Dear HBCU Presidents; Do Better!

trump blackDear HBCU’ Presidents,

Do Better!

There are very few institutions that represent what it means to be a black man or woman in America like the Historically Black College. It’s a place where kids had to go because schools like the University of Texas and Baylor wouldn’t accept them. Out of hate and bigotry rose Texas Southern University, Prairie View A&M University and countless other colleges throughout the south.

Colleges that gave young men and women pride, opportunity, a place to be amongst their own and thrive. Where has that pride gone? Why can it be found in twenty three year olds but not in the men and women that have risen the ranks to run these colleges?

Donald Trump is the President of the United States and we have to accept that but we don’t have to accept is his policies, his child like behavior and the unqualified and ill-intentioned people he has put into office.

Explain something to me because I am genuinely baffled. On February 28, 2017 over 80 Presidents of HBCU’s met with Trump and they were treated no better than tourist. Given a small speech, given a couple pictures and some lunch. No real conversation, no real change. A month later the Trump Administration questioned the need for HBCU’s and just this week word has come out that Trump wants to either defund or reduce funding for HBCU’s but you still want to reach out your hand to members of his administration?

I respect the work ethic of the generation that came before me but I cannot and will not respect men and women that are selling out the integrity of their schools for a check or photo op. Stop allowing people in high places to use you.

These young kids are not willing to sit back and accept it. You can’t charge them for degrees and make them work and struggle only to tell them that they have to do as you say or else.

I Don’t Want to Survive; I Want to Thrive

img_2103“Grab her by the pussy.” No matter how many times I hear it in my head I can’t help but to laugh. Not one of those gut busting, tears coming out of my eyes laughs, but one of those this is crazy laughs. I’m not laughing this morning and neither are most of the men and women I know.

I keep hearing how African Americans survived slavery and survived Jim Crow and survived the harshness of the Civil Rights Movement and the Reagan era. Stop telling me how we survived mass incarceration. “We survived all that, we’ll survive Donald Trump as President.” It’s not Trump I’m afraid of, it’s Trump’s America that scares me. A world of racial profiling and 4 dollar a gallon gas. I am not my ancestors and I love them for surviving and living but I choose not to survive. I choose to thrive. I choose to not sit at home behind my computer and sulk and be afraid and not cause trouble at work. I choose to hold my head up high, walk into my office and remind anyone that’s jubilant about last night’s victory that we have HR for a reason and I won’t threaten you are curse you out. I will simply write an email getting you fired for discussing politics at work.

Last night was my youngest sister’s 15th birthday. When we were having dinner she told us she got a letter from Stanford University to come visit the school and be a part of a program. She is incredibly smart and mature, she writes short stories and loves photography. Her future is as bright as she wants it to be, that doesn’t stop because of Trump or his supporters. Today’s weather mirrors how my heart feels. Dark, cold, unsettling but with a new day comes a new sky and with a new sky comes the ability to rise above this America we are now living in.

I don’t want to survive. I don’t want to get disrespected and marginalized and not get the same opportunities and be okay with it. Surviving is what our ancestors did because they had no choice because it was survive or die. We have a choice, not just to survive but to thrive. We have a choice on whether or not we want to build something and make something of ourselves or survive. On whether or not we want to accept racism, sexism, elitism and survive or look racism, sexism and elitism in the face and say, “Move or get ran over.”

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Baylor, Rape and a Culture That Doesn’t Respect Women

baylor“Actions by University administrators directly discouraged some complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes and in one instance constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault.”

The above statement is part of a statement released by Baylor. A school that just fired the most successful football coach in its history. There was a lot in the statement that made me cringe but the part I’m writing about today is the part that makes this almost unforgivable. It’s the part where Baylor not only told young women to not report the abuse but it’s the part where they retaliated against one of the women for reporting the abuse.

This wasn’t a football coach that told a player’s girlfriend to take it easy on him for cheating on her. This was a football coach that ignored his peers advice and brought football players into Waco, Texas that were nothing more than sexual predators. In one instance Art Briles said he’d never heard of off the field incidents with some of the transfer players he’d brought in. That was disputed by then Boise State head coach Chris Peterson who said he told Briles about the incident in which Sam Ukwuachu beat his girlfriend.

The same Sam Ukwuachu that while at Baylor was convicted of raping a female soccer player at the school. The same Sam Ukwuachu that was a known bad guy. He wasn’t one of those, “He needs a second chance” guys. It wasn’t until the guy was arrested that they finally decided to put him off the team.

