Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Yeah, I'm Talkin To You

Lot to do. 
Not enough time.
Maybe I’ll drink some wine.

Yeah, I got time for that.
A little weed perhaps.
Maybe smoke some crack.

Now you might be asking “What is this, some kind of addiction or rehabilitation scenario?” Well, not quite. What it is… is an abstract analogy of how we live our lives on a daily basis, sometimes unawaringly. Let’s say we’re on a project, ranging from cleaning house in Irvine, to writing a proposal to offset the gang violence in Chicago. All of a sudden we come to a standstill. Why? Maybe we broke a nail, lost our train of thought, or whatever might have occurred that suggested we could be doing something else. So now what do we do? We whine about the lack of time, we conceptualize a need that we really don’t have, or we just sit there with a ‘what now’  mindset.

The opening poem points out how we might visualize people who choose to take the ‘high’ road, in response to the aforementioned situation, while neglecting to look at our own mode of travel and thus realizing that we share the same path minus some of the ‘stimulants’ that they might have chosen. We don’t drink, or only do so on the weekend or after five PM during the week, and since it’s only two PM on a Wednesday we start whining about being under too much pressure. We don’t smoke weed so we search for a means of saying ‘f*@#  it” without the aid of an herbal enhancer. Crack is out of the question, so we don’t indulge in that particular chemical outlet , but we still feel whack, cause we can’t make a decision on what we’re gonnna do. 

Let’s face it. It’s not just those we consider to be addicts who attempt to resolve issues in this manner, because we’re all addicted. We’re addicted to a desire to feel good, all the time, and we inadvertantly do whatever it takes to maintain that status. What we forget, like every so called substance abuser forgets, is that our sensual gratification comes not only from what we do, but also from how we feel about what we’ve done. True happiness and feeling good comes from within, and if, at any given time, no matter what we’re doing, we can focus on doing what we do, without being concerned about how others or even ourselves guage the value of what we’ve done, then we can make it through the day and sleep at night knowing that we did the best we could with what we had to work with.

Again, we’re all prone to doing whatever it takes to feel good. My contention is that once we become aware of who we are, and come to believe that whatever we’re doing, we’re doing the best we can at that moment, we can begin feelin good right then, and can contiunue to do so until we decide to do something else. Let’s face it, whatever we choose to do, and however we feel about doing it, is ultimately a matter of choice. In a nutshell, here’s what all I’ve said sounds like…

Doing all I can
With what I got
And right now…
I don’t need nothing else

As a matter of fact…
I’ve got so much,
That I can give,
Some of it to you.

Ya heard?

I’ll holla...

To comment or respond please click on the word comments at the bottom of this page, or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com

Friday, January 22, 2016

What Now Black Men

This blog is addressed to my black brothers in particular, and those of other persuasions may find it interesting as well. The gist of this dialogue is that we, as black men, as the first beings on this planet, must be the first to step forward…as individuals, to vitalize the Divine Intent, i.e. to make stuff righteous.

It is my contention that if we used at least a tenth of the time that we employ chasing sex, money, and other ego enhancers, and used the same talents, gifts and creativity to focus on the well being of our people, we’d be rid of the afflictions that threaten us on a day to day basis. Drugs, gang activity, police brutality, terrorism, hunger, homelessness, rape, murder and other harbingers of death and destruction would have no foothold where we reside, because we would collectively use what we have to offset and eliminate them. 

What’s the barrier? It’s us y’all. We want what we want, when we want it, but the problem is that everybody else on the planet wants the same thing, that being whatever it takes to make us feel good. We complain about the government, our places of employment or non-employment, our bosses, our peers, our wives, our women and our children putting more on us than we can handle. Then we seek gratification in other arenas that allow our egos to be stroked, and wind up feeling only partially satisfied, disgruntled, broke and ready to blame somebody else for the outcome.

