Posts Tagged ‘youth’


My niece McKenzie won first place at a Jack and Jill regional Oratorical Contest with good speech about being yourself–nicely done.

Living Unapologetically

I remember the 1960s. Or at I least remember being told about the 1960’s. Peace, flower power, freedom and afros. A time when black became synonymous with beautiful and the afro was a sign of pride. Black people were living unapologetically. As pride grew, so did the afros. And as pride shrank, so did the afros. And as pride died so did the afro, by way of heat and chemicals. Appearance was a person’s livelihood. So if a Jheri curl was acceptable over an afro then curl activators and shower caps were in order. Hair modification once done for employment purposes shifted to social purposes which merged with psychological sanity.

I have experienced my own connection between my hair and social acceptance in a 6th grade camping trip. “Mom please let me wear it straight so it will flow in the breeze with the rest of the girls.” She finally gave in and I was overjoyed. After the first day of camp full of breezes and flowing hair I went to sleep ready for day two. I woke up, stroked my hair only to realize my flowing mane had reverted to my naturally bushy afro. I was devastated. I no longer fit in like a puzzle piece, but I stuck out like a sore thumb.

Everything has changed now. In 2015 being different is the new goal and being basic is the new fear. I’ve grown from a time where my afro was my shame to a time where my natural hair is my pride and fame. But are all differences really accepted? What about the people who are different beyond the superficiality of outward appearance.  A young woman who decides to embrace her body despite society’s mold, and a young Christian man who reveals his pledge of abstinence. Is this the same “different” we praise? Or is this the type of “different” we reject?

Truth is, standing out is not about being different, it’s not about going against the grain, but it’s about being yourself. When God took time to create you, he made you unlike any of the 7 billion people on this earth. And he didn’t make anyone else the way he made you. You’ve already been made differently. Standing out is simply a side-effect.  Why fit in, when you were born to be uniquely yourself.

I wear my hair the way I want now, not to stand out or to fit in, but to be myself. Marcus Garvey taught me not to remove the kinks from my hair, but to remove them from my brain. Whether my hair is kink-less or kink-filled, my mind is kink-free. When I choose to be myself and live life unapologetically I don’t stick out like a sore thumb, but I stand out like a candle amidst darkness. And if any one questions my authenticity, I reply with the words of Chance the Rapper “I don’t wanna be cool. I just wanna be me.”

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Some Americans actually feel that they are more American than others.  When those other Americans get wind of that notion, they often blow off being productive, engaged members of society and live as part of a sub or counter culture.  In these subcultures, the people are at war with the government and particular the police.  Really?  You hate local, state and federal government as the enemy.  Some of that distrust fuels what we are seeing in Ferguson, Missouri.

First, we must still teach young Black men to “come home to night and wake up in the morning.”  Yes, you have the right to not be attacked unlawful by the police or a Stand Your Ground zealot.  But, you should consider defusing the situation while mentally recording the injustice so big lawsuits can be filed in the future.

I am going to ask a risky question: how does someone who is benefiting from “temporary” government assistance not voting?  They should be the first people to vote. Secondly, voting out the elected officials who make bad laws and oversee the police is one of the best forms of protest—mess with their power and paychecks.

Conservatives have some good points about the limited role of government but they turnoff everyday people by allowing the nuttiest in their ranks to run the show.  The worst method of the far Right involves discouraging elected officials’ dialog with the other side.

While we are in this election season, we should watch the Democrats botch the opportunity to get our community voting and engaged.  If they listened to (and funded) my political friends and me, the face of the electorate would change for the better and more Americans would be at the discussion table.

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The Boondocks T.V. show theme song starts with a righteous Bible quote.  Who knew?  People who paid better attention in church knew. Psalm 118:22 says “The stone that the builder refused (rejected) has become the corner stone.”   In Matthew 21:42 “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

Of course, Jesus was referring to the world’s coming rejection of him.  The Boondocks rapper is referring to  Blacks treatment in America.  I love these verses because we all have people in our families who favor some and reject others.  I would be sitting in a glass corner office of an Atlanta law firm today if college money was divided fairly among kids in my family but why cry over spilled milk.

We still have family members who turn their noses up at blood…at kids mind you.  In Matthew 20:16, Christ said “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called but few chosen.”  Of course, you need to cut family and old friends off when they are bringing everyone around them down and they refuse to hear and act on wise counsel.  I want to live long enough to see which kids will be wildly successful.  It might be the ones whose characters was tempered by adversity like the “niggers’  of old and not like the modern day “niggas.”

