- The Company We Keep
This year in general, but this month specifically, I have made it a point to be more intentional about the people I choose to have around me. I am in a place in life right now where mentally I am in growth mode. I want to grow my finances, my sphere of influence, my capacity for more, and my skills and abilities. I’ve come to learn, that our growth is directly correlated to the people we are connected with.
As it relates to me, I do an amazing job at isolating myself, identifying problem people/situations and creating space between myself and those things that may inhibit my growth. What I lack in is inviting people into my space and sharing the intricacies of my life with others. In today’s social media age, real human connection is an outdated commodity.
Our growth is directly correlated to the people we are connected withTweet
People rather remain in their silos as opposed to allow themselves to be exposed to new opportunities. I must admit that I have fallen into this trap as well. I’ve always been forward thinking and open to new experiences, but as I’ve been getting older, what was once a natural inclination has now become something that requires a conscious effort.
It is imperative that we are intentional about the company we keep. As we become more isolated, we become less effective. I wrote a piece entitled Why are Millennials so Lonely?, and it highlighted several issues that us young adults may be facing. I would like to submit that another contributing factor to our loneliness is our unwillingness to be open.
It is imperative that we are intentional about the company we keepTweet
One would think that in the year 2020 vulnerability would be commonplace with all the messaging around us that encourages us to be our best selves, and to lean into that which makes us unique. However, I would argue that today’s society has subverted the idea of what being our best selves really means. I once read somewhere that we are strong in our weakness. Why would someone write that? I would like to think the author knew that the best way for us to be our best and strongest selves is by leaning on others to help overcome our short comings. We cannot fix what we won’t allow to be broken.
Vulnerability is an essential part of the human existence. Find people who will accept and appreciate the real you, not the you, you think people think you are. The company we keep is Crucial to our growth and development, and a preference for social media focused and echo chambered life is not a sufficient substitute for real authentic human connection.
We cannot fix what we won’t allow to be brokenTweet
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- Food for Thought #7 – Trayvon Martin
Yesterday marked Trayvon Martin’s 25th birthday. For my readers who are not literate on who Trayvon Martin is, he was a 17-year-old African American teenager from Miami, Florida, who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. On the night of his murder, Trayvon was walking home from a convenience store after purchasing some skittles and a Snapple.
On his way home, Zimmerman who at the time was a part of a community watch, felt threated describing Trayvon as suspicious. The situation escalated and Zimmerman engaged with Treyvon who had on a black hoodie, and shot him under the guise of Florida’s stand your ground law. Here we are 8 years later since that tragic and unnecessary killing and people still feel the anguish of Zimmerman’s actions (who by the way was acquitted for the murder), and the loss of Trayvon.
There is always a sense of despair when someone loses their life at an early age. It shifts our focus from the day to day monotony of life to the value and importance of living period. In the case of Trayvon, everything from his death to Zimmerman’s acquittal was unjust. Who was Zimmerman to decide the life of a young man, regardless of race?
I’m currently 24 and while have accomplished quite a bit in my life, I still have plenty more to do and achieve. I as a lot of us do not know the story of Trayvon’s life. I do not know his goals or aspirations; I do not know the extent of his dreams. Trayvon had his whole life ahead of him, and it was snuffed out by someone who was obviously unfit to be a part of any community watch let alone own a gun.
Martin Luther King Jr. famously wrote:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly
Let us not stop being watchmen calling out injustice. We all have a duty to confront the tyranny of oppression in whatever shape or form it may take on. To balance the scale we must unify in our efforts to challenge wrong doing and call out malicious despotism for what it is.
Power plus prejudice under scores, plots against, steals, and kills those of us with less access. We are all people at the end of the day, and we should all be allowed to live out our God given unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
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- The Political Play of the State of the Union Address
On Tuesday February fourth President Donald J Trump delivered his third State of the Union address to the American people. In his address he talked not only about his accomplishments as president over the last three years, but also his ambitions for the years to come.
After being formally introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump was greeted with a roaring “four more years” chant by house and senate republicans. President Trump’s speech lasted an hour and 18 minutes and consisted of talking points on trade policy, healthcare, education, the military, the economy, infrastructure, criminal justice reform, and immigration. Trump’s speech was an ode to American exceptionalism. He declared that the economy was stronger than ever, and that unemployment was at an all-time low.
Trump’s speech was an ode to American exceptionalismTweet
He boasted about how the military was rebuilt and that the border wall was being completed “as we speak”. He denounced Medicare for all as a socialist policy and affirmed his commitment to preserving private healthcare and pre-existing conditions. He talked about renegotiating NAFTA, his successful negotiations with China on a new trade deal, and the revitalization of the manufacturing industry in America.
Of all his talking points however, the most moving parts of Trump’s speech was when he addressed his guests.
President Trump’s guests for the night included Stephanie Davis from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Stephanie is a fourth grader who was denied the ability to choose the school she wanted to go to because of a School Choice legislation that was vetoed by Pennsylvania governor, Tom Wolf. Trump also had Juan Guaido, Venezuela’s interim President as a guest to show support and solidarity with Venezuela as they continue to work towards overthrowing the illegitimate Maduro regime.
