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Are You Ready For 2017?

January 2, 2017

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So you survived 2016, and you’ve made it to 2017… Congratulations, what do you do now? If you are like me, and countless others, 2016 was a rough year and you probably just wanted it to end. You’re wish has been granted, you are cruising on the second day of 2017 and you’re loving it. Unfortunately, I have a terrible feeling that the year ahead is going to bring some serious challenges for a lot of us.

Imma go ahead and cut right to the chase. With Mr. Donald Trump in office, I can’t help but to imagine that we will all be living in a country where our rights, our laws and even our sanity will be in danger. I can already hear his supporters demanding that I give him a chance or maybe assuming that I am butt hurt while imagining scenarios or situations that most likely won’t happen. But so far, our new prez has been unable to keep one the very first promises he made after winning the election: Staying off TWITTER! He swore he would cut back on his time on the social media, and he has yet to do so. He has continued on with his rants, going after the likes of Saturday Night Live and the cast of the Broadway show Hamilton. You would think, the commander in chief would have better things to do than get in a squabble with actors and comedians, but that’s not the case. What we got in the white house, is a thinned skinned bully who promises a passing of new liable laws to get back at those who speak against him in an unflattering manner. Yep, members of the press (mainstream or not), The Donald is coming after you, and he is going to be petty about every god damn thing.

I see some celebrities, mostly black, showing their support for Donald. It’s crazy to me how some rappers love him and compare him to a Don or a Boss that don’t play around and get shit done (I am paraphrasing Ice Cube here). I guess it’s hip-hop’s strange fascination with the Godfather movies or the mobster types like Scarface and Goodfellas (the type of people who wouldn’t give a flying fuck about any black kid from da hood), but it is what it is. My two cents on that matter: Be careful what you ask for. The last time I checked, those Italian dons or bosses only look out for themselves and their people. Shit, they will even turn on their own, if they feel threatened or if they want to advance their own agenda. And they will do it in the most brutal of ways.

Environmental issues? What da fuck you talking about? That Dakota pipeline story is going to make a comeback in some shape or form; you better believe it. I doubt Mr. Trump is going to let that issue fade away when there is so much money at play here.  You might think it’s impossible, but this is a man who was hell bent on building a golf course in Scotland, even though the local residents refused to have him there. Trump fought the locals for almost a decade, and you guessed it, he got his way and built his project. FYI…The Scottish golf course has been losing money since 2014. He is looking at a 30-million-dollar loss so far.

Trump already told you what he thought of the Black Lives Matter movement, and he clearly has shown support for the Blues lives folks. I can’t wait for the next police involved shooting (that will happen) and see how our president deals with it. If you think, he is going to be composed and level headed when talking about race, you STUPID! I expect him to be as rude and abrasive as he has demonstrated on several occasions while running for president. I doubt he will soften his tone now or show any sympathy for the person who has been gunned down (even if that person was running away and was shot in the back like an animal)

Something about Donald Trump just doesn’t agree with me (aside from his attitude and demeanor). His administration is reminiscent of a banana republic, a third world country set up. You know when that outspoken candidate who swears he represents the people, gets into office and nominates his children into high government positions. Then he goes on to give great jobs, within his administrations, to friends and colleagues who have no experience in the fields they have been appointed to. I can see Trump for what he is, because I’ve seen his kind before. His rise to power is very reminiscent of a candidate who ran for the presidency of the country of Haiti. Rich guy, by Haitian standards, made his money as a musician, swore he is a defender of the poor, and he also promised political change, more jobs and a return to the country’s better days. With all those promises, he also brought along a temper; and like Donald Trump, he had a certain affinity for expressing himself in the crudest of manners, especially when you weren’t down with him. He got into office, did his two terms and accomplished nothing! Haiti is as bad off as the day he was sworn in. The economy, poverty, debt and corruption are issues the country is still clawing its way out of. Could this be what’s in store for us?