Then we have Shawn Oakman. Maybe the most intimidating looking man in college football. Standing almost 6 feet 7 inches and muscles everywhere. He’s currently facing charges of sexual assault. According to reports he met a Baylor grad student out, took her to his apartment. Forcefully removed her clothes and raped her. Even before this case there were whispers out there about him and his past.

School officials, not football guys, but actual suit and tie academics decided to sweep all this under the rug. Why? Because for the first time in school history Baylor Football mattered. They were tired of getting stomped on by Texas and Oklahoma and they wanted it to continue. It continued alright, it continued at the expense of women all over campus.

It’s hard for me to call college girls women because most of them are coming straight from their parents protection and are still children. Baylor literally served them up on a platter for no reason other than wins.

Stop Talking About What You Want In A Wife and Start Talking About What You Want To Be As A Husband

  It’s really easy to talk about what we want in someone. I want a woman that’s fine and smart and sexy and giving, etc. I want a woman that’s caring and beautiful and fashionable. What we forget though, what matters more than what we want is who we are and what we attract. 

That leads me to the point of this article. Instead of constantly talking about what you want; talk about what you want to be. We attract what we are, it’s that simple. It’s easy to say we have bad luck or attract the wrong people but that’s not the case. We give people the time of day because there’s something in them that we see in ourselves.

When I think about the type of husband I want to be I don’t think about what my future wife would want or be attracted to. I think about what type of woman would be attracted to the man I’m becoming; the man I am. Part of being a good husband or boyfriend is becoming a good man first. Not how I look with my shirt off or my ambitions as a provider but having the type of soul, standards, morals and heart that will stand adversity. Six packs become kegs, wavy hair becomes a receding hairline. A great job becomes Exxon Mobil laying off a 1000 people on a Tuesday. Commitment has to be deeper than that. Commitment has to lie at the heart of the man you are. 

This isn’t the point where I rattle off a list of traits and characteristics where women ohh and ahh. This isn’t the point where I take shots at other men they still have a lot of growing to do in their relationship. This is the point where I say, “Just because you fall short today doesn’t mean you can’t stand tall tomorrow. Just because you aren’t the man or woman you’d want your son or daughter to marry tonight; that doesn’t mean you can’t be that man or woman two months from now.” The reason couples seem so perfect today and they’re divorced tomorrow is because they dated, fell in love with and married representatives. You can’t bare your soul to a representative. Look inside yourself and there you will find the reflection of who it is you want in your heart. 

Stop Dating Guys Prettier Than You

 

 You can log onto the internet any time of the day and find a post or two or four million about dating or marriage. Most of them focus on the why; why aren’t people getting married, why are people getting divorced, why, why, why. There are smarter people than me that research that and can give you great answers that go to the core of whatever perceived problem there is. According to some people there’s no problem at all.

Like I mentioned above, this isn’t about that, this is merely about what makes a man a man? And guys that take pride in being pretty usually make lousy boyfriends. I know someone will read this and think I’m attacking men that like to look good or take pride in their appearance but understand this; I have zero issue with grooming or cologne or making sure your edge up and outfit is on point when you leave the house. I do however have issue with men that want to be prettier than the women they date.

How do you know a guy wants to be prettier than you? What are the signs?

One- He lets you do things that men should naturally want to do. He doesn’t take out the trash when it’s sitting by the door, he doesn’t just go wash your car when he sees it’s dirty, he doesn’t take bags out of your hand when you walk in from the grocery store. There’s a chance he’s not doing it because he just lacks home training but if he’s a pretty guy he’s not doing it because he doesn’t think he has to. That’s worse.

Two- He thinks he should be able to do whatever he wants because you’re “lucky to have him.” You want to know something about men that demand loyalty and respect? We don’t have to demand loyalty and respect. Our actions will make that woman follow us because she wants to, because she feels good when she does. Look at the guy that is constantly taking selfies with his tight shirts or “the sun is in my eyes” eye squint. Look at the guy that has to remind you incisively of his social status or financial status; they all have one thing in common. They want you to know they’re important, they’re desired. See, I was raised to believe men shouldn’t have to do anything but the right thing and everything else will fall into place.