I am 50 years old and the America of my youth isn’t the America of today.  The N-word is used constantly on Boondocks but liberals on MSNBC can’t tell me what to say and hear.  The lovely actress Regina King voices both kids on the show and if she is cool with the context I am too because she has a gold-plated hood pass from being on 227 and Boyz In the Hood.

Boondocks Theme Song – Asheru

I am the stone that builder refused

I am the visual

The inspiration

That made lady sing the blues


I’m the spark that makes your idea bright

The same spark

that lights the dark

So that you can know your left from your right


I am the ballot in your box

The bullet in your gun

The inner glow that lets you know

To call your brother son

The story that just begun


The promise of what’s to come

And I’m ‘a remain a soldier till the war is won


Wow, this educated lyricist hit hard with “I am the ballot in your box…the bullet in your gun.”  On some level, Black youth seem like the rejected stone that could be the cornerstone.  In politics and policy, leaders make decision with little consideration of large segments of the population.  We can’t grow as a nation if the troubled 20% continue to be a drain of resources and counterproductive.  In reality, everyone can’t be on top—someone has to lose.  But, the playing field must be fair so every kid has an equal shot.

The geniuses behind Boondocks design the show to provoke thoughts about the Black man in America.  The grandfather is a veteran of the civil rights movement who moved his grandsons to the Boondocks for a better quality of life.  Of course, suburbia has problems also.  It’s the same old story about Blacks struggling to get our slice of the American pie.

So, I am watching a documentary on corn on the History Channel and I couldn’t stop thinking about the development of this crop compared to the development of people.  Corn is genetically engineered to improve; it’s a hybrid.  Heterosis, hybrid vigor or outbreeding enhancement is the improved or increased function of any biological quality in a hybrid offspring.  An offspring exhibits heterosis if its traits are enhanced as a result of mixing the genetic contributions of its parents.

On Boondocks, Riley and Huey are brothers but they are heading in different life directions—one intellectual progressive and one thug.   Inside Black America, am I the only person concerned that we are breeding the worst elements with each other and therefore creating a hybrid screw-up?  How many Black professionals have only one child or none and how many troublemakers have a house full of future troublemakers.  In a free society, we can’t stop people from breeding with whomever they chose but still…dam.

Republicans can say this and Democrats can say that but improving Black America starts with listening to people like Colin Powell as he softy pushes the West Indian sensibility of his upbringing.  Yea, many of the Blacks from the Caribbean are more success than other Black Americans because they don’t play with education, family association and generational development. You just don’t come into their families and get teens pregnant with careless disregard.

On the documentary about corn, they state that heterosis creates hybrids that are better than they parents.  With people, I call that moving forward.  Are we looking at a generation of Black Americans who are inferior to their parents?    As the last line in the Boondocks theme says, I am going to remain a soldier until the war is won.  The question is where the battlefield is and who the real enemy is.


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The construction of us in the past and our youth in the future is a combination process.  It involves nature (DNA material) and nurture (environment) with considerable influence from family, church, school and the community.  We pray that everyone has a functioning value system and/or moral compass.  There…we have it….how modern southerners should be built.

I was built back in the day during the end of Jim Crow.  Not being killed by a mob, the police or a mob that included the police was the simple goal.  Oh, our parents were built as tough as nails; I swear my father was made from iron and leather.  We are noticeably softer than they were unapologetically.  They didn’t want their kids to be “fetching water, tin tub bathing, step off the sidewalk for White folks” tough.  We were air conditioned, water in the door Negroes.

The heart-break of my life was not being a member of a Black fraternity.  But, it turns out that I was never built to take the abuse of hell week….hell naw.  Don’t get it twisted, military training like Ranger School in Columbus, SEAL School in San Diego or basic training of Marines on Parris Island is a good character building.  While that training is tough, it is doable.  Some of the pledge process for Black frats is worst is than CIA alleged “enhanced interrogation.”  Oh, I would have been on Fox News in I attemped to join certain groups back when.  My father loved his membership but he was going from a sharecroppers’ life into the middle class.  That fraternity was a big part of his polishing and development.  While I would have enjoyed the brotherly bond and community service, they would have “made” me.