What is happening now in Haiti brings one thing to mind: “Those who refuse to learn from their past are doomed to repeat it”. It seems like the people who voted for Trump aren’t paying attention to such details. I guess because things like that only happen in other countries. Learning from others’ mishaps does not apply to us Americans. Damn it, we can make our own mistakes! This is Merica!   So sad to see a group of people so desperate for political change (or desperate to stick it to Obama for destroying their precious country) that they would rather elect a badly tanned business man who most likely doesn’t know how to run a country, but who undoubtedly knows how to make himself richer.

People of Color, Stop Hurting Your Cause!

December 23, 2016

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This week alone, we have had three cases of “Fake Drama” in the news. To be honest, they do not make us look good at all.

The first incident (The Fu Manchu debacle) which involved a very interesting exchange (via email, out of all places) between actress Tilda Swinton and Comedian Margaret Cho. Swinton was one of the stars of Dr. Strange and played a character, The Ancient One, who had always been Asian in the comic books on which the movie was based. Swinton had reached out to Cho, an outspoken critic of “whitewashing” in the film industry, I guess in hopes of explaining why the good folks at Marvel and Disney decided to use a white woman to play the part of an Asian, or maybe she was trying to quell the hate she was receiving. The exchange between the two women was fairly pleasant as both sides agreed there was a problem and reached somewhat of an amicable truce. But Cho did a complete 180 and went on a podcast where she characterized the brief conversation as a “fight” in which she said Swinton essentially asked her to make the criticism go away.

She (Swinton) was like, ‘Could you please tell them …'” Cho said to Bobby Lee on his TigerBelly podcast. “I’m like, ‘Bitch, I can’t tell them. … I don’t have a yellow phone under a cake dome.'”

 

She went on: “It was weird because I felt like a house Asian; like I’m her servant.”

Miss Swinton got wind of Miss Cho’s comments and decided to put out the full, unedited email exchange between the two. Needless to say, Cho embellished the truth (a lot). I am not sure if she was trying to be funny or was she dead serious in painting Swinton as the typical white woman who just doesn’t get the plight of people of color in real life or in Hollywood.

The second incident (Flying while Arab) involved Adam Saleh who accused Delta Airlines of kicking him off a flight Tuesday morning for speaking Arabic to his mom and friend. If you didn’t know, Delta airlines has been having a rough year. The company has been accused of discrimination (feel free to google Dr. Tameka Cross), and recently it was forced to offer an apology after a Donald Trump supporter went ape shit on one of their flights. So Delta was an easy target to point out and catch in the act of being straight up racist. And that’s what Mr. Saleh did when he recorded himself getting booted off a flight for speaking in a different language. In less than 24 hours the hashtag #BoycottDelta was trending. It looked like Delta was about to swallow a big piece of humble pie, until…. Mr. Saleh’s past came to light. He is a famous Youtuber, who is known for creating these types of situation to get a reaction, post the video on line and, you guessed it, get views!

Saleh was recently in trouble for pulling a prank at another airport. He fit himself into a tiny suitcase and illegally flew in the baggage hold from Melbourne to Sydney. He also has pulled other hoaxes to smear law enforcement. For a man with a more than questionable past with pranks of this sort, it’s hard to cut Saleh a break and say it was all a coincidence.

“It turns out he was doing a lot more than just that”, according to a statement by Delta. “Upon landing the crew was debriefed and multiple passenger statements collected. Based on the information collected to date, it appears the customers who were removed sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behavior, including shouting. This type of conduct is not welcome on any Delta flight. While one, according to media reports, is a known prankster who was video recorded and encouraged by his traveling companion. What is paramount to Delta is the safety and comfort of our passengers and employees. It is clear these individuals sought to violate that priority”. Saleh and his companion were loud and proactive, multiple passengers confirmed to Delta.

 

If you remember, during this year’s presidential election, a black church made the news because it had been spray painted with the words “Vote Trump” and conveniently set on fire. In a case like this, with the way these Trump supporters are acting and overreacting, many were quick to label this a hate crime, another attack on a poor, defenseless African American church. Or was it? Well, yesterday, Andrew McClinton, 45, a black man, was charged with burning down the church vandalizing it. I wish I could say this is just a conspiracy…. You know blaming the poor guy to cover up the real culprit, but McClinton, who lives in the Greenville suburb of Leland, spent several years in prison in Mississippi on convictions of armed robbery and other crimes. He is a member of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church of Greenville, the very church he set ablaze.

