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Daily Truth

Too often men develop the wrong perspective when it comes to the dynamic of “sharing the spotlight” when a man is in a relationship with a smart and talented woman. Some men get intimidated if a woman makes more money or perhaps has more ambition or drive than he does?

Real men don’t compete or share the spotlight with their woman; they’re too busy shining that light and giving them all the credit and recognition they rightfully deserve! Emotionally secure men not only know who they are and bring their strengths to the relationship, but they see their partners success as an asset, not a threat. I encourage men to support your woman and let her shine!

Daily Truth

Never settle or even think of compromising when it comes to the type of Love, Commitment, and Respect you believe you deserve.

Walls and Bridges

Many of us today are angry about the things we see unfolding in our society. The lack of empathy hurts those of us who feel discarded and devalued by the collective powers that be. On either side of this social and cultural dynamic, we have members who go so far to the extreme that they build walls with their harmful rhetoric that lead to anger and violence that only further keep us apart!

In the midst of all the anger and righteous indignation, we need to remember that within every race, culture, religious ideology or social group there are elements within each that only want to see the world burn and they have no time for rational thinking or sound decision making.

Every time you tweet hate and ignorance, you build walls, fan the flames of hatred and justify violence! Every time we generalize and assess blame to an entire race, religion or culture we strengthen the walls of racial inequality and turn up the volume on the very ignorant rhetoric that keeps us from hearing each other on any standard issue!

I am a Black man who understands both the resolve of those who peacefully protest as well as the anger of those who turn violent. I have been racially profiled by the police many times throughout my life, but I have the understanding to single out hate and ignorance itself, not any particular race or group!

There is a universal truth that we are collectively missing today, hate doesn’t discriminate, people do! Hate isn’t a White man’s disease or a sickness that’s ravaging the projects or the trailer park; it’s potentially poisoning every would-be terrorist and every die-hard American who feels justified to profile or hate based on a person’s ethnicity or religion.

When the political dust has settled, if we find ourselves isolated and boxed in by our separate walls we will only have ourselves to blame for allowing fear and ignorance to divide and conquer us!

If we look past all of the jargon and varying ideologies on race and politics, we as a society will have to decide if we want to support building walls or building bridges? Bridges not only help us to go beyond our usual limitations and reach new ground, they connect us to others who need our help and those who can also help us. Walls on the other hand only keeps us disconnected from other resources and other people.

What do your posts or your tweets say about who you are? The anonymity of the internet or notion that they are only words is no excuse when it comes to hate and ignorance. If more people cared about making a real difference as they cared about making noise or a statement, we’d have more bridges uniting us as opposed to all the walls and excuses we allow to keep us divided!

I’m just as angry as any person who rationalizes rioting or wanting to turn to violence, but my resolve allows me to vent my frustration, take a deep breath and then share what I’ve learned. At the end of the day when my anger has subsided, and rational thought has once again returned, I realize that I want to build a bridge to help us communicate over the static of indifference and intolerance to help all like-minded people overcome this disease called hatred and racial injustice.

What are you building with your words and actions, Bridges or Walls?

Is Youth Truly Wasted On the Young?

Much like the eternal struggle between good and evil there is a similar battle ragging between the forces of “youth” vs. their mortal enemy “the old.” I don’t even know when this fight first began or who started it, but I know that it will take a level head to put an end to it. While I have full memory of being a member of the youth movement battling against all things that parents just didn’t understand or things that grown-ups couldn’t relate to, I had no clear memory of when I ceased being a young person and moved to the dark-side.

It was as if I blinked one day and the words my mother use to say to me began to make more sense and more sense. Then before I knew it I was 26 years old, married with a newborn baby and I no longer fitted in to my group. I was technically an adult, but I was too young and inexperienced to be considered an adult by my mother or people her age, but I was still young enough to consider myself a young person.

As I progressed and continued to mature within just a few more years I noticed that not only did my priorities change, but I began to see things a bit differently, add on a few more years and a couple of more kids and suddenly I was an outsider! I didn’t exactly get kicked out of the club, I just started doing things differently. I found myself taking naps when I got home from work and suddenly parking closer to the entrance at the supermarket became more of a priority to me!

In the midst of these newly discovered priorities I found myself at work one day sitting in a small group of coworkers listening to a co-worker tell a story about an encounter with an old man and when the person telling the story finished his tale I got an unexpected punchline of my own when I discovered that the “old guy” in the story was actually my age!

Apologies were issued and bruised feeling aside, I found myself pondering exactly when I became old. I went from believing that I was “the cool dad,” to some old guy being made fun of in a random story! I remember thinking I’m only 43, but if this was voiced around people in their 50’s or 60’s I was laughed at for considering myself old!

Exactly when does one first start considering themselves old? And when does it become cool to make fun of people whose only crime is having the good fortune of continuing to be alive? I know it seems like a natural course in life that generations appear to be at odds with one another, but it this truly necessary? Are the forces of youth doomed to rage against the eternal machine of growing older? As cliché or corny as it might sound I believe that these two warring factions have a lot in which they can teach each other and in the process both sides can learn and actually teach each other. It could happen.

One day when I was just living my life I happened upon a group of young people working at a summer program in my community all fresh out of high school and instantly I found myself putting up my “old person” radar detecting the typical trappings of youth, I knew they would be wild partying teens who had the attention span of a 6 year old in a lecture about contemporary literature. Yet, what I soon discovered was that the road to ending the war of age vs. youth would require some give and take among members on both sides.

I patiently ventured out to engage my enemy, fully not intending to sound like an obnoxious know-it-all who routinely beguiled them with unsolicited tales of what life was like when I was their age! I equally needed to relate to them as much as I needed them to understand I was actually on their side.

