Thursday, December 31, 2009
Many lives have been literally destroyed by the economic downturn and 10 percent unemployment rate. Actually, both have been impetus to the wreckage. Wreckage that eventually becomes our past. But, how do we move on from foreclosure, divorce, repossession, levies, and all the other consequences of America’s inevitable mess? How do we rectify our lives when the last year in a decade may not bring about meaningful employment, fair bank loans, better salaries, affordable health insurance, and rejuvenated spiritual faith? The questions are endless and answerless when there is so much uncertainty and a fading hope.
Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the holiday season. It is a reminder to have fun, enjoy life, and be thankful that my mother is still with us, alive. Without her I cannot imagine going on. Life for me will end. It would be over without Mary Catherine Scott. Believe me, when I say “over” I don’t mean that I will cease to exist. I am sure I will live on, with my mother’s spirit, in me. I am also sure that many more wrecks will occur as a result of her unavailable guidance.
A long lost friend rode home with me the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day. On the ride up we had a joyous time reminiscing about our lives growing up in Thomasville, North Carolina. The good times and the bad. The drama we caused for ourselves - and the unfortunate pain we caused for others.
It was an easy drive partly because we lost track of the minutes and miles. I am so thankful my lack of attention to Interstate 85 did not cause a wreck.
Wreck – What is the first thought you have when you read that word?
I envision and think of a car accident.
During the ride home Jonathan (not real name) talked about his adult life with such conviction. He is well aware of his mistakes, mishaps, and what affect they have had on his life. They have brought a unique - and appreciated humility. I found it intriguing that Jonathan has been through so much e.g. prison, homelessness, and unemployment. Despite all this wreckage he still generates such pleasantness just with his presence.
He had no idea that I was hanging onto every single word, phrase, and statement. I told him, “You are writing my year end commentary.”
In four and half hours I learned so much. I have been to two highly touted universities; and I must admit that one of the best professors I have had was Jonathan. He earned the best description without charging me $80,000. The outrageous cost of my ‘schooling’.
The ride was summed up with 5 words.
The Wreckage of Our Past
Our past will come back to haunt us. That is a fact. Your past is what you have to build a new you. It can be used as a cleansing and/or purification. Our past is littered with fender benders and total lost wrecks. It is our responsibility to drive carefully while on earth to avoid the wrecks. Yes, some are unpreventable – but the carefulness we implore can ease impacts.
As I prepared to drive back to Atlanta, Georgia with my favorite Professor I received a dreadful call from Jonathan. He was calling to inform me that his mother died. The second comment from him in between weeps was, “I am so thankful I had the opportunity to apologize to her for the pain my PAST caused. I was wrong then…and I made peace with her.”
Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by a ride I will NEVER forget. Thank you, Jonathan.
Happy Old Year!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Every decision we make is like an impromptu decision. Even when we think we have the plan all worked out. In place. Nice and tidy with no blemishes that WE can detect with our superficial inspection; life remains reflective of a split second decision; made-up on the whim. Fragile.
For those who do not believe this, I can guarantee that over the past 10-20 years you have asked yourself on several occasions in the privacy of your thoughts:
'What happen to my plan?'
You more than likely have concluded or began a moment of 'taking stock of my life' contemplation with the following:
'It was not supposed to be this way.'
Life is unpredictable. Uncontrolled. We need to stop trying to dominant and in many cases defeat it...and just live it. If we don't, we are nothing more than a slave to the conditional plans that may not become reality.
What's real is today.
Chose to live...not belabor.
Failure is an option when one knows what to do at the moment of the failure:
Laugh and Skip...I dare you!!!
Brian E. Payne
Thursday, December 17, 2009
It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Oh! Forgot about the Gifts: The most important aspect of Christmas for this commercialized day of remembrance and definitely the most regarded ‘gain’ for people who place importance on what they receive rather than what they give.
Giving is better than receiving. Right? Whatever. I would rather receive any day. But, since we try to adhere to the way we are suppose to be, unselfish, we put forth an effort to give. Some give more than others. I sincerely try to move away from the innate human characteristic, selfishness, daily. During the holidays too. Wait…forget that! It is Christmas! No need for me to be politically correct! During Christmas I expect not to get much. Just the way that I am. When I think about it, I cannot recall a gift that was that special to me anyway. Before those reading who have given me a gift get upset, let me elaborate.
The gifts received have been appreciated. However, the gifts over my 39 years have not been remarkably precious. Not gifts that I hold deathly dear. Groundbreaking or something that I cannot live without. With that mediocre ‘elaboration’, I have two questions:
Is there a gift that you can think of that means the world to you? Is there a gift that you can go to now, and say, ‘this gift is/was so adorable? It means the universe to me.’
Your response says a lot about you and the person who gave you the gift. It also speaks volumes about this ‘tradition’, and what we have made of it.
Perhaps, we will receive a meaningful gift if we ask someone to Please Come Home for Christmas. ‘Home’ does not have to be a physical place. It can also be bringing oneself back to the authentic base: emotionally and spiritually. Let’s help each other get or back here.
Brian E. Payne sharing. Let’s make Christmas merry and more gift memorable!
The Christmas Song by Nate King Cole
It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year by Johnny Mathis
Please Come Home for Christmas by Charles Brown
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
First, a friend shared the following quote with me:
“A man is only faithful as his options.”
What does that mean? Well, my take on it is if a man’s options (women) are abundant he is more prone to cheat or if a man’s options (women) are limited he is less likely to cheat. Now, how does that play out? Let’s use Atlanta as an example or any other major urban city:
More women than men dictates that a man will be more tempted to cheat. The options are too widespread for him to allow these ‘desperate’ women to run around untapped. Here is another example: If a man decides to limit his running of the streets (go home instead of going to Lucky Lounge) he somewhat limits his options of seeing or being prey for these ‘desperate’ women. Well, Publix is a dangerous place for non self controlled men. It is a skillful art to control the penis, and a day to day struggle!