 

Sad…Sad…Sad. Brothers and sisters, I know times are tough. I know we want to expose the other side for what it truly is, but forging lies and creating fake situations is really not the way to go. I know Malcolm said “by any means necessary”, but by doing these things, we give the enemy the ammo to strike back, to portray us as liars and cheats, and to push the narrative that we are a bunch of cry babies who can’t get over things that have happened in the past. The Tomi Lahrens of the world live to debunk our truths. In their minds, there is no such thing as racism, but they perpetuate it every day.

 

I am just afraid that when a true case of racism pops up, it will be scrutinized to the moon and back. And the racists are going to use unfortunate examples such as these (or maybe mention the case of the Muslim woman in New York who faked a knife attack) to discredit the suffering of others. People of color, we accomplish great things by speaking truth. There is no need to build a wall of lies because they eventually crumble and fall, either under their own weight or by the sheer strength of the truth. And to those who are crying wolf when there is no reason to, for either fame or financial gain, shame on you!

Kanye 4 President….I Don’t Think So

December 14, 2016

After his meeting with president elect Trump yesterday, Kanye West has decided to push back his election bid of 2020 to 2024. I didn’t think Yeezy was serious about being president in the first place, but to have him push it back another 4 years made me think. Mayne he realized that his recent mental breakdown would require more time to get over, or maybe he is hoping that by 2024 America will have forgotten about his brief stay in the nut house. I am not the type of person to tell anybody what they can or cannot do…So, I am going to tell Kanye the 5 reasons why he will lose in 2024, if he actually does run for office.

#5. You are friends with Donald Trump and you admit it…. Guess what. You played yourself.

#4. You’re a little too manic. Yeezy seems to be in a good mood for a moment, and then he will suddenly flip out. He isn’t shy to let people know that he is having one of his episodes, either via twitter or in front of cameras. His political opponent will have his crazy rants on rotation, on every channel. If you didn’t think as crazy then, you will definitely be scared afterwards.

#3. You are married to Kim Kardashian…. Remember that infamous Ray J and Kim K sex tape? That video will be hot again during the campaign season.  Need I say more?

#2. You’re black!  America already put a black guy in office. It is not going to put another one in the white house anytime soon (especially you!)  …. Let’s be honest if you had to pick between Kanye West and Barack Obama to run anything. You know damn well your ass would pick Barack in a heartbeat.

#1. You pissed off white people! If you think middle America is going to vote for you Kanye, you really need to have your head re-examined. They are not going to forget how you did their sweet, darling Taylor Swift. People can forget a lot, but once you do a young white woman wrong, you’re done.

The Holidays are here, and we’re still at it!

December 6, 2016

Greetings….

It’s that time of year again @ BCA, and before we get into the nitty gritty of this post, I want to go ahead and bring you up to speed with what we’ve been up to the past year, and what we have planned for the upcoming months.

Our company has always primarily focused on providing quality apparel to our Caribbean community. The Caribbean (with its people, its culture, its food) will always have a big place in our hearts, but now we want to expand our brand and reach not only the island masses, but to touch people worldwide, especially in these united states after a very heated election result. This election, and the following actions and reactions to it (mostly negative), made us realize that things are not what we thought they were, or maybe that a certain segment of this society that we thought was on its way out, was in fact in hiding, simmering with frustration. And when the election favored its candidate, that segment has now decided to come out in full force with a plan to take away all the good, all the progress we have made.

Every one of us has the ability, the power to stand up and fight for what is right. Your cause might be police reform, preservation of the environment and maybe women’s or children’s rights. You can achieve these goals by either protesting, writing your state representative, community organizing, or be a youth counselor by inspiring young minds. But we at BCA, we want to use fashion as our weapon for change. With our clothing we want to open eyes and invite open discussion.  We want to get into people’s faces, make them smile, shock them, anger them, and even confusing the hell out of them, but with one goal in mind: Bring Awareness! We want people to know who we are and what we stand for: Peace, Freedom, Equality, not matter your color, race, nationality, gender or sexual preference. If the Cotton plant was a symbol of oppression, domination and division, our Black Cotton will be the opposite of all of that. We believe we can empower those who have been pushed aside for centuries, especially now when the narrative seems to favor a certain group, while shunning those who have played such an important role in our society.

