“You ever prayed for something your whole life? I mean, all you dreamed about was this one thing. I mean, you know it’s comming. You have faith and all that. But sometimes… Sometimes you second guess yourself
That’s human nature, I suppose, second guessing… When life seems to take you through more downs than ups. Seems like it gives you more losses than wins. But do you stand tall and be bold? Or do you fold? Do you believe?
See, me, I came a long way. Way too far for me to stop now. Not that I would stop anyways but… I’m so close, I can feel it… Can you feel it?
Patience is a virtue made virtuous by those who work while they wait.
“I can’t wait,” but I will. (While I work)
“Functioning in a linear framework finds it’s strength in it’s utility, depth even. However, where it lacks is in its willingness to cast aside, indiscriminately, factors that are not deemed useful to its respective project. It is simply a matter of choosing between the more substantive practice and the less difficult practice. If we are to make progress beyond rhetoric within the American project, and elsewhere, regarding the Seventh Sons (those who deviate from a normative standard, White Male Heterosexual, for example) it will not be a project of ease and utility. It will be an intimate, honest, substantive discussion at the table we have been at, and will be at, for quite a while.”
There’s a difference between changing your mind and contradicting yourself, in that changing your mind is mature, intelligent, and necessary. Contradicting yourself is saying two different things at the same time.
Left hand under,
Right hand around,
Nothing careless about it,
Carefully and safely.
Reversed sometimes, but always one or the other.
With a smile sweeter than the dash of cream present.
I say ‘a dash’ because I can’t remember how much exactly.
I always wondered why so little flavor,
Then, by the grace of God it hit me:
She’s probably something like Kahlua and Bailey’s Irish Cream.
So, there’s really no need.
It’s one of those things a brother isn’t sure he should notice, or note it.
But, it’s so significant in it’s simpleness, it’s infinite.
The small things,
Deserve to be noted.
She takes the time if need be,
Neglecting it for a while in order to make sure her work is covered,
Productivity, before anything.
But she always,
Takes the time to either;
A: Get more,
See, she’s so sweet.
Never wasting an ounce.
I really like the way she carries her coffee.
Never too much, but just enough.
It tells me quite a bit.
Jill Scott ft. Mos Def – Love Rain (Coffee Shop Remix)
“Children of a Mother who taught all of her children to love and be loved by eachother”
The photo above is of (clockwise, beginning with my brother in pink) my brother, my cousin Philip’s fiance Stephane, Philip Jr., TJ, his wife and my cousin Kim, my cousin Kelly, my cousin Avery (who’s hand makes an appearance, my apologies Avery for the exclusion, we love you regardless) and lastly, but certainly not least – first even, as she’s the first Grandchild – Stephanie. The first to bring a beautiful child into the family.
This, above, is what ‘history’ in its essence. This past weekend we all gathered in order to celebrate my Grandmother’s 80th birthday. What’s significant about my Grandmother, of the many things, is the amount of people she’s managed to influence in her life and the things that have been set in motion as a result of it.
Many times, and I pray many more, we’ve sat down and discussed our family history. From Monongahela, Penn. to Pittsburgh, Penn., to Chicago, Ill., to Atlanta, GA., and places inbetween. No doubt the stories she’s left with me will remain as I dig further through the archives for, essentially, who I am.
What struck me about this past weekend was how everyone in the above picture is grown, and specifically Phil and Kim. His fiance and Her Husband are wonderful additions to our family unit and to hear people I’ve spent a majority of my life around begin to substantively discuss what it means to be family, to grow in unison with another, while in all coming to terms with our mortality, and lastly – perhaps most importantly – the need for divine recognition.
We are history in motion, specifically Black history and I am absolutely blessed to be a part of it.
“See, I’m a blues man in the life of the mind. I’m a jazz man in a world of ideas. Therefore, for me, music is central. So when you’re talkin’ about poetry, for the most part, Plato’s talkin’ primarily about words, whereas I talk about notes, I talk about tone, I talk about temper, I talk about rhythms. See, for me, music is fundamental. Philosophy must go to school not only with the poets, philosophy needs to go to school with the musicians.
