Month: November 2016

To Be or Not To Be: The Examination of the Human Spirit during Adversity; Letter to Older Self

11/30/16 Year Old Patrick writing to 12/2/16 Year Old Patrick

Dear Older Patrick,

Are you proud of me? Based on an intense moment today at the office on 11/30/16, I will again have to show grace, mercy, grit, receptiveness, and humility for the sake of the love God commands me to show my neighbor tomorrow. Older me,  I recognize that my actions on 12/1 are essential building blocks to your great legacy in academia, philanthropy, and art. And because I love you like how Christ loves you, I won’t let you down.

Older Patrick, cherish this experience I am about to give you: in recognizing that everyone would face the inevitable, you will walk into the business conference tomorrow with your employer and your frustrated client, and you will listen. Though you have prepared your explanations of what may have caused the miscommunication in the first place, yet you will be at peace because of your awareness that your ultimate priority is not to advocate for yourself but to listen. Though you know that being able to advocate for yourself is a very essential skill for all people to have, you will be at peace with the knowledge that there are times when you do not have to indulge in advocacy over foolishness. Though other clients who were present during the same intense moment have advocated for you already in ways that you could not have imagined, you will remind yourself that you need not to advocate for yourself. Though you have been advocated for, you will still prioritize the need to listen to someone’s else scars from their heart and insecurities that were triggered by your actions.

To be or not to be right is not the question; however, to be or not to be the best listener is the catalyst to my greater legacy here on Earth; therefore, I command myself, “Listen in my stillness and know that I am being lifted from glory to glory.”

Though you will see your client share things that do not match your character that permeates love, hard work, kindness, patience, and the thirst for a greater understanding of living functions and interactions, you will listen and be appreciative of this individual’s opportunity to advocate for themselves. Though you will be in the moment of a conversation you believe that should not be occurring in the first place, you will be receptive and celebratory of the experience because your spirit will be joyfully singing and accepting that “This is the day, this is the day, that the Lord has made! Therefore, I will rejoice. Yes, I will rejoice, and be glad in it!” Though you will be criticized, you will recognize that the muscle you will acquire will last far longer than the instant pressure in the hot seat. Though you will have to have this conversation early morning before your other clients require your services, you will smile and declare, “Love never fails…” Though one client may have attempted to take a blow at your peace, joy, and devotion to others, you will continue to offer your time, sweat, and tears for the remaining clients you will come across; and importantly, to the client who you have declared that you can still forgive, will forgive, and seek their forgiveness, they should never be exempted from your forgiveness, best service, and kindness. Though you will be uncertain of tomorrow, you will be rich in love, grace, mercy, peace, joy, and songs of love, grace, mercy, peace, joy, and jubilee.

Older Patrick, as I use writing as a tool to process this so that you do not have to, I pray you the ability to sleep in the days ahead and the ability to let go. Not a concern of yours however, anxiety is inevitable for me. Yet, I accept that it does not have to be a card I keep for you in our deck of cards. Older Patrick, I give you my word that I have taken and grown from and released the criticism today, and I will take it, grow from, and release it again tomorrow, so that you cannot be hindered from paving the way for God’s glory to be radiant in your life seconds ahead of any tomorrow we are gifted to encounter.

To be or not to be a processor of emotions is costly. Therefore, I process this now so that you do not wrinkle up latter. LOL! To be or not to be knowledgeable that you are forever someone’s example is breath. Therefore, I accept that hardships occur; and there are some hardships that you cannot avoid. Consequently, I accept that I can make up my mind to “to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them” (Shakespeare).

Yes, older brother. Younger self is fighting for you!

To be or not to
And by opposing end them.conquer all that you can of it.

To be or not to be is your choice.

