Will work for food…spiritual food that is

I haven’t written in a while, and really am not sure why not. I constantly have blog topics but I think lately I had become frustrated with the lack of tangible recognition from me writing. I know some people visit here out of support as friends/close acquaintances but I it seemed as if wasn’t generating any new followers or if I were my stuff wasn’t intriguing enough for people to comment.

Today it hit me after reading the most current post from a blogger that I have always admired from afar @dcdistrictdiva and found comfort in seeing her talk about her experience of being in the city of Paris in her blog Truly, God is in Paris ,I realized that you may never know who is in need of inspiration or a comforting word, and I can’t worry about the number of views or amount of comments that come from my personal expressions. As with being a good person, you may not always get the pat on the back or the celebratory good job award; rest assured that there is someone out there that is now feeling better about their situation because you took the time to be transparent about the things that are happening in your life.  God has given us all light to shine in dark places and it does no one any good if you refuse to push the power button to ignite it. And I use that analogy specifically because it speaks to another twitter conversation I saw on @terracarissa timeline. Yes we all pray/wish/hope for things but at some point you must do something as well. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26) and to take it further, a man that does not work does not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10)… and eating for many is being able to taste prosperity, joy, happiness, success in life. I know for so long I was that person that prayed to God for things but forgot one key component and that was to act on the opportunities He presented.

Even in writing this I am having my Oprah “ah ha” moment and there is an awakening within to write this (even while in the middle of the work day) and maybe my proverbial “work” could be in my writing and being more consistent in it and maybe then some of my own prayers will MANIFEST because they have already been answered, I just haven’t seen them how God needs me to.

Movie Review: Red Tails

You make a decision to defend your country in an era where many in your country would not fight for you. You go above and beyond to prepare yourself educationally and in training but still are told you aren’t good enough. You are excited to be selected to go overseas only to be regulated to “mop up” duty because those in charge still question your ability to do your job in a quality standard. But still you continue to fight and fight and once given an opportunity to show what you are capable of, you exceed every expectation earning the respect of your fellow serviceman along the way. Welcome to the world of a Tuskegee Airman!!!

Thanks to Black in the Bay I was able to take part in the advance screening of Lucasfilm’s Movie “Red Tails”, a story based on true events about the famous Tuskegee Airmen combat pilots of World War II.

I decided not to look up the trailer because I wanted to see the film without any preconceived notions. The only confirmed actors that I was aware of in the movie were Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard who was dubbed the star actors, and while they took the headlines, they were not the only stars of the movie. The primary characters were Martin “Easy” Julian played by Nate Parker (The Great Debaters, The Secret Lives of Bees), Joe “Lightening” Little played by David Oyelowo and Ray “Junior/Ray Gun” Gannon played by Tristen Wilds (The Wire, Secret Lives of Bees) were Ne-yo, Method Man, and Marcus Paulk (Moesha, Roll Bounce)

The focal characters were Easy, Lightening, and Junior and throughout the movie we are given insight to their lives and challenges faced beyond the racial tension with fellow American soldiers and the fight in the sky with the Germans. Writer John Ridley (Three Kings) did an excellent job of allowing the viewer to peek in the window to get a glimpse of what black soldiers dealt with when not in combat. I have always had the utmost respect for everyone during that time period because our ancestors always had to fight two battles: the natural obstacles that come with being successful in any field of endeavor while being in a bitter racial climate.

I recommend this movie to anyone who is a history buff because it told a side of a story that still few of us have gotten to see.

“Politics is the art of postponing a decision until it is no longer relevant”

http://www.redtail.org (a great website where you can find more information about these heroic men)

Quest for the Concords…

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone… The Christmas holiday season is a time where many people purchase gifts for loved ones and sometimes even themselves. According to the National Retail Foundation it is said that Americans will spend an upwards of 465.5 billion dollars in 2011 shopping which is a 2.8% increase from last year. On December 23, 2011 millions of people not only across the nation but the world reveled in  the release of the Iconic  Air Jordan XI shoe known to sneakerheads as the “Concords.” The past three years Jordan Brand has previously released other colors of this same styled shoe; the “Cool Gray” and the “Space Jam,” and while there was anticipation for the release of those shoes, neither compared to the release of the Concords. The release date of the shoe has been known since the summer, and shortly after many of those who desired to purchase the shoe began to plot on their approach for acquiring them. Generally there are two ways shoes are purchased; by going to the local retailer to purchase them or visiting the website of the same retailers so as to avoid the hassle. Under normal circumstances there wouldn’t be a problem for someone to use either of these outlets to purchase their shoes and be safe. However when it comes to limited or popular releases like the Concord shoe (and Jordans are not the only shoes people camp out for), many knew they would have to be very strategic to get them.

Once I caught wind of the release I made up in my mind that these would be my Christmas gift to myself. The $180 sticker price, while high to a lot of people, is not that far off from other popular shoes like the Foamposits ($200+) the LeBron’s ($170) and Kobe Bryant ($180). Yes there are plenty other brands and styles of gym shoes/sneakers that are less expensive but ask a female that has a REAL Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Tory Burch purse would a less costly purse had been sufficient, and they probably would say yes but  it’s about the brand. I have heard many people take issue with spending that much for a pair of shoes but I look at some of the shoes I have in my collection, which include a pair of Air Jordan XI in a different color that I have had since 2001 that are in still good condition, so if you take care of them they can and will last a long time. Now I am against purchasing these shoes for young children who have yet to develop an appreciation for clothing, but to each his/her own.

