The Power of Symbolism and Metaphor: The usage of them towards Social Justice

When Jesus Christ asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter’s replies, “Yes.”
Then Jesus repeats, “Peter, do you love me?”
Peter slowly replies, “Yes, I do.”
Lastly, Jesus utters his closing question, “Peter, do you love me?”
Peter, being profoundly touched, emotionally responds, “Yes I do.”
Jesus did not have to question Peter’s love ever again nor does Jesus condemn Peter. That wasn’t the point of the questioning. Simply, reflection, relationship, and personal growth were gained.

The power of symbolism and metaphor

“American flag/America, do you love me,” marginalized people ask. Quickly, the marginalized recognizes that they didn’t impact positive change with that question to its recipient. Why?! The American flag and Country (as land) cannot provide the verbal response needed to ignite growth. Therefore, the marginalized people redirect their question to the Americans who inhabit and inherit the land and who can verbally speak.

These Americans reply, “Yes we love our marginalized people.”

The marginalized asks again, “American policy makers and life changing decision makers, do you love me?” The America policy makers and life changing decision makers reveal that their “love” is merit and brotherly-centered, so if you have the credentials and favor their resemblance, their love is ignited, in which, they do not know merit and brotherly-centered love is not the deepest love one can show another human being or they have just forgotten Jesus’ definition of love.

Yet, these Americans reply, “Yes I do love you if you’re willing to conform or assimilate.”

With such response the marginalized should have given up and felt hopeless, but they hope for the best when Hope is hard to fathom due to the present situation.
Therefore, in faith, the marginalized asks, “American people, do you love me when you see blood flow out of me unjustly?”

Unlike Jesus’ most loyal and faithful disciple being able to give a sincere and quick answer to Jesus’ final question, the American people are still brainstorming their answer on whether they love the marginalized.

But when they do answer, I hope they would have the mental and emotional capability to acknowledge their silence as Peter acknowledged his verbal silence and physical denial in the heat of the moment of the injustice happening to Jesus Christ. With such acknowledgment, it enabled him to partake in a life changing conversation with a victim of injustice, which enabled him to see the physical, social, emotional, and spiritual affliction suffered by the victim. That then led to action, making Peter transform into a genuine advocate for agape love and social justice.

I’m one of the marginalized. Do you love me America?

I can’t take your silence; do you love me America?

Do you…

Life’s Changes

What’s up everybody?!!! I hope (and pray) that everyone has been doing well over these past few weeks while I’ve been AWOL from the site.  My bad on that.  You see the thing is, just when you think you’ve gotten everything figured out, Life has a series of curveballs that it wants to throw you.  Well to this point, I’m probably 0-12, but I’m still swinging.  I’ll keep swinging until I can make contact to ensure I’ve mastered this new pitch!

The scary thing about this new change is that I don’t know exactly where I’m headed or even what for.  I mean, I thought everything was going perfectly fine for me a few months ago.  Me and the wife are good (as always).  Financially, I’m doing better than ever (just received a promotion a month ago that brought a nice amount of funds into the home).  Physically, I could be better…but I still feel well; no aches, no pains, no illnesses.  Denver is still a dream location that has provided me with a great quality of life.  So if I had to sum up my life in one word, I could: #Blessed.

But there’s one key element of peace that started to shake for me a few months ago; my spirit.  If I’m not healthy spiritually, I can’t be healthy in any other form of my life.  Guys I can’t really voice the feeling that settled into my spirit around the beginning of July.  Things started to look distorted on my job.  And everyone that knows me knows that I love my job.  Things started looking funny in this beautiful house my wife and I built last year.  And everyone that knows me knows that I love this house; my wife did a great job with it (lol)!  Things started looking funny in the ministries that I’ve been so committed to over the past six years.  Everyone that knows me knows that there isn’t anything more important to me than working for God.  I was making money (good money!).   But I wasn’t smiling as much as I’d been used to.  I wasn’t sleeping the same way that I used to.  I’m working with the same people, doing the same things that I enjoy, and even having the same circumstances that have surrounded me all this time.  But this place where I wanted to stay the rest of my life started to feel “different”.  My spirit was vexed for a few weeks straight as to “what am I doing here”, as if I belonged somewhere else.  Like any faithful person, I began to pray about it to see what “my” problem was.  I’d been waiting on an answer for quite a while, but God finally began to speak to me…

