If a man in a uniform came up to you, gave you a taser, and told you to guard and detain another man who he claims is a criminal, would you? If that man tried to leave would you stop him or taser him?In the video below, most of the people tested actually go to the extent of hurting another human being, who they’ve never met, simply because a man in a uniform told them to do so.
America, the land of the free and home of the brave, is embroiled in a battle with on-going violent episodes in schools, city streets, homes, and other public venues. Do we re-think our politics, leadership choices, and daily behaviors leading up to these altercations? Why? We are in another era of highly politically charged rhetoric, party grievances, marginalization, quick fixes, and fast facts. We pick an object or race as the culprit. Race discrimination has garnered too much intellectual theory for a quick trip to the pulpit, so we look for something that won’t talk back. The buzz word for garnering votes is now, “Gun.”
Gun ownership is one prominent battle of the day among communities across the US. The battle, mostly between urban crime-ridden communities suffering through gang violence, robberies, murders, and other poverty-related maladies; and suburban and rural gun-owning communities serves as fodder suppressing the voices of population marginalization, poverty, and a tanked economy. Local and national politicians and pundits utilize this battle to garner votes, divert residents away from social corruption, and create discourse manageable by the poor and ignorant. The urbanites and insane claim guns kill people. They check social media posts and newspapers for daily reports of school shootings (infrequent, but occur), gun accidents, gun rallies, and any gun-related horror to support their problem. Most suburbanites and rural residents know that people kill people, since many have owned guns all of their lives without incident. No gun ever walked out of their closet and went on a rampage. Their doors are unlocked. Their children, at 12-year-old, attend small weapons training at the local fish and game clubs. The guns normally come out for sporting events or hunting and fishing trips. This is the heartland prospective. They are free; therefore any impingement on that freedom, as in the oppressed urban areas, must be halted immediately. And their politicians don’t want their guns tampered with either.
A group of multi-racial, – the article stressed “multi-racial,” gun owners took to the urban streets of Detroit to educate citizens on their right to carry guns and solicit questions on the particulars of national and local legislation guarding that right. The September 17, 2014 “Crooks and Liars” article goes more into the details of their interactions with law enforcement, mostly peaceful, and responses from residents, who spontaneously associated (as explained by one Black and female police officer) guns with trouble, until this group meekly explains their purpose. The group’s videos served to examine relevant points in the discourse of who are recognized as legitimate communities and those depicted as, and therefore adopt the persona of, savage charges in need of protection and limitation; whether they personally embody these characteristics or not. Similarly, as with the word “Gun,” the groups chosen label may automatically bring the savage mind to recoil, – “Hell’s Saints.” But considering Detroit’s economic and social deprivation, reaching the bottom of most US urban areas, the moniker is definitely on point. Watch the videos.
The OYR Challenge has been picked up from Alaska to Brazil, California to Luxembourg, by all peoples in all states of oppression. So what do they derive from these daily and minute to minute recreations of language, icons, and medium? POWER! #OYRchallenge
Changing Minds (changingminds.org) posts the six stages of personal power taken from Janet Hagberg‘s book, Real Power: Stages of Personal Power in Organizations. Interestingly enough, I researched this subject back in 1990, when I felt my most powerless self. I had relocated from a large city to a smaller enclave where African Americans had few prospects other than state employment and menial positions. It was a time of layoffs and transfers throughout the national private business environment. African American employees, as well as everyone else, of large businesses relocated in order to keep their positions or afford those unable to relocate the opportunity to remain employed.
There was a catch. Small cities with a tighter grip on designated white-only positions were not far from the lynching crowds depicted in photos of the old South. My first day on the job, four white co-workers surrounded me as I entered the office and told me to, “Go back where you come from. You are taking the job of a white man with a family.” Few African American professionals picture this happening in offices where their peers have middle-class incomes, boats in the water, private planes at the airport, etc.
