Black Thought

esq-james-meredith-0113-lg“What any human being can do in life depends upon the foundation laid between birth and age five.”

 James Meredith

We are teachers – in some form or another. Now, perhaps a majority of the reading audience are devoid of the appropriate formal certification, but we are indeed teachers nonetheless. Knowingly or unknowingly instructing through our behavior, language, and actions; we shape and mold young, virginal, and formless minds. That cannot be taken for granted. We are, first and foremost, the foreman of fashioning intellectual promise, building emotional stability, and framing principled character. During those early formative years, our guidance and instruction is needed – no – it is desperately crucial to a child’s development. Their future hinges on what we teach them in the present. And that is where we should be – present; never absent from their growth and maturation. It is time for us to lead by example. We are the models of morality. We are the cultivators of character. We are the installers of integrity. We enable enthusiasm for education, and we advocate the accrual of astounding accomplishments. The foundation is ready to be laid. Let’s not wait any longer.

Black Thought

paul-robeson“Having been given, I must give.”

-Paul Robeson

Sometimes, when sequestered within moments of quiet solitude, thoughtful ruminations reveal how incredibly fortunate I am. Fortunate, not in regards to monetary value, rather, fortunate in regards to the many blessings I have reaped tremendous benefit. Yes, I have been given much. Now, I understand that some individuals hold fast to the belief that they earn everything with no, if not minimal, assistance required. Well, sometimes success acts as a vanity whose reflection never grows tiresome to the person looking at it. Look, one cannot be merciless, yet expect mercy. One cannot embrace avarice, yet expect generosity. One cannot espouse hate, yet expect love. Only speaking for myself, I have been granted favor and opportunity. I have been afforded mercy and forgiveness. I have been given love and grace. And because of those realities, it is of the utmost importance that I give back. Giving back – it could arrive in the form of your time, an inspirational word, a much needed hug, or an important professional opportunity. No one ever truly does it on their own. Someone, right now, needs you. And you may need someone. Go ahead, give of yourself and surely you will be given.

Black Thought

booker t washington“Never get to the point where you will be ashamed to ask anybody for information. The ignorant man will always be ignorant if he fears that by asking another for information he will display ignorance. Better once display your ignorance of a certain subject than always know nothing of it.”

-Booker T. Washington

Well, as the expression goes: there is no such thing as a dumb question. So true. As sometimes stubborn gentlemen, we retain this idea within our thick skulls that we know everything. Nothing could be further removed from reality-we simply don’t know everything. Yet, some gentlemen live their existence as if they do. When faced with subject matter that bewilders the mind, they occasionally conjure up imaginary facts and present them as truth. Listen, there is absolutely nothing incorrect about asking questions and increasing one’s knowledge. Better to look the fool once than be a fool forever right? Set aside the arrogance. Put away the pride. We all can benefit from the blessings of another with greater knowledge than our own. Weary are the legs of the gentleman supporting the weight of his own hubris. We don’t know everything. It’s wise to cease acting like it.

Black Thought

Booker T Washington & Family“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”

-Booker T. Washington

Sure, it would be easy enough to become enamored by the seemingly authoritative, accomplished status of a wildly successful individual. The mere presence of seductive visuals such as expensive status symbols have tremendous influence as they elicit, sometimes, misguided deference from the admirer. However, I challenge the reader to momentarily ignore such material objects. Instead, please divert your attention to the process that granted such accomplishment possible. What did that individual experience during their journey to success? Trust this: The strength of a gentleman’s character is forged on the anvil of adversity. Through weathering distress or difficulty, prosperity is procured by he who believes a challenge is an opportunity. An opportunity to steel your will and seize achievement despite any obstacles you might encounter. Don’t be impressed by person’s materialistic results. Those are nice and fine to look at. Nevertheless, be more impressed with the vanquished adversity that withered in the face of impending success. And then go forth and forge your own.

Black Thought

WEB_DuBois_19181“Let us realize too that even we disenfranchised have our duties.”

-W.E.B. Du Bois

Responsibility. Every gentleman owns a select portion of this in his community. Regardless of his limiting socioeconomic circumstances, a gentleman must deliver the very best of his talents for the improvement of his neighborhood. I definitely understand that this may be difficult for some gentlemen. One may feel that their status in society does not meet acceptable or suitable standards. However, I say to those individuals who may feel as if life has dealt a cruel poker hand; you still have much to offer. Do not sit idle and allow your gifts to waste and rot. Your community patiently awaits your arrival. Waiting for the “right” time when everything is correct in the world is not an option. What if the “right” time never arrives? The only right time is right now. Do not hesitate. Do not second guess. You are stronger, more intelligent, and more talented than you might realize; it is your duty to improve the environment around you. You possess the necessary tools to make a difference. Act now!

