Show Love!!

Add message
  • Marisa Owens

    Marisa Owens

    Your birthday is soon so I wish it to you early. Happy Birthday.

    Your birthday is soon so I wish it to you early. Happy Birthday.

  • Marisa Owens

    Marisa Owens

    This is your time to shine I love what you' we done so far. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

    This is your time to shine I love what you' we done so far. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

  • Katherine Jones

    Katherine Jones United States

    Im so Proud of u as a friend,fellow artist,poet ,writer,Singer, u inspire my art, born of Saginaw soil , U embody the body of what is good that grows here ,here amongst its coiled contents.we thank u for representing and opening doors ,for us the many talented ,discuraged hidden ,jewels within,the palm of this tattered mitten. Thank u chris u are the truth 1

    Im so Proud of u as a friend,fellow artist,poet ,writer,Singer, u inspire my art, born of Saginaw soil , U embody the body of what is good that grows here ,here amongst its coiled contents.we thank u for representing and opening doors ,for us the many talented ,discuraged hidden ,jewels within,the palm of this tattered mitten.
    Thank u chris u are the truth 1

  • danamarshall08@gmail.com

    danamarshall08@gmail.com Cleveland, OH

    Thank you so much for your gift of words. You allowed me to express my feeling through your poetry for Valentine's Day. I was told it was the best, most unique gift they had ever received. I have seen your show live and it is amazing. Please keep up the good work. I look forward to enjoying more live shows in the future. You definitely have a gift worth sharing!

    Thank you so much for your gift of words. You allowed me to express my feeling through your poetry for Valentine's Day. I was told it was the best, most unique gift they had ever received. I have seen your show live and it is amazing. Please keep up the good work. I look forward to enjoying more live shows in the future. You definitely have a gift worth sharing!

  • Jessica Johnson

    Jessica Johnson Bardstown, KY

    I'm so glad to see you making it! You been at this a long time and keep up the hard work and dedication. It will pay off!!!! This looks very nice! Love Ya Fam!

    I'm so glad to see you making it! You been at this a long time and keep up the hard work and dedication. It will pay off!!!! This looks very nice! Love Ya Fam!

  • Christie aka Cinnamon

    Christie aka Cinnamon Cincinnati

    I am so proud of you. I hate that you left the midwest area, but I am confident in your dreams and passion. I pray that you continue to prosper and keep letting every one know the TRUTH. YOu inspire me.. I write more often now and I hope to share it with you one of these ol'days. Thanks for being a good friend.. Be blessed!

    I am so proud of you. I hate that you left the midwest area, but I am confident in your dreams and passion. I pray that you continue to prosper and keep letting every one know the TRUTH. YOu inspire me.. I write more often now and I hope to share it with you one of these ol'days. Thanks for being a good friend.. Be blessed!

  • Dayna

    Dayna Louisville, KY

    It's so good to see you doing so well... You guys inspired my first mic experience... Can't wait to see you tonight.

    It's so good to see you doing so well... You guys inspired my first mic experience... Can't wait to see you tonight.

  • Kels

    Kels Louisville KY

    I'm sooo glad I came out tonight. I've been strugglin way too much and it's mainly due to talkin myself out of my intuition and i'm so thankful i didn't do that tonight. I knew where i had to go and i heard alot of what i needed to hear, or rather, hear confirmed. thank you for the heads up, your performance and thanks cj for kickin with me also haha

    I'm sooo glad I came out tonight. I've been strugglin way too much and it's mainly due to talkin myself out of my intuition and i'm so thankful i didn't do that tonight. I knew where i had to go and i heard alot of what i needed to hear, or rather, hear confirmed. thank you for the heads up, your performance and thanks cj for kickin with me also haha

  • Nicole Curry

    Nicole Curry Lou, Ky

    You are truly an artist....I appreciate your gift...and GOD wrapped up in a fine ass package!!!!!!;)

    You are truly an artist....I appreciate your gift...and GOD wrapped up in a fine ass package!!!!!!wink

  • educated poet

    educated poet st.louis

    I love your poetry I learnt alot tonight just by hearing you speak. Hope to hear some more of your poetry.:love:

    I love your poetry I learnt alot tonight just by hearing you speak. Hope to hear some more of your poetry.love

Why Donald Trump is the PERFECT President 

To the 53 Percenters, MAGA fans, and everyone else with common sense,

I know, y’all. I know.

I looked at the title of this blog the way a drunkard would stare at a toilet after an evening of overindulgence and poor decision-making. It was that moment of clarity one has that can only be brought upon by doing something as ridiculous as taking twenty-one shots on your twenty-first birthday as I once did many moons ago. Before projectile vomiting into a porcelain urinal I asked myself aloud, “How the fuck did I get here?”

Many Americans found themselves asking that very question on Election Night in 2016.

Can I be completely honest?

I’ve been sitting on this title and blog idea for over a year now. I knew I had to wait until I had the opportunity to capture white America’s full attention. Centuries of atrocities against people of color obviously wasn’t the way to grab the attention of people too oblivious to their privilege and the system of supremacy they benefit from to be introspective. These are the same people who still crucify Colin Kaepernick for interrupting a song whose third verse is essentially a battle rap threatening to kill slaves to bring attention to the fact that those very descendants of slaves were still being murdered by those “sworn” to “protect and serve” them. These are the people who say “All Lives Matter” but have remained silent about Flint, Michigan and have dismissed images of immigrant children in cages as “propaganda.” They are the people who “don’t see race” because they are completely sold on the “American dream” who don’t realize that dream was only meant for them. They are the white women who harass black children/people for doing everyday activities like getting coffee, going to the pool and selling bottled water outside their homes. These same people won’t even acknowledge that the same constitution they hide behind in arguments to defend guns and free (hate) speech also considers black people as three-fifths of a human being.

Nope. Not enough. Not the rape allegations or mocking the handicapped or calling grown men who protest “sons of bitches.” These are the people that are wholly invested in the success of white supremacy, whether they want to admit it or not.

Which brings us to yesterday.

On a global stage, Trump caped for a Russian dictator that tampered with our election for Trump to win according to our’s government’s substantial evidence, as well as everybody else’s. In the most head-scratching moment to date, Putin then admitted IMMEDIATELY AFTER Trump defended him that he wanted Trump to win the election.

I think treason is a pretty safe demarcation between American patriots from American traitors.

Now that this concerns YOU, I should have your attention. But you’re still about to get this work.

Simply put: Donald “Central Park Five” Trump rode a white wave of fragility and frustration all the way to the highest office in our nation. Like many African-Americans in this country, I wasn’t shocked by the results. What became shocking to me was the year that followed the election. My creative writing studies have trained me to be more observant than I already was, which has allowed me to challenge myself to always find the truth from all the angles, not just the ones I find most comfortable. That challenge drove me to the title selected. There was no other title I could have used, and it is for one simple reason:

Donald Trump is the human embodiment of the society we are as a COLLECTIVE.

