Former foster care crusader spearheads non-profit organization to pay homage to late brother

 

Written By Samantha Pounds

Social media is a very powerful tool if used correctly. Recently, while on Facebook, I came across a Facebook friend who I noticed was doing very powerful things in the community—the foster care community. I noticed this friend was starting a non-profit organization paying homage to his late brother Joshua.

Giving Joshua A Chance was started by Brandon Higgins, who just like his brother was also a product of the foster care system.

“My brother Joshua and I were placed in foster care around 1999. We were both eventually adopted. {Joshua} spent a lot of time in juvenile. His adoptive parents eventually gave up their parental rights,” said Higgins.

Higgins started Giving Joshua A Chance with the intention of giving back to the community as an individual who has lived through the foster care community.

According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, Higgins and his brother Joshua were not alone. Over 437,000 children and youth are in foster care. 45% of foster children live in non-relative foster family homes while only 32% of foster children live in relative foster family homes.

In addition to the staggering statistics, more boys are in the foster care system compared to girls with a 52% whereas its only 48% for girls.

While growing up in foster care and eventually an adoptive family home, Higgins didn’t realize the significance and impact it had on him until later in life.

“I grew up in a non-healthy environment and I didn’t realize it until I was older. I spent 9 years with my mom and she was addicted to drugs. My first placement in foster care was with an African American family. There was no distinction that I was biracial,” said Higgins.

Higgins also shared some of his most traumatic experiences while in foster care including being sexually abused. But it was an educator that helped to shape his educational experience and change his overall outlook on life.

“I had an educator that really advocated for me,” shares Higgins who also shared, “It gave me a lot of faith in people and changed my perspective on life.”

It was in his Junior year of high school that Higgins decided to pursue a better life with education as the forefront.

“It wasn’t until my junior year of high school when I realized I wanted to do more with my life, with church camps and day camps. During my freshmen year of college, my adoptive parents took me to Denny’s and reminded me that at the end of the day no one is going to have my back but myself,” said Higgins.

Giving Joshua A Chance is Higgins’ way of paying homage to his late brother Joshua. The non-profit organization aims to help youth in the foster care system to become financially literate, providing life and social skills among other programs aimed at helping the betterment of the youth.

The focus for Giving Joshua A Chance is to bring in alumni and careered professionals of the foster care system.

“A lot of these kids have been subjected to trauma and loss. They can’t be afraid to step outside of their box,” said Higgins.

While Giving Joshua A Chance board is currently closed of accepting new board members, Higgins suggests interested individuals to stay on the lookout for the next phase of the board member selection process in two years.

Community members who are still interested in the organization’s mission are however encouraged to make monetary donations alongside with sharing the overall mission of the non-profit.

Later this Fall, Giving Joshua A Chance plans to have a community wide event, a back to school night and more fundraising events.

When giving his thoughts on children and youth in the foster care system, Higgins shares, “Don’t give up, lift your head high. Just realize you’re not the only one in this station. There are people in worst situations. Make sure you make it to the top so you can lift others up. I’m a living testimony that you can make it.”

For more information about Giving Joshua A Chance and to donate, visit www.givingjoshuaachance.com

Experts suggests Black women include self-care routines as part of an active and healthy lifestyle

Written by Samantha Pounds for Black On Black Network

www.blackonblack.network

 

2018 has been the year of infinite change for me. Just as everyone else, I started the year out with setting attainable goals including working out, drinking more water, and better time management skills. It would be a sudden surprise to me when by the end of the first quarter I found myself single, friendless and yearning for true alone time.

While getting used to my status in both friendships and romantic relationships, it was then I realized the value and importance of self-care and it shouldn’t be practiced only when something dramatic or life changing happens. Rather, the notion of self-care should be utilized in everyday life. Depending on who you ask, the answer of what self-care looks and feels like will be different.

Before the year of infinite change happened for me, I always looked at the notion of self-care as being selfish. At the time, those closest to me would label self-care as “Me Time.” While those around me labeled it as time for themselves, I couldn’t help but think of all the things I could get done instead of taking a break.

