Jamie Mayes, AOE

Archive for the ‘justice’ Category

We are One

In Culture, justice, media, News, Race, reality, religion, Uncategorized on July 2, 2016 at 3:47 am

On June 30, I was given the prestigious honor of sharing an original piece with the community of Monroe, Louisiana during Mayor Jamie Mayo’s inaugural ceremony. The piece composed was written in efforts to acknowledge the importance of unity and the necessity to be conscious of others and societal issues during such challenging times. Written from the heart, my aim is to be honest about the challenges and truthful about the only real solution to our problem. We must realize that no matter our struggles and problems, we are one humanity that can only truly survive by being learning to work together and showing empathy to others. Below is the transcript.

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A Disappointed Christian: the Orlando Shooting

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, Race, Uncategorized on June 13, 2016 at 7:31 pm

Matthew 22: 39-40And the second commandment is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

One these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.orlando1

Sunday morning I turned my television on to a woman with tears streaming down her face saying she knew her son was among the unidentified dead bodies. My heart sunk as I watched her cry hysterically and I felt my heart break as I watched her crumble to pieces. Many knew what it took me a while to figure out- there was a mass shooting targeting homosexuals at a club in Orlando. The Christians are about to go crazy, I said to myself. Immediately, a sense of discomfort swept me as I anticipated what many of my fellow believers of Christ might say.

They didn’t let me down either. I saw everything from comments about a lack of sympathy for others’ loss to claims that this happened because they were living in sin. I was infuriated to think that people could be so insensitive and outright disrespectful. I was dumbfounded to think that people were suggesting that people deserved to die because they felt they were unforgivable sinners. Here were people wearing the title of Christian so proudly but defaming the word of God so blatantly. I was so disappointed to know that so many of us are doing God a disservice. I can no longer continue to spare the rod on Christians, for so many have become spoiled and intolerant children.

I question how those who criticized Orlando’s victims felt about other American tragedies? Did they have an explanation for why the children of Sandy Hook were killed? What about the people who died in 9/11? What about the massive terrorism of slaves in America for 300 years? Did all of the people deserve to be murdered because of some people felt they had sinned?

Yesterday’s catastrophe was one of the world’s most opportune times to minister; yet, many Christians failed miserably. I continue to think back to Jesus’s ministry over and over again. I think about the number of people He healed and touched and how often he hardly spoke, he only acted. I think about the number of times He denied a sick person a healing because they were of a different religion or because they had sinned. I cannot recall one. Instead, Jesus ministered through love over and over again. He changed lives and hearts through actions over and over again. He focused on His to love and heal and not on their actions.

Yesterday was not about homosexuality or a night club. It was about a tragedy that rocked the country and a result that will affect everyone at some point- death. The pain of losing someone to violence is something that no one deserves and that hurts a family whether the individual is gay or straight, black or white, religious or non-religious. At this moment, so many Christians had the chance to extend arms and join hands to say, “I am sorry for your pain and your loss. God loves you and I do, too,” but so many failed to do so. Many tried to justify the actions of a deranged murderer because they disagreed with the lifestyle of a group. It sickens me. So often, it is not the bible that has caused people to stop going to church or believing in God; it is the actions of the so-called Christians that turns people away. Being hurt and judged by the church has caused so many to forego a personal relationship with God.

This situation is not about your opinion on homosexuality. We have all done something or do something that people do not agree with, and quite often, our opinions of people don’t really matter. This about the chance to sow seed so love and compassion when love and compassion are needed more than ever. God bless the families and victims of Orlando.

Black Crime, Black Self Hate

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, prison, Race, reality, Uncategorized on April 14, 2016 at 7:38 pm

wpid-20150828_191001.jpgLast weekend was filled with tragedy in Louisiana. At least 3 African Americans lost their lives due to violence. Emotions were charged as people took to social media to voice their frustration over such unfortunate events in such a short period of time. However, it was not the reply of my white counterparts that made me cringe and grit my teeth. My people pulled out a phrase that burns my ears worse than nails on an old school chalkboard, “How can we keep crying about racism when black people kill each other every day?” Several thoughts ran through my head every time I saw a status update, tweet or post implying that racism in America is excusable because a certain portion of a population’s race is involved in violent acts. I suppose these are the same type of people who say that slavery could not have been that bad because black people sold other black people and there were black overseers and slave owners throughout history. Their justification for injustice is justifying the acts of the unjustified against an unjustly subjugated people. Read it twice. Read it slowly.