I say this without a sliver of sarcasm, irony, or jest. Our general actions, mentality, and ideologies as a nation are no different than the joke of a leader who focuses more on Twitter timelines and back nines than his job.

For a moment, take a minute to step back and examine yourself the same way you scrutinize others. We have become overly-sensitive, unable to process criticism, and incapable of disagreement without severing ties to individuals who don’t agree with everything as we see it. We make passive-aggressive (and in many cases, outright ignorant) social media posts to appease a group of people who, ironically, are trying to impress those very same people. The preceding description fits for more than just our current White House occupant.

I’m not excusing ANYTHING that Trump has done. His presidency has been a shitstorm at best. But the general direction we are headed as a society isn’t far off. The oval office isn’t the only place that could use a good spring cleaning.

Didn’t vote? Trump is your fault. Spare me the “my vote doesn’t matter” bullshit, because since Trump has been President I have YET to hear anyone say that. (Also note: this isn’t the time to say it in my comments section to appear different.) The apathetic nature many citizens have is the very crutch that has allowed America to limp along with its old ways. There’s no other way you can explain how 90% of Congress is filled with old white men. Representation matters, but if you don’t represent at the polls, your voice is weakened and essentially silenced. Ask black women in Alabama what showing up to the polls can do. Ask the politicians who continually and actively influence gerrymandering and who try (and often succeed) to make it nearly impossible for people of color to vote. Those who dissuade others against voting don’t even realize that they’re helping the very enemy they despise simply by telling people not to participate in the voting process at all.

Voted for Trump? This shit is DEFINITELY your fault. There is no intelligible way you can expect me to respect your intelligence by telling me that you ACTUALLY thought Donald Trump would make a good president. Many voted for him just because he was a white man and they abhorred the brother in the Oval Office. Some were naïve enough (I’m talking to you, Midwest) to think this “businessman” could “right the ship” of a nation that was experiencing record highs on the stock market and record lows in unemployment. I even had social media associates of all races (just because Facebook calls us friends doesn’t mean that we are) who thought it would be “fun” to vote for Donald Trump. Eighteen months in, are you having fun yet? At this point, there is no reason to hide behind supporting Trump except for white supremacy. You’re going to have to deal with that.

Part of American culture? This one’s on you, especially sports fans. Why? There is a mentality that people have in sports that has permeated into our politics since we’ve established a two-party system. That same mentality is held by most white supremacists as well: this is OUR team, and the only thing we care about is if OUR team wins. Facts don’t matter unless they can be manipulated to our benefit and the facts that we can’t manipulate we ignore. This is the base mentality of any fan who argues about LeBron versus Kobe (and, for the record, MJ is the GOAT guys, the other guys are amazing, they just played longer and benefitted from technological advancements. See? Nobody is an exception to this.) I’ve often heard people refer to tribal mentalities, but you cannot call yourself an American and think that this is only America if it ONLY benefits white people. Or black people. Or trans people. Or immigrants (which damn near ALL of us are). The social media attention whores, the racists, the online “activists” that are more concerned about gaining followers than making true change, the “I don’t see color/Love is the answer” pacifists who allow racism to thrive, the revolutionaries who won’t participate in anything unless the revolution happens THEIR way, the BBQ Becky’s and Starbucks patrons who are no different than George Zimmerman whose privilege and arrogance  convinces them which spaces black people are allowed to live in without harassment.

Donald Trump falls on ALL of us…but the lion’s share of this is on Y’ALL. Wypipo. My brethren who lack melanin. Now the time has come for you, the MAGA hat wearing, Fox News watching, I-love-the-anthem-but-break-US-Flag-code-rules-for-respect-by-wearing-the-flag having citizens to have a come to Jesus moment. You know, so-called evangelicals: Jesus, that immigrant your Christian doctrine says is your savior that doesn’t look like you? THAT one. It’s time to start doing something for the people that look like Jesus besides crucify them. It’s time to confess your sins and admit that you fucked up. Or admit that you’re racist and that you’re loving every bit of this presidency because it’s exactly what you wanted.

There is one genuine reason that I feel Trump is perfect for our country, however. Simply put Donald Trump is America’s alarm clock. We as a whole must understand that there are people who don’t want to see this nation be one that’s united, filled with varying opinions that challenge ourselves to become better people and citizens. There are people who only want to see a rerun of white supremacy throughout this nation. These are the ones that enjoy the use of dog-whistle words and nationalist rhetoric. These people are called RACISTS, and it doesn’t matter if you’re related to them or not, their ideologies are a part of the very foundation of oppression that MY relatives have to endure and have endured for centuries. But white supremacy, just like any other beast, is at its most violent before it dies. We have the potential to see the end of this (or its newest iteration) sooner than later, but not without more involvement of those who feel disenfranchised. The protests must continue. The uncomfortable conversations have to keep happening. Might I also add this point: stop asking people of color/women/trans people to explain their pain to your lazy ass. If Black History Month actually worked, I wouldn’t have to waste my time explaining oppression to the privileged.

My mother told me once when I was young that if you’re going to do something, good or bad, be the best at it. The resistance I’ve seen from this presidency is a promising start and proof that people realized how we as a country have fucked up. But we cannot treat our society the way many treat their workout regimens, half-assed and only when they feel it’s important. We must continue to remain active in our local and national politics. We have to understand what power we have as citizens and galvanize that energy to create the more perfect union we’ve always been sold but were never told we had a real influence to create.

The line in the sand has been drawn. Choose which side of history you want to be on, and more importantly, own it. Unborn children will learn about this in their history classes. Those children will ask us, “What did you do?” Each day that we live right now is the answer to the question.

See you tomorrow.

Black Panther: Birth of a New Nation 

The first film this country ever created made it clear to me what America thought of me.

On February 8th, 1915, the silent film Birth of a Nation debuted. The movie (originally titled “The Clansman” after the novel and play of the same name) was extoled by white Americans across the nation, despite the disgusting racist imagery shown and the fact that the film is essentially a three-hour-plus recruitment advertisement for the Ku Klux Klan, who are portrayed as the heroic saviors against the vile, wicked “nigger beasts.” This film inspired people like Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father, to join the Klan, whose membership spiked after the theatrical release of Birth of a Nation.

One more time for the people in the back: The 45th President of the United States’ father was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Fast forward over a century later, we are at the most recent film to be released in America: Black Panther. To say that I haven’t been as enthusiastic as I am about a movie release since Malcolm X is an understatement. Being honest, I never expected to see a film like this in my lifetime: a big budget movie showcasing black excellence in an advanced society absolved from the scourge of white colonialism (if that phrase bothers you more than what colonialism has done to black people, you’re the problem, not me), written and directed by a black man, an ensemble cast overflowing with melanin-filled magnificence. In other words, I get to feel for two hours and fourteen minutes how white Americans feel every day.

