Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Where have you been?
Jena 6 is News!

Being informed and aware of what’s going on in the world, not just in the United States, is not only critical it is essential for creating some level of compassion and understanding for other cultures. On too many occasions the average American has no clue what is going on in Tonga, Armenia, and/or Burkina Faso. Even the countries I have listed are really foreign to some readers. We all know about Iraq. How could we not know of the place that the Bush administration claims is the single most source of Jihad development in the world? Either he and his pack of loyal White House soldiers are complete idiots or they are significantly misguided by the intelligence. What do you think? Stop! Don’t call your president an idiot! I personally believe the illegal immigrant extremist and regular American fanatics, the Timothy McFaye-types, are already here living among us plotting their next attack. They are in the coffee shops, in our churches, and teaching in our schools. But, who am I? This opinionated black man doesn’t know anything.

The one thing I do know is consuming the news in any form is extremely important. Time and time again I hear my fellow brothas and sistas boasting with pride, “I ain’t watching no news. It is depressing.” This infuriates me because for one this means those folk will not be informed and two it indicates or suggests that these folk’s world is small. Small in the sense that their lives probably consist of home and work without any outside educational stimuli such as what Soledad O'Brien, Christiane Amanpour, Roland Martin, and Gloria Vanderbilt’s son, Anderson Cooper, is sharing with the world. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with this approach of therapeutically shielding the mind and spirit from what many call negativity.

Yes, the news is unpleasant and completely taxing – but it is REALITY. Not in-taking the news worthy events of the day via the internet, television, or radio regulates one to the other line. That line with people in it that are saying, ‘Why isn’t the news carrying the Jena 6 story?’ If you are reading this and whispering to yourself, ‘Jena 6? I don’t know what this brotha is talking about.’ you are in that uninformed line. (http://www.whileseated.org/photo/003244.shtml) Please don’t feel bad about being in that line because for weeks our only source for meaningful black talk radio, Grown Folks Radio, was in that line too. However, I am pleased to report that this socially conscious radio station is actively working with leaders throughout the nation now to expose to the world what’s going on in Jena, Louisiana. Their work has lead to our very own, Reverend Al Sharpton, to get involved. I am so thankful we have a man with a perm working on our behalf! Perm or not, Reverend Al is on the front lines like a TRUE soldier without a White House.

What am I to say about this travesty of justice that Al and others have not said? They really have covered every angle of this story, so again I ask - what am I to say without repetitiously whining? Many have emailed me to ask, ‘Muata, why don’t you focus on what white folk are doing to us, like what they are doing to Mychal Bell (one of the Jena 6), rather than pointing out our deficiencies?’ Deficiencies? Interesting. I can respect that request. Therefore, I do have this re-fried rhetoric for you. But, before I begin my liturgy of insight let me inform the uninformed that the Georgia state attorney in the Genarlow Wilson case who has the power to free Mr. Wilson is BLACK. Deficiencies??


They don’t care about us, and when they get an opportunity to lock-up another black man they will. Being innocent is not a factor for them. They believe we are guilty already of something. That something is being BLACK. The one thing most of us cannot shake is our blackness. We have to live with being black in this world. Not that it has been a problem for me. No, it is a problem for the white people who have yet to address their hearts. I have plenty of white friends who are genuine, but the one thing I believe that they have done: Changed their hearts which means their concern for the black plight is authentic. These are the white folk who join the Peace Corps, and end up serving in Zambia or some other ‘dark’ place.

Those young black men who are surely going to be jailed for a long time down there in that small rural town are causalities of war. That war that is waged day in and day out in America against the black man. But, what are we to do? Protest. March. I am for that! At least when this occurs black people are out in numbers on one accord, with one mission, and not divided. Actually, it is a beautiful thing to witness.

Black folk have been a witness to a lot in America. For some, life is remarkably good and for others life is a bad dream. Too many of us are living nightmares when it was not supposed to be this way. We thought after integration that things would be better. (I laughed as I typed that sentence). “Better”. There have been countless inroads and accomplishments. I recognize this. But, for some reason the Jena 6 story has taken up at least four full pages in Time magazine. It has even been mentioned in the black magazines we (black folk) surely read or glance through e.g. Ebony, Essence, Jet, and Vibe. So much for it not being in the news.