I guess what frustrates me the most is the alarming amount of evidence we have which dispels the myth that black on black crime is the biggest crime problem in America. Yet, people fail to research information for self and, instead, believe the skewed information presented by the news and media. According to the FBI website (link below), in 2013 white people accounted for 3799 manslaughter and non-negligent crimes, while black people accounted for 4,379 of the same crime. However, that gap widened as I continued to research. White people accounted for 8,946 rape crimes, while black people only accounted for less than half of that number at 4,229. White people accounted for 183,092 arrests for aggravated assault arrests, while black people accounted for 98, 748. As matter of a fact, white people exceed black people in criminal arrests in nearly every single category, sometimes with double or trouble the number of criminal acts committed. The total criminal arrests for white people were over six million, while black people had 2.5 million total arrests. Yet, the news and media outlets and society places primary focus on incidents by black people in black neighborhoods. We, then, ostracize and criticize our own people without being properly informed. Do not worry; the link for the website is below. Let your jaw drop a little; the numbers might shock you.

Do not fully rely on statistics for a full justice report, though. One astounding lesson I have learned over the years is that there is huge number of unreported crimes within the white community. Time after time, I have gotten vicarious information or heard stories about violent incidents within my community that were “taken care of” financially or through some other type of agreement. Within my professional experience, I had been told stories by individuals who committed offenses, but were “let off” several times because of family connections or racial advantage. I know I am not the only one who is privy this information; however, many who know this information ignore it and deny its relevance to the inaccurate portrayal of blacks in America.

Instead of treating the unfortunate incidents of last weekend like two isolated cases in two different cities, many people passed judgment on a race. They pulled a race card, but not a king or queen; it seems more like the joker. As much as individuals claim to hate being judged and stereotyped, so many fellow black Americans did both as soon as news of these fatalities was released. What used to create a sense of compassion in me now causes me to seethe with frustration and anger. I keep wondering when the black population will stop believing the labels and stereotypes that have been attached to our people by people who feel threatened by us. We have such a lack of self love individually that we are willing to accept what others say about us collectively. The truth is that we can never expect to see justice from the system if we do not see the value of our own race and culture. We have to start having a better attitude towards and about our people. We must make an important realization: when we support stereotypes and negative assumptions about our people, we as individuals are included the number. Agreeing with the derogatory statements made about our race does not make us an exception. Speaking against these misrepresentations of our people is the only way to combat the problem.

For many, the argument that black people are America’s biggest problem and that the black race is violent angry race that is destroying the country with crime seems small. However, it is this belief that has contributed to the alarming number of hate crimes against black people, prejudiced attitudes and biases, lack of cultural empathy and respect, and discrimination in work places. In essence, supporting a negative view of our culture has prohibited all of our people from receiving fair and equal treatment more often. One clichéd quote is true; we cannot expect others to respect us if we do not respect ourselves. We must change our perspective of our own people, research and information others of the truth and become positive advocates for changes in policies and attitudes.

There is an important lesson I have learned over the years, and it’s that numbers don’t lie. Educate yourself, people.

FBI Website:

https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/tables/table-43

 

 

Motivational Reflections

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, Race, reality, Uncategorized on February 19, 2016 at 4:43 am
“Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can.”
— Arthur Ashe

We are just past the half-way mark for the month of February. Indeed, it has been an action packed month for me as my students complete projects and presentations,  make daily morning announcements, and we hosted a Black History movie day to raise money for our soul food tasting event. I must admit that Black History Month is a particularly sensitive time of year for me as I meditate and reflect even more closely on the journeys, lives and experiences of African-Americans. Our experience in this country has not been a beautiful one, but it has been a grand and significant one. One that we should embrace and love even more because of the tumultuous journey we have had. For many, reflecting on the past brings about anxiety and anger, because it is hard to imagine the difficult road our people have traveled.

