Unsung Heroes: Our Black Brothers & Sisters

In the midst of another era of racial and socioeconomic tension, America finds itself yet again divided. Its still to be decided as to how things will play out, but if one thing is for certain, its this: things must change. Folks are going to have to start getting along, or these violent riots and protests are going to rip our nation apart.

There is something lingering, however, that I think needs to be addressed. In my discussions with people on all sides of these issues, I’ve noticed that there is a certain degree of doubt as to how much our society and culture has truly benefited from the contributions of black Americans (and other minorities). While most people I speak to don’t come from the standpoint of looking down on minorities, many do seem to neglect certain contributions they have made, whether intentionally or not.

In light of this, I have decided to put together a list of some great people of color who, throughout our history, have impacted us all in a positive way. Some you may not have heard of, and some you may know quite dearly. The point is to illustrate how important we ALL are in our human quest to create a loving, inclusive society. There is no shortage of white characters who have received recognition, we all know that. So hopefully, by highlighting some of the others, the folks who still seem to foster the “white supremacy” opinion will take a harder look at the reality of this world we share. We’re all trying, people. Love each other – it shouldn’t be that hard, right?

GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER

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Many people don’t know this, but GWC, a freed slave turned brilliant scientist, was a monumental influence on Vice President Henry Wallace. Wallace, a farmer from Iowa, used GWC’s ideas to enormously boost corn production during World War II, filling increasing needs of our exploding economy.

BASS REEVES

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Bass was the first black US deputy Marshall West of the Mississippi. He basically destroyed outlaws and was an overall bad-ass, for want of a better term. He caught all the bad guys, and even killed 14 people in self defense. Keepin’ all them white folk safe!

BUFFALO SOLDIERS

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The Buffalo Soldiers was a term used for many regiments of black American soldiers who fought in many wars, originating in the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the US Army in 1866. The term came from Native Americans, who thought their hair resembled that of Buffalo hair. They contributed to many great American victories, and served valiantly for their country. The term was used loosely by some to describe all black soldiers, but the history here is important to know. Many of our victories would never have been possible without the brave efforts of what many referred to as the “Negros Cavalry”.

TUSKEGEE AIRMEN

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Many have probably heard of these fellas, as there is now a big Hollywood movie about them. These guys were the first African American Air Unit in WWII, and went on many selfless missions to fight the good fight. Lot of great sub stories in these guys ranks, too. Check em out!

JOHN ALBERT BURR

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Anyone know a guy who owns a landscaping company? I sure do. Lots. And they can all thank Mr. John Albert Burr for pretty much inventing modern lawn mowing and paving the way for profits! That’s right, you’re looking at the man who invented the rotary lawn mowing blade – U.S. patent #624,749.

PERCY JULIAN

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Percy Julian was one of the most important scientists of the 20th century, making great discoveries in the fields of healthcare, with a focus on synthetic compounds. His work far exceeds my intellectual prowess, but folks should know that many of the compounds we enjoy today in the field of medicine were made possible by him.

ELIJAH MCCOY

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Elijah McCoy was an inventor. A thinker. An innovator. Throughout his life, he made trains more efficient,  improved oil rigs, and even honed steam engines. He was a brilliant man, capable of some of the most efficient thought from an engineering perspective. He even invented a movable ironing board to help make ironing-on-the-go easier. You’re welcome, ladies.

LEWIS LATIMER

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Lewis Latimer was paramount in further perfecting the light bulb. He led efforts installing electric plants in cities such as Philadelphia and Montreal. Without him, the incandescent bulb might not be what it is today. Thanks Lewis!

ROSA PARKS

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Rosa needs no introduction. The only thing I want to say here is that I bet she made the best neighbor EVER. You know, the one who’s always making sure the kids are behaving and aren’t doing anything stupid? Making sure they all got their homework done and came in before dinner time. I imagine that’s how Rosa was. A sweet, nice, lady who stood up (or in this case sat down) for what’s right. We need more of her.

