History · Self-Revelation · Why?

Is Protesting Effective?

So for those asking the question, “Are riots/protests really effective?” There’s some research from Omar Wasow, an associate professor at Princeton, that takes a look at Black protests in the 1960s and its ability to move elites, shape public opinion, and voting. If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, here are some quick takeaways:


1. Violent tactics by the state or protesters operate as a double-edged sword. State repression subjugates activists but focuses media attention on the concerns of nonviolent protesters. While violent tactics by protestors are framed as a breach of law and order.

2. Black activists overcame structural biases, framed news, directed elite discourse, swayed public opinion & won at the ballot box. An “eye for an eye” in response to violent repression may be moral & just but this research suggests it may not be strategic, but it achieved its goal.

This time around, three main changes will enhance or detract from its effectiveness.

1. Fragmented media – People have more media channels that are skewed to their already existing notions of reality. (Facebook groups/ TL, twitter followers, more skewed tv media)

2. Decentralized first-hand reporting – Everyone with a camera provides a unique perspective which leads to a diversity of data points that can reinforce or detract from a multitude of narratives.

3. Rapid mobilization of protestors. Now more than ever, it’s easier to scale protests beyond a particular city, which can lead to a larger dichotomy between local, regional and national narratives.

Holiday Weekend · Kanye West · Self-Revelation

NBA All-Star Weekend (In Pictures)

Chicago hosted the NBA All-Star events over the weekend. There were a lot of cool events. I didn’t really get to drag my dslr out but I got a couple of pictures on my One Plus 6 phone.

On Friday, I went to the brand Jordan party. Jordan team always pulls out the stops to ensure all guests have a unique experience at their events.

Miguel performed all his jams! All the ladies and the men went crazy!

Olivia, my sister/ partner in crime caught the light and the lack thereof.

Bam Adebayo winning the skills contest. Naija no dey carry last. On a more serious note, Bam wining the skills competition shows the evolution of the NBA to the skilled big man. Its a brave new world.

Sunday service at UIC. Kanye did his thing for real. The Sunday Service Choir gave me chills at times. It was a major vibe.

Olivia and I went to get dinner but ended up getting dessert. We went to Little Goat Diner and they had a red velvet milkshake. I had to order it out of obligation. We ended up eating dinner there as well. Really great food overall.

ALLL STAR Game.

This was one of the best weekends Chicago’s seen in a while. Sans the bad weather on Thursday and Friday, this was a very successful weekend for the NBA, city of Chicago, and the fans.

#MentalNote · Self-Revelation

Life Debt

I enjoy watching movies during short flights. It helps me pass the time. This most recent trip back to Chicago was a little different. I had just concluded a successful week in Washington DC  and running a program for tiphub . We met a lot of great companies, and other stakeholders and a bunch of folks had a great time. Overall solid experience.

I found myself reflecting on my time in Washington DC and a couple of quote from Seneca hit me.

“Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. … The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.” Seneca

As I started to meditate on this quote, I realized I frequently forget to balance life’s book. So much, I’ve accumulated life debt. This debt operates similar to financial debt in a sense. It weighs you down, if you have too much, you lose out on opportunities you’d normally get, and you have less freedom.

I realized I procrastinated/ half stepped myself straight into an existence that is okay by most standards but only a small example of what I’m supposed to be.

I’ll most likely look at that moment as a turning point in my life. I realized what it really meant to live on purpose. I saw the past, present, and future all in one moment and saw what it meant to be fully committed…. All in…regardless of the probability of failure and more focused on the idea that the opportunity that passes may never come around again.

At this point I’m rambling but it’s like a light has gone on and life makes sense. Everything’s changed (except for my inability to write coherently.) for the better and I’m excited to see where this epiphany takes me.

Travel more…. you’ll start having these come to Jesus moments more and more.

#MentalNote · Random · Self-Revelation

Meditations for 2018

There are very few newsletters I read consistently as I do the Daily Stoic Newsletter.  It gives me the right boost I need each day for perspective, mortality and overall stoic philosophy.

It’s the beginning of the year and we’re all starting to do the new year shuffle. What are my goals? What do I want to focus on this year? Where am I going? I couldn’t think of a better guiding post than what I received from Daily Stoic earlier today. Here’s an expert of the email that highlights 12 focus areas to meditate on for 2018. I hope it will provide you with solid foundation as it did for me.

Clarity — Remember, the most important task is to separate the things that are in your control from those that are not in your control. To get real clarity about what to focus on in life. As Seneca put it, “It’s not activity that disrupts people, but false conceptions of things that drive them mad.”

Equanimity — To the Stoics, the passions were the source of suffering. “A real man doesn’t give way to anger and discontent,” Marcus Aurelius reminded himself, “and such a person has strength, courage and endurance—unlike the angry and the complaining.” Calmness is strength.

Awareness — Accurate self-assessment is essential. Know thyself, was the dictum from the Oracle at Delphi. Knowing your strengths is just as important as knowledge of your weakness, and ignorance of either is ego (as we show here). As Zeno put it, “nothing is more hostile to a firm grasp on knowledge than self-deception.”

Unbiased Thought — “Objective judgement, now at this very moment,” was Marcus’s command to himself. Our life is colored by our thoughts, the Stoics said, and so to be driven by this bias or that bias—this delusion or that false impression—is to send your whole existence off-kilter.

