Saturday, August 29, 2015

Each Day Is An Opportunity To Do You

Today is the first day of the rest of your life and it’s a time to be spent in joy and celebration. A time to put aside all past memories that make you uncomfortable. Now is the time o look forward to the joyous years that lie ahead.

Starting at a very young age, you began deciding what you wanted to do with your life, and by looking back you’ll see that you have been successful in most of your endeavors. It is because of the determination and perseverance you exemplified during those years, that others, believe it or not, are trying to be like you. You might not have received a tangible award for your accomplishments, but know that your investments of time, discipline, and love have paid off.

You have now reached a level of wisdom and maturity that demonstrate how the Grace of God has given and still gives you the opportunity to make this world a better place as a result of your being here. Think about whatever it is that you’ve done, at whatever age you did it, and ask yourself how many were blessed to do it as well as you.

Be that as it may, you are still unnecessarily worried about what you can do to contribute to the welfare of others, even though many of them are well past the age of being dependent on someone else. You continue to give of yourself, with an unyielding fervency, in the hopes that their lives will improve. Be ever aware however, that just your example is inspiring them, and prompting them to realize that faith and determination are the two factors that will take them to the heights that you have proven are available to all.

I’d like to suggest,that you take this time to begin a life that’s all about you. The work that The Creator has assigned to you is still in progress, but now it’s about doing only that which you love or feel compelled to do. Please…Leave the situations that cause any degree of discomfort for God to resolve. As you have seen throughout your entire life, no matter how dismal things may appear, God will inevitably work things out, and true righteousness shall prevail.  So, from this point on, do you, and allow those of us who witness your doing so, an opportunity to see how to do ourselves. Show us how to appreciate this gift of life, by doing you and enjoying what you do. 

I’ll holla…

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Don’t Believe The Hype

The latest trip, to Mali, West Africa, was the most revealing, engaging and fulfilling experience I’ve ever had. For some reason, this return to the Motherland, this reconnection to the root of my existence on this planet, has allowed me to learn more about myself, and about the world around ways that are beyond physical, mental and emotional comprehension.

There is undoubtedly something magical about breathing air and living life on the actual land of my ancestors. My very presence there has energized and encouraged me to the point of looking beyond where I am right now, and seeing the larger picture of where I’m headed. It’s like I’ve been to the place where the very seed of my being was planted, and by simply being there have now received the blueprint of how to nourish the plant that I’ve become. It’s now been revealed to me that I am Africa, and am there, wherever I might be found, for the express purpose of representing my African essence.

Before my wife Nicole and I left for Mali, many of the people we spoke to mentioned the civil war that was taking place there, and tried to convince us that it was not safe to go at that time. Those of you who are aware of how we roll, already know that when we’re told that something we feel is positive shouldn’t or couldn’t be done, we’re only encouraged that much more to do it. So do it we did, and we’ve been blessed more than we realized we could as a result of having done so.

My sense of what we gained most from the experience, is that the second half of the idiom you should “believe half of what you see and nothing that you hear”, is right on point. You see our human experience does not allow us the luxury of going beyond our sensory perceptions, and delving deep into the realm of existence that speaks only to and from the heart. As humans we are so prone to responding to how good or bad we feel, and how to maintain or change that feeling, that we don’t stop for just a moment to realize that there’s a reason and a purpose for each of those feelings. Only by addressing them from a spiritual perspective can we have true peace of mind. So we don’t neglect or disavow what people say to us, but we go where we need to go, and do what we need to do, in order to find the truth about what it is that we’re hearing.