One rainy day in 1992, I met a man, almost a decade younger than myself, pacing the doorway of a local coffee shop. He looked wild-eyed, disheveled, but through this mess it was apparent he had kept his body manicured, almost metro-sexual. I grabbed a coffee from inside and we both stood in the doorway, each glaring out into the deluge the weather had now become. It is not clear who spoke first, but as he proclaimed his wish to end his life, we began to share our stories. It turns out, we both were transplants. Him from a sub-company of my parent company. He was an architect. His chin jutted at the power of that statement. My chest also heaved in response. We empowered each other simply in recognizing our value beneath our brown-skins. We compared notes … no church, NAACP, community, or other non-profit response to the deadly employment race discrimination in the area. Check! No response from long-time residents unless you were a recovering drug addict, prostitute, alcoholic, or destitute. Check! We were on our own. Check! We had the power to live or die, depending on how much we empowered ourselves. Check!
I do not know what happened to that young man after our communion, but my life changed drastically. Acknowledging you are alone in a fight you are bent on winning is the first step to empowerment. So I researched power, and therefore empowered myself to, no matter what, always remember and increase my value. It is not an easy journey, but well worth it. So now I co-opt Hagberg’s six stages of power gathered from ‘Changing Minds’ for you to remember and utilize in your #OYR Challenge. My favorite is ‘Power by Wisdom.’ I am sure you will find your own among the list.
We start from a position of powerlessness. When we join an organization we know nobody and are totally dependent on others for initial assistance in understanding how things work, how to influence others and how to get things done.
2. Power by association
Power by association is the power we gain by being able to utilize the power that others already have.
As we get to know people and gain their respect and trust, we may leverage their power, for example in asking them to ask others to do things or asking them for introductions. The secret of gaining associative power is hence in being able to create bonds and draw on relationships.
We can also join teams, clubs and form other associations and coalitions, thereby gaining the power of the group.
3. Power by achievement
Power by acquisition is that power which we gain through what we do and the persuasive evidence that others perceive in this.
Achievement leads to achievement. If we do well at work then we are given more important work and may also get promoted. The power we get from this multiplies, as people cede power to those who prove their ability, which then allows them to achieve further still.
4. Power by reflection
In a curious reversal of depending on others for power, we can gain power through internal reflection and realizing we have all personal power on which we can draw.
A person at this stage is competent and has sound integrity. They are widely respected and this strength draws others to them, on whose ability and power they may consequently depend. Paradoxically, as they let go of their ego, they gain more power.
5. Power by purpose
People at this stage are driven by their purpose. Their power comes from within. Their inner power is so much greater than the power of those around them, they can influence decisions of many others.
Great leaders show this purpose in stirring speeches and powerful and symbolic action. They succeed because they believe in a greater purpose beyond themselves. They are visionary and self-accepting, humble and spiritual.
6. Power by wisdom
Stage six people feel a deep connection to the greater universe. They may often spend time in solitude, connecting and reflecting. They may have been through great pain and crisis on more than one occasion, yet have used these events to learn and grow.
They have found contentment and live on an ‘even keel’. The purpose they work to is very high. The know and accept powerlessness and in doing so find ultimate power. They embrace paradox and do not need to take sides.
Changingminds.org #OYRchallenge Click the link to get started: OYR Challenge
The “Own Your Racist” Challenge #OYRchallenge
What is the OYR challenge?
African Americans have been at war – mentally, physically, economically, and socially ever since the first African was dragged from the African continent onto a slave ship bound for the American shores. The volumes of histories (European and African American), movies, television series, news reports, studies, and other publications serve as qualitative evidence to support this claim. It has always been the strategy of Racist and their race collaborators to present the resulting body count as isolated or individual incidents to be argued within the confines of the criminal justice system, race discussion forums, and/or the same models used to maintain White Supremacy.
These systems have eroded and the people lax into comfort that the myth of Black powerlessness is firmly in place. They have secured the veil with a 21stcentury Bi-racial President of their choosing, replacing the Civil Rights icons – until now. Every playbook must be revised. Our young are inundated with slave songs, yet no one drills them with the principals that created Black Wall Street and other past ultra-wealthy and sound communities. There are only so many times African American children can attend the funeral of a murdered/lynched family member, friend or neighbor, buried with Amazing Grace and “I Have A Dream,” before they stop listening.