Now that we have gotten some stuff off our chests, we want to bring to your attention our list of items that are being liquidated. You will probably recognize some old favorites. Some of these items may not be for you, but be sure to share it with somebody you think might be interested. Or maybe grab some up for a Christmas gift. We will continue to post these same items throughout the holidays until the new year.

This items need to go so we can start focusing on our new and exciting products we have planned for 2017. Below, we have posted links to some of these items:

Men’s -Caribbean island -Dominican Republic Coat of Arms T-shirt : http://www.ebay.com/itm/152339792830?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

Haiti Neg Mawon short sleeve T-shirt (18 mai, Le negre marron) : http://www.ebay.com/itm/152339766993?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

Long Sleeve Haitian Coat of Arms T-shirt (18 May 1804 Flag day): http://www.ebay.com/itm/152339762687?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

Haiti Men’s Track Jacket (Flag/Coat of arms):  http://www.ebay.com/itm/152339761733?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

Haiti motto Men’s T-shirt (Haitian L’union Fait La Force Design): http://www.ebay.com/itm/152339760712?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

Womens Baseball Haiti Baby T-shirt VarsityLetters(long sleeve): http://www.ebay.com/itm/152339773683?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

Women’s Baseball Haiti Baby-T shirt (Varsity Letters): http://www.ebay.com/itm/152339773241?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

For now, this is just a temporary set up, until we can get our new website back up, and synchronize our Instagram and Twitter pages. We plan on making it big in 2017 and we want to bring you along for the ride. The revolution will not be televised, but it will be fucking digitized fo sho!

Otis and Me

August 25, 2014

otisI woke up that morning in a cold sweat. My night had been haunted by a black face, frozen in a perpetual state of terror.  It swung back and forth in the darkness of my bedroom, calling out my name and imploring me for help. I was more than relieved when I realized that it was just a nightmare, but was instantly mortified by the discovery of damp pajama pants against my skin and the smell of urine lingering in the air.  For the first time, in over five years, I had wet the bed. Death would surely be my punishment if my father ever found out that his oldest son was a bed wetter. This was not an exaggerated statement coming from a melodramatic teenager.  My fear of him came from a real place. It took root in my soul when I witnessed him take a life, one autumn night. From that moment on, I realized he was capable of anything. I had to learn to accept that my father was a predator. He was a cold blooded killer who preyed on the blacks of our community, and he was proud of it.

My father never liked black folks. He only tolerated them because they knew their place in our small town. As long as they kept quiet and showed respect, he grudgingly got along with them.  I remember him punching a black man in the face, accusing him of strutting around with his head held way too high for his taste. I never imagined that his rare outbursts or his use of derogatory language would escalate into something deadly. But that’s exactly what happened when word that the Freedom Riders were coming to town.

My father’s descent into madness happened before my eyes. It seemed like years of repressed anger came spewing out of him at the very mention of the name Freedom Riders. In his eyes, they were troublemakers, a bunch of dumb kids from the north who had no idea how things worked in the south. He would be damned before letting outsiders interfere with his way of life. After the brutal attack on the riders in Montgomery, everyone thought for sure the publicity stunt would come to an end. We were shocked to find out that more riders were on their way to Alabama and they planned on picking up where their injured friends had left off. Somebody had to stop those troublemakers, and my father anointed himself as the one who would put an end to their campaign. He rallied his buddies and planned to ambush the bus carrying the Freedom Riders before it crossed into Mississippi. Unfortunately for my father and his posse, their best laid plan hit an unexpected snag. They were caught off guard by the National Guard and the state police who were escorting the riders on their journey for freedom. My father went into a blind rage that day. He came home later in the evening, with the smell of whisky on his breath, and took his frustration out on my mother.