Black Thought

james baldwin 2“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

James Baldwin

The knowledgeable gentleman is reconciled with the reality that anything worth the attempt of transforming could ultimately result in failure. Nevertheless, the very real possibility of failure does not deter or dissuade him from focusing his efforts to bring about change. He understands that change is not fully realized when absent an active catalyst. Please note: Fruitful, bountiful harvests are not born to barren soil. Work must be done. And so, if a gentleman desires to see a difference, he must ultimately commit himself to making a difference. A gentleman must steel his resolve and confront what needs to be confronted, failure be damned. So, the question for you is: What do you want to see changed, and just exactly what are you doing about it?

Education – By Any Means Necessary

Malcolm X WindowTruth: Not every controversy – most likely contrived and manufactured – should be dignified with a response. However, allow me to present another truth; ignorance cannot be allowed to injuriously metastasize the young minds of this generation or future generations. Sure, there are far more pressing issues at present that afflict the African-American community, but surely one can grant momentary pause to address obvious stupidity. Because, if left unchecked, the reverence and appreciation that African-American heritage should elicit will slowly dissipate with each passing generation. That cannot be allowed to come to pass. And with that, the subject matter today is hip hop artist Nicki Minaj, and the dubious decision to promote her new single using the image of Malcolm X (pictured above) with profanity and the word n*gga splayed across the top.

Now, was there a social or political point to made by utilizing the 1964 photograph of Malcolm X peering out his window with a M1 carbine rifle in hand? The answer, not surprisingly, is no. Minaj states that her new single, Looking A** N*gga, was written to empower women. Wait…what? Okay, before we delve into that bit of insanity, here is an explanation from Minaj as she states, “It was almost parallel in my opinion because he has this big gun ready to shoot at a lookin’ (expletive) bleep, and that’s how I looked at it,’ she said. ‘I looked at it as this is one of the most memorable people in our history, in black history, who voiced his opinion no matter what, and I understand how my intent was overlooked and I definitely didn’t want to offend his family or his legacy.” Again, wait…what?

Malcolm X and his family lived under the heavy threat of death and assassination during the better part of his latter years, and somehow Nicki Minaj thinks her tribulations with men are somehow equivalent. For the record, the M1 that Malcolm X was holding was not for show. It was not some sort of symbol. He had it in tow to literally protect himself and his family. Look, in the past year or so, Emmett Till was name-dropped in a vulgar lyric by Lil Wayne. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s image was re-purposed on fliers to promote twerk contests for his birthday. And we all remember Russell Simmons and the sex tape parody featuring Harriett Tubman. I remember a time when hip hop championed and celebrated our history. Question: When did some black folks get so damn disrespectful of our past?

And so, this is the problem with fostering an indifference to an overwhelming and spreading ignorance of our history. However, let me digress for a moment. A few weeks ago, my ear happened to catch D.L. Hughley lamenting the fact that Black History Month was the shortest month of the year and schools only teach the same old, same old – such as the history of George Washington Carver. Now, Hughley is a comedian, and given the fact that I was channel surfing, I am not sure if he was joking or serious. But, I can address his argument with this: Teach your own black history – 365 days out of the year. You have the power to do so. With as much information that is available today, it is really sad that we continuously look to others outside the black community to educate us on our history. People…you have a platform…use it!

Facebook. Twitter. Start a blog, hell, it’s free! Start your own platform to educate and spread our rich black history. Many folk use vast Internet space for bulls**t, yes, I said it – bulls**t. We cannot passively stand by as artists such as Nicki Minaj (and many more) reinterpret and redefine history to conveniently fit into their reprobate world. Enough with the stupidity. Our heritage is being manipulated and mocked for monetary gain, and it is time people are held accountable. The temerity, presumption, and ignorance of some individuals today is frightening. But the only way to combat the lack of knowledge is the infusion of knowledge. Crack open a book. Find something useful on Internet. Watch something thought-provoking. Ignorance is not bliss – learning is.

Black Thought

booker t washington“Have you grown to the point where you can unflinchingly stand up for the right, for that which is honorable, honest, truthful, whether it makes you popular or unpopular? Have you grown to the point where absolutely and unreservedly you make truth and honor your standard of thinking and speaking?”

-Booker T. Washington

Sometimes, a gentleman must utilize the power of his voice to tell individuals what they need you hear, and not necessarily what they want to hear. Trust, there exists a sharp contrast between the two. And sometimes, he must make a stand for what he believes is right and true. In some cases, truth brings an unmistakable pain of reality, often a reality that many people resist or ignore. And truth can sometimes be a nasty medicine that is seemingly unbearable to digest.

