Son Don’t Let these Streets Get You (A letter to my boy)

The seduction of tight-ass bitches twerking under bright lights as you make it rain hundreds can make any lil homie have a desire for the streets. Dope cars, dope chains, dope clothes, and swag like no other. The Hip Hop music is on fleek! Fast life as you cruise down the street bumping the hottest beats.

Yeah, it’s enticing, but it ain’t worth it son.

My love for you won’t allow me to let you stray into an environment that will make you a statistic. I won’t be responsible for your slide into a life full of risk with only quick rewards. I know you may not understand at this time but please trust me when I tell you. My father said the same thing to me as I’m saying to you “Don’t hang with street-walkers cause nothing good comes from that.”

I realize my conservative life style may not appear as sexy or fly or whether I have swag but I still know best. I only know best because I’ve seen many things in all my years on this earth. Therefore, I want to impart this wisdom onto you so you do not have to experience all of the pitfalls life will throw at you. Make a choice to avoid them. Life can and should be beautiful – all of the parts coming together like a well-played symphony.

The allure of the almighty dollar will not allow me to see you fall to the streets. I’d rather be a poor son-of-a-bitch with a lifetime of non-material riches than to die young or live an empty existence. Or to have my life interrupted by a prison system that is unfavorable to people like us.

I pray that you hear my voice as I make this public plea to you at an age where you may not quite understand all of the pressures you will face down the road. We live in a different era these days and it may not be the kindest to you.

I get it… I’m not ignorant of what is out there and how you might believe you are doing what you have to do as you might struggle with the balance act of being a stand-up guy but not looking like a punk. I hear the music and agree that we have very good music these days that has evolved over time. But do know we are living in an over-sexed period and it may have longer term detriments than advantages. Resisting these temptations is what will mold the man I want you to become.

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One day it will all make sense – what I am spouting off to you. I need to lay the ground work today so that you will have a future tomorrow. It is my role and obligation as your father to enlighten you. We should always be learning from one generation to the other. My lesson for today is to show you how much I love you by exposing you to the harsh truths of life.

I look forward to our time together in the years to come. I look forward to sitting with you and having a beer with you and listening to you as you spout off knowledge from your own experiences. And God willing, we’ll make it to that day together.

Go well and with love good peeps…

Rejuvenate

The serene lake glistened from the light of the morning sun. Barely a ripple was made from the fish as they lazily made their way to the surface in search of their morning meal. The smell of pine permeated the air as background sounds of the forest bounced around the tall trees which guarded the lakefront. The tiny splashes along the shores caught my ears as my eyes wandered across the lake looking for an area on the lake to settle. I exhaled, breathed in the fresh air, and appreciated the mist from the lake as I sipped my slightly sweetened coffee from an oversize mug. After a month of chaos and turmoil my mind, spirit, and body was in need of rejuvenation. And this was my moment.

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It isn’t often that we can pull ourselves away from life to enjoy the small pleasures presented before us. We find ourselves engrained in our daily experiences that will drain our energy and leave us with nothing to replenish the calming thirst our spirits require. Instead, we fill ourselves with various vices to help us get through our hectic days but not realizing the importance of slowing down. This was my moment to slow down and focus only on my breathing and the world of nature around me.

As I packed up my folding chair to head back into the cabin I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. A deer peered at me through the brush trying to decipher whether I was friend or foe. Our eyes locked briefly although it felt like an eternity. I appreciated the young doe in her habitat and I did not want to disrupt it. I thought about the days behind me and how I might relinquish my pain, frustration, and anxieties as I took in this moment. I proceeded to pack up my belongings in quiet reserve while assuring the deer I was a friend. Nature has a way of helping us to revitalize ourselves. This was my moment. I thought to myself “rejuvenate yourself.”

Cultural Differences or Systematic Divides

I found myself stranded downtown Chicago a measly, yet, 1.5 miles away from my automobile. I was celebrating with friends having drinks and singing karaoke, and before I knew it time had flown past. Dagnabit I thought to myself, now I have to walk my ass to my car and I wasn’t looking forward to it; although it was a very pleasant August evening. I was too cheap to grab a cab and too annoyed to walk. And when I looked around at my surroundings deciding my course of action I noticed the blue and white sparkling Divvy® bike rack awaiting me. Light bulb moment, “hey, I’ll take a bike!”

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This blog is not an advertisement for Divvy® or its sponsoring company. This blog is not meant to increase ridership of the bikes or to claim how health conscious I am (which I am not). Nor is it an exploration of how these bikes became so popular in my fair city or in a neighborhood near you. Incidentally, are these bikes as popular in other parts of the country and world? Feel free to educate me.

What I noticed about these bikes is there are not as many blacks or Hispanics casually riding these bikes between convenient locations throughout the city during their hectic days. As a matter of fact, this was my first time riding the bike. And it dawned on me that I was the only African-American on a bike riding through downtown Chicago to my destination; granted it was later in the evening but there were plenty of others out on a beautiful summer night.

