- Food for Thought #6 – Occupy a New Territory
I know I had mentioned in my Thanksgiving Weekend post that I was going to be going on hiatus as of this week. But the blog kind of derailed in that I wrote an unintended post about suicide, and I was not inspired enough to talk about the last few topics that I had on my topic list. As such, I did not want to end the year on a sad note; So I decided that I am going to share a modified version of an excerpt from my prayer journal. One of the things that I came to realize after publishing “Don’t Jump” is that blogging is a very intimate form of media. As I grow, this blog is going to grow with me, as will the subject matter. I do not want to limit what I share here, but that also means that for this blog to retain its essence, I have to share various areas of my life. This food for thought is me doing just that, allowing my readers to see another aspect of myself, in the hopes that after reading this you may be inspired to do great things and go into 2020 with great expectation:
I believe some of us are about to inherit and occupy a new space. This time of year is a deeply spiritual one for me because, this is the time of year where I begin to set the agenda for the new year. Typically, I am in deep mediation or fasting, finding whatever way I can to stay in tune with what God is saying. This year that practice has taken on a new form. At the beginning of this month God put the concept of rest on my heart. In response I decided to not only not overexert myself, but to also disengage from that which I was not inspired to engage in, that included, not doing some of my traditional practices during this season.
At the beginning of this week, God put this idea on my heart: occupy a new territory. The catalyst for this idea came from hanging out with one of my close friends over the weekend. After we had hung out and I came back to my apartment I realized that this is my life now. I have transitioned into a new space and place without me realizing it. My old life is gone, all that exists of it are the products thereof: friends, memories, and developed character traits; but for all intents and purposes I have a new life. After embracing that revelation my mind was immediately drawn to the story of the Israelites in the desert.
The Israelites, after being rescued from pharaoh in the bible, wandered the desert for 40 years in search of a land that God promised he was going to give them. For the last few years, some of us have been in search of that metaphoric promise land in our lives. The good news is that in 2020 it’s our time to occupy it. A whole generation passed before the Israelites made it to the border of their new home. Once they did make it, the new Israelites who inherited the promise of God from the previous generation, also had a new leader in Joshua. A few days before the Israelites went into the new land, God told Joshua that in this new territory, He would give him [Joshua] everything that his feet touch, that his new territory would be expansive, that from the moment he occupies the new territory that nothing and no one would stand against him for the rest of his life, and that He [God] would be with him [Joshua] as he was with Moses. For context and clarity on that last point, Moses was the closest thing to a Jesus like figure humanity ever got to up until Jesus actually came (so that deceleration from God was a big deal). I believe those same declarations given to Joshua are not only for me but for whoever else is reading this entry.
2020 is going to be amazing because we have something to look forward to. Let me make this as practical as possible. There are three specific traits associated with the concept of a promise land I want to highlight. For starters, the land is promised. Promises from God as they relate to us on an individual level can be best described as a hope, dream, or desire. It’s something that you want in your innermost being. Not all of those hopes and dreams are originals. The promise land was promised to an entire people but was inherited by an entirely new generation of the same people. Have you ever thought that maybe some of the hopes and desires that you have are similar to the same hopes and desires that your parents or grandparents had, and you are just apart of the generation fortunate enough to inherit them?
The other quality of the promised land is that it is all yours. God told Joshua everything that he touches is his in this new land. He continued by saying be strong and very courageous. Why would we have to be strong and courageous if everything in this new territory is already ours? Well, the last quality of the promised land is that it is already occupied. When the Israelites showed up to their land of milk and honey, there were already people partaking of their resources. Some of us in 2020 may be in a situation where our land is already occupied before we get there. Take courage because God has already given it to you. Those current tenants are only there to get it set up for you. In the same book several chapters down God says “I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build—the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them” (Joshua 24:13). I believe in 2020 God is going to do the same thing for us! So be strong and courageous, occupy your new territory, its all yours.
Thank you all for reading My Black Perspective! This blog has already changed my life and its only been six months. I am so excited for the new territory this blog will inhabit in 2020. The early feedback and general reception of this blog has been amazing, I hope you all stick with me in the new year as I continue to prefect my craft and curate quality content. Please follow the blog if you’re not a follower already, the form is below, all that is required is an email address, that’s it. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and see you in 2020!
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- Don't Jump
DISCLAIMER: This entry is talking about the topic of suicide. Please read at your own discretion. If you or someone you know is struggling please seek professional help immediately. If you are in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255. I know life can be hard, but it gets better, give it time.
Suicide is a tragedy. I was not going to talk about this but its been weighing on my heart since the news first broke. My alma mater has had the misfortune of navigating several student suicides; to the point where they have made national headlines. I really do not want to focus on the institution because I think that takes the spotlight away from those who are really suffering. Allegedly one young man jumped from a five-story parking garage. What would cause someone to do that?
I was so heartbroken because I know suicide and depression all too well. I used to be a frequent visitor to the abyss. There have been several times where the thought of doing harm to myself or taking my own life has been two bad decisions/thought processes away from a reality. I’ve even jumped before. No, I was not in the right state of mind when I took flight, and thankfully I was not too hurt, but I remember thinking to myself immediately after thrusting my body out of a two story window “why did I do that?”. I wonder if that young man thought that as his feet left the ground, “why did I do that?”.