What If…

In such a diverse world, we sometimes fail to realize how similar we all really are at the core.  We’re often transfixed on the things we see because it paints a broader picture of what our eyes ‘want’ to understand.  But have you ever wondered how different your story would be if an alternative outcome happened in any of your situations?  Deep down within, you’d know that you are the same person; but outwardly, someone could have all of your characteristics falsified because the picture has taken on a new form.  So, I’m only left wondering what if…

  • What if my mama never told me that hiccups were a sign that you are growing (I later figured out that she was lying, but I sure did think I was growing!)?
  • What if I would have lost my first “real” fight in the 5th grade?
  • What if I couldn’t outrun those dogs that used to keep hopping those fences in southwest?
  • What if I didn’t have older brothers to blame when I broke windows in the house?
  • What if I had gotten caught stealing that Snickers that one time when I was little (statute of limitations in full effect here!)

All of these scenarios may be lighthearted, but they are true!  And they all played a part in my visible display today.  Every single situation adds another stroke to this picture that people are observing.  I’m sure there are others that have been in exact situations as these, but potentially had a different outcome.  But on a more serious note, what if…

  • What if that car didn’t stop when I ran across the street (without looking both ways) like mom and pop tried to teach me?
  • What if I didn’t meet my brothers-from-another-mother when I started a new school in 6th grade?
  • What if I didn’t find sports as an outlet to my anger and frustrations all throughout middle school and high school?
  • What if I never had a coach by the name of Coach Jackson at Cloverdale Middle School?
  • What if I told my cousin “no” when he asked me to get saved with him when I was fourteen (14)?
  • What if I never had a man named Mr. Wiley step up and be a real grandfather to me?
  • What if I didn’t grow up with two (2) parents?
  • What if I didn’t graduate with honors in high school and earn academic scholarships to pay for college?
  • What if I was shot by the police in Clinton, MS for being pulled over for a noise ordinance violation in 2009?  Pretty interesting that within five minutes, four more police cars were on the scene…but I digress
  • What if the car flipped when I spun-out going over 70 on the highway?
  • What if those four bullets didn’t get lodged in the door in front of me or in the tires?
  • What if I didn’t sneak out of that house when I felt like I was being set up by someone I had just met?
  • What if I stayed with a person I knew wasn’t good for me?
  • What if I never told God I was sorry for everything I’ve done wrong?

If you are reading this, there may be situations in this small list that we share.  But I don’t believe the situations are the only things we share.  I believe that we all share some basic commonalities: bad decisions, good decisions, frustrations, temptations, fear, luck, & blessings.  So the next time you are evaluating a new portrait that doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing to you, remind yourself that the picture may be a replica of the one in the mirror.  Maybe the colors are just different because the paints were mixed in a different way.  We all have to start loving and respecting one another; and it all starts with how we view one another.  Let’s not let our eyes deceive us any longer.  Let’s start to be the change that we want to see.  Peace and love yawl.

–IAC

In The Best Interest of The Child

I am afraid of losing my sons and daughter to the worries of this world. Our young people are going fast, and if we are not losing them to violence, we are losing them to the stupidity of the world. I have seen countless young people end up in the hospital, or dead due to life’s troubles. They are dying! They are dying from being killed, they are dying from depression, they are dying mentally, they are dead spiritually because at some point in their lives we have failed to get through to them. Some point in their life or ours we have lost them, and now it is time to stand up and get them back. I was at work the other day and I overheard a young lady talk about how she got an XBOX 360 (could have been Xbox one), some accessories, and 8 games for 45 dollars.  Also, 6 pair of Jordan’s from Foot locker for 45 dollars (she changed her story so much I couldn’t believe it either way). She said she got all this for a cheap price because she was flirting with the guys who sold it to her. She said all she had to do was twerk a little and she got what she wanted. Mind you, this young lady is supposed to be engaged, and she said her fiancé is ok with it, because it benefits the household. In another instance, there was a lady who was stuck on the side of the road and had a flat tire. I pulled over to help her, and as I walked over to help her and these two young boys stepped out of the car, they were maybe 12 and 16 and neither one of them knew anything about changing a tire. I teach middle school students, and most of these children who I interact with have a focus of being a product of their environment (sex, drugs, fitting in, being part of the status quo, and more), because no one has had the opportunity to reach them on a level where they will listen. Who is the person who can reach them on a level where they listen? There are a select few people who can build a relationship with these people over time that they will respect and listen to, because they generally know and feel like this person cares.  However, the person they want to reach them is their parents. More specifically, and in many cases that parent is the absent parent in a single parent home.