Today I can tell you guys that I’m a little closer to understanding what this curve ball is all about.  For those of you that don’t believe in God, rest assured that I can be the one person you can call on to ensure you that He does.  While my wife and I had been praying for months (in private; no one knew…not even our parents) on this funk that I’d been in, God literally used an unorthodox woman that I don’t know from a can of paint (and doesn’t know me) to speak to the very things that my wife and I had been praying so fervently about for the past few months.  And it wasn’t one of these vague “God’s got a blessing for you” prophecies; it was one where the issue(s) were called out in the exact manner in which we were seeking a response from God.  If nothing ever even comes from this, at least I know that God is still listening to His children when we are adamant on calling on Him for help!  Anyhow, I’m learning that this change wasn’t about anything that I’ve done wrong, anything that I’ve done correctly, nor being about anything that is off track in my home; it’s a change that God has been specifically tailoring so that He could get my attention to focus on the next stage of my life.  So while I understand that, I still don’t know what the next step is in relation to His will over my life.  I was so comfortable and set with how things are now!  But I do know that His Will is the absolute safest place for me to be, and I also have a committed wife that is willing to support me/us while I am driving with impaired vision.  Ultimately she knows that we have the best pilot this world has ever seen; Jesus Christ.

Now as for me, I just need to equip myself to hit the curveball the next time Life decides to throw it…after all, since I know exactly who the “Pitcher” is now, I should be able to study His tendencies and finally connect with what He’s been throwing.  I’m in training for the next two weeks….I expect to return during this time with a triumphant story; not just a hit, but a HOME run!  Prayers as always family; 1 love.

–IAC–

 

Are You Settling?

At twenty-seven years old (thank you Lord), I can truly say that I’ve come a long way.  I’ve found the most important thing on this earth that a man can capture (a wife), I haven’t been without a job since I was twelve years old (work ethic and favor has always been there), and I’ve managed to escape the confines of being an African American male destined to serve time in a jail or a penitentiary (Lord please keep protecting me).  Furthermore, I hold two degrees from higher-learning institutions; B.S. in Industrial Technology (U….A…..PB!) and M.E. in Engineering Management (University of Colorado).  Not only was I a home-owner at the age of twenty-two, but the wife and I recently had a home built from scratch in 2016.  To take it a step further, I’m heavily involved in ministry within my local church, and even involve myself in mentorship opportunities throughout the community of Denver via my frat (A Phiiiiii) as well as my job.  Not only am I one of the sole African Americans working on my campus currently (there may be 30 of us out of 3000 individuals), I actually manage one of our manufacturing centers.  At twenty seven years old (thank you Lord, again), I can truly say that I’ve done a lot and seen a lot of successes.  To God be the glory!

So by now, you may be thinking something such as “this brother sure is bragging a lot right now”, and you’d be on-par to assume so.  I just rolled off a list of credentials that are typically expressed by those that have been struck with the “acceptance speech” gift.  But if you really know me, you know that I’m not the type of brother that operates in that manner.  You see, actually this challenge isn’t for you: this challenge is for me!  Not because I need to do more, but I need to start doing something that is meaningful.  Something that gives life even when the troubles of this world is trying to rid you of its’ very essence.  Do I have days that feel purposeful?  Of course!  I LOVE those days that I can reflect and know I did something God ordained for me to do.  Do I have days where I feel like my presence on this Earth was not in vain?  Sure; I can always sleep well on those nights.  But it appears that those days are dwindling more and more lately, and I feel as if God is asking me a simple question: why are you settling?