This discussion is needed on a public policy/politics blog because how kids are built directly relates to what they take on in life.  In my community, kids often have a struggle mentality—struggling, it’s what we do.  Parents actually built their kids to be strong for the struggle rather than smart to avoid the struggle.  A sista in college told me that her mother raised her ready to fight well with a man about cheating.  I asked why she wasn’t raised to detect and avoid the cheating type.

Yea, I am unapologetically soft and conduct myself accordingly.  I have a “hood” theory about jail.  Lawd knows I can’t do real time behind bars.  My unfounded theory is that some kids must have grown up in small space and therefore can live in an iron closet without problems.  I love the sun, the light, the night time sky and freedom.  What are you doing that is worth jeopardizing your outside freedom?  Would you give up freedom for a few dollars?  These fools have turned the word jail into an accomplishment word.  “Man, I know how to jail.”

Another hood theory involves people being outside.  It’s funny what some people can’t see.  In some communities, people always seem to be on the porch or outside because there is limited room and privacy inside.  Again, I wasn’t built to be in small spaces and my future house might only be 1100 square feet but you can best believe that it is one big room with only the bathroom separate—windows everywhere.

So, if you aren’t built for the struggle, it’s fine.  But, you need to be very careful what situations and drama enter into your life.  My friends who grew up rough are surprisingly the ones with smooth lives today.  They wanted the rest of their lives and their kids’ lives to be worry free.

Some of those who didn’t grow up in the struggle are struggling now because they are too soft or weak.  The conservative movement doesn’t know that this point is the key to their inroads in my community.  Government assistance might have inadvertently created a segment of the population whose main interest is seeking the infamous “check.”

I don’t like struggling and wasn’t built to have the government or anyone else tell me to care for my family.  One last point: what is up with grown folks who are too cool to work an entry level job but aren’t too cool to ask someone to feed their kids.  That’s some bull.

While I am ranting, let’s talk about DNA from the first paragraph.  Young people should be careful regarding the people with whom they have children.  All of the love and nurturing in the world can’t counterbalance a bad seed.  Some of these girls can’t pick husband material men because they have never been around healthy marriages.  They are built to fail from the beginning like their brothers who don’t know how to be law-abiding, job-holding men.  Uncle Teddy wants to give some loving advice: go to the family reunion on both side of a person’s family and study how they carry themselves long before you consider MARRYING this person and later having children.

Old Uncle Teddy was raised to move the Black family forward and we simply can’t afford to have you holding us back or turning us around.  A friend says “we are one generation from poverty.”  Get it—that’s a cute way of saying we recently came from poverty and we can easily return if we are careful.

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Big Business (BB) runs America and the politicians are really their public servants.   The agenda of BB is making money and they don’t care who gets trampled in the process.  For example, the hip hop/bling bling culture seems natural or organic but BB is the wizard behind the curtain.

So, kids will kill each other over sneakers but these youth aren’t on the varsity.  They play sports on video games while kids in other parts of the world are preparing for the changing global economy.  We are not talking about the greatest generation that won the second World War or their children who pushed social justice in the 60s and 70s.  The kids today often seem like rebels without causes.  They will die defeating blocks and neighborhoods they don’t own.

$200 Gym Shoes

$300 Handbags with $10 cash inside

$2000 Rims on $900 cars

$100 Plain White T-shirt

And corporate executives laugh all the way to the bank.  The so-called ballers in music rarely own a recording company; they simply own record labels that are subdivisions of companies.  If the real money is in branding and merchandising, the hip hop guys (Jay-Z, Kanye, 50 Cent) are designers who make some good money but they don’t own factories that manufacture clothes in their old neighborhoods.  Master P from New Orleans is the main hip hop mogul who owned a record company and envisioned actually pressed the cds in his own plant.  Most of the others still have a plantation mentality and they aren’t the ones in the really big house.  I have never worn a chain—wrought iron, silver or gold.

The central theme of this blog post is that companies push a hip hop culture in which youth want to be hard, street and thuggish.  The youth are then untrained, unemployable (face tattoos) and unaware.  So, kids who want the most expensive items are least prepared to legally afford said items.  Some (not all) of these young people ended up wasting their lives away but they turn to the government for help in providing for their families.  The corporate agenda becomes a costly governmental expense.