Blacks werent the only ones camping out for them

But back to my quest for the Concords, I initially thought about trying the “order online” route but I recalled the horror stories that many of my sneakerhead friends discussed in regards to ordering shoes that were just as popular online. From the website crashing and not allowing you to purchase, to you making the purchase but getting an email from the website stating that the order never went through. So I decided to try the campout route, where I would go to a local mall and sit outside until they opened the doors. Little did I know, the mall security had given out tickets to those interested in purchasing the shoes earlier that day, around the same time I had gone to the mall to scope out the scene and talk to a couple of guys that work in the shoe stores I frequent. So when I got back to the mall around 11pm for the Midnight release, there was a nice crowd of around 50-75 people already huddled around. I assumed that Footlocker would have an ample amount to satisfy this crowd so I was not worried. However right as the clock struck 12AM the dropped the ticket bomb on a lot of us and I began to get nervous. But after hearing that they only gave out 40 tickets, and me being close to the door, I became confident in being able to get them… SIKE… shortly after letting the 40 ticket holders get their shoes they pulled down the gate and sent many of us home empty-handed. The next morning I tried another store but had my hopes crushed again because this retailer, who was a private owned store, sold many of their allotment of shoes during the previous two weeks so I trudged home disappointed.

Now many are probably asking why would I go through all of this for a pair of shoes… Simply put because this was an item I really wanted. When it comes to things we want we will subject ourselves to things that to other people deem over the top. Some women will sit in a salon for hours for hairstyles that last only a couple of days then do it again in a couple of weeks which in the grand scheme equates purchasing these same “overpriced” shoes monthly. I also know people who will sit outside in line for Black Friday sales, stood in lines longer and under worse conditions to get tickets for concerts and we all  have seen images of college students who will miss class to eat sleep and chill in tents just to get access to tickets for bowl games or premium seats versus a heated rival. During my college days I will admit to have “camped-out” for the PS2 and actually missed a quiz but luckily begged my professor to let me retake it. I also stood in line for concerts and will never forget the frenzy behind the Kappa Thanksgiving Party at St. Andrews where if you weren’t in line at 9pm for a party that really didn’t get hype until 11pm you didn’t get in.

Fans of the Group Panic attack

Texas A&M fans camping for Cotton bowl tickets

I wonder what Best Buy had on sale?

Upon getting over my disappointment I got home to find out about the craziness that ensued throughout the nation. Recounts of pandemonium, fights and robberies were littered all over the internet and on the news (it even made ESPN.) Someone went as far as to create a fake death of a young teenager in the DC/Maryland area.

someone has too much time on their hands

While the drama that took place in many urban areas across the nation is unfortunate, please do not be blinded by the BS that is being perpetuated here. It’s ironic that any other time we take Fox News with a grain of salt especially it comes to politics, but with this story their perceptions are legit. Also now that there is evidence that the death in DC is a hoax, I havent seen ANY media outlet update the story or send a retraction for covering something that was false. It’s shameful that  the media knows how divided we as a black community are and will use it against us. Violence during Black Friday shopping isn’t given this much coverage because white America doesn’t care, but they realize that since much of our social acceptance is tied to our stuff and things they know it will be a heated topic of conversation where many will never understand the person on the other side of the argument.

I have seen it all in regards to jokes & comments about those who have purchased the Concords, and yes I’ll agree that if your bills aren’t paid and you skimping out on other responsibilities as an adult, you shouldn’t be able to partake of any luxuries but that goes beyond purchasing sneakers/gym shoes. But changing this mindset of having the latest toy and “keep up with the Jones” goes way beyond what is happening now. Just like we are pre-disposed to health issues because of genetics, we also acquire mentalities and thought-processes from the DNA of our parents and ancestors. Many believe this “gotta ball” mentality is something new but it’s not, I believe we can trace these desires back to when we were African kings and queens. Look at historical accounts of how our ancestors cherished stuff and things, C’mon, they had extravagant tombs and pyramids constructed for the “ballers” of their times. Even look at present day African tribes, while they may not use a Benz or extravagant homes to show status they have their own unique way of showing who is the top of the heap, whether its colorful face paint or necklaces. So we first must realize this ball out mindset and how you treat money did not just recently evolve,  so you may need to sit down with your parents and even grandparents to see how they spent their money and compare habits to really see how much of a curse this is. I am currently doing a 18 week financial stewardship class through my church and we are using the  book Jesus on Money by Larry Burkett;  it has  helped all of us in the class face issues head on so that our bad financial habits aren’t transferred to our children or grandchildren.

So while all of this started as a quest for a pair of shoes, it has opened my eyes to so much more, and while I still wish I had gotten them I’m glad for the life lessons the journey taught me.

Be strong… Be VERY strong…

             For the past couple weeks I have been on my “Tiggalo ish”, for those who may not understand what that means, Tiggalo is the alias/alter-ego for Hip Hop Renaissance Entertainer Phonte (1/3 of the rap group Little Brother and crooner for R&B super-group Foreign Exchange), who happens to be one of my new favorite musical entertainers. After finally getting a chance to download his recent release, a solo album dubbed “Charity Starts at Home,” I gave the album a quick listen but there was a song that I had to go back to “Sendin my Love.” On this track, he really gets personal in the struggles that many men and matter of fact people in general struggle with daily “Life Choices.” For him the choice battle surfaced when he allowed a woman from his past to conjure up feelings of lust and temptation, hence my initially mentioning the men. We all have vices
that lure us and tempt us but in the end we have the ultimate choice to make, to do right or do wrong. There are guys out there that will argue that it’s not in them to be with one woman or be faithful but I call BS on that, just like you choose to get up every day and go to work, or choose not to rob/steal/kill,
the choice of doing right by your significant other carries the same weight. We ALL get faced with the option of falling for the“furry temptress” but it boils down to what really matters to you… I can hear some of my guy readers saying that “I have drama at home” or “I’m not appreciated” and that may be so but at the end of the day you still have a choice. Part of what made the temptation so much greater in the Phonte song was because he was having issues with his significant other, but as with most things in life the Devil looks for entrance ways to cause strife and mess in even the happiest circumstance.