As a black man in an alleged white society, I’ve come to the realization that we’re all living in a matrix of me and mine, and what can I do to get more. Historically, some folks have opted for taking some of somebody else’s stuff. Somebody else’s land, somebody else’s resources, and most importantly controlling somebody else’s life. I had convinced myself that it was white folks doing all of that to us, and even though that mindset still exists because most of the resources are in white folks’ possession, I’ve come to the conclusion that what happens to us in the long run, is the result of what we’ve allowed to happen over a course of time, that being a belief in, and adherence to, the same principle that most others embrace, i.e. feeling good. 

My contention is that we’ve got to stop adhering to other people’s outlook, and start establishing and maintaining our own set of values that reflect the Divine and Universal Law. That Law? Let everything I do reflect the purpose for my being here, i.e.to use my gifts for the benefit of others. At times we’re going to hurt somebody’s feelings cause we choose to stand on what we deem as the righteous thing to do. Let’s face it, some people are not going to like us or the things we do. The fact of the matter is however, that if our motives are pure, and our true intent to benefit all involved, than the ultimate outcome can do nothing but be in the best interest of all, even if we don’t recognize it as such..

What Now Black Men…Be all that you can be. Stay strong in exemplefying what a man is. Come into the world where real men reside, and set the example for what real men do. Yeah, there’s gonna be some sacrifices and a lessening of some of the things that made us ‘feel real’. As we grow individually, however, and as our collaborative activities build and persevere, our progeny will know that we were here and that our legacy, of having done our best to fulfill our role, is worthy of being emulated and practiced over and over again. Being true to who we really are…will ensure that our LOVE will radiate out to all the lives of which we are a part.

I’ll holla…

To comment or respond please click on the word comments at the bottom of this page, or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I See Me

I look at you 
Don't like what I see
Cause I don’t realize
That I’m looking at me.

If we see it we be it
So let’s stop acting
Like who we see
Got issues.

Let’s reconsider
That it might be us
That needs to be checked
And reassesed.

We think he think he all that.
We feel that she all up in our video.
They better leave me alone we say
Life Is hard enough as it is.

Yeah, that’s what it look like
But that ain’t what it is.
It’s all about us Boo.
So what we gon do?

Do we think he all that?
Didn’t we put her in our DVD?
We carrying them, all that,
And then some.
Ain’t it  on us
To let it go.

Life is simple.
We complicate us
By blaming them
For being who they be.

We compare 
Rather than reflect
We judge and condemn
Rather than recognize
And realize

That what and who I see
is me.

And now 
I have
An opportunity
To be a better me
And to let all else be
What it is.

Only then 
Can I look and see
That what I’m looking at
Is a mini me.

And what I might 
Wanna do
Is to be a better me 
Than the one I see.

After all  
I know I think
that what I see 
is who they are.

But I'm not sure
I’m aware  
That what I see 
Is not  necessarily 
Who they be.

Maybe next time
I’ll look for me.

I’ll holla…

To comment or respond please click on the word comments at the bottom of this page, or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Six Sistas

It’s Posnan Poland.
Where people walk down the street 
and don’t speak 
to one another 
let alone to me.

The six sistas was there tho.
They came to scat and to scream
To sass and to sing
To sooth and sashay.
And the people heard
And the people spoke back.

Back to the one who praised another
While disregarding her own worth
Yet in her presentation
We and hopefully she 
Saw her self
And all she had to give.

Spoke back to the one 
Who took us to a place 
Where no one had been
And brought us back
To the place where we weren’t
and suddenly we were all there
And grateful for the ride.

Spoke back to the one unaware
Of how much she had
Yet gave us what she had
Not yet realizing
That it was more than enough
And that there was much much more
In her
Yet to be shared.

Back to the one who gave to us
What she just recently realized
That she had to give.
And she gave it in LOVE
In the hopes
That we would receive
And then share it with another.

The people spoke back
To the one who wanted to give
All that she had
Taking the risk of being unappreciated
While understanding that it ain’t about 
How much I have
But about how much I give
And then
She gave 
Her all.

And then they spoke back
To the one 
Who almost forgot she had it.
The one who was reminded
Where it was.
Then she went back 
And she got it.
And she gave it to the people
And to her sistas
And we were glad to see
That she had all that
And grateful that it wasn’t
All she had.