Second, I decided to watch one of those celebrity news shows…again (I am hooked) – and it has been reported that Tiger may have had up to ten mistresses. Now, you tell me, what man can handle ten women? Who has the physical and mental stamina to mingle with ten ‘desperate’ women? Also, what idiot for a man believes he can manage all those menstrual personalities? Hell, one is enough! I want to believe that the latest money chasers, adulteress, and/or fame seekers are not legitimate mistress. If not, Tiger is more of an idiot (like most of us men who serial cheat or have serially cheated) than I thought.
He first became an idiot to me when he made a point to tell the world that he is not black – but I still respect the brotha…well, mixed Asian-Black guy, with all my heart! Haven’t these high profile black men learned that in the end the ONLY group that will stand with them is the same men and women Tiger denied?
By the way, there would not be a Cheetah if there were not a Jezebel…
A comparison to Jezebel (Tiger’s ten women) suggests that a female is a whore masquerading as a good girl, who by manipulation and/or seduction misleads men (idiots like Tiger and too many other men) into sins of sexual immorality (cheating); sending them to hell (destroying families).
I will not under any circumstances remove responsibility from men who cheat. However, to cheat it takes two. All these allegedly accommodating women had to know Tiger is married. Let’s address that instead of beating the same drum: Men Cheat. What about these trifling and DESPERATE women?
Brian E. Payne sharing…hoping for a response.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
In His Own Words:
Brian E. Payne sharing.
Friday, December 04, 2009
What I have seen and heard are tragic stories of reality. Have I handled learning of these events appropriately? No, I have not. But, what choice do I have when my DNA dictates that I stay connected to the pulse of the United States, South America, Europe, the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa? Should I deny my intellect and spirit of what it craves? Perhaps, I should considering where the news ‘leaves’ me.
This week has been a journalist’s candy store. He/she has had so much to choose from: The State Dinner Party Crashers, The Tiger Woods’ Personal Soap Opera, The Slaughter of Four Police Officers in Seattle, The Use of the First Authorized Embryonic Stem Cells, The White House Commitment of 30,000 Additional Military Service Men and Women for Afghanistan, and World AIDS Day. While I found most of the stories to be legitimate – but not news worthy, I was not surprised that Tiger’s car accident was the leading story for three days. This confirming my belief why TMZ and ET are so popular: Americans are pathetically engrossed in the lives of people who live in glamour. I was not surprised that Brian Williams closed Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News program with a brief South African AIDS awareness story; and I was definitely not surprised that commentators, bloggers, and radio talk show host leaked President Obama’s Justification speech (Afghanistan) eight hours before he lame duckishly delivered it to the world.
Afghanistan is where I remain. Stuck on this story! Unwilling to leave it!
As I prepared to write this commentary I asked myself a question. The question encouraged introspection…well, it did momentarily. After thinking on my question I determined that whatever I say in confliction or disagreement of the massive troop surge then evacuation I cannot escape the thoughts of the criticism that I am bound to receive. Since I am not one to shy away from what I believe and voicing it - I will conclude this commentary with that question:
Who does this war belong to now?
We know the answer…but many are not prepared to call a spade a spade. We are not ready to hold President Obama’s feet to the fire e.g. demand he stop sanctioning death sentences for America’s young for America’s Insecurity: fear of the deserved retribution. I wonder if he would hand over this death to
We know the answer to that question too…
Change We Can Believe In
Shared by Brian E. Payne.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Since Roger Goodell's arrival he has been on a mission to 'clean-up' the league. Some have not been appreciative of his efforts while others are thankful that someone has not played too many front office politics when it comes to the character of America's third best past time, football. Baseball still pulls at our patriotism and NASCAR, believe it or not, is the most watched sport in North America!
Professional football is not a sport that can be 409-ed. It is purposefully violent and unrelentingly poised for indecency. From the painful looking linebacker hits to the vile talk on the field there is not one element of this fanatically driven sport that leaves me with: 'Oh. What a sweet game.' There has never been sweetness:
Hard Hits Out on the Pee Wee Football Field « The Slanch Report
Football on all levels gives Pop Warner boys and draft-hopeful men the opportunity to freely act out their brutal physicality and unchecked machismo. As I typed that I had a vision of a cave man beating his chest in excitement from killing his week's dinner. Football players, particularly, Jack Lambert-types and including one offensive player, Hines Ward, are acting out their true rattlesnake natures. So when I hear that Goodell is "cleaning up the league" I question:
What can he tidy-up in a sport that requires its million dollar mules and end zone entertainers to behave like untamed mammals?
Bear strength coupled with cheetah speed and lion instinct is a ripe recipe that the NFL must have to appease its gladiator spectators.
Let's be honest, without the helmet to helmet hits and shit talking bravado the game would be boring for most Americans. We yearn to see the intellectual artist of the sport (the quarterback) helmet flying off and a good verbal back and forth that will hopeful encourage a left hook.
This is what America loves, violence. It is who we are, tamely crude animals. In this case, on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Thursday we have an opportunity to view what defines us for free. No pay for view and no all out brawl-like cage fighting: Ultimate Fighting. Who pays to watch this blood sport...anyway?
Professional football is in a peculiar situation. Will the leaders make way for what the fans want or will they really control the violence?
With Goodell as the commissioner I suspect that he will protect his investments. He is on a mission to get rid of the once upon a time TO's and silly Ocho Cinco's while ensuring his Roger Stabauch's of the game are protected.
I don't blame him: Clean House!
Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by the Terry Bradsaw of the 21st century, Drew Brees Pumps Up the Saints
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Of course I have empathy for any person who is a non-contributing victim of violence or any other affect that typically plagues America’s communities. What I cannot appear to accept any longer is the ongoing problems that black people complain about. Such as, black on black gun violence. Those of us who do express concerns usually do not live amongst those that continue to shame the black race. Well, what’s left to shame!