“Self-care is anything that takes care of and sustains your mental, physical or spiritual well-being. We feel guilty about taking the time or spending the money to take care of ourselves. We are always taking care of others, or our careers, but not ourselves,” said Sylvia Wilson, an Indianapolis native who also includes self-care routines as part of a healthy lifestyle.

According to medical professionals, the act of practicing self-care includes exercising, being self-aware, creating joyful rituals, forgiving yourself and others just to name a few.

“Black women can and should do a few key things to practice self-care. First, acknowledge your limitations, understand that they may change over time, and act accordingly. Many black women are raised to be strong, and this concept is often indoctrinated from the cradle,” said MBA professional, Raven Lopez-Bell.

For many Black women, the notion of self-care is oftentimes perceived as being selfish but according to professionals, its well needed and earned.

“I think the stress for African-Americans is a complex issue and is influenced and created by multiple factors. There is a real, tangible and longstanding evidence that shows African-Americans are mistreated, disproportionately punished, and undervalued in the United States across the spectrum,” said Lopez-Bell.

Experts suggest including a self-care routine as part of a healthy lifestyle.

“Investing in me time is a must. It could be as simple as taking an uninterrupted bath, going shopping by yourself or having a night out/dinner with friends. It is imperative to carve out concrete time each week to do something that is solely for your own enjoyment,” said Lopez-Bell.

If you are in need of a few tips and suggestions for your next well needed self-care routine, try the following: Talking to people who fulfill you, hanging out with your close girlfriends, getting a manicure and or pedicure, taking a bubble bath, taking a nap, listening to music, watching your favorite television shows, reading a book and turning off all of your electronic devices for a period of time to name a few.

Colorism: Still an everyday stigma in the Black culture

Written by Samantha Pounds

By definition, the word colorism means discrimination based on the color of skin. In other words, it’s prejudice and discrimination in which people are treated differently. While colorism varies in definition compared to racism, its very much a prevalent issue dominating both the Black culture and other ethnic groups of color.

When it comes to such a complex subject, there is a young filmmaker and content creator whose looking to openly discuss the narratives of the subject manner. Melissa Guzman, a Dominican-American director, producer, actress, writer and the creator of Complexity.  The show follows the intertwined narratives of Latinx, African-Americans, Blasians and Indian cultures.

The series will explore how colorism played a major role in each characters upbringing and how it affects them in todays society.

“I was always told that I wasn’t black and it sent me into a world of confusion because deep down I knew I was black. It wasn’t until I went to college at Howard University where I started taking classes and learning more about the real issues of colorism,” said Guzman. 

It was also while in college Guzman learned she wasn’t the only one who was frustrated at the misrepresentation of Latinas. Guzman shares she made several contacts with her college peers who also felt the same way she did—their isn’t much representation of Afro Latinas in the media.

Like many who has experienced colorism, Guzman admits the adverse affects of colorism, which affected her self-esteem growing up.

The lack of misrepresentation in the media is ultimately what led to the creation of Complexity. Perplexed at her own experiences growing up, Guzman began pondering if others dealt with similar issues as she did while growing up.

“I began reaching out to my Asian, African-American and Indian friends. They all had very similar stories as I did growing up as it relates to their skin. This was around 2016 when these conversations really began,” Guzman shared.

It would be a very unfortunate circumstance that Guzman was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease which ultimately attached her body. Between hospital stays and trying to get her health back on track, the overall vision of Complexity stayed with Guzman as she did not want to give up on it just yet.

“As I felt myself giving up, I knew I needed a purpose and this was it,” said Guzman.

The mixture of characters in Complexity includes Ava, an Afro-Latina, Yesenia, a white Latina, Nicole Renee, a light skin African-American, Prisha, an outspoken Indian woman, Sean, a dark skin African-American male and Marvin an African-American and Asian man. While each character has their own personality, they share one common struggle—colorism in America.