Let’s say there are two boys who are in two very different environments, but can live the same productive lives. The first boy is raised in a house with his mom and siblings, and occasionally (rarely) spending time with his dad. The other boy was raised in a household with two parents both there and trying to make it a point to raise him the right way. Both boys are brothers, and can lead the same lives. The first one struggles more because his mother must do it alone, and the other boy who has both parents seems to be doing fine. He can get help from both parents and his support system to get to where he needs to be. These two boys, both young Black men (same father but different mother) could be in the same predicament, but one of them has an edge up because he has both parents around. The other one is trying to find solid ground, because he is wondering why can’t he receive the same things that the other boy is getting. There are different ways to look at this scenario where there are children who live in a one parent home, and those who live in a two-parent home (just stay with me, I’m going to get to the point), but ultimately the outcome is typically the same. Studies have shown that children who have both parents around even if they are not a nuclear family (both parents in the same house) tend to do better than children who mainly interact with one parent and rarely spends time with the other. The time that a child spends with their parents must change.

In the best interest of the child, we as a people, regardless of where we are in life, we must make sure that we are present in our child’s life. What that means is if you are the mother of a child, whatever baggage you have with the father of that child you must let it go. Unless there was something detrimental done to the child; it’s time to let it go. If you are mad because he left you regardless of where you were at; either pregnant or already had the child, it is time to let it go. If you are a man and you feel the child’s mother has just given you too much grief when it comes to the child, and you don’t want to deal with it, it is also time for you to let it go. As a man, even if you are struggling financially to provide your presence is still important.  No matter what the issues may be, it is in the best interest of the child it is time to let it go, and stand up and be a mature adult and do what is best for your children. We as parents, mentors, relatives, or just family friends, cannot dictate a child’s mind and decisions we must show them a way and let them figure it out for themselves. We should not make them pass judgment on an individual because of our own personal feelings. We should stop and show them how to love in the way that God loves us.

In the best interest of the child we as a people, regardless of where we are in life, must make sure that we are present in our child’s life (or a child’s life).  The way our children are growing up, we must teach them some of the most common things to ensure their continued success. Our young ladies need to know the perspective of dating from both parents. As a woman, they must teach our young ladies self-respect, self-worth, healthy body image, self-determination, boundaries, and respect of others. As a man, you must teach your daughters what a man should be, how a man should truly treat a woman. If you are disrespecting women now, this reflects on the way your daughter will let a man treat her, so you must display this respect for women in front of your daughter. There was a movie where a man took his daughter on a date to show her how a man should treat her, and I feel we must do the same if we hope to exhibit healthy relationships for our young ladies. As a man, we have a duty to teach our young men how to be a man, how to change a tire, cut the grass, how to fix things around the house, etc. Ultimately as a man we must teach our young men how to be a gentleman, how to respect others, but also the respect of women. We must teach our boys self-worth, self-determination, self-respect, and self-care.  As a woman, you must teach our young men what a woman should truly be, just as a man should respect a woman a woman is to respect a man, and women should exhibit healthy respectful relationships with men in front of young men. That does not mean that as a woman you must be submissive in all male relationships, but you must respect them just as they must respect you. In all things that we do, we cannot tell our children to do something, and then show them something totally different then what we told them. As a woman or a man, you cannot talk about the other sex behind their back or to their face, and then expect your children not to do the same because it does not exhibit healthy relationships, or exhibit the respect that each one deserves.  Now there are many things to be taught by a man and woman, and each one can do them differently but when you look at it, it all corresponds with one another.

