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Confession

I never use Tumblr for this, but I have something to say, and this seems like as good a place as any. I don’t really blog a lot, I’m more of an academic writer, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, let’s get into it. 

This is my own (probably very) unpopular opinion. 

I want the Dream Defenders to grow up. When I say that, I don’t mean I want individual members of the Dream Defenders to grow up, even though, to some extent, I mean that as well, but I want their strategy to grow up. I want their vision to grow up. I want their outlook to grow up. I want their methodology to grow up. I want their focus to grow up. I want their organization to grow up. I want them to grow up. 

When I think back to the Civil Rights Movement and what it accomplished, I know that nothing happened overnight. I know that it probably wasn’t as organized as my rose-colored glasses lead me to believe it was, but there was strategy. It’s strategy I don’t see with this new iteration of freedom fighters. I see a lot of yelling, a lot of tweeting, a lot of retweeting, but I don’t see strategy. Strategy was what was missing from Occupy Wall Street, and strategy is missing here as well. 

As a Floridian, and a FAMU Rattler, I’ve seen activism at work before. I’ve seen injustice, and I’ve seen people stand up in the face of injustice, sometimes successfully, sometimes unsuccessfully. Sometimes maturely and sometimes immaturely, but what I did in undergrad to fight injustice, surely, cannot be the same methods I use as a 30-year-old in the movement. I’m no longer going to sit down in the middle of a busy street. I’m going to write an article and send it to journals to be published. That’s what my current form of activism looks like, though I’m not against attending a march or a rally to mobilize committed citizens. 

Back to my original point here: When I attended the 2013 March on Washington, which was organized by elder Black Americans, not a new generation, I came across the Dream Defenders as they’d made their way to the front of the crowd to watch their leader deliver his 2-minute remarks. I’m not sure if they heard anything during his speech because they screamed, jumped around, and waved signs the entire time. Honestly, I even found myself jumping around with them, but as soon as he finished speaking, they left. I’m not sure where they went or what they had to do, but they left. I was a little disheartened to see them clear out as quickly as they’d come in. I wondered what could have been more important to them, and maybe I’ll never know. 

When the Dream Defenders sat in at the Capitol, I watched them. I watched from afar, but I watched. I changed all of my profile pictures to black screens to silently protest the verdict, and I wondered what more I could do. As they sat in, I prayed for them, and wished them my best. They didn’t win. They eventually left the Capitol having not gotten a special session called or even an audience for Trayvon’s law. I believed that they would win. I wanted to believe it, but they didn’t. We didn’t. So what’s next? 

I’m not sure of the next phase of the movement, but I hope it’s more than tweets. Changing institutions happens from inside of institutions. If you act like a bunch of college students, you’ll be treated as such. You want people to take you seriously, be serious. Believing that you will win isn’t enough. You have to make it so that you can’t lose. Run for office. Become like the Tea Party (not in reality, but in theory). The Tea Party didn’t like Washington, so they ran for office, won, and changed the conversation. 

In the coming days and weeks and months, I hope to see a shift in the way the modern rights movement progresses, and I want to see young leaders at the forefront of the movement. I hope it looks much different from the movement in 1956, but I hope that’s because it looks better. 

I hope hearts that read this knit their hearts with mine. Because, at the end of the day, I still believe that we will win. 

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Dear Don,
I got a chance to see what you said over the weekend about black America. At first I thought it was Fox News, but then I remembered you’re a CNN dude. I have nothing against Fox News, as Roger Ailes is my man, but the gospel you were preaching sounded like O’Reilly and Hannity were pulling your strings. Thank goodness my political director, Michael Skolnik, was on the show to stand up for African-Americans, because conservatives love when we blame ourselves for the conditions that have destroyed the fabric of the black community. I respect your courage on many other issues, but I can’t accept that you would single out black teenagers as the cause of their own demise because they don’t speak the King’s English or wear belts around their waistbands.

Hip-hop language and clothing styles are expressions of frustration with the status quo. Young people sagging their pants today is no different than young people rockin’ afros, dashikis or platform shoes in the ’60s and ’70s. And many of those rebellious youth grew up to be quite successful… bell bottom-wearing, pot-smoking, Barry Obama became the President of these United States of America and a long-hair, anti-war activist named John Kerry became Secretary of State defending our country in more creative ways than just using violence. They were knee-deep in a rebellious culture, and did anything but integrate into a world that they saw is filled with problems that needed fixing, filled with challenges, or in their mind, with problems that they could fix. And now they are fixing them.