Nevertheless, a gentleman would be doing a terrible disservice by masking truth with pleasant, comfortable falsehoods. A gentleman must be a credible source of wise counsel. He bears the responsibility of imparting wisdom and providing useful knowledge. True, some spoken truths will certainly bring unpopularity. Standing steadfast by one’s moral convictions won’t be deemed as popular either. But this isn’t a popularity contest. This is about delivering a righteous word. This is about standing for substance of a higher standard – no matter what resistance you might encounter. Don’t waver. Stand tall. Stand confident. Speak truth. Make a difference.

Black Thought

King_Jr_Martin_Luther_093.jpg“There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a large segment of people in that society who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that that have nothing to lose. People who have stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don’t have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.”

“I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Black Thought

frederickdouglas“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

-Frederick Douglass

As a parent, it is absolutely paramount that you ensure your child’s maturation is nurtured and cultivated for maximal, positive growth. To be certain, there are a myriad of unfortunate realities that work tirelessly to undermine and hinder your child’s development. Harsh realities such as poverty, crime, low self-esteem, bullying, and poor academic performance can lead to self-destructive behavior that regretfully transitions into adulthood. Moreover, if that adult decides to have children, there is a high risk that self-destructive behavior will be consciously or subconsciously transferred to the subsequent generation. Truth: Some of the biggest bullies, critics, and abusers live right in the household. And that is a reality that we cannot tacitly accept. We have to do better. We must become increasingly more active by protecting and educating our youth, ensuring that they are intelligently prepared for the life that awaits them. We have to encourage. We have to impart meaningful wisdom. We have to enlighten them. We must unconditionally love them. We must fortify the integrity of their spirit and reinforce the foundation of their character. They deserve our parenting best – let’s get to work.

Black Thought

frederick douglas“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard on incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence.”

Frederick Douglass

At the close of the regular business day, a gentleman is who he has to live with. If he constantly compromises his ideology for the appeasement of others, he is at risk of losing his identity. He is at risk of losing his credibility. Remaining true to your character is what makes you unique. Authenticity is paramount. It is essential, it is vital to a gentleman’s character. While it is often terribly difficult not to follow the crowd, you will receive the respect & admiration from people for standing on your principles. Most important, you will respect yourself. A gentleman should never acquiesce, he should never tacitly sacrifice his core beliefs because he is fearful of public derision. Stand firm. You are a gentleman of strong character and substance. You may incur differing amounts of ridicule, however, rest assured that those individuals admire your strength and resolve. And they should.

Black Thought

Nelson Mandela“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”

“A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamed of.”

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

Nelson Mandela

Without a doubt, it is more than safe to assume that there will never be such a gentleman as Nelson Mandela, or at least none anytime soon. Nevertheless, that indisputable reality should not deter the contemporary gentleman from embracing Mandela’s indomitable spirit.  To be sure, if the contemporary gentleman were to extract but a modicum of wisdom from Mandela’s life, it would be this: Conduct your life appropriately with a meaningful purpose that serves humanity. Sure, you may not reach the stratospheric heights of a Nelson Mandela – that is a pretty lofty objective. However, you can definitely make an impact upon your surrounding community. And perhaps, your service can inspire a future Mandela; or a future Malcolm X or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You just never know. Trust, the world begs for more stewards of charity and service. You would be a welcome addition.

5 Reasons I Love Being a Black Man

glenEarlier this week, a coworker presented to me an article she read, and contained within this perplexing article, this particular writer unabashedly proclaimed that he hated being a black male. Say what? The writer, Orville Lloyd Douglas, pens an interesting perspective of black self-hatred. He writes, “There is a discourse that black people engender: that black is beautiful. But the truth is, the image of blackness is ugly – at least it’s perceived that way. There is nothing special or wonderful about being a black male – it is a life of misery and shame.” I think it is unfortunate that Mr. Douglas has arrived at this troublesome conclusion. I cannot attest to knowing all the life experiences that Mr. Douglas has been exposed to that aided the shaping of his viewpoint. Nevertheless, can being a black man really be all that bad?

To be clear, I mean this: bad to the point when you hate and loathe your very existence. It is painfully and regretfully apparent that Mr. Douglas is far too preoccupied with how society views him, even though it is counter to his true character and personality. Seriously, Mr. Douglas is an adult, and he still laments the fact that many people won’t sit by him on a bus. What is this – 2nd grade? Adolescence is but a distant memory, and as adults, such occurrences should not elicit such a profound and emotional response.

Obviously, there are some self-esteem issues afoot here. A long time ago, on this very blog, I wrote: The knowledgeable gentleman comprehends that his image does not begin with how society views him. Rather, the gentleman’s image begins with how he sees himself. He alone determines and dictates the manner in which he is presented to the world. Mr. Douglas would be wise to heed those words. One’s confidence should originate and emanate from within. A gentlemen should never discover himself so engrossed over the prejudiced presumption of others; it is not healthy.