Maybe you are not a parent but you have read this article and are thinking to yourself this does not apply to me?  It does. There are young people in your life who need you to be present in one way or another just like they need their parent to be present. Maybe you are an aunt or uncle, an older family member, a family friend, a teacher or a mentor, someone who the children look up to, and respects you have a duty to do your part, which is each one teach one. Today, I challenge the parents who are in the child’s life, the parents who are not, the person who knows they can help a child learn and has chosen not to. I challenge you to pick up the phone and make a change. A change for the better, a change to become active in your child’s life, to mend things that are broken, to let go of the hurt and anger that has caused you not to want to deal with the other parent, or the fear of not being able to provide for your child, and step up and provide emotional support at the least, emotional support does not cost a thing. I challenge you as the custodial parent to reach out to the other parent and try to get them in the child’s life, so your child can have the same opportunities as other children. I also challenge parents to understand that calling another person mom or dad, is not the end of the world. It takes a village to raise a child, and a few moms, and a few dads who all have the best interest of the child in mind helps raise a better child, not a child who will forget who you are as a parent. Until the next blog post stay happy, stay healthy, stay blessed.

The Day After……

Greetings everyone,

I hope and pray everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Traditionally a lot of food is consumed and everyone tells what they are thankful for and show it on this day. Are we actually thankful though? Why does it take a specific day to show our loved ones we are thankful for them? If we limit our thankfulness to one day out of the year, are we really thankful? Thanksgiving is a great holiday and I love it just as much as the next man/woman but do not limit yourself. Show the people you are truly thankful for that you love them everyday throughout the year. We do not know what will happen tomorrow, so appreciation can not wait for the last Thursday in November to be shown. Appreciate everything that you are blessed to have daily. Let people know that you love them and appreciate them for just their natural presence in your life. It is easy to show thanks on Thanksgiving but what about The Day After?

 

Blessings.

Breathe Deeply; I say, “Breathe”

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! If you are using your own mobile device, and internet provider to gain access to this post, we do all have a lot of things to be grateful for. Therefore, let’s do this quick exercise before you read ahead:

  1. Take a moment in silence, whether you choose to stand in place, post against a wall, or take a sit.
  2. Evaluate what has been going on in your life (triumphs and hardships)
  3. Ask, “Is this something I have control over at the moment?”
  4. Whether your answer is “Yes” or “No”, take a deep breath in, and then let it out; do this three times.
  5. Remember what you have just experienced: you have sucked in air; the world is not over; you have not been defeated; you are not without help; relaxation is not only for some, it is for all; and deep breathing can be a way of “encouraging yourself”.

Why is breathing the subject matter in today’s post? Kanye West has been recently hospitalized  for “exhaustion”. If Kanye West with his 10 talents/minas can get exhausted, I know that–with whatever we have been dealt–we can succumb to exhaustion too.

Therefore, brothers and sisters of my shade and others, breathe deeply when you think that your life does not depend on it; breathe deeply when you think that your breathing would not affect those close to you; breathe deeply when you think that no one is watching; breathe deeply when you think that your breathing cannot teach someone else; breathe deeply when you think that your breathing cannot support someone else; breathe deeply so that it can be shared with brothers and sisters of my shade and your shade; breathe deeply for Eric Garner; breathe deeply for those like Eric Garner; breathe deeply even when you think there is no reason to breathe; breathe deeply to have excess to make breath deposits; breathe deeply with eyes closed and opened; breathe peacefully would be the reward for growing the lung capacity to breathe deeply; breathe communally and we all survive.

Breathe; because with this gift, we can move! Personally, this is applicable to me because I have five musical shows coming up, while I’m a high school English teacher and a college professor. I had just finished a play production and five musical gigs in the months of October and November! Breathe Lee Clark Allen, breathe!

Be Blessed!

Putting On For My People

One of the things that constantly rings in my head to this day is “Son, never forget where you come from”.  That’s my dad’s favorite thing to tell me (well 2nd favorite….he LOVES to remind me of what my last name is when times get tough lol). I’ve been hearing these things all of my life, so escaping them now would be impossible.  Although I was born-and-raised in Little Rock, my real roots trace back to Montrose, AR.  One of those lil’ country towns that you can miss if you blink at the wrong second.  Population: YOUR FAMILY and a few other families lol (no, but around 350 is a pretty good count).  A place where everyone knows each others’ names and business: like it or not!  But its also the place where people lookout for each other because we’re all we got.  Money isn’t plentiful, but pride and morals are!  There might be a few white folks living on the other side of the tracks, but its predominantly a black town….and proud of it.  Just a town trying to navigate the troubles of this world.