Why are you settling when I have provided you so many talents?  Why are you settling when I gave you so much energy to use?  Why are you settling when I have implanted so many ideas for you to bring to life?  Why are you settling when there are so many visions I’ve displayed to you even though your eyes were closed?  Why are you settling when I’ve allowed you to overcome so many obstacles Isaac?  Why are you settling when I have given you this spirit of unrest, RIGHT NOW, to remind you that you can rest AFTER you’ve given back to me what I’ve given to you?  Why are you settling by wasting time when I have given you a nagging compulsion when you feel others are wasting your time?  How ironic; you get upset when people are wasting your time: well what about the time that you are wasting that I have provided to you, IAC?

Isaac Alexander Clark, my son, why are you settling….

–IAC–

“The World is Turning” by Lee Clark Allen

“The World is Turning” by Lee Clark Allen

Verse 1

Charlie don’t go || down that road

Charlie don’t go || down that road

Charlie don’t go|| down that road

There are Lions || Tigers and Bears

Chorus

I know that God || gave us the world

He gave us the world but the world is turning

Turning against you || Turning against me

Charlie don’t go down that road || Ooo Oh Ooo Oh

  • Verse 2
  • Trayvon don’t go || down that road
  • Trayvon don’t go || down that road
  • Trayvon don’t go || down that road
  • There are Lions || Tigers and Bears
  •     Chorus
  •     I know that God || gave us the world
  •     He shared His Power but the world is turning
  •     Turning against you || Turning against me
  •     Trayvon don’t go down that road || Ooo Oh Ooo Oh
  1.             Bridge
  2.             Cuz yo back’s gon be aching || Yo hands gon be shaking
  3.             Yo blood’s gon be pumping || Mom’s heart’s gon be breaking
  4.             We’ve seen these things before || Wish to see these things no more
  5.             But we will halt progress ||  If we don’t take these damn roads
  6.                   Oh Lord have mercy || Oh Mary get your Son
  7.                   Johnny put down your gun || Billy, don’t you run
  8.                   Oh Lord take this cup || Take this cup from me
  9.                   If you gonna strengthen me || strengthen my grip for this cup

Verse 3

Martin go || down that road

Obama go || down that road

Ladies go || down that road

Though there are Lions || Tigers and Bears

Chorus

I know that God || gave us the world

Gave us power so we have to do something

Something for you

A little something for me

Something for you

A little something for me

People || on this road

People || in a turning world

Time to Rise & Grind…

I know it has been a long time my brothers and sisters.  For that, please accept my sincerest apology.  I have thought about you guys everyday: but thoughts aren’t recognized without action.  I have to do better because I owe it to myself; I even owe it to you.  Welp!  Now that I’ve got that out-of-the-way (haha….)

I’ve worked twelve hours for a company that seems to appreciate me.  But I’m still black, so you never know.  I look back over the day and recognize all of the things I was able to accomplish.  Sometimes I even surprise myself with results, but hey, no time to get side-tracked.  I’m even thinking about the things I need to accomplish tomorrow, already.  That’s the way I’m built: sometimes it’s a great thing, but also a detriment in others.  I need to figure out a way to shut my mind off.  Do a few push-ups, take a shower, and get ready to do work in the morning.  Five hours later, that alarm goes off: rise and grind IAC.

I’ve worked another twelve hours for a company that pays me pretty well, considering where I come from.  But I’m still black, so you never really know.  I don’t even have the will to ask so that I don’t get disappointed by the answers.  My few years have proven more valuable to various groups in our company than some individuals with greater titles; individuals that have sucked the company’s profits for over twenty years and have went on to provide generational wealth for people who look like them and has the same last name.  Somebody remind me again why the scales are tipped so heavily in this country?  Nah, I need to figure out a way to shut my mind off.  Do a few push-ups, take a shower, and get ready for work in the morning.  Six hours later, that alarm is booming: rise and grind IAC.