While the show is currently in pre-production, Guzman shares her excitement and looks forward to viewers watching the final production and beginning the dialogue of thought provoking topic.

Fore more information about Complexity, visit https://www.seedandspark.com/fund/complexityseries#story

The Battle of the Bulge Lives in American Racism

 

Written by Gregory Meriweather @ RadioBlackOn

It seems quite strange to live in a world where the President of the United States is accused of asking why we would want people from Haiti and more Africans in the US, while suggesting that the US should get more people from countries like Norway. When the President references a place where the people are mostly blue eyed, Caucasians, it is difficult not to see his comments as racist, adding the fact that most people from Africa, El Salvador, and Haiti are people of color.

Many people are offended by the comments of the President, but I don’t share in those feelings. I am pleased to hear that the President speaks this way about people of color. It seems as if we (Blacks) have fought for hidden racism in the midst of a country that was built on it.

While statues representing the Confederacy are being removed, there are still so many hidden symbols of racism. Two of the greatest monuments in the United States were created by the same person. That person is John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum. He is the man responsible for Stone Mountain, and Mount Rushmore. He was a member of the Klu Klux Klan, and the creator of two of the greatest racist masterpieces known to man. How many people are aware of the Klan’s financial contributions to Stone Mountain? How many of the Presidents on Mount Rushmore were slave owners? What is the message sent daily as these monuments stand?

It seems that racists are able to move about better while hiding their true feelings. If we take the time to listen to the speeches of Dr. King, and Malcolm X, we should notice how relevant the things they were saying 50 years ago are today. Go and listen to “Harvest for the World” by the Isley Brothers, or “What’s Happening Brother” by Marvin Gaye. The message of what is happening in America towards Black people is still the same, and we are asking questions in the midst of a battle which we don’t understand. I feel it is time to bring some clarity in the midst of this hidden war.

Operation Greif was a special operation commanded by Waffen-SS commando Otto Skorzeny during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. The operation was the brainchild of Adolf Hitler, and its purpose was to capture bridges over the Meuse river before they were destroyed. English speaking, German soldiers, wearing captured British and US Army uniforms and using captured Allied vehicles, were to cause confusion in the rear of the Allied lines. This is what racism is today in the United States. Racism today looks confusing, because we don’t know if the intentions of people who once called us ni**a are now good and sincere. When analyzing the continued hardships of Black people in America, and all over the world, it looks like we are still being treated as the enemy. Blacks are still being discriminated against. We are still facing financial hardships, living in subpar communities, and struggling to get our footing in the land that so proudly says, “This land is your land, this land is my land.” If this land was made for you and me, why does it not look like it?

Eric Clapton is a prime example of an Operation Greif special ops soldier. Clapton has been noted as one of the greatest guitarist in history; A blues playing Brit, who made an album with blues legend, B.B. King, and wanted to “Change the World” with Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. Eric Clapton had many of us believing that he never had a racist bone in his body.

Yet in 1976, Clapton made some comments at a concert in Birmingham, England that proved otherwise when he said, “Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the wogs out. Get the coons out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I’m into racism. It’s much heavier, man. Fu**ing wogs, man. Fu**ing Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black wogs and coons and Arabs and fu**ing Jamaicans and fu**ing… don’t belong here, we don’t want them here.”

The Enoch that Eric Clapton was referring to is Enoch Powell who, like Trump, was a racist politician. Most known for his “Rivers of Blood” speech, Enoch Powell was against mass immigration. Trump does not necessarily want to do away with immigration, he just wants immigrants coming to America to have blonde hair, and blue eyes.

When reflecting on the racial undertone of his speech, Powell said, “My prospect is that, politicians of all parties will say, ‘Well Enoch Powell is right, we don’t say that in public but we know it in private.’” Based on that statement, it looks like Clapton, and Trump have broken the cardinal rule of racism, and that rule is that you don’t speak about it publicly. You are to move in a way that makes the enemy believe you all are one. Allow them to think that they are your friends. Talk to them, eat with them, date them, and embrace them. But when you are away from them, and in your private areas amongst colleagues, you talk about them, you hate them, and you strategize against them.

