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Free Thought Flow

September 9, 2012

I posted some unvarnished thoughts on my Facebook page recently and I think it struck a nerve with some folk. So I thought it might be a good idea to post it here as well.

I apologize if I come at anyone sideways. I’m very passionate about my community. When I was a little boy I didn’t understand why my neighborhood had abandoned buildings and crack vials and shootings, while other neighborhoods didn’t. People talked about “getting out of the ghetto” but I always felt that if we could get out and get skills then we should come back and rebuild our community. God has blessed me with so much opportunity and I am so grateful. I feel a duty and obligation to help my community. There is no reason why Harlem, Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, Anacostia, Bronzeville, Roxbury, Newark, etc. can’t be just as nice as Foggy Bottom, or the Upper East Side. But it’s not going to happen if people don’t put in work. Policy is important but policy is limited. I see kids in my community who have lost the spark in their eye. They don’t believe they have a future. They literally do not believe they will make it past 25. Don’t you remember that line from Kanye’s song off “College Dropout?” “We weren’t supposed to make it past 25. Jokes on you we still alive.” When I reached 30 last year I was so grateful to God. Even honors students get shot for no reason. I’ve talked to kids who don’t want to be involved with violence but it’s almost an inescapable poison. I am passionate because I know that we as a collective black community have the skills, talent, and ability to solve our problems. It really pains me that there are kids who have no direction when it doesn’t have to be this way. This isn’t new. W.E.B. DuBois gave a speech to the Boule decades ago about how black folk who have aren’t doing enough for those who don’t. The issue isn’t whether or not you’re engaged in philanthropy or a mentoring project. The issue is that there is so much more that needs to be done. We cannot be content to give of ourselves as much as we’re personally comfortable, then go pop bottles in the club all night. On 135th & Lenox there was a vigil for a kid who was 13 years old when he was shot there this summer. His friends gathered around – kids. Young kids. Our children are dying and we are too complacent!!! I am angry by so-called liberals of all races who are quick to engage in some philosophical policy discussion but aren’t on the front lines of life and death. Right here. In the United States. I’m angry because there are kids who are on Lenox Ave. that can’t walk on 7th Ave. for fear of what will happen to them. Over what? Beef? WE DON’T OWN ANY OF THIS!!! I’m very angry because if more people were angry it wouldn’t be this way.


From → Commentary

  1. Some of the most dedicated advocates feel like standing on the corner (public protests) are no longer effective. Instead, they are opportunities to give politicians a photo up (to enhance leadership) amongst the most downtrodden and agitated members of the community- with no follow up. Further, I think you alienate people by suggesting people who buy “bottles at the club” haven’t in some way invested in their own communities- very divisive. I belive that a new, stategic form of advocacy should be birthed. Anger is energy wasted if not coupled with new stategies on influencing change.


  2. Thanks for your comment. My assertion is that people who pop bottles at the club haven’t invested in the community – I like to party too. What am I saying is that too many us don’t have a balance between club hopping and community investment. Some folks drop over $100 at the bar but don’t make the same financial or time commitment to their communities. I believe there needs to be a shift in priorities toward community building, especially from those of us who have a certain level of academic or financial achievement. W.E.B. DuBois spoke about this much more eloquently than me in his speech to the Boule on the guiding hundredth.

  3. This post reminds me of a music video from one of my favorite CHH artists, Thi’sl ( We all need to be angry enough to change communities. I grew up in midtown and didn’t even have to deal with drama growing up without excessive crime, etc., but our Faith mandates being active in this world regardless of whether we claim a community as “ours” or not. I don’t like that poverty is the image people get when they think of the “Black community” — especially because it’s simply not true that the majority of AAs live like that — but more important than that, we must be part of the solution. Props for what you do. I need to get on board as a solution-oriented person as well.

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