Yet, further reflection on the past has allowed me to see history as so many of our history makers have seen it- with pride. I often study the works of Phyllis Wheatley, Langston Hughes, Frederick Douglass and Dr. Maya Angelou. I read about the accomplishments of Maggie L. Walker, Madame C.J. Walker and Dr. George Washington Carver. They all had one thing in common; they did not allow racism to determine their level of achievement. Though they knew the reality of society; yet, they worked towards greatness, using their struggles as their motivation.

So often, we are tempted to let obstacles determine our level of success. However, we must remember that our ancestors made so many sacrifices so our lives could be easier.  Imagine what life would be life if we had to deal with daily personal struggles and Jim Crow Segregation Laws, restricted voting laws, and segregated schools? Though so many issues with race still exist, they hardly compare to lifblack-history-monthe for African Americans just 50 years ago! We have so much to be thankful for in 2016, but so often we allow temporary struggles to make us feel bogged down stress. We are so much d to reap the benefits of our ancestors’ work. They sowed many seeds; let us continue to cultivate them for the next generation.  Take pride in the work of our ancestors, face our struggles with courage and strength and teach our children to be leaders who advocate boldly during adversity! The great Arthur Ashe once said, “Racism is not an excuse to not do the best you can,” and neither is any other obstacle one faces. Yes, you may fall thousand times, but every time you get up there should be a little more motivation to succeed. Honor our ancestors by relentlessly going for your dreams!

Stacey Dash: The Reason We Need Black History Month

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, Race, reality, Uncategorized on February 4, 2016 at 1:05 am