This theory can be proven based on an interview where Clapton apologized for his words, and said, “I sabotaged everything I got involved with. I was so ashamed of who I was, a kind of semi-racist, which didn’t make sense. Half of my friends were black, I dated a black woman, and I championed black music.”

I don’t think Clapton’s apology is sincere. I believe he is just doing what is necessary to move from being a POW (prisoner of war), to being a soldier once again. He enjoyed sleeping with Black women, just like slave masters. He enjoyed speaking our language, and engaging in conversations with us, because he knew that he could use it against us. Ultimately he loved white-washing our music, and making a fortune while doing it. Great job soldier, you have completed your mission. You have taken everything from Black people in a classic slave master way. You have taken our language, our women, our talents, and used them to build your community, all while being a full blown, not a semi, racist. Operation Greif is still working today.

Now is the time for us to be honest about this things that are going on in this world. Black people all over the world are feeling the pain of racial warfare. Operation Greif had an objective of bringing about confusion, and we are more confused than ever because of how deeply they have infiltrated our culture. We must begin strategizing ways to overcome this system. It will not be an easy fight but it will be well worth it if we can get our people back on track.

Some may believe that I am going too far. Many may believe that I am thinking too deeply. Others will look at this and only think about the personal success they have attained, and some will just simply ignore me. Enoch Powell proves everything I’ve said to be true when he said, “What’s wrong with racism? Racism is the basis of a nationality. Nations are, upon the whole, united by identity with one another, the self-identification of our citizens, and that’s normally due to similarities which are regarded as racial differences.”

It is hard to fight what you can’t see, so it’s time for us to take off the blinders. An apology without visible change, just won’t do. War has been declared on our people, are you willing to fight?

Gregory Meriweather is the CEO of Black on Black LLC. He is also the Host of the Gregory Meriweather Show on WBMN Groovin’ 24/7. http://listen.samcloud.com/w/74108/WBMN-Groovin-247/?play=y#history

O…The possibilities if Oprah runs in 2020

Written by Gregory Meriweather @RadioBlack

The buzz around the Oprah Winfrey speech at the Golden Globe Awards has been the hottest thing since fish grease, and it just keeps getting hotter.

When Madame Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for her outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment, she wowed the crowd in a way that we have grown so used to when she speaks, but this time was a little different. This time she began to dive into the world and speak on behalf of the voiceless in a way that only Oprah can. #Metoo received endorsement from the ultimate woman who has gone to bat for so many people, and once again, she hit a grand slam.

Now we are hearing, “Oprah for President in 2020!”

Although this may sound good to some, to me this sounds like a nightmare. I hope Oprah feels the same way. Why in the world would Oprah Winfrey ever consider running for President? Personally, I do not believe she is hungry for power, or the spotlight. When thinking about Oprah, I think about OWN. I think about the freedom she has worked so hard to attain. My hope is that she will do everything in her power to keep it, because her level of freedom gives aid and hope to so many.

Oprah was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi in 1954. This tells me that she was born in one of the most racists states, at a time where racism was seemingly at its peak, and Jim Crow was the law of the land. On top of the hand she was dealt as a newborn in Mississippi, Oprah Winfrey was mistreated as a child. She was made to sleep outdoors, molested by people she should have been able to trust, and was always told what she could not be, or do. Yes, Oprah Winfrey, the woman who was called too dark, too big, too ugly. The Oprah whose eyes were too far apart, and whose nose was too wide. Are we talking about the same Oprah when we talk about a potential United States of America Presidential candidate? Yep, that’s her.

No, Oprah, don’t even think about running for President. It seems you have a far greater calling on your life. Through you we have learned that the possibilities are limitless if we listen to life. Through you, we have learned that the world is not always right. You have shown us that blueprints can be changed, and there are positions and places for people who come from areas similar to Kosciusko, Mississippi.

