. I often hear people say, “I can’t be for abortion because it is murder and it is against God’s word.” Guess what. Fornication (sex outside of marriage) is also reportedly against God’s alleged word, but people do it all the time.

Here is my position, I am pro-life. I am pro-abortion. I am mainly pro-CHILD! You see as a long time social worker and mental health professional, I look at the impact of what unplanned child creation can have on a child. If you a woman is impregnated by a man that she does not love or she does not even like, those hateful feelings are a part of her body. Those emotions be they anger, regret, hate do travel to the fetus that she is carrying. If she is depressed feeling abandoned because the sperm donor has left already even before the child is even born, those feelings and emotions are felt by the fetus as it continues to grow. So, when two people who don’t like each other and may even hate each just have sex for the sake of “doing something” and a child is unfortunately created during this process, the child will be born with this overwhelming feeling of rejection. I don’t that this is fair. I don’t think that it is fair that a child be forced to be brought here under these conditions and worse because you all of a sudden remembered what God’s word is when it comes to abortion. How come you did not have God’s word in mind when you had unprotected sex? I am just saying. Many children grow up with this feeling that they just can’t explain, but they know it’s real when they are born out a situation where the two people who created them really did not mean for it to happen. People often refer to these pregnancies and ultimate births as a mistake.

If you ever asked a single woman or a teenaged female, “So, what are your plans for the baby that you are carrying?” and she replies, “I don’t know.” Red flag! If you ever asked, “Hey, do you want to keep it?” and she replies, “I don’t know, but I can’t get an abortion because it’s murder and against God’s word.” Red flag! If you ever asked, “Hey what’s up with you and the father?”and she replies, “Him. He ain’t shit! I can’t stand him! We are not together!” Big RED Flag! Why would anyone bring a child here that they really don’t want? Please, don’t give that song and dance about adoption. Yeah. It’s an option, but I still think that it is unfair to the child. During the closing of the conversation, I made the statement, “If you really love God so much you would be more particular about creation.” This statement just came out of no-where. Well not really for me. It came from an over-standing of God, human behavior and mental health. This statement came from a place of understanding what that rejection feels like when created by two teenagers who no intentions of creating me but had sex “just to be doing something.” It came from a place of having to unknowingly live with that sense of feeling rejected all of my life until recently realized what that feeling was that has held me back from some many of life’s opportunities with marriage and parenthood included.

When my biological father rejected me to my face in 2008, the original rejection from the time of conception 40 years earlier had come full circle. My mother admitted to me recently that she hated him and that he did not care for her, they were just “doing something.” I hated the fact that I had to live with their poor and wreckless decision up until finding out the truth behind my conception. Today, with this understanding, I can now move forward and begin to claim what I had denied myself for years out of what I thought was just plain ole fear, but was actually an overwhelming sense of fear of being rejected because of the first two people who rejected me, my parents. My mother was a teen-aged mother overwhelmed by fear, shame, guilt, and regret. She hated her sperm donor and unbeknownst to her, all of those feelings where passed down to me in the womb, which obviously sent the messages of an unwanted pregnancy to an unsuspecting fetus.
So, please do the unborn child a favor. If you don’t want it, don’t have it! Don’t use God as an excuse to cover up a poor choice of a sperm donor. Don’t use God as an excuse because you don’t want people to “talk about you” for having not having it. If you love God so much, please respect the rights of the unborn. Plan for a child with a man who loves you, a man who loves God, a man who has a job, a car, his own home, an education, a clean criminal record, and who is standing right in front of you, your family and God saying, “I do.”

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"I am Still From Memphis, Tennessee!" Lawd, Gimme Strength!

Today’s blog site post/article is dedicated to my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Well, the message of this article could very well resonate with others outside of the city of Memphis and the county of Shelby. You see. I am from a city where a legendary Civil Rights leader was “set up” to be murdered by other so-called Black civil rights leaders who reportedly served as informants for the FBI and the local law enforcement agencies in the city back in 1968. The leader was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the informants were members of the local NAACP and a bunch of Negro preachers and Negro politico wannabes. The city of Memphis has never really recovered from that traumatic period in the city’s history. Well, I should be more specific by saying that the Blacks in that city have not really recovered from the psychological trauma of the events of 44 years ago.

The city of Memphis has not moved in a very fast or a steady pace racially, economically, educationally, and politically in these past 44 years. One can say that the psychological effects of that era could have caused a mental stalemate in the minds of many people of color. Well, Atlanta was hit with some rough times during that era, but somehow the city and its citizenry have bounced back. Since the civil rights movement, the city of Atlanta has more than reinvented itself, more than bounced back. Atlanta has become a major player in the world of economics, politics, and entertainment. If you seek a quality college education, trying to make it as an entertainer of some kind, or just simply looking for a better job to make a better living for yourself, Atlanta is on the lips of many as the suggested destination these days.

A President was brutally murdered in the city of Dallas, but it has not done a thing to detract from Dallas’ world class status as the city to be in when looking for a better life. Dallas has it all. I can actually say that Dallas “has it going on.” Dallas has a serious downtown. The city can boast about having the world famous Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, the Dallas Mavericks, the world champion Texas Rangers, two major airports, plenty of nice neighborhoods to live in, malls galore, major retail/department stores and outlets, and has the destination of a few NBA all-star weekends, a super bowl or two, as well as countless of network television shows that are filmed and produced here. Dallas even has Jerry Jones, Mark Cuban, Erykah Badu and host of other millionaires along with major corporations with more relocating to the city even as we speak. Dallas is not a bad place for African Americans to begin a new start. I am living proof of this. I must also admit that Dallas has its share of issues. Yes. Dallas has “hoods” of all kinds. Yes. The politicians and preachers are up to their same economic and political tricks when it comes to serving the people. In other words, they are full of shit here too.

My point in saying all of this is to say that Memphis is a city of mentally dead people. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan once described Memphis as a city of the dead during one of his speeches in the city years ago. Most of the Blacks in the city of Memphis still move around in the city as if they are still on a cotton plantation. Instead of them (being the majority population in the city) fighting to get off the plantation, these backwards people fight for better positions on the cotton plantation. It’s like they are afraid of even the idea of being a free and independent people. I mean, there is so much selling out and fearful silence on the part of so many so-called Black leaders in that town that it often becomes frustrating during city elections for a person like me. I never really know who to vote for in any of the political positions. So, a lot of the times, I just never really cared to vote at all when I lived there. It was literally like a waste of my time and my hard earned vote.

A particular status quo was set in the city a long time ago that has contributed to the continuous non-productive, non-progressive, fearful of change, and fear of the white power structure among the Black populace. It’s like most of the black people there have been placed under a spell or some sort of hypnosis of ignorance. The people’s issues are often placed on the back burner while the profession and corporate types live high on the hog. The Black preacher and the Black politician live easy lives as the people they pretend to serve go hungry and even go insane waiting for them to represent their interests.

However, there have been people over the years (including myself) in Memphis who was not under “the plantation spell” to stand up and challenge the status quo of the powerful elite in the city of Memphis. Many of us actually made strides in our efforts to get the people’s voices heard and to get the TRUTH out about how the people are being swindled, “bamboozled, run amuck, led a stray, and even hoodwinked” (Malcolm X) by the powers that be in that city. However, for as long I have known his name in Memphis, Thaddeus Matthews, has been giving the sell-out Black young professionals, the racist white structure, the fearful, cowardly and crooked politician, the crooked Black preacher, and anyone who dared to exploit the black community, and especially our children pure hell in person in community meetings, on his many radio shows and now on his television show.