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Now, I could go on and on and on and on with this, but this is the point, in case anyone’s missed it. All of these people did things for the greater good, not for one side or the other. They never berated other people, they just uplifted folks. That’s the direction we need to be moving, everyone. Forward. Up. Not backwards, or down.

A good question to ask yourself if you’re considering making a move in this game of life: what direction will this push people in?

The Other Side

Oh my freakin’ God, guys

Here we go again

Just throw the leather ball, dude

My team – it needs a win

You really aren’t oppressed, guys

And my moneys on the line 

So if you don’t deliver, then

I’m trading you next time

Leave politics to them, bro

‘Cause no one really cares

Just score and make my team win

Leave out the thoughts upstairs
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Now hang on one damn second, man

You haven’t heard my side

I’ve put up with all this bullshit

For my whole entire life

I’m sick of all the judgment 

When I walk into the store

And how so many hate us

Except for when we score

I’m more than that, my brother

I’m a human, after all 

And treating me as you are 

It drives us up the wall

So please, my man, just stop it

We want all to get along

You’ll win your league, I promise

When you know that we belong

Conspiracy

Great writing can change the world. We’ve seen it happen time and time again, from philosophies to constitutions. Knowing this, I try to maintain a constant awareness when it comes to writing. Looking for things that influence me in one way or the other.

I watched a movie today that had an effect. I’m not particularly sure what kind of effect it was, but it was there nonetheless. The movie is called Conspiracy, and tells the tale of the Wannsee Conference. If you’re not a history buff, the Wannsee Conference was the meeting of masterminds behind the German holocaust during WWII. It was the meeting where they decided on their “Final Solution” to the “Jew” problem.

The movie itself was produced by HBO, and the entire plot consists of the 15 member open-table conversation, which is based off of the sole surviving “minutes” document that recorded the meeting. Interested in history or not, I strongly recommend  watching this simply to experience the harsh realities of global elites.

Now, there is a very important message that I would like to convey with this post. The movie, if you have the time to watch, brilliantly illustrates the brutalness and depravity of which the human condition is capable. By simply listening to these actors portray what was a very real event, we begin to understand how far the reaches of human degradation really can go.

This is something I think we all need to call a timeout on. Because think about it: there was a time in our (very recent) history where people actually agreed to KILL OFF AN ENTIRE RACE. It’s easy to look back today and say “well those guys were crazy back then.” But you know what? Back in 1942, they probably said the same thing about people who accepted the Jews. Somehow, some way, these people created a perception and reality where they had convinced the population to turn a blind eye to the extermination of SIX TO ELEVEN MILLION PEOPLE.

6 to 11 Million human beings. Let’s put that in perspective. I live in Nashville, TN. A beautiful, wonderful, friendly town. A town where sometimes I get frustrated because it seems so packed with implants and growth that it makes me want to pull my hair out (the traffic sucks).

Our census puts the entire city’s population at 1.8 million if greater Nashville is included.

That’s a lot of people. And the holocaust ended a number of lives that is equivalent to my ENTIRE city, by threefold. And that’s only if we assume the lowest number. Otherwise were looking at around 6 Nashville’s being helplessly killed.

I want people to understand these things. I want them to realize how important it is to keep the powers that be in check. Because this world, as it exists today, is not a place that we should proud of.

The Real Revolution: the War We Don’t Know We’re Fighting

Its no secret that humanity is going through one of its tensest periods in our short history on this planet. Class warfare, social control, and behind the scenes manipulation has dominated the population for as long as we can look back. The individuals who had the ability to think openly, see the world as a blank canvas, and paint their own picture have consistently taken advantage of the masses who have sadly followed their directions, unable to realize the power they’ve actually held.