You have shown us that the violated can yet become victorious. Your drive allowed us to see that being thrown away does not mean you have to lay or stay where you were thrown. You taught us that you can go from sleeping on a porch, to living in a palace, as long as you continue to dream and work to make it happen.

Presidential, by definition, means to have a bearing or demeanor befitting a president; dignified and confident. Oprah already embodies what it means to be presidential. Why would Oprah trade in the freedom she has worked so hard to attain for something less than what she has already accomplished? Oprah possesses the power and ability to help whomever she pleases, whenever she desires to do so, and then retreat to one of her beautiful homes, and read a book…. in silence. She can support the causes that are important to her, and still create content that helps change the world.

“O the Possibilities…..” of Oprah running for President in 2020 seem great, but Oprah Winfrey is best suited for the Oprah that God made her to be. Oprah, please continue showing us how to be presidential when we stay in our lane. Continue showing us how to listen to that voice inside of ourselves, and reach for the stars when others say it’s impossible.

Madame Winfrey, you have been President to so many people for so long.

I do not see the need for you to change your address, and become handcuffed. I thank you for all the work you have done, and look forward to seeing the work you are going to do to help make this world a better place in the future.

Election year 2020 is too late, because Oprah Gail Winfrey from Kosciusko, Mississippi has been Madame President since 1986. I salute you Madame President!

Gregory Meriweather is the CEO of Black on Black LLC, and the host of the Gregory Meriweather Show (Tuesday, Friday 4PM-6PM EST, and Saturday 9AM-11AM EST).http://listen.samcloud.com/w/74108/WBMN-Groovin-247/?play=y#history

 

Who can we trust when justice is necessary?

November 6, 2017

Written by Gregory Meriweather

The Aaron Bailey killing took place 5 months ago, and the leadership of Indianapolis, are still trying to figure out how to resolve what seems obvious.

Yesterday, Mayor Joe Hogsett took to the streets, and visited some local churches in the Indianapolis area. The Mayor visited New Direction Church, Eastern Star Baptist Church-Cooper Rd, Eastern Star Church Northeast Campus, Eastern Star Church, Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church, and New Life Worship Center.

While there, the Mayor spoke on the next steps in the case, now that Special Prosecutor Kenneth Cotter has moved not to prosecute the officers involved.

The Mayor stated, “My thoughts and prayers go out to all those impacted by the death of Mr. Bailey, including his family and those who called him a friend. At the outset of this process, I made a commitment to the community that immediately upon conclusion of the criminal investigation, IMPD would launch a full administrative review into the actions that led to this police action shooting. I intend to follow through with that commitment.

Effective immediately, I have asked Chief Bryan Roach to gather all evidence from the Special Prosecutor’s investigation along with any other available materials to begin that process. I have also asked that the review be expedited so that an administrative decision can be rendered as quickly as is responsible.

I offer my heartfelt thanks to faith and community leaders for their patience and leadership over the last four months, and I urge those who have been moved to action by these events to continue to challenge our city to do more to earn and sustain trust between Indianapolis neighborhoods and our police department.”

This sounds all fine, and dandy, but we must remember that in order for these officers to be terminated, there is a PROCESS. This process was in play well before the Mayor made these illustrious speeches to the churches. The Mayor knows that the Firearms Committee of IMPD must do their investigation, and then it must go to the Merit Board. The Merit Board can then issue the disciplinary action which may include termination. The Chief of Police cannot make these decisions alone, and neither can the Mayor.

It takes me back to a time in history on April 4, 1968, when Robert Kennedy made the announcement that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Indianapolis leaders had found a way to give Kennedy the credit for stopping riots from taking place in the city, but for those of you who know the real story, understand how far from the truth that really is.

It seems that the Mayor is doing whatever is necessary to keep the people at peace. It has been said by some that the Mayor really cares about the people, but when you go back and look at the case, you will find that it took the Mayor almost a month to truly speak about the shooting, His first real speech about Aaron Bailey was at the Mayor’s breakfast for IBE Summer Celebration. Before then, he was as quiet as a church mouse. I recall asking on numerous occasions, “Where is the Mayor?”