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence : Statistics Overview
It amazes me that the National Action Network has to (still) stage rallies that address an issue that has been analyzed, dissected, and re-analyzed for decades. Shouldn't we (black people) be past the self hatred killing of each other?
Rev Al Sharpton and NAN to Lead Emergency Day of Outrage Around ...
A colleague, a black man, asked a serious question in the presence of whites the other day:
I beg to differ.
A Brian E. Payne Expression
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Is health care a human right?
While thinking about the question…and my answer (H*ll no!) I decided to look for a human right definition. Here is what I found. It actually mirrors my understanding of what so many people around the world lack. Including the United States!
The basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law.
Health care, TANF, Welfare, and other social services are not mentioned.
This definition also got me to thinking about “the right to life”. What does that really mean when life is snuffed out so freely? When a child’s life is of no importance? Not valued?
N.C. Police Charge Mother in Missing Girl Case - Local News News ...
“Right to life is a phrase that describes the belief that a human being has an essential right to live, particularly that a human being has the right not to be killed by another human being.”
If you are wondering where I am going with this, note that I used the word “wanted” in the first paragraph. First sentence.
I can answer all the Sunday school questions related to ‘life’. Who is the giver of life? God. Who is in control of life/humanity? God. Both questions are predictably answered with God. You can read that…You probably have an identical answer.
God in all his useless magnified glory and reverence is the giver of human rights. He provides us with initial freedom and liberty. So says the Sunday school teacher! But, where is His protection after ‘injecting us’ (we did not ask to become terminal creatures) into His fragile and now doomed world?
As an agnostic believing adult, I must admit that I do not require God’s protection. However, my expectation for a child’s protection is paramount! With this understandable expectation, we must acknowledge that security for our children is absent. The news story above is only one justification for my belief.
God is missing. Unavailable when a child or any innocent man/woman is brutalized by one of His creations? Think about it. God created the very being that takes life?
Many of you who have been with me on this spiritual and theological journey may be asking, ‘Why does Brian emotionally torture himself with this? Why can’t he just accept that God’s job was completed on that seventh day?’ So says the Sunday School Teacher!
I can’t get there. To that understanding: Intellectual Dead end…when we need the essence of our human rights preserved:
The Right to Life
We do not have a ‘right’ to life/live when life is drastically vulnerable. Easily taken away from our future, children. Not sure why I require so much explanation considering God, Himself, sanctioned the murder of The First Born…So says the Sunday school teacher!
As we think about if we deserve an expensive service, health care, as an entitlement please think with me:
Why did God create us if He knew we would face evil and unpreventable atrocities?
There is no purpose in this that I can obtain from a Sunday school teacher. Well, there may be ‘something/somebody’ responsible, The Elusive Devil, is at work again:
“We don’t know what happened – but we know the devil did this.”
I guess I will do what I and others have always done: Seek God…and Blame the Devil. We definitely ain't shaming him. Satan in full control!
I am done for now...
Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by a victim of God’s inaction, Shaniya Davis.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The ‘girl’ horse showed those ‘boys’. Was the horse responsible for the strategy used to win?
First Clip: Fundamentally sound football tackle - and definitely clean. Considering the behavior in the Second Clip, I am wondering what Spikes said to Moreno after the ‘clean’ hit? How do we, parents/mentors/uncles/aunts, explain the behavior in the Second Clip; and the punishment to our children? Only suspended for one game?
This is a necessary opportunity to teach football little leaguers that leaving your feet while running is DANGEROUS.
As we continue…
Washington Redskins vs. Atlanta Falcons
As the old saying goes, 'the church is no different from world.' It was solidified years ago that sports will be a reflection of the world...with all its nastiness.
Behavior punished then rewarded. He gets to play again...?
Let's not forget how Tommie Harris (Chicago Bears) punched a player this past Sunday.
Let's not forget how Ochocinco attempted to give a referee a dollar this past Sunday...to get a replay call to go his way. Then he used the word bribe in the post game interview. Dumb!
Just wanted to share with you what ‘stood out’ for me already in the month of November in the World Wild World of Sports.
Brian E. Payne
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
How do we, as a nation, answer the following question that a 5th grader asked President Obama while he was pandering to get elected?
"Why is education being cut if America really cares about the future of its youth?"
This young lady is onto something. Right?
We have seasoned teachers being forced into retirement, furloughed, and pay cuts occurring routinely throughout the United States. We also have superintendents communicating the 'don't be too comfortable' in your job security to teachers.
"Unless Georgia’s revenue picture rebounds dramatically in the coming weeks, I would anticipate next year’s State funding of public education may be even less than this year’s...My best advice is to be extremely cautious in your personal budget decisions. You have my promise that I will do everything I can, in concert with the School Board, to minimize the impact of any additional State funding reductions on our valued employees." -A Georgia school system superintendent
The greatest asset to mankind is his ability to be educated.
And yet, this nation allows a downturn in the economy to affect something that should be sacred.
As you are reading, there is some talk about the Atlanta Falcons building a new stadium. Guess who Arthur Blank, wealthy investors, and some state leaders want to help foot the bill?
The tax payers.
I would rather my taxes be increased to keep a good teacher from getting a termination letter.
Where are our priorities?
Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by another night awake thinking about the State of America.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
So much for home!
Could not sleep...haven't in 2 days. Something's wrong. Yes it is. I am so disappointed in what we have become.
I wonder if the attached photo image ‘inspired’ the rape?
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Play on Words: Praise, Good, Mercy, and Help
Two weeks ago I had a long and tiresome email discussion with two women who are Born Again. Yeah, Born Again. What does that mean, by the way? I thought one can be born only once…Guess I am not into the religious terminology minutia. I should be, I did spend three years ‘mastering’ my intelligence in seminary. The interestingly surprising – but pleasant reality about my time while at seminary: the professors did not spend useless time on the religiosity and semantics that typically dilute spiritually and theology. Praise God!
is a saying that most of us articulate when we are pleased and/or relieved e.g. she’s not pregnant, Praise God! ‘Oh, God’ is another signature expression…typically during sex. Would you agree? Actually, there are countless religious phrases we blurt when we are positively or negatively affected by a major life event or minor situation.