Keep in mind, Plato bans the flute in The Republic but not the lyre. Why? Because the flute appeals to all of these various sides of who we are given his tripartite perception of the soul: the rational, and the spirited, and the appetitive. And the flute appeals to all three of those, where he thinks the lyre, one string, only appeals to one and therefore is permissible. Now, of course, the irony is when Plato is on his death bed, what’d he do? Well, he requested a Thracian girl play music on the flute.”
“When politicians, from Barack Obama all the way down, talk about higher education, they talk almost exclusively about math and science. Indeed, technology creates the future. But it is not enough to create the future. We also need to organize it, as the social sciences enable us to do. We need to make sense of it, as the humanities enable us to do. A system of higher education that ignores the liberal arts, as Jonathan Cole points out in The Great American University (2009), is what they have in China, where they don’t want people to think about other ways to arrange society or other meanings than the authorized ones. A scientific education creates technologists. A liberal arts education creates citizens: people who can think broadly and critically about themselves and the world.”
Change is inevitable, growth is optional” I once read… and this past year, like the ones before it, has been a testament to that truism. I titled this ‘a nutshell’, but it’s a fractioned nutshell. We’ve made it, here, to this moment so let me review some key things I’ve learned this year.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, any place, and anything. I was pushed in several directions over the past several months. Some good, others bad, but the important factor in my strivings was the recognition of my goals by those I held in high regard and the subsequent ’push’ that came along with their recognition. Had it not been for my close friend, brother, and scholar Nate Nesbitt and his brother Michael Daniels-Fleming, then perhaps the proposal for attending the Black Solidarity Conference would have never been written and submitted. Further, had it not been for Mrs. Beverly Dabney, Ali Marano, Anand Sethupathy, Tina Shah, and Ryan Thiele, perhaps I would not have had the opportunity to meet several wonderful and inspiring individuals at Yale University this past year. Had it not been for these individuals, and those I may be forgetting, my aspirations – academic, spiritual, visceral, etc – would have gone in a direction that only god knows. Perhaps, without the inspiration of Dr. Jesse Benjamin, Dr. Seneca Vaught, Brent Obleton, Emily Wells, and several others, I would not have been able to finish my first and second publications in undergrad. In essence: the potential of an individual is inevitably tied to and actualized by the works and inspiration of the community, and further, one’s successes are bound to whether one’s community is a healthy one or not. I am blessed to say that my community, through trial and error, is healthy. I can only pray that in the future I can do for them what they’ve done for me.
Developing the aforementioned healthy community is a constant yet critical endeavor. In the same way it is important to “watch what you eat”, “practice what you preach”, and similar phrases, it’s important to develop and maintain healthy relationships. I learned this the hard way this past year, on many levels.
I am prone to be subject to, rather – and more accurately – tend to subject myself, to the pitfalls of unconditional solidarity. Friendship is never wholly smooth sailing, which is a grand metaphor for life in a sense, but when your investments in others continue to yield nothing of substance for themselves, casting aside personal goals, it’s time to let go. Or even, reevaluate the nature of that relationship. In the particular instance that inspires this musing here, I learned that sometimes, even those who speak of hard work, tough times, and persistence with elegance and eloquence can tend to be terrible at each in practice, and their denial – even in the face of little-to-no results – can be vacuous to your efforts both in rhetoric and practice.
Humility need not be proclaimed. Truth-be-told, power and the fruition of hard work often times feels no need to speak of itself because it is not devoid of substance. Or, as my Father would say: “Power does not speak. It simply does, because it can.” Such an individual, or group of individuals can, and most likely will, wholly undermine your efforts. There is no room for musings lacking in practice with those who look to live a wholesome and healthy life.
…or, at least, that’s what 2012 has taught me.