Right Action — It’s not just about clear thoughts, but clear thoughts that lead to clear and right action. “First, tell yourself what kind of person you want to be,” Epictetus said, “then do what you have to do.” Emphasis on the do. Remember Marcus: “Don’t talk about what a good man is like. Be one.” This philosophy is for life, not for the ethereal world.

Problem Solving — Are you vexed by daily obstacles or do you throw yourself into solving them? “This is what we’re here for,” Seneca said. No one said life was easy. No one said it would be fair. Let’s make progress where we can.

Duty — “Whatever anyone does or says,” Marcus wrote, “I’m bound to the good…Whatever anyone does or says, I must be what I am and show my true colors.” He was talking about duty. Duty to his country, to his family, to humankind, to his talents, to the philosophy he had learned. Are you doing yours?

Pragmatism — A Stoic is an idealist…but they are also imminently practical. If the food is bitter, Marcus wrote, toss it out. If there are brambles in the path, go around. Don’t expect perfection. Be ready to be flexible and creative. Life demands it.

Resiliency — Do you want to count on good luck or be prepared for anything that happens? The Stoics had an attitude of “Let come what may” because they had cultivated inner-strength and resilience. Make sure you’ve done your training.

Kindness — Be hard on yourself, and understanding of others. See every person you meet, as Seneca tried to do, as an opportunity for kindness and compassion. Nothing can stop you from being virtuous, from being good. That’s on you.

Amor Fati — Don’t just accept what happens, love it. Because it’s for the best. Because you will make it for the best. A Stoic embraces everything with a smile. Every obstacle is fuel for their fire, to borrow Marcus’s metaphor. 

Memento Mori — We’re strong but we’re not invincible. We were born mortal and nothing can change that. So let us, as Seneca said, “prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life.” Let us put nothing off, let us live each moment fully. 

 

#MentalNote · Leadership · Self-Revelation

I'm My Sister's Keeper

***Before reading, read Straight Black Men Are the White People of Black People***

I agree with Damon’s assessment but solutions are a key part missing in his essay. Maybe because he wanted to focus on identifying a problem some would argue doesn’t even exist. Maybe he was waiting for me to write a solutions article. (If that’s the case Damon, lets make this collab official shall we?)  Damon’s write up begged the question; What can black men do to be better for black women so I went on and made a list of things black men can do to help create a more supportive and nurturing environment for black women. It’s by no means exhaustive and I welcome more ideas.  Also, full disclosure, I have room for improvement as well. I can stand to drink a tall glass of my own Kool-aid.

We need to have the difficult conversations with other black men and women. There are a lot of black men who have traumatic experiences from their mothers or maybe those who’ve they’ve dated. We need to realize that condemning a whole group of people for those traumatic experiences is irrational and promotes an unhealthy environment between black men and women.

Black men need to also have conversations with the uncles, brothers, cousins, friends, who perpetuate misogynistic ideals and behaviors. This means being that voice of reason when your friend is cat calling a woman walking down the street, or having a conversation with a younger brother about the proper way to treat women. We have to be the first line of defense to call out behavior that is unhealthy and detrimental to black women.

Be extra critical about language- Lupe Fiasco gets at the core of the hypocrisy of language in hip hop in his song Hurt Me Soul:

“I used to hate hip-hop, yup, because the women degraded
But Too $hort made me laugh, like a hypocrite I played it
A hypocrite, I stated, though I only recited half
Omitting the word “bitch”, cursing – I wouldn’t say it
Me and dog couldn’t relate, till a bitch I dated
Forgive my favorite word for hers and hers alike
But I learned it from a song I heard and sort of liked….

As black men, we need to be aware of the way we socialize negative language toward black women. Bitches, thots, hoes, etc. Some may say, its just a word, what power does it have? Doesn’t that question sound familiar? And often times, hip hop is the primary mode for misogynistic, discriminatory, and down right disrespectful language. I’m not going to blame hip hop, the medium itself is like a mirror. We see and hear what’s going on around us.

Support black women in social and political struggles. There’s a whole bunch of political/social challenges that are outright destroying black women. For example, according to the Justice Department, slightly more than 40% of sex trafficking victims are Black, far outpacing White (25.6%), Hispanic (23.9%), Asian (4.3%) and Other (5.8%) victims and women are more than twice (68 percent) as likely as men (32 percent) to be trafficked for sex. (Human Trafficking By the Numbers 2017) Sex trafficking is disproportionately affecting black women and we’ve got to show up and ride for them in their struggles like they show up and ride for us. There’s so much to support; income inequality, healthcare laws, access to stem education, etc. Show up.

We need to deal with toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity leads to a false narrative of what it actually means to be a man. A false narrative leads to a bunch of men seeking the wrong characteristics to validate their masculinity. Some chase patriarchal, self destructive and misogynistic ideals they believe are at the core of masculinity and it ends up demeaning and screwing over black women.  As black men, we need to re-evaluate what it means to be a man and make sure we approach masculinity from a healthy and pragmatic perspective.

Start a dialogue. It may seem a little counter-intuitive, but Facebook and Twitter are good places to have conversations around supporting black women. Yea, sometimes it can get out of control with the comments and trolls but it is a good place to continue the conversation.

Offline is another really important venue. Sit down and talk to black women about the challenges they face and identify ways you can leverage your position to support them.