When we say, ‘Lord Have Mercy’, I am of the belief that we are implying that we are possibly astonished, seeking grace, or in disbelief. If we take a deeper look at the statement it is a request. We are asking God to have mercy thus implying that people are of the understanding that God is the Mercy Giver. Also, indicating that without this divine mercy we cannot rectify situations without His assistance which also means we believe God is significantly involved in our lives.
Through His ‘graceful involvement’ we are encouraged to believe and say in unison,
Good is God
With what we boldly, intelligently, and ignorantly claim to know about God, do we really believe that our behavior is in need of mercy?
If that is the case, we are well aware that some behaviors are inappropriate – and then we go and act in ways that leave us and others repeatedly saying,
Lord Have Mercy
Giving evidence that we are not learning, and leaving me to conclude with another sincere request:
God Help Us
Written by Muata. Inspired by the two Born Again Holy Rollers.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Prayer is what it's going to take…
Let's keep this going!
Is this prayer supose to be heard by God? Is it effective? -Muata
Friday, October 09, 2009
The beauty of the photo captured and sustained my attention for what felt like marathon minutes. Minutes that kept me emotionally captivated. Intrigued. Proud, and erratically turned on.
Desiree Rogers is enough for any man to become 'imbalanced' - and later discovering as I turned the pages to 106 that Ms. Rogers is 50 years old intensely pulsated my interest. I swear I would have guessed 30. Not a number more!
As the countless sets of sixty seconds passed my elation for the 16 black women (9 proudly displaying no wedding bands) unfortunately turned to disappointment. As I tried to stay in the joyful moment I wa s pulled to what is real for me, as a black man:
The black man is no longer the character of interest. He is a void. A forgotten creature searching for a new place.
Our dark skin day in the sun has passed (yellow brothers hay day been gone). Black women are now of importance while black men have been regulated to a 'thing' of the past. Funny, I rarely use the word 'thing' in my writings. I have learned the word, 'thing', is empty. It is a weak term that does not give a meaningful description. It is a word used when the writer's vocabulary becomes limited.
Perhaps, the black man has limited himself in some ways? Perhaps, he stopped reaching for the stars? Perhaps, he has given up in this battle to remain relevant?
I am not sure - but the somber feelings I had as I stared at President Obama's women helped me, with trepidation, confirm that the most feared and once revered human being on earth has become irrelevant.
Where is America's black man? What happen to his strength? How did his rising dominance diminish to a saggin pants and white t-shirt wearing never-ending fade?
I can say that the white push to criminalize him. Jail him. Kill him - has been successful. What that justification ultimately does, however, is remove all the responsibility that we have, as a brothers, to be on pages 102 and 103.
Is that it? Has America's sista's taken a more responsible approach to be in the forefront? Are they making all the right moves or are they less intimidating?
Intimidation is perceived and functions in various ways. One way that it has worked is that black men are intimidating when they are taking legitimate steps to unify the black family e.g. to be good fathers and accountable husbands. We are no longer sufficiently doing that to be seriously impactful. And, not to take away from the successes of black men: We are the majority in the NFL and NBA. Hooray!
We must admit that we are too busy in the candy store anxiously picking and choosing which tasteful black woman we are going to select from the 10 to 1 ratios while black women are beyond us: Professionally and Personally.
They are getting the jobs black men once got; and they soon will look pass us and become the bride/woman of the Caucasian/Asian/Latino men they work with at The White House and at corporations. This, supporting what I have always known would happen as long as we (black men) continue to marginalize ourselves:
The Dilution of the Black Family
What can we voice happened without pointing the finger?
Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by those beautiful black women in October's Essence magazine.
Stay tuned for The Shadow's latest installment (next week):
Choices: "The Black Woman is No Longer One for Me"
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Derrius Quarles leans back in his seat and methodically debates Aristotle's theory of truth during freshman honors English class at Morehouse College. He strides across campus in a navy blue tailored suit and a bold red sweater handing out business cards that boast "Student/Entrepreneur/Leader."But behind the 19-year-old's dauntless appearance is a past that few on campus know.
When Quarles was 5, the state took him away from his mother. He spent his childhood bouncing from home to home before ending up on his own at 17 in an apartment on Chicago's South Side. His arrival at a prestigious, historically African-American college -- with more than $1 million in scholarship offers -- is a story of inspiration and anguish. And it's a testament to his determination to prove that he is better than his beginnings."You can't go around thinking you are inferior just because you didn't have parents," he says. "For me, it's about knowing where you are from and accepting it, but more important, knowing where you are going." Despite his polished veneer, sometimes there are glimpses into a more complicated young man.In sociology class, when students discuss their childhood dependence on parents, the usually verbose Quarles withdraws from the lively discussion and doodles in a notebook. When a tutoring coordinator asks students about the "caring adults" in their lives, Quarles mumbles something about an aunt. He rarely talks about his childhood, but when pushed, the words tumble out. "I've had people tell me that I ain't never gonna be s---. That's not a scratch, that cuts deep," he says. "After so many people put me down, I said, 'I'm gonna show you.'
"Quarles made good on that=2 0promise when he won more than $1 million in scholarship offers, including a full ride at Morehouse. A graduate of Kenwood Academy High School in Chicago, he is one of about a dozen students nationwide to garner such a bounty, according to Mark Kantrowitz, who runs the Web site Finaid, which tracks college aid. He won full scholarships to five universities, the Gates Millennium Scholarship worth $160,000 and the Horatio Alger and Coca-Cola scholarships, each worth $20,000, to name a few. He'll use most of it to pay for advanced schooling. Now, Quarles hopes to weave a new family narrative at an all-male college known as much for molding brotherhood as for molding scholars. He is searching for a band of brothers who will not abandon him, as so many others have in the past.