When this country closes 50 schools in black communities and continues to build more prisons, I know that young people see through the institutionalized bullshit that is laid out in front of them every single day of their lives. The lucky ones, like you and me, owe a real explanation of the problems in our community to the ones who are still living in struggle, not some old, conservative talking points left in the garbage from Mitt Romney’s campaign. I understand personal responsibility far too well, but you can’t ask them to pull up their pants and then stand idle as they fear getting shot in the heart by wannabe cops while walking home to watch basketball games.
If you want to tell the rest of America this weekend when you go back on CNN how we fix black America, tell them to re-start the “War on Poverty.” Tell them to end the failed “War on Drugs” that has cost this nation over one trillion dollars and unjustly incarcerated a generation of black men. Tell them to support the President’s plan for universal Pre-K, so no child enters elementary school having to play catch up with the other children who are fortunate enough to go to pre-school. Tell them make college affordable and obtainable for young students who come from low-income families. Tell them that the right to a healthy life should be universal and not just for the fortunate few. And lastly, tell them that young black men and women don’t just need “role models” or “mentors,” they need “sponsors” who are willing to offer them a job.

I want the black kids to grow up and be like you. I want them to know that their imagination is god inside of them and I want all kids, but especially black kids, to have the freedom to dream as well to create their own language. After all, without their jazz, blues, rock n’ roll and now their hip-hop, America wouldn’t even have a language of its own, much less a culture.

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Russell Simmons’s open letter to Don Lemon (via reclaimingtheblackpeopletag)

(Source: , via faith-food-fashion)

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I spent yesterday at a cottage out near Fontainebleau. The market was incredible. I tasted cheese from a woman’s hand. The palace was garish (“barbaric” a friend of mine called it) and clarified why a nation might murder its kings. But I was there as a guest. I was there on someone else’s time. I had never done anything like this.

I was standing by a gate when a couple came past looking for directions in French. The man was white. The woman was black. They wanted to get to the river. There was nothing assumed about them. They looked like people. “The thing here,” an African-American friend of mine said, “is that black people are never surprised to see us.” We don’t get the patented head-nod from the black Parisians. At first I was injured. But then I remember what the head-nod is black-speak for: “If a Klan rally breaks out, I have your back.” Then I wasn’t injured. I was sad. Make of this what you can. I am a particular person, laying my head in a particular place, at a particular time. What you see here is one dude’s experience. An anecdote is not a country. This is memoir. It will never be history.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates; The Atlantic in Paris: Dispatch #12 (via theatlantic)

It’s disheartening how much this sounds like Richard Wright in his 1951 essay, “I Choose Exile.”

My fave!

(Source: moottorisaha, via lazydelights)

"A woman who writes has power, and a woman with power is feared."

Gloria Anzaldúa (via beautiful-ambition)

(Source: lesbian-app, via anefflorescingmind-deactivated2)

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"No. Don’t never go looking for love girl. Just wait. It’ll come. Like the rain fallin’ from the heaven, it’ll come. Just don’t never give up on love."

Sonia Sanchez (via theblackamericanprincess)

  • me after eating one healthy meal: i wonder how much weight I've lost

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thesmithian:

One in two adult American women is a former Girl Scout—a statistic I had thought very unreal when I first came across it, despite falling on the positive side of it myself. Say what you will about the vests, but those goody-goody girls I had worried would tarnish my cool? They have become one of the world’s most powerful and progressive women’s organizations.

more.

Conversations with Father (about men & dating)

  • Me: I just watched a show about how successful (i.e. college educated) black women not getting married.
  • Him: Why is that a show? What's the problem? A black woman is better off by herself than with a black man that will bring her down. There's no point in getting married unless it's about mutual love and respect.
  • Me: Well a lot of the black men on the show said that the reason black women are single is because they expect too much.
  • Him: Psh. Black women do not expect too much! What is a black woman supposed to do? She is educated. She has her life in order. And she is supposed to get with any old man because he didn't get his life together but still feels he is entitled to any woman he wants?
  • Me: Well they said that you have to look at a man's potential.
  • Him: That's what they want you to think so that you don't require anything in actuality from them. You look at who a man is. Not who he says he will be.
  • Me: The show also talked about why a lot of men cheat. They said it's because women were not keeping them happy or not sexually doing what they want.
  • Him: That's ridiculous. There's no reason for anybody to cheat. If a man is grounded then he will love his partner enough not to cheat.
  • Me: They also said that you need to make a man feel like a man.
  • Him: If I am a man then why would I need a woman to make me feel like a man?
  • Me: I don't know.
  • Him: A real man does not need a woman to make him feel like a man. He is a man, isn't he? Men who say that have an inferiority complex.
  • Me: Well they were saying that they need to feel like they wear the pants in the relationship.
  • Him: Look. A man does not feel threatened by anyone unless he does not have his own life together. And in that case he will be threatened whether a woman lays down and lets him walk all over him or if she makes more money or anything else.