I the Brotha
Speak back to the siatas
And speak for Posnan 
And for the world.
When we say
WE Love you 
WE need you
And We want you in our lives.

Not for what you have to give
But for your Willingness to give it.
Cause in your doing what you do
We realize it can be done

What you have shown 
In your efforts to both create and to share
Is that despite 
The obstacles and barriers
That WE create 
In our own minds.
We can get through the stuff 
That ain’t really there
Except in us.

What we hear
Because of you
Is the need to go in
Assess and reflect 
On what we see inside
And then give it away
To make room for more
Than we had before.

Play on my sistas
Play On and On and On and On
Speak to us 
So that we too can speak
Not only back to you
But Forward 
To each other.
All over this world.

I’ll holla…

To comment or respond please click on the word comments at the bottom of this page, or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Piece Of A Peace Of Mind

When I die
Bury me deep
With two Disciples at my feet
Put a shotgun across my chest
And Tell the nation I did my best.

The foregoing is an epitaph I memorized, as a member of the Blackstone Rangers street gang, in the early to late 1960s. From time to time, in looking at the gang related murders in Chicago, I’m reminded of how blessed I am to have lived through that era. In  thinking of my great-nephew John who, not long ago, was also involved in gang activity right in the very neighborhood that the majority of these murders are currently being committed. How grateful I am that he’s in a college in Texas, and having talked with him just the other day, I was made aware that he was a member of the rival Gangster Disciples street gang. How blessed and ironic it is, in regard to the foregoing epitaph, that there’s a forty year gap between our membership in rival gangs.  

Peer pressure, and the desire to be a part of an entity larger than myself, where I felt accepted and respected, coerced me into joining a gang. According to my nephew, he had no choice. His not wanting to be an ‘oddball’ was a part of his decision to join, and the peer pressure was more intense because it was accompanied by threats of fatal harm to both family and himself. As he shared with me, he didn’t want his mother having to deal with that manner of stress, and felt he had no choice but to join.

Both John and myself resigned from our gang affiliation voluntarily. I followed my sister Pat to Crane Jr. College and upon meeting Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, my consciousness was substantially altered. John, on the other hand, said that he was tired of “seeing everybody dying and getting locked up," and he felt that it would be best for everyone if he took leave of that particular lifestyle. As for what’s going on today, especially in our Chicago hometown, we both hope for the best, but agree that the current gang tragedies are not going to stop anytime soon.

So where do we go from here. We each go in to that place inside ourselves, where we can reassess who we are and decide what we’re going to do, not only as Chicagoans but as residents of this vast universe. The fact of the matter is that what’s going on in Chicago is only a microcosm of what’e going on across the globe. The Black P. Stone Nation and the Gangster Disciples have memberships across America and beyond, yet they are merely street gangs that are being targeted and focused on. There are other gangs however, that we spend way too much time ignoring. 

These gangs are the Chicago City Council, the Illinois State Legislature, the FBI, the CIA, and the United Nations. They, like the street gangs, have been supposedly set up
 to protect the rights and well being of their constituents, but they too, through greed, corruption, and total disdain for everybody and everything that might hinder their selfish objectives, are subjecting everybody on the planet to murder and mayhem, through both covert and preconceived means. We have no choice but to envision and employ our own solutions of how to separate ourselves from the control of these gangs, that are posing as concerned and protective institutions, yet are thriving on the incarceration, disillusionment, poverty, dependency, and outright oppression of those of lower socio-economic status and inadequate mental-spiritual foundations. 

Let’s at least think about it y’all. Let’s share our thoughts with like-minded others, and vow not to look at situations as particular to one group of people, but as directly or indirectly related to us all. Then and only then can we adequately address] the tragedies that confront us on a day to day basis, and gain for ourselves at least a piece of a ‘Peace of Mind’. Hence, for me, a new epitaph that reads:

I ain’t ever gonna die,
But when I leave, 
This plane of existence,
I want you all to know that I was here,
And that I did all the good I could,
With what I had to work with.