He also served and continues to serve as somewhat of a private investigator to get and even uncover information for the community that the mainstream television, radio, and prints news media would not and/or could bring to the community. He is the reason that Black Memphis as well as the city at large is a lot smarter about politics, economics and religion. He has risked his own life and his economic livelihood in order to remain free in that city to bring much needed information to the masses in that town. However, when you stand-up and I mean really stand up the way Thaddeus has done for so many years in that town, there are consequences. The powers that be will be angry at you for trying to break the spell of fear and the system of disunity among the people.

Thaddeus Matthews is nobody’s angel. However, he is not the devil. Thaddeus Matthews is not everybody’s friend but he is friendly to all who offer him friendship. Thaddeus Matthews has a past that is not squeaky clean, but who does? Thaddeus Matthews will literally cuss your ass out if you come to him incorrectly. Shit, me too! Thaddeus Matthews is very opinionated. Thaddeus Matthews is very entertaining on his radio and television shows. He is also very enlightening. Thaddeus Matthews is not Dr. King! Thaddeus Matthew will strike you back if you strike him. He will also produce that double-barreled Mossberg shot gun. Thaddeus Matthews loves the President, just like most of you do. Thaddeus Matthews loves his children and grandchildren. Thaddeus Matthews has a personality that truly only a mother can love at times. However, when you have this understanding, you and Thaddeus get along very well. If you are not a lover of truth and justice in its rawest form, you and Thaddeus may not be able to share the same space. Thaddeus Matthews has a temper. Thaddeus Matthews also has a kind, gentle, and giving side. If don’t believe me ask his children, his grand children. Ask the many people whom he has helped in crisis through his many radio shows. Many of you in the community may not agree with the way he delivers his message in a call to action when there is a crisis in the community, but WE all must admit that he has been very effective in getting that message out there.

I have not written this article to praise Thaddeus. I have written this article to tear him down either. He does not need my help in the praise department. He gets that on his own because he has actually done the work and has made the sacrifices for many of us. I mainly wrote this article to show those in the city of Memphis who may be reveling or even celebrating the current ordeal that Thaddeus is currently being put through by the power that be that you all may need get your priorities and your egos in check. You are mad at the wrong man. Ok, if you don’t like his chosen method of delivering his message at times or his behavior/personality on the radio/television at times, fine. However, none of this makes him a criminal or even guilty of what he is being charged with. I won’t believe that you actually stand by and gleefully allow this one 55 year old man to be attacked by the system there in Memphis because he hurt your feelings in the past or you don’t agree with his opinions and/or a lot of the times, the truth about your favorite preacher or politician.

Love him or hate him. WE HAVE ALL BENEFITTED FROM HIS EFFORTS! So, please don’t sit quietly and allow this latest attack on Thaddeus to go unchallenged by us, the community. THEY DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT A CHILD IN A PICTURE. Thaddeus gets to the bottom of every lie to find the truth. This is why he is being attacked today. Thaddeus, love him or hate has contacts in secret places all over the city that are able to get information that helps you, the unsuspecting Memphis citizen, to become wiser about what’s really going on in the city. Thaddeus’s ability to bring out this information has helped so many people in the city of Memphis to finally open their eyes to the lying and deceit that has kept the city of Memphis so blind and ignorant. Sadly, there are those in high and low places (Black and White) (Christian and Jew) (Gay and Straight) (old and young) who do not want you to be awakened and they want Thaddeus to stop waking up the people! So, please, don’t be distracted by the negative messages in the media.

Look. If you have an issue with Thaddeus the man, that’s one thing. However, to allow your personal issues with him to cause you to ignore all of the good that he is done in the city of Memphis and in particular Black Memphis, now that is criminal to me. I will close by saying this. WE all know what is really behind why the city of Memphis has come down so hard on Thaddeus Matthews. It has nothing to do a picture of a child being exploited. So, I will stand behind Thaddeus Matthews and his good works and not be sidetracked by obvious personal attacks by the small-minded city law enforcement and petty, vengeful people in the city of Memphis. I will definitely be sending in my donation for his legal defense fund.

P.O. BOX 2121, MEMPHIS TN, 38101

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ok. The 2012 Presidential Election is over. Now what, Black Folks!?

The recent presidential election was a repeat of 2008 in the Black community. Meaning, emotions ran high. Expectations of the “so-called” first Black president were at an all time high. Debates about politics and race ran its usual emotionally driven course in our homes, on the job and on social networking sites such as face book and twitter. This time around, people actually lost long time friends because of this year’s election. People even deleted long time friends from their face book pages and twitter pages because of political disagreements about this year’s presidential election. I purposefully stayed away from political conversations this year and for the most part four years ago. I do this because when I was a young man in on the campus of Grambling State University back in the early 1990’s, I participated in debates like this all the time. I even wrote about them in the university’s news paper, the Gramblinite, as well as wrote about them in my own campus newsletter/newspaper called ‘In My Opinion’ by Rico Rivers.

My debating about politics continued even after I graduated from college in 1996 and moved back home to Memphis, TN where I would become a regular caller on popular radio talk shows speaking about the politics and the issues that affected my community in Memphis. In 2000, I put my money where my talk was and I ran for a seat on the Memphis City School Board. This is when I learned firsthand that in order to be considered a serious candidate in a political race in Memphis and running in a Black district, honesty, integrity, and the willingness to actually work hard for the people were not it. You need MONEY! You need to be associated with people with money. You need to apart of some organizations like a church or a fraternity/sorority. You need name recognition and with that name, it needs to be a name that is associated with status. I was running in race with a candidate that had more name recognition than me and the incumbent that we both sought to unseat was a long time school board member and a Negro preacher in the district. Needless to say, my ass came in third place. LOL! It was an enlightening experience. I learned that should I ever decide to run for a political office again in a Black district, I will at least have some money to buy commercial time on television and radio as well as to rent billboards across the district in order to get my message across to the people I aim to represent in whatever the office is I am running for at that time. As far as belonging to a church or a fraternity, THAT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN!

Anyway, on election night, I really did not watch any election coverage on television. I just went about my evening as usual. Of course, I would check out some results every now and then, but nothing more. However, I did get to my computer at work the next morning to read up on the aftermath of the election. I was so surprised to read about others who had won on the night of the election besides President Obama. I read where the advocates behind the legalization of marijuana had won their in push to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in two states. I also read in the same article where the homosexual community had gained the right to marry in two more states. Not far from this article, I read where the Hispanic community had already gotten organized to get with the newly re-elected President to get back to work on the immigration protection law, the Dream Act, which protects Hispanic children who were brought to the US by undocumented parents. Now, I begin clicking pages and sites to look for what Black people won on election night.