I met Paige, Trey, Monica, Taylor and Josh all just a few months older than my oldest and I saw an opportunity to learn not only about young people, but find out more about my own self in the process. These young people no doubt enjoyed having fun like any other typical person their age, but they were all working and showing a decent amount of maturity for young people of their age. Not only were they all continuing their education in college, but they were all working towards goals of earning degrees and considering career’s. In a world filled with adults and young people wandering aimlessly, each of these young people seemed to have a plan and a clue , and this intrigued me.

In working with this group of youth, I got to experience young people in a different light, I got to work with them on a peer level as co-workers and in doing so, saw them in a way that I had not thought possible. As a professional, I understand the need for patience, as a father of teenagers I understand that I sometimes lack the patience necessary to fully relate to this group.

In working with these young people I was secretly getting an insight into how to expect more out of my own son and work on our relationship dynamic. After all, these young people were the exact same age as my son, perhaps I could learn how to better relate to this generation through trying to relate to this generation.

First up was Josh, a young energetic young man with the playful spirit and energy of a 6 year old, but it was his aspiration of seeking work in the ministry as a missionary abroad that drew me to leaning more about him. Having accepted the call into the ministry at an early age myself I knew what it was like to live a lifestyle of studying the bible and of service, not to mention a desire to want to share the gospel with others.

When I was his age I was already teaching adult Sunday school as well as preaching in various churches around my city so It is safe to say that the more I got to know Josh I liked him a little more because having been a young man I felt the pull of other typical distractions and so when I come across young men who deliberately go against the usual temptations of youth I make it a point to be that voice of aide, of sound advice just like the people that God used to guide me when I was his age.

In fact both Josh and Trey got my attention as two young fellows that were not ashamed to declare their faith in Jesus Christ, nor their dedication to church service and I must say that this boldness resonated with me. I thought that whatever I can do as a fellow believer I’d do because it was rare to get young men to dedicate their time and effort.  Encountering not one, but two, young men with such promise caused me to feel compelled to be there whenever the situation warranted.

I once over-heard Trey explaining that he had to take off from work on one occasion, and it took me back to when at 21 years old and had to miss out on so many fun events because I had to preach or go to the nursing home or visit members who couldn’t travel. I was reminded that there are still young people that take their service in the church to heart.

My first impression of Monica was rather unique since I had already met her best friend Paige several months prior and I was informed that Monica, like Paige played sports. I describe the moment as unique because I met her on the basketball court and though she was dressed more like Pocahontas than a basketball player she hit several jumpers and instantly got my respect.

Though I already knew girls could be good at sports, I have a teenage daughter who is about to become one of the youngest black belts in her karate school and I thought that my daughter could learn from these young women who were able to be both good students and athlete’s. I enjoyed getting to know young women their age that seem be so focused on attaining the goals they set their minds to achieving. I remember thinking to myself that I wouldn’t mind if my own daughter could maintain that same type of focus when she got to be that age.

In working more directly with Monica I got to have more opportunity to share information and I was often reminded of talks I had with my niece and the wisdom I tried to impart to her. As a father, as a professional that genuinely desires to help others I hate the fact that people in these positions often either refuse to help or they misuse the opportunity in order to take advantage of these young people.

One of the pieces of advice that I shared with Monica was this; never settle in life for less than you deserve, and never let a man treat you in life like less than you are worth. Like I told my niece before her, and my own daughter, I impart to Monica, Paige and Taylor; beautiful and intelligent young women need to remember their worth and never settle in life for any man who refuses to truly value and respect that worth.

It is impossible to work around young people and not be reminded of your own youth and all the dreams you had of conquering the world. Perhaps the issue for some is that working around those hopes and aspirations reminds some of how they’ve managed to settle in life and stop dreaming? This is the exact point in which I believe that our two species can help one another.

No parent of sound mind actually wants their children to fail in life so the notion that any parent is somehow sabotaging their child’s life by giving advice is ludicrous. The fact is that some older adults have the very knowledge and experience that most young people need and when they share that experience it increases the listener’s chances on avoiding the same mistakes in life.

While some of life’s best learned lessons are learned through trial and error the issue of regret is perhaps best avoided when we heed the warnings of the people that God strategically places in our lives at different points in time. I’m grateful for all of the people God placed in my life as I was growing up and I wish I had been more aware at the time of who they were and why they were doing what they were doing.

Working with this group of young people I’m beginning to understand the big picture and that nothing is coincidence. I spoke to a young man one day trying to explain to him that he wasn’t crazy and that we’ve all had thoughts or feelings. The more we talked the more he realized that we had a lot in common and I was able to eventually help him. It’s only when we actually have discourse that we can begin to bridge the divide between those that are enlightened through having experienced life and those who are yet coming into the fullness of what life has to offer.

As an observer I must tell you that I am more accustomed to seeing young people engage in typical foolish behavior as if it’s some moronic birthright to act without consequence disregarding the results. I also observe adults who try to dress and behave as if they seek to relive the days of their youth all while not realizing the impressionable generation watching all the good, the bad and the ugly of what they do each day.

I am 44 years old and while I am not anyone’s “old man” I am confident that I don’t have to relive any “glory days” of my youth, nor do I have to face a “midlife” crisis in order to redefine myself or find my place in this world.

I have a beautiful wife that still encourages and challenges me to want more out of life. I have three beautiful kids that continue to give me a purpose in life. I have no need to relive my youth nor am I envious of the next generation who are currently getting their opportunity to grow, learn and make the same mistakes that I myself got to learn from making when I was their age.

Having the benefit of working with young people the same age of my own son teaches me that I can exercise the same patience with my own son that I afford the young people that I work with. Not every young person you meet is waiting to tell you to “mind your own business”, just like not every older adult is merely looking for an opportunity to wax philosophical about the “back in their day” experiences; some of us sincerely want to help young people and see them succeed.