This year there are several reasons I could talk about the importance of Black History Month. I can always reflect on the lack of black history and culture in school textbooks. I could reflect number of recently publicly known crimes against black people. I could discuss thesdash1 threat of the election of Donald Trump, which could subsequently lead to the deportation or re-enslavement of black people. However, none of these will suffice this year’s explanation of why the celebration of Black History Month is so imperative. This year the ultimate reason that Black History Month is so important is comical, but true, ironic, but coincidental. The ultimate reason that Black History Month is so important is- you guessed it- Stacey Dash.
Because she had the courage to say BET, black awards shows and Black History Month should be eliminated is the very reason we must celebrate Black History Month. Her unapologetic attitude about her distasteful comments regarding her own race and culture is why we must celebrate and even amplify Black History Month. Dash is a reminder that Uncle Toms and token black kids still exist, showing disdain for their culture and being willing to sell their souls for money, power, and a whiter place in society. I can see her now, sitting at table with her colleagues saying hate crimes are justified because “blacks kill blacks all of the time.” Yet, be not angered with Dash, be compassionate towards her desire to be fulfilled by public attention and need to be acknowledge. She is currently getting more media attention than she ever got as an actress; being clueless has finally paid off. Because of her, I reminded of exactly why we need Black History Month:
1. She represents a lack of self-love and pride, the biggest threat to Black History.
Dash is not the only one who has failed to embrace the beauty of blackness and black culture. Our generation suffers from a lack of self-love. Though, we have difficulty accepting the truth, black people have been taught that bone straight hair and name brand clothes from the latest white designer are the key to self-value and self respect. We have replaced the value of our culture with things that depreciate the minute a transaction is performed. History has long taught us that light skin is purer and “righter” than dark skin, and that black people came from desperation, anger and violence. Self-hate and disdain for black culture has been engraved into us like the tattoos on the forearm of a Jew, and Stacey Dash is an evident reflection of such.
2. She represents the miseducated.
It is my belief that all of Stacey Dash’s comments are not and cannot be based on her genuine beliefs. Somewhere along the way, Dash has been miseducated about at least one half of her race, maybe both halves. However, her problem is not an uncommon one. The miseducated believe that we are truly free. The miseducated believe that systems that enforced equal practices are not necessary, because America is the land of opportunity for all mankind. The miseducated believe that slavery was not as bad as people try to make it seem. They see some truth to what Dash said, and they lend an open ear perspectives of the commentators on Fox News.
Each year, my students complete a Black History project or we go through a series of mini-lessons on the experiences of black people through history. It amazes me that most of my students only know three basic black historic figures: Dr. King, Rosa Parks and the surface of Malcolm X. The most troubling problem is that they have a misunderstanding of the mission of such individuals and their philosophies and beliefs about black movements and black power. Additionally, they have also been taught that racism and race issues are history and that we no longer have to work towards equality. They, like Dash, have been severely miseducated and society has become the instructor to teach them what the community has failed to do. These lessons come with painful experiences and broken expectations, and result in misdirected energy and misplaced anger. This has caused our children to stumble along for years being forced to learn how to develop community leadership and impacting movements the hard way. Miseducation comes with a terrible price to pay.
3. She represents a dangerous future.
The honest truth is that Stacy Dash is a bigger threat to society than we admit. The alarming number of people who agree with or empathize with Dash should send an immediate notice that there is much work to be done in order to preserve the celebration of Black culture. Respect for black history and black people is diminishing at a faster rate than it ever has, and the lack of response by today’s generation is troubling.
However, there is a glimmer of hope. Movements like Black Lives Matter and the Ferguson Protests send notice to America that there are young, motivated black leaders who will not take the troubles of society in a passive manner. However, is this movement massive enough? My concern is that the portion of black Americans who recognize the woes of being black in America will be overpowered by those who speak contrary to the statistically proven, undeniable truth about race relations. America continues to refuse to change laws and press charges, while using weak excuses to rationalize crimes committed against blacks. Lack of social consciousness means we are in danger of creating a dead generation, who regressive actions could send black folks back to the fields.
Yet, I must ask, what would we do without people like Dash to serve as a fresh reminder that we must continue to defy the odds and push for our culture to be remembered and respected? She is the constant reminder that though we have come far, we have even further to go. Oh, Stacey, your career has been just that, a “Dash” in time, and thankfully so. For, had you been a more significant and influential media star, your impactful ignorant just might pose a bigger threat to society. Dash is not alone in this party though; Raven Symone, Don Lemon, and the black preachers who met with Donald Trump last year are all reminders that until black people truly love black culture the journey to help others embrace our culture is quite long and difficult. Black History Month is only a small way to celebrate what black people did a country that was not capable of doing for itself. Maybe one day textbooks will tell the full story and Dash will love the skin she is in, but until then let us celebrate Black History.

Favor Ain’t Fair…Or is It?

In Culture, justice, life, News on March 17, 2015 at 4:51 am

It is a line that drives me absolutely crazy. So much so that sometimes, I imagine myself jumping up and down on a table in a room full of “favor ain’t fair” quotees (yes, I made that up) chanting, “Yes, it is! Favor is fair!” If I could find the first person who made this statement, I would smack them on the back of the head and say, “No! Don’t start it! It’s not even true!”

However, nearly every black church across America chants this line an average of 455 times per Sunday service or Wednesday night bible study. (Do not mock my fictional statistics.)  I have disagreed with this statement from the first day it slipped from the lips of the anointed. The implication that favor is not fair makes it seem as if God is not just in His dealings with us when the bible states the contrary.            Psalm 5: 12 states, “For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as a shield.” Psalm 84: 11 states, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” As a matter of fact, the bible provides several scriptures that tell the benefits of living according to His will with Psalm 21 reminding us that God will bless us when we seek His face and His will. He makes promises of overflows, ten folds, open doors and foot stools. Yet, we continue to insist that the favor granted by living a righteous life is not fair.

To this concept I mupoet4st contest. For what is the point of joining a specialty club if one does not expect to receive exclusive benefits? The benefit of serving a mighty God, honoring His commandments, getting in line with His will, and repenting of errs and sins is favor. I beg to differ- favor is fair! For who does not enjoy reaping the benefits of being a saved child of God?