Here are some ways you can avoid falling:

Surround yourself with positive men who will keep it 100 with you:

There is nothing worse than you battling a  temptation issue and your boys are encouraging you to cheat or giving you  avenues to do so. At this stage of life your boys/friends/frat brothers should  be doing things to build you up no break you down. If all you have around you  are people who encourage that negative behavior then it may be time to change your circle. And if you are one of these guys who are encouraging your boy to act up GTHOH, time to grow up and leave the juvenile games of “chase the cat” back in the bachelor days, your friendship should mean enough to the point where you don’t want to see him jack up his life.

See beyond the “moment”:

You can’t give in simply because you got a hard on, wifey tripping and a blast from the past is pushing up on you. As science says the blood the fuels the erection comes from your brain, thus reducing your ability to think logically. You have to ask yourself is that momentary “release” with this fling worth jeopardizing all you  claim you love and worked so hard to build. Whether you are married or single,  you being in a relationship took some investing in and are you really willing  to lose that for a chick that you won’t want to deal with the next day.

Communicate with your significant other:

A lot of men say that they look elsewhere  because there is a disconnect with their significant other. But how often have  you tried to bring things back together is the key question. In my own  experience I’ve learned that things have fallen off simply because the guy saw  it one way and his significant other saw it differently. But keep this theory  in mind in the conversation “when she’s wrong she’s RIGHT and even when you’re right you’re wrong”

Avoid tempting situations when having relationship issues:

We all will have relationship disagreements  but there is nothing worse than having one and then putting yourself in a  situation to be tempted. More often you will let your anger/frustration in the  relationship diminish your common sense and allow yourself to be put in  compromising situations that you then try to justify. So calling your boys up and running to the club (strip or dance) may not be the best idea if you just go into it with your girl. Even if you dont necessarily want to be around your girl, go somewhere that you know is a safe haven like the driving range, a cigar bar or the gym… on second thought maybe not the gym considering what some of these ladies wear to work out nowadays.

Walk away:

If you are constantly fighting temptation and even giving in to it, it may be time to call that relationship a wrap. Yes we know that can be easier said than done but I guarantee that your girl will  appreciate you a lot more if you end it that way than her having to find out  via Facebook, email, text or in person. If you are married with kids and in this situation you have to look at whats best for the kids because once you had them it no longer became about you, their welfare/safety/protection SHOULD have become priority #1 but considering you thinking about doing a selfish act of cheating, I may have to reconsider if you are thinking of anyone but yourself at this point.

Shoot you may even have to do like Phonte and  talk yourself out of it. There is a point in the “story” of the song  where he has a decision to make; either go with his ex or go home to his wife and we find him repeating to  himself “Tiggalo be strong, be VERY strong…” While it may seem silly to have to  mentally talk your way through the situation, you are distracting yourself from the temptation, allowing the lust to subside and perhaps even laughing at
yourself because you feel silly for having to talk to yourself but by that time the moment has passed and you are back to thinking clearly.

So the next time you are  faced with that tempting moment talk it out, even if it is to yourself, and  long as you don’t answer yourself you won’t seem crazy and by the time the one-sided conversation ends,  you will have built  up some confidence in knowing you can fight off this temptation and take it on home…

I was able to find the audio on YouTube, so take a listen for yourself and while you are at it just  go out and buy this man CD… #QUALITYMUSIC

Paying it Forward: Greatness

 Recently I had the opportunity to attend a lecture series held at  the University of South Florida where the legendary rapper Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., better known by his stage name Common, spoke about his life and his most recent published memoir, “One Day It’ll All Make Sense”. I have always been a fan of Common as a rapper but officially confirmed the day I heard his song “Retrospect for Life”, featuring Lauren Hill. His willingness to address taboo issues and outward accountability to be morally and spiritually conscious instantly made me a fan. And while I had never been faced with the dilemma of being a father before a husband, I always felt that this song set a MANdate of what should be done.

While a big fan of his music, as with many entertainers, I always tend to be cautious to endorse their ability to be poignant and eloquent in a public forum. From the moment I stepped in the lecture hall there was a certain serendipity in air …an anxious anticipation that I was about to receive something I had been waiting for. I was surrounded by a sea of college age kids, many of which only knew him for being an actor or his most recent musical releases, but nevertheless the turnout was great. As we set and awaited his arrival they showed a few short films of lectures to come… that helped set the tone of the night and then finally an introduction for the speaker of the night. He came out immediately and captivated the audience, it was evident that he was able to carry the same aura in this type environment just as he would if he were about to rock the mic. Being that it was where he developed his own sense of Greatness,  it was no surprise that his introduction to the crowd was a freestyle that incorporated subject matter that members of the USF student body could appreciate.

When the crowd calmed he immediately went in on his speech explaining how he struggled previously on what he would talk about prior to his trip down and that something delivered in his spirit gave him the topic of “greatness” and more specifically how his journey to achieving greatness had been a long conquest with a series of trials and triumphs before he discovered his personal greatness. In an instant I felt like life had frozen in time, why? I guess it goes back to the term I used earlier serendipity. The word serendipity (ser·en·dip·i·ty) means: an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. You see I had gone to the lecture expecting one thing (to hear Common speak/empower college kids) but the irony was I was about discover a few answers to life questions that I had been struggling with myself. First starting with Common sharing how his third grade teacher instilled in him that he could be great and because of the legacy of the story behind Emmett Till. He referenced a point in his life as a ball boy for the Chicago Bulls that as he travelled in the tunnels to gather the equipment he could feel the spirit of Till (who was a Chicago native), and soon embarked on his life journey to embody that GREATNESS, his teacher spoke of. Coincidentally after struggling to find a shirt to wear that night, I settled on one of my favorite shirts, one that paid homage to Emmett Till.

