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.