While I know both sides will continue to work at fully trusting one another I am hopeful that we are seeing a glimpse of young people willing to meet us half way. As I’ve observed and researched the breakdowns between young adults and older adults I see that most of the problems are due to misconceptions and miscommunication.

As we strive to overcome the typical stumbling blocks that divide us such as “the older generation is out of touch” or “the younger generation is too self-absorbed or childish” the survival of our overall society is at stake so we must be able to overcome all obstacles.

I was listening to an inspirational song the other day called “Glory” from the soundtrack of the film Selma, and I was moved by a verse that surmised the point at the heart of my entire writing on this topic, it states – “no one can win this war individually, it takes the wisdom of the elders and young people’s energy”, that is my point exactly.

I applaud Josh, Trey, Monica, Paige and Taylor for daring to dream, set goals and then striving to achieve them. Some people may feel that I am making a big deal out of nothing because these are just several young people in a bigger ocean of young people who are wasting away in an endless abyss of the typical trappings of sex, drugs and alcohol or the mediocrity of simply mocking time with no ambition.

I credit their parents and the people in their life that push and encourage them because in the midst of so many poor examples of who young people are and what they could be doing these young people are actually making an effort to make something happen in their life and I for one am willing to encourage them and see them succeed.

When they succeed, my daughter succeeds, my son succeeds, and in the process our society benefits and our future looks bright.

I often joke with the kids that we work with in our afterschool program whenever I beat them in a race that they just let an “old man” beat them and they should feel ashamed, “today’s youth is in poor shape” I often tell them jokingly, “our future is in jeopardy” I then tell them, but as long as we have young, growing adults like these young people I’ve come to know, I believe our future is in good hands.

Don’t Spin This!!!!!!

In the wake of officer related killings of unarmed minorities as well as the shooting of law enforcement officers in retaliation to these disturbing trends, we have to consider how we want these real life issues depicted in the media. All of these deaths are senseless and tragic, so we as a society should not allow anyone on social media or TV to present the death of officers in Dallas as a greater tragedy than the increasing number of unarmed minorities being killed across this nation.

On the topic of “spin,” I read several months before these latest events about an upcoming Fox Network series entitled “Shot’s Fired” which focusing on a fictionalized event which has become disturbingly all too familiar, a law enforcement officer killing an unarmed man and the subsequent fallout of the shooting. Some might surmise that this is just what we need, putting a spotlight on the issue and create a dialogue as to how these things happen?

When I first found out about the project, I immediately thought if it was done the right way it could perhaps make a point, but was still skeptical about how I felt about dramatizing an issue that is so potentially volatile and so polarizing. When I read the actual premise, I was annoyed and put off by the dynamics of which the story revolves around.

The series is scheduled to premiere in the 2016-17 season and focuses on the shooting of a White college student by an African American officer in a fictional town in the South with a history of racial tension. In the wake of the latest events, one would have to consider whether or not the Network would still go forward with this project and in the conversation of thinking if this show should go forward we also have to discuss the decision to make the victim White and the cop Black.

This move screams “political correctness” or an effort to take some of the tension off by changing this cultural dynamic, but I feel that if you’re gonna take on an issue, you can’t honestly take it on if you are disingenuous by making the victim White!

The story of the minorities and their problems with law enforcement policing them differently than White America has been well known throughout our country’s history, if you are going to tell this story, it should be told in it’s purest form, not some gimmick designed to make us feel more comfortable or balanced!

Making the victim White and the officer Black is a slap in the face of every minority family that has had to live this experience. Can you imagine having to deal with, not only the initial shock and tragedy of having a family member killed by law enforcement but also enduring a broken justice system that insults them by not holding ANYONE accountable for their death despite what the evidence and video shows?!!!

The very name Black-Lives-Matter has been vilified, and people rephrase the theme to all lives matter. The emphasis on “Black lives” is not about an ethnocentric way of placing importance on Black lives as much as it is reminding ourselves and the public that we matter. In the face of routine killings that are in many cases not even considered a crime we need affirmation that we matter. The premise of the show insults the real life story of which the show is based!

Some might dismiss my view on this issue and say “it happens all the time, it’s just entertainment?” but who is entertained by this premise? The show’s premise bothers me in the same sense that it would bother me if we allowed the media to spin the shooting of the police officers in Dallas as the primary focus and tragedy of the entire series of events that took place that week.

If we weren’t “outraged” or “saddened” by the deaths of countless minorities across this country since we’ve been keeping score, I don’t want to see people speaking out now as if this thing just got tragic with the death of the five officers in Dallas!!! I don’t want to see political candidates spin the deaths of unarmed minorities or law enforcement officials into some agenda to blame our current President or an opponent; we’ve seen enough hate and division.

I don’t care if the executive producer or writer of the “Shot’s Fired” story were an African American I would not support such a disingenuous story, and it is insulting!

Only in America, a country with such a rich history of racial divide and injustice are we still afraid to speak the truth on racism! As you read these words, I’m sure there are those that will spin my views into some hatred towards Whites or perhaps even declare that I’m a “racist.” When did speaking the truth about this issue become racism? My truth is illustrated in this pure ideology; not every Black man is “my brother” nor are all White people racists!

The fact is I’ve been racially profiled by police in my hometown since I was a teenager, but this fact does not make me believe that the issue is with all White people or officers, it’s systemic! We can’t allow small minded people to equate our protesting of law enforcement to us condoning the senseless killing of law enforcement officials; that’s counterproductive and stupid!!!

I’d rather see a documentary on this story covering the dynamics of what’s happening instead of a program designed to entertain us; this story is too raw and emotional to see it sensationalized!!! The actual story is sad enough that it needs no gimmicks to enhance it or make us relate. No spin necessary, just tell the real story if you’re going to say anything.