As he recounted various points in his life during that quest towards greatness, it seemed as if there was always a quote or scripture that allowed him to press through when even he saw no end and wanted to give up. He referenced a poem that many of us know and have heard many times but I think because of the moment it had so much more power

“Our Greatest Fear”

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson

Interestingly enough I derived the title of this blog from his willingness to share with the crowd what others shared with him. One of my fiance’s favorite theories on life is  “Pay it Forward” (which was made into a great movie) The concept is that you repay a good deed done for you by doing something good for someone else and creating a cycle of reciprocity. But while she was helping me, she also essentially called me out as well. She knows that my biggest fear is that I have the ability to be great but because that greatness causes a stretching and maybe even great discomfort, I stay where I am. So just as she questioned me, I ask you; what is something that you have cowered from that you KNEW you wanted, simply because it took a little more work, or struggle? There is a reason that the most rewarding things are sometimes the most difficult, God has to see how much faith will you have in He and how much of a desire is it for you.

 “God don’t make no mistakes” is a repeated quote from the movie Idlewild that I always take with me and just like He didn’t make no mistake in me seeing the post on Facebook for the event. He didnt make no mistake in making it possible for my fiance to attend even though she was supposed to be at work. He didn’t make no mistake in whispering to me to wear my Emmett Till shirt, and most definitely there was no mistake in the coincidence that the title of Common book is “One Day it’ll all Make Sense” which is also the title of the third CD (those who know me understand the significance of the number 3) which contains my favorite song “Retrospect for life.”  

This perhaps was my wake up call to really begin to seek my own personal GREATNESS and I can thank Common for re-birthing the desire to find it in me and hopefully by you reading this I have done my job in paying forward the encouragement to do what God has called for you to do. Maybe for all of us, one day it’ll all make sense how everything is tied together through the will of the Lord. So I thank Him in advance for the blessings that will manifest!!!

Land of the Free… Home of the silent.

The early settlers came to “America” out of the need to escape Puritan England in order to gain freedom (religious), and even recently has always boasted that its citizens are awarded many freedoms, one being freedom of speech. What many have forgotten is just as with the freedom sail from England, our present day freedoms come at a price.

mendenhall
Rashard Mendenhall, a running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers is finding that out the hard way now. For those who don’t know Mendenhall has caught MAJOR flack for expressing a right that many of us take for granted; FREEDOM of SPEECH. While I understand there still are things that cannot be protected under this right (like yelling fire in a crowded room, public defamation of the President of the country and a couple of others) what Mendenhall said should have easily fallen under that protection. Below is a copy of the is the copy the statement made by Mendenhall on his personal twitter account

“What kind of person celebrating death? It’s amazing how people can hate a man whom they had never heard speak. We have only heard one side.”
“We’ll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style.”

celebration of death (were reactions like this really necessary… NO)

What many people failed to do, was break the comments down into two separate parts (they were tweeted as such.) The first part in which he questions people who celebrate death is spot on… It’s ironic that a country that was established on Christian beliefs would be so contradictory of said beliefs. Matthew 22:39 states that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. No where in the verse is there a conditional clause, saying if he does this you don’t have to and your neighor extends to other countries. While we (myself included) take great issue with what Osama Bin Ladin did, he still was a human in which God commanded us to love. I personally take issue with how the country celebrates a vigilante murder, evil or not, this man was not given the opportunity to stand trial. Now there may be some who feel that due to the fact of his actions he didn’t deserve a trial, well that’s strictly opinion based. But in this country even Charles Manson and Ted Bundy, who were viewed as heinous, were given the right to have a trial, and I am willing to bet the family of their victims would have loved to get swift justice for their lost loved ones. It seems as if America is good for having rules but being able to amend them based on need, and wasnt this the SAME man who allegedly had ties to the CIA back in the 80s (for the truth, you sometimes have to go outside of US media outlets)

In the second part of the tweet in which he brings questioning to the true source of destruction during September 11th bombings, while it is very hard to prove that, he has not been the only person that has questioned the truth in this story. I will just say that the incident was so unfortunate and I pray that there was no involvement by our own government.

After reading the tweets I expected uber-patriotic Americans to voice their displeasure of the comments made by Mendenhall. What I did not expect to hear were news reports in which team president Art Rooney II from the Pittsburgh Steelers (the team which he plays for) say this

“I have not spoken with Rashard so it is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments,” Rooney said. “The entire Steelers’ organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done and we can only hope this leads to our troops coming home soon.”

So in the quote he says that he hadn’t talked to Rashad, which he can’t due to the NFL lockout, so why would he go as far to think that he was taking issue with the job that the military had done in regards to this situation (if he truly knew his player he would know that Mendenhall spent time at a football camp in Germany with US troops.) But it goes to show how “speak first, then think later our society is.” Ironically the most important part of the comment that isn’t related to the story is that he hopes it leads our troops home soon, and that is right there is the BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION many americans have. They think now that the big bad wolf is dead, little red riding hood can come home. If you pay attention to American government they have been giving us MANY excuses as to why our Armed Servicemen are overseas;
weapons of mass destruction none there, Saddam Hussein handled him, Osama Bin Ladin- killed him. I wonder what the next threat to american safety will be to keep our troops away from home, because unless there is a significant amount of troops sent home before the holidays, I call BULLSHIT on the american government.

But back to the subject so now we see that Mendenhall doesn’t have the support of his employer we also find out a company who he was paid to endorse, Champion Sports Apparel has now “fired” him. Here is the press release made by a spokesperson for champion

“Champion is a strong supporter of the government’s efforts to fight terrorism and is very appreciative of the dedication and commitment of the U.S. Armed Forces. Earlier this week, Rashard Mendenhall(notes), who endorses Champion products, expressed personal comments and opinions regarding Osama bin Laden and the September 11 terrorist attacks that were inconsistent with the values of the Champion brand and with which we strongly disagreed. In light of these comments, Champion was obliged to conduct a business assessment to determine whether Mr. Mendenhall could continue to effectively communicate on behalf of and represent Champion with consumers. While we respect Mr. Mendenhall’s right to express sincere thoughts regarding potentially controversial topics, we no longer believe that Mr. Mendenhall can appropriately represent Champion and we have notified Mr. Mendenhall that we are ending our business relationship. Champion has appreciated its association with Mr. Mendenhall during his early professional football career and found him to be a dedicated and conscientious young athlete. We sincerely wish him all the best.”