So you can imagine the kind of pride my family has in me.  Going on to graduate college (almost x2 at this point) and starting a career in the aerospace industry in the big city (the Denver metro area).  Its unheard of: but all things are possible with Christ and genuine support from your family.  So I always feel like its my duty to put on for my roots (Montrose), my family, my hometown (Little Rock), and my peers: my beautiful black people.

This past week I’ve been in DC looking for talent (for my job) that looks like me.  Brothers & sisters that have been through the same struggles as me.  Can relate to me.  And most importantly, are trying to give back to their communities somehow, someway, just like me.  Some may feel that its wrong for me to automatically discredit those of a different background.  That may be fair.  However, I only see one or two races in this country that have struggles far more superior than our counterparts.  I don’t think I need to voice who those inferior “brothers & sisters”are.  So excuse me white man, just for a second.  I love you as well, but as for right now, I’m looking for MY people.  This may be the only day we can ever make history in this sense:  Today my black people will be treated as SUPERIOR, and you’ll be the inferior.  Today, I’m puttin’ on for MY people: so you can head to the back of my interview line.  I’ll speak to you, but only if I can’t find what I need amongst my color.  Unfortunately for you, I see tons of greatness so you may have to try again another day.

–IAC

Kings…

The state of the black man is in a state of jeopardy like never before. The black male race is a strong one and has been a strong one since the beginning of time. Lately though todays black males do not want to accept the role and become the kings we are destined to be. There was a time when black men bonded together and stood as one to fight oppression and injustice. Although Oppression and injustice are still very prevalent today there is almost no need for it as we are fighting each other. In the words of Tupac “Give them guns, step back and watch the kill each other”. We cannot fall into the plans of the enemy. We must stand side by side as our ancestors did and fight together in a common goal of defeating the oppressions our race faces. We must not stand on opposing sides of the battle field. We must get the black male back in the household and raise our children up to be strong kings and queens. If we as black men continue to fight each other and continue to leave our children without a strong male figure in their lives, we will continue to be the blind leading the blind. Start being the king you were called to be!

Keys to being successful with your man

Keys to being successful with your man

1. First off, all men are proud. They will only look weak for you for so long before they become the man again.
2. Ladies…if you have a prime rib make sure you take care of it. Savor it because the world isn’t filled with vegetarians. It’s a lot of hungry carnivores (women) that are hungry for your meat.
3. If you have house-trained a dog (especially a top dog) to bark to let you know when he wants to handle his business, don’t leave him at the door barking to9 long or he will handle it someplace you wont appreciate. (When I say house trained you don’t have him sprung but he’s yours and women know it)
4. Sometimes it’s a good idea to give him what he wants. Not spoil him, but take care of his needs. 9x out of 10 he will do that plus more for you.
5. Men might not go about it the right way but we know when there is a change in you or when you’re doing something different. We might not identify and approach it the right way but we know: so don’t try and be sneaky.
6. If we say we are ok or aight we lying. We just don’t want you to worry about our problems, but as our woman you’re supposed to find out whats wrong by any means necessary.
7. Don’t say come to you if we need to talk and you get upset at the subject; that’s why we go to others for help.
8. Take interest in what he likes doing. If he loves football, learn the game. If he writes poems, read them. If he draws pictures, be his model; his inspiration!
9. Respect. If you make your man feel less than a man or like another man can do his job (or you don’t need or desire him anymore) he’s gonna turn against you.
10. Be able to identify what kinda’ man you got. Don’t let other people tell you what he is: and whatever you find out treat him accordingly. Good man, real man, player, dog, womanizer, etc…
11. Be friends with your guy, become his best friend truly, and don’t hold anything back. And be open to his conversations, jokes, play games, etc. Relationships aren’t all about seriousness and being caked up: find something else to pass y’all time.
12. Try and establish trust. Don’t expect your man to trust you right off the back. Or even 100% because the only person who is 100% honest is God: just make him trust you to the point where he knows what you are capable of doing and not doing.
13. Don’t be self-centered. A relationship means more than one person, so its not all about you. Don’t try and make yourself look good and him look bad.
14. This not the end but this is the last one for this note: if you’re in love and something happens, and you feel your relationship is worth fighting for, FIGHT! Don’t just close the door.