I will never forget that night when my father woke me up from a peaceful slumber and ordered me to get dressed quickly. Being dragged out of bed, at an ungodly hour, was not my idea of fun but when he said he had a wonderful surprise for me, I was giddy with excitement. Finally, my wish of being able to bond with the cold and distant man I called father was about to come true. Maybe I would be able to win him over and become the son he always wanted.

Like mice, we scurried out of the house, without alerting my mother and my siblings, and jumped into our old 57 Chevy Pick-up truck. Half an hour later, we found ourselves on the outskirts of town where we began to wait patiently. As time seemed to move slowly and boredom started to slowly sink in, I was trying my hardest to fend off the need to sleep, but I found myself slowly succumbing to it. I had barely shut my eyes when the horn of an oncoming vehicle blared in the distance.

Another truck pulled up right beside us while its occupants yelled: “We got one! We got one!” I immediately jumped out of my seat and caught a glimpse of at least five white men in the back of a flatbed, holding down a sixth. My father cranked up his truck and with a smile, he told me: “You’re going to learn what it takes to be a man, tonight.”

Both trucks drove for another twenty minutes before coming to a stop in the middle of nowhere. Once there, we abandoned the vehicles and the human cargo was finally revealed. I couldn’t make out who the person was because the men had covered his face with a potato sac. It suddenly dawned on me that it was a person of color when I saw dark hands tied together with a rope and clasping to each other as if in prayer.

The kidnappers seem to be in complete disarray as they yelled and dragged the poor soul into a clearing. After they had him completely surrounded, they took the sac off his head. The mortified face covered in sweat, the terrified eyes and the mouth gagging on a piece of dirty rag did not shock me. It was the identity of the person my father’s friends had snatched off the side of the road that caused my heart to drop. His name was Otis, and he was my friend.

Otis was a friend to all, especially to the kids in town.  He enjoyed playing stick ball with us and told us all sort of stories.  He always greeted strangers with a smile and tried his hardest to befriend people with his harmonica. I can honestly say that Otis could charm his way into anyone’s heart.  Despite all of his efforts to get along with everybody, my kind friend still found himself in a precarious position. While the blacks in town labeled him an Uncle Tom because he went out of his way to please the whites, Otis didn’t fare any better with the bigots like my father who enjoyed making fun of him and calling him by the nastiest of names.  Undeterred, Otis continued to live his life as he saw fit. Because of that carefree attitude, Otis would end up paying the ultimate price.

Poor Otis had no idea why he had been apprehended, but that was easily fixed when the mob informed him that he was about to be hung for being a Freedom Rider sympathizer, caught roaming around town after hours. Otis didn’t care about the Freedom riders. In fact, he was more than happy with things the way they were. He had said to me and my friends that he didn’t want those Yankees coming here and that he would be the first to put a rock through the windshield of their bus. But nobody seemed to care about that at the moment. They wanted a lynching and that is what they were going to get. They could have killed Otis right then, but they wanted to hear him beg. They took the rag out of his mouth and allowed him to speak. And that he did.

Otis began to call them out by name and reminded them of all the good deeds he had done such as helping Mr. Roberts when his car broke down and carrying the groceries for little John’s mother. He also told them that he was a good Negro who was always respectful of whites. By some miracle, Otis’s words must have struck a nerve in them because their will began to falter. The bloodthirsty mob was now having second thoughts, and that was something my father could not let happen. My old man quickly took charge of the situation by reminding his buddies that they had to send a clear message to everyone or the blacks would run wild and their way of life would be forever lost.

The rally cry did not fall on deaf ears. My father had re-angered the men who tightened their grip on Otis and slipped a noose around his neck.

No amount of begging or pleading was going to save Otis’s life now. He had to be sacrificed.  It was the only way the men could safeguard what they believed in. And what they believed in was a world where blacks were considered to be inferior and the rights and freedoms that whites enjoyed should never be shared.

As soon as the dirty rope was fastened around Otis’s neck, his entire body went upward, hoisted to the highest limb of an Oak tree. I had to look away as my friend struggled to keep his head attached to his body while trying to hold the longest breath of his life. The five minutes Otis spent fighting for his life seemed to last an eternity. When I finally mustered the courage to look back up at him, he was already gone.  We got back in our trucks and left Otis hanging on that tree. Like my father said, we had to send a message.  Witnessing Otis’ death should have turned me into a man like my father wanted. In reality, it had the opposite effect. Once I got home later that night, I could not help but to cry myself to sleep.

