Control The Dollar; Control The People

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick, the then Quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, began a public protest that would ultimately cost him his livelihood. At first glance, one could argue this isn’t a major deal. He is a multi-millionaire, young, and his ability to pivot into a new way of life doesn’t seem far fetched. 

Then the question is asked: Why didn’t more of his fellow players join him in this protest? Why were so many of them hesitant to kneel alongside of him for such a righteous cause? I, myself, argued if players are outraged by the blatant racist behaviors of the NFL, why choose to play in their league?

The answer boils down to money. 

Playing professional sports doesn’t guarantee you millionaire status. Players aren’t automatically drafted and the life of living check to check magically disappears. It takes strategic planning and discipline to set yourself up for long term financial success. It doesn’t make you exempt from paying bills, putting food on the table, and providing for your family. These things are universal. Obviously, if you are Lebron James or Patrick Mahomes the amount of discipline you have to have varies but whether you are a part of the “one percent”, or you live in a box, money or the lack thereof, has profound impacts on your life.

The American system is based on the trading of services or products in exchange for money… and as my Mother used to say to me when I was a child, “Everything costs money.” It is virtually impossible to live — comfortably — with no money. And this is how they control us.

For most of us, we are working jobs owned and managed by people who don’t look like us; who don’t care about the same things we care about. As a result, we sacrifice some of ourselves. We code switch or we wear our hair in acceptable ways — or we do what we want, how we want, all the while, knowing there may be consequences. 

Nick Cannon has been in the news over the last couple for remarks he made about white people and the Jewish community. Before I had the chance to look up what he said, I heard Viacom, a major media conglomerate and Cannon’s long-time partner , had dropped him. 

We can debate whether or not what he said was right or wrong. We can even discuss whether he should have said it at all. But what should be concerning for the Black community is the power that other communities have over us — over our livelihoods. 

If ever there was a time we needed to control the Black economics, it is now. We need media outlets and businesses who prioritize Black lives, and not out of performative allyship or the latest brand strategy. But because the business is owned and run by Black people. 

When I think about Colin Kaepernick and his bout with the NFL, I wonder: What would have happened if all the Black men in the NFL — which, reportedly, makes up seventy percent of the League — chose not to play? How would we support them, with the way our communities are economically and financially structured? Would it be possible for us to?

It is past time we take our economic power back. I don’t propose it will be easy, simple, or without hardship; I only suggest it is necessary.

Read more

Attachments. Pain. Insecurities.

I am home from picking the boys up from their Nana’s house. My Love and I are going to watch another episode, or 3, of The Handmaids Tale and I am thinking about attachments, pain, insecurities and how all of these elements intermingle to make up what we think of us as our identity — the core of who we are.  On the way home, my Love and I got into a little bit of an argument about me being of the lighter complexion and some of the ways I have felt about my skin.

When we started dating I had always thought I was “dark-skinned”and it wasn’t until we started to talk that I realized how she saw me. One time she described me as a white man.

I was insulted.

Not that there is anything wrong with being a white man. It’s just, I am not a white man.Long story short, I lashed out at her. I was determined to make my point so I got passionate, also known as loud. And I “won”.

Takia, my Love, and I have discovered some key differences in how we approach the world.She likes to feel grounded, anchored to something. It gives her a sense of security.

I, on the other hand, want to feel detached.

I have a tendency to let anger consume me. And the cure has been to surrender to life and let it flow how it will. To detach. For me, with attachments come anger, aggression; the need to defend what doesn’t need defense.I found a calm in not taking Life too serious. I began trying to look at life without labels of good, bad, positive, negative. I found a peace in not wanting Life to be anything other than it was.

Many times, this leaves me feeling open and exposed — uncertain.  But the peace makes it worth it.

And it’s moments like tonight that show me where my attachments lie.  When my peace is interrupted I know I am still attached to something.  This time it was the color of my skin. How dark it is; how light it is . . .  Somehow, I am still finding my identity in something so trivial.

It is disturbing.