 

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What a week: Collective Heart, Moses and Zipporah, and “the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American Standardization”

The Collective Heart Project: Imagine a young man standing in the dark at center stage of a concert hall. The only thing visible is the young man’s silhouette. If you look hard enough, you can gather that the young man is wearing a hoodie. The stage slightly lights up to where you can make out that it is a black man, and that he does have on a hoodie at center stage. Yet, there is a piano and a mic at stage right. Furthermore, a light-skinned African-American lady had just performed a beautiful ballad before this young man took center stage. Does a hoodie strip away people’s imagination of what a young black man and hoodie can do together? What story will be told by the black young man, wearing a black hoodie, black pants, who shares the stage with a baby grand piano and a mic stand? Misfires.

Moses and Zipporah: Stay is white, and I am black. Moses was white, and Zipporah was black. Stay had grown up in a Christian household,  and I had grown up in a Christian church. Mose is white, and Zipporah is black. Stay is white, and I am black. How could God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit ever disapprove of such a union? God’s humor gave his Son kinky hair that Stay and I come to embrace. Our mothers are eased in learning that God smiled on Moses and Zipporah’s union–in God first.

“The desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American Standardization”: In reading a work by Langston Hughes, I encounter the quote “the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American Standardization.” What molds have you poured yourself into?

Best

Optics: A Counternarrative to the Everyday Images We See

Well today is Tuesday…my day to submit a blog post. The past two weeks have been exhausting, yet reflective. It is easy to get intoxicated from the recent presidential election. I believe IAC’s post last week is where most educated African Americans are.

What I want to talk about are the direct and indirect messages that are forced on us from media (TV and social media). I have a friend named John call me venting about a recent experience. To provide context, he is a college educated black male, who works full-time in the business industry. The type of person that wears a suit and tie to work every day. Anyways, while at a Halloween party at a co-workers house, the co-workers’ son (Jimmy) came out and wanted to play with everyone. Jimmy was dressed as a police officer and wanted to “arrest” everyone for whatever crime a 5-year-old toddler can name. When he got to John, Jimmy arrested him for, “robbing a bank”. Playing it off, John replied, “Oh no….I would never do that. That’s an automatic sentence”.  Jimmy laughed, as toddler’s do when an adult plays with them, and then said, “Well now you’re arrested for murder”.

Now I do realize “Kids say the darndest things”. However, after hearing this story it really got me thinking about the images of criminality we are flooded with on a daily basis; and how are views, biases, and prejudices are shaped by what we watch.  Seems like when I turn on the morning news or access a social media account, the first story tends to be reporting of a criminal offense/act, some sort of excessive fighting, or something just real petty. The individuals involved tend to be people of color.  Or tune into ESPN, and there’s a story about a ball player of color (NFL, NBA, etc.), who is suspended or reprimanded for misconduct.

Now developmentally speaking, toddlers tend to mimic and say only what they are exposed to. Meaning Jimmy had to either hear someone make this connection (people of color and criminality) or watch it on TV (because TV is the new babysitter for most families).

There is no simple answer to this dilemma. However, there is hope. I believe the best response black men can do is this.  We must continuously present counter-narratives to the stereotypes.  We are more than just criminals, substance abusers, “deadbeat” fathers, slaves, etc. We must challenge these stereotypes daily and change these negative images in American society.

I want to challenge all the black men to continue to be leaders in their families, communities, at work, and in their spiritually.