“They are hiring at the fast food joints and those farmers need help harvesting their produce.”  Are you kidding me?  The kids from the hip hop culture don’t do work like that – it’s beneath them.  You can’t pop bottles of $300 champagne in the club with those wages.  Unfortunately, some youth turn to getting paid the fast way—ski mask way as Biggie rapped.

Now, those youth are in the prison system at an annual cost that is more than teachers, soldiers and policemen earn.  Oh, there are corporations running those facilities also.


In summary, we need elected officials who spend time explaining the limited role government to the people.  And yes, the liberals don’t seem to understand that there isn’t some big never-ending pot of money.   “The government should make sure everyone has a good house, a good car and a well-stocked frig”  That life would be socialism in theory.  We live in a democracy—your standard of living should be directly related to your actions.  Current lawmakers need to spend half of their time as law/budget explainers.  Oh, the corporations are the produce the campaign contributions that keep politicians in office.

I might be wrong but this is the beginning of debate we should have.

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GOP Rep. Paul Ryan shouldn’t back down from his honest opinions on inner city young men living in a “don’t even think about working” culture.  The House Budget Committee Chairman and Romney running mate should double-down by acknowledging the culture in rural areas also.


I like Ryan because he was a congressional staffer during my Hill days but if we ever bumped into each other, it would have been at his part-time job waiting tables at Tortilla Coast next to Bullfeathers.  He was a high level staffer yet he served nachos and pitchers to interns and receptionists.  That’s the mentality that built America.  Of course, some of the people who built this great nation did so in bondage and the Congressional Black Caucus considers themselves to be guardians of that heritage.

So, Ryan is meeting with the CBC next week and that’s non-sense to me.  The CBC should be making that important observation about the jobless culture before Ryan.  Oh, but a change is coming.  There is a new segment of CBC members and these new folks have budgets and fairness on their minds more than the old “we are suffering” crowd.


This blog is pleased to rollout a year-long theme/effort called “Changing Mindsets.”  An overview can be found on the tab on the top of this page.  Ryan’s comments are consistent with our contention that many of the problems facing struggling people start outside the range of governmental responsibility and the elected officials should say that.

An old, well-used Chinese proverb states “it’s better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.”  Well, it’s better to start this important conversation involving all sides than to continue on the wrong path.

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While working in the yard, I drew a connection between weeding the lawn and outreach efforts.  We spend so much money and time lawn mowing but to me we cut the grass every three weeks but cut the weeds every ten days—get it.

The weeds and the grass are mixed in together.  Grass is the largest growing thing on earth and it will fight for itself if given the opportunity to put down deep roots.  If you have a bald spot, good grass will eventually crawl in to help.  If you cut the grass to low, rain will wash away the top soil and ugly sand will remain.

I enjoy a health friendship with many southern conservatives and wonder why they don’t expand into the moderate range by getting the craziness 5% to dial down their viciousness.  If they got rid of that 5%, they could gain 25% of the moderates in the center.

After pulling weeds for hours, I noticed that my lawn cart says “Scotts” on the front.  It’s a sign…I tell you!  The two most important congressional outreach GOPers from the South are South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and Georgia Rep. Austin Scott.  Tim Scott is a traditional conservative who happens to be Black.  He could do this and that to bridge the racial and partisan divide…if he wants.

Austin Scott was a freaking rock star in the state house and he even caught heat from the Klan for pushing to change the state flag.  Of course, a young guy like that who defeated a Blue Dog Dem has the formula for outreach.  But, do they turn to him for the game plan?  Some southern bloggers fell that Austin has fallen in line to avoid a Tea Party primary challenger from the far Right.  I say he is the logical choice for U.S. Senate in the future if he returns to his statehouse brand of conservative leadership.  Those Scott fellows, no relations, could be Scotts Turf Builders if the GOP wants to weed out the uglys and get back on the important lawn…the one at the White House.

On a related note, growing stronger young men is also like a lawn.  We spend so much money reacting to the weeds (thugs) that we forget the actual grass (good kids.)  When you remove the weeds, it’s vital that you go down to the roots.  If grass has deep roots, it can withstand drought and flooding.  These kids today have short roots and they are therefore easily washed away.  We oldheads are the rich topsoil and topsoil hates supporting weeds.  In public policy, we should spend less time and energy on weeds and redirect those efforts to healthy stronger grass because without a strong lawn the foundation of the house/community is at risk.

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