When Quarles was 4, his father was stabbed to death with a pocketknife in a fight on a vacant lot. His mother struggled with drugs. Quarles doesn't remember much about those years, outside of being left alone with his brother for long stretches of time, pilfering bread and snacks from a convenience store. "We had to fend for ourselves the best we knew how," he says. "My brother really stepped up as an older brother . He never left my side. "This connection to his brother was a sustaining one. But it would not last.
When Quarles was 5, officials placed him and his brother in a temporary foster home, then with an aunt. Quarles remembers this as a period of calm. He learned to read sitting in his aunt's lap, paging through her favorite Bible passages. He recalls eating around the dinner table with more food than he ever imagined. But when Quarles was 13, his older brother was removed from the home and placed in a foster home in Maywood. Quarles wanted to go with his brother and his aunt let him. State records simply show she was not interested in becoming his legal guardian. Quarles says he is not certain why his aunt let him leave and he would not provide her name. "I'm content not to know," he says. "I'm sure it was a good reason." Quarles' brother left the foster home a few months later, one of the toughest losses of Quarles' life. "That's when I learned you can't trust people to stay around," he says. "That when I learned to lean on me."
Three years later, Quarles was placed with his grandmother and an aunt in Chicago. But within a year, he convinced officials with the Department of Children and Family Services that he would be better off on his own. The high school junior packed his clothes, books and a set of golf clubs and moved to an apartment as part of a state transitional living program for foster children. There, he learned to budget his money, wash and dry his clothes, shop for groceries and cook. He received a small stipend and got a part-time job at a barbershop.
At 17, he was living like an adult.Desmond Kemp, who became a mentor to Quarles -- a brother, really -- when they met at a tutoring program, initially opposed the move. But Kemp was impressed with how Quarles kept up the apartment and budgeted his money with such precision that he always had enough for fashionable clothes and textbooks. He was awed when he took Quarles to the grocery store and the teenager shunned the snack aisles and headed to the fresh fruits and vegetables."He kept saying, 'This is brain food. This is what I need to eat to build a strong brain,' “Kemp recalls.” I had to laugh but also stared in amazement at how mature he was for a teenager."Even though his home life was sometimes chaotic, Quarles brought home A's and B's in elementary school. That changed when h e entered Kenwood Academy. First quarter of freshman year, he got an F and eked out only a 2.5 grade point average.
Providence intervened in the form of a pushy biology teacher. Quarles had enrolled in a summer biology course but skipped the first day and was late for the second. Teacher Nivedita Nutakki pulled him into the hallway and told him he was wasting his talent."He needed a push and some encouragement," she says. "I spotted right away that this was a special kid who had a special mind."Quarles got an A in the class. Sophomore year, he earned a 3.6 grade point average. By junior year, he was carrying three advanced placement classes and earning straight A's."Initially, I was doing it to show my biology teacher that I could do it," he says. "But then it kind of moved into, 'I didn't have to show her anymore.' I was doing it to show myself." Quarles latched on to Nutakki and spent hours after school with her, engrossed in a subject that inspired him to want to be a doctor.
He found other mentors who, together, played the role of parent.Lynda Parker, a Kenwood counselor, recounts how aggressively Quarles pursued college scholarships. He would stay late to use the school computer for research and pester Parker to complete his recommendation letters. "With teenagers, the biggest motivator is the parent," Parker says. "Every step of the way, you have to contact the parents so they can push the kids. Not only did Derrius not have a parent to push him, he was pushing himself as hard, or harder, than parents of the other kids."Even his oversize ambition couldn't get Quarles past one roadblock. He dreamed of attending Harvard, until one college adviser told him his 28 ACT score was simply not high enough. He abandoned his plans.
At a crossroads
Now, as he walks the red clay hills of the Morehouse campus, the training ground of Martin Luther King Jr., Quarles seems poised between who he was and who he wants to be. His dorm room looks like every other teenager's. The bed is mussed, the refrigerator and shelves are stacked with Doritos and Coke, and the focus of the room is the 32-inch flat-screen TV and Xbox he bought with his roommate. But inside Quarles' closet hang four suits and a half-dozen wrinkle-free dress shirts. In the corner sits an iron and ironing board. As a high school senior, Quarles Googled tips on business attire. Now, his belt color always matches his shoes, and his shirt sleeves are tailored to fall exactly halfway across his watch. "How you dress says something to the world about who you think you are," he explains.
Quarles' counselors, friends and teachers worry he is too eager to grow up."I keep telling him that everyone has a right to live as a child during their childhood years," Parker says.Still, Quarles keeps an ambitious list of goals: graduate from medical school, earn a doctorate, start a tutoring program for low-income Chicago students, help shape the city's public health policy, become the U.S. surgeon general. "I have no time to play around," he says. "There are people back home in Chicago starving, homeless, unemployed, killing each other. There is a difference between enjoying life and wasting time, and I can't waste any time. "I want to make a difference. I want to show people that I can be all those things people said I could never be."
Quarles now has the means to pay for his education. And oversize optimism could get him the rest of the way. During a training session for a Morehouse tutoring program one day, students introduce themselves and list three songs on their iPod -- typically Kanye West, Beyonce, Jay-Z and Lou Rawls.When his turn comes, Quarles stands."Have you ever seen the movie 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'?" he asks, prompting raised eyebrows. "There's a song in there called 'Pure Imagination.' That's what I'm listening to these days."Quarles later explains that the lyrics inspire him: "Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world? There's nothing to it." "It's so powerful," he says. "It shows the power of imagination. If you imagine it, you can do it."
By Stephanie Banchero, Chicago Tribune Reporter
Friday, September 25, 2009
Suspect in terror probe admits ties to al Qaeda, official says ...
My only concern is that the Obama Administration may be diluting what has been effective. Of course, their position of violating human rights is a valid one. Human rights should be protected and honored. No beef from me on this. However, this ‘we will not torture under any circumstances’ got me to thinking.