Let me give you an example. We’re walking about five miles from one village of Mali to another. I’m wearing a $100 pair of Air Jordans and suddenly I feel the thick sole of my left shoe tearing away from the lining. The right shoe follows suit and about 3 miles into the walk, I’ve taken the soles completely off and I’m walking on a paper thin lining. What happens is that I’m suddenly awakened to the fact that the soles of my feet, are in direct contact with the souls of the people who had walked that same path hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of years prior. I had lost the soles of American materialism, and connected with the soul of the African legacy. To top it off two young village boys are thrilled to receive those detached soles from me, because they are not yet caught up in consumerism, they are focused on resourcefulness and creativity. They are not concerned as much about what they don’t have, as they are with what to do with what is available to them.

The point I’m making is don’t believe the hype ya’ll. Buying designer stuff doesn’t really give you the biggest bang for your buck. Because the so called poor African children we see on television have runny noses and flies around their heads, does not mean that they are despondent and cannot make it without our help. You see everything is relative and the choices we make will determine our state of mind.  Detach yourself from the concept of not enough, and connect yourself to the realization that you already have everything you need, and now your only objective is to learn what to do with it. 

I'm gonna take some time to fully comprehend the depth of my African experience, and I know that what I’ve shared is only a snippet of what i’ve gained. Nonetheless, I’m going to continue to give, from the heart, what it is that I’ve gotten, and request that you at least consider doing the same.

I’ll holla…

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Language Is Not Necessarily The Only Barrier

As I write this blog, we’re in Paris,France, on our way to Mali, in West Africa, and I’ve been totally and positively impacted by what I’ve seen and heard in our short time here. I just finished interviewing Kelli Mamadou, who started her own software company, and Patrick Jerier, who is one of her employees and also a software technology educator. They are both from the French island of Martinique, and it was in talking with them that this blog was inspired. Patrick prompted the context of the blog, through his ability and willingness to speak with me in English, and Kelli inspired its message by quoting Martinique born philosopher, writer, psychiatrist, and revolutionary Frantz Fanon. “…each generation must…discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it…”

Speaking more than one language is definitely a plus if we are to maximally interact with each other on a global scale. For instance, Mali is a predominately French speaking country, and Nicole and I have been hoping, for over a year, that we would be speaking French by the time of our upcoming trip. It was trying to obtain visas at the Malian Embassy yesterday, that convinced me of the benefits of being at least bi-lingual.

We arrived at the embassy at 10am and waited in a block long line until about an hour and a half before we entered the building. Once we got inside it took another 30 minutes until we approached the front desk. Because of our inability to speak French, and the guy at the front desk having no understanding of the English language, it took another 10 minutes before we were made aware that no more visas applications would be issued until visa express time at 2:00pm. As it turns out, language was not a barrier from receiving our visas, but had we spoken French we could have found out a lot earlier that coming back at 2:00pm was an option.

The Fanon quotation,  “…each generation must…discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it…”  is a boon to my belief that we must be rid of what’s been called the ‘generation gap’. If we are to gain true insight from, and a solid connectivity to, one another., we must at least collaborate. In talking to Kelli and Patrick I’ve sensed that they not only believe in, but are dedicated to Fanon’s approach to our purpose in life. They are not only focused on doing their part in bringing equity and acknowledgement to their personal environment and beyond, but are grateful to their parents and ancestors for having paved the way. 

To all our youth and young adults I say thank you for your energy and passion in trying to make a difference in this world, but don’t forget to appreciate the ones who came before you even if you don’t agree with how they went about doing what they did. To all the elders I say thank you for what you’ve already done, and ask that you support our youth with suggestions and guidance rather than condemning them with criticism of, and fault finding with, what they have sought to undertake.

I thank those who have gone on before me, my family and friends, the folk in the Malian embassy, my new found friends Kelli and Patrick, and all of you for being in my life and for being a part of my staying ‘green and growing’ in my quest to be of maximum service to all. And if anyone out there has time, and is willing to teach French, holla back.