This historical clash seems to be coming to a head in what I can only attribute to the advent of the internet. Many of my posts have referenced this, primarily because I want people to truly realize its significance. Now, more than ever, humanity has the opportunity to openly communicate and coordinate, finally giving the silent majority a chance to come together and craft a just, accountable society.

Its vital that we understand this. It is absolutely imperative that we see how today’s hostile environment has been created by design. Racism, terrorism, radicalization – all of these things are manifested out of highly elaborate, impeccably implemented psychological maneuvers. We must realize how intelligent the powers that be truly are – as awareness is the first step in our efforts to combat them.

This unspoken war for our sovereignty has been going on for a very, very long time. Historically, those who saw the world for it is and fought against it were silenced. Consider the many who have represented the masses that were stopped before reaching their full potential: JFK, MLK, Lincoln, the list goes on. Those in control know that the most powerful instrument against them is a simple ideal. A school of thought, created by brilliant, open minds, that could change the course of history if only they could unite the masses. When those that seek to control identify these threats, they take action. Its happened over, and over, and over, and over again.

This is the fight that we have to win. Its not an election. Its not one party over the other. Its not blacks, its not whites, its not an argument over kneeling or saluting. Its the war for our humanity.

The only way we can win, is together. We can’t fight oppression if we’re too busy fighting ourselves.

Please, for the love of us all, understand this.

Labels: How They Cloud Our Judgment

President. Police officer. CEO. Pastor. Janitor. Actor. Friend. Dishonest. Generous. Lobbyists. Girl Scouts. Dog lovers. Black. White. 

All of the words you just read are used to describe individuals – or entire groups of people. Behind each of these labels lie actual people. Human beings, no different than you or I. 

I’d like for us to take just a moment and consider something. Consider how, when presented with information tied to these labels, we often formulate our opinion of the matter before we even know the full extent of the information. Here’s an excersize that should help illustrate my point. 

Think of the tone, as well as your immediate reaction, to the following sentences: 

“So I left the bar around 11:30. It was dark, and I was walking down the alley to my car when I saw this black guy start walking towards me…”

“So I left the bar around 11:30. It was dark, and I was walking down the alley to my car when I saw this pretty girl start walking towards me…”

Now I could follow up either of those statements with any scenario under the sun, but that’s not the point. My point is the harsh truth that I would guess the majority of us have a negative predisposition to statement #1, while we likely have a neutral, or even positive, predisposition to #2.

An extreme example? Possibly. But the point remains – labels are destroying the dialogue. Our tendency to label people and groups causes a massive disservice to the individuals that represent the labels. This one-sided method of thinking has created a culture where we already have our opinions made before we even give people the opportunity to prove us wrong. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not innocent of this myself. I think it’s human nature, as we all seem to have biases of one sort or another.

So frequently do we have expectations of people when we prescribe a label to them. We often forget that, as aforementioned, behind these labels lie real, flesh and blood average human beings.

The goal, in my eyes, should be awareness. If we want to change the status quo of today’s environment, we need to be aware of our biases and work to transcend them. If we can’t do this successfully, we’ll never be able to reasonably expect change, racial or otherwise.

Just a thought.

Roots of Racism: Applying What I’ve Learned

Yesterday I posted the results of my little project to figure out why some people have negative perceptions of black culture.

That’s all well and good – but now what? What can we do now that we’re armed with this knowledge?

Being able to apply these answers to fight racism was my intention from the beginning. General common sense dictates that in order to solve any problem, we must first understand why it exists. In the context of deep-rooted racism, I now understand why it exists. Well, at least in many cases. I think we all know that there will always be those certain, stubborn people who will never change their minds. Let’s agree to forget these people. They’ll catch up later, once they realize the progress we will eventually make. And if they don’t – screw them.