While I was clicking to find such an article, I ran across some statistics that showed a breakdown of who voted for the President in the minority community. Let’s see. Asians reportedly voted 71 percent for Obama. Hispanics reported voted 73 percent for Obama. Blacks reported voted an astounding 93 percent for the President. Hmmm, still, I was unable to find any article on the entire World Wide Web that showed anything that black people won election night as a result of Obama being re-elected by them at 93 percent. This could be laughable, but it is too sad to crack a smile at. A lot of Black people fell out with each other at work, at church, in college and de-friended each other on face book and Twitter and don’t have a damn thing to show for it accept for bragging rights over their candidate winning. My question is, “When are Black people going to get it?” These other groups get it. These other groups seem to get what our very own Frederick Douglas said back in the day which was, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

All WE seem to want from this president and this country are the right to party, the right to laugh, the right to screw, the right to cuss, the right to shop or be overall consumers, the right to be uppity, and the right to pay for what we want but BEG for what we need. This thinking is apparently not the thinking of other special interests groups and racial/ethnic groups in this country. They demand respect. They demand protection under this American flag for their people. They demand funding for their children’s education and they demand that the politicians they vote into office represent their agenda. WE still have not mastered this even on the local levels. When Obama was elected the first time, many in the Black community said, “Give him a chance to get the Bush mess cleaned up before demanding anything from him. “ or “Hey, he is not just the President for Black people. He is the President for all people in this country.” Well, all of the other people made demands on this president during his first term and got what they wanted, while Blacks in this country are still waiting on Jesus to return before demanding something in return for their vote from this current President.

Finally, there are those who decided not to vote in this election. There were those who did not vote in the election four year ago. They have that right. Their decision not to vote did not take away their voice because they are intelligent enough to know that voting is a personal right and not a demand of others. This group of non-voters should not be attacked for exercising their right to not vote. They should not be subject to stupid lines, “If you don’t vote, you don’t have a say.” Or “Your vote is your voice.” How about this one? “If you don’t vote, you have nothing to complain about.” The one that got me the most was, “Hey, our ancestors died for your right to vote.” Really? Name two ancestors. What ancestors are you referring to? All of a sudden, black people who never mention anything about Black ancestry and Black history or anything dealing with Black people, all of a sudden have this connection to our “ancestry” during a political season. These same people don’t give a damn about Blackness and not to mention Black ancestry when it’s not a political season.

Ok. I’m done. I just wanted to share my thoughts on this year’s election and how WE as a community still don’t get it. So, to the Obama fans enjoy your bragging rights. To the non-voters, I understand where you are coming from. You get no criticisms from me. To the gay community, the marijuana advocates, and to other ethnic and racial groups in this country, I hope to be like you all when I grow up. I hope Black people will someday take a page from your playbook of politics and progress to understand what power and progress are really about.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I am from Memphis, Tennessee

I am from Memphis, Tennessee. I was born and raised in the north section of the city. I came along when north Memphis was just becoming an all black section in the early 1970’s. Memphis has always been a special city and a unique city when it comes to the music (that so many musicians/artists have copied) the dancing (that so many people from other cities have copied) and of course the food particularly soul food and barbeque. No other city has ever been able to copy either one of those delicacies. Memphis is a very historic place. It is the place where freed slave, Tom Lee, saved the lives of many white people during turn of the century when a great flood hit the city and yellow fever was wiping people out. Memphis is the place that was chosen for the assassination of civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. Memphis is also a place where there is a very huge statue of Confederate General, Nathan Bedford Forrest, who is also cited as being the founder of the Ku Klux Klan in the very middle of the city.

Memphis is a city that has only had three Black mayors in its 193 years of existence. The first Black mayor was elected in 1991. Memphis is also the home of the so-called King of Rock n Roll, Elvis Presley. His mansion, Graceland, currently sits in the heart of the Black community as we speak. Memphis is also home to its only Black owned radio station, WLOK and the very first Black formatted radio (that’s owned by whites) in history, WDIA. Memphis is also home to the Tri-State Defender, a small newspaper that is marketed to African Americans in the city. Now, beginning Monday, October 1, 2012, Memphis will have its very first Black owned, Black funded television network. I would like to use my blog to officially welcome Memphis Urban TV-1 to the city of Memphis. It has been a long time coming. The current white media in Memphis (newspapers, radio stations, TV stations) have kept Memphis in the dark for so long as it relates to the limited information it only shares with the citizens of Memphis. Memphis is a majority Black city, but it is just now getting a black owned media source that will hopefully open up the flood gates that will now allow information (unedited) to flow throughout the city. The new television station can also serve as a vehicle for changing the way African-Americans have been portrayed in that particular city by the mainstream white media in that city. I am hoping that Memphis at large will seize this opportunity to become a part of the much needed change in the way news and images are delivered in that city.

I am hoping that the African American community in Memphis will now realize that taking ownership of one’s destiny, culture and one’s future is not just for “other people.” I am hoping that the entire city does not view this new and much needed media venture as being intrusive and unnecessary. Memphis is a majority Black city that operates like a minority Black city. It sort of reminds me of South Africa during the years of Apartheid as it relates to the power structure. You have about 20 white economic power brokers in the city that have complete control of hundreds and thousands of Blacks in that town. It is actually both sad and amazing to see. It does not matter of the mayor is Black in Memphis. It does not matter if the city council is majority Black in Memphis. It does not matter if the school board is majority Black. It does not matter if the congressman from Memphis is Black. It does not matter if the director of the Memphis Police department is Black.

None of these seem to have mattered because the mass majority of Blacks in Memphis appear to be too caught up in Church and religion to care about ownership, images, culture, and its destiny it seems. It does not matter because far too many Blacks in that town are more than willing to “sell out” the Black community for a couple of dollars, a car, and a false sense of status which has been the reward for many of the sell outs in my hometown. I am hoping with the new television and the support from many in the city, the station will grow to own other media outlets such as a competing major Black newspaper and a radio station or two. For now, I will celebrate this new beginning, this new venture. It has been a long time coming. I will look for more to come in the future. The children in the city of Memphis can use every ounce of ray of light and hope they can get these days. Congratulations to the TBJ-Media Communications Group, LLC for creating this media source. Whenever I come home to Memphis for a visit, I will be sure to turn to Comcast Channel 31 to check out the line-up. In the meantime, I will be sure to log on to to watch the shows live online beginning Monday, October 1, 2012. Best of luck and continued success!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Is Homosexuality becoming "The New Normal?"

The 2012 fall season of television has begun to unfold. Personally, I can’t wait for the new season of Law and Order SVU to start. The final episode of last season was definitely a cliff hanger for me. However, with every new television season the four major networks (FOX, NBC, CBS and ABC) get busy trying to out-do each other in the constant race for ratings. They are also trying one-up a lot of the popular programming that cable offers. This season appears to be shaping up to be the year of the homosexual. There are at least three shows that I have seen on the roster that have deliberate gay themes. One show in particular is called, "The New Normal," which happens to come from the same people who created the show, "Will & Grace" back in the day. This show is about a married male gay couple deciding to have a baby with a surrogate mom. Nene Leakes, from The Real Housewives of Atlanta cable show, plays the sassy, bossy (sounds familiar) administrative assistant at the company where one of the main characters works.

Gay themed shows on network television is not something new because popular shows like Will & Grace lasted on NBC for years. However, cable television has always had a large number of gay themed shows. I guess Will & Grace was not enough, because the big four networks now each has gay themed shows on the fall television roster. So, what does this mean? What does this say about current society and its view on homosexuality? What is the message being sent by these four major media sources about homosexuality? Hell, Heterosexuality? Has homosexuality officially become the new normal? Or have the image makers and message senders decided that they are just going to force this concept of natural and normal on the American public without our permission? I am just asking.