Three days after his senseless murder, Otis was back from the dead.  He was haunting me from beyond the grave.  Maybe he felt as though I had betrayed his friendship.  I did stand there next to my father and never said a word while he was being killed.  Maybe I did deserve to see his ghost every night when I lay my head down.  But right now, I had bigger things to worry about, like getting out of my smelly pajamas.  After stripping out of my clothes, I put on a clean pair of underwear and tossed the incriminating evidence out the nearest window.  I was more than happy to let my little brother take the blame for the wet bed.  A good beating from my father would force him to grow up and make him realize that life was not fair, just like I had learned with Otis.  I ran out of my bedroom and walked right into a truly unexpected scene. My parents were being questioned by the local sheriff and two men dressed in slick black suits.  I was accustomed to seeing Sheriff Kelly around town, but I had only heard rumors about the men in black.  Supposedly, they were Federal Agents sent down to these parts, after the attack on the Freedom Riders.  Their goal was to root out those responsible and suppress any future problems.  I didn’t catch   the beginning of their conversation, but I made it just in time to hear my father deny any knowledge of a hanging that took place. My dear mother, who knew exactly what had happened, went along with his lies. The head agent didn’t press the matter with her. Maybe his line of work had taught him that the loyalty of a battered woman to her abusive husband can be downright unwavering at times, especially when the husband is standing less than three feet away.

After interrogating both my parents, the agent set his sights on me.  I guess it was just logical to question the fourteen year old who had just walked into the room.

“What about you, son?  Did you hear or see anything?”

The question caught me off guard. Really, it felt like somebody had punched me in the gut. Although I was put in an awkward position, I must admit that I felt a certain sense of exhilaration. For the first time in my life, I was important. Finally, I had the power to right many wrongs within my family and quite possibly bring justice to Otis. I kept my head down, trying to find the right words to condemn my father, but when I looked back up and noticed the inexplicable look of concern on my mother’s face and the slight tremble of her hand, I knew exactly what to say.

“My daddy already told you, we don’t know anything. Otis was a stupid nigger. He probably got what he deserved. Now, get the hell out of our house!”

Sheriff Kelly was more than pleased with my answer. He had already tipped his hat and was on his way out the door.

“Thank you for your time, sir, ma’am. I believe that warps it up here.”

The Federal Agent saw things differently.

“Not so fast, sheriff. I find the boy’s answer to be quite interesting if you consider the fact that I never once mentioned Mr. Otis’s name.”

 

Floyd “Don’t Care to Read” Mayweather

August 23, 2014

floydIf you didn’t know, 50 Cent and Floyd Mayweather are at odds. What else is new? We all know how Mr. Curtis 50 Cent Jackson thrives on having beef with somebody, but the way the falling out came about was a bit surprising to me. 50 Cent goes online and issues a reading challenge (at a hefty tune of 750k) to his former buddy. To me, it seemed to come out of nowhere, maybe it was a dumb joke or just his way to get under Floyd’s skin. But a few hours later, when an audio clip of Floyd Mayweather struggling to read a promo for a radio station was released, I knew then that the two best friends weren’t going to be on speaking terms for much longer.

The unedited audio of Mayweather reading a promotional “drop”, courtesy of Power 105’s Breakfast Club DJs., made the boxing champ look less than stellar where his reading skills are concerned. And what does Floyd “Money” Mayweather do to explain , or better yet to defend, his reading impairment? He goes on instagram and, with a little help from his complicit girlfriend , he posts pictures of two checks. One for 31 million dollars and another for 40 million dollars. Both accompanied with the caption: ” Read this, $72.276.000. God bless!” I know Mayweather feels a bit humiliated and his ego is bruised, but is that really the right response to being attacked on such a sensitive topic, literacy or lack of it? It is hard not to imagine that the man believes that a fat bank account makes up for any of his shortcomings. If that’s how he feels, I have no problem with that, but I have an issue with the underlying message he is putting out there: Education doesn’t matter as long as you get paid!

