Category Archives: essays

Tired of Talking

Excerpt from “The Black Book”

“Untitled” (8/19/16)

“We need to have more conversations like this…”

This is a lie, and we should learn to spot it. Those conversations never happen, they are imaginary, like world peace and the end of racism. When you hear someone say this, you must apply the appropriate pressure:

When will we have this conversation?

Who will partake in this conversation?

Why are we having this conversation?

If they can’t answer this, then they don’t plan to talk. Those who do can become allies. This phrase is our way of verbally ignoring the truth. How many times must we talk about the same subject, before action is taken? The situation hasn’t changed since the last time we talked, so why are we still talking?

We discuss so we can learn, and eventually, act. Words that do not create actions are wasted gasps and empty promises. If we are to fight oppression, we must learn the language of the oppressor. The key phrases they carefully develop when they have no desire to answer. This is when we must use wisdom, and choose our own words carefully.

 

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Thoughts on Education

Excerpt from “The Black Book”

“Untitled” (8/19/16)

Does anybody else feel stupider after listening to Trump?

Anyways, I’m en route to Morehead City with my dad. It’s a bumpy ride (literally), but the trip has been smooth. We’ve conversed, a lot. Something that doesn’t happen that often, not because he’s absent or anything, but because we’re usually on different wavelengths. Today, we happened to be on the same, and our discussion led to significant discoveries. Firstly, I should take the time to write my own thoughts down in a way that is authentic; if you happen to share this, I want it to be original. Tonight, I’m writing about me, something that I don’t do often. Not directly, at least. Let’s start with my thoughts on healthcare.

I think when I return to healthcare I will be involved in the public health area. We’ve slacked away from seeing patients as people, reducing them to lifeless digits and diagnoses on a chart. I think this stems from what it takes to be a healthcare provider.

Question: why is Organic Chemistry a requirement, and not Sociology? I’d rather my doctor understand me more than my biochemical make-up (at least at the molecular level). After being played a fool by the application process, I realize it’s shortcomings (I understand this may come off as bitter, but I am purged of such mundane feelings; this is critical thought).

Question: why do we have standardized tests if we preach of individuality? These archaic tools for classifying the successful, and stragglers, are only testing our probability skills. Questions are roughly thirty words, answers are ten, and yet, a single textbook page can hold thousands of words. Education failed to evolve along with technology. A student can learn an entire semester of U.S. History in a week on their computer; yet, why do we have children who can’t read aloud in class?

Education has to incorporate the free knowledge bank-the internet-that we can easily access. My brief stints with teaching have taught me that student success begins with student motivation. The term “success” must also be redefined. We have cleverly disguised “motivation” as “passion”, and our generation adores that phrase. We all imagine a flame burning in our core, reminiscent of a distant star, however, we must also come to accept that “passion” stems from suffering. Does that mean tribulations have the power to elicit triumph?

Absolutely. It ultimately depends on how the individual utilizes the elements of his or her own circumstance. The college student who works two jobs and takes care of their siblings will appreciate their rewards, just as much as the one who is in school thanks to their parents checkbook.

We must do more than push students towards success, we must also pull them out of their struggle. By doing both, I believe we will be able to see the education level, and desire for knowledge, increase over the years.

Color-coded Curses

I’ve been cursed,

A hex placed on my soul,

Without knowledge.

I was forced to learn in school

That slavery was real, and that blood

Still flows through these melanated cells

How an entire organization of one mindset,

So brainwashed in their beliefs,

Are playing “who can pop a nigga and get away with it?”

My children, my unborn children

Whom I shouldn’t be imagining with my immature mind,

I already see shakles and rattles,

Food stamps and baby bottles,

Or dirty diapers and blood stained tees.

Our shirts have been the canvases for your painted hatred.

You power-hungry demons,

How you have cast the spell of fear

Now I can’t even look forward while driving,

Without staring in the rearview;

To look at those sirens,

The things that could be of nightmares

But they resound too loudly throughout the nights

For me to fall asleep.

 

I wander in my trance,

Not yet able to escape this illusion,

Mind too far stuck in the dream that we black have been in limbo

All these years

With our totem stolen so we don’t know the difference.

But, the thing about curses…is that they can be lifted.

It takes wise words, one preferebly found in an old book,

And an un-natrual expression,

*Pauses to let the police officer pass…*

Be still my heart, be still my heart,

I SAID BE STILL!

This reaction scheme we’re stuck in isn’t working,

Instead, we must respond

With calm minds and steeled hearts

What they don’t know is when the spell is lifted

And we catch a glimpse of the light

-Not like those above the abandoned homes,

Strained streets

And those upon the stage.