Three- Seeking attention when they can’t get it from you. Now I guy doesn’t have to be “prettier than you” in order to cheat or lie but what’s his intentions? I know men that work outside 12 hours a day and love female attention but it’s usually because they love sex or just being around women. That’s different than a man that needs constant reassurance. Those guys are dangerous because they’ll never be happy with themselves and in turn won’t be able to make you happy.

Four- Guys that simply think, “I’m the catch.” I’ve always lived be the premise that women love hard so as a man I should treat the woman I’m with like she’s a gift from God because she’s going to treat me like that regardless once her heart is in it. When she walks into a room other men are going to look, other women are going to admire, that’s a feeling I cherish. Knowing she’s the sun and I’m just a planet that’s lucky enough to revolve around her. When guys feel as though, “I’m me, look at me, you need to be thankful.” They’ll never get it.

Relationships fail for plenty of reasons, there’s no formula for success or failure but there has to be a baseline in which gender roles and mutual respect flourish. Men aren’t meant to be afraid of hard work or selflessness. Men aren’t meant to be pretty. Women usually are turned on the most when we’re fixing a broken sink or toilet or changing her oil or breaks. There’s a reason why sweat and dirty jeans still make her want to hug you. Don’t be pretty, be a man.

Finding the Perfect Pieces

Lauren

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I saw what the world saw. I saw the dimples and soft lips. I saw the smile that made strangers say hello at the grocery store; that made men offer to pay for everything from Tequila Sunrises to Starbucks. When we are out and I open the door for her I smile every time I see the definition of her ass. Doesn’t matter if it’s a dress, jeans or shorts. I just smile and think, “Damn, I’m going home with her?”

There are these moments where she’s articulating herself, making her points and the world just sort of revolves around her. She has a way of listening to people and using their words to not only validate what they’re saying but to make them realize her point is probably right.

That’s what the world sees, that’s what I see when we’re out there but when the curtains close and the heels come off. When she gets tired of being superwoman I see that part of her too. When she feels like being goofy and dancing around in panties and a tank top. When she wants to lie naked in my arms and just wants to be held, just wants to feel loved and needed and to talk. I see that, I am her Clark Kent, her Superman by just understanding.

She found a gray hair and actually cried. She drank too much wine and couldn’t bounce back like she usually does. We spend a lot more Saturday nights trying new restaurants and finding live music then we do turning up or taking shots. She doesn’t feel beautiful all the time and that’s okay because when she has those moments all she has to do is look in my eyes and she knows. She knows I don’t need her to wear the mask, to be “that” woman. I don’t need her to be on. I just need her to exist here with me right now.

Sitting at the kitchen counter, coffee steaming, fresh bagels on the bar. “Good morning,” she always says it with a smile, looking me in my eyes. Even though we wake up next to each other we never say good morning until we drink our coffee.

I’m sure ten years ago couples read the paper in the morning. I’m on my laptop, she’s on her iPad. Every couple of minutes she sneaks a peek at me and smiles. I sneak a peek at her and she licks out her tongue.

“You stick that tongue out again and you may lose it.” I feel younger when we laugh a lot.

“It all depends on where I lose it to.” Standing up, walking towards me, her robe falling to the floor. That first kiss is everything!

“I love you.”

“I know you do.”

Living Revolutionary, Nothing Less than Legendary: Martin and Coretta

Martin and Coretta

Martin and Coretta

Imagine sitting on the living room floor playing with your daughter and a brick flies through the window. No one is hurt but you hear someone scream, “Nigger go home!” There’s glass everywhere, your heart is racing, your child won’t stop shaking and crying. All you can do is grab her and run to the bedroom to lock the door. Not knowing who’s outside or if they’re coming back. This was the life of Coretta Scott King.

Sitting in a meeting, stressing because the non-violent approach isn’t working. Tired, hungry, missing your wife and young child; someone runs into the church! “Martin! Martin!” They scream, out of breath, fear in their eyes. “Someone shot at your house!” The first thought racing through your mind, “Is my family okay?” The second thought, “I want revenge but revenge goes against the movement. Revenge means that they won.” Going home to find your family hurting, afraid, crying because they’re safe but hating you were working instead of there to protect them. This was the life of Marin Luther King.

Coretta packed up and went to Atlanta, Birmingham wasn’t safe anymore in her eyes. She loved Martin, she loved the movement but she just needed time. Needed to breathe. Driving all night, worried State Troopers might recognize him and pull him over. Worried about sit-ins and beatings he drove. “I’m here for my family, I can’t do this by myself Coretta. I need you.” Holding her hand, embracing her, his heart racing, his heart calming. She sang to him when they were alone, her voice the calm before the storm that was the South.