I don’t need people running for office to spin the Orlando nightclub shootings into “the War on Terrorism,” I also don’t need people who just want to watch the world burn manipulating the simple minded into a hate-filled daze all in the name of getting likes/followers! It would be most unfortunate if a TV show or film used the backdrop of our real life struggle all in the name of entertainment because telling the story they’re planning to tell is insulting, to say the least.

The truth needs no “spin cycle,” and it’s about time we the people realized this and stopped falling for these tactics. This story is too raw and too emotional to be edited to make us feel comfortable.

Either tell the truth or leave it alone!

Why Must I Comply?

I don’t want my son to die, so I teach him to comply.

It’s funny, because as Americans, we love to beat our chest and talk about standing up for what’s right. Is it right that White kids can speak out and know their rights while my son is taught to comply?

A byproduct of institutional racism, showing compliance in the face of injustice is something my mother’s generation persevered so that my children and I would no longer have to tolerate it. What does it truly say about our country if we have far too many White people, famous or otherwise, who not only know, but operate within their second and fourth amendment rights while we expect minorities to comply?

Why are we teaching compliance in the face of a broken system especially when it does not assure our safety? I wish I were afforded the American right to teach my children to stand up and fight, but minorities are held to a higher standard. White kids are called rebellious and given probation while minorities are called “thugs” and shot!

I was always taught to cooperate with the police, but while self-preservation techniques taught to us by our parents may work on paper how does it help us when a cop, who is also human, has made a decision to make an example of you regardless of how you behave?

I once had a car go flying past me so fast it nearly ran me off the road, and when I saw a cop pulling up I thought, “good, he’s going to catch up with the car that was speeding.” When I realized he was behind me with his lights on I was confused!

“License and proof of insurance,” he said to me in a gruff tone! In my best non-threatening, most cooperative voice, and facial expression that I could present, I told him, “sure thing officer, license, insurance, anything you need I got!”

“Anything I need you got?” he says, “what the hell else do I need other than your license and insurance?” Then, he yells at me, “do you have any weapons or drugs on you, boy!?!?!” He then instructs me to get out of my car and to sit in his patrol car while he did a plain view search of my car. My head is spinning because I’m thinking to myself “what in the hell just happened?”

He then comes to the car and runs my license and quickly discovers that I didn’t have any warrants or tickets or anything on my record, so he informs me that he is going to let me go.

At this point, I’m just riding with it and thinking I’ll be out of here in a few seconds so just remain quiet. The police officer then says that he’s doing me a favor, and he explains “the next time a cop pulls you over don’t act like a smart ass!”

This cop then goes into his interpretation of what he thought I did by smiling and saying sure thing officer anything you need and then handing him my information. He believed that I was a “smart ass” by cooperating the way I did, can you imagine my confusion? He then says that I acted as if he asked me to suck his dick or something!!!” and at this point, I’m very pissed and even more insulted, but I just had to sit there and take his bullshit!

What White American who knows their constitutional rights and perhaps have the I, II, IV and V Amendments tattooed across their chest is going to allow any cop to talk and treat them this way? So why are you expecting minorities just to comply? Is it because we should know our place in society and behave accordingly? I believe there is an underlying tone of racism in the notion that we as minorities must comply in these scenarios.

If average minority citizens have to become pseudo-behavioral analysis majors by not only assessing their moods but the potential mood of the officers in these traffic stops, using the right words, monitoring our tones, body language, then what are we expecting of the PAID and TRAINED public servants?????

As a Behavioral Therapist, I have to be educated on the dynamics of cultural competence, and diversity, but I also have to be wise enough to understand that my training and education in these departments will help my efforts as a health care professional. I believe our society would benefit greatly from us placing the onus back on law enforcement and not subscribing to the notion that it is merely up to a citizen to comply.

The example that I used as the base for my point is not mere conjecture. This is only one of the first-hand accounts of what it is like for minorities in any given city, on any given day.

On another occasion, I had a cop pull his gun and nearly shoot me for making too sudden a movement to get my wallet which was in the backseat in my pant’s pocket! That day I had planned on going out to play basketball with friends, so I changed into my shorts before leaving the job and headed straight to the court. After I had finished playing ball, I got in my car to leave and go home. I forgot my wallet was in my work pants in the backseat of my car. When I was pulled over and asked for my license, I thought, “Oh yeah, my wallet is in my pants!”

Thankfully for me, though the officer pulled his gun, he watched to see me bring back my pants from the backseat, in which I then pulled my wallet from the pocket. It didn’t hit me until I drove away what nearly happened to me, my hands were shaking so bad I had to stop at my friend’s house, who lived nearby, to calm my nerves!

It’s bad enough that people are making posts on social media automatically assuming the worst about many of the victims of these unfortunate circumstances, we can’t afford to have paid officers who do the same!

If our final solution to preventing the incidence of death of unarmed minorities is only teaching compliance without teaching accountability to law enforcement officials… there will be no change.

We must teach cultural competence as well as educate officials on many of the misconceptions about culture or else we are doing a disservice to both law enforcement and the community as a whole.

I would love to see more people out there remembering that all minorities who are citizens of the United States should be afforded the same rights that White Americans are entitled to. Could you imagine Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter or Glenn Beck complying with a slightly overzealous cop, whether the cop was Black or White? If not, then why must I, as a minority, be obligated to comply?



Body Issues: Females in Sports and in Life

I’ve always found it ironic that in a society in which “body image issues” is a favorite topic the common solution to dealing with this all-too-real problem seems to be posting nude selfies or posing nude on the cover of a magazine!

We live in a highly sexualized society, one that I do not believe anyone has an issue with admitting has a problem with objectifying women. I think we need to redefine the concept of female empowerment and stop making it center around a women’s willingness to take off their clothes, “free her nipples” or anything related to the naked body.