That light will be your bane,

The devil’s power has no hold over one who walks with God,

Don’t be afraid to believe

You will know the real you,

The one before the hex,

Before the branding,

Before the innocent blood was spilled,

For we are beautiful.

Eyes on the Prize

Excerpt from “The Black Book”

“Untitled” (9/24/16)

Cecil told me that he’s never been more scared at a protest. I initially thought of the unpredictable violence and how it could affect one, but that wasn’t the case. He was afraid because we were “not moving”. We united and took to the streets, but who were we following? “We looked like sheep, it looked like the perfect plan.”

I wanted to act shocked at this revelation, but that thought filled my head as well. It’s just as Ayn Rand stated, “the mob has no value, because there is no man (or woman) in the mob.” That’s what we were today, a mob of people, with no goal. Yesterday, I led the mob, today, I stood apart from it. At no point was I in the mob, I do not see myself capable of blending into the crowd. I must be my own man, and stand for my own values, not just the collective.  I admit that, within my heart, I felt nothing; we did nothing.

We didn’t disrupt the system, we didn’t halt the dollar; we peacefully marched through the streets of Charlotte on designated paths. We didn’t even go where we wanted to go! Instead, we were paraded by the pigs, or led by a sheepdog like lost lambs .

Last night, at the precinct, I met a woman from Ferguson. She told us of her trials, and then made statement that started some unrest. “Now that we’re here [at the station], we don’t need to leave, until they give us what we want.” What we wanted were the tapes (of the officer involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott). Again, my heart called to me, and I agreed; but, the mob did not. They believed that more marching would bring them closer to their demands (I’m hesitant to classify them as goals, because I am not sure if they have any).

We’re never going to win if we just march. It’s an act that appeases the masses, but it does not change anything. We moved at night, where there was little inconvenience for the city, aside from minor traffic detours; we walked on Saturday, on the weekend, while the citizens stayed indoors and watched us from the comfort of their couches.

WE DIDN’T EVEN OPPOSE THE POLICE!

We didn’t get those tapes released. Just because we had numbers does not mean that we are a force. There is power in unity, but if there is nobody to direct it, then, what is the point of having power? So much wasted potential.  There has to be a more efficient way to stake our claim.

However, there is beauty in this. The protests tore down the dividing lines that the government has erected between its citizens. Out there, on the scorching streets, we realize that we are all one people, God’s children. If it wasn’t for the protest, then we wouldn’t have come together. We wouldn’t be energized and able to uplift the city from this tragedy.

The black fists instill in me a sense of hope. I believe the revolution, and combating the system, begins with black power. Everybody has black power, it is the revolutionary spirit that rages within all of those who have been victimized by the oppressor. That is the power we will use to win, but before that, we must set glorifying goals.

Will I be able to lead when my time comes? I can only pray.

 

New Form of Freedom

One of the most pressing obstacles in our fight for freedom is the amount of observers versus actors. So many are willing to pinpoint problems, yet who is brave enough to solve them? It is because we think the scale of this task is too great, or do we have too little care to embark on a journey towards solutions? The ghetto, it is a cesspool that America has forced our brothers and sister into, deprived them of necessary resources needed to survive, and armed them with the tools of their own destruction. There is no doubt about these places, and the horror within it, yet we must realize that the root of it is intertwined around the root of American society. The ghetto is doing exactly what America wanted it to do, and those observing are seeing the results of a properly working system built on enslavement (both ancient and modern).

In order to combat this we must seek “entirely new and substantially different forms of expression.” How many more years can we sit idle while conditions continue to worsen? The fight for freedom starts with us, and within our own communities.

  • “Black people must organize themselves without regard for what is traditionally acceptable.”

Traditionally, we have fought with methods that have, in the grand scheme of things, been less than effective; what exactly does marching through the streets at night do for us? Besides foster filial bonds with your allies (which is ideal). We are weak because we are divided. The proletariat soon discovered their strength when their numbers grew and they were forced to work with each other. We must do away with this hateful and competitive nature that keeps us, oppressed humans, apart. It is the goal of the oppressor to divide us, for division makes us weaker and we can be easily controlled when isolated. This is the reason we need organizations, ones that are strictly crafted and drafted by our hands. Only we know what our people desire, value, and seek; and it should also be us who bring them together over these shared ideals. It can be done because our struggle is universal, just disguised by the characteristics it takes, ex. threat of deportation=threat of mass incarceration.