I’ll holla…

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Saturday, August 8, 2015

It's All About Me

I was in a mall one day, and saw a little girl about 7 years old wearing a tee shirt that read 'IT'S ALL ABOUT ME'. Now that encounter was cute to me because the child seemed to innocently believe the words she displayed. On the other hand. when I see grown folks who act like it's all about them, I take issue with their attitude. Just last week however, I had the opportunity and pleasure of talking with someone I admire, and now I'm convinced that it is all about me, and that the same condition applies to each and every one of you.

About eight months ago, I began earnestly reading and listening to long time activist Dick Gregory's articles and talks. By doing so I have been challenged, enlightened, uplifted, and driven to be all that I can be. So much so that I sent an email to Mr. Gregory's Facebook page, requesting a personal meeting with him. My thinking was that the chances of him responding were a billion to one, yet I still decided to go for that one chance. With the universe being what it is,  and life always unfolding exactly as it should, this is what happened in Chicago last week, six months after my Facebook request.

I'm sitting in O'Hare Airport and get up to go to a concession stand. While there I see this older gentleman with a relatively long grey beard, wearing a tan suit, well shined burnt orange shoes, and a matching beige cap which is pulled down close to his eyes. As I get a glimpse of his face I think "Man, that guy sure looks like Dick Gregory....Naw, it can't be." Curiosity prevails however, and I walk over to him and say 'Excuse me Sir, has anyone ever told you how much you resemble Dick Gregory?" "I am He" was his response.

Upon gathering my composure, I made him aware of my attempt to contact him and he responded that he literally works 280 days a year, and if I were the Surgeon General of the United States my chances of reaching him would be just as slim. "I would still like for you to personally share some of your knowledge with me" I implore,  and he gives me a couple of topics that he says I should google. He then  asks where I'm headed. "To Los Angeles" I respond,  and he tells me that he's on his way to Washington D.C.  Not wanting to risk this being our last correspondence,  I question how I can access more of the information that he shares in regard to our global condition.  "You know about google huh?" is his paraphrased response,  "Well just go online. "

Feeling completely abandoned and totally unfulfilled, I walk away wondering what just happened. In retrospect however, I totally understood. I wanted answers to be given to me. I wanted someone else to resolve the problems that I felt confronted me. What I was being told by Mr. Gregory was that it's all up to you Calvin. It's all about going inside and finding out how much you're willing to do about what's going on outside. It was then that I was reminded that we are all here to be representatives of righteousness, and if the world ain't righteous and we're feeling helpless to do anything about it, then we haven't gone far enough inside of self to find out why we feel that way and what we can do to at least address that feeling.

Just about everybody, the world over has been moved, and most people are up in arms about the latest racial incident in South Carolina. Grown white people are asking why and little white boys are saying it's got to stop. Grown black folks are posting their displeasure on social media, and young black kids are asking what we gon do. The problem is that most people are reacting to what's going on rather than formulating a means for addressing it. Who's responsible for making something happen? That's right, it's us.

Let me share an affirmation, found in a Dick Gregory publication, that I look in the mirror and say to myself at least once a day. "I love myself unconditionally, and every day, in every way, I am getting healthier, and healthier, and healthier."  This verbal affirmation stimulates my subconscious and with just a week of practice I can already feel a positive change unfolding. I already know that it's just a matter of time before the words I speak become a conscious reality.

I totally understand that in order to deal with the outside stuff I have to know who and what it is that I'm working with from the inside. Before I can understand and deal with an unjust society and the victims and perpetuators of the racism that supports that society, I have to know and deal with the me inside. That's first and foremost who it's all about.

I'll holla....

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Let It Go Louie

I called my good friend Paul last Saturday to wish him a happy birthday, and I got a gift from him I’d like to share with you. I love hearing stories, and I love telling them too. Here’s how the story, the gift he shared with me, took place.

The river has risen and the older and younger monk need to get to the other side. When they reach the river bank, there’s a young lady who also wants to cross. Now monks are supposed to be very serious about practicing celibacy, and the elder monk was immensely upset when the younger monk hoisted the young lady to his shoulder and carried her to the other side. 