I am asking because it I have always known what normal is what it comes to the creation of children and when it came to a marriage. When did that “normal” become outdated and antiquated? When did man sticking his penis inside of woman to create life become “not the thing to do” with so many men? When did a woman not wanting to receive a penis in for the purpose of creating life become “not the thing to do” for so many women? I am just curious. When did “what a family consists of” become so debated and dissected that a man, a woman, and the children that the two of them create become so re-defined from that normal? Would someone please educate me on this? Where was I when all of this was going on? LOL!

Anyway, this article has nothing to do with gay rights. Hell, I don’t even know what gay rights are and what they consist of. However, I am very opened to being educated on that too. These shows are on television this fall. You as an individual can make the decision for yourself whether or not you will watch them. You as an individual can make the decision on what you would like to teach your child about this “new normal” movement that appears to be up on us. I watched a partial episode of the show, “The New Normal.” I watched it all the way up the scene where the two lead gay characters were laying in the bed discussing having a baby with a surrogate, which was not so bad. However when they stopped talking and started kissing, I turned the channel to watch "The Voice." The show is not funny and Nene’s acting is horrible. I watched Will & Grace when it came on NBC back in the day. The characters Jack and Karen were funny as hell. That show went for laughs. I am afraid that these “new normal” shows this fall may be going for something much more deeper than laughs. You be the judge.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Black Afrikan-Centered Consciousness: Is it still what it used to be back in the day?

I have always considered myself to be “conscious” as it relates to knowing and understanding what racism/white supremacy is, its purpose and its agenda. I have always considered myself to be pretty knowledgeable of many thing Afrikan and Afrikan centered. So, therefore nothing that occurs under this system rare ever confuses or surprises me. However, since moving away from Memphis five years ago, I had not been around the “conscious” segment of the Black community since leaving my dear ole hometown of Memphis. In my separation from the “knowledge,”  and the "conscious community, I sort of  found myself slipping spiritually. I stopped a lot of reading that I was doing. My motto had become “If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.” I had become so engulfed in chasing the dollar bill that when I moved to Dallas in 2008, I had made it official that I was not going to connect with the conscious community here in Dallas. This is not to say that I had totally and completely walked away from books, my learning about myself and my culture, I just wanted to concentrate more on my self-development as it relates to my chosen profession, which social work (mental health & drug addiction). I had a few goals to accomplish and I needed to remain focus. I am halfway to meeting these professional goals and I energized as ever.

However, after having been here in Dallas for three years, back in January of this year I began to become curious about the conscious community here in Dallas. A couple of years ago, I found a sista who can twist my hair into locs and who was also into African-centered consciousness. Over the past two years of her doing my hair, we discussed all types of topics from race to politics, to religion to African culture to Black folks in America, and even popular culture and how it affects or impacts the Black community. These hair appointments are always cool. I get my hair washed and twisted, plus have a healthy conversation about real life in the process. It was this connection that contributed more to my curiosity about the conscious community at large in Dallas. Well, anyway, during a most recent hair appointment, I saw this flyer in the building where the sister has her shop that read, “SOUL-utionary Weekend” DFW Sistas of the Black Woman’s Agenda Present- SIS. Letava Mabiligengo (mother ,author, lecturer, home school educator, matriarchal nation-builder, mentor, founder of the Black Woman’s agenda, sister, freedom) SEPTEMBER 7 & 8, 2012. Wow! This woman has more labels than fashion week in New York and more titles than a book store. LOL! Anyway, I am sure she paid a lot of money for those titles and labels.

Last Saturday night on the 8th, I decided at the last minute to go the Pan-African Connection Bookstore in South Dallas to hear this so-called conscious and African-centric Black woman speak on “Black Solutions for Black Problems.” The program was from 7pm to 10pm. I did not arrive until 9pm. However, it turned out to be a good time for me to arrive. When I arrived, it felt like I was returning to some old stomping grounds. For many years when I lived in Memphis, I participated in a lot of the events like poetry readings, concerts, and deep cultural discussions that were a part of the conscious community in Memphis. I wore my Afrikan Ankh and some other Afrikan jewelry as well as read my African-centered authored books. I was pretty tight with “the movement” for long while up until I moved away from Memphis in 2007. I arrived to the event just as the conversation in the sparsely attended room was turning to relationships and mental health. I love topics on relationships and mental health. I was very curious to know what this supposedly African-centric speaker thought about Black mental health and what would serve as a possible solution for aiding in black mental health. I was also curious to know how this room, which was filled with Black people sporting afros, locs, African jewelry, African names, with an African-centered book store downstairs felt about Black mental health and relationships.

Well, one woman in the audience shared her story about being sexually abused in her house hold growing up as the only female among brothers and uncles as well as shedding some light on the reality that men get molested as well as when they are children. This woman in the audience went on to say that it takes a “real man” to accept and love his woman unconditionally when she has gone through so much in her life. The woman in the audience went on to say, “I often tell young sistas this, “Treat your body like it is a million dollar home.” “Don’t let some 10 dollar ass Nigga come along tear your hear house up!” Her comment was immediately followed by sounds and claps of approval of what she said. I was like, “What!?” “Niggas?” The speaker responded, “You are right, Sista. It does take a strong man to do this” “Brothas, let’s face it. You will never know your woman fully.” “You will never know everything about your woman. There are some things that she will never tell you.” “Brothas, keep it real. You won’t be able to handle everything your woman has to tell you.” Now, as the woman and the speaker was saying all of this, I was thinking, “The only thing that a woman would not be able to tell her man is either she has cheated on him or she has been raped and/ or molested as a child or a teenager."

As soon as I had this thought in my head, the speakers says, “Brothaz, your woman may not be able to tell you about her being raped or molested as a child.” I was like, “DUH!” I listened to the conversation that was being had in room until speaker took time to take a breath from hearing herself speak to entertain a couple of questions. I immediately raised my hand. My question had a comment attached to it. I said, “Hello, my name is Rico and I am social worker who has worked as a counselor and therapist and one who has worked with the very types of men that the woman in the audience just spoke of as it relates to them dealing with sexual abuse. My question is twofold. As it relates to a “real man” having to accept and love his woman with all of her issues, wouldn’t it be fair for a person to get himself or herself together emotionally and mentally before meeting someone or allowing an unsuspecting person to get with them? Number two, as one who understands that many in the Black community tend to view counseling as a cuss word; what is the conscious community’s attitude or perception of seeking counseling or therapy to help with emotional or mental issues?”

The speaker responded to the first part of my question by saying, “You’re right, Brotha. I agree. I think we should have our stuff together before we meet.” Here is how she answered my question about seeking therapy as a solution. She said, “Brotha, yeah many of us do tend to look at counseling as a cuss word but not because of counseling, but because of the Psychologist/counselor trying to tell us what to think.” I was like, “What!?” She went on to say, “Brotha, in order for you to be able to counsel us, you must live among us. You must come to where are in order to understand where we are coming from.” “You must be able to identify with us or to help us.” I replied. “I understand what you saying.” “This is why counselors and therapists come in all various ages, races, ethnicities and genders. It is a simple process. This is why you choose a counselor/therapist that best meets your needs.” “You can choose a therapist that you can identify with on the level that’s comfortable for you as the client.”