I hate the feelings I have after I have protected myself. The walls go up so easy; it’s comfortable inside of my shell. So to escape the pain I run into my shell where it’s dark and no one can reach me.

Now, it is time to let go of this defense mechanism. It is time to open my heart. And keep it open even when it gets uncomfortable, dangerous.Because to cut myself off from what I perceive as the negative aspects of this Life is to cut myself from all of it.

I am grateful for these icky moments; they show where I can expand.

Expansion is the goal.

Read more

I Want Habits

Today I’ve been thinking about habits — how we build them, how we continue to build them, how we use them, how they inform who we are.

Without even being aware of it, our identities are steeped in the habits we embody.

At work I had a thought: what if I had a habit of crushing goals?

I know I can build habits. The question is: can i build good habits?

What if we only built the habits that drove us towards the best version of ourselves? That would be something, yeah?

Going into this new year I know a lot of us are going to be setting goals and making resolutions. It’s beneficial to reflect on where we came from and what we went through, take stock of our current situation and figure out from there what needs happen — where we should go next.

It’s a part of the holiday tradition.

Refresh. Recalibrate. Reset.

This time last year I set a goal to finish my first novel. I have started a lot of novels — finished none of them. And this year was to be different.

Well . . . About that . . . I failed.

It’s cool though; I learned something valuable.

I have a terrible habit of believing the limiting thoughts that cross my mind believing them to be me. I own these thoughts, emotions, and experiences but they are no more me than the van in driveway is.

I want to create habits that erases negative thoughts and replaces them with uplifting ones. I want to be in the habit of doing what I say I’m going to do when I say I’m going to do it. I want to create habits that uncover more and more of who I am everyday.

I want habits that reveal the best me.

So I guess that is my New Years Resolution.

Read more

Bookstore Adventures

The day before yesterday I went to the bookstore and didn’t purchase any books.

I stood in line with 2 books: Heavy by Kiese Laymon and a collection of poetry by Pablo Neruda entitled, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda.

I was indecisive about whether or not I should.

My internal dialogue was having a ball:  It’s almost Christmas and you need to buy gifts for friends and family.  You already have so many books you haven’t read.  You can never have too many books.  

I was in the middle of an argument with my Love through text and an author who I met had asked me if I was gonna buy her book.  I was feeling guilty because I was in line and was not holding a copy of her work.

Buying books didn’t feel as good as it should’ve.

Which is an oddity. Im not sure I’ve encountered a time before when I felt the purchase of books was unnecessary.

Buying books is always necessary and appropriate . . .

. . . Except for the day before yesterday.

I was standing in line with 2 books ready to commit and I realize my wallet is missing. I could feel my heart plummet into my stomach and all the worst scenarios invaded my mind. I am thinking of my credit and debit card I keep in my wallet. I even started wondering if I bumped into anyone who happened to be a pickpocket.  However, the way my account is set up, they would’ve been disappointed.

After tracing my steps i realized my wallet was in my book bag the whole. For whatever reason, that whole debacle seemed to shake me from literary induced slumber.

I put the books back and made my way out of the store as fast as i could. I hailed an uber and made my way home. I felt a sense of satisfaction at overcoming my usual knee jerk impulse to buy any and all books that might interest.

I felt it was maybe my best decision all day.

And if worst comes to worst, I can always buy those books on Amazon, yeah?

Read more

the sun

today began weary with rain. i would

describe the shades of gray; the cold of

the rain; But something Happened.  the

sun Happened.  the sun started painting

against the gray like an abstract expressionist

throwing colors at the day, spoiling the drab

and letting the art shape itself.  this piece of

art called today has become its own symbol —

a memorial.  the sun is always Happening.

Read more

KNOCK. KNOCK.

I am breaking.  

A couple months ago, I started having intense pain in my chest, although pain isn’t how I would describe it.  It hurts, yes. But I would call it a tightness — a massive hand gripping my heart and lungs, unrelenting.

The first time It happened, I was at work. I almost dropped to my knees in the middle of the warehouse.  

“Is this a heart attack?”  

“Am I just tired — out of shape?”