So now that I know why some people foster negative views, I can make a justified argument that certain things must be addressed if we reasonably expect people to change their minds. Because at the end of the day, the most important thing we ALL need to remember is this: racism is not an exclusively one-sided issue. It would be a fundamentally flawed argument to blame 100% of the problem on other people. After all, there has to be SOME reason this problem exists – it didn’t just randomly pop up out of nowhere. There are tangible reasons that some people think this stuff, and it would be unfair to simply dismiss their reasons without consideration. We must make a concerted effort to address the things that are under our control. If we can do this successfully, those that use actual logic and reason to formulate their opinions will see the progress being made, and thus eventually experience a change of heart. Or, to put it simply: if people see that the black community is actively acknowledging the things under their control that are causing negative perceptions, people will eventually change their minds.

I’m going to use a similar format as my previous post, emboldening the general action we must take, and then elaborating below. So without further adieu, here are the steps we can start taking to change the negative public perception of black culture.

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Address the rap culture thing 

I mentioned in my last post that I had a hard time arguing that girl’s point. I think this one is pretty straight-forward, and any reasonable person would probably agree that you can’t sing about banging chicks, having side bitches and sipping promethazine without expecting at least some sort of ramification.

Sure, it might be intended as fun and games, but this is a serious point that we can’t just laugh away. Kids listen to this stuff. They form their views of the world through the lenses of the people they look up to. Its pretty clear that this is a conversation that needs to get started on a wider basis if we ever expect to make racism go away.

Have, or at least create, a plan

One thing I can’t help but notice after observing all of the attempts at generating attention toward social injustice is this: what’s the plan? I think we all understand that people think its an issue. The problem, in my opinion, is that no one seems to know what to do about it. Every time I ask people what their point is (for example, the flag protest), their answer is “to create awareness”. Okay? That’s all well and good, we’ve created awareness. But now what? What’s the end game?

This is a common problem we learn about in business. Many times, we reach a point where progress isn’t being made and we’re doing work simply for the sake of doing work. In other words, we’re doing stuff, but were not actually doing stuff (if that makes sense). Creating awareness of an issue is good, but if you don’t have a plan to follow up with, your efforts are effectively stagnant. To provide an example, this very post is my version of what I’m talking about. I’ve spent a lot of time sitting down and thinking about what I can do to help sway people’s opinion. So I hit the drawing board, came up with this project, and here I am writing about it. That was my “plan”. Blindly posting and sharing things on social media with no real direction or intention isn’t doing much outside of further strengthening the already-existing opinions of people. Its not changing minds, which should be the goal. And speaking of goals…

Always keep the goal in mind

Something that I see far too often in this “battle” for social equality is how easily so many people let their egos completely ruin what could otherwise be a productive exchange of ideas. Ultimately, the goal of this entire movement should be simple: depress the existence of systemic racism. That’s what we want, right?

So when you go out in the real world and try to accomplish this goal, you have to be able to do it with a level head.You have to be constantly aware of the fact that by angering other people, you aren’t actually accomplishing anything. This is one of the general laws of interpersonal communication. You catch more flies with honey – we might not want to hear that, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

The flag protest is a perfect example. If you are one of those people kneeling, and you want to objectively consider whether or you’re making progress toward your goal of fighting racism, simply ask yourself one question: is my action helping? The reality, despite what so many people want to ignore, is that many people are being even more put off by black people when they see this. That is not the reaction we are going for. We want people to change their minds, remember? Disrespecting the flag is pissing people off, intended or not. It really is that simple. So if we actually take that into consideration, a smart person would understand this and augment their method to actually create progress toward the primary goal of changing hearts and minds. Because at this point, the flag thing has evolved into a battle of ego, and has totally deflected attention from the main goal. Its become more of a “I’m right and you’re wrong” debate rather than an actual attempt at fixing things.

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These are just some of the things that are under our control. Racism, closed-mindedness, and bigotry will unfortunately always be things we have to deal with from time to time. But if we can actively acknowledge the things that we have direct control of, we can cater our actions to maximize the effect we have toward forward progress. And that’s what we should all want.

Progress.