Author: Dr. Deuce Harper

Originally born in Austin, Texas but raised in Arkansas for majority of my life. An inspiring young man looking to leave the world better than I found it. I am a traveler, music lover, movie fanatic, writer, thinker, educator, doctoral candidate, and fantasy sports enthusiast. To me, education is and will always be the great equalizer.

Time and Self-Reflection

Here lately, I have been reading and listening to highly successful people. Each come from different backgrounds, have obtained different levels of education, and are successful (both financially and professionally). Each have spoken about the importance of time, how critical it is to manage your time effectively. Time is important in many facets of life. For example, timing in relationships is critical. Doesn’t matter if the relationship is intimate, friendly, or professional, for the relationship to be beneficial, the timing must be right.

So how do you spend your time? Now I know this may vary for you depending on your commitments. Whether it is family (spouse, significant other, kids), job, church or religious affiliation, community organization, or just trying to remain sane in America. I challenge everyone to make time for self-reflection. I believe self-reflection is important for many reasons. I think it is important to see how far we have come. When we self-reflect, it keeps us focus and allows us to concentrate on what really matters in life. Not material things, but the things that are important to you (i.e. goals, values, beliefs, etc.).

One of my favorite scriptures is 1 Corinthians 13:11. The text states, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things”. Growing up in a black church, I heard this text over and over and over…..and over again. But I can honestly say it did not hit home until here recently as I began to think about old mentalities, behavior, and mistakes I have made. With time comes development, with development comes growth, and with growth comes maturity. Each are important in becoming the best you, you can be.

Before this year is over, spend sometime reflecting on the following: (a) how good God has been to you, friends, and family; (b) the blessings and positive things that occurred this year; (c) areas in your life that you want to improve; and (d) how you can contribute and meet your future goals (i.e. spiritual, personal, , financial, professional, etc.) in 2017. Just like its a best practice to get your oil changed periodically throughout the year, we must examine and reflect not only on our past but more importantly where we are going in the future.

The Pursuit of Manliness

On December 15, 2006, the Pursuit of Happyness was released into theaters. This movie grossed over 300 million dollars worldwide. It starred Oscar nominated actor Will Smith. Now we all know Will Smith, whether it was the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, to rapping “Summertime”, to starring in the Men in Black trilogy. Will Smith is arguably one of the greatest actors of our time. This movie was inspired by the true story of Chris Gardner, a San Francisco salesman struggling to build a future for himself and his son. If you haven’t seen the movie, here is the cliff notes version of movie.

Life is a struggle for Chris Gardner. Evicted from their home, he loses his woman; and he and his son must endure many hardships. Eventually he lands a job as an unpaid intern at a prestigious brokerage firm. He refuses to give into despair, to failure, to pain, as he struggles to create a better life for himself and his son. At the end of the movie, he out performs all the interns, promoted full-time at the company and goes on to be a billionaire wall-street legend.

But why was this movie so well received? Now I’m no professional critic…but I am persuaded this movie showed how tough it is to be a man. The many roles and hats men must wear daily. The constant pressures, obstacles, and attacks of everyday life. This movie hit home for so many men. As a critic put it simply, this movie showed “…being a man is no joke”.

Just like this movie, today’s men must wear many hats. Not only are we father’s, husbands, brothers, and sons, but we are called to be providers and leaders. We must possess responsibility, integrity, character, resiliency, humility, and compassion. As men we learn things do not go as planned. But even in times of failure, hurt, and pain, we must persevere for not only us, but for the people we are connected to.

So this is my charge to all men, in particular black men. It is evident that society needs positive, strong men to lead in this life. Our families need us. Our community needs us. Our jobs need us. So when you see a brother (young or old) who is down, pick him up, encourage him and remind him that failure is not an option. That we need him, you need him.

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.