Pretend with me:
One of these men (confessed al Qaeda members) who recently lied to the government about classified details is withholding information that can stop an imminent terrorist attack (there is evidence that this part is true). The plans for the attack are widespread and will kill thousands. Possibly some of your family members are in harms way. As the person in charge of obtaining factual info from these overzealous Islamic maniacs to stop the mass murder, do you sleep deprive them, water board, put insects in their cells, turn up the air condition, threaten to cut off their genitals, pull on their eyelids…Okay, you get it:
Would you torture these men to get the information?
President Obama and the White House have taken over interrogations of this caliber e.g. suspected terrorism. Basically, they have exerted their power to oversee indicating that they do not trust the men and women that they appointed i.e. Eric Holder. This in itself has me concerned because The White House is adamant about not torturing. Weak…
One thing about Bush and Cheney, when the American people asked for blood they went and got it. Not saying all their actions were right. I surely disagreed on the Iraq invasion that became an undercover occupation and oil control mission. But, I must say that I knew as a citizen of this country after the act of war in New York, the District of Columbia, and in the skies over Pennsylvania (this country deserves all the pay back it receives) that I did not have to worry about if the cowboys in office were going to display weakness.
If I were a terrorist I would not be too afraid to get caught. Although, that is not the objective. I would have some comfort in knowing that no one is going to burn me with a cigarette.
Written by Brian E. Payne.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
When my grandmother told me that at the age of 13 I stopped in my tracks. I did not question her. We could not do that, of course, anyway – but I did secretly wonder if she was right and/or would be right one day.
After living this life as a BLACK man for almost 40 years I have aggressively, some say militantly, bounced back and forth with my thought processes regarding race in America. No matter where I have traveled for work all around the world (except Africa) I was reminded that America’s problems to some degree go back to its horrendously corrupt and brutal foundation. I was also reminded that being a Black American is a huge responsibility (Notice ‘black’ before American? I am black before anything else in the United States.) One day you are saying to yourself, ‘No, it is not about race.’ The next day you are thinking to yourself, ‘Now, dang it – it is about race.’ The ‘its’ could be any occurrence that reminds us (black people) that we are of darker skin and the fact that living in North America has and will continue to be a racial struggle for black people no matter who becomes president of this Union.
Many times I did what countless black people (non-ruffling of white feathers black folk) suggested I do: “Don’t always think that it is about race. Move on. Transcend race.” White people have conveniently told me this in some capacity too; and I listened.
Because I wanted to be viewed as someone who is/was not hung-up on race. Not identified as a Race Baiter with a Race Card (http://jasonjeffrey.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/racecard.jpg). I can say now, that taking this thought to be helpful advice was somewhat of a mistake. Not intellectually harmful – but an emotional mistake. My mind each and every time should have calmly reverted back to my grandmother’s message:
Black, White, and Green.
It is unfortunate that many of us black people ‘sing and dance’ to the tune of what some white people think and believe. Some white people believe that we are imbeciles. Others believe that we are God’s creation…too. Their thought patterns that later become ‘valued’ opinions have been sanctioned by black people. Taken to be The Word.
So, when Jimmy Carter (a man raised by black woman) says that racism plays a major role in the opposition and antagonism President Obama is receiving, black people have once again bounced back to the following:
It is about race.
Carter: Racism plays major role in opposition to Obama - CNN.com
Over the past two weeks, I have made it my mission to sit and chat with random white folk just to conduct an assessment on this race issue: Our President is Black. What I discovered was interesting. Many white folk communicated to me the following.
‘I wish some of us white people would get over it. Our president is black. We need to just accept it and respect the man.’
Once again, this was my cue to definitely bounce back.
I, with embarrassment, thank these white people for giving me and other black folk the okay to acknowledge that
It is about race.
We still Singing and Dancing!
Written by Brian E. Payne.
Friday, September 11, 2009
The majority of the black men that I associate with are Obama supports. Some are actually Obama-mania supporters. I support him along the lines of the character that I have been able to glean from his life story and numerous (sometimes unnecessary) speeches. As a politician, he is NO different than the Capitol Hill talking heads.
My criticism of the president stems from my conservative mindset, values, and disdain for the United States government. He is a liberal with socialistic tendencies. I was not raised to accept liberalism wholesale; and I have always been told that I need to work for what I need and want and do not expect any handouts. Some socialism tenets are a handouts…let’s stop denying that!
To be quite frank, MOST black people are conservative. Some ultra conservative. Isn’t that interesting, conservative but Democrats? Is that an oxymoron?
Blacks are for the MOST part unacceptable of homosexual behavior as a result of what the Bible and Church says (this is where the condemnation of a gay lifestyle began), anti-abortion, anti-immigration ("Mexicans come over here and take the jobs."), separatist (prefer to live among each other), unacknowledged and uncommitted racist (what do you expect we have been treated like crap by an overly oppressive RACIST system), and ridiculously religious (this one has completely destroyed our common sense). All contradictory to where President Obama stands!
Now, yes President Obama is a black man. That is obvious – or is it? LOL! His half African-ness does not mean that black men will support his policy. Should we just because he has some black blood running through his veins? I certainly don’t. Also, when I think about this question without my commentary mind, I am reminded that many of us black men are insecure (a designed/planned outcome by Mr. White Man). Insecurity is a byproduct of self-hatred. For some of us, seeing President Obama conjures feelings of hate: If ya hate the skin you are in - you are bound to hate those in identical skin. You have to understand: when there is a black man killed the killer 86% of the time is/was black. That is self-hatred at its BEST.
I will offer up one last reason from my mind:
President Obama may remind some black men of a preacher with his emotionally driven speeches (euphoric). Countless black men are not too fond of black preachers. Why? A friend of mine gave me a justification one day:
“I don’t respect a lot of black preachers because I am not fooled by the religious rhetoric. I can see past the fluff of Christianity. These preachers are no different than me. Plagued with issue after issue. And yet, he is up in a pulpit telling me how I should live. Damn that!”