I went on to share with her that not all therapists and counselors try to tell their clients what to think. I know that I don’t. I shared with her the process that is mainly used by most counselors and therapist when helping clients. I told her (the speaker and the audience) that the counselor is there to merely help the client describe the pain that they have been struggling with for so long. Our job is to just listen and in our listening, we are able to ask the right questions that will help in leading the client to the resolution that they have been seeking, but unable to do so. I went on to give (what I thought was a harmless example) of what it could look like. I said, “Take for instance you are teaching a three year old how to ride a bike that has training wheels. You push him or her along until he/she masters the bike on his/her own and when he/she has built up the courage to ride the bike on his/her own, you then take off the training wheels and he is on his way.” Well, this example did not sit well with the speaker. She responded by saying, “Brotha, you just offended the room when referred to us as 3 year old.” I was like, “WTF!? Is she serious?” She went on to say, “Brotha, you just proved to us in this room that you were not listening.” The room then began to rumble and give her signs of approval of what she had just said to me. I was like, “I was listening. This is why I asked the question that I asked.” She went on to say, “You see, Brotha. This is why many in African community don’t go to counseling because the way you are being condescending and putting people down.” Again, I was like, “WTF!?”

I replied to her, “I did not offend anyone in the room.” She said, “You see. You are now trying to tell me that I am not offended. You are trying to tell me what to feel.” I responded “You said that I offended the people in the room. I need you to just speak for you.” Well, needless to say, she did like that response. So, she sarcastically took a poll of the audience and said, “Ok Brotha. So you said that I should only speak for myself. Well, anybody else in the room feel offended by what this Brotha said?” The rumbling from the audience covered the entire room. It was the perfect preacher like call and response. “Yeah, he offended me!” One Black guy even raised his hand with a might force to say, Yes, Sista. I felt offended!” I was like, “Well, damn.”

Feeling validated and empowered by her subjects, the speaker went on to say, ‘Brotha, you paid a lot for those degrees and those labels, but you are pushing the oppressor’s psychology.” This is the moment when I just stopped and waited for the end of program. Besides, who in the entire room had more labels and titles than her on the flyer that advertised her program. So stupid. I knew then that I had made a grave mistake by introducing myself as a man with a college degree to this particular audience. So, I just waved the white flag of surrender and just listened to the rest of this poor woman’s rhetoric. She went on to assume that I was offended by the way she had just manipulated the entire room into hating me for something so simple and trivial. I quickly let her that I was not offended at all by her. Then, I stopped talking and just listened. She went on to say stupid shit like, “It’s not the African community does not like to seek counsel. We just don’t care for counseling.” She went on to give this ridiculous scenario that went like this, “Sistaz, have you ever called up your girls in the middle of the night after you have had issues with your man and you all talk about it?” I was like, “How ignorant was that example?” Of course, the audience ate it up with cheers of approval. I was just waiting for Jim Jones to arise from the dead to start handing out cups of red kool-aid. Trust me. She would have convinced this room to drink the poison because it would have been the African thing to do.

I think what I was most disappointed about this experience was when a young lady raised her hand to ask a question, but changed her mind after hearing how I was raked over the coals for being in the field of counseling and it being associated with psychology, which was officially made the common evil of that night. The young lady instead made a statement. “She said, I am in college and I am studying psychology, but I think that I am going to change my major.” My heart dropped, but cheers from the audience flowed in the room. I was officially done. However, there were a couple of women trying to convince not to change her major, but make her major concentrated on helping Black people. Damn. I thought I had done just that with my degree from my historically Black university. I guess since the speaker accused me of spreading the oppressor’s psychology, I was not Black anymore.

After the speech was over, I went up to the speaker to say hello and exchange business cards. We were both cordial. I also made a bee-line to the young lady to give her my card with hopes of getting the opportunity to let her know that she is doing great and not let anybody take her off her course. As I mingled around the room filled with the so-called pro-Black, African conscious Black folks wearing, locs, fros, twists, African jewelry, I felt like I had yelled the name of Adolf Hitler in a Jewish Synagogue. I was literally shunned in the room. These Black people walked right past me in that small room as if I were the plague. I even brought money to the event to spend. Well, one thing about me is that I don’t ever beg anybody to take my money. The brotha that raised his hand to say that I offended him was selling tee-shirts, I wanted one of them. He looked me in face with a smirk on his face as if to say, “Yeah, she told you.” He did not acknowledge me and walked away from his childish, ignorant ass.

However, my stylist was there and she introduced me to a few friends of hers, in particularly a couple who sold Shea Butter soap. They were really nice. I bought a jar of it from them. It smells really good too. She also introduced me to a two more friends of hers who were there for the speech. They were nice as well. However, that was it. Wait. The older lady who owns the Pan African Connection Bookstore was also really nice. The experience taught me that I have really outgrown many of the philosophies of the so-called conscious community. The speaker’s ideology about Blackness, African-centered consciousness, and seeking counseling was outdated and antiquated. Still, I am not holding it against the entire Dallas African-centered conscious community for the ignorance of the invited guest speaker and those who acted stupid because they believed her to be so knowledgeable. Trust me. If your knowledge can not build the wealth that is needed to fund whatever movement you want to get started, you ain’t talking about shit! We live under capitalism. If you don’t have capital, it ain’t gonna happen.

I do have plans to continue to attend other programs sponsored by the conscious community in Dallas in the future. However, I will be sure to steer clear of the angry black feminists programs because that ain’t African. I will return to the bookstore in the future to make some purchases. I will continue to get to know the conscious community in Dallas, but with the understanding that some people are still caught up in certain philosophies that sound good, which unfortunately allows them to be preyed upon by these conscious pimps such as what happened on last Saturday night. I am so glad that I have always had my own mind to decipher what the truth is and what I lie looks like when I see him or her.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Just Sharing An Epiphany after the weekend I had.

This past weekend really served as an eye-opener, a re-affirming of life’s goals and the direction in which I am headed in. This past weekend also served as a time of relaxation sprinkled with a dash of reflection. Friday at work, I finally told an old co-worker what I really thought about him and his ability to correctly assess the mental functioning of some of the clients we work with. For the past two years that I have worked with this old therapist, he has had this bad habit of referring to only the Black clients on his therapy case load as “lower functioning.” Yes. I have sat in many clinical staff meetings and tolerated out of professional calmness to discipline this character referring to these women as lower-functioning. On this past Wednesday during a clinical meeting, he said it again. Instead of letting it pass, I asked him in front of all in attendance what was his criterion for labeling so many of the clients lower functioning. His face became a little red, but he proceeded to crank out some less than clinical reasons for him viewing these women this way. I was not satisfied with the answer he gave and I am sure the look on my face told the whole story. My boss, who was sitting two persons over from me, suggested that we table the discussion until Friday during our smaller staff meeting. Well, I thought this was the last I would hear anything on the matter.

This past Friday came and we had our little staff meeting discussing the behavior and progress of the clients in the facility. There was about minutes left in the hour long meeting, when out of no-where, the therapist from Wednesday’s agency clinical meeting, asked if he could continue the discussion where I questioned his therapeutic judgment. He said, “I would like to continue the discussion where Rico questioned me why I refer to clients as lower functioning.” “Rico, I want you to know that I have been a therapist for 25 years and when you questioned my judgment like that in front of the probation officers, you sent out the message that there may be some animosity between us as an entire clinical team.” “I felt that you were being inappropriate and very undermining of me when you questioned me like that.”