You can the full story on www.stylemagazine.com

A Brothers Honor, A Fathers Heartbreak, A Sons Regret II

Men don’t cry.

Men don’t run.

Fear is natural, only fools pretend they aren’t afraid. But be afraid of the right things! Be afraid of letting down your family, your country but most importantly be afraid of letting down the man that’s fighting next to you!

I was 16, Albert was 17, John was 18. We were sitting in a bar, every one knew our father and it was a small town so no one questioned us. 4 shot glasses and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Each of us got a shot and a lecture. I remember the look in their eyes when he talked.

Men would send him drinks out of respect, the manager at the grocery store personally took our moms groceries to the car. There were no Walmart’s or Mega Malls, Houston was just an hour away but somehow our town remained untouched.

My brothers couldn’t understand why I wanted to chase education while they wanted to chase adventure. Her accent was thick even though she went to high school in America. My electives were Arabic and Mandarin, I already spoke Spanish. While my brothers boxed I sat in the back reading with a Mexican kid who’s brother was Golden Gloves champion. It wasn’t long before I realized we were teaching each other.

Arabic was a whole other beast though. Every other person in the class was Middle Eastern, probably aiming for an easy A. I’d never dated anything but women that looked like me, I didn’t even know how to approach her in a personal way, we only ever talked about studies. To my father they were sand niggers, terrorist, threats to the real America! I’d been in enough classes to know that most of the Middle Eastern kids loved BMW’s, iPhones and malls more than American kids. The girls didn’t cover themselves, the guys listened to rap. She was different though, carried herself differently.

She was beautiful and no matter how hot she was always in pants and long sleeves. The rest of the class viewed me with mild annoyance while she took the time to help me.

Her brothers were in England, her father a translator for Exxon Mobil, her mother a professor. If gotten that much out of her. I could tell she was nervous around me, I was nervous around her.

Sitting next to her felt right but sitting next to her felt like betrayal.

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A Brothers Honor, A Fathers Heartbreak, A Sons Regret

imagesCAW3EQLOI was the youngest and the smallest and the quietest. My father was the life of any room he walked into, loud, funny, friendly. My brothers were just like him, they had his broad shoulders and quick temper. They all played football and boxed, stayed outside until our mom had to drag them in. I don’t think there was a day that went by that they didn’t stuff me in a closet or a trunk or spray me with a water hose.

No matter how much they roughed me up, it was always only them. Whenever someone tried to pick a fight with me because I was smaller, I had their height but not their size, they were in for a surprise. Years of getting tossed around by my siblings gave me the quickest hands in our house since that was the only way I could ever win a fight or finish my meals.

Thinking about it made me smile. The nights we worked on old cars since we couldn’t afford new ones. The boxing sessions in the garage where we were all trying to impress dad. Three years apart, always a grade behind each other in school.

John waited until Albert graduated so they could enlist in the Army together. My mom always joked that we were all brothers but I must have come from a stork because John and Albert were joined at the hip.

On May 12th 2012 Albert was taken out by a sniper in Afghanistan. We all took it hard, my mom didn’t get out of bed for a month, my dad was calm about it. “He died a good death, he died a soldiers death.” No one took it harder than John though. He was in Iraq when he got the news. A week after the funeral he went right back.

On July 12th 2012 John died in a fire fight outside of Baghdad. The commander gave the order to maintain cover until the F-16’s arrived but John went in head first. Taking out four extremist before he was gunned down. They said he could have survived all the shots but that day he didn’t wear his body armor.

Within a month both my brothers were dead, fighting for their country. My father never said anything to me but I knew he looked at them differently than he looked at me. He was a soldier, a fighter, a man’s man. All my brothers ever wanted to be was like him.
Everywhere we went people stepped aside. My father pulled two men out a burning tank, won a Purple Heart in Desert Storm.

He never said it but my decision to go to college and not serve our country hurt him. “It’s a man’s duty to serve his country, what good is an education if you don’t know what it means to fight for it.” Those words never made sense to me but they did to my brothers.

The house I grew up in wasn’t a home anymore. My mom spent most of her time putting together care packages and volunteering at the hospital for wounded Veterans. My father spent most of his time in the garage talking to neighbors or the different friends that came by to chat with him or have him look at their car.