I will stop here.
Some will find my response EXTREMELY full of generalities. However, I am a black man. I don’t speak for all – but my response comes from not just me. It comes from the sentiments of black men I communicate with in commentary/dialogue from all across the nation and even in the Caribbean. Just my take...
Being a Black Man (washingtonpost.com)
Brian E. Payne
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Since President Obama has become president of the United States I have been concerned about the level of blatant disrespect that has been directed at him. Even more surprised by the disrespect certain individuals have for the Presidential Institution. The Office. I was also alarmed by the disrespectful discontent President Bush received in the form of animated pictures, video clips, and with an entire movie.
Kids will blurt random epithets out when they are frustrated and/or mad. Disappointed. I recall mumbling harsh words at my mother when she disciplined me. This act alone would reinstitute another butt whipping. She never heard my words - but the mumble was enough to disrespect her.
Yelling, "You lie" would have gotten me killed.
Joe Wilson, the congressman from South Carolina, has apologized. The President has accepted the apology. Now what?
Should we continue on like the vile comment was not made? Should Joe be reprimanded? Should The Left step-up?
Of course, I cannot move on as if nothing occurred. Thus the reason I am expressing myself in MS Word today. Yes, Mr. Wilson needs a harsh talking to or some level of punishment. And, those on The Left/The Democrats should respond. The response should not be a playground response. Nope. What the voters and supporters of President Obama need to do is speak out. Make their voices known and heard.
As I travel to work or to a coffee shop each and every day all I hear on the radio are steaming mad
over-the- top conservative talk radio hosts, ignorant RIGHT WING callers, and numerous men and women who are dedicated to the Republican Party. Loyal Americans.
I have always believed that the Democrats are weak. Pansies! Unable to 'be there' for their elected officials. Unlike the Republicans, for sure! The GOP followers are dedicated to the PARTY. Not the man. Loyal to what makes up the elephant symbol. These Americans will die for what they believe in. While the Donkeys sit back and do nothing. Basically, hide from confrontation. Flee when times get tough. Punk-out when their President gets disrespected.
Why do Democrats function this way?
They are fickle. Easy to sway. Emotionally driven to 'get happy' during a speech. Incapable of organizing after the victory, winning the presidency.
I left the Democrat Party years ago for various reasons: Too Liberal for my values and I stopped being fooled by their ‘dedication’ to Black issues. I also left because I could not have my name next to what they represent:
Where ya at, Democrats? Your president is all alone. By himself. Fighting for you while you are preoccupied: wondering if an illegal immigrant will get health insurance coverage. Please let Joe Wilson worry about that.
Written by Brian E. Payne.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Van Jones, a self described black nationalist is the most recent man, that America knows about, who has been exiled from his czar post as a result of our President’s persistence to maintain his political capital and cleanout his closet.
Is the Van Jones saga a turning point for Barack Obama?
Just by reading a few articles with Mr. Jones as the center of the commentary it was relatively easy for me to determine Van could be a ‘political liability’ for anyone in public office. If I, a man with a little intelligence, could make that determination - why couldn’t President Obama and his group of background checkers?
There are two reasons this slap in Van’s face has occurred.
Capitol Hill Arrogance:
Our president has become like his predecessor in that he may actually believe that the American people are clueless and do not pay attention to what occurs on The Hill. In this case, he for some arrogant reasoning thought that The Right would not find out about Mr. Jones. Now, please keep in mind that Van Jones has been connected to Marxist thought, communism in the so called Third World, and he has been an outspoken bullhorn for human rights. To add a career ending notation to his resume, Jones signed a petition that accuses the United States government of allowing the travesty of September 11, 2001 to occur. All eyebrow raisers for ultra conservatives. Mr. Van Jones was doomed from the beginning of his tenure with President Obama’s administration considering people like Glenn Beck is encouraging and inciting an all out ‘investigation’ of Barack’s associations. Lessons learned from Glenn Beck's media scalping of Van Jones
When it gets too hot in the kitchen, our President runs for the comforts of air conditioning. He disses those who have the same ideology: Black Radicalism. I wonder if he is prepared to divorce his once afro wearing wife. We (conservatives) may not be ready to accept it – but Barack Obama is radical. A man who has pushed the limits and who will continue to do so until he is stopped. He and Van are cut from the same fabric. Two men prepared to give their all for the cause. However, Mr. Obama is not like the Patrice Lumumba’s of the world: willing to remain loyal to those who have either helped him or those who are prepared to be maligned by the media all in his/her LOYALTY to the President. Barack Obama has proven that he cannot stand with us purposeful agitators when the pressure gets to a boiling point which prompts me to believe that he will not STAND with the common/everyday man and woman who voted for him when they need him to. He will be too busy protecting his political capital. Reputation…
What happened to the new politics that we were promised? Those politics will ruin you on The Hill. President Obama understands that. Unfortunately, our president has become what genuine-hearted men and women of The Right and The Left become:
Protectors of the Status Quo.
Rendering him without a real home. Soulfully homeless. No real place to sleep without guilt. In the end, the homeless man I exchanged words with on Labor Day 2009 will not be void of integrity. Defeated by politics. He has somewhere to sleep. Thankfully, it is NOT in the White House.
Degenerate - a person who has declined, as in morals or character, from a type or standard considered normal.
Written by Brian E. Payne.
Friday, September 04, 2009
That is totally opposite from what we were told in kindergarten. I am aware of that.
Over the years, I have tried to be fair and non recklessly judgmental. However, I am only human. “I am only human.” Isn’t it ironic that we typically hear this when someone is on the verge of doing something wrong/immoral? Isn’t it interesting that, “I am only human”, is prefaced during those times when we feel insecure? Isn’t it interesting that we present this to clarify why we “sinned”. Isn’t it revealing that we use this overplayed justification when we want to say or do something that mirrors our true feelings? Feelings that are usually hurtful/damaging to someone’s self concept or ego?