Nonetheless, I won’t pretend that there aren’t some “challenges” to being a black male, especially here in America. Still, I won’t let those “challenges” deter me from loving and appreciating who I am. Alas, loving myself isn’t newsworthy, as it is not shocking enough or self-deprecating enough to warrant any type of national attention. Mr. Douglas has a multitude of people now reading his article and he even garnered a segment on CNN with Don Lemon, who by the way has morphed into some kind of racial authority all of a sudden.

I digress, here I present to you why I, Glen Antoine Palmer, love being a black man. The delivery is presented with a mildly amusing tone, but the message is clear nonetheless. I love myself. Perhaps there are few nuggets below that Mr. Douglas can appreciate. Perhaps Mr. Douglas will realize his skin is not a curse, rather, it is his God given image that is a blessing. That being stated, let’s dive into my list.

Why I Love Being a Black Man

5. Black women. Sure, I understand that everyone has the opportunity to court and perhaps even marry a black woman. However, being a black male, I am in a unique position because of my logistical exposure to black women. Growing up in predominantly black Detroit, I was surrounded by lovely women of color. Trust, I don’t care what the mainstream media says implicitly or explicitly, black is beautiful, and I love my black woman, aka…Stephanie Palmer.

Plump lips. Thick hips. And curves that never quit. Yeah, I said it. And the powers that be can call it nappy. Some can call it kinky. I really don’t care. I love it all natural and untamed. Blame it on a childhood crush on Chaka Khan. You can call it what you want, but I love it – my black woman’s hair. I love every facet that is her; perfect or imperfect. Period.

4. Let’s talk about the intimidation” factor. Granted, being a black male, sometimes the way we are perceived can place us in some uncomfortable, precarious, and dangerous situations based on another individual’s fears. However, let’s talk about the good that arrives with it. Yes – there is some good. The aforementioned empty bus seat that Mr. Douglas wishes someone would sit in beside him? Whatever dude. I’m a robust gentleman, and I welcome the elbow room. Solicitors tend not to approach me. Coworkers too – which is fine with me because I’m not big on heavy conversation anyway. And if ever I find myself in a hostage situation, I’m holding out hope that I’ll be let go, I figure I wouldn’t be a good bargaining chip with the authorities.

3. We’re cool. You read that correctly. Black gentlemen are cool. Everyone knows it. Now, that may sound a little arrogant, maybe even a tad presumptuous. But let’s be honest, there exists a certain confidence and swagger that is distinctly unique to the black male. The talk. The walk. The dress. Even for an introvert like me, sometimes my coolness pops out even takes me by surprise. Often imitated, but never duplicated. There is no way you’re going to adopt my swagger and then make me feel ashamed of who I am. Nope – not going to happen player.

2. Are you familiar with the expression “black goes with everything”? Well, when it comes to attire, that is pretty much true. We can make just about anything look fly. Equipped with the proper accoutrements, a gentleman of color can absolutely wear the -excuse the language- hell out of some clothes. Yes…we…can. Renounce the black male stereotype that was birthed by a system whose objective (not the only objective, but one of many) was to subjugate, denigrate, and make a caricature out of the black male image. And please ignore my skinfolk that perpetuate those negative stereotypes. Please do a search of Brotherly Love right here on this blog. You’ll find a myriad of brothers that eschew the stereotypes you may be accustomed to. And if that doesn’t sway you, check out the author bio in the About section.

1. I understand my ancestral lineage originates from a people who were enslaved, nevertheless, I also understand that I am here because of someone’s perseverance, someone’s strength, someone’s survival. The media may not portray it, but there exists formidable strength in my DNA. I will be damned if someone tells me otherwise. Boom. I’m out.

Are you tired of negative stereotypes and destructive imagery that permeate modern culture, especially regarding people of color? Well, spread some goodness. Spread the word about this blog. Tweet it. Post an article from this blog on your Facebook wall. Do whatever you can. It’s Gent Appreciation Week, let’s spread a little positivity in the world.

Black Thought

frederick_douglass“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard on incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence.”

-Frederick Douglass

At the close of the regular business day, a gentleman is who he has to live with. If he constantly compromises his ideology for the appeasement of others, he is at risk of losing his identity. He is at risk of losing his credibility. Remaining true to your character is what makes you unique. Authenticity is paramount. It is essential, it is vital to a gentleman’s character. While it is often terribly difficult not to follow the crowd, you will receive the respect & admiration from people for standing on your principles. Most important, you will respect yourself. A gentleman should never acquiesce, he should never tacitly sacrifice his core beliefs because he is fearful of public derision. Stand firm. You are a gentleman of strong character and substance. You may incur differing amounts of ridicule, however, rest assured that those individuals admire your strength and resolve. And they should.

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