If I were to challenge you to remember the first film you watched that showed someone who looked like you in a positive representation of on film that wasn’t a stereotype, as a white person in America, your answers may vary. For a black person in America, this question can be much more difficult to answer. I took an informal poll amongst seventy-three of my friends and associates of color. On average, the age of their FIRST such encounter for many was in their teens. For a few, their first experience of watching a character or movie portray themselves in a positive, non-stereotypical light was in their FORTIES. The thought of a typical white person in this country going ONE decade at any juncture in their lives without seeing themselves in a positive showing is laughable, let alone four. It’s simply another thing people of color have been conditioned to swallow and accepted as a norm, and this movie for many is a necessary and overdue water break from the desert that is America’s attempt to uplift our culture.

Despite my joy for the film’s release, a healthy group of insecure whites and a lesser group of so-called pro-black individuals actually are upset and deterring people from going to watch the movie.

Yeah, I know. I rolled my eyes to as I wrote that previous sentence.

In case you are reading this and you are a member of either group, allow me a moment to address both sides of your idiocy:

To my people of color fake protesting the film: Let’s get the necessary part out of the way. Yes, Stan Lee (a white man, but one who’s no doubt “invited to the cookout”) is the creator of the Black Panther comics. My response? The truth is the truth, no matter who it comes from. I’m grateful that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby used their privilege to not only create a comic that highlighted black excellence but also opening a door to make it easier for writers of color to gain exposure. I’m not going all Boston Police on Kirby and Lee, but this movie’s history is connected to them and facts are facts. The fact most worth looking at is the number of writers, actors, film crew, directors, costume designers, and countless other positions filled by people of color because of this film. Speaking solely for myself, you can want the revolution to occur however you wish, but if you don’t appreciate progress because it’s not 100% black, you’re missing the point, and you will continue to stay and feel stuck trying to pole vault over mountains. I’m not telling you to stop fighting. I am telling you to stop fighting your own because their breakthroughs don’t impress you. In the words of the key members of the “Black Panther” soundtrack: Be humble and sit down…in a theater this weekend to support your people.

To the “All Lives Matter” crowd: Many sheltered, entitled whites oblivious to their privilege find this swelling of pride in the black community as an enigma. Just a couple days ago BBC presenter Jeremy Vine allowed the words “overwhelmingly black” to escape his near-invisible lips while speaking to actor Chadwick Boseman. Average angry middle American white man Ben Shapiro went even further in the battles of the tone-deaf and clueless, implying on his show this week that the vampire series “Blade” should have been enough to quench African Americans’ desire to see themselves in a positive portrayal in movies. These are the kind of individuals who, whether they admit it to themselves or not, are “Birthers” (it’s not a coincidence that name fits so well here) who believe that people of color should “stay in their place” and “be grateful for what they’re given”. They are those who remain voluntarily unaware and unsympathetic towards everything we have had to fight for in this nation. They don’t worry that we protect ourselves against those sworn to protect us and fight every day we leave our homes to combat the very stereotypes of us embedded in the minds of white America.

This level of ignorance displayed by these misguided boys isn’t foreign to people of color in America. While I understand how persons who have had everything catered to their benefit in this country (with access to their lineage beyond America’s existence) may have difficulty grasping why people they don’t spend any time with whose ancestors were stolen, raped, murdered, and built this nation (without reparations) are proud to see traces of their true lineage portrayed in the form of a fictional superhero with no superiors, allow me to speak for every black person I know when I say we sincerely don’t give a fuck.

2019 marks the quadricentennial of the arrival of slaves strong and lucky enough to endure the Middle Passage to America. For nearly four hundred years, this country has shown my ancestors as well as myself what they think of us. Black Panther shows America the recipe for who we are and what we can be, without apology. My people have had to be ACTUAL superheroes simply to survive this wilderness, and even when we as African-Americans have successfully created real-life Wakandas within this country (see: Black Wall Street), they have been decimated by the very same whites who were inspired and emboldened from Birth of a Nation the same way Trump emboldened the racist who tried to attack me just last week at a gas station.

I have no problem confessing my own optimistic nature; that same optimism combined with inherited genius and forced physical skills provided from the strongest slaves being forced to breed amongst each other is the exact reason I’m here to view a glimpse of a world without oppression where the heroes that look like me are whitewashed away in amnesiac history books in a public school. This movie isn’t me begging America for a seat at a table, metaphorically speaking; for me, it’s showing younger kids of color that they can own the table in their OWN homes. This is about seeing and hearing a voice of color for longer than the entire Lord of the Rings series (forty-seven seconds), Jaws(8 seconds), E.T.(10 seconds), and the Harry Potter series (six minutes, forty-seven seconds). There is much riding on the success of this film for the benefit of not only black creatives, but to also contribute to the ever-evolving black psyche damaged over centuries. If Birth of a Nation inspired and contributed to the racist ideologies that brought a Donald Trump to our country, imagine what this film can do for young children of color already conditioned to living in a world where someone who looks as they do can become President.

How do you make America great, for once? Celebrate the best in ALL of us. Share ALL the stories. More King T’Challas can begin to turn the tide rooted in Birth of a Nation, as well as Hollywood and in America. That thought frightens many. But that’s not my problem. My only concern for the next few hours is making sure my attire is ready for the film.

Wakanda forever, indeed.

Open Letter To Major League Baseball 

Dear Major League Baseball,

 

Every April 15th, you honor a pioneer of your fabled pastime, Jackie Robinson. You spend what I am assuming are generous amounts of money holding ceremonies at every stadium with players adorning the now-forever-retired 42. I remember watching the first Jackie Robinson Day. I remember sitting in front of my television (without a cell phone to stare into), beaming with pride having watched the ceremony for a man who endured horrid acts of racism and countless amounts of death threats simply for wanting to play a game alongside his fellow citizens. Seeing every player wear the number 42 as a symbol of reverence to the former infielder made me proud.

 

Then I got older. I realized ceremonies are just that, ceremonies. Simple shows of remembrance of things past. Looking at what Mr. Robinson was subjected to over seven decades ago became harder and harder for me, growing up as a black man in a country that hasn’t quite learned how to love us. Jackie Robinson’s battles were just as poignant as his ball play. His past conflicts only made me reflect on my grandfather, who also lived during that same period. He, as all black men back then, had their lives threatened for the very same reason as Jackie Robinson: simply wanting to exist. It’s horrible to imagine living in a time where one is subjected to harassment based on their skin color, wouldn’t you agree?

 

Enter Monday, May 1st. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Orioles outfielder Adam Jones is racially taunted and nearly assaulted while playing baseball. The fact that seventy years later people haven’t evolved beyond the depths of racism is appalling. What’s even worse is that, currently, people are allowed to be repeat offenders. Giving people a mulligan on being racist sends a very disturbing level of tone deafness to people of color. It also may very well explain why there are only eight percent of major leaguers that are black.