Furthermore, I want to know what made the Mayor choose these churches? He did not come inside the neighborhood where Aaron Bailey was killed to give his speech. He did not find a community center. He did not come to the “hood.” He went inside the churches that hold some of the most prominent Black citizens of Indianapolis in them. He went to the places that have large congregations, yet soft voices. Let’s just say he went to the megachurches. He went to the places with the “names.” I keep asking, what makes the politicians think we trust the churches? We have been getting robbed by these people for a long time. They have found the code that the slave masters used that said, “I should receive my blessings now, and you will get yours in Heaven.” If I may speak for the community, let me say, “WE DO NOT TRUST THE CHURCH.” I am not saying that all churches or Pastors are bad, but when you see them living well, while most of their congregations are poor, then it is time for some serious questions to be asked, and answered.

This isn’t the first time Indianapolis has had a police action shooting of this magnitude. Many remember the Michael Taylor killing, and how things turned out with that case. Aaron Bailey is another casualty, of a long list of citizens, who have wrongfully died by the hands of carelessness, and in some cases hatred. IMPD knows, that WE DO NOT TRUST them.

The legal system has failed Black people in more ways than I can name. If we just take a look at Mass Incarceration, we already know that the legal system was not built for us. Justice is blind when it comes to Black people. When I say blind, I mean blind to the facts. Facts have never mattered when it has come to keeping us out of the system. WE DO NOT TRUST THE LEGAL SYSTEM.

Mayor Hogsett has done a phenomenal job showing up to make Black people feel good. He has danced with us, smiled with us, sympathized with us, clapped to good ol’ gospel hymns with us, prayed with us. He has also done something that most politicians do. He has showed up in the church for his political party. He has showed up when a vote matters. He has assured us that they are going to do all the right things to help us. He has also done one other thing that most politicians do, and that is leave us hanging. The Mayor is a classic politician. He knows how to keep us in the grey. He knows how to help us remain uncertain on where he stands. I won’t single him out, because I feel that most of our politicians mistreat us. They tell us to call, they don’t answer. They tell us to ask, they don’t respond. They tell us to stand, yet want us to sit down. When we want to sit, they want us to stand. Let me just say, WE DO NOT TRUST POLITICIANS.

Finally, there is the Black elite. There is a group of Black leaders who sit in the seats that hold Black people back. Their positions say that they are about Black people, but their actions don’t. Indianapolis has a way of bragging on certain Black leaders, but when we look around we will find that Black people in Indianapolis are in the same position that we’ve always been in. I find it hilarious when the news shows the politicians going to speak with certain people. They speak to you all because they know that message doesn’t go anywhere after it’s given to you. You get to sit amongst us, because you look like us. You know how to code switch, and talk like us, but when it comes to loyalty, you are more loyal to the dollars than you are your people. You are so loyal to the dollars that you will turn your back on us before the ink on the check dries. Let me say this, WE DO NOT TRUST THE BLACK ELITE.

There comes a time when we must realize that Willie Frank Middlebrook wasn’t wrong when he said, “The Calvary ain’t coming,” and “Something in this milk ain’t white.” There are a lot of layers in Indianapolis, Indiana, and America designed to hold Black people back. We need to develop a segregated mentality in the midst of integration. We are integrated in person only. EQUALITY has yet to be integrated, and we keep waiting on someone to give it to us. They have told us the same lies for over 400 years, and we believe them. I urge us to stop hitting the snooze button, and wake up!

I will not trust this system unless there is visible change. I urge for my people to stand with me on this. Aaron Bailey’s killing is a major problem, but does not scratch the surface of all the injustices we face on an every day basis as Black people in America. We need to love each other more, stop fighting amongst ourselves, and build our nation in the midst of the one that does not want us here. As for the Blacks who do not want to work with us or help, I say we speak candidly with them, and let them know our position. If they can not comply, then they need to be removed from their posts. This does include electing people who are for the people. They have done a lot of things that they claim are for our benefit, yet their hearts are far from us.