I’m in meeting number four for the day and unfortunately I have to be the one to deliver bad news.  Schedule slippage happens, right?  But wait, I’m still black, so hopefully they don’t overreact and try to attribute the slippage with ‘incompetence’ on my part.  After all, everyone really knows me so that couldn’t come into question with any of these groups.  That couldn’t happen when I work this hard!  But you know what, they didn’t receive that tough news well at all.  “What are you doing to fix this” they ask?  “How could you allow this to happen” they ask?  “What did ‘the center’ learn from this failure” they ask.  At this point I realize that there has to be a fall guy, and usually the closer to the ground, the darker and dirtier it gets….get it?  I fit the bill, so I’ll allow my “customers” to vent since they’re in “unfamiliar territory”.  I just need to get home and do some push-ups, get a shower in, and get ready for a great day in the morning.  Today was just a bad day! Five hours later, wifey wakes me up and I’m ready to go to handle today’s problems!  Rise and grind IAC.

I’ve learned about an industry that I didn’t even think about in middle school, high school, or undergrad.  Not only learned, but I’m accelerating in trajectory (even if the world can’t see it yet).  I’ve dedicated myself to be able to support my family in the way I envision I should; this opportunity has been a great stepping stone to do so.  I’ve humbled myself to understand where I lie in this world.  But how can I be comfortable with that, man?  I’m a KING in this world.  But wait, I forgot, I’m still black…for some reason, black doesn’t equal power anymore, right?  Ahhh, everytime I find myself thinking I’ve good a good thing going, I just keep reminding myself that I’m just building onto someone else’s good thing.  And this gentleman’s family DEFINITELY doesn’t look like mine.  Man I’ve gotta’ figure out a way to kill all this noise in my head!  I need a gym today to get me right.  I may need to just sit down in the shower and let the water pour over me.  Yea, I know that will help me get ready for work in the morning.  Five hours later, that alarm wakes me up again; I’m ready!  Rise and grind IAC…but this time…just maybe…break your back for yourself instead of someone that doesn’t need a lift in this world.

–IAC

aka

“A Brother recognizing how hard he works, and it’s never for himself”

At Last

God says to me, being young, gifted, and dusty,

“This one time I will articulate why you’re loved by me.”

“Why Lord” like a child I interrupt.

“Why to why I would articulate this time or…” the Lord anticipated the upcoming interruption.

“Nall Lord. I can forgive you for not always talking while you are simultaneously completing one million and one errands, so don’t worry how you articulate what’s in your mind. Instead, nigga, oops I mean Lord, my nigga dammit, let me just get to the point. Why you love this nigga?”

“…” the Lord sits with His thumb and index finger pinching his chin like how a guitar holder pinches a guitar neck. He knows my monologue isn’t over.

“…As mentioned before, I admit I am young, gifted, and dusty. Too young to be consistent in well living, too gifted to completely be vulnerable and reliant on you, and too dusty because not all of this dust was by your design. This authentic self is my offering, yet you love and say, ‘Come closer.'”

“…You have an authentic self and you are aware of it. That you would offer me that is the expression of your love. At last, you have arrived,” God says and then nods.

“Your authentic self siphons my love,” God confesses.

Some People Just Don’t-and-Won’t Get It

This past week, I was listening to a local radio talk show (very rare for me) and I heard a few comments that really got my blood boiling.  I tend to have a low tolerance for stupidity, but I think I’ve gotten a lot better guys.  After my attention settled in for a few minutes, it became obvious that this radio talk show host was not African American.  I don’t know what race he was, but African Americans know African Americans by voice (but I can admit that it’s not a science).  We have genetically inherited certain qualities, just like other races have that we [African Americans] weren’t blessed with.  He wasn’t one of us; I’ll just leave it there.  But anyhow, for some odd reason, this talk show host had decided to take another shot at President Obama even though we’re already weeks into having a new president.  My “spider” senses told me that he’s definitely in approval of the new president, so he should be in a good mood when speaking on the political climate in our country today.  In my mind, I was already thinking, “Here we go again”….but shortly after listening to his perspective, I had more animated emotions.  The presentation went a little something like this…