Lack of education has always been a problem in the black community. And so many have fought and are still fighting to solve this issue that has plagued us for years. To watch a black celebrity come out and undermine this fact feels like we have been set back a hundred years. Thanks Floyd. But to be honest his reaction reflects the mindset of most young people. It’s all about chasing that paper. Anything else is a waste of time.

When I was growing up my father always stressed the importance of going to school. Till this day, I can remember him saying: “When you’re a black man in this world, what’s in your head matters most. When you have an education, nobody can take that away from you, ever.” There was a time when going to school was the only thing that truly mattered. It was the only guaranteed ticket out of the ghetto, financial issues and even a bad situation. Nowadays, it seems like the pursuit and accumulation of wealth, by any means, has become the new mantra by which we base our success in life.

Floyd Mayweather has always been a cocky bastard. He set a wad of cash on fire, just because he can. He called some rappers irrelevant, or accused them of using his name to stay relevant, typical Mayweather shenanigans. But right now, I truly lost all respect for the man. He could have taken the high road and explained why his reading skills are not up to par. He could have said: ” You know, I didn’t finish school” or ” I don’t like reading” or even better ” I have a learning disability.” And after doing so, he could have stressed the importance of getting an education. What he does instead is a slap to all the black parents who tell their kids to stay in school.

I was on the boxer’s side before his unfortunate check posting on Instagram, like the Huffington Post’s Marc Lamont Hill who critisized the Hot 105 DJ’s attempt to publicly shame Mayweather. The contributor to the news site had this to say: “I don’t see any humor in mocking Floyd Mayweather on this reading stuff. It feels cruel and out-of-bounds.” And he also added: ” I don’t really care about the Floyd or 50 beef. I just don’t want us to get into the cultural practice of mocking struggling readers.” I agree with him on both counts. Firstly, Charlemagne tha God of the breakfast club, who flat out said he needed to sell tickets and that he didn’t give a damn, before putting out the audio of Mayweather, need to get an earful for his bad bahevior masquerading as entertainment. Secondly, like Hill, I realize that public humiliation, especially when it is associated with something so sensitive, can cause certain people to cower from education, and not seek help for the most basic as reading.

Now, on the flipside, I think Mayweather’s response was both childish and ignorant. Posting his multimillion dollar checks is his way of stroking his ego. It’s his way of responding to an issue, somewhere deep inside him, he knows should be addressed. If we are going to critisize 50 Cent and the radio station who made fun of Floyd, we need to point out that Maywheather is putting out a message to young impressionable minds, especially black ones, that education doesn’t matter. And I am afraid that, in this society where the youth seem to idolize rappers, realty TV stars and Sports stars, the importance of going to school and leaning is turning into an extinct notion I am curious to know if Floyd is telling his kids to forget about school and to do away with reading and writing. I bet you a million dollars(if I had it) that he isn’t.

Floyd Mayweather may have all the money in the world, but when he steps into high society, which will happen, if it hasn’t already, is he be able to put two coherent sentences together? Is he able to charm his way with his mastery of the English language or is he playing up to the stereotype of the dumb black man who made it rich by using strength and barbarism? And how will he respond when that certain white person who has as much money as he does, looks down on him as being illeterate? Before you say it can’t or won’t happen. you must have forgotten that even Oprah Winfrey, with her bank account that can put 50 Cent, Floyd Mayweather and quite a few others’ to shame, have had to set a few bigots straight. She didn’t do it with the amount of money she had, but she did it the the wealth of knowledge in her head.

My challenge to Floyd Mayweather, whatever issues you have with reading, do not post anymore
pictures of your checks (or bank avccount for that matter) to explain away your problem. Firstly,
it is not your fault. And lastly, it is an easy fix. Just keep in mind, there are alot of young people
looking at you. You can use this situation to shed a light on illiteracy and isnspire many to
come out of its shadow.