 

So, I’ve got an idea.

 

In addition to the annual celebration of your first African-American player, I propose that Major League Baseball immediately institute a lifetime ban on every fan caught making racist remarks towards ballplayers. What better way to honor Jackie Robinson than by eliminating the threats he had to endure while playing your game?

 

I know campaigns are a big deal and coming up with catchy names can be a drain, but don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Simply call the campaign “Strike Out Hate”. Need a tagline, you say? Don’t sweat it! You can simply say, “Hate Has No Home Here.” (See what I did there? Home, home? Bonus points for the baseball double entendre!)

 

Ceremonies and intentions don’t foster change. Action does. You’ve already gone on record for calling this behavior unacceptable, so take what you know is the right step and create a zero-tolerance policy on racism.

To be honest, it’s past time.


“January 20th” by Truth B. Told 

When I arise this morning

I’ll brush my teeth without trepidation

Drink my tea with defiance and take my grits with butter

Unfettered

Back stiffened

Eyes forward

Teeth gleaming

Ready to stare into Hatred’s familiar eyes

And say, “Yes. I’m still here.”


The Perfect Gift. 

Yesterday was my birthday. To say I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of well-wishes, stories of things I had done to help others, comical recollections of days past, or simple “I love you”s from family and friends would be a gross understatement. Literally over 1,000 people (yes, I counted and I still don’t believe it) took a moment out of their day to wish me well. As humbling as a day like yesterday was, I never imagined that yesterday would be the day I received the single greatest gift I have ever received in my life.

It came through a phone call from my father.

My father lives in my hometown of Saginaw, Michigan. For the past few years, he has been primary caretaker of Victoria Owens, his mother and my granny (nobody calls her “grandma”) who is fighting a losing battle against Alzheimer’s disease. Her memories are becoming more fractured as the days pass, causing her to forget where she is and repeat questions frequently. Once she even mentioned having seen my grandfather…who passed away in 2002. If pressured, I would argue that my granny is as much a mother to me as my own mother, and I don’t say that to slight my own phenomenal blessing of a mother in ANY way. Granny, Mom  and Dad were an amazing team, with my granny watching me after morning kindergarten classes while my parents worked. Many of my first memories of life include my granny, including the time when the five-year-old version of myself stuck a bobby pin in a light socket while pretending to be a spy picking locks to unveil “the secret formula” that all spies inevitably are searching for when they break into places. I would give anything to give my memories to my granny, as well as take the opportunity to see my life through her eyes, but I understand that the light is fading, and memories are leaving my granny like water escaping a broken dam.

My father does his best to be the LAST person to call me. Being my father’s son, his logic makes perfect sense to me: if he is the last person to call, our time on the phone won’t be interrupted. Now that I have a son, we all seem to share that logic, since my son actually called and interrupted Dad’s call this year. But before my son called, my dad gave me the greatest gift that I never saw coming. We talked for a while about how we were both doing and, naturally, the conversation shifted to my granny. We both know that it is a matter of time before the fog settles into her mind, and we do our best to focus on the sunshine while it lasts. For the past few days, she has been in a hospital, and a few times had been unresponsive, causing noticeable stress in my father’s voice as well as obvious concern in my own. My dad informed me that Granny hadn’t been able to state the correct day or year for the last six days. There was a time where they had “the final talk” where for the first time my granny told my father that she was ready to move on. Unbeknownst to my father, Granny and I have been having similar conversations for the better part of a decade, where she’d tell me that she had lived a full life, wasn’t afraid of what was to come next, and didn’t want any of us acting stupid when that time comes. There was always a peace that she had when discussing this with me. I imagined that she had that same peace when talking to my father. As I reflect on those conversations with my granny and contemplate how my father feels as he endures the daily torture of watching his mother slowly drift into the mental abyss, he began to share with me how the hospital visit went that day. This day was quite different than every day prior for the past week.

That day my grandmother looked my father in the eye and said, “Today is Christopher’s birthday.” She wasn’t asking him.

Curious as to how she was so certain, my father asked, “How do you know today’s Christopher’s birthday?”

She smiled. “Because it’s December 28th. I’d never forget my baby’s birthday.”

I felt my body slump as the tears became rivulets on my face as my father shared this with me.

“What year is it?” My father asked, amazed that she remembered this day.

“Oh that’s easy,” my granny replied. “It’s 1996.”

“Do you remember my birthday?” My father asked.

“Of course, silly,” she responded, “It’s November 11th.”

My father’s birthday, the birthday of my granny’s firstborn, is September 15th.

“I may not remember much, ” my granny continued, “but I know it’s December 28th. Make sure you tell Chris Happy Birthday and that I love him.”

My attempts to compose myself failed as my voice cracked through the phone, thanking my father for sharing that story with me. Whether it be coincidence, which I don’t believe in, or if her mind returned to its sunny state for just a bit that day, I had what very likely could be my granny one last time, on my birthday, telling me that she loved me. That moment will always mean so much more to me than any blog or poem will ever articulate.

If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that our times on this planet is as fleeting as my granny’s memories are right now. There is only one way we can defeat time, and that is to love as many people as often as possible. Hopefully, that love will resonate on for centuries and millennia to come.

That is one lesson from my granny I pray I never forget.

 

 


Why The Cubs/Cleveland Game Seven is the Greatest Baseball Game I’ve Ever Seen. Period. 

 

I’m not the biggest baseball fan in the world, admittedly. I generally cheer for the New York Yankees, since Derek Jeter is from Michigan and during my teenage years is when I truly started paying attention to baseball. Growing up in Saginaw, MI, I recall going to a few Tigers games with my father and grandfather at the old Tigers Stadium, so naturally the homer in me (no pun intended) has a place in my heart for those guys as well. But even as a child, I had a particular curiosity with the Chicago Cubs. Was I a fan? Not at all. But there was a curiosity that drew me to the team, mainly because of “The Curse”. To eight-year-old Christopher, the Chicago Cubs were no different than any other fairy tale that you learned as a kid. I was impressed, saddened and captivated even then at the fact that no matter what they did, no matter how hard they tried, they always lost. As a black man living in America, I know firsthand what it feels like to be an underdog. So, as far as my sports heart is concerned (or at least the little of it attached to baseball), the Cubs were always that team I revered the same way most people admire Charlie Brown: the “loveable losers”, as some would say.