—President Obama granted clemency to over 100 inmates during his 8-year tenure as president (voice reeking of frustration).  Many of those that received this ‘special treatment’ were individuals serving sentences of 25 years – to – life for federal drug violations.  Obama wanted to stress equality, but the majority of the these felons were black; that doesn’t seem like equality to me.  He backed his actions by arguing that these individual cases involved harsher punishments than necessary.  Well, one of those drug felons that he released a few months ago was just arrested again in Texas after a high-speed pursuit.  Law enforcement was tipped off that this individual had begun to be involved with distribution of narcotics again, which was  the same thing that landed the man a life sentence after being convicted in 1991.  Not even out three months after being granted a handout by President Obama, this man proved that his release was unwarranted and another clear error by our former president.  Hopefully, we are in better hands now.—

Guys, none of the previous paragraph is fiction or exaggerated.  I may not have quoted this radio personality verbatim, but I can assure you that the context and message is pretty close.  Here are my issues and what got me so upset early that morning:

  1. The blatant disrespect towards President Obama is real; no other way to put it.
  2. Anybody that believes that anyone should be serving a LIFE SENTENCE for drug offenses is misguided and/or racist; flat-out.  We all know who these drug laws work against the most, right?  Those that have fewer opportunities in this country financially (due to many circumstances that I won’t expound upon) that are having to make desperate decisions for survival.  Hmmm, I wonder who those people ‘typically’ are in this country?….Furthermore, there are people in this country getting 10-year sentences for MURDER….white men getting 3-month sentences for RAPE…but it’s okay for a individual with drug violations to get a LIFE SENTENCE….mannnnn….
  3. You decide to question our former president’s decision-making due to one case out of over 100?  So, you’ve decided to form an opinion on 1% of data, and ignore the remaining 99%?  What kind of confidence interval are you injecting into this equation (statistically speaking)….
  4. Are you really that disappointed that approximately 100 individuals were released from prison?  We all know how populated our prisons are, right?  Or is it because more-than-likely those released from prison due to these harsh sentences were more prone to be black, statistically?  Just sayin…
  5. Exactly why are you surprised that a man that has been in federal prison since 1991 resorts back to desperate measures when the penal system has done nothing to produce opportunities for him upon his release?  Where is he supposed to get a job with a felony on his record?  Exactly what skill or trade has he been able to develop since he’s been in jail since he was 18 years old?

I really don’t have any more words to say; I could literally write all night in regards to this topic.  I thought I’d be able to write this out and not get upset all over again…..that’s being proven not to be the case.  Simply put, some people just won’t get it yawl….they just won’t.  And it’s sad….but it is what it is.  Onward and upward….

–IAC–

Here Now to Son Part 2

Son,

I have been watching your activities: your service to community building; your service to the people of the community; your service to yourself and your dreams; and your service to God. And son, all I want to say is, “Negro, do not be like your father who ignores the relics in the room that really count!”

Ms. Vanessa Nettingham has been that relic in the room; in which, no BlackmenBlackminds gent should forget.

She is like “water to a vase,” “grease to bacon,” “Michelle to Obama,” “Sheba to Egypt,” “Milk to Cereal,” “Emotions to hearts,” “thought to brain,” “letters to manuscripts,” “Clothes to hangers,” “Hope and Faith to prayer,” and “profit to labor.” Now, Negro, I could go on and on  and on and on, but Negro you are my son who has a diploma and a couple of degrees on top of that. Otis Redding sings, “You don’t miss your water, till your well runs dry!”