Has America truly evolved? We have everything at our disposal. Everything! We lead the world in so many areas. Unfortunately, that one area that we continue to struggle with is race relations. And, the reason I believe America has this problem: Too many white people have yet to appropriately change their hearts regarding blacks, Mexicans, Asians, and those other naturally tanned folk. What do I mean by change their hearts? Well, a white man can eat chitterlings, drink Milwaukee's Best, and watch those black bucks run up and down a field with a black man - but don’t let that black man’s son push-up on white man’s daughter. All hell will break loose! No mo pig guts eatin’ and no mo cheap beer drinking together. Back to the days prior to the late sixties we will go!

As a matter of ‘heart’ fact, this is where most Americans are anyway: the 19th century without the progressive change agency mentality. It is evident in the way black folk respond to Jena 6-type events: We will not strategically and collectively mobilize in numbers. Why? Probably because Jena 6 has not entered their minds via the news. Remember, “I ain’t watching no news!” And, finally it is definitely evident we are still in the past considering the way the White Man’s judicial system is ripping a part the life of Mr. Black Man. Nonetheless, please be informed that some white people including black people believe the black man is solely responsible for leading the nation in prison inmate status: Locked-up! I didn’t have to watch the news for that piece of information.

As I concluded this commentary, I felt a huge sense of emptiness. Did I make a difference with your thinking? What I have conveyed has been said over and over again. I know. It is my re-fried spin on not only the lingering opinions of the Jena 6 story, but the state of race affairs in America.

When will I and others get full? Full of change. Full of a difference being made. Not in my lifetime? Not in my lifetime is depressing to read and hear considering my mother and her mother said the same thing back in that newsworthy 19th century.


Written by Muata. Inspired by all the emails I received requesting me to respond. I hope I satisfied you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

No Honor Among Dogfighters - and the Typical Black Response

Without a doubt copping a plea means your back is against the wall. It means you are concerned that you are going to lose, and be found GUILTY. It also indicates to some degree that you are partially guilty or completely guilty. For Michael Vick his hand has been forced to ‘punk out’. He had no other choice - but to put his head between his legs, and bargain with those Alphabet Boys. The FBI. Who would have thought Michael Vick would construct an X’s and O’s play to get out of the self-created mess with those who are gunning to sack him? This is a sad state of affairs for the black quarterback with a rushing yards record. But, what did we expect?

Expectation. Vick expected his boys to hold out. To hang in there with him. They were supposed to be his offensive line. The blockers who stop the blitzing free safety from clocking the passer. Those big men who never get any accolades for protecting the leader, the star. In this case, Michael Vick is getting sacked. However, he is familiar with this. His linemen stopped blocking for him a long time ago. Why would they block and block – while Vick selected to run and run? Nevertheless, I bet you he never expected his dog fighting frontline would flop on him. This turn of events is not what most well-known celebrities and spectacular athletes anticipate. They self-righteously expect someone to take the heat with them or even take full responsibility.

Either we are crazy or we are na├»ve for thinking men are built like they use to be. At one time in American history the Scarface of the group would dodge all types of indictments, court cases, and prison time because his first lieutenant would willingly go to state penitentiary for the Don. The Boss. The Man. Apparently, Michael Vick does not have those Ford Tough assembled men within his former entourage of dog killers. They are tough enough to kill Bruno the pit bull, but too soft to spend a few years locked-up for Mr. Atlanta Falcons. ‘Man, we ain’t tough no mo. We, modern day gangsters, sure ain’t like Frank Lucas (one of the original American Gangsters). We be the new type of turncoats!’ This is the most accurate and revealing statement I have heard in a long time regarding the state of affairs within Thug Life.