Of course, my blood was boiling as he went on forever it seemed about what a professional he was and how he has been a competent clinician for so many years. In his sick mind, he thought he was putting me in my place so that I would know better next time not to express any of my thoughts in a clinical meeting amongst fellow clinicians and probation officers. Yes. Somebody must have told him wrong. I sat patiently as he ranted and vented his frustrations. However when he was done, my clinical supervisor looked over at me and asked, “Rico, do you have anything to say?” I was like, “Yes, I do.” I took a deep breath and I let him have it until all of the breath that I had just inhaled had left my body. I stared him dead in his face and said, “First of all, I have been a social worker since 1996. I have worked as a mental health therapist and a substance abuse counselor since 2000.” “I CAN ASK YOU ANY QUESTION I WANT TO ASK YOU! I DON’T LIVE FOR YOUR APPROVAL or ANYONE ELSE’S APPROVAL!” “However, as clinicians, we are supposed to be intelligent enough and educated enough to know that the clients that we receive at this agency may not function on the level that we are operating on, but they function well enough to survive outside of this agency.

Many of the people that you often refer to as “lower-functioning live better than some of us in here. They have husbands, children, jobs, they go shopping, pay car notes and pump gas and many of the very same gas stations where we go.” Also, I have found it very interesting that over the past two years that every female that you have labeled ‘lower-functioning” has been a Black female.” He quickly interrupted me with, “No. That’s not true.” I just as quickly reminded him not to interrupt me when I am talking because I did not interrupt him. I stated, “It is very true. I have never heard you refer to a white client or a Hispanic client as being lower functioning. He interrupted again by saying, “You don’t what you are talking about.” I responded, “Yes. I do!” This is when my boss intervened as suggested that we end the discussion before it got really ugly in that meeting.

Well, I was done with it. This nut job even had the audacity to try to shake my hand after the meeting was over. Anyway, I felt a great relief after I had finally gotten that off of my chest. Now whether or not I have a job on tomorrow, Monday the 10th, that’s another story, LOL!! Anyway, as I was headed home after an obvious long day at work, I saw this woman trying to push her stalled car out of the way of flowing traffic. I pulled into the parking lot of the Popeye’s that I was headed to (don’t judge me! lol) and got out of my car to see what her situation was and then I proceeded to walk towards her to offer my help. Then, all of a sudden, she gave the car a big push in reverse and then attempted to jump back inside and steer her car out of traffic. I made it there just as she has slammed her door. I told her to stay inside of the care as I began to push. When I began pushing the car a young Mexican man walked by and asked if he could help and said yes. Then a second older Mexican man joined in on the pushing. We safely guided her out of traffic and into the Popeye’s parking lot.

Well, she got out of her call and thanked me. She stated that she thought something was wrong with ignition or at least she hoped that it was just a case of her running out of gas and nothing more serious. We shared a quick laugh about how she was really getting her hustle on trying to push that car out of traffic. I even mimicked the way she gave her stalled car a quick, hard push and tried to jump in it like a go cart. LOL! We both laughed our asses off in the parking lot before I offered to drive her to the nearest gas station to fill up her gasoline container. She thanked me for being there to help her. She said that I was a blessing and she did not know what she was going to do. I said thank you. She went on to say, “You know being a single woman out here, you gotta do what you gotta do when you don’t have a man to help you. I replied, “I hear ya.” When made back to her car and it turned out that all she needed was gas. She cranked her car up with the biggest sigh of relief on her face. She told me thank you again and I told her no problem. She said, “Look, I still want to give you something. I want to buy some chicken (referring to Popeye’s). I quickly told her, “No. I’m good. I am just glad I was able to help.” This is how I give back to the universe. It will come back to me the same way I put it in the universe” “You can thank me by helping someone the same way I helped you.” She said sternly, but with an appreciative smile, “I know, but I still want you have this.” I reluctantly accepted her monetary gesture of thanks and wished her a good evening.

On this past Saturday afternoon, I was privileged to attend an annual block party that is hosted by this non-profit organization called APAA, (Association of Persons Affected by Addictions) which is located in downtown Dallas in the medical district. APAA has a relationship with the company that I work for in that as soon as the clients are discharged after having recieved four months of in-patient residential treatment with us, APAA offers them after care services such as Narcotics Anonmous groups, DRA (Dual Recovery Anonymous) groups and Alcoholics Anonymous groups as well as getiting them connected to much needed support services in the Dallas area.

I hung out for about three hours listening to guest speakers share their stories of courage, strength, and hope since winning their personal battles with alcohol and drug addiction. I am often inspired whenever I get the opportunity to hear an ex-addict and/or alcoholic speak their truth. The time I spent at the block party also served as a reunion of sorts for me and some former clients of the agency where I work. I was so happy to see how well they were doing out here in society being clean, sober, and on their proper medications. It warmed my heart to hear them tell me how much they appreciated me for helping them make it at the agency. It made me feel even better when many of them would say, “Thank you, Mr. Rico for all that you taught me while I was at that place. I learned a lot from your groups.” All and all, I had a good day. However, they also shared with me stories of the many that have not been so fortunate while out here in society. A lot of others have either gone back to using drugs or have been re-arrested and sentenced to serve jail time by the courts.

Well, in this line of work, one has to be able to take the good with the bad. You learn to cherish the good news, while you continue to try to prevent the bad everyday you go to work. The visit to the sober block party served as a great balance and end of work week stress reliever. Where I work, I don’t really get to see the results of my contributions to the mental health field. I don’t really get to see the results of a day to day grind working to encourage and even convince a certain population of people that has mostly experienced hurt, disappointment, rejection and even abandonment in the lives that even though they have gone through so much in their lives a better and brighter day is very close on the horizon. I let them know often that even though their drug usage and mental illness diagnosis have caused some people in society to look down on them and even shun them in public, its ok. It’s ok that some people won’t let go of the old you. That’s cool too. You can let them have the old you because you have been blessed to be in total control of the new you and ain’t a damn thing they can do about it.

This past weekend served as an affirmation that I am where I am supposed to be. I am supposed to be in the helping field. I am supposed to be where others who are down and need a little help getting back up can reach up and grab my hand. I am supposed to be a social worker. I am supposed to be a counselor. I am supposed to be a skilled helper. I am exactly where the Creator wants be to be. I wish the same for all of you who took time out to read my story.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Do Rapper Seem to Hate Black People? An Open Letter to Rap Lovers

I am writing this letter with hopes of reaching the souls and the intellect of those in this country and across the world whom are sensitive to the plight of people of Afrikan descent living in America. I will get right down to the point of this letter. I have grown sick and tired of most rappers lyrically attacking Black men and Black women in their raps. Since the murder of rapper, Tupac Shakur, about sixteen years ago, there seems to have been an overflow of rappers whose sole purpose for being in the rap game is to amass monetary and material gains that had been made readily available to them through this particular music medium called rappin’. This, however, is not a huge crime in my book. In fact, making all the money you can is the philosophy of the very system under which we all exist and operate under, which is called capitalism.

My problem is when the rappers use Black people as a violent stepping-stone to reach their economical goals. I have a problem when most rappers today seem to willingly participate out of greed, self hatred, and ignorance in the perpetuation of negative images of Black people in order to gain a buck or get handed a piece of jewelry. I am very well aware of who is in control of the money at the record labels that aid and even encourages the proliferation of violence against Black men and women through the lyrics and imagery of the rap music that is being purchased and mentally absorbed in bulks all over the world. Trust me. None of the people that control rap music and the distribution of rap music look like Diddy, Jay-Z, 50 Cent or even Russell Simmons. If you need to know what these people look like, you are obviously among the mentally walking dead.