Son,

Tell Vanessa Nettingham Happy Valentine’s Day even if she is not your boo! Hasn’t she been supporting the BlackmenBlackminds’s cause? Isn’t she acknowledging that some black men are doing their best in restoring a black man’s image through her acknowledgement and endorsements that some black men are making a difference? All of that love cannot go unnoticed! As one cannot deny that the sun is in the sky, we men cannot deny the emotional support Vanessa’s rays of support are producing. As the sun grants my son’s Vitamin D, Vanessa, thank you for offering them vigorous determination. In my day, a million men marched to Washington to stand in solidarity. I cannot begin to fathom how many brave women cultivated those men to accept their calling and march.

Vanessa Nettingham, if you are growing weary in your efforts in supporting my Negro sons’ journey in restoring the portrait of a black man, it is only because my sons are not thanking you enough for being the water and bucket in the well, for being Michelle, for being grease to bacon, for being clothes to hangers, for being faith to prayer, the single mother to successful entrepreneurs, for being hope to broken images, and for being close enough to care.

Because of your time and awareness Vanessa, especially when guys like to be noticed too, my son will acknowledge and honor the fact that BlackmenBlackminds has its on Coretta, despite how he feels about me due to my absence.

It’s like a sin for him not to honor you; it’s a sin for him not to honor himself. Thank you for your faith in my Negro sons! Thanks for taking on more than the role of just being a “rib”. You are living, breathing, active, and are a necessity. Importantly, you are heard.

A father,

Here Now

Here Now to Son Part 1

Son,

I love you. Comparing a person who only seeks the presence of God once a year to me who have only told you that “I love you” once of your earthly life, I understand your will to forget every black man that resembles me.

I understand your will to turn away from personified mirrors: the black young male English teacher who draws closer though you push away; the black young male counselor who embraces your silence though he is enthralled by his anticipation of your voice; the black young male cashier who still says yes sir though he is older; the black young male preacher who agrees that you should feel anger; the black young father whose daughter you are courting; all versions of me; all versions of you.

To stand before you, like you, I have to encounter all the things that remind me of you: the black young English teacher who is being a better father than myself; the black young male counselor who has learned more of your secrets than myself and even the power and beauty of your silence; the black young cashier who respects you because he knows that you are royalty more than me, your father; the black young male preacher who gets to accept that he cannot solve all of your problems but he could stand in solidarity with you before heaven; the black young father whose daughter you are courting that gets to be the grandpa that the grandchildren would rescue from a nursing so that he may die with loved ones.

Son, let me die for you to all attempts of self-sabotaging. Your future is still cocooning; therefore, butterfly of my loins: do not turn away the black encyclopedia that reads and shares its commodities; complete your healing; let those that would like to be ointment their work so you could be lulled to sleep; accept that you are the foot that lands which demands creatures to respond; wise men bowed down to Jesus, wise men will bestow honor onto you; be angry at a father and his absence but don’t sin against your help. Remember the teacher. Remember the counselor. Remember the preacher. And son, forgive me or you lose your African Queen and forfeit your future dynasty; disrespect one father you will disrespect two fathers-the father whose daughter you court and the father you are capable of being in emotional health.

In time, do all of these things–in time.

Your dad,

Here Now

Chasm

A chasm.

A universe before our eyes. A mistake we cannot revise. Water that will never freeze in the desert heat of night. A truth that will not restore trust or count as truth. The loss of ever seeing night or day, because you are hemmed up like Samson: caged; eyes plucked out; night and day’s sounds muted; vulnerable you are and vulnerable you will be; when is parole in this life sentence?

Night laughs. Day cries.

“No, I was not like David and sent a man to die”
“No, I was not like Martin Luther King Jr. and stressed out of this world.”
“No, I did not resist gravity as I was pulled in.”
“Yes, a man does perish without vision.”
“Yes, a black man mostly die in two places: in streets, on stages, balconies, and in sheets.”

“Woe unto me; for I am a man of unclean lips.”

Honesty reaches ceilingless and core.