There was no conversation on the way back to the monastery, but once they got there the elder monk went off. “You know we should always be focused on practicing chastity he proclaimed, and ou’re well aware that one should not risk temptation. Why would you even think about taking that woman to the other side, let alone going through with it” he asked. “I left her on the other side” declared the younger monk, “Why are you still carrying her?”

Sounds like something I still be doing, even after being told years ago that i needed to let things go. How long do we hold grudges? How often do we talk about how someone else is doing things they shouldn’t be doing, especially when we think they’re doing these things to us. How upset do we get about people  and situations over which we have no control. 

My contention is that the majority of us need to address this racial facade that is existent all over the place, and with the advent of social media has become more noticeable than ever before. We need to understand that white supremacy is existent because the bulk of the world’s economic and political power is in the hands of a few people, and they’re capitalizing off our belief that racially related factors are the cause of financial disparity. The real deal is that the folks calling the shots, with their have/ have not mentality, are the real cause of economic inequity, and as long as we continue to harbor resentment, hatred , and ill will against each other, from a racial perspective, the disillusionment of race being the reason for our situation will continue to exist. 

Do we, or have we ever accepted and embraced the racial stereotypes attributed to others? Do we, or have we ever thought that we’re less or greater than people of another ethnic persuasion? Do we, or have we ever thought that another held something against us simply because of the color of our skin. Well, I’m going to be honest and answer ‘Hell to the yeah’ to all of the above questions. I’m also going to admit that letting that racial profiling stuff go ain’t easy, but I sincerely believe that working on doing so will help to achieve our universal objective, i.e. to amicably co-exist on this planet we all share. 

Where do we begin? With communication!! Now I’m not saying to purposefully go out and start talking to people of another race about race. I’m saying start letting go of the animosity that you hold against the members of your family. If they've hurt you, or you don’t like how they communicate or don’t communicate with you…let em know. You think your co-workers treat you disrespectfully…tell em. You feel that a store clerk, restaurant personnel, or any other social service employee is not being cordial with you…let em know it’s unacceptable. Now don't do it with blame and condemnation, but in a manner that says to them, "I’m looking for an understanding of who and where you are in this space we’re sharing at this time."

As we trod this path of beneficial interaction with others, we’ll be amazed at how the racial paraphernalia is diminished and we’re able to see the all pervasive picture of divide and conquer. Be that as it may most of us are still not going to see things eye to eye. Therefore,  we should not necessarily expect a positive outcome when we communicate with others, because people are always going to be who they think they are. Our primary objective should be to let go of our prior assumptions of them, hopefully find out who they actually are, and then deal with them from that perspective. 

I’ll holla…

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Friday, June 19, 2015

What It's All About

The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to appreciate our relationships with each other. Nothing is promised to any of us except a choice of the action we take, and being held accountable for these actions. Why don’t we do all we can, when we can, and quit making weak excuses as to why we can’t. After all, a disregard for somebody else’s feelings, whether intended or not, takes us away from contributing to the well being of the universe we all share. 

I had an opportunity to visit my great nephew in Chicago, and found him confined to a wheelchair as a result of having been shot some months ago. He’s nineteen now, and the last time I saw him he was eight years old. It was on 35th and Prairie at an auto repair shop, and I heard him call my name. Upon asking him what he was doing there, he responded that he had asked the owner for a job, and was told to come back in a few years. Seemingly undismayed by the owner’s response, he asked if I could give him a couple of dollars. How could I refuse such an enterprising young man.

His younger sister called me recently, told me she was graduating from high school, and asked if I could attend her graduation. My schedule being what it was, I answered in the affirmative and it was from her that I learned the circumstances of her brother’s condition. 

He and two of his friends had just entered an apartment building when a gunman, looking for someone else, opened fire on all three. None of them were able to stand after being shot, but my great nephew, being at the top of the stairs, was pushed by the young man beneath him and was able to knock on the door at the next landing. A little girl answered that she could not let him in, and he told her to call 911 right before losing consciousness. He came to in the hospital hours later, and found that had it not been for his quick response, he and his two friends would have died.