I recall when the former Disney starlet Demi Lovato, a young artist who had a history of drug/mental health and self-harm concerns, decided in the wake of her grandfather’s death to pose nude in a photo shoot to celebrate the release of her album entitled, Confident.

At first glance, this title and the decision to pose nude can easily be marketed or giving the typical media “spin” to give it a “feel good” type  “you go, girl!” vibe. As a father and a Behavioral Therapist I just believe that turning this practice into a “feel good” or “empowering” gesture sends a dangerous message to impressionable young girls who are already idolizing these starlets for all of the wrong reasons!

We live in a world in which young children are bullied and under intense scrutiny about how they walk, talk and of course how they look and dress. Are we suggesting to average everyday girls and boys with REAL body image issues that the way to overcome them is to take off their clothes in defiance and say “to hell with what you think?”

How exactly does exposing your body to strangers for them to log on and critique as to whether or not your body is appealing or not going to help a person with real issues concerning their bodies? The overall solution to body-shamming, or efforts to help women with real issues about their body, is not for them to boldly take off their clothes in defiance, this only further plays along with the “objectification” game which is trending in Hollywood and on social media today!

I routinely get called a prude for my views concerning the heavy reliance on nudity on TV/film, but I assure you that my unapologetic views on nudity are more about promoting healthy concepts for women overall more than establishing some modesty movement.

I’m merely a father who tries to teach his daughter that she has more to offer in life than advertising her tits and ass. Some people would hear my statement right there and automatically accuse me of being crude, but when you look at what we are currently teaching young women and men to accept as “normal” today I don’t believe my message is crude as much as it is necessary!

Why is it that in the midst of the sex tape, nude selfie and Reality TV enthusiastic world in which we live we’ve managed to turn legitimate female athletes into women who take off their clothes for magazines in the pursuit of fame, and fortune?

Women sports has had to evolve to a place in time in which women went from being considered merely cheerleaders or the eye candy, to a valid and legitimate place in which they currently stand today. Why do Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey, Alex Morgan, Danica Patrick or Lindsay Vonn have to appear nude or semi-nude on ESPN body issues or any other publication?

Did famous pioneers such as Billy Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Wilma Rudolph, Margaret Court, Janet Guthrie, Shirley Muldowney or Babe Didrikson Zaharias (just to name a few) get the benefit of today’s standard of feminism or acceptance? These pioneering athletes had to perform under the scrutiny of the male establishment that didn’t even consider them real athletes!

While most would quickly suggest to me that times have changed and the sports world, much like society, has changed with it but is this indeed the case? If the pioneers in women’s sports persevered the angst and opposition of their generation only to give an opportunity for current female athletes today how does Danica Patrick posing nude or in a bikini honor Janet Guthrie or Shirley Muldowney?

My daughter followed her older brother into martial arts when she was only six years old. The instructor said that while she was too young, she listened and focused better than the older boys he was instructing! 11 years later she not only learned Tae Kwon Do but is currently preparing for her Black Belt in Bushido-Kai Karate, while also studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!

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My daughter demonstrating one of her weapons katas.


She is as much of an athlete has her older brother, and she has a lot more to offer the world than posting a nude selfie or sharing her body with the universe!

How is it possible that we allow the media to spin these trends as evolution or any semblance of real definite progression regarding how women, and in this case female athletes, are valued if it inevitably places them back in the same old objectified category that the pioneers before them paved the way for them to surpass?

Many of today’s top female athletes, singers, and entertainers despite their differing body types, skin tones or ethnicity are undoubtedly beautiful creatures that only God could have made. If we afford the men the opportunity to be defined by the body of work, skills, talent, and even their intelligence, why can’t we do the same for females?

We are not only doing females in all walks of life a disservice by systemically relegating them to be wholesome of their willingness to take off their clothes, but we risk causing more harm by trying to co-sign on the practice as if it’s a legitimate form of female empowerment!

Are we relegating female athletes and entertainers by their commitment to take off their clothes? Clearly, these women have talent and skill; they have more to offer than their tits and ass, yet within our society not only are nude selfies trending, showing off your body is the norm!

Some are protesting my words, perhaps arguing “male athletes do it also!” but are men asked to do this at the same rate and frequency at which female athletes are invited to do it?

I was once asked by a friend’s wife if my daughter had “body image issues?” since she didn’t show off a lot of skin or wear tight clothing. I tried to remain calm and answer her in a non-offensive way, “she’s only eight freaking years old!!!!”

Sexualizing and objectifying young girls and women is a systemic part of our society! If adult females want to wear slogans, or attention grabbing words on the butt of the jeans or shorts, rock on with your bad self, but I cringe whenever I see parents letting their little girls start this dangerous trend.

Since my daughter has gotten older, I’ve had family members ask me “when are you gonna let your girl show off her curves?!?!” You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve almost cursed out someone close to me on this very topic!

I can’t control my daughter even If I wanted to! She is a smart and talented young lady who has developed her own set of values (yes, some parents still teach those!) My daughter is capable of coming home with black and blue bumps on her shins from blocking kicks in sparring or at a tournament. She is also capable of making her dad have to change his clothes when she gets all fancied up when she and I go on an occasional daddy/daughter movie date! (flower in the hair and everything people!)

When our daughter was around five years old, she gave me her list of things she was going to do when she got older. These things consisted of – a tap dancer (a ballet dancer too), a magician, a black belt in martial arts, and a chef. We had her list on the refrigerator and my wife, and I told her that she could become anything she set her mind to become. She’s often talked with me about how society views females, and when I listen to her and see her compete at nearly 17 years old I still see that same feisty little six-year-old that wouldn’t allow anyone to tell her she was too small to begin martial arts!

My daughter’s defiance is what motivates me to speak out on these types of issues. Women have so much more to offer the world than their bodies, and I just wish little girls today had more ambassadors for this concept than they currently have.