Even with my spearing sarcasm and intense seriousness, I am certainly aware of one fact that I hope all these wanna-be thugs will learn from this soon-to-be forgotten Nike endorsing icon: Today, in this new fake gangster environment the badest of them all are not immune to ‘punking-out’. Typically, when a man’s back is against the wall he will resort to one of two things: Fight to get out or bow down. Mr. Vick has bowed down. He is humble again. He is broken. He has selected not to fight with the intentions of beating the system. And, we all know why: He is more than likely guilty. Funny. We knew this before we went running to his defense. The attention-wanting NAACP of Atlanta should have known better. Those desperate and ill-advised black folk who were out there in 100 degree heat marching around the Georgia Dome a few weeks ago should have known better. Where are the fair-weather supporters when our children get struck by bullets fired from a gun shot by Antwan? Do we protest then? No! Where are the marchers and the supporters? I will tell you where they are: Lowering their heads in humiliation while our race relations event seeking leaders are hopelessly attempting to shame the white man and make the white man the guilty party while failing to realize that we have shamed ourselves once again. Pathetic.

Calling all the supporters of Michael Vick who jumped on the ‘he is innocent until proven guilty bandwagon’ even after reading the evidence against him.

Did you come to the defense of Mr. Vick too soon? I am flabbergasted, but not lost for words of disappointment; and certainly willing to boldly and rightfully point the following out: I was hard pressed to find one white compassionate supporter of Scott Peterson after he was accused of killing his wife, Laci Peterson. I was hard pressed to find a white sympathetic supporter of Robert Blake, formerly known as Baretta, after he was accused of killing his wife. I am even harder pressed to find a white bleeding heart supporter of Phil Spector while he is on trial for killing his girlfriend. My point: We, black folk, have to stop impassionedly jumping to the defense of our brothers and sisters just because they are black. While I deeply appreciate this type of ‘unity’, and it is needed in some situations – I am disgusted with the way we implore our brotherhood allegiance and also disgusted when we, with heedless miscalculation, choose to extend a supportive hand and/or comment. Knee-jerking is always the wrong move.

Who will be with Michael Vick when he can’t get a contract to run up and down a football field next season? These ‘in his corner’ persons will be enjoying someone else running and passing that ball on Any Given Sunday. Michael Vick will be someone they ONCE cheered, conditionally loved, and wrongfully idolized. He will be alone like too many of the athletes who have left the game in disgrace. Remember, Pete Rose?

It is too bad Vick did not fully play the game of life with integrity, respect, and honor. And, this is NOT to say that I have. We all fall short. Redemption is not lost. Right? Nonetheless, it is pointed out because he like too many of us: Screwed-up a good thing to feel more machismo, and why is there a need to feel this way? Well, because he and countless others are too intellectually weak, spiritually lost, emotionally empty, and looted with a false sense of entitlement to stay away from image damaging foolishness.

Michael Vick goes down like thousands of black men in America: a victim of trusting homeboy. I would rather be taken down by that “system” we always conjure up as the reason for our demise: The Conspiracy Against the Black Man.

Tell me how I am wrong without calling me a trader, a sell-out, an Oreo, or another version of Armstrong Williams. PLEASE. I really want to be WRONG on this one!

Part of what you just read was selected to be in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on August 21, 2007. The link below will take you to the article.


Written by Muata. Inspired by life, and the lessons I have learned from blindly extending trust to “my boys”. Inspired by that one thing we usually resort to doing when all else fails: Praying. Mr. Michael Dwayne Vick and those of us like him need your prayers.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Secret is not a Secret

We should feel special and privileged when someone reveals something extremely personal to us. When a secret falls off the lips of a friend or an associate the person receiving the sensitive information becomes the revealer’s unsuspected conduit. Their storage house that is supposed to permanently contain the piece of news, but how often does that happen? I know for me when a homie tells me something juicy I have to tell someone. Just someone. One person. Nonetheless, when that precious secret is whispered in the ear of my so called friend (that One Person) it becomes one of those ‘promise you will not tell anyone’ fragments of gossip. This is what happens when a secret is unleashed from our souls: It spreads like wildfire.

The multi-million dollar best seller, The Secret, has definitely taken over the self-help revolution. From seminars to the small hardback, this phenomenon has captured the attention of people who have not taken the time to read a book in years. I find this unbelievable considering reading is one of the last mental exercises many Americans undertake. We would rather hear about it. Reading takes too much of the time we claim we do not have. Remember, we are in a dirty microwave culture these days. But, I guess having your book featured on Oprah leaves you with two guaranteed possibilities: You are going to sell tons of books and America will surely buy into Oprah’s seal of approval product. I wonder if she really understands the power she has. A power it appears many of us followers do not believe we possess.