So essentially what I got from the release is that:
1. Champion blindly supports the actions of the US government right or wrong
2. Anyone who questions the actions of the government is unpatriotic
3. Forget a contract, we can do what we want (I wonder if there was a character clause in his contract that forbade him to have any counter-governmental outburst… probably not)

Truthfully when was the last time Champion was relevant as an apparel company when it comes to athletes marketing, so in the grand scheme of things they became relevant for 2.5 seconds only to go back into the sea of forgotten after the next Nike or Under Armor commercial airs.

While I think Mendenhall bounces back, like all things in the american media, it will take time to blow over (or bigger news story.) He has even gone as far as to blog a clarification statement in which he breaks down what he truly was trying to convey (only having 160 characters can get you in trouble if someone misinterprets your tweet) And while I always thought he was a good football player, he has earned more respect from me as a man because; he felt a certain kind a way about something, spoke on it, saw the error in how it was conveyed, brought clarity to what he said, but never backed down from his stance. How you feel may not always be received nicely but if that’s how you feel MAN UP and stand by your statement… This is the type of athlete that should be endeared not vilified.

But this whole situation speaks of a bigger social issue… are we essentially telling people and specifically the youth that your beliefs views and ideas are insignificant, subject to scrutiny, and could get you fired if they are contrary to that of popular belief. We already have athletes who refuse to stand up for social/civil/spiritual injustices out of fear of losing their cash cow, but now they can’t even voice their opinions on social networking websites. There are many who are against athletes/entertainers being on twitter and many collegiate coaches have gone as far as banning it for their players due to some of the foolishness being said, but I do believe under the right context, twitter can be a positive outlet that endears fans to an athlete. Case in point Jalen Rose is establishing a charter school in my hometown of Detroit and he took to twitter to spread awareness of the opportunity for the youth of Detroit to enroll.

What I suggest is that EVERYONE even us common folk before you hit that send button on your respective twitter app think of the potential ramifications of having your words hit cyberspace, because while John Doe may not lose millions due to an inappropriate tweet, he could lose something more important to him like his job/wife/friends…

Even in writing this, I know I am subjecting myself to scrutiny, judgement and hate, but I DONT CARE… I am tired of people abiding by the status quo because its safe or easy. It is time for someone to shake the masses so why not me… I’ll be the blog Bad Guy, but know this if you have made it this far in reading, i know I have challenged you to rethink some things in life and if so, my job is done.

-God Bless

Duke Basketball vs Black America

duke target
In the world of sports there are generally teams that are disliked or even hated simply for the fact that they are successful; The Dallas Cowboys in the NFL, the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA, the New York Yankees in professional baseball and in college basketball of recent years it has been the Duke Blue Devils…

Generally there is no in between either you love them or you dispise them… Seeing the Lions, Pistons, and Tigers beat the “hated” team in their respective sport always brought me joy. I still will always remember the 1991 season for the Lions because their only playoff win of my ere as a fan came against the more popular and favorited Cowboys team. The 2004 NBA championship for the Pistons was so much more sweeter because they were able to obtain it by beating the Lakers who many felt were the superior team. Also in 2006 to see the Tigers beat the Yankees to get back to the World Series was wonderful.
Growing up a HUGE U-M fan I usually disliked any team that gave them trouble in sports. For football it was always Ohio State and Notre Dame, and in basketball it was Duke. I can go back to my gradeschool days of watching U-M play Duke and truly hating them because it always seemed that U-M could never get past them. The 1992 season was especially frustrating because not only did U-M lose in teh regular season but they also fell to the Blue Devils in the National Championship Game. After that season I became one of the biggest Duke haters their were… there were some successes like the 2008-09 season where a young scrappy U-M team was able to beat a more talented Duke squad, but often times Duke came out on top.


Recently there was a great documentary done by ESPN on the Fab Five. And in one segment each of the players who participated gave their input on how they felt about the Duke basketball team during that infamous 1992 season. Each player had no qualms expressing their dislike and almost hatred that they had for the team at the time going as far as saying disparaging things about specific players like Bobby Hurly, Christian Laettner and more specifically Grant Hill. In talking to Jalen Rose, who grew up in innercity Detroit who was raised by a single mom and had no relationship with his son until on his deathbed, he was very candid about his issues with the type of player Duke recruited. Paraphrasing, he felt that Duke would never recruit a black athlete like him and only went after players who he described as Uncle Toms. He then went on to specifically call out Grant Hill who grew up in an affluent educated two parent home, and you could tell that even though he was reflecting on his thoughts as an 18 year old young man those thoughts still lingered in him even today.
While I do feel that his comments were VERY misguided, unfortunately they are the thoughts of many inner city blacks who ignorantly equate education/success/desire to do and be better with being an Uncle Tom. I feel that Jalen incorrectly targeted the players and would have had a greater argument being critical of the coaching staff who recruited these players. As a distant fan, I always felt that Duke and specifically Coach K, recruited a certain type of black basketball player to play at Duke. The majority of black players fit into that “safe negro” category, whether it was Trajan Langon (whose father was an Anthropology professor at the University of Alaska-Anchorage) or even super freshman Kyrie Irving (who was born in Australia while his father played professional basketball.) Even when it came to recruiting in the state of MI the three players I remember them recruiting the hardest were Chris Webber, Shane Battier, and Mike Chappelle. All three players upbringings were similar: two family household middle class, higher regarded educational background