Some would suggest that my simple values are perhaps outdated or closed minded, but teaching little girls and women overall that they should value themselves and their bodies should never go out of style.

Contrary to society today it is not a woman’s birthright to take off her clothes in a film, selfies or for mere entertainment. Women have far more to offer the world than their bodies and it’s time that someone lets them know.

In the Wake of Tragedy

In our current state of shock at the latest tragedy, the mass shooting in Orlando, I am upset as millions of others are at these horrific events, but also at how quickly they are turned into political jargon and posturing!

I hate how quickly the talking heads on TV discover each shooter’s “alleged” ties to Islamic radicalism and how many people after each tragedy presumably knew their murderous intent!

When the terrorist attacks took place in Paris last year, I immediately went to the computer and began to write to the victims and their families, but before I could post one-word thousands of others started to publish hate-filled rhetoric and typical political jargon. These counter-productive post blamed our President and Democrats before the world even knew who was officially responsible for the attacks themselves!!!

Are we so accustomed to these tragedies that it has become all too familiar to assess blame without the complete facts? Are we so fixed on our ideology to hate Islam and our skewed view of its supporters that we are prepared to hate before we are even willing to mourn the victims in each and every tragedy?

Changing our Facebook profiles to reflect the French Flag, posting peace symbols or supporting gay rights themes for a few weeks does not absolve us from the responsibility of knowing the truth, hate is the real culprit, and ironically it does not discriminate!!!

I got so overwhelmed by the sheer idiocy of the post I was reading in the wake of the Paris attacks that I stopped writing my original, heartfelt post. It is so much easier to post hate and wrongfully assess blame than it is to be bigger than the moment and try to post hope, encouragement, love or even sorrow!

In the fever of an election year, we tend to sensationalize these tragedies at the expense of the victims and their families. No politician is beyond using these events as a platform to push their agenda and to use society’s angst and disappointment to incite hate and get their message across regardless of the long term ramifications.

As you read these words you have no doubt been listening to hundreds of talking heads, some wittingly some perhaps unwittingly spreading the notion that this latest attack in Orlando is the worst attack in U.S. history. We’ll get caught up in the technicalities of mass shootings vs. bombings, hate crimes vs. terrorist attacks, but don’t forget the fact that senselessly killing the innocent of any race, culture, gender or sexual orientation is a crime!

In our enthusiasm as average citizens, celebrities or politicians to turn this latest tragedy into a political agenda and focus on Islam or target Muslims let us remember Oklahoma city. The Oklahoma City bombing was the second most devastating attack on American sole (2nd only to 9/11) came at the hands of a White American with Christian affiliation who killed indiscriminately 168 people and wounded 600 others!
In the wake of latest tragedy, we have a tendency to get caught up in petty grievances and mismanage our anger. Some are so fixated on terrorism and radical extremism that they’re willing to phrase what can tragically be a hate crime into domestic terrorism and thus turn it into political jargon for posturing prowess in a political debate!

What we all fail epically to understand in the wake of these tragedies is that all of these tragedies are “hate crimes,” terrorism, mass shootings, bombings, whether they happen in the states or around the world, all are both acts of terror and hate crimes!

Why do we chronicle the citizenship of terror victims killed in other countries? If the bombing killed 130 people why do we focus on the 5 American lives lost? Are we so fixated on demonizing Islam or anyone with a foreign-sounding name that we disregard the fact that many of the suspects are born and raised in the U.S.?

Perhaps the most profoundly saddest thing to come out of the wake of these latest tragedies is the fact that it only incites more hate and division?!?!

I am a 45-year-old heterosexual Black man who has no issue with recognizing the Orlando attacks as potential hate crimes against gay/lesbians. Everyone is quickly condemning these attacks and speaking out in support of the gay/lesbian community, but how may people share the same outrage at unarmed minorities being killed while in police custody or questionable shootings involving minorities killed by law enforcement?

The sad thing about these cases is that we don’t even consider them a crime because of victims in the cases. I don’t have to be gay/lesbian or even agree with their lifestyle (nor do they need my approval) to know that this is a hate crime and wrong!

Hate does not discriminate, but human beings do! I shouldn’t have to be gay to understand that it is wrong to discriminate against someone for their sexual orientation, so why is it so easy for many to disregard the death of an anonymous minority simply because he may have had a record? I’m not trying to validate one tragedy over another, but we need to recognize that they are all a part of the same tragic circumstances in our society allowed to fester due to the overall issue of hate!

In the wake of the Orlando shooting, I implore all not to succumb to the hate-laced rhetoric that would seek to use this tragedy to implant the notion of returning America to a more peaceful or civilized time. When we hear that phrase “make America great again” we have to always ask ourselves a few questions, “who is making the statement?” and “who are they making it ideal for?”

I urge everyone to weigh the words of everyone speaking out so loudly after the fact; our world is filled with too many who seek to use this tragedy for their selfish gain, we need healing, not more conjecture or hate disguised as sympathy.

A tragedy occurred in Orlando; sadly it won’t be the last, but we have to hold onto the most apparent truth we know when disaster strikes, we need to mourn the dead, survivors need to heal, the community is afraid, and fear begets panic and irrational thinking!

I identify as a Democrat, but I am not foolish enough to suggest that anyone who identifies as a Republican is unsympathetic to the overall issues of the fallout of Orlando. I didn’t post my comments in the wake of the Paris attacks, but I must post this now.

While I know it will no doubt get lost in the endless barrage of political rhetoric and people choosing to incite more fear and hate, I’m going to speak out against hate as opposed to spreading it. Whether it was truly Edmund Burke who said it first, I’ll credit him and close with this essential thought, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)”

Even worse than doing nothing is to incite more fear and hatred, in the wake of any tragedy, more fear and hatred is something that we apparently do not need!