I wasn’t sure what this feeling meant.  So I went to the doctor. They asked me a few questions and then hooked me up to an EKG.  When the results came in he walked into the room and he looked at me like I had a third eye.  

He started asking more questions.  

“Do you drink…?”

“No.”

“Do you smoke…?”

“No.”

There were some other questions as well.  We spoke about depression but it was brief.  He continued to look at me like I was crazy. “Well the EKG isn’t showing us anything.  Your heart is fine. You are fine.” Then he started to advise on me how I was lifting the boxes at my job.  At this point, I was over it. I know what I’m feeling and I also know it has little nothing to do with how I am lifting boxes.  

At some point after the doctor’s appointment, I was talking to my mom and mentioned the situation.  I told her, “I think its anxiety.”

“Yea.  I used to have anxiety attacks that felt like heart attacks.”  She said.

Damn.

My anxiety has launched an offensive.  And I am losing.

It’s been about 2 months since the first time I felt it at my job.  After the visit to the doctor and the conversation with my mom, I started turning my awareness towards my heart.  I thought it was only happening at work. But I also noticed it in other high emotional places in my life.

My relationships, my job, my finances, etc.  majority of my life is fraught with uncertainty, hurt and distrust.  And i can feel everything I’ve been holding onto — bitterness, resentment, fear, rage — clawing into me.  Over the years, I have mastered the art of masking my feelings — lying. I lie about how I feel more often than not.  And I am so skilled, I fool myself often. And those lies have spawned what might be my own downfall.

You can rob Peter to pay Paul, but Peter will get his due — sooner or later.  Peter is knocking on my door.

So here I am:  Sitting on my front porch.  There is a beautiful tree across the street from me.  It has bloomed with vibrant pink flowers that sway gently in this cool breeze.  I can’t even enjoy it over the throbbing in my chest.

 

Read more

START

Don’t overthink the start.  Simply start.  Start simple.  Perfection is overrated.  When we do the thing to completion consistently, we get closer to perfection.  So the question isn’t if perfection is attainable.  The question is are we willing to put in the work it requires to improve to that level. And we may never see perfection.  But that isn’t the point.  Perfection is overrated; Process is the treasure.  The journey is the reward.  The successful ones are the ones who can’t get enough of the process.  They value progress over perfection.  To be obsessed with perfection is to the put the sled before the husky.

Perfection is overrated…

Read more

Pause

The Pause i just as, if not more, important than the action.  I am reminded of the quote from Abraham Lincoln:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening my axe.”

My mentor founder and creator of The Hell Yes Life Academy, Pat Russo,  posted on instagram a while back.  The post had two words on it:  Hustle and Align.  and the word Hustle is crossed out.  Sometimes we get preoccupied with the hustle and the grind but forget to position ourselves in the best way possible  — we forget to Align.  Life is about the set up as much as it is about the success.

The Pause is how we set ourselves up.  Its the work we do when no one is around and no one can see.  It’s what allows us to be confident when the hurdles pop up.  We know we have prepared for any and everything.

We set ourselves up for this.

Pause. Breathe.

 

Read more

What Do I Have To Lose?

It is amazing how skilled I am at talking myself out of pursuing my passion.  I am passionate about ideas and creativity, so I thought it would be great to offer my capacity for generating and developing ideas to the world as a consulting business, of sorts.  My self talk was instantaneous.  I started to think of all the reasons I shouldn’t;  all the ways I am not qualified to offer this service.  But that has to change somewhere, right?  I believe I am a creative genius.  And I also believe that I can help people develop their ideas.

So…Why not?  What do I have to lose?

Read more

Emotions

Emotions are simple.  Simple is not the same as easy.  I learned today how ill equipped I am at working through and handling my emotions.  My Love started to question me bout how I was feeling today and I could feel my insides revolting.  They were fighting me to remain hidden behind my eyelids and encased in my chest.  An inner struggle ensued.  Wanting to release but being blocked by the habit of evasion.  Emotions are simple; emotions aren’t easy.  I didn’t know I needed help in working through these things.  After today, I know I need to get help.

 

Read more