Are we literally power deficient? Are Americans bankrupt? Bankrupt in the sense we cannot even realize that The Secret is nothing more than what most parents and teachers have told us time and time again - which makes The Secret not a secret. It is recycled verbiage used to help us understand that we are “POWERFUL BEYOND MEASURE”. Didn’t you get this message from a teacher by the name of Mr. Watson or Mr. Tucker? Any teacher? Perhaps you were not paying attention on the day the teacher shared The Secret-like knowledge with us. I will venture to say that most of you reading this exceedingly tardy critique received the message and got the point: ‘If you conspicuously radiate positive thoughts good things will happen.’

The Secret was a fantastic read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it - twice. I found myself reading it while driving. Reading it at Whole Foods. Reading it after hanging out. I know those Waffle House employees think I am crazy: intoxicated, eating grits, and reading Rhonda Byrne’s masterpiece. Not only was I reminded of what my 6th and 11th grade teachers (Watson & Tucker) drilled into my head, I was also reminded that humans are so weak, so flawed, and so desperate. Of course we are brilliant and talented, but we are frail and at times lost because of the world we have created. We are constantly searching for the next best thing to help us feel good about where we are in our lives. We can’t seem to shine like we are divinely summoned to. The spirit that illuminates within us can be manifested if only we would remember the secrets we have been told - and then ACT.

The bleached blonde-hair creator of The Secret does not stress ACTION. No, she and her ensemble of metaphysics instructors, authors, consultants, philosophers, businessmen, and motivational speakers aggressively command the readers to think in conformity with what the universe is trying to bring them. If the reader does something to the contrary he/she generates and attracts the opposite of what the atmosphere is attempting to present to them. Basically, this means that we are responsible for what is attracted to us. Working for it is an afterthought that doesn’t have to be put into action. Inconsequently, part of the secret I was told years ago included working for what you want. Envisioning it is fine, and I support that – however, not actively seeking your wants, dreams, hopes, and desires is a waste of time. No one; and let me repeat: No One has the ability to SEE oneself into a million dollar home. In this world, to get that home one must work. Thinking about acquiring it is useless, and it will not come into existence unless you are a beneficiary of unhealthy wealth.

Yes, useless. Almost as useless as the example one of the contributors interjects in the book regarding losing weight. According to this positive thinker, all we have to do is eliminate “fat thoughts”, and the law of attraction will some how shrink our bellies. Well, after reading this section of the book I almost threw it out the window. Thankfully, my commitment to finish all books that I start took over. I continued to read. Learning several things here and there, but constantly contemplating why this book is changing the landscape of self-help therapy. Then I thought about my not so positive opinions of human beings, and I also thought about myself: In the midst of the ugliness of this universe I need to create more pleasantness in my life. That’s all I needed to continue.

My continuation lead me to conduct additional research. In my investigation I came across this paraphrased quote: “Everything that surrounds you right now in your life, including the things you’re complaining about, you’ve attracted.” A talking head from The Secret ensemble said this on the Larry King Show. Some of you are probably thinking, ‘well, what he/she said makes sense.’ Does it, really? If your answer to my question is YES allow me to challenge you.

So, did the raped woman attract the rape? Do the starving kids in Africa attract their starvation? Did the latest kidnapped child attract the kidnapping? If your answer to all three questions is ‘No’ please be informed that according to Dr. Joe Vitale, a contributor for the book and film, you are incorrect. Flat out wrong. Surprisingly, he believes that all the innocent people mentioned in my challenging questions ATTRACTED the event just by being on the “same frequency” as the act/crime/brutality. Frequency? Even with this craziness I still finished the book. It was not solely because of the commitment I made years ago. I finished it because the book supports the changes I have recently made in my life.

The Law of Attraction can be dissected in many ways. Whatever way you decide to slice it please just remember that The Secret is NOT a secret. It has been around for years, and it is one of the most simplistic concepts ever shared with the world. So simple that too many of us have overlooked it with our arrogance and know-it-all mentalities.

Written by Muata. Inspired by the arrogance that kept me from picking up this book sooner.