The use of the word ‘only’ within this declaration indicates to me that we, humans, understand ourselves to be limited. Somewhat defected or of lesser stature. Lower on the mammal chart: Are four legged creatures smarter? Wiser? Better decision-makers? Kinder?
Kindness is a personality output that I attempt to project into the universe both in my personal and professional life. Unfortunately, the make-up of my job prevents me from being as kind as I would like to be. I have to tell people ‘No’ more often than I would like, and in some cases my ‘No’ is communicated because an individual is too aggressive, limited in their education, and believe it not because he/she is significantly overweight.
I cannot imagine how it feels to be humiliated because of ‘fatness’. I cannot imagine what it feels like to be out of breath all the time. I cannot imagine having to sit in seats that are too small. I cannot imagine having to give the convenient and mischaracterized “my overactive thyroid” excuse for weight gain all the time. I cannot imagine being told ‘No’ because of obesity. These realities are in fact daily occurrences for ‘fat people’.
How they got to this place of obesity is never compassionately considered. Us, slim and in shape people really do not give a damn. We don’t. We just see these pathetic donut eaters as people who have no self control or the unfortunate beneficiary of the fat gene. We don’t take into consideration that their weight may be connected to psychological trauma. I, myself, have been known to temporarily soothe my emotional scars with food. Fortunately, the eating of a cheeseburger and fries at 11:00PM does not end-up as a disgusting bulge in my midsection. High metabolism, a dedication to working out for health reasons (high cholesterol and hypertension – THANKS to my unhealthy father), and a legitimate fear of getting fat does it for me. But, I have gained a few pounds in my old age. I am not the owner of a tight six pack anymore!
What I do wish I was the owner of at times are blinders. I wholeheartedly wish that I did not see the people I interview for employment. Here is why.
This past week I sat down with a young lady to talk with her about her work experience and her motivation for applying for the job I identified as a good fit for her via her resume. When I stepped out of my office to look for her I was amazed to find a woman who is about 5 feet 4 inches and weighing about 400 pounds. I was not surprised that she could barely get out of the chair as I approached her. I was not surprised that she struggled to take each step as she walked toward my small office. I was not surprised that she had to literally wrestle and tug to get in the seat I had available for her. I was not surprised that my mind had issued a ‘No’ before she articulated to me, in response to my question of her well-being, “I am tired.” What a way to start an interview for employment: “I am tired.”
I was tired too at that moment. Tired of being: Only human. And, tired of saying ‘No’ to another desperate job seeker.
My decision to issue a ‘No’ to this woman was not formed as a result of how she responded to my plethora of interview questions. I must admit, however, that even with her obesity she is not a ‘good fit’ for my program. That realization was a gift for me considering I did not want to face the dilemma of having a dynamic candidate with me having an Only Human mindset. My ‘No’ decision was rooted in what many of us become over time: Only Human. We cannot help it. This is what we are: Only Human. Full of prejudices and discriminations. And, sadly, pre-judgments.
People are People. I am who I am. A recycled product: Made in America.
This ‘No’ was sealed in my mind when I noticed that she was among America’s obese. I apologize for being American!
According to a study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, Between 15 percent and 30 percent also said they would rather walk away from their marriage, give up the possibility of having children, be depressed, or become an alcoholic rather than be obese. http://obesityfacts.com.au/?p=176
Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by that flame-broiled double cheeseburger that Burger King has for one dollar.
TIME Magazine: America's Obesity Crisis
Thursday, September 03, 2009
In his persistence not only did he increase his wealth he introduced gourmet coffee to urban areas: the hood and siddity land i.e. Cascade, Atlanta. He has other ventures that encourage and promote black financial empowerment and employment too i.e. movie theatres (Largo, Maryland). But, his efforts have not produced much financial capital for those identified.
I should not be too disappointed. Collective black wealth building is a concept that has been forgotten by most black folk. We (ME INCLUDED) too busy making someone else rich while THEY continuously disrespect and exploit us (we allow it).
How many of you black women still going to the Asians to get ya nails done? How many of us fellas purchasing our 22 ounces at the Around Da Corner Stop and Shop (owned by an Asian)?
I am almost certain that those two questions do not apply to us Progressive black folk. Right? It does apply to the black man/woman in locales The Progressives rarely visit, however.
I will humbly disclose that I had the unpleasant financial opportunity to dwell amongst the ‘forgotten’ when I returned from serving with the Peace Corps: I frequented Pay Day Loan establishments to make ends meet.
Just waiting on Earvin to invest in this leech for a business alternative.
“Our integrated for and non-profit efforts create a unique and comprehensive offering. As a minority owned and operated brand, we are in the unique position of understanding these valuable communities, have long-standing relationships with them, and continue to be motivated to serve them in order to increase the quality of life for these vibrant, yet often neglected, neighborhoods.” –Magic Johnson Enterprises http://www.magicjohnson.com/index.php
If Magic is so dedicated to increasing wealth and financial literacy, which equates to quality of life, within the “neglected” communities, why in the h*ll is he the pitchman for Rent-A-Center? Why is he pushing black people to get their "taxes done" at Jackson-Hewitt over urban radio airwaves?
Rent-A-Center: Exorbitantly overpriced and keeps its customers in debt with their high finance charges. I know their MO, when I was a teenager my family’s frig was repossessed by them.
Jackson-Hewitt: Charges ridiculous fees to complete tax returns and encourages a 'spend ya loot now mentality'. These resemblances of liquor stores (quick fixes) are on every corner in black and brown environments.
We have a responsibility when we know better. Earvin Magic Johnson knows better. I know better. You reading know better.
This crap has to end.
If you know someone who has a low to moderate annual income please recommend the VITA program:
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.
Free Tax Return Preparation For You by Volunteers
If you know someone who needs appliances and/or furniture please recommend that they visit the local Goodwill store:
Locate a Goodwill® Store
Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by: The Great and Wondrous Dr. J:
Julius Erving Interview -- Academy of Achievement