There is only one player that comes to mind who didnt fit that typical mode of black recruit and that was Elton Brand. Brand was from Peekskill in upstate New York and grew up in a single parent household and had an upbringing that was very different from many of the black players that had previously played under Coach K . There are various accounts in which Brand speaks of not being comfortable at Duke and upon leaving after his sophomore year, experienced backlash from fans because he was the first player to ever early-declare for the NBA Draft under Coach K. A female co-ed went as far as to send him a very disrespectful email about tarnishing the Duke name in which Brand took the high road and responded in a sarcastic yet professional manner
letter from a duke “fan”
Now is it wrong for Coach K to recruit only a certain type of player, alot of people will say no. Programs all over the country do it, and generally base it systimatically (coaches look for players that can run the weave, fast break, 3-point offense) but rarely has it had as great of a socio-economic undertone as playing at Duke has. I guess what he is doing is no different than what Eastern Michigan football coach Ron English said he wanted to establish with his struggling football program, recruiting a specific type of player; one that comes from a two parent household. STORY He later adjusted the statements stating that he knew it was an unattainable due to today’s society make-up. I did see where he was going and agreed with a lot of it, too bad he wasnt allowed to stand by what he said due to pressure from the university and the court of public opinion. (IMO)
Two MAJOR differences in the comparisons is that 1) Duke wins Eastern Michigan footabll hasnt in 15+ years and 2) Coach K never publicly stated that he is purposely being selective in recruitment.

Now I know there are some that are reading and may say “well Duke is a prestigious intitution and the admissions process and standards may too high for inner city recruits.” And to that I ask is the University of Michigan not one of the most prestigious academic insititutions in America, some even consider it part of the “Ivy League of the midwest” along with Northwestern U? And even with its high academic standards, football and basketball coaches have always recruited the inner city well, a la Jalen Rose (who later one stated felt that because of his elevated social status, that his kids would be the type that Duke recruited.)

At the end of the day there is this great cultural dilemma in the black community; should we expect Coach K to deviate from his own established and very successful (I will not deny his ability to win games) process of recruiting black athletes just so he can have a couple inner city hardship cases on his resume or should we accept the fact it could all be just a demographic coincidence and he is entitled to recruit who he wants long as he stays within the scope of NCAA rules and regulations in doing so.

Just as in life, sports will never be able to fully escape the racial and cultural undertones, so it may just be up to those who watch, support and play them, to perhaps change how we see things.
To many the ONLY color that matters in college hoops is the orange of the ball, the jersey of the last team standing in April and the green of the dollars being made off the backs of these “amateur” atheletes, oops did i say that…

UPDATE:
I can add another notch to the “I hate Duke” meter with them eliminating my beloved Wolverines in this years NCAA tournament, it was a hardfought game and the team showed alot of heart to be so young… NEXT TIME DOOKIES… NEXT TIME…

CIAA 2011 Recap

For those who don’t know the CIAA is a HBCU conference composed of schools in NC/VA/MD/PA and at the end of their mens & womens basketball season there is a Conference Tournament that decides who goes onto the Division II tournament. There are various events that coincide with the playing of the games. From concerts, to job fairs to parties (which is why so many people come into town). The tournament originally was based in Virginia for a long period of time but transitioned to Raleigh NC (that was where I first attended in 2005) and in 2006 transitioned to the city of Charlotte where it will be until 2014…

In past years I had the pleasure of covering the games as an on floor photographer and also going to a couple of the non-party related events (steve Harvey show, the fan experience) this year due to scheduling I focused on just the social aspect of the CI (as many call it)

and all I can say is that it was the truest essence of the GOOD BAD AND UGLY….

Good:

the one thing of the CIAA I truly love seeing are the older couples 50+ who still come into town and support their respective colleges by going to the games and some of the mature alumni events. On my way to a day party Friday I saw three separate couples around my grandparents age walking to Time Warner Arena to watch game. Also Saturday during the CIAA Championship Brunch sponsored by the charlotte alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, I had the pleasure of interacting with a lot of 40+ crowd and just to overhear the stories of how long they had been coming to the CIAA and participating in events similar to ours was great…

I also think this year was the year of the Cougar. I saw so many woman between the ages of 35-45+ that were on top of their games. They were appropriately dressed handled themselves in a great way and just looked good. I know a couple of my boys went to events (mainly the AKA Pink Groove event) where they dominated the scene even over some of their younger sorors. They also are not afraid to get out there and enjoy themselves on the dancefloor. Bernadette Standis (Thelma from Good Times) was at the Saturday Night Party I covered for Six Figure Entertainment, and for someone who is 58 not only did she still look good but she was not afraid to get out on the floor and dance…
Yes there were and have always been men who come out in that same age range but being a guy I don’t pay that much attention to them. One of the hostesses at a party I was shooting said that a “sugar daddy” she met two years ago still calls her every CIAA to see what she has up.

Also this year at all the events I covered people, for the most part, were willing to take photos. Usually you find someone who is standoffish by the camera or being on the internet… It’s still hilarious to see the few people who don’t wanna be photo’d how they run to the other side of the room, uh ma’am I know what I am doing I can crop the photo to where you aren’t seen.

Shout out to all the Promoters; IV Horseman Entertainment, Six Figure Entertainment, Kappas of Charlotte whose events I covered from my vantige point all were successes, no issues or problems. The DJs were great and people looked to be enjoying themselves. Also talking to people who attended other parties they really enjoyed themselves once they got to a party

BAD:
Traffic: That’s all I kept hearing about on twitter, how traffic was so bad and things were gridlocked downtown in the epi-center. You see I said others, after finally figuring out how to maneuver through the city and being fortunate that the parties I covered friday and saturday night were on the outer part of downtown, I was able to circumvent most of it. The combination of charlotte’s funny structure of downtown (one way streets and traffic lights) in addition to people holding up traffic trying to see and be seen (the candy-painted rides were out again… the Coors, yes coors light beer, Cutlass and the lime green Charger were the highlights.