  • “We should concentration of forming…and not wasting time on trying to reform”

American politics are too deeply rooted in racism and hatred to be truly reformed. Although risky, we must form our own; it is the only way we can hope to achieve political victory. By creating our own, within our community, we can aid our brothers and sisters. Oppressive America wants to keep us static and it is up to us to remain dynamic and achieve our freedom.

Our movement starts within the mind. If we want change then we must be willing to dedicate our lives to it; the day of change will never come if we do not make strides towards that future now. That begins with sound organization in a way that best represents us. With organizing comes control, and it through these two methods that w can seek change. We should control what affects our community; housing, education, banking, politics. All of these are ways that modern society defines our existence as a citizen so we must do our part and prepare ourselves. The system will not do this for us, for once again, it was built to produce the results we see today.

  • “It is crucial that race be taken into account in determining the policy of this sort.”

Race can either be a divisive factor or it can double as a bond. When I enter a new location for the first time, I unconsciously seek out other people of color.  Imagine if you fond them all at the top of the building? This isolation that we feel would diminish and instill within us a sense of hope; it is with this malleable hope that we can change from observer to activist.

Bibliography

Carmichael, Stokeley; Hamilton, Charles V. Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America. 1967.

Danger of the Digital Collective

The collective. The body of drones that hold uncharacteristically similar values, talking points, fears, and aspirations. Ever since our inception into consciousness, the collective has existed. It will always exist. It was present during the days of the Pharaohs, thrived in the Dark Ages; now, it has evolved (due to the internet) to create a greater threat to the individual: Social Media. Although earlier digital communication platforms, such as AOL Instant Messenger (sfx: closing of a door) and Myspace (top 8) existed, they were too rudimentary to generate a true collective. They were, however, an ideal foundation for Mark Zuckerberg to expound upon and create Facebook, thereby ushering the dawn of the digital drone.

If the physical being has an id (for the individual) and an ego (for the collective), then we can assume that there are respectable forms for the digital being as well. It may be too early in theory to classify these metaphysical constructs, but for the sake of this entry I will dub them “es-se” and “pro-se”. The es-se represents the identity, the equivalent of the soul, the unique digital creation is closest to the authentic self; the pro-se being the self within the sea of avatars. Where exactly does the pro-se operate?

It is the websites, the domains that we casually enter each time we connect to the wi-fi.

Here, we are part of the collective, each of us hooked to a digital matrix of waves and hashtags. It is here that we are susceptible to the debilitating nature of the collective. How? Because information is never free. Yes, we are granted near limitless connectivity with the world, but what is being provided to us has the potential to alter our being. We are rarely our authentic selves on such sites; we rattle our opinions and update profiles regularly, but this does nothing for the individual. A relationship posting, a status regarding a new career, a photograph of a recently deceased family member is information that we upload to the world. Before any of these were posted though, we had to experience them here in the physical realm first, and this is where the issue lies. The immediacy of information today is a grave threat against the es-se.

It was also their choice to upload this information, mainly to inform others, those that exist outside of the self. When an individual begins to make decisions for those other than themselves, they run the risk of temporarily halting the growth of the self. Now, an isolated incident such as this would be no bother, however, this is happening on an unprecedented scale.

Countless updates, all to provide others with your information, and what do we expect them to do with this knowledge? They will either discard it with the rest of the digital nonsense, or accept it. If they accept, willingly, then they have just adapted a value that wasn’t birthed from their own being (which is not always a malady). However, when one is constantly adopting expressed, rather than impressed, values they are potentially harming their own individual. And an individual that has a disconnect with the self, has all the space for the collective to enter and infect.

Eventually, when enough have followed this action, we will have an army of mindless drones that are systematically programmed to believe whatever is uploaded to their screen. Take the citizens who backed Trump. Many of these “good American folk” were willing to blindly accept whatever they read on Facebook as the truth. This may not sound frightening, but what if the rhetoric was hateful? What if, also, Facebook users adopted this mentality? With their power, they voted in a man who is strictly for the bourgeois. The collective has the power to shape a nation and if lies are spoonfed like they are, it can destroy a nation.The media has been successful of this in the past, however, with the immediacy of social media, the brainwashing can reach exponential growth. A larger population is also able to be influenced. So how does one combat the horde of the pro-se?

By creating a space separate from the all-inclusive domain (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc). Just as an individual must define themselves from nothing to be considered a being, so to must the digital individual do the same. The es-se needs a space to exist and grow. It cannot be found on these sites and if one attempts to solely thrive in this space, it will eventually become tainted by the memes and other viral uploads. Man in his ignorance believes that he understands the internet, yet we have no clue of its influence on the individual. Being a child of the 90’s, I myself along with all the other “millennials” are the guinea pig generation for the invention known as social media. And I imagine that we suffer from exposure.