I have observed that whenever there is an attempt made to address violent images in the rap industry in a forum or in a letter to the editor type situation, rap middle men like Russell Simmons, as well as, the performers of this brand of rap music, always come up with some bull-shit line about rap music not being the sole cause of some of the ills that plague the neighbor “hoods” where a lot of Black American youths and families live and play. These people actually try to defend the relevance of the crap that they puke up on the MIC, on each CD, and in most live concerts. This is the one line that kills me the most, “If it were not for rapping and the rap game, most young Black men would not be able to get out of the “hood” or even be able to feed their families.” Hmmm, I wonder how thousands and even millions of Black people in this country made strides and overcame enormous obstacles to become successful in the past without having to resort to destroying their own people in the process?

Amazingly, most of these strides were made during the height of Jim Crow (segregation laws) and public lynching. I think determination, education, creativity, self-love, racial/cultural knowledge of self, and guts had a lot to do with it. I am of the opinion that many of the brothers and sisters in today’s society tend to be weak and lacking in those characteristics mentioned a couple of lines earlier. Most of today’s rappers seem to possess the attitude of “not giving a damn” about anybody that looks like them when it comes to making music. It is almost as if most of the Black male rappers are handed a prepared script by White and Jew-ish owned record companies to follow if they want to become what is now viewed as being "a success" in the rap industry. Hell, even Latino rappers like Fat Joe have used the word Nigger in their music. However, I have never hear any of them of them disrespect Latinos by using the racist word for Latinos, Spik in their music. There are also some Hispanic rappers who use the racist word Nigger in their raps, but they never use the racist words Wetback, Fench Jumper, or River Swimmer to disrepect follow Mexicans/Hispanics.

It makes me sick when a right wing Conservative like a Bill O’Reilly, has to let us (Black people) know when one among us is making us look like shit in the eyes of the world. I could not care less about that piss-ant, Bill O’Reilly, but I think he told the truth and also did us (the Black community) a favor some years back when he convinced Pepsi to drop Ludacris from its commercials. I think Russell Simmons should have never gotten involved that particular issue. In getting in the middle of that particular situation, I think Russell Simmons sent out an incorrect message to Black youths and people in general that chicken and coonin’ is cool and we should strive to do that because it gets you paid. I am tired of Black male rappers calling Black men Niggers and going along with the portraying of us as pimps and gangstaz in their rap songs while going along with the proliferation of that image in their music videos.

I am also tired of them referring to Black women as hoes, bitches, chickens and whatever else they come up with that is totally opposite of what God created. I am sick of the rationales and excuses they give for the attack on Black. Here is one of my favorites “Man, it is just entertainment.” That is the same bullshit line that’s used by so many of the d-jays and on-air radio personalities in Memphis, Dallas, Atlanta, New York and across the country who play these songs over the air. These same d-jays also use this line, “It’s my job to give the people what they want to hear.” They will say anything to justify “selling out” and to keep a job on the air. Anyway, my challenge to rappers who attack Black people in their lyrics is to either stop the madness and destruction or to at least write and produce raps that attack all ethic and racial groups equally instead of just mainly concentrating on Black people. There are even white rappers who use the word Nigger in their raps, but have yet to use the word cracker, honkey or white racist pig in their music to disrespect white people.

In saying this, those particular rappers can continue to “entertain us” with raps that contain violent and racist lyrics. It is definitely their right to do so. I am not one to trample on anyone’s right to freedom of speech and/or freedom of expression. However, in the spirit of “keepin’ it real” and equally entertaining the masses, I would like to begin hearing lyrics that refer to White Jews as Hymies and Kykes, Mexicans as Wetbacks, Anglo Saxon Whites as Crackers, Honkeys, devils, and peckerwoods, Latinos as Spiks, Italians as WOPs, Native Americans as Chiefs and Redskins, and Asians as Slant eyes, Gooks, and Charlie. Hey, it is all “entertainment,” right? I would like to begin hearing Black male rappers rap about shooting up a synagogue since they love to rap about shooting up a club where Black people gather in large numbers for the purpose of “entertainment.”

I would like to begin hearing Black rappers refer to Anglo Saxon Whites and White Jew-ish women as bitches and hoes they plan to pimp and even smack around. After creating these particular songs in the studio and put out as singles, I want to see the videos made that will reflect these images. Moreover, I would like to these same Black Hispanic, Latino, and white Deejays in Memphis, Dallas, Atlanta, New York and across the country play these songs over the air for every one to hear and to bounce to. Since we are talking about giving the people what they want to hear, making money, and “entertaining” people, I hope this suggestion of “equality in music” does not take very long before I start hearing it bumping across our radio airways, in our car speakers, with the video images appearing on our television screens. Wow, I can almost feel the panic in the room as I complete this letter. I can just imagine people saying, “Is Rico saying that we should start being racist towards white people and Hispanics?” “That’s crazy!” No, that is not what I am saying nor what this letter was about. I am just asking a question based on observations.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

All I did was ask a question

You know as one who has worked in mental health in various capacities since 1996, I am always questioning our mental health as a people. I am always seemingly asking “the wrong questions” about society, race, and the black community, which in turn has caused people (many in my race) to react in aggressive and sadly, in unforgiving ways. My intent has never and will never be to cause harm or pain. My intent has always been to seek clarity for the sake of my own mental health stability as well as to get an understanding to what mental state our people are in even in 2012. I remember asking a question of one of my teachers back in high school who was also the coordinator of our year book staff. I went to Frayser High School from 1986 to 1988 which was becoming a racially mixed high school at the time because before then, the school was mainly white. I asked Miss Savare who was a very light-skinned sista with very dark hair and dark eyes. She was cute and had this sexy southern accent. I thought she was Creole or something. Anyway, one day in the 10 th or 11th grade after having gone through one of the completed year books, I asked Miss Savare, “How come even though our high school is evenly mixed, (45 percent Black, 50 percent white, and 5 percent others) the pages in the yearbook have over 90 percent pictures of white students in them?’ She looked at me (with her face having turned a little red) and responded, “Marico, if you don’t like how the year book looks, then join the year book staff!”

Of course, I was like, “Dang, she did not have to get all snappy.” However she did make a good suggestion. Her suggestion now reminds me of what so many people have said and still say today, “You have to become a part of “the system” to make changes from within.” So, I joined the yearbook staff with the intent to make a difference. I got my camera, my roll of film, and I was on my way to make a change in the way the yearbook looked. Well, I took a lot of pictures of black students and some whites, but mainly Black students. I turned in my roll to be developed and to be added to the next year book. Well, when I got the new year book only three of my pictures of Black students made the yearbook and the book was again 90 percent white. This is when I learned that the philosophy becoming a part of the system to make changes was a load of crap. Hell, we have had Black politicians (elected and appointed) and things still have remained the same for Black people in this country. Justice is still fleeting and economic equality still eludes us. Yes, a small few have squeezed through a crack but that’s it.