Perhaps the most difficult, trying, and (still) ongoing lesson of 2012. In some way, this last point has a lot, if not everything, to do with the two aforementioned points. The fact of this matter (regarding affection) is as follows:
Time can be generous, time can be cruel, but in the end it is indifferent. Time does not fly, it floats aimlessly waiting for those who dare to give it meaning here, in this life, and make something of it. There is enough time, for it is all we have.
It is a humbling experience to watch your parents and those you love come to learn of their mortality, thus their humanity, and learn to love life for what it is: a grand opportunity to make use of time, which is a rarity truth be told. For me, and I hope (Wallahi, I’m hoping) for a few close and not-so-close others, that we begin to understand the nature of our time here. I have loved in a way that I had no clue that I could, only to come to grips that there are, in fact, no grips, lol. When it comes to love and what can be made of it, it is a foundation upon which something more can take place for those who dare. I’ve wrestled with myself, my formations, and perceptions of what time means in relation to affection, love, hope, and like.
- Does an expression of one’s affection need reciprocity?
- Is one’s affection simply a gift to be given, with any incantation of reciprocity being vacuous?
… and I will continue to wrestle with the above questions for a while, having been raised a child of Western Epistemology, where it is ‘either/or’. I suppose that incantations of love and hope, that live within the confines of the left of my chest awaiting courtship are both gifts and in need of reciprocity, which is the most important lesson, struggle, my jihad if you will, here and for the foreseeable future.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our time is near, and we slowly passing through it.
Any transgression from sincerity in expressing affection is a waste of time.
The chief motivating factor of the discourse here is the recent discussion of the issues that lead to te shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. I take no interest in engaging in the polarizing thus fruitless debate of who is to blame, whether it be shooter, mother, guns, etc. Here, in this space, the goal is to inquire upon the essence of our perceptions of masculinity and whiteness. The following is a musing set forth by New York Times opinion blogger and Princeton Assistant Professor, Christy Wampole:
“Young, African-American men are often imagined to be violent on the street, killing one another in gang-related violence or murdering convenience store clerks while trying to empty the cash register. The stereotypical image, even in its wrongheaded reduction of the black man to an inherently violent being, does not leave room for that other kind of murderer, the one who plans and executes a calculated, non-spontaneous large-scale death spree.
The angry white man has usurped the angry black man.
I would argue that maleness and whiteness are commodities in decline. And while those of us who are not male or white have enjoyed some benefits from their decline, the sort of violence and murder that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary will continue to occur if we do not find a way to carry them along with us in our successes rather than leaving them behind.”
To the highlighted notion, I wouldn’t suggest such so surely. The stereotypical image of which Wampole is alluding, though merely a perception, has very real and dangerous manifestations. One need not look too far to the incidents of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Darius Simmons, who were only a few of a great number young men with a similar fate for example. To the notion of color, we sung of freedom and emancipation from Great Britain, yet we never sought – or, more accurately – fought against the very ideas of universal freedom we so adamantly purported. In the 1940′s, we – those who engage and invest in the continuance of the American project – shunned Hitler for his actions of mass genocide with shortsighted dissonance, seldom, if ever, recognizing that his sentiments and practices where a continuance of a Western idealism very much akin to that from which we derive. Let us look to Ernest Renan’s La Refonne intellectuelle et morale, the influence in this regard from the academic mill:
The regeneration of the inferior or degenerate races by the superior races is part of the providential order of things for humanity. With us, the common man is nearly always a declasse nobleman, his heavy hand is better suited to handling the sword than the menial tool. Rather than work, he chooses to fight, that is, he returns to, his first estate. Regere imperio populos, that is our vocation. Pour forth this all-consuming activity onto countries which, like China, are crying aloud for foreign conquest. Turn the adventurers who disturb European society into a ver sacrum, a horde like those of the Franks, the Lombards, or the Normans, and every man will be in his right role. Nature has made a race of workers, the Chinese race, who have wonderful manual dexterity and almost no sense of honor; govern them with justice, levying from them, in return for the blessing of such a government, an ample allowance for the conquering race, and they will be satisfied; a race of tillers of the soil, the Negro; treat him with kindness and humanity, and all will be as it should; a race of masters and soldiers, the European race. Reduce this noble race to working in the ergastulum like Negroes and Chinese, and they rebel. In Europe, every rebel is, more or less, a soldier who has missed his calling, a creature made for the heroic life, before whom you are setting a task that is contrary to his race – a poor worker, too good a soldier. But the life at which our workers rebel would make a Chinese or a fellah happy, as they are not military creatures in the least. Let each one do what he is made for, and all will be well.