 

I have ALWAYS loved movies growing up, particularly sports movies. I always considered it a litmus test of how horrible teams were; when you saw them in films, that was society’s way of subconsciously admitting no one could realistically conceive that team winning anything. To be honest, I’m still waiting on someone to release a movie where the Lions win the Super Bowl. Two of my favorite sports films of all-time are “Rookie of the Year”, in which a 12-year old pitcher has a freak accident that leaves him with a fastball that rivals Aldonis Chapman and leads the lowly Cubs to World Series victory, and “Major League”, in which a patchwork team of rag-tag individuals, ex-cons and over-the-hill veterans designed to fail actually finds the way to win the pennant. By the time I entered my adult years, I had come to the conclusion that this would be the closest any of us would ever see these franchises achieve any notable level of success in our lifetimes.

 

Then came 2016.

 

Not only are the proverbial laughing stocks of major league baseball winning, they are the best teams in their respective divisions. I kept tabs on the teams, starting after the All-Star Game, and would periodically watch a game (by “watch a game”, I mean look up the scores on the ESPN app, after I finished my grad school work). Plus, I had bigger things to worry about…like the possibility of a racist, chauvinistic, tangerine-colored walking embodiment of white privilege becoming president of the free world with access to nuclear weapons. Add to that a candidate that is trusted by many about as much as a three card monte dealer who happens to be in a position to become the first woman president, and I’ve witnessed a presidential race even nastier than the previous two. This year has given me a front row seat to the ugliness that still exists in this country many choose to ignore simply because it doesn’t affect them. This ugliness has come from both sides, and by September, if not sooner, many people including myself were left feeling emotionally exhausted from this election (not to mention the several deaths of family and friends that I endured in just the couple months prior). Throughout all of this, the impossible dream for both the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland baseball team (I choose not to call them by their racist nickname) continued to inch closer to becoming reality. Suddenly, October 19th happened. Cleveland, who hasn’t hoisted the World Series trophy since 1948, punched their ticket to their first World Series in nearly two decades by pretty much destroying every team they faced in the American League playoffs. By this time, I’m actually watching the games, witnessing what I hoped would be the first half of an historic matchup. Three days later, at Wrigley Field, the Cubs punched their ticket to the World Series for the first time in my parent’s lifetimes. It was finally set. 1908 vs. 1948. The Curse of the Goat meets The Mistake by the Lake. Either way it ended, one of those curses was coming to an end.

 

Before the series began, I predicted to a few people the series was going seven games. Even with the Cubs down three games to one, I wasn’t convinced the series would end in Chicago. I thought there’s no way in the world THIS team, who dominated the majors all season long and won 100+ games, would let the city down in Game 5. I’m not saying religion plays a part in sports, but I was convinced God wouldn’t let Cubs fans suffer like that. No way do they get into the big series for the first time since the Jim Crow era and they not win at least one game at home. Boy, did they prove me right. As I watched Game 5 with Lauren (a Chicago native herself whose grandfather was a lifelong Cubs fan) what would be the last game played at Wrigley this year, listening to the crowd belt out “Go Cubs Go”, I immediately became overcome with emotion for a team that wasn’t my own. I was certain that the electricity shooting through my spine, pulsing like a heartbeat, wouldn’t be topped from the standpoint of a sports fan. I never could have been more wrong in my life.

 

Before Game Seven began, my life was the same chaotic clusterfuck it had been for the previous months. Social media feeds and actual social interactions remained full of individuals expressing their views on the election, vilifying those who believed differently than they, and even going as far as verbally or physically attacking others. I even had to go off on someone who attempted to justify the shooting of unarmed blacks by police by using meaningless statistics unrelated to the discussion topic. (Side note: white people, do NOT attempt to explain away the oppression black people deal with and the pain we feel if you have no reference point to draw from. If you’re not black, you don’t have a reference point in these particular regards. It is what it is. So listen for once instead of assuming you have all the answers from whatever political pundit or website you chose to visit. Also, eliminate the term “black-on-black crime” from your vocabulary forever. Thanks.) The stress of school deadlines and the death of my grandmother a few days’ prior were weighing on me, but I had a couple bright sides: I was flying to Michigan to see my family, and what I considered to be the dream World Series, with two traditional underdogs looking to break outlandishly long droughts between titles, was actually happening. Just one problem: Game seven would be happening during my flight, and I wasn’t sure if Wi-Fi would be available.

 

I was guaranteed to see the first few innings, if I were lucky. Things got off to a quick start, with Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler squeaking a line drive shot a few feet over the center field wall against Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber, a pitcher most analysts on ESPN figured would silence the bats of the Cubbies daunting lineup. By the time I left for the airport, the Cubs seemed to be in control of things, leading 3 to 1. While waiting to board my flight, I stood at a bar with a group: some Cleveland fans, some Cubs fans, but the majority of people merely sports fans fascinated with witnessing history, regardless of the outcome. The groans were just as audible as the cheers as the Cubs extended their lead to four runs, leading 5-1 in the top of the 5th inning. When the time arrived to board the plane, I was greeted by one of the flight attendants, an elderly gentleman named George whose smile shone as bright as his silver hair. “Hello sir,” he said. “Welcome!”

 

I wasted no time telling him where my interests lie. With a grin, I replied.

 

“Please tell me that either this plane has Wi-Fi or that the pilot will give announcements after each half inning.”

 

He laughed. “Well, I can guarantee you that we at least have Wi-Fi!” We patted each other on the shoulder and I proceeded to my seat, anxious for takeoff. I noticed many members of the airport bar congregation were in fact passengers on my flight to Detroit. Each passed by and recognized me, asking, “Do you know what the score is now?” Naturally, I smiled, updating the score as needed and sharing with everyone that our flight had Wi-Fi, just in case George hadn’t informed them. Every one of us, whether or not we had a team in the battle, had an authentic excitement as the plane was abuzz prior to takeoff. That’s when it hit me: because the plane had to close its doors, taxi, takeoff, and climb to a particular altitude, there would be time where I wouldn’t be able to receive ANY information on the game. That 20 to 30-minute window became a sports purgatory for everyone aboard the plane. Our suffering ended as the pilot’s voice filled the plane through the intercom: “Good evening, folks, and welcome aboard American Airlines flight 430 from Phoenix to Detroit; we’re expecting a bit of turbulence on the way, but we will do our best to accommodate you and ensure your ride to Michigan is as smooth as possible. Also, for those of you that may be interested, the Cubs are beating the (Cleveland team) 6 to 3 in the top of the 7th.”

 

The plane erupted with a mix of cheers and groans.

 

By the time we reached our necessary altitude, I connected online (don’t you just love technology when it works?) to find a way to watch or listen to the game. The best site I was able to find was ESPN’s GameCast. It wasn’t live video, but it gave an animated and comprehensive pitch-by-pitch update of the game. I soon became a popular man on the plane, with nearby passengers peeking at my screen and asking permission to follow along, despite the pilot announcing the scores between each half inning as I had previously asked. Conversations unrelated to baseball ensued, and before you know it, we were all buddies watching a game together. Of the six of us seated nearby, only one of us was a fan of either team, a gentleman whose name I didn’t catch who had been a Cubs fan since his father took him to his first game at Wrigley Field. During the bottom of the 8th inning, the turbulence became a little more violent than I would have preferred (mind you, anything greater than “no turbulence” is more violent than I prefer). I found myself gripping the handles of my armrests, but it wasn’t because of the turbulence. I was enthralled with the game, as were my fellow passengers, reading the updates onscreen the way fans of Scott Turow read his legal thrillers. The ninth inning came and went, my knuckles reddening from my grip on the armrests despite the fact that the turbulence had been long gone. I didn’t recognize it. Neither did my new compatriots.