I think I have targeted the problem- we think favor applies solely to material things. Visual blessings tend to qualify higher on the “favored” list than non-visual blessings. However, peace in the midst of the storm can only be achieved when one has favor. An increase in finances or special connections will not buy peace, but a solid relationship with God and obedience will make one steadfast and joyful in the worst situations. There are many non-physical blessings that are purely the result of favor due to obedience. But the obsession with materialist things has caused us to misunderstand the true blessings of favor. This is not to decrease the value of material blessings, but to clarify that they do not determine whether one is experiencing favor. Material things come and go but a spiritual connection that brings for supernatural blessings is favor that cannot be explained.

There is one aspect of God’s dealings with us that is not “fair.” That aspect is grace and mercy. This twosome is given to nearly everyone on a daily basis- saved or unsaved, Baptist, Muslim, and even Atheist. Psalm 145:9 reads, “The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” God gives us a new chance every morning that our feet hit the floor. He gives us another opportunity to seek His face no matter how often we mess up. He loves us relentlessly, not because of favor, but because of grace and mercy.

Some preachers and teachers may disagree when they read this, but as the old gospel says, “like a tree planted by the water, I shall be moved.” There is nothing unfair about favor. The most amazing part of being saved is knowing your relationship with Christ connects you to favored blessings like no other. For committing your whole heart to Christ, He promises to never leave or forsake you and that He will supply all of your needs. The word declared that He is rich with houses and land and He holds the power of the world in His hand; so, why would he not want to give His children who are after His heart access to these amazing blessings? God’s desire is for His children to live in joy and peace that can only be found when individuals know Him. God honors His promise when we honor our commitment. Yes, it is absolutely favor, and despite what you have heard, it is fair.

Keeping a Child in a Child’s Place

In Culture, justice, life, media, News on February 23, 2015 at 11:01 pm

There was a time when people used to say “A child needs to stay in a child’s place.” However, with changinchildreng times came a change in philosophies on how to properly rear children. In the process of adopting new parenting strategies, children have been allowed to enter the realm of adulthood seemingly all too soon. The damages of such changes are unfortunately more far reaching than current society seems to believe. Exposing children to adult situations and environments before they are mature enough to understand them is a danger to their futures.

My friend and I were discussing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the affair accusations that have come to the public eye over recent years. While she contends that exposing the flaws of Dr. King and other leaders makes them seem more human  and realistic, I object to the concept, arguing that the preservation of black culture is essential especially considering that society has done so much in attempts to negate the role of black people in the development of this country. There is no denial that the truth about people deserves to be known; however, bringing forth this type of information to children who are not mature enough to separate the mission from the imperfection is what has caused so many young people to show a lack of respect for our ancestors. The end result is no preservation of black culture and history, a lack of identity for the forthcoming generation, inability to recognize systems of injustice and disorder, making a mockery of important history, allowing others to disrespect our culture and history and destroying the morals of our people. Though Dr. King may have had imperfections, what is most important is that he was willing to die for a cause that changed the face of this country. The internal moral conflicts he faced are far more difficult for a child to understand than for adults. Therefore, we must be cautious about how and when we expose children to the more complicated aspects of life.

A bigger concern is that it seems as we if thrive on discovering disheartening things about black world and community leaders. We often use these flaws to justify our own shortcomings.  Finding imperfections in others will not validate self, and this is an unhealthy trait to pass to the next generation. The dishonorable choices of one individual does lessen the effects of mistakes made by another. Therefore, we must focus on showing our children all the things that were done correctly and tell them of people who recovered resiliently despite mistakes and imperfections.  We must protect their innocence, for exposing them to too much too soon forces them into an arena of life for which they may not be prepared. It also creates a distorted perception that reckless behavior is acceptable because even the most admired people have secrets, instead of teaching them that in the journey of life we will experience obstacles which we must strive to conquer and if one should err, their mistakes do not cancel their calling.