I’ll holla…

To comment or respond please click on the word comments at the bottom of this page, or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Enjoy Being You

It’s never too late to start being you. We did it when we were toddlers, but starting at about 7 years old, we gave in to peer pressure, and began being who we thought was acceptabe to those around us. 

The situation is becoming complicated because the media is more adept at assigning our peers, and we are nadvertantly doing all we can to fit the mold of somebody we don’t even know. It’s hard enough keeping up with the neighborhood Joneses, but now that we’ve attained recognition on Facebook and Twitter, we actually believe that we need to be more like the Joneses that have celebrity status. We need to keep up with the ballers, the movers and the shakers, and start believing that we will never be all that we can be, until we get some more of this, that, or the other. 

There are a lot of diversions that we allow to hinder us from moving forward, and if we think about it, most things outside of self are actually beyond our capacity to actually do something about. Our families, our employers, our instructors, our social networks, and especially the so-called ‘powers that be’ are all entities that we are connected to in some way, and we spend most of our time trying to either fit in or get away from. However, because we feel that they have something we need, be it acceptance or finance, we do all that we can to meet the expectations that we believe they have of us. Subsequently we’re so focused on them, we lose sight of ourselves.

Don’t believe the hype y’all. We already have all that we need. We don’t have to try and be like the Joneses because we are the Joneses, and we’re capable of doing things with such integrity and discernment, that other folks will want to be like us. Life is not about focusing on how we want others to see us, or about what they think we have, it’s about who we really are, and what we’re doing to take ourselves to the next level.

My contention is that we either start doing what we love, or start loving what we do. The first step is of course to start being who we really are. Who are we? A divine creation… capable of doing things in a way that nobody else can. They might get close, but nobody can love, laugh, cry, sing, walk, talk, look, or even act exactly like we do. Nobody knows how deeply we love, how passionately we dislike, or how fervently we want to change the way things are. I’m the only one who truly understands why I do what it is that I do, and it’s totally up to me to love myself, and as long as it’s with good intent, to love what ever it is I might choose to do.

We must stop looking to others for acknowledgement, acceptance, and admiration, and start looking within. All three of them are there, and if we don’t see them, it’s because we haven’t yet discovered who we really are. Once we start, and continue looking at and improving self, once we acknowlege, accept, and are proud of who we are and what we stand for, others might not like us, but they have no other choice than to accept and respect who we are.

I’ll holla..

To comment or respond please click on the word comments at the bottom of this page, or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com

Friday, December 11, 2015

What's Your Opinion?

Isn’t it amazing how we debate, argue, and even physically fight  each other about something we believe, which, in reality, is somebody else’s opinion. There was a time when people believed the person who told them that the world was flat, and now we not only believe differently, but many of us have accepted the opinion that there are countless other worlds and even other galaxies to examine and explore. Yet, in spite of all the new stuff we’re hearing and believing, it’s still somebody else’s opinion. Nonetheless, we have accepted some of these opinions as truth, and are willing to do whatever it takes to prove their validity.

Check out this passage from page 15 of Ralph Ellison’s novel, ‘Invisible Man’, that reads like this.  “All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naive. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer.”  Does that hit home for you? It certainly does for me cause it’s so much easier to believe spomebody else’s stuff, than to take time out and actually decide for myself what it is that I believe.

We all have opinions, and it’s to our very well being that these diverse points of view don’t fall on deaf ears. But we have to receive the words we hear with discernment, and perhaps formulate our own in order to create an additional means for dealing with the situations that confront and subsequently affect us all.  My contention is that we don’t just accept someone else’s opinion. We examine it, we study its validity, and then we determine how it will be useful to the agenda and consciousness that we’ve hopefully established and developed for ourselves.

Let’s agree to disagree about other peoples’ opinions. Not just about the opinions themselves, but about how we plan to address them.

I’ll holla…

To comment or respond please click on the word comments at the bottom of this page, or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com