I was thankful for this mode of transportation when I needed it. It was easy to use and it saved me a few bucks from taking a cab. Now I can use these bikes throughout the city and make my stops and get in shape at the same time. However, there is one problem – certain neighborhoods do not have the bikes. So what gives?

Maybe the bikes wouldn’t stand a chance from theft in these not-so-desirable locations. Or maybe the citizens in these areas don’t have aspirations to ride the bikes. The bikes are cheaper than cabs but they do cost and I am talking about areas where many folks do not have much disposable income. Maybe the company isn’t marketing the bikes in these locations because of preconceived ideas (judging) about what the people in these markets want. It is a sad commentary on how our cultures differ on something as innocent as bike riding.

I do know some African-Americans and Hispanics that ride the bikes all the time. I’m sure some of my readers and friends will vehemently disagree with me, stating, “Hey I’m black and I ride the bikes!” However, most of these individual riders are in neighborhoods where bikes are located. It is very obvious when riding through the city where holes exist in providing bikes.

I hope to teach my kids that this is a nice transportation alternative. I expect others will continue to migrate towards this decent way of travel. I recognize there are some cultural differences in acceptance of the communal bikes. I hope certain communities can positively influence good ideas to other communities and allow folks to take advantage of these opportunities. It was an exhilarating feeling to ride my Divvy® bike through the city with the wind blowing in my face on a wonderful mid-summer night. Everyone should have the chance to experience this feeling.

Go well and with love good peeps.

I Am the Most Powerful Man in the World!

Well, technically I’m not. If I had to really look at myself in the mirror I would tend to agree that I’m not even the most powerful man in the world physically, either. Yet, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming cool factor when I think of the fact that I DO SHARE the same birth-day as the most powerful man in the world – President Barack Obama. Now that is cool.

And on this day of reflection in all of my years on this Earth I have encountered many acts of love and kindness that make me want to recognize the good in all of us. So I put my political views aside, give thanks to God Almighty, and I embrace the love that has come my way. And it feels good.

And today is not only special because of the sharing of birth days, but it is special to recognize I made it this far. When forces were upon me that could have shortened my chaotic lifestyle I was covered by endearing Angels to help me find my way. I was not aware of it at the time but over time I’ve come to recognize the protection throughout the years.

And it is not only special because I’ve made it thus far but also because the encounters I have experienced with so many people. Each soul that I have come in contact with has held a unique place in my own spirit thus helping in forming my life. These souls have assisted to shape my outlook and have become a part of my past. My traveled road shows signs of connectedness.

And it is not only a special day because of the souls I might have touched but the possibilities that surround me going forward. I am not the type, nor should you be, to give up easily on life. We all have the bumps and bruises to show our resilience yet we should wear them as the badges of honor they are. This helps the world recognize that you are able to overcome and puts out the positive energy we all so desire. Therefore, like a peacock I say display those colors proudly! Dare to change the world for all of the positivity you see.

In recent conversations I was struck to hear stories of those individuals that overcame obstacles, who weren’t afraid to ask for help, and who desired to be a positive spark in this world. There is nothing wrong with sharing the positives in which we experience. And on mine and the President’s special day (and all of you that share this day) I reflect on my life’s activities and I recognize that I am truly Blessed!

Go well and with love my good peeps. Go well.

He Who Is Without Sin…

A friend of mine posted a link from a website bashing Nicki Minaj’s cover to her newest album. My friend was on point in how the website was very hypocritical in bashing Minaj’s willingness to be objectified yet the website had numerous other links and pictures of other women being objectified. The debate also turned the way of those men with young girls and how we raise them to not only be the object of a man’s desire but reach for more. This got me to thinking – where does the blame go? Is it men that objectify women or the women who allow men to objectify them?

Frankly, there is enough blame to go around. Our society has become overly sexualized and it is running rampant. Yet, we have all taken part of this behavior. Therefore, how can I honestly look at Ms. Minaj’s pictorial and bash her when I support her music by listening to it? Or how can I turn my nose up at strip clubs when they used to be an every weekend occurrence? Why, after I’ve been Born Again do I suddenly become judge?

I believe the truth points to how we as humans want to help others to not go down paths we’ve already explored and where we have experienced devastation. It is a noble effort but judgmental nonetheless.

Now that I am a father to my daughter I do think twice about what influences my daughter and son have in their lives. I do hope to raise them in a way that is responsible yet free. Allow them the opportunity to experience life on their own with the hope they make good choices that do not haunt them for life. And even through all of this my own daughter still might end up on the cover of Rolling Stone with her ass out; and then again, maybe not. I can only do my part in steering and directing the path of my kids to the best of my ability. And that is grand.