That’s the first thought of most people who jump. Jumping sucks because a person has time to think about their actions before hitting the ground. I felt for that young man, and everyone else who took their life this semester. I cried for them all weekend, thinking about their family and friends. I cried for them thinking about how it was just too soon. They are not going to have a chance to see what the other side is like. Those individuals will never know what its like to not be in a frequent visitor to the abyss. I call depression the abyss because that’s what it’s like for me, an engulfment of darkness.
When someone is there it can feel so real, so much like the truth: “I’m useless”, “I’m a burden”, “things would be better if I weren’t here”, “my family would be happier if I weren’t here”, “I’m sorry that I cause so much trouble”. Sometimes just the idea of death can be so palatable. I’ve had the blade to my wrist and to my throat, I’ve asked the question: who would care? I was so heart broken for those individuals because I was once them. I was saved, and they could have been too.
Suicide is not a display of weakness for those who fall victim to it. We as human beings instinctually want to live. It takes a lot for an individual to forgo that natural human instinct. Suicide in most cases, does not come from a place of selfishness. Victims of suicide are rather selfless in their thought process as it relates to the impact their not being here would have on someone else.
I wish those individuals had the resources that they needed, because more likely than not at one point they did probably try to seek help. November 28th 2019, was the three year anniversary of my rebaptism. After surviving my jump I decided to rededicate my life to Jesus. I’m not pushing anything on anyone, but my point here is that there is more.
I mourned the loss of those individuals as if I knew them. Our young people in general are checking out too early, but from my experience, there are not enough people showing or telling us that this life thing is worth sticking around for. On a real level, none of us really know why we are here. We are all trying to figure that out by taking solace in whatever we choose to allow to ease our minds. And however that is, it’s the job of those who’ve experienced “more” to instill the hope into young people that there is more.
Therapists are great and necessary, but they do not have a monopoly on hope. Inspirational speakers and spiritual leaders are great and necessary, but they do not have a monopoly on hope either. Everyday authentic people who are good at doing everyday authentic things, like asking how someone’s day is going and meaning it, or smiling and saying hello can impart hope just as well if not better in some cases than the aforementioned. Suicide is a tragedy; don’t jump, there is more, there is hope.
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- Black Excellence
This is a topic that I wanted to touch on since the inception of My Black Perspective. To be honest I have not talked about black culture specifically that much on this blog. Other than the self titled blog entry and “Jay Z and the NFL – The Next Blueprint?”, there has not been a post on this blog directly targeted at the black community. That’s partially by design. One thing that I do not want to do with this blog is have it too one dimensional. I want to be able to talk about different things. I recognize that the blog’s title can be off putting in and of itself but that’s why I diversify my content as best as I can. Because yes, this blog is about the world seen through the perspective of a young black man living in America, but that young man (me) just like black culture, is multifaceted; and I would be doing myself and my culture a disservice if I pigeonholed this blog. That being said; that is not the case with this blog entry.
For some context, like I said, this was one of the first entries that I thought about writing for this blog. What brought upon the inspiration was all of the amazing things going on in the culture at the time. While this blog was still in its premature stages I was watching and reading news about Kamala Harris, the only black women in the senate, entering the 2020 presidential race and becoming a part of the short list of black women to ever run for president as a major party candidate. I saw stories about Beyoncé’s $60 Million Netflix deal, Tiger Woods’ Masters win (his first major win in over a decade), and Tyra Banks coming out of retirement, and making history by modeling for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition for the first time in over two decades.
Throughout this year stories like those continued to pop up: Jay Z became a billionaire and struck his deal with the NFL, Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 after being out for over two years prior to gaining popularity, Cardi B became the first female artist to win best rap album at the Grammy’s, and Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” became the longest running number one song in history (17 weeks). Russell Wilson became the highest paid NFL player Period, Steven A. Smith became the highest paid sports analyst on ESPN, and Billionaire Robert Smith, pledged to pay off the entire student loan debt for Morehouse’s graduating Class of 2019. Wendy Williams got her star on the Hollywood walk of fame, and Kanye West (claim him or not he’s black), made a Christian album that was the fastest album in Spotify history to hit number one. I know I’m missing a whole lot from this list, but the point is, black culture did some amazing things in 2019.
Seeing all of this take place I have never been more proud to be black than this year. Depending on who you ask in my circles, I was and to some extent still am whitewashed to a degree. Those comments stem from how I navigate my world, but I can never renounce my melanin. But, that sentiment plays perfectly into this topic and the following question: what makes black excellent?
I was talking to my dad two days ago and he said to me “Ken, when are you going to get a career”. My dad is old fashioned and thinks I should be on my way to being well settled by now. I do not knock him because that was his lived experience, but I responded to his question by saying I do not want to punch someone else’s clock for the rest of my life. He responded by saying that’s why I should have kept practicing music when I was younger, or I should look into being a preacher. Being older I can appreciate my dad more because we can have more robust conversations. So I ask him, why is it that for a black person in America, their only way out is through entertainment or the church, why cant we be the CEO, the scholar, the writer, the entrepreneur so on and so forth? And his response to me was “That’s just the way it is”.