I knew I shouldn’t feel this way but I hated him. My brothers were dead because they wanted to be like him. “The army made me a man!” “Women love a man in uniform!” Day after day, story after story he filled their heads up with this bullshit about honor and loyalty and truth! Bullshit that got them killed! Wars that weren’t being fought because we were enslaved or attacked but wars that were being fought for nothing. He didn’t talk to me much because he thought I was a coward, I didn’t talk to him because I thought he was a fool.

Swinging as hard as I could at the punching bag in our garage I could feel my hands burning, the sweat dripping into my eyes but I didn’t stop punching, I couldn’t stop swinging. With every clank of the dog tags around my neck the more anger that surged threw me! They were my brothers tags and I wore them because they were apart of me now.

“You always could throw a punch but you never wanted to come to the gym with us. John thought it was because you had a glass chin. Albert thought it was because you wanted to chase girls. I knew it was because you didn’t want to be like me.”

I didn’t hear him come in. Those were the first real words outside of hello and goodbye he’d spoken to me in a year. He was right, I didn’t want to be another clone of my fathers. Football, boxing, the military. I wanted more for my life, I wanted to be something other than a name scribbled on some stone. What does dying in a foreign place fighting people that never did anything to me even mean?

After Albert died… I almost beat a kid to death because he called my brother stupid for not having on his body armor. The newspaper made it some black hawk down, saving Private Ryan moment but the army saw it as negligence. Since I wasn’t 18 yet and I’d experienced the death of two brothers they dropped the charges. When my dad picked me up he almost looked proud. I’d been valedictorian, I’d gotten into the most expensive school in the State with a full scholarship and the one time he patted me on my back was when I beat the shit out of some kid. That was my father, always the soldier, always about honor and family reputation.

“I’m not them.” I said the words softly, maybe I didn’t want him to hear me but I know he did.

“I didn’t raise you to be a coward!” His voice rose and he slapped his hand on the hood of his car!

Now his real feelings were coming out.

To Be Continued…

Swords, Shields and Honor

“They came in the night! On boats bigger than our villages! There were dozens of them and before we knew what was happening the fields were on fire! And then our huts! We heard the horses scream and fall down! We grabbed our swords and shields but they weren’t there to fight.”

The tears started to fall as I was telling our elders the story. The look on my son’s face, the fear in my wife’s eyes as they threw them in the wagons and rode off. Our horses dead and they were shooting a tiny metal ball out of a weapon I’d never seen before!

“Why did they come if they don’t want war!?” The youngest of the elders stood up and smashed the but of his spear on the ground! His anger mirroring mines but he was the only other.

I composed myself but didn’t wipe away the pain! I wanted them to know my hate and need for vengeance was real!

“They came to take us! To take our women and children! They burned our villages and crops! Killed the horses! Used weapons I never saw before! They took my family… We ran as hard as we could but when we got to their camp on the river there were to many and us to few with no armor! Give me warriors and let me get my family back!”

My heart was beating! Bloodlust was in my fingertips and eyes but they just sat silently.

Why are they just sitting silently?!

“Why will we not fight?!”

“Tell him. Someone tell him, I cannot.”

Another elder sat up in his seat, his sword shining in his lap.

“We did not know they would attack your village… They came almost a year ago and fell upon the southern villages with weapons we can’t beat. They killed all the men and took the women and children as slaves. We… We made a decision to let them have the poorer tribes in exchange for leaving our villages alone and making our enemies their enemies.”

I could not believe the looks of defeat in their eyes. The fear… I spit on the floor and unsheathed my sword! Their guards and soldiers pulled theirs but no one stepped toward me.

“Where is your honor!? Your pride!? You fear their weapons so you give away your own people! I would rather DIE with my sword in my right hand and my shield in left than live like a COWARD!”

One of the elders sons ran from his fathers side with his spear aimed at my heart, before he could bring it down his head was hanging from his neck. Two more soldiers soon followed him to the afterlife! Their blood staining my armor, they died good deaths.

“Is there any other man that wants to die today?!!!” Every soldier in my village stood behind me, weapon in hand, waiting to share in my vengeance!

Their sons, daughters, wives, horses, lives were all gone. Probably sailing on big boats to lands we would never find! Death, an honorable death in battle against a million men was better than living with this pain!

“You make your deals and lie on your backs like whores but we go to WAR!!!”
I turned my back on the leaders I’d sworn to defend and went to seek my vengeance or die trying!