Trump presented Rush Limbaugh, who has advanced lung cancer, with the Medal of Freedom, America’s highest honor for civilians. And he surprised Amy Williams and her two children with the return of her husband and their father, Sergeant First Class Townsend Williams, from his fourth military deployment.
Trump’s other guests included: Joshua Smith who lost his brother to suicide after being a victim of cyber bullying. Robin Schneider, whose daughter Ellie, was born at just 21 weeks and six days. Tony Rankins a military Vet who overcame a drug addiction that ruined his life. Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz, a career border patrolman, and Carl and Marsh Mueller whose daughter was tortured and killed by ISIS leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Paul Morrow a United States Army Vet, Charles McGee a Tuskegee Airman and a World War II Vet, and his great grandson Iain Lanphier. Ivan Simonovis Venezuela’s capital city Chief of Police, Jody Jones whose brother was killed by an illegal immigrant, and Kelli and Gage Hake, who lost a husband and father serving in Iraq.
Trump’s address was clearly targeted toward his party and supporters. As Trump begins campaigning for reelection in 2020, its important for him to reignite a fire under his base but also look to acquire support from other people groups. Trump made it a clear point and a foundational sentiment supported throughout his entire speech that he has and will, continue to keep every major campaign promise. It would appear as if given his comments on criminal justice reform, that no one thought it could be done but he did it, and his comments on the unemployment rate specifically in the black community, that Trump will be strategically targeting black and brown people for support in 2020.
Trump made it a clear point and a foundational sentiment supported throughout his entire speech that he has and will, continue to keep every major campaign promise.Tweet
Trump wants the black vote because the black vote is what decides elections. President Trump has his highest approval ratings ever at 49 percent, higher than when we first got elected. And the democrats are in shambles after a botched Iowa caucus, and what looks to turn out to be a failed impeachment trial. Back in 2016 when Trump first hit the campaign trail he implored to the black community “what do you have to lose”, suggesting that while the democrats continually pander to the black community, they also continually fail at delivering in the form of policy. Given the current political climate and the tonality of his address, Trump is making his messaging clear, they [democrats] can’t get it done, but I can.
Trump is making his messaging clear, they [democrats] cant get it done, but I can.Tweet
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- Black History: The Complexity of our Past and the Perplexity of our Future
As black history month begins this year, part of my growth in 2020 thus far, has required me to take a long hard look at myself on a multitude of different levels. As this relates to being black, blackness is a plane of existence all of its own; and the more I mature, the more I wrestle with what being black means. My perspective on my blackness has been one of racial injustice. I have fully leaned into the hurt and pain forced on black people over the last 400 years in America. I am ever aware of my status as a minority in America and the fact that young black men and women are perpetual victims of violence, prejudices, and outright overt racism. I am aware that equal opportunities aren’t always equal or opportune. I am aware that life is just harder for blacks in America and that we must work 10 times harder to yield the same or similar results as our fairer skinned counter parts. I am conscious of every decision that I make because everything I do, whether I fail or succeed will always be judged through the lens of me being black first and a person second.
Blackness is a plane of existence all of its ownTweet
Am I failing myself by thinking this way? Am I not the best version of myself because I always have a chip on my shoulder for something that did not directly happen to me? Who told me inferiority is the standard by which I must operate and excel from? If I think I’m inferior because of my skin color how can I ever be superior if I’m always going to be black? I recently heard that the lesson in black history is that we as a people are more than where we came from or what we experienced. To be black means to persevere, to be resilient and malleable. It means that there is a portion of strength on one’s life. But the implication of strength is that there are battles to be fought. That’s where I begin to have cognitive dissonance. Why must I be certain things and not others. Why must I look elsewhere for identity while others can have a whole society affirm theirs. Why are my people relegated to monolithic paradigms? Why is everything us an uphill battle? When I zoom out on how I think about myself and those that look like me I realize the insidious nature of a slave mentality.
How we identify with who we are is an essential part of our mental freedom. I and other’s like me who struggle with the reality of their existence must make a consorted effort to change the narrative. That means redefining blackness for ourselves. Other people groups have used this power to change their narrative all throughout time. The fact of the matter is, before we were slaves, we were kings and queens. Before we were given the right to be free, we were free. Before we were 3/5 of a person, we were whole people. It’s important for black people to know our whole truth and not just what a textbook that had no representation of us in the writer’s room says about us. We must stand firm in our history in fear that it might repeat itself. Malcolm X once said:
History is a people’s memory and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals.
How we identify with who we are is an essential part of our mental freedomTweet
As this month presses forward it’s important for Americans in general to acknowledge their history of slavery. It is America’s original sin. And for black people who live in America it’s important that we hold not only our fellow non-black citizens accountable but ourselves as well. Let’s not run so fast towards progressivism that when we stop and look back our history is eclipsed.
History is a people’s memory and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals – Malcolm XTweet
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