 

As the rain delay began, all of us began to catch our collective breaths, forced to take a break from what had been a roller coaster of unpredictability in the game. Most everything the analysts predicted was proven wrong: players who had been in slumps during the series were becoming heroes, and pitchers considered as dependable as sunrises were getting smacked around on the mound. After nine anxiety-filled innings, there was more baseball to be played. And we wanted more. Everyone wanted more. I even joked on the plane that the rain delay was God’s way of showing even He didn’t want the game to end. I sunk back in my seat for a moment and exhaled slowly. That’s when it hit me: I realized that not only was this the greatest Game 7 that I had seen, but ever since the game had started, but every single person that I interacted with actually spoke to me, something I don’t always get when in mixed company. Sure, every time I see another black man on the street and we lock eyes, we do the “brotha head nod” and keep it moving. But many times when I speak to non-melanin individuals, I am either ignored or looked at as if I have a plague. But not now. That element is part of the beauty that sports generally has: regardless of which team people were pulling for, or what political beliefs they may have had, or how they may have treated me had we met under different circumstances, everyone that I had interacted treated me like “Christopher” and nothing else. I always wished that part of sports was a part of our everyday society.

 

I also remembered that I had promised Lauren that we would watch Game Seven together and witness history together, regardless of who won. By this point, as you probably have already deduced, I was pulling for the Cubs. I decided to see if I was able to use FaceTime from 35,000+ feet in the air, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could. My computer screen became a gateway to a television on the ground, and I was able to fulfill my promise as Lauren and we watched the Cubbies stave of the Cleveland team in dramatic fashion, 8 to 7. Shortly after, the pilot announced the final score, and many people, Cubs fans or not, began to cheer. The impossible became possible. The goat was forever eviscerated, and the agony that had been bestowed upon Cubs fans for over a century had been washed away in a sea of tears, beers, and saliva-filled screams that reached every corner of the globe, even seven miles above the surface.

 

Every once in a while, if we are lucky, we are able to witness history in a way where race, gender, and whatever other petty differences we have no longer matter. One such moment for me was witnessing President Barack Obama being sworn in in person during January 2009. I remember getting on the train downtown and seeing the railcar filled beyond its maximum capacity, with people of all ages and races singing the national anthem with smiles like children on the last day of school. The manner in which my heart swelled that afternoon is exactly how I felt last night during Game Seven.

 

No, this isn’t the point where I turn this into some “let’s hold hands and change the world” narrative, but in a world and in a year where we have seen more overt hatred, bitterness, racism, and division in our nation, last night was a welcome escape. Never mind the fact that the Cubs became the first baseball team in my lifetime to come back from a three games to one deficit, winning the final two games on the road to end a mind-boggling, angst-filled drought of nearly 108 years. Never mind the fact that the Cleveland baseball team was arguably a pitch away from breaking their own drought of nearly seventy years. Forget the fact that last night’s game will be talked about for decades to come. Last night, for four hours and forty-five minutes, I lived in the America that I’ve always wanted to live in: one where I was treated like everyone else. I even had that unnamed Cubs fan buy me a drink to celebrate, which quite possibly wouldn’t have happened under any other circumstance. It gives me hope in a time where hope and positivity are desperately needed in a country that, whether you choose to admit it or not, is at war with itself in many instances. It’s a reminder that if we for the majority can treat each other like decent human beings for almost five hours, maybe we can do that from now on, when the stadium lights are off, the roaring cheers finally settle into only our memories, and the cameras are turned off. All of those elements, the game, the history, and the sense of humanity that we were all able to show each other last night, make this the greatest Game Seven that I have ever witnessed with my own eyes.

 

Thank you, Chicago. Thank you, Cleveland. Because of you, there were no losers last night, even if only for a few hours.

 

And to all Cubs fans, from all Yankees fans: Congrats. You finally got your overdue happy ending. And you’re welcome for Chapman.


America’s New Civil War: Pornographic Patriotism vs. Societal Reality 

To call the last eight days of my life an arduous, traumatic, anxiety-filled, life-changing rollercoaster still doesn’t quite put it all in its proper prospective. Three deaths within a week’s time transformed me from a full-time performing artist, grad student, and startup brand ambassador to a full-time parent who also is a full-time performing artist, grad student, and startup brand ambassador. I’ll admit, the thought of me raising a preteen daughter is pretty terrifying.

 

Unfortunately, not even death and daughters allow one reprieve from being black in America. The latest example is San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who decided to use his position of celebrity to silently protest the treatment of people of color in this country by not standing for the national anthem at a preseason football game this past Friday. Many white Americans (who obviously know what it feels like to be a person of color in this society in their minds) went on the attack, using weakly formed opinions on his stance by claiming his refusal to stand somehow disrespected our nation’s veterans. Insults and threats of all types were hurled at Kaepernick by these “real Americans”, calling him everything from “nigger” to “coon” to “monkey”, and essentially treating Kaepernick in a manner that strengthened his case for not standing for the anthem in the first place.

 

Never mind that many who insulted and crucified Colin Kaepernick never knew the lyrics of the third verse of our nation’s anthem in which Francis Scott Key essentially wrote as a threat to American slaves who fought for their own freedom. Forget the fact that Kaepernick actually spoke out in defense of veterans and their treatment by our government (which has actually triggered veterans supporting Colin’s sit down protest). Disregard Colin’s poignant observation that it takes more training for a cosmetologist to use a hairbrush than it does for a police officer to carry a handgun. These days (and for most in our country’s history) common sense has no place when it comes to cheerleading what “real Americans” call the best nation on this planet; it’s the best simply because WE SAY IT IS.

 

Part of what makes the idea of America great (I say “idea” because if it were a reality, I wouldn’t have to write this) is that even America itself is not above reproach and criticism. Yet anytime someone makes a legitimate point of where our country is dropping the ball, Team Privilege comes out of the woodworks with their pre-packaged “Love America As-Is Or Get The Hell Out” rhetoric. Worse than that, it appears that Team Privilege has developed a three-pronged attack to utilize as the adult equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears and going “la la la” to ignore the trials and struggles of what is supposed to be their fellow man. Shortly after 9/11, I heard poet/activist Sonia Sanchez coin a term that perfectly describes this three-sided shield that Team Privilege cowers behind whenever one criticizes our country: Pornographic Patriotism. Pornographic Patriotism can pretty much be summarized in three parts: White Silence, White Denial, and Deflection. I wrote about the first part of this three-monster (white silence) previously; but the other two parts are just as damaging, if not more so.