Unchained History

February 17, 2014

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For this year’s Black History Month, I want to reflect on 2012’s “Django Unchained” which, in my opinion, is one of director Quentin Tarantino’s best films, and viewed by many as a classic in black cinema. Although the movie was showered with praise by moviegoers and critics alike, some were turned off by the graphic display of violence and the fictionalized depiction of slavery on the big screen. If you remember, many of the movie’s detractors, civil-rights activist Jessie Jackson and filmmaker Spike Lee to name a few, accused Tarantino of trivializing   the many atrocities that African American suffered during the time of slavery. This is probably a good argument coming from somebody other than Spike Lee who seemed to have a vendetta against the Pulp Fiction director since the 90’s.

The rivalry between Tarantino and Lee has stemmed from the excessive use of the N-word in the former’s many films. Spike has no problem expressing that the use of the word, although demeaning in certain aspects, should only be reserved to us blacks. His argument comes off a bit hypocritical when he is a big defender of self-expression, and admits to using the word in his daily life, “but not excessively”, as he admits.

I know Tarantino’s subject matter might be over the top, but in his defense, his stories and his characters were never meant to be politically correct. We are after all immersed in a dark, satirical world filled with killers, thieves, drug dealers and even prostitutes. I wouldn’t expect them to use any other language to refer to themselves or to others. Is it fair to be so critical of such films when we  know that not all African Americans think that word is trendy or slick, and that every black movie that comes out of Hollywood does not portray blacks as being savage or ignorant.  I can name several black films that serve as a counter to all of these Blaxploitation styles of movies. Yes, Spike, the majority of your movies fall under that category. You have played your part in raising the image of Blacks in America.

Spike Lee is entitled to his opinion on the use of such language, but to say that “Django Unchained” is disrespectful to his ancestors seems a bit much. Yes, the events in Django Unchained, which take place, in a fictionalized western version of the South, might be extraordinary for some and laughable for others, but they do not negate the atrocities that took place during the 1800’s in America, as far as the African slaves were concerned. For argument sake, let say that there was a black bounty hunter roaming the Wild West, wouldn’t he be a pioneer of some sort?  If those ancestors saw or heard of a Django, wouldn’t they celebrate in his victories? Doesn’t Django get his revenge and save his wife? Doesn’t the evil White slave owner get his due at the end of the movie?  If showing a black man triumphant over adversity is meant to be disrespectful, Spike Lee is way off base. Let’s be honest here, the movie does not put us down, it entertains, inspires and uplifts us.

This is where I have an issue with those who go after artists like Tarantino and their way of interpreting the black experience. Are the trials and tribulations of one race only reserved or limited to that race? And why do some feel like that only blacks can speak on the behalf of other blacks? Aren’t we all human beings, subject to pain, joy, happiness and even prejudice? If using the N-word is an ugly but realistic aspect of our people, why not admit to it? Why is it ok to act a certain way in real life, but when that life is put on the big screen, there is a certain cringe factor that overtakes us? Maybe deep down inside some of us do know that using the N-word is downright ugly, and having the whole world bear witness to such language is even uglier.

I see Spike Lee and others like him as bullies. How would he feel if he was subject to such criticism with every movie, when his intentions are not to harm or ridicule but to tell a good story, realistic or not. They are unwillingly strangling the creativity of others, based on this notion that black history is a history that should not be touched in any way, shape or form.

I am not saying that I want us to romanticize the past like Paula Deen and Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson who believe the old South as a place where blacks were gleefully working on plantations and serving their white masters. But I want to see more black directors, writers and artists be less afraid to tackle the issue of slavery, use that pain and suffering and  tell an even bigger story,  even if it is fictional.

How come George Lucas can use the atrocities of the Holocaust to craft His Star Wars? The Wachowski’s Matrix Trilogy has so many black themes; you would swear it was written by a person of color.  When others take the initiative and use our experiences to make up their own stories, we raise our eyebrows and want to criticize. We need to take the lead and tell the stories we want to tell, and not be pinned down by the shackles of our past. Movies, like any form of art, are meant to stir people’s emotions. We shouldn’t be afraid to get inspiration from the past and teach the next generation.  If a geeky white guy Like Tarantino can do it, Spike Lee, or any other black filmmaker, shouldn’t have a problem achieving this.