As off putting as that response may appear from the outside looking in, there is a whole lot of truth behind it. There are some doors that are flung wide open for black people most of which are in some type of sport/entertainment, other doors can be opened we just have to find the key – of which no one wants to help us find – thusly, some doors we have to bust down, and some doors no matter how hard we try need a miracle to be opened otherwise it’s not happening. There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind that this type of inequity is a form of modern-day slavery (personal theory not concrete fact), but it is here within this societal structure where I would suggest that our excellence is best depicted.
Back in high school I was a part of a young men’s youth group called “Young Men of Excellence”. The group was compiled of young black men who did not necessarily align with the stigma of black men in my high school at the time. Yes, some of us were athletes, but none of us dressed sloppily, spoke in improper sentences, or were delinquent in nature. Looking back on that group the one thing that it gave me and hopefully everyone who was a part of it was, the notion that one, we are a community, and two, we can beat our odds. Fact of the matter is we were not the norm. I think that’s what black excellence is especially as it relates black people in America.
We are excellent because of our ability to beat the odds. So yes, my dad was right, success inequality is a fact of life for black people, but what also is a fact is that within that inequality there is this unique opportunity to defy the odds, to inspire whole generations, and instill hope by being the first to [insert achievement here]. I believe that above all else, it’s that level of influence that makes being black excellent.
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- Thanksgiving Weekend
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and enjoyed time with family and friends. This year was definitely one of if not the best Thanksgiving of the whole decade for me. To be honest, I looked at it from the lens of it’s a four-day weekend. Like the food and family was nice, but you want to know what was nicer, not having to go to work!
The day of Thanksgiving I celebrated with my extended family; I Got to see all my cousins, my aunts and uncle. We celebrated at my grandmother’s home and it was nice to have all of the family under one roof. Unfortunately, that was a tradition that kind of fell by the waste side as we all got older and life progressed. I had showed up relatively early so I wanted to see if there was any way I could help, and I ended up making the mashed potatoes, which came out slammin’ if I do say so myself. Once dinner time arrived, I had to prepare a piece of fish for myself because that side of the family is not pescatarian friendly, and that was especially so on Thanksgiving. I prepared a beautiful piece of yellowtail tuna steak. I salted and peppered it and seared it in a pan for all of 30 seconds on each side and it was delicious.
I was also given the honor of blessing the food. The older I get the more I see the role that I get to play in unifying the family and being an example for my little cousins who by the way are hot messes! I have four high school aged boy cousins and they are just a riot. I used to help raise them growing up so now I’m like an older brother/ role model to them so it’s awesome to watch their progression into young men.
I brought the wine for the evening which was a bit of a challenge. It was a challenge because that side of the family are not drinkers, but they think they are. Like they think the good stuff is nasty and that the nasty stuff is good. So, I went on the safer side and brought a Robert Mondavi 2017 Cab. I thought it was a decent pick but of course not everyone liked it; Cannot please everyone, but I try, at least when it comes to alcohol hahaha.
On Black Friday I got to celebrate Thanksgiving round two with my immediate family. My dad and all of my siblings had to work on the day of, so we had to accommodate. The day started out with me picking up my dad (we did dinner at my sister’s) and him taking me out for breakfast in the morning and black Friday shopping in the afternoon, which I was happy for; I was in desperate need of some new work clothes. We had an early dinner which was nice and this time around there was fish! My sister made stuffed baked salmon. It was a whole lot of fun and merriment from start to finish.
After dinner I dropped my dad off home, and I made my way to the club! My best friend Chris made a surprise trip to visit me, so we went out and partied. I come alive every time that I am in a bar or a club, and since getting older I’ve only gotten better at being a professional partyer, so I try to make sure I always show my guests a good time when we socialize together. This was also only the third time I had seen Chris this year, which is a bit of an abnormality for us, but it made the time together that much better.
I wrapped the weekend up yesterday and today by staying in! I had to run a few errands like going grocery shopping and going to the bank, but other than that, I was determined to enjoy my time the way I wanted. This was such a much-needed weekend, and I’m thankful for every moment of it.
December is here which is exciting! Things are beginning to shift not only in my life but in the atmosphere in general. For my readers who are a bit more spiritually inclined I would advise that you lean in this month, I believe some exciting things are coming down the pike and that this decade is going to go out with a bang!
Also, a quick heads up; I will be going on hiatus for a month and a half starting on December 15th. The blog will be back in full swing as of February 1st, but I want to take some time to explore and workshop new material. “My Black Perspective” is going into its Sixth month and the reception has been amazing. I want to continue to expand this medium, but I want to do it the right way; So I will be taking that time off to figure out what the right way is.
I still have a few more posts lined up before I check out so stay tuned for those and please follow/join the email list to stay up to date with the life of this blog. For those of you who already follow/check in regularly thank you, I see you, and it is much appreciated!
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