 

White Denial, to me, is even worse than silence. White Silence implies an inability or lack of intestinal fortitude to speak out on an issue for fear of alienating your other racist friends for fear of personal loss. White Denial, however, is flat out refusal to even ACKNOWLEDGE an issue exists. You see it in those that defended USA swimmer Ryan Lochte when he lied about being robbed to cover up defacing and damaging a gas station restroom in Brazil (not an exaggeration, people, he motherfucking LIED) but were up in arms when USA swimmer Simone Manuel commented on the factual problem of police brutality in our own country. You see it in people who plan to vote for Donald Trump (who on multiple occasions has not covered his heart with his hand during the playing of the anthem) yet showed disdain towards Gabby Douglas for not having her hand over her heart after winning a gold medal for America (which, quite honestly, is more than Donald Trump has EVER done for our country). Hell, you see it in people who actually think Donald Trump is qualified to be our nation’s president yet fail to see the countless successes President Obama has had AS president! These people wear privilege and ignore reality in the same manner citizens ignored reality in the children’s story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, yet mock those who point out the naked truths of racism, rape culture, and the countless other atrocities that actually prevent our nation from reaching its true potential.

 

But that’s not what makes denial so dangerous. What’s being denied more than anything is the simple fact that everyone’s life is truly EQUAL in this country. Perfect example: I am currently earning my Masters in the Wilkes University Creative Writing program (shout out to my WhyNots family!). One of the books that I am reading this semester for craft purposes is John Grisham’s “A Time To Kill”. What blows my mind about this story (besides Grisham’s affinity of using “nigger” and fantastic use of third person narrative) is the fact that (spoiler alert) in order for the white jurors to find a black man innocent in a case where he killed two men that raped his daughter, they had to imagine she was white.

 

Let that sit for a minute. In order for this story to resonate with audiences and to become a box office smash in the 90’s, the story’s twist was that white people had to IMAGINE black people being equal to them. It’s not much different twenty-plus years later.

 

Before what I refer to as the “Matthew McConaughey Moment” (I saw the movie first) happened, these Mississippi citizens actually had to be INSTRUCTED to view a person of color as an equal in order for this profound “come to Jesus” moment to occur. Although this story is fictional, the manner in which the story resonates is proof positive that this, in fact, is a problem in our society. THIS is why “All Lives Matter” is total bullshit, because if all lives genuinely mattered, all lives would be treated equally without a majority of people needing a prompt to remind them that we are actually equal. This is how we can have a society where a black man who wears a red helmet can say what’s wrong with our country and be ostracized while a white man who wears a red hat can do the same and have a legitimate chance to become our next president.

 

 

Deflection is another reason why Pornographic Patriotism is so rampant. Instead of addressing one problem, people will instead respond with something completely unrelated as a tactic to flat out avoid addressing the actual issue. The most deflected topic as of recently? Police brutality. One of the main deflections Team Privilege has used against Kaepernick is comments of how not standing for the anthem disrespects our country’s veterans, despite the fact that when questioned about his protest, Kaepernick defended veterans, stating how our government doesn’t take care of vets as well as we should (which we don’t). That isn’t even Team Privilege’s favorite deflection regarding police violence. As of this blog, 706 unarmed citizens have been murdered by police, with unarmed blacks being thirty-one times more likely to die at the hands of police versus unarmed (or armed) whites. Yet many, instead of addressing this subject will run behind so-called “black on black crime” (a phrase used to subconsciously make people devalue black lives even more and deflect even more attention from police violence), oblivious to the fact that, according to fbi.gov, all races kill each other at similar rates. Why is “white on white crime” (something that happens in much larger numbers than any other race in America) never discussed, you ask? Denial and deflection, simple and plain. It’s not about what the facts are, it’s about what makes white America comfortable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, we are arguably the best country in the world to live in. But considering the fact that women and people of color are treated as third-class citizens elsewhere (as compared to being treated as second-class citizens here), calling ourselves the best country in the world is the same as boasting about being the tallest midget. And as long as the majority in this country continues to use silence, denial, and deflection to protect white fragility, we will continue to be a fractured society that has to continue calling ourselves a magnificent nation in hopes that one day everyone else will believe that as well. Pornographic Patriotism is what blinds people of privilege to differentiate an assessment of our society from an attack on it. You can’t really expect a country with states like Texas, whose history books are attempting to erase the history of slavery from their pages, to actually acknowledge something as it’s actually happening, right? Many in America are more concerned with protecting the image of our country’s greatness versus actually working to make this country better. True patriots are those who treat this country and its citizens like family: you can love it and still criticize it when it’s fucking up. So, consider this an intervention. America, you have built your brand as a shining example of what a society is supposed to be, but you are FAR from perfect. In fact, you’re barely mediocre. You can do better. This country should not be the type of country that measures its successes by what other countries aren’t doing, telling its minorities to be satisfied with no longer being slaves (unless you count the current prison system), being lynched (as much). You cannot, as sports analyst Max Kellerman suggested on ESPN’s First Take, measure our present state against our past as the litmus test of our society’s successes and potential. No, Max, we cannot be satisfied until we are able to live the same way you and your family can, as equals without fear of being killed for having the wrong skin color in the eyes of our system. We refuse to be satisfied until every American is proud to stand at our anthem, not because so-called self-proclaimed “patriots” bully them into doing so, but from an authentic pride in a country that roots for them at all times, not just when touchdowns are scored and medals are won. We refuse to settle for anything less than the American Dream becoming a reality for ALL of our sons and daughters. For these rights, we are willing to fight to the death… even if fighting means sitting down on a bench in peaceful protest.

 

What can possibly be more patriotic than that?


For Simone (Poem) 

Simone

Racism

Feels like acid burning your skin

causing tears deep enough to swim in

Just for swimming

they drowned their all-white pools

Told us we didn’t belong

But you tell her all lives matter

You tell her

black girls worry about hair more than heritage

You tell her

Black Girl Magic is waterproof

You tell her everything but the truth.