Anyway, back to me seemingly asking the wrong questions. When I got college, I seemed to ask the wrong questions a lot. I could not help it. There were a lot of things that I was curious about. Me asking questions about people, groups and people’s beliefs back in college caused a lot of anger in a lot of people back then. I was often curious about what would cause such a reaction. Whenever I questioned the validity of religion in our community, I would really get it. LOL!! Today, I try not to ask so many specific questions in our community because I have learned that there is much work to be done. I still have these curiosities about what makes us tick the way we do, but I have learned to keep certain questions to myself or only share them with my very small group of friends who are just as curious as I am about the mental health state of Black people. Believe or not. I have never asked these certain questions to create controversy or to create enemies out of people I never really knew in the first place.

In my mind, I always thought that I was sharing what I had learned from reading and getting a true understanding about how things work in this reality. Well, I have been told and shown loudly and clearly that my brand of sharing does not help in the movement for progress and independence. So, this is why for the past four years I have been mainly just doing the work that is needed and not asking so many questions. I guess I don’t have any more questions really. I have asked so many questions that I all need to be doing now is just taking the answers that I have been given and accepting them as the peoples’ truth and move on. It has been hard just moving on, but it does make life a little easier when you are able to focus more on yourself and just let others “do them.” I no longer have to question the mental health of Black people today, I got it. I now understand.

My job now is to get more involved and become even more a part of the solution. My contribution to the stabilization of the mental health of Black people is to continue doing my part as a counselor and social worker in the healing of hurt feelings, trauma, anger, depression, low-self esteem, and disappointment in our men. Ladies, I am saying our men because I don’t want to see another woman being hurt from unknowingly connecting with a hurt man.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

“The Ideal Woman for me to date and possibly marry someday” By Rico Rivers

This list of was put together as a result of knowing exactly what I want in a permanent mate and a wife. First, please allow me to say this. I think that all women are beautiful the way they in which they were created by God. However, I do have a preference for the certain type of woman that I would like to someday be living in the same house with and/or sharing the same bed with exclusively and permanently. This is not a search for a perfect woman. I repeat. This is not a search for a perfect woman. This woman does not exist. However, the perfect woman for me is definitely out there somewhere.

This is the description of what we all possess, which is called a preference. However, in the meantime, as a single man out here casually and safely dating, the only preference or preferences that I have is for the Black woman to not be too old, not be out of my weight range of preference or my physical body type of preference, Oh yeah, and not have a nasty and negative attitude.

Below is a compiled list of my preference (s) for a permanent mate or wife and not a casual dating partner or friend with benefits.

Race: Black/Afrikan/Afrikan-American- However, if she is mixed with other ethnicities such as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Asian, Dominican, etc. She is cool too as long as she is brown or dark and speaks English very well.

Height: 4’11 to 5’5

Weight: 115-130 (This is the weight I prefer before she has had children)

Age: 32-36 years old and NO CHILDREN! I might make an acception for one small child. The father has to be dead, serving a life sentence in jail, or just be totally out of the picture. No time for baby daddy drama.

Body Type: SLIM, SLENDER, MEDIUM and PETITE, but with a toned, Curvy/Athletic build; Flat stomach (six pack or just plain flat) shapely legs, Apple-Bottom Butt (no flat boodie, please!) No stretch marks on the stomach or scars all over the legs and face. I like bow-legged or straight legged. No knocked knees or sleuth feet please!!

Skin Tone: Smooth Chocolate, Fudge, Pitch or Puff of Smoke (She can be of mixed ethnic heritage just as long as she is brown or darker (see preferred skin-tones above)

Hair Type: Natural! No Chemical Relaxers! (Twists, locs, braids, or naturally curly/wavy hair). Hair color must be naturally brown or coal black. No hair coloring! This includes tints and high-lights! However, I am open to highlights within normal reason.

Skin Type: Little or no make-up (naturally beautiful)

Eye Color: Brown or darker (No color contacts). However, if she is BORN with a different eye color, it is okay.

Dress/Appearance: Casual, but not boring- (lots of flava). Sexy, but not slutty. Elegant, but not stuffy.

Hygiene: Nice smile, clear eyes (not blood shot). Bathes regularly and wears nice smelling deodorants, nice smelling perfumes and soft scented oils.

Body Art: ABSOLUTELY NO TATTOOS! Dark skinned people have no business wearing tattoos. You can’t see them anyway. Tats on dark skinned people tend to look like dark smudges. Piercing in ears only! However, I would make an exception with a nipple piercings, navel piercing, and a small, cute nose piercing

Education: Have at least a Bachelors degree. Of course, higher degrees are cool too. A woman who has read books that speaks on the plight of Afrikan Americans in this country. She is also very aware of what Racism/White Supremacy is and its purpose or agenda.

Employment: Makes at least $30,000 a year. More per year is cool too. Even if she made more money than me, I am fine with that. I am not intimidated by a woman that makes more money than me. However, don’t annoy me with this should you do make more than I do.

Personality/Attitude: Down to earth, but talkative. Open-minded. Good sense of humor, but not goofy. Must be tolerant of others, including me, but not a push-over. A take charge woman, but not a control freak. I already have a mother. I don’t need another one. I love a woman that shows affection (even in public) towards her man.

Character: Honesty, Dignity and Integrity.

She has to be a motivator. She believes in sticking by her man through thick and thin. However, I don’t expect her to stay around if I should ever cheat on her, which is not a part of my character anyway. I won’t stay around if she cheats on me. She has to be a considerate person and not a selfish, spoiled, little girl. Non-Materialist.

Beliefs: Non-Christian!!!! Non-Religious!!! At All!!!
A Spiritualist, but not a fanatic about it! (Afrikan-Centered is a plus!)

Sexuality: I need her to be straight, not gay or bi-sexual or bi-curious. I want her to be open and very secure in her “straight” sexuality. I need her to enjoy sex just as much as I do, if not more. It’s going down!!!

Sexuality Continued: Also, she has to have not dated, kissed or had sex/sexual relations of any kind with any EUROPEAN! (Spaniard, Italian, Portuguese, German, Jew-ish or a WASP –White Anglo Saxon Protestant). In other words, No white man, PERIOD!! I am firm believer in whoever you “lay down with” who you share their philosophy.

Most Importantly: I would like this Black woman to be a woman that loves, respects, and adores her father and BLACK MEN!! Especially those of us Black men who have been labeled militants because we don’t have a problem with speaking our minds and standing up for what is right when it comes to Black people and race.

Diet/Exercise: I would like for this ideal woman be pork free as well as red meat (Beef) free. Since, I presently eat turkey, chicken, and some fish; I don’t have a problem with her eating these foods. However, I am on a vegetarian path and I would prefer that she be on the same path as well. At least be open to the idea. Also, I would prefer that she also be dairy free. I would love for my ideal woman to take her physical health/ and emotional health seriously. I love for her to have an ACTIVE gym membership or have her own workout regime that she does at home. It would be great if she loves to run because I love to run.

Politically: It would be nice if she were an independent.

Social Affiliation: I prefer her not to be a member of any social (so-called black Greek) organizations. This includes any other Boule’(boo-lay) organizations such as, the Links, Jack N Jill, etc. However, I would not hold it against her as long as she is Afrikan-Centered in her thinking and her beliefs.

One more small thing: She has to be a brown or dark-skinned female that does not have issues with being brown or dark-skinned. She has to be a brown or dark-skinned female that is attracted to brown and dark-skinned men. Finally, she is not afraid to give birth to brown or dark-skinned babies with this brown or dark-skinned man.