An Open Letter to My Brothers

black women

Keisha, Alexandria and Natasha

Dear Black Men,

Donald Trump created an entire fake University just to rip people off and he’s one of two people in America that are vying to become our President. A white college male in California raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and is basically getting 3 months. As I’m tying this a black man is probably getting sentenced to years over weed when it’s legal in several states and most cities don’t even arrest you for small amounts anymore. These are all facts and these are all things that need to be addressed. I am not addressing them in this letter. In this letter I want to talk about the three woman that were murdered this week by men that look like you and I. Not because of gang violence, not because of police but because of domestic violence and this idea that, “If I can’t have you, no one can.”

Earlier this week I talked about how there has never been a race of women that existed that love black men more than black women. They will literally sacrifice their last for us, our mothers, our sisters, our aunts but more than anything; the women that love us in a romantic way. When a woman loves you, it’s with her entire being. She feels your pain and love in her soul and what’s hers is yours. The thing is though, if you don’t appreciate it, you’ll lose it and once you lose it, you have to her go.

Someone is going to read this and think that I’m saying all black men are woman beaters or all black men look the other way when it comes to domestic violence. Someone will read this and say, “What about white men?” “What about police?” Let me be clear. I speak to black men when it comes to protecting black women because no one else will. This week, three black women were shot and killed by men that should have been protecting them whether they were together or not. If a woman is the mother of your children, you should always want to make sure she’s good. We are spending too much time and energy fighting each other when we need to be looking out for each other.

If my friend or my brother or a co-worker tell me they are having problems at home or problems getting over a breakup. It’s my job as a man to talk to them, to see where their head is at. It’s my job and responsibility to let them know, “Bro, let shorty go, it’s going to be alright. You weren’t good to her when you had her and now that she’s finally happy you want to terrorize her even more?”

Black women used to give themselves to slave owners just so black men wouldn’t get beat or sold. When black men were getting lynched and locked up in the 50’s and 60’s, black women bailed us out and picked up the picket signs. When drugs hit the community and entire neighborhoods and cities lost black men to prison; our women held our sons and daughters together. Even now, with every other rap lyric and social media debate attacking black women, they’ve never let our side. So it’s up to us as men to stop looking the other way when we see domestic violence. When we see our brother, our friend, is about to lose it. We can’t laugh it off or belittle him. We have to make him understand, let her go.

I get sick to my stomach having to prove I’m not a criminal every time I get pulled over. Having to prove I’m qualified every time I work on a new project at work. Having to wait just a tad bit longer for my meal at a nice restaurant because, “He’s probably not going to tip well.” But what really kills me is watching little black boys and girls be raised without a mother. We have to fight the world everyday, we can’t fight each other.

I’m aware all three of these women weren’t murdered by ex’s in their lives. But they are still black women that were taken too soon. Domestic violence and domestic terrorism are the same to me. 

It’s All Love,

Demez

Accountability Starts With Us: Five Ways We Need to Do Better

Martin/ Malcolm/ Barack

Martin/ Malcolm/ Barack

Whenever there’s a tragedy involving a young black man and a police officer or white man we as a community are outraged. We want justice, we want revenge, we want respect. Often times you have people saying, “What about black on black crime?” “What about what the victim did wrong?” In the heat of the moment asking those questions feels like you’re blaming the victim instead of uniting behind the victim.

This is the truth. We have to do better as a community and as a people. It’s really that simple. I’m not saying that officers or men that decide to play judge, jury and executioner shouldn’t be punished but what I’m saying is their ignorance may not ever change but our looking the other way has to. There is no difference from an 8 year old getting gunned down in Chicago or a 17 year old getting stabbed in New Orleans by a black man then there is a 18 year old getting murdered by a police officer. All of them are domestic terrorist.

Here are ten things that we as a community have to do better at or just do more of.

Five- We’re not directors or producers. There’s nothing cool about recording fights and sharing fights. If you see two people about to fight step in to stop it. Most of the time one person doesn’t want to be there anyway. Instead of five people with their camera phones out; how about we have five people calming the situation. When I see these videos I rarely see a white man holding the camera. I see us. It’s not funny to see a little girl get the hell beat of her while other people watch. Stop watching and recording and start stepping up.