This is their system. We have yet to be included in this system as people, and in my opinion we never will. Trust is earned, and they have yet to earn the right to be trusted by us.

Gregory Meriweather is the CEO of Black on Black LLC., and the Talk show host of the Gregory Meriweather Show, and the Expo Show.

Now That you are Standing

 

Written by Gregory Meriweather @RadioBlackOn

July 14, 2016

In the midst of a great speech during the BET Awards, our dear brother, Jesse Williams, has Black people all over the country hyped. The crowd at the awards ceremony was standing on their feet as this brother went on telling the world what many national and local leaders have been saying for years, but have not seen the results that they so desire to see.

Yes, I thought the speech was incredible. I also wished it was the last thing said at the awards ceremony, because I watched “us” get right back into reckless mode when the show progressed.  I must say I am not a fan of BET. I believe the network has gotten away from being a network that was intended to support Black healing, education, empowerment and development when Robert Johnson created it in 1980, and the network only aired for two hours. By 1985, BET became the first Black-controlled company to be on the New York Stock Exchange.  Bob Johnson eventually sold BET to Viacom, and the rest is history.

In spite of the speech being on BET, I must applaud the media for giving the speech life beyond BET. As I listened to the words from Jesse Williams, my energy level rose. As he continued, my emotion became overwhelmed because of all the things we need to work on.  He did speak on the oppression of Black people, but he also spoke about our own personal responsibilities.

When Williams said, “Now, this award – this is not for me. This is for the real organizers all over the country – the activists, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.” I wanted to shout, because there are so many Black people who don’t believe a “system” exists.  

Why is it that we cannot come together, and make the changes that are necessary for our people? Can this speech that was given at the BET Awards be the speech that sparks the new civil rights movement in America?

Black people all over the country have been talking about this amazing moment. There were celebrities and fans alike, standing on their feet.  As I looked at the crowd, I thought about all the things that have been said by Dr. Umar Johnson, Dr. Claude Anderson, Minister Louis Farrakhan and a host of others. All that I could think was, “Are they really listening?”  I so badly pray that they were, because it would be one of the most hype wastes of time that we have seen in a long time.

If the Black people fail to do something after this speech, it will resemble what true activists face every time they try to make a difference.  The mainstream has such a strong pull, that we tend to forget what good is, altogether. How do you think a pastor feels when he has delivered a powerful message where people stand to their feet, but when the call to discipleship takes place, no one takes the message and applies it to real life action? He is somewhat heartbroken because he knows that there is someone in the crowd that needed to move on the message.

We have to get busy.  We need to hear the words that were said by this young man, and hold them near and dear to our hearts. I understand that in our history, Black people had to deal with a lot of abuse when we stood up for our rights. I also believe that if we don’t do anything about it, then we will become more abused than ever, and in a more strategic way.

The question that I will continue asking is, “Now that you are standing, what are you going to do?” At the BET awards, there were a lot of people in the crowd, and even more watching on T.V. The people in the crowd looked as if they were in total shock. The people who were at home sent out “Jesse William For President” posts on Facebook. There is a big difference from being an activist and actor. Jesse Williams is both. An activist is real. An actor pretends to be real. When Jesse Williams received his award, he went from actor to activist.

On that night, the same thing happened to you. When you heard the speech, did you become an actor or an activist? Were you pretending to believe what was said or were you just pretending to look the part because so many people said that it was the thing to do? Only time will tell how effective this speech really was. Since you are standing and hyped, please make the decision to be an activist, not an actor.

Greg Meriweather is the host of The Expo Show and the Chief Executive Officer of Black On Black LLC.

Where Have the Rows Taken Us?

In the midst of all the murder, hatred, and crime going on in the African-American community, my mind began to wonder what has led our people to such a dark place? Of course, I immediately began to think about slavery, but that wasn’t enough. There is something that is so imbedded in our culture, that we are having a hard time seeing what it is, and since we are struggling to see it, it is even more difficult to fix it.