Racism

is an ocean of impressionable young girls

swimming through brown bag tests

trying to find a part of themselves to be sure of

It’s a mother

being the anchor

to a society that disowns her

That shows her appreciation through appropriation

and thanks her by killing her in front of her five-year old son

Strength

is being forced to swim upstream

for the right to dream the same way others expect to

It’s breaking records in order to be loved as other demand to be

It’s going lap after lap

without rest

with the pain

without respect

with the cries

without ovations

Still, she moves

Forward

Further

Faster

Navigating rough waters because she’s not built for failure

She endures

Remembering those who came before her

Pushing forward with each stroke

Kicking down doors as water betwixt her feet

Suffering onward

Until her golden dreams are reality


The Only Six Things About The Korryn Gaines Case You Should Know (Until More Evidence Is Released) 

1) Stop confusing “She didn’t deserve to be shot and killed” with ” I agree with the manner in which she handled the situation.” Or “She shouldn’t have been arrested.” Countless times armed individuals with mental illnesses (as many of you seem to claim she had without ANY medical documentation) have been detained and have the threat of violence eliminated without ending in death. Tasers, rubber pellets, tranquilizer guns, etc. If you have SWAT, you have other methods to subdue a 23 year old mother with her 5 year old (remember, the “T” in SWAT stands for TACTICS, not terminators.)
2) I am AMAZED at the number of you sounding the same way people treat rape victims: “Well, if she didn’t (insert statement here)…” NO. Your actions towards an officer aren’t enough to warrant you being killed. 

ALSO: It is AMAZING to me how many people that have protested police violence who are telling me, “But the police said…”

You HAVE to see the irony in that.
3) I’m still waiting for someone to show me how you hold a five year old, a shotgun in an actual firing position AND a camera to record everything simultaneously. 
4) Speaking of recording…I can’t be the only one curious as to why the police would/could shut off someone’s social media to prevent live streaming…especially considering what live streaming showed us last month. #PhilandoCastile 
5) Anyone coming at sistas sideways regarding this or any other event: DON’T. Brothers, step your game up and protect those who have been protecting you and speaking out before even YOU did. I may have a lot on my plate, but there’s ALWAYS time to check someone coming for my black women. ALWAYS.
6) Yes, you may have not handled the situation as she did. That doesn’t make you MORE qualified to not be shot. Hell, you could be laying on your back with your hands up and STILL get shot. The fact that the situation I used as an example ACTUALLY happened compiled with, oh, twenty plus years of not-so-great to life-threatening encounters with police, it’s not farfetched for someone to feel paranoid. No one is saying Korryn was a saint; what we are saying is that sainthood has never been a requirement to avoid being shot. This situation is tragic from all angles, but if a story ever comes out where I was killed by police and there was ANY kind of struggle, stay away from my funeral if you say “Well, only if Chris had…”
That is all.


The New Racism. 

To My 27 (Yes, 27) White Friends Who Recruited Me To Fight Their Battles For Them On Facebook:

We have a problem. Part of the problem we both see already: despite repeated evidence of actions towards unarmed blacks, from Trayvon Martin to Sandra Bland (not to mention Alton Sterling,  who was murdered just yesterday), there are those close to you that refuse to believe that, as my grandfather would say, “fat meat is greasy”. These are your Trump supporting, All Lives Matter shouting, Fox News watching friends who know everything about “the blacks” (which they say like they’re talking about a sports team) because Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and “insert ultra conservative black person in need of a paycheck here” told them so. But there’s an even bigger problem: although these people make your blood boil, you silently accept their actions due to your personal affiliation with them. Furthermore, instead of you risking a moment of discomfort or loss of friendships by tackling these issues head on, you opted to reach out to me–your darker hued defender of all things righteous—to say what you are afraid to. Why this was a wise decision in your mind, I do not know. But it wasn’t until you all asked me to do the exact same thing that I have to do for myself every day that it struck me like sunlight in a blind person’s eyes for the first time: Your passiveness is the new racism.

Passively living in an environment that spews racist ideologies without resisting that rhetoric makes you a part of that environment. Therefore, allowing racists to be racist in your area allows racism to thrive and makes you a de facto contributor to that racist system (which, by the way, you benefit from). This is the new racism: You didn’t start it, but you for damn sure aren’t willing to stop it. Now I know you don’t mean to be racist, especially when you feel as if you’re doing all the right things: you have more black friends than any other generation in your family, you truly believe that we all deserve the same rights, and you even occasionally post things on social media. But here’s the thing that you may not understand: equal rights is a contact sport. It requires ACTION. Most importantly, it involves standing up to those you love when you KNOW they are wrong. Author Jeanette Winterson once said, “there is no discovery without risk and what you risk reveals what you value.” What I have discovered, sadly, is that you do not value me as a black person in this country. Because of my skin color I risk becoming the next African American killed every twenty-eight hours in this country by police, and you aren’t even willing to risk an uncomfortable conversation with family and friends? How am I supposed to take that? You may empathize to an extent, but if you aren’t even willing to TYPE how you feel in defense of my betterment, I can’t take your friendship too seriously.

I can hear your response already…

“Well, it’s just their opinion. It’s not harmful.”

Really? Ask the Jewish community about what opinions can lead to.

Better yet, ask ME. Ask MY parents about how thoughts of racism growing up turned into kids trying to spit on them and calling them “nigger” on playgrounds. Ask how those thoughts transformed into them having higher auto and home loan rates than their white counterparts as adults. Ask those living before 1964, who encountered racism so often, had Facebook existed back then, Jim Crow would’ve been listed under their “People You May Know” section. Tell me how those who have racist thoughts in a position of influence (an employer, a politician, an educator, etc.) aren’t as dangerous as a lunatic with an AK-47 bought fresh after a five-minute waiting period.

It is exhausting being black in America. A major part of said exhaustion comes from not only having to clear hurdles that your privilege allows you to not even know exist, but also having to EXPLAIN to people that those hurdles actually exist. It’s crazy how black men share stories of being pulled over by police the same way veterans trade war stories. What’s even scarier is that in both instances, many feel as if they weren’t going to make it out alive. It is TIRING telling these stories to people over and over gain. I recently watched this show on Netiflix called “Sense 8”. On one episode, this character was strapped into a bed in the hospital, being told over and over again that they were crazy when they were in fact perfectly fine. After a while of being placed in restraints and being told that they weren’t well, the character began to believe what they were being told about themselves by others.

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE BLACK.

EVERY. SINGLE. GOT. DAMN. DAY. IN. AMERICA.

Simply put: Facebook posts aren’t enough. I’m not asking you to grab a dashiki and start blasting Dead Prez at Sunday dinner, but if you aren’t willing to stand up to those who mean the most to you, you are just as bad, and arguably worse. You are lukewarm, and this isn’t an issue that ANY of us can afford to be lukewarm on. You don’t get to be down with the cause until it threatens your trust fund. Nepotism can no longer be a reason to excuse the behavior of the racist you know and/or love. Telling your parents, friends, or other relatives that their antiquated, blatant racist thoughts make them incapable of being tolerated in our society is YOUR responsibility, not mine.

It’s time to pick a side, my friend…not black versus white, but right versus wrong. If, however, you feel that fighting for my rights is too much for you, do both of us a favor and stay out of my inbox.

Regards,

Christopher


Recent photos

Support The Grind!

 Send pics of yourself with Truth B. Told to chris@truthbtold.net to be added on this page!!! 
This feature is rendered via ajax