School Pictures: My Generation’s Version of Embarrassing Photos

Do you remember the time when photos were still referred to as photos and not “pics?” How many of us remember what it was like stressing over if you had the right shoes, dress or what state your hair was in for taking those all-important school pictures? How many of us remember what it was that was like to make such a big deal about having the right outfit and then the payoff of feeling that you got it right? Perhaps the best part of the issue is only realized years later when your memory of how good you thought you looked is challenged in the reality of how embarrassed you are by those same photos all these years later.
As I compare that era with our current social media, celebrity obsessed culture we live in now I’d have to say that not only have we devolved regarding what now embarrasses us, but we have different values as far as what we now consider socially acceptable. I preferred that simple time when that curl was in, and you thought you wore it oh so well, only to now be embarrassed by that mullet, big hair or that member’s only jacket!!!


The embarrassment some of us currently feel as we lament hairstyle or wardrobe choices from back in the day is minor in comparison to our contemporaries who now post questionable material online and share with the world. Only a handful of these individuals ever admit or realize how embarrassed they should truly be for the pictures they choose to share with the world.
Teachers sending nude photos to their students; married people sharing nude photos of themselves with strangers; and how about the national story about a Mexican female police officer who decided it was a brilliant idea to take a topless picture of herself while on duty and in uniform?!!! All inappropriate or illegal!!! The female police officer reportedly says she embarrassed her husband and children as she sits on suspension awaiting her fate, but she is reportedly receiving all kinds of offers to pose nude for major publications just in case her career in law enforcement is indeed over.
So what have we truly learned from this issue on embarrassing photos? Since we’re gathered about with so great a cloud of witnesses who have seen and learned absolutely nothing from the countless number of examples before them, can we say that people will ever learn what it means to be embarrassed by taking inappropriate photos? Whether criminally hacked or purposely self-leaked, celebrities, athletes, and ordinary everyday stupid people have fallen victim to the picture frenzy, those photos that by all accounts wouldn’t exist if you didn’t allow them to be taken.
I preferred a much simpler time when our worst fears were that someone you see today was going to see a much less “cooler” version of you from an era in which you thought you were looking good, but then realized all these years later that you were mistaken! I don’t know if it was the clothes, the hair or even just the memories that the pictures themselves evoke, I’d pay serious money for anyone who has that elementary school picture of me in the tan suit to just burn that picture for me. That was just embarrassing.

What Are We Teaching Our Kids About Race?

Perhaps no other topic is capable of causing more potential conflict and harsh feelings like religion, sports, or even politics. I’d dare say that one topic, in particular, is liable to create just as much, if not more divide between people and that is the subject of race. The issue of race is so divisive and potentially dangerous that it is the one issue that holds sway over all of the above categories mentioned! We know there are serious racial issues that continue to trouble our society, so it is not as if we have to make a case that there is a problem, the problem is evident. My reason for discussing this topic is to address how we as reasonably intelligent parents discussing the many complexities of race with our children today?

A few years ago I was presented with a valuable lesson about race when my wife brought to my attention a very public meltdown that one of my oldest son’s best friends had which involved his repeated use of the N-word, which he posted on social media! My son’s friend discovered that his apartment had been broken into, and his little brother’s game console, stolen. He went on a Facebook rant venting how upset he was, and it could have ended quietly with that, but it was taken to an entirely new level by recalling a Black kid in his neighborhood that day who he deduced must have been the culprit.

He went on to say “it was probably stolen by that fuckin nigger I saw earlier, yea, I said nigger!” (all caps, bold, to make sure we understood he meant business!) Well, I am African American, my wife is Puerto Rican, and our kids are mixed. We have an entirely diverse group of both family and friends, so at any time we may have a United Nations appearance when it comes to family gatherings and holidays!!! Our kids have never had any issues as far as making friends with literally anybody!!! If you enjoy their company and are nice with them, they’d most likely be your friend. When this happened, and my wife showed me the post I was rather disappointed because we had known him and his family for quite a while and he had stayed at our house more times than I could count.

This incident happened in our personal life; this was not work related, so I didn’t need to be objective and try to sound politically correct. I was rather pissed and disappointed! My wife asked me, “what do you want to do about this?” My first instinct was just to sever all ties with him and advise my kids to do the same, but I don’t know if it was Therapist training, Christian values, parenting skills or a combination of all three helped me to call a meeting with my kids about the incident. My primary goal was to process it myself and explain to my kids how I felt, but let them know it was up to them to honestly decide how they felt about it. I did not want to project any of my anger, prejudices or angst on my kids who I always remind myself of the fact that they have their cultural identity that is different than mine or my wife.

I must say that this was some of the best damn parenting my wife or I had ever done, and I’m not trying to sound pretentious because I wanted to vent and dictate to them how they would respond, but the moment was bigger than my little attitude, and a better choice was made. My kids all gave their take on the situation and while my daughter voiced more anger about the situation than my son did she admitted that he was welcome back at our house as long as he apologized. My son seemed to blow it off almost immediately saying that he was just upset, and he didn’t believe he felt like that or used that language or views regularly. He also required him to make an apology.

My wife, to her credit, addressed him directly on social media when he first made the comment asking for him to calm down and think about what he was saying. What I found more disturbing than what he said was the fact that a couple of his relatives echoed some of his sentiments and tried to rebuke my wife’s words which were only trying to get him to calm down and not react using such hate-filled language! Can you imagine the context in which an adult would support what he was saying in that moment? Even a few of the boys other White friends were trying to echo what my wife was saying and get him to quickly delete his post.

He reached out to me and asked to come to talk one on one and apologize formally as he had already apologized over the phone and on social media. I gained more respect for him when he did this, and he got a chance to get into the ramification of his decision to vent while in the state of anger. I am not more spiritually enlightened than any other man/woman, but I am realistic about my prejudices and how my history and experiences with racism can affect how I see the world vs. how my children see their world. Are we teaching our kids to be like us or to reach beyond our limitations and make a greater effort than what we have?