As I have grown in age and wisdom, I have gained an understanding of why it is important for a child to be in a child’s place. Placing them in the midst of topics and sharing information with them that they are not mature enough to understand is a threat to their potential success. Children are not equipped to understand and handle situations in the same manner that adults should be. They are fragile vessels who absorb as much information as possible and use it to determine their actions and views on life. Most of them are not experienced enough to sift the negative and positives in a situation. Thus, we must do this for them and teach the basics before life becomes complicated. Besides, the struggles of the adult world will come soon enough; let us protect their minds while we can.

American Injustice for Black Men: Part I

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, prison, Race, reality on December 5, 2014 at 2:07 am

There is nothing new about the injustice of the American justice system. Black people have been fighting for rights in America since we arrived in America. However, after such a dramatic impact from some of history’s strongest leaders during the Civil Rights era, our race became complacent, assuming that we had finally “arrived.” Yet, the past six years have been some of the most turbulent this country has ever seen. I have found myself frequently wishing I had lived during the Civil Rights era, at least I would be openly aware of injustices and knowledgeable about how to handle them. I would be surrounded by a group of power house black

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culturists who would train me to be a smart fighter in the midst of an unchanging society, but such is not the case. I am an eighties baby, born to a generation of entitled individuals who are satisfied with times that seem to be better than. Better than the Jim Crow Era. Better that the roaring twenties. Better than slavery. And for a while this pacified us; for, we were able to convince ourselves that the work of our ancestors was enough for us to function in a balanced and equal society and that all we had to do was enjoy the benefits and play our conforming role. This attitude has caused me many struggles because for many years I have seen America through different eyes and have understood the dangers of what seemed to be minor race issues. I kept wondering when we would have a cultural awakening and see the big picture- that several minor issues equal a big problem. A string of deaths that began long before Trayvon Martin was brutally murdered finally led to an eruption of emotions that have black people realizing that America has not progressed as much as many thought it had.

The devastation behind the deaths of several black men who were supposedly innocent until proven guilty is only the flip side of what has been wrong with the justice system for years. Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the situation and received much backlash from his white counterparts months ago. The alarming rate in which black males have received long prison sentences for minor crimes and for crimes that their white counterparts have received small sentences has placed a negative stigma on the black community and greatly stinted the progress of the black community. It is the flip side of black murders committed by white cops; yet, it is just as damaging to black race as the unfortunate deaths of black men. It is ridiculous that it has taken the deaths of several men to address a problem that is not about incidents, but about a flawed system.

Our black men are moving targets, set out to be destroyed emotionally and physically, too, if necessary. For years, it has been enough to imprison them for extended periods of time. This was enough to break their spirits and place a permanent blemish in their background that would limit and, in many cases, eliminate the possibility of true recovery and true success. However, the election of a black President and a surge of the confidence and achievement in the black male community have made America take immediate action in attempt to degrade and demolish the strong black man thus weakening the black community as a whole. To justify the attacks, the justice system is manipulated by those who created it and misused to justify the crimes of those who react based on ego instead of behaving according to their occupational responsibility. What is scariest about this situation is the audacity our country’s leaders to try and defend these horrendous acts which directly violate laws and human rights. The repeated slaying of black men has finally taken a toll on the black community and we are on the heels of a serious movement in America. There are two major questions I have been unable to shake from my mind: What do we do to change a system that has been doing what it was put in place to do for so many years? Is the problem that we must change a system or we must force people to change their mentality? Unfortunately, I do not have the answer to either one and I fear that we as a collective unit do not either. As I grow older, I have begun to doubt that this system is fixable and that hatred and racism will always be passed to generations in efforts to maintain control.

It does not seem that it will ever matter how much motivation a black man has; there will always be an attempt to emasculate and dehumanize him. While we are in control of our individual actions and behaviors, this does not justify the justice system’s abuse of power and mistreatment of black men. Black men have been tortured in America since they were brought to America as slaves hundreds of years ago. They struggled for their rights to be treated as humans and men back then and it is an unfortunate fight that continues now. It is devastating that black men continue to lose whether to the penitentiary or to the casket.

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