Age, relationship, attitude towards, or our alleged busyness should not be the criteria for when and with whom we spend our time. Our honest appraisal of if we have time, should be the only basis for our decision. 

You see, I was blessed by merely being in the presence of my young relatives. Just by being there, I was given an opportunity to be reminded that some of my so-called ‘problems’ are minuscule when compared to those of others. I was also given a chance to see that the resilience and resourcefulness of our young people far outweighs the negativity that we bound them to. As I put my hand on my great nephew’s shoulder, I was blessed with the understanding that love was being shared, and that something as seemingly insignificant as spending a little time with someone else, is an investment in which all involved can share in the benefits that coming together can bring. 

In the words of our beloved Maya Angelou “People may forget what you said. People may forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”  I heard that at the graduation I attended, and for me it served as a confirmation that we have the power to better someone’s life by merely being with them. We will always be given opportunities to spend time with one another, and our response to the request will either contribute to or take away from the universal consequences that will inevitably come about. Let’s choose wisely y’all, cause it ain’t just about him or her, you or me…it’s about us.

I’ll holla...

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Are Black People Beyond Loud?

The following is a copy of the posting found near an elevator of the Irvine housing complex ironically named Equity Residential. The issue is in reference to‘Resident Noise Levels’, and it’s addressed to two parties: 1. ‘fellow residents’ and 2. ‘African-American residents.’  The first concern is a request to reduce the stereo and television volume, the second to keep conversation and music levels down. My question is why noise levels are specified on the basis of race instead of being inclusively addressed to one group, i.e. the residents. After all everyone, at one time or another, can have their stereo, television, music, and/or conversation too loud, why is the posting so racially explicit? Look at the words communicated and judge for yourself.

I took the liberty of calling the phone number listed on the notice, and asked if the company was aware of the posting. The woman I talked to said that they were aware, that she welcomed my call and that the management and police department were taking measures to find the person responsible for the act. Good luck with that I thought, and then asked her if they had made any effort to inform the public of the alleged mis communication and potential blame. She then stated that a notice had been sent out to all residents informing them that the management was not responsible, and that they were doing what they could to resolve the situation. However, no apology was indicated.

We African-Americans are all disenfranchised when it comes to housing, because regardless of our socio-economic status, whether we are in Africa or America, it’s ultimately the white man that determines where we live. Let’s face it, black people are able to live in Irvine not because Martin Luther king died for that right, but because people like Donald Bren allow us to do so. Ethics and morality dictate that one who has knowingly been a factor in causing another pain should at least apologize, but being money driven why should Donald’s people apologize to anyone that is no threat to the acquisition of billions of dollars more. We black folks are needed for labor in the newly lucrative slave trade, i.e. the prison system, but we’re totally dispensable when it comes to funding the housing market. We are perpetually reminded of the disdain for our presence, and no concerted effort is being made to make us feel that somebody, somewhere is at least tolerant of our existence.

In closing, let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am neither surprised nor disillusioned with the aforementioned incident, or its potential outcome, because it only serves to confirm that we are nowhere near experiencing a post-racial environment, and that corporate entities are still insensitive to the souls of black folk. What concerns me is the lack of meaningful response from the self proclaimed white progressives, and their apparent disconnection to reality. You say you understand our pain, you support our cause, and that you want to help us. Yet you hurt us more by telling us in so many words, “Get over it.  It ain’t that serious. Don’t blame us for what one racist white person did.”  Well if you had gone through for one hour, what we have gone through for a lifetime, you’d understand why it’s more than serious…it’s killing us on a daily basis. So if you’re not going to at least talk to your people about the wrong they’re doing to mine, then don’t talk to me about letting it go. And just so you know, I’m saying that real LOUD.

I'll holla...

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