For example, phototropism. If a plant is set on a dust-laden window sill, will it grow straight? Negative, for if the plant is exposed to light, its appendages will carry towards the source of it. The soul (physical and digital) has a similar process, so there is no valid way for an es-se to exist on those sites. The only exceptions to this principle are those whose id’s are so defined that it penetrates and injects itself into the platform, living symbiotically with that site. We typically refer to them as “internet sensations”, but their infamy exists on borrowed time (much like our lives). Very rarely do they make a longer term commitment because the internet is a temporal death trap (expound upon this later). In the end, one must define and develop their es-se, but it seems they must be exposed to the collective first, and that is frightening.

All are born as members of the collective, for we do not yet understand the working of the mind (the object that defines our self). The goal is to eventually branch away from these sites in an effort to create an individual page, in turn defining your own es-se. Once established, an individual now has a sturdy vessel to navigate the sea of information without fear of being engulfed by the wi-fi waves. Being disconnected from sites, while still having my personal page, is refreshing. The mental constraints from constantly checking notifications have faded, and my desire to be part of the collective has significantly diminished. The brainwashing effects still exist, and they always will (guinea pig generation), but I can rest easy knowing that I exist within the Golden Moment, my own es-se.

Destroying Tomorrow

“Anyone who fights for the future, lives in it today” – Ayn Rand.

First off, let me say that I’m glad to be back with bae (Rand). I constantly return to the words written by the philosophizing, Russian born, American bred author, Ayn Rand; I believe her moral views on the world to be similar to my own. But this quote struck me as I was reading the introduction to her work, “The Romantic Manifesto”, and I find myself pondering a recurring question…what is the future? Does it even exist? In my honest opinion, I want to destroy the future, because it is a fortified construct that men place their dreams, aspirations, and desires within, just to let them die. We all imagine the future as a vast horizon that resembles the sky at the end of the day, vibrant with warm shades of the unknown, but that is not what it really is. The future is a bleak prison cell, lined with bars constructed by cast iron and diamond, it is unbreakable. I do not like the future for it is man’s greatest excuse for inaction.

How many times must we hear, “I’ll handle that later,” “We can wait until tomorrow”, “Why not wait until there’s more time,”? All these confessions are empty, devoid of any honest truth, just the hollow ramblings of spineless individuals. If you encourage future action, then be adamant about it and set it in your brain that you will see it through, it not then you add to the list. The future is not real, and if it is, it does not abide within tomorrow. It is here, sharing this exact moment with us, for the future is a direct, and possibly the only, substantial result of the present. The future exists due to the present, and if one happens to reserve decisions until tomorrow, then they are not waiting for the future. They are only prolonging the inevitable choice, to act or not to act. If man does not act then how does he project his will, his being, into the world? He doesn’t. Instead, he pushes his self into a limbo, straddling the same fence that his desires are caged within. By putting so much emphasis on tomorrow we have systematically killed the now, and the now is one of our sacred treasures. God has bestowed us with the moment, a single, desolate fraction of infinite time, and we have taken it for granted. Because the moments given have been weaved together like a patched quilt, we automatically assume there will be another moment. And another, for when we look behind us, we see a string of moment, a red yarn that has stretched across the temporal dimension from birth to this instant; yet are we confident enough that another will always be coming? When we are young and naïve to time, we acted in the now, for it was all we knew. After enough actions, we became lazy, less confident, and sluggish, simply because we relied on the approaching day; but once that day comes, there will always be another to take its place, leaving us with another missed chance to act. If we miss too many chances to act then what will that do to us? Maybe our mindset will alter, or maybe we will turn our backs to choice and continue living without a why. I do not know for certain what would happen to an individual, and I am afraid to find out that answer, simply because that requires inaction today, and indecision is the enemy of the virtuous. If we have values, beliefs, opinions, etc. then we should showcase them at any given moment, why wait until another instance (as if we are even graced with a second)? Tomorrow is one of the most dangerous words a man can utter to both himself, and the world. Unless he can say it will full confidence, then do not believe in his tomorrow, for it is an illusion. He does not believe in his own tomorrow, but he will grant you the opportunity to do so for this gives him another opportunity to not act, and if he is afraid to act then he could very well be afraid of himself. Would you want to be known by someone like that? Could you see yourself in his shoes? I fear that we are all this person, at some point in our lives, but we must steel ourselves and destroy tomorrow for it will leave us incomplete today.

 

~JLC, III