This example was unique indeed because not only did I get an opportunity to teach my kids about issues concerning race, but I got a chance to discuss it with a young man who had put himself in the middle of the great debate by posting hateful words on social media. In my work as a Therapist, I get the chance to show clients that many of their behaviors don’t just appear out of nowhere. They are a byproduct of learned behavior that is often so subtle that we don’t even realize we are quietly being programmed to normalize the behavior. The fact that a few of his family members were encouraging him to use the hateful language is proof that the practice exists somewhere in his family.

I explained to him that I too get angry at things such as people tailgating me or cutting me off in traffic, but when these things happen to me, I stressed to him the importance of remembering the fact that these people who are doing these things are just people. The man who once rode my bumper for several miles and threaten to hit me several times, all while flipping me off and cursing me was just an ass hole, not a White asshole!!! I followed this guy to Quicktrip. He had the misfortune of happening to be going the same way I was after our expressway encounter! I pulled up next to him and said out loud, “now what?!?!?!” as an entire parking lot looked on thinking that I was having an “angry Black man moment!”

I explained to the guy who was so scared he wouldn’t even look me directly in the eye that his reckless behavior could have caused an accident, and I had my children in the car with me, which was my real reason for being so pissed at him! I told him that he was lucky that this occurred while during the stage of my life when I was able to take responsibility for my actions and not when I didn’t think twice about knocking someone out if the opportunity presented itself. I told him to be careful and not to do crazy stuff like that in the future because the next person he does that to may not be as forgiving or enlightened as I was trying to be with him! He looked at me as if I was crazy, but he apologized, and I got in my car and went about my business. Now my wife fussed at me about the incident because she thought I was wrong for following him due to that whole me being Black and he could have had a gun thing.

I talked to my kids about that incident because they saw me and knew how upset I was and why I was so upset. The guy was acting as if he was going to ram my car all because he thought I wasn’t going fast enough, but instead of going around me he decided to tailgate me for miles and flip me off and shout profanity at me! Even though I felt justified to do what I did, I had to explain to them the proper way to handle those situations and also to let them know that not all people are like that. What do we teach our kids about our incidents in which racial tensions were involved in a dispute you had? I’ve explained to my kids, friends and clients that as long as we are human race is always going to be a factor.

We have to stop trying to disprove that racism still exists, the signs are too numerous to count, but instead we have to teach the fact that all people are racists. I tell my kids that not every White person is a racist and out to get me, just like not every Black man is my brother or has my best interests at heart! I respect the truth and what is right, and that goes across racial demographics and all cultural lines.

My wife recently showed our daughter a video in which a teenage girl was attacked by several classmates who set her up by inviting her to a party in which they took turns beating her all because she was “mixed race.” Perhaps the saddest part of the story was the fact that not only were no charges filed for the assault which sent the girl to the hospital but her parents only discourse was to file a suit against the parents of one of the girls where the attack took place. They were home at the time of the attack and had allowed teens to drink alcohol during the events that took place that day. How could any parent not only allow their underage kids to drink alcohol but how could they also be “clueless” to an assault like this from taking place under their watch?

While kids can make one wrong choice, we don’t typically see good kids go from being responsible and friendly to setting up a girl to be bullied and beaten up overnight! How can any parent not pick up on this type of behavior developing in their child? One of the benefits of raising kids with “multi-cultural” dynamics is that they’re used to having so many diverse groups of children and adults around them that they adjust and can coexist with any group. When my kids were younger I recall going to a Burger King play area and seeing my oldest son. when he was about five encountering a group of Mexican kids and getting so excited “Hi friends” he kept saying only to be disappointed when none of them would talk or play with him! I had to wrestle against my views as I momentarily thought they didn’t want to play with him due to me being Black, so they assumed he was only a Black kid and wanted nothing to do with him?

I quickly thought to myself “duh, maybe they don’t understand you, son, talk to them in Spanish!” My boy went back “I can speak Spanish!! I can speak Spanish!!!” When he introduced himself in Spanish and got a few of the basic communications, he knew from his Puerto Rican mother teaching him the kids were all smiles, and he made new friends just like that! Sometimes it is as simple as being able to communicate past the static and misunderstandings and hear what the other person is trying to say. Are we as parents facilitating that environment or are we contributing to the same static and noise that keep us divided?

What do we base our perceptions of other races on, what the media and entertainment outlets portray? Are we so limited in our perspective to sum up an entire culture based on the few people of that culture that we’ve met? Do we ever find ourselves generalizing an entire culture based on skewed representations which are often wrong? Do we challenge or even correct our kids when they generalize or use short sighted views concerning race? The truth is we teach our children more so by how they see us behave and not as much by what we believe we are teaching them with our words.

Over the years, I’ve grown accustomed to people telling my wife and me, how sweet and well behaved they believe our kids are. I always make it a point to tell them, my kids are just as capable of being just as typical regarding being bad as any other average kid. We’ve managed to hold them purposely accountable for their behavior, which means we deal with the issues to make sure they’ve always understood the expectations in life. My oldest son at 20 years old is more level headed on issues of race than I could have ever hoped to have been when I was his age. My daughter has managed to develop a bit of my cynical perspective, but she has enough of her mother’s optimism to help her continue to develop into a well-rounded young woman. Our youngest is still developing. Judging by his ability to play with every kid on a playground or in a play area, solely based on their willingness to play with him and not by the color of their skin, I’d say he’s well on his way to following in his sibling’s footsteps regarding his attitudes concerning race. That is the only true way to once and for all kill off racism when the later generations eliminate it from society, but how can this happen if we as parents don’t instill in them the tools to do so? What are we teaching our kids about Race?