Four- Read before you share. We live in a social media age where information flows so freely. Read! Don’t share a link if you haven’t given it five minutes. You’ll know fairly soon if it’s made up information. Don’t get so caught up in wanting to be first that you’re wrong. You share bad information and next thing you know a hundred people have shared that same bad information. That’s not cool nor is it beneficial to anyone. The news can be depressing, I get that but reading different news websites, watching videos. Learn what’s going on.

Three- Stop making excuses for people because you like them or love them. Wrong is wrong. If your favorite rapper goes out of his way to tell us that he’s really a gang member, that he really pimps hoes, that he’s really in the streets. All for the purpose of making sure we know his music is authentic, don’t be surprised when people look at him crazy when he is standing up screaming, “Just stop the violence!” The content you choose to put out is a reflection of you. You can rap without saying “Women aren’t about shit and I’m going to kill other black men.” It’s possible. We have to hold each other to higher standards.

Two- You can’t speak and write like you have no education online or in your text or when you’re talking to your friends and then expect to not have that carry over when you’re at work or writing something more official. It breaks my heart to see so many younger kids who can barely talk. Being articulate covers a lot of flaws. Being well spoken and making eye contact. Having confidence in what you’re talking about. It’s universal no matter your educational background or financial background. You can’t go around here calling women that look like you bitches and hoes and calling men that look like you niggas and think that’s okay. It’s not.

One- We are not each other’s enemy. When I have a disagreement with anyone on social media and I can see my words have been taken out of context or what I said was offensive. I apologize. If they say something out of line I try and understand their point and make them understand they could have said it better. It won’t always end with a smile and an understanding but it will always end in mutual respect. I come to work and have to deal with people that can be difficult. I have to worry about what will happen if I get pulled over even if I haven’t done anything wrong. I don’t want to fight with people that look like me, that I love. I want us to prosper together. To excel together.

This article isn’t me saying, “It’s our fault when other races or entities come for us.” This is me saying we can’t worry about them. We have to worry about ourselves and the more we build us up, the more we fix us, the less what they do affects us. Awhile back Don Lemon said that black men should get married and stop having children out of wedlock. That we should keep our communities clean and stop littering. That we have to speak better and pull our pants up and respect authority. People hate Don Lemon and CNN so they threw out the message with the messenger. Even though he was right. Go in Sunnyside, Southpark, 5th Ward, any other community that’s mostly African American and you’ll find beat up streets, trash. We have to start reporting people that are dumping illegally.

Overcome Inspire and Achieve: Pain Is Power Inc.

Gregory Jones Jr.

Gregory Jones Jr.

The parking lot is filled with luxury cars, there’s a live band playing while the crowd mingles and chats. Smiles and takes pictures. The women are in dresses and hats, the men in summer suits, mostly tailored. This isn’t the Kentucky Derby or a corporate luncheon. This group is in the heart of 5th Ward which is a neighborhood in Houston, TX. A neighborhood located in the backdrop of Downtown, filled with poverty, crime and opportunities lost.

Today they have gathered to try to change the path of the children at John Marshall Middle School. The library is filled with reminders to the kids, education, ambition, drive, hope. Even though the smiles are plentiful and the food is amazing no one is forgetting why they are there. Especially the man who has put it all together, the man who has not waivered even though most of the charities expenses have come out of his and his board members pockets.

Gregory R. Jones Jr. is the Board President and Founder of Pain is Power Inc. and his message is simple.

“At one time or another, we all face challenges whether they be financial, health-related, personal or otherwise. We believe that if it wasn’t for the strength gained by overcoming such challenges, many of the world’s most successful people would not have acquired two of the most vital characteristics to greatness: courage and perseverance. Our goal is to inspire and cultivate those same characteristics and life skills to help the underserved youth and children in our communities realize their greatness.”

Gregory, like a lot of men and women at this launch event, didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth. Coming from an impoverished neighborhood in Dallas, TX he’s seen what it’s like to make it out and he’s also seen what it’s like for those that haven’t.