What could it be that has us lacking concern for our fellow men and women? Why are we killing each other at a rate of extinction? Historians will say that we were taught to hate ourselves through slavery. I agree, but is that it? Some would say that the Willie Lynch letter played a role then, and is still significantly important now.

That could very well be true, but what causes me to not care enough about what is going on with the person who lives right next to me?

What causes us not to care about the less fortunate African-Americans in our communities? Mamie Till said it best when she said, “Two months ago I had a nice apartment in Chicago. I had a good job. I had a son. When something happened to the Negroes in the South I said, `That’s their business, not mine.’ Now I know how wrong I was. The murder of my son has shown me that what happens to any of us, anywhere in the world, had better be the business of us all.” Even though many of us remember the story of Emmett Till, it has not been impactful enough to make us change. But why?

We have seen numerous murders of our people by the hands of white supremacists, and law enforcement alike. We now have white supremacy rearing its ugly head again, and yet we cannot seem to come together. Where did this stronghold come from?

I began to think deeper, and now I can say that I may have the answer. It was the rows. Yes, the rows of cotton picked by our ancestors during slavery. We were living together. We were in bondage together. Other than being separated by way of being sold, the rows became the way of developing village people into individuals.

When our people were working the cotton fields of the South, we did not realize the lasting impact that slavery would have on us. We did not know the fear that was bestowed upon our people. We did not understand what cultural behaviors would be lost, nor did we understand the new culture that was being birthed.

Imagine yourself at the start of a row of cotton. What is the goal?

The goal is to pick as much cotton as possible to make rate. You, and every other slave has a responsibility to your own row. You are also individually responsible for the punishment of not making rate. So by the end of the day, the master is now taking tally of your daily picks. One by one he is counting the weight of your bags. Whomever had the lowest amount, and whomever did not make rate, were then punished by way of the master’s whip. When this was all taking place, I am sure their minds were transforming as well. For every lash across the back, that person was becoming more and more of an individually focused person. Competing against their own people as a means of survival was birthed, and still lives today. Some may ask, “Why didn’t they work together to cover whatever the overall final weight needed to be?”

This was all a part of the plan. Could they have worked together to get the necessary end result? Yes, they could have, but this would have been building people who worked together, as opposed to working as individuals. Learning to work together for the common good of all would have been dangerous to the powers that be. If we could work together, then freedom would become inevitable.

Fast forward to 2017, and you will see where the rows of the cotton fields have taken African-Americans. We have become self-serving people. We are people who focus on what it is that we want, need, and desire as individuals. Even when it comes down to matters that challenge our moral responsibilities, we fail. When someone kills our children, we go down our row, and say, “That has nothing to do with me.” Some of our rows look like higher education, better neighborhoods, higher salaries, better social groups, etc. Yet while we are going down our rows as fast as we can, we don’t dare to look up, and see who is struggling. We won’t take a little bit out of our “bags” to help someone make “rate,” even if we are well above the standard. We stopped being family. We stopped being tribal. We stopped being village people who cared for one another. We are no longer inseparable. We have accepted the role, and our row, while hoping to never feel the lash of the master’s whip on our backs. We have become immune to our own collective demise. We don’t mind watching our brothers and sisters fall, or fail. When we do, we somehow look at our own people and do not see ourselves. We must change this behavior if we ever plan on being impactful as a race.

Is your row important? Yes, but not more important than your brother or sister. We can make rate by working together. One thing is certain, they could not have whipped all of us. That would have made for bad business then, and it makes for bad business now. So why not come together, and collectively win? There will be individuals who disagree with this, but we can’t worry about them. As you go down your row, raise your head, look around, and see who is not making rate, then help them. This can look like advice, a phone call, a connection to a job, constructive criticism, or even just telling them the truth. If you want to see something great take place in the African-American community, learn to work together for the good of the whole, and not just for the good of yourself.

Gregory Meriweather is the CEO of Black on Black Network, talk show host, writer, and public speaker. email: gmeriweather1@gmail.com booking: info@blackonblack.network