Further, one could, and should, look to the manifestations of oppression via the avenues of gender compounded with race that often goes either unnoticed or discredited as a valid topic of discussion in the canon of the oppressed (Kimberle Crenshaw brings forth the idea of Intersectionality of race and gender in her landmark study “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race & Gender“, 1989).
Where Wampole and I depart is in the understanding of what should be restored. Wampole, suggests that we must repatriate the White Male into society, keeping in mind the feeling of need as well as the pains of having been excommunicated from the dominant place in society. We must practice empathy, as they step down from hegemony.
But, let us refocus our lens of empathy. Women, and particularly colored women, have served as a receptacle for the pain that one must seek to avoid in order to actualize and achieve, if possible, the idealized versions of ‘Male’ and ‘Whiteness’. For the black male, there is an escape route due to gender privilege. As for the White woman, there is an escape route due to Racial privilege. It is a dangerous practice to continue deductive reasoning where one is afforded the comfort of denial where “Anywhere but here violence, turbulence, and oppression is acceptable” is the concluding point. The fact of the matter is that violence, at any capacity, whether “here” or “there” affects the human condition in it’s totality. This is true whether the halfhearted engagement – in which the male, and white world tends to practice – says so or not.
The advertisement of the weapon used in the Newtown shooting.
What is important here, and I think Wampole – partially – misses, is that we are trying to forge a new identity, an identity no longer defined solely by white and masculine normative behavior. Whiteness, in the scope of western epistemology, is an identity based in moral erosion having relinquished all forms of responsibility for the humanity of the “others” within a “Self v. Other” dichotomy. Having divested from the responsibility of upholding the humanity of other’s, one has in effect robbed oneself from his or her own humanity. Here is where our problem lies, the moral degeneration fueled by development at the expense of the “other”.
In deconstructing our perceptions, and the perceptions of those who perceive themselves as both white and male, we must also actively seek to build an understanding of and with those who suscribe what it means to be white and male in a non-hegemonic, yet still important and inclusive manner. Yes, maleness and whiteness is on the decline, but we cannot afford to restore it in it’s traditional sense, it has proved costly and degenerative to a holistic human equation.
What is the purpose of a statement detached from the reality of ‘now’?
… a question posed in the hopes of an answer beyond rhetoric, beyond barren musings, and beyond empty eloquence. It must be stated that I did not set forth the question above in such a manner in hopes of trivializing, demeaning, and dismantling the voice from which ideas find their inspiration. Actually, my goal here is to draw attention to, and hopefully affirm, the importance asking a question in hopes of finishing ‘the equation’, or in other words, striving to find an answer no matter how elusive. But, in lieu of placing focus of our strivings here, in this moment, on the structure of a question – however important – let us focus on the substance of this inquiry, and press on…
In essence: what is to be said of our strivings? What is the role of pressing forward towards goals beyond the present ‘now’, and having set said goals, what is the role of ‘now’ in the future?
This note, my own rustic musing, is a note to the pragmatic idealist who may be focused on pressing forward in life looking for balance of the past, present, and future. Perhaps – regarding our strivings – there is a tripartite distinction between each facet in the holy trinity of past, present and future, and one must find a way to bring what we know along with us as we set forth our ideas and respective questions (what comes to mind is Sankofa).
So press on.
Seek to define, redefine, and refine.
(I must note: The title of this post is inspired by the introductory chapter to W.E.B. Du Bois’ work “The Souls of Black Folk” titled “Of Our Spiritual Strivings“)