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AMERICA -- Here is what you really are

I struggle to empathize with those Americans who find themselves suddenly in a country they don’t recognize because black, brown, and red people have been telling you the whole time where you are.

Let Me Be FREE!

I've had several conversations over the last few weeks or so about the definition of being FREE.

This one particular discussion that took place over the weekend really touched my soul and nearly brought me to tears thinking about its reality. I've been asking this question as part of a personal survey I'm conducting. There have been people from all walks of life in which I've asked what does it means to be FREE. I also asked if they considered themselves FREE?

I found the answers in some cases very disturbing and also very profound as well refreshing. Now, just because people gave great soundbites doesn't mean that they're truly FREE. Yes, today, no one is actually in ball and chains. No one is being held in the modern civilization against their will. And no black person is being strung up on a tree for sport for all to witness. Now, people say that slave-like tactics are still being practiced in certain areas of America. I would not doubt that, but in a normal society, especially in major big cities, there's no visible evidence of FREEDOM being physically restricted.

The kind of freedom I'm referring to is completely mental and/or psychological, in which people either in impoverished communities or within professional offices across are actively conducting themselves in none FREEstyle performances. They're afraid to challenge the status quo. They're fearful of being displaced or left without other opportunities to succeed or barely maintain. That's what happens when the hidden hands of power have captured the spirit and soul of so-called educated and supposedly mentally stable black folks. These Negroes believe they can't provide for their families without the assistance of certain corporate structures keeping them in play.

During my remarks as host emcee at the Cook County Bar Association's annual Installation and Awards Dinner last Friday, I asked what was the role of the black professional? I made reference to the late, great Lew Myers, Jr., who was being saluted with the President's Award for his courage and fortitude (His wife excepted the honors on his behalf). Attorney Myers did exactly what he wanted in terms of serving black people without pause. And after my acknowledgment of him, I kindly and aggressively stated, "That Negro was FREE!"

Again, what is the role of the black professional? I need for current and future black professionals to write that question in their journals and attempt to answer. Your response will truly help move the needle of progress either backward or forward. If you can't, in good conscious, figure out your role other than making money to provide for your immediate family, then progress will be stalled, at best, until you understand the bigger picture of why you exist on God's earth.

During several of these conversations throughout my journal with paper and pen, I've been allocated as the voice of many who can't say exactly what I've expressed in my writings. But again, as people always state to me, "I don't agree with everything you say, but...." I laugh everytime someone says that. Of course, you don't and shouldn't agree with everything I script in my Works of Words. (We) don't agree with everything our parents, spouses, and besties tell us.

But, I always ask, 'Why can't you state exactly what I'm saying?' If what I speak is the truth, then what refrains you from speaking truth? It's normally the same old response: 'I have a family and responsibilities and my (JOB) will not allow me to speak out or be vocal on issues relevant to my (black) community.' I often wanna say, 'are you a FREE person?' Because I truly understand their plight, I don't go there! But for those who've ever made that cowardice statement to me, these Works of Words are for YOU and the corporations who prevent FREE Negroes from being FREE!

Let them be FREE! American companies, isn't it enough that you underpay black people? Hidden hands of power, isn't it enough that have restricted black folks from dwelling peacefully where (WE) have earned the right to dwell? Corporations, isn't it more than enough that you've not provided adequate accommodations for black excellence to progress and obtain the highest power within your establishments? Where are the board seats? Where are the CEO and president titles? Where are the partnerships?

Being FREE is not just walking openly without bondage. Being FREE is soo much more than making money and running to the suburbs, or within the last ten years, relocating back to communities like Bronzeville, which you abandoned decades ago because you thought you were FREE. Now, that FREEDOM cost you even more because of gentrification. You're being oversold your parent's and grandparent's homes back to you. And you call yourself FREE? LOL!

Let me be FREE! I'm glad that so many have anointed me as their mouthpiece. Thanks! I'm also excited to be in a FREE state of mind, body, and soul to be that voice. Thanks, my Lord. But true happiness and FREEDOM for me is to be in a community filled with FREE thinking folks who not only fight for their FREEDOM but allow for those who wanna be FREE, to be FREE! Therefore, don't criticize me for wanting FREEDOM.

For those FREE folks who know history, remember what slave abolitionist Harriett Tubman screamed: "I could've helped more Negroes if they only would've recognized that they were already FREE"!

Until the next edition..... Peace and One Love. I Write to Differ...

White Supremacy

Scott WoodsIf we know nothing else about white supremacy it is that it possesses a fluidity second to none in the political realm. Of all the tools that exist to run a society, white supremacy is the Swiss army knife of value systems: more flexible than religion, more widespread than nationalism, and more insidious than patriarchy. It is a system so chameleon-like that most direct answers about how to combat it are easily dismantled because they don’t apply to enough situations to make a difference in the lives of people as they are lived. The problem isn’t that the answers are bad; it is that people often interpret broad answers as complete answers when in fact they are tools that are supposed to be applied to our lives as we experience it. So when someone says we must “do away with systemic racism”, they’re not telling you what to do so much as where you need to start your process. “Do I know what ‘systemic’ means? Do I know what ‘racism’ means? How many ways does this apply to my life? Why does it often feel like I’m the only one working on this where I am?” Fighting racism isn’t a checklist; it is a constant and ongoing interrogation of the world around and within you. That requires that you not only read but consider, that you imagine, that you apply the sum of your experiences and gifts to the process of discovering the depth and range of racism in your life.

The science behind the magic trick of answers seeking to combat racism is that the heavy lifting is largely individual in practice. You have to not only ask the questions but find YOUR answers because racism is affecting you in some unique way that has to interact with your experiences, values, knowledge base, skill set, and ethical capabilities. The fight is largely in the journey, so basing the success of your fight on an outcome instead of the process is frequently a recipe for failure. When someone asks you to think outside the box, it’s really a call to open your box, unpack it, analyze the contents, find some new content, and wash off the racism you find on the old contents, assuming they can or should be restored. 

The so-called constructive criticism of a revolutionary criticism that basically says “this study/interrogation/philosophy is incomplete because it has no solutions” misses the point of not only most criticism but the basics of anti-racism problem-solving.


Building New Institutions

Carl WestContributing Correspondent: C. Dwayne West

A celebrated elder and civil rights icon recently asked me what I thought about Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. I responded with much flair but with also much well deserved respect. 'I think Rev. Jackson is a part of the old leadership model but his continued work is needed even though not much appreciated by those in my generation.' And I went on to explain why....

School Choice... Whose Choice?

The appeal is simple, but the massive funding of school choice by a cartel of wealthy patrons raises concerns about the real agenda of the advocates of school choice.

The Families of Victims -- as seen through the eyes of the shooter

We must face the fact that we have an impoverished underclass in America.  It can be found in Appalachia, the barrios, rural areas, and for certain, in the urban inner city.  The violence is most egregious in the urban area because of the organized subculture that historically sustains various conditions of violence, i.e. the lifestyle of gangs.

What is the meaning of Black History Month to me?

Freedom and Education
For me the celebration of Black History month centers around the struggle for freedom and education. These two themes are critical to the success of advancing in this society. This is best captured in the thoughts and ideas of Frederick Douglass and Carter G. Woodson, and is reflected in the excerpts below from two important works of these men.