Hurt feet: That’s all I kept hearing from women “oh my feet hurt” Its funny what you women will subject yourself to for the sake of beauty. Even as a man I will say there were some shoes that were nice looking but was it worth it (and i can hear all my lady readers yell YES) By the end of the night with many of women i saw those shoes were in hand or they had the wobble legs… Ladies in the future what you may want to do is carry one of those knapsack backpacks with a pair of flip-flops/flats check it into coat check and at the end of the night switch into those, because walking the street (because for a lot of people it was a major hike due to lack of close parking) barefoot is not safe nor is it sexy… Speaking of coat check, next year ladies PLEASE make that your BFF. For those who have come to CIAA the past 3 years, we know the weather has not been at its best and we know you are determined to still wear your “get-em girl outfit” so when you buy the dress find a nice jacket/shall that you can put over it and check it… Nothing is worse than leaving out the club after sweating and having to shiver your way back to your car, its bad enough your feet will hurt don’t compound it with pneumonia of the breast because you had to be cute…

VIP: I heard so many people had issues with venues VIP set up, they paid an extra amount for admission but really didn’t get much with it. Next year do your research and find out what you get with that before you pay $80 for a party just to standing in a crowded room with other people away from the party. I will give my boy Kirk Brown from Six Figure Entertainment credit, Saturday night Good Times event, not only did you get a separate DJ, you got a full course meal (pasta/roast/3 types of chicken/veggie tray/cupcakes) but you also got an OPEN BAR… how many promoters are willing to do that… well keep them in mind for CIAA 2012… Everyone I talked to enjoyed themselves and it was as if it was a separate party.

Weather: I joked early saturday that the weatherman lied because they were calling for rain Friday but it never showed. I guess the joke was on me because it rained and poured most of saturday… I did notice that unlike with most social weekends in Charlotte people were not afraid to still come out. I did talk to a couple of people who said the malls were on jam during the afternoon and a couple were reminiscent of freaknik (not much clothing a lot of loitering) I guess God knew if the day was clear the people wouldn’t know how to act so it rained enough during the day to keep those without plans from downtown, cleared up to allow people to get to their respective parties that night and then started pouring again around 2am, I guess to tell people GO HOME…

UGLY

Dress: Dont wanna be sexist but most men keep their attire for these types of events simple: either you have the sweater/sports coat or Graphic T look which is pretty simple you can’t mess that up, but LADIES LADIES LADIES a lot of the stuff I saw this week, some of you don’t have friends who care about you… A lot of you went for the “whatever looks the craziest” look. I saw some color combinations that should be outlawed. Yes I understand many of you are trying to be fashion forward but its 2011 not 2035 some looks should be left to the video chick because they can take it off and leave it with the stylist.

The Leggins/designer tights look is a gift and a curse… while I saw a couple of women correctly pull them off and made me do a double take, I saw too many that didn’t. I even saw a grandma (50+s) out there trying to rock them… Ma’am not to be rude but leggings should NOT sag in your backside, give them back to your granddaughter.
Make sure the outfit you wear to the party is size appropriate you should not spend the entire night pulling it down on your legs or pulling it up in your breast area… It’s funny how chicks will walk around the party the entire night with the top part of their dress hanging low then when I take the picture get all critical and fuss at me. Or this is the funny one, girls take the photo look at it and then say “I look fat”, uh boo you knew that when you bought the outfit, tried it on at home, packed it, and put it on in the room but you didn’t care so why get all conscious now… I guess because the world will see the chunkiness that your girls were too shady to tell you about before. And if your girl is pregnant (well with a stomach like that I HOPE she was) either leave her home or tell her wearing a white skin-tight shirt is NOT the business

Speaking about home girls and the people you hang with… Ladies if they leave you in front of a restaurant incoherent throwing up THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS… if you are a friend of someone in this state at least take them back to the car, don’t leave them out in the public to be clowned or even worse taken advantage of by thirsty men. And if she is that gone you may have to take an L on your fun to help her out, IF she is truly your friend.

And speaking of that it leads to my last and perhaps my BIGGEST peeve of the weekend. It’s what I will call CIAA Wasted. Its bad when guys get sloppy drunk and barely know whats going on but its a damn shame when women get to that level. Know your limits… If you are regularly a one glass of wine drinker what sense does it make to come to CIAA and have 3 drinks before leaving your hotel room then get to the party and have 3 more drinks… I do know some women who can drink men under the table but that was an acquired skillset. Not to mention by Saturday night your body is probably so dehydrated from all the alcohol consumed Thursday night Friday day and Friday night. You probably have had no water and werent eating right if at all… Pointblank ladies especially if you are over 25 that ish is not cute, and truthfully what is the purpose of drinking that much?
These women irk me because as a photographer I have to personally deal with them, a guy in the party can just ignore you, but it seems like the more drunk women get the more they want to take pictures and become touchy feely. I wanted to mush at least 10 women in their face, over the course of this weekend because they; invaded my personal space their breath was horrid and they were just acting horribly. You don’t have to touch me for me to take a photo of you, and yes you do look drunk in the photo BECAUSE YOU ARE

Overall it was a decent CIAA and considering my move, this will be my last CIAA… people ask would I come back to shoot, probably not. It’s not financially worth it considering all the stress/tired moments. My body is just now recovering and I had to take today off to allow for that.

For those who want to see what I saw through my lens goto Crush Charlotte

CIAA Blog: Wednesday Part I

A couple of years back I played with the idea of doing a blog during the CIAA for all the events I covered but it never came to pass so this year I really took the proper steps to do and follow through with the blog idea…

My first stop tonight was to Velocity Shoe Boutique for the 9th wonder in store appearance…
As usual my boy Dj Dexter Dynamite showing love… While it’s a thick crowd not as interactive as last year. I think part of it is cuz 9th wonder dj’ing from the red bull monster truck so its split the crowd. More of the hip hop heads outside. Being that its a sneaker boutique I’m always checking the kicks of everyone in here, there were a Couple of foamposits and a couple of jordans (including my red/black 11s) but I was still looking for that ill pair of kicks. When I find them *click*… Found them… (Insert pic) I have always been a fan of creative recs (got 3 pair myself) the colorway is simple yet effective.