“What we see a lot of is the dream gap. Kids that want to be musicians, basketball players, athletes and after that nothing. We want to change that, to show them that there’s so much more out there. Pain Is Power, Inc., focuses on three fundamental principles: overcome, inspire, achieve. We believe, with the right skills, anyone can overcome any difficulties presented in life. Through those triumphs, lessons are learned which help inspire us to aspire for more and achieve success.”

Something else that stood out to me about Gregory and Pain is Power is that they are putting their money and time on the line and doing things the right way.

“Up until today we’ve probably received a total of about two hundred dollars in contributions. All our paperwork is filed and pending with the IRS. I believe it’s important that non-profits show they are serious before they start to ask for money.”

The principal at John Marshall Middle School, Michael Harrison, is all in favor of the program, that’s why he opened the doors today and allowed the program the opportunity.

“When I initially offered the contest to the kids, (the turn down for what contest) we had an overwhelming number of kids to sign up. Four years ago when I become principal here things were rough and we’ve done a good job of not only changing the test scores and attendance but of changing the mindsets of these children. This program helps us do that.”

You can read more about Pain Is Power Inc. and also donate money or time at www.painispower.org.

Give. Share. Love. Obligation

Co Written By: Ashley B. Patton

Her Words
I am your average fly. Moving full speed ahead with no real direction, I can often get entangled into the stickiest of webs. Unintentionally, I make rash decisions that often happen when a young adult becomes a real adult. Everything is going smoothly; life’s boat is coasting with the tide. Then out of nowhere comes a tropical thunderstorm that does everything but sink my boat. Freaking Life of Pi.

Drowning in my own web of confusion, I am often stuck to my own mess trying to pray my way out of what seems like rock bottom. When I finally stop fighting the air and relax, I coast. During this frightening yet tranquil time, I reach out for help. For no matter how deep the fertilizer I find myself sinking into, my family will always be there to help pull me out; No matter what.

His Words
Last night I went to visit my grandfather in the hospital, I left my wallet at home and had 5 dollars in my pocket. Parking was 10. My cousin was just a phone call away. Whenever my aunt or grandmother cook they ask me if I want a plate, they actually insist. My uncle helped fix my brakes, all he wanted was a thank you. No matter how hard my day or how stressful my struggle there has always been someone there.

Her Words
I imagine myself a vagrant. Walking the streets day and night; night after cold, rainy night. I have hit rock bottom. Only out on the pavement, there isn’t a mama to call. Hell, I don’t have a phone to even attempt! My hair and skin are full of soot and I haven’t changed clothes in over a week. Even if I had family to go home to, I am too ashamed to show up unannounced and filthy. On top of all that, I am hungry. Yes, the soup kitchen fed me lunch yesterday, but it’s been almost 12 hours since my last meal. The last car to pass by gave me $1. A McDonald’s burger would sound okay if I felt like being stared at and treated like I have leprosy. It does little good to cry and I have forgotten how to smile. So I just sit here on this street corner, waiting for the next $1.

His words
Newspaper is my savior tonight. I stick it in my shoes to fill in the holes in the soles. I stuff it in my pants to block the wind from cutting through me. Today was a good day, a lady handed me a couple pieces of chicken and half a biscuit out her car. My stomach wants it but I’m trying to save it for Thanksgiving. The line at the shelter was down the street, I saw older guys that needed the heat more than me. It started with me losing my job, then my car, then more couches then I could count before my pride made me stop asking. Now I’m here walking. It’s easier to walk then it is to sit. If I sit I may not get up.

Her words
There was always someone to tend to my every need when I had lost the ability to care for myself, I give as much as I can give to those who do not have a lifeboat. I throw out a lifeline to those in my path as I travel down my own journey. For it has been said that we should pull up others as we climb higher; I just tend to reach all the way to the bottom with my outstretched arm. Every $1 I pass through my window, every care package I distribute, and every meal I serve to those less fortunate than myself is more than an act of kindness; it is my obligation.

His Words
To say I live a blessed life is an understatement. I’ve never experienced struggle. Giving doesn’t start with a turkey at Thanksgiving or a ham at Christmas. Giving starts with our intentions. The change in our ashtrays. Watching a single mother have to put back groceries and buying the things she couldn’t afford. For me giving back is showing little boys that its cool to read. It’s giving away a coat that still fits because someone just needs it more. Doing for people that need it is simply my obligation.

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