The new trend is the wood “bling” plenty of woodville apparel in the building. Been debating about copping a crush one just for promo purposes…

Surprise of the night big remo of the Its a Wonderful World Music group IWWM was shooting a video for his new mixtape for LRG so u may see your boy in a scene or two. Most of the crew was in the building; Thee Tom Hardy, Rapsody (one of the hottest female rappers), Actual Proof, TP, The Away Team, Halo…
One artist he showcased that wasn’t here was Heather Victoria. I was following her on twitter but hadn’t heard any of her work… As I thought better than most of the female singers out now…check her out

Talk about a capitalizing spirit, they were already selling charlie sheen shirts here is one of them

See this is what gets me in trouble. I stick around at a venue too long I know I need to head back to the crib to get ready for IV horseman party but I’m enjoying the good music since they only play crack on the radio (9th quote) and he is so true…

See he just set off by playing some Slum Village detroit stand up!!!

Finally got up out of there. Truly hope all the artist get their just due musically. Big ups to darryl from velocity for hosting another good event. Looked like he re-uped in time to see it fly off the shelves.

Dinner shower and hit the streets up next Lavecchias for the Tip Off… Swish
Speaking of tip-off shouts out to whatsnextlex for the mixtape I will be bumping the entire weekend…

Play another slow jam…

LOVE SONG
black love

I love music… it is a big part of my life, it encourages me, soothes me and helps me through my life. Everything from rap to some rock music, I can say that i appreciate GOOD music. Since my taste in music always varied I was always one to make “mix tapes” of my favorite songs. Many of my mix tapes were genre specific; generally rap, R&B, and lately gospel. As technology evolved so did the way I constructed my musical masterpieces. As a youth most of the songs came through listening to the radio at night and popping a tape cassette (a true relic) and recording directly from there. Now I must say the quality was HORRIBLE and you always ran the risk of the song being cut off or a radio personalty talking over it, but i made due. Ill never forget going on a trip with my parents and the nights leading up to leaving listing to 96.3 in Detroit (when it still played urban music) and dubbing songs like kriss kross “Jump” and Vanessa Williams “save the best for last” (weird combo, i know LOL) I listened to that tape the whole trip over and over…

Once I got to college, me and my boys at EMU evolved to the wonderful world of burning CDs and the pioneer of music file sharing; NAPSTER… Due to not having the resources ourselves we would make up lists of the current popular songs and give it to an indian guy down the hall and he would make us whatever we wanted… thinking about it, not even sure if we paid him for his services … then as each of us got computers we took turns flooding our hard drives with music (and plenty of viruses that came along with them) that would be the source of our many mix cds… I was heavy into rap music back then but every so often i would make a slow jam CD to try to impress a girl; some times it worked often it didn’t they just ended up wanting their own copy to play for a guy they were into LOL… Even after college I would make cds and give them titles based on the purpose of them, Generally named after a trip I was taking and would listen to the cd…

Recently I got the itch to try my hand at making another slow jam cd. For days I pondered over the songs I would use and how I would organize them. Then it hit me, do a story line and have the songs tell a story. When that idea first hit me I wondered if I had enough songs in my collection to make a flowing cd, little did I realize that not only did I have enough songs for ONE CD but I ended up having enough material for TWO. The more and more I listened to the songs I began to get a mental visual that played out like a movie and my songs were the soundtrack…

Chocolate Goodness Vol. 1: The Set up
1. Mrs Sexy- Robin Thicke
2. Okay- Usher
3. Here with you- Rudy Currence
4. Sobeautiful- Musiq
5. Here I am- Monica
6. Bad Habits- Maxwell
7. Friends dont let Friends Sleep Alone- Joe
8. Spending Time with you- Janet Jackson
9. Slow Dance- Keri Hilson
10. House- Kevin Cossom
11. Truly- Janet Jackson
12. Pany Droppin- Trey Songz
13. Sex Therapy- Robin Thicke

Chocolate Goodness Vol 2: The Close
1. Ready to make love- Trey Songz
2. So Good- Day 26
3. Bed- J Holiday
4. Can U handle it- Usher
5. Say it- Ne Yo
6. Storm- Jamie Foxx
7. Moist- Janet Jackson
8. Jupiter Love- Trey Songz
9. Freakin me- Jamie Foxx
10. Mirro- Ne Yo
11. Making Love (into the night)- Usher
12. She- Eric Roberson
13. Overdose- Jamie Foxx
14. In a Sentimental Mood- JohnCoultrain

Yes i know there are a couple of artist like Jamie Foxx, Usher, Ne Yo and Robin Thicke that had multiple tracks on the cd but at the time of conception their songs flowed the best. I also tried to showcase a couple of artist that many casual R&B fans aren’t aware of like Kevin Cossom (talented songwriter and soon to be the next big thing in R&B), Eric Roberson (one of the best neo-soul artist out, great performer MUST SEE) and Rudy Currence ( my frat brother from the charlotte area who was recently signed to Ludacris DTP label, another GREAT live performer) Now I have since found other artist that have songs that fit just as well and have toyed with replacing a couple of songs, but you never want to mess with an original creation. What may end up happening is a Vol 3 may be created, if it flows with the first two.

As you can see and hopefully hear (surprise later) the first CD has more of a structured storyline flow, whereas the second CD is straight to the point about what took place… In making the CD, I reflected on my dating history and it coincided, usually more work is put into the winning the girls attention and many details are lost during KEY acts of affection.

Now some people may wonder why Chocolate Goodness, well its two-fold. Those who know me understand and joke me for my affinity for darker skinned women, I LOVE CHOCOLATE 🙂 and the Goodness part comes from the feeling that you get if you are lucky enough to experience what each track embodies. The goodness of a new love interest, having the feelings reciprocated and the culmination of the physical union of both.

As I said I have a surprise, I found a website that hosts music files and uploaded the CD for those who may want to hear it for themselves… Please leave comments if you download, all criticism is appreciated

*DISCLAIMER* I cannot be held accountable for the feelings/emotions/desires that may evolve from listening to these CD so listen with caution and alone if possible LOL…

Chocolate Goodness Vol 1
Chocolate Goodness Vol 2