21st century African American youths acknowledge that they are human and know that humans are fallible. In a 1992 televised panel discussion, The Issue is Race, Sister Souljah points to the need for Black empowerment and business. She also points out that every municipality has their game in place to crush African American businesses much more easily now than with the attack on Black Wall St.
Crime in the African American community, the most readily used silencing cue in the racist toolbox, reflects that humanity and the substantive pressures placed on that humanity. Our young in 2014 Ferguson, MI reformed the messages of African American history that racist and African American collaborators use to teach them powerlessness. Yet, take a look at how school systems are now trying to formulate a methodology to discuss the current events in Ferguson and other cities.
Why control the conversation? For the same reason our children in African American venues are taught slave songs instead of empowering verse? Our dialogue needs to be controlled to include silencing, powerless training. HBCU institutions provide tools to exude our power along with the history lesson. The intelligent heed the message. The fearful and mediocre cite statistics. The European face of government and class conscious models of respectability politics band together to quell Black cognitive dissonance. But that dissonance also creates race-collaborators. This is also human. Fear is human.
To get you through this challenge, we need to revisit and establish in our lives how we accommodate, participate, and sometimes instigate our own demise. Here is the catch, if your town has no industry that will support your degree as well as your Africanism, there are always municipal positions available. And those who become a part of the machine (thinking they can make change from within), soon become THE MACHINE, despite their good intentions. Get over them … but do not give them a pass. Racist tactics are methodical complete with literature and verbal cues that African Americans are trained to absorb and respond to appropriately. Within this context, we must not forget that on an individual level, racist are confident that whatever their mistakes, there is a cue (crazy toolbox) to combat African American claims to racist attack and the victim will disregard their rights within that transaction. Add an insecure, incompetent collaborator and you have a cocktail for a now seemingly powerless victim.
So here is your challenge. There are two parts.
Part I: At least once per day, approach your racial encounters with power. Inner power. Victories, no matter how small, are the key to this challenge – no hubris, retaliations, pettiness, or abuses exude power or is the aim of this challenge (put away your crazy toolbox; not needed here). This can only be done if you follow principles that we ourselves will create during this adventure. There are a few listed to get you started.
- We are human.
- In our humanity, we fail, but as humans we are resilient and rise stronger.
- Remember, racist gain their power in OUR acceptance of dehumanizing media, literature, slurs, and behaviors on their part.
- We must know the laws and devices used to counter those laws that work in our benefit, during ANY transaction.
- We must examine, in any situation, where and how we must exude our power effectively, and when racist malaise will cause them to empower YOU.
- Recognize oppressive methodology, no matter who attempts it – these 4 indicators may help: Insult, Deny, Threaten, and Attack (these are all a part of the verbal cues). Find them in yourself first, and then you will recognize these tactics in others.
- Act with a sound, still mind. If you become flustered, BREATHE, SING, or whatever you have to do to get back on track. It may seem crazy to the offender or allow them to feel momentarily “uber” empowered, but the whopper you will deliver will soon change that.
- Most importantly, never, ever take your failure to control any situation as defeat. Remember, you were trained how to be powerless (regardless of how much Black literature you read or education). Regroup and fortify yourself for the next encounter, and you will recognize more of them as you learn to live as a citizen, instead of props in someone else’s theater.
Part II: You MUST develop your own strategies through these contacts and expand on these few lines with posts using the hashtag, #OYRchallenge. Your stories are important as they energize those too weak to accept this challenge. Start with the meager crumbs I have put before you and together we will create a banquet.
The alternative to this challenge is this – continue doing what you are doing expecting different results. Hence, buy a scooter to carry your crazy toolbox. It will only get heavier.
by Dr. Boyce Watkins
David Van Valen has a life that is built for legend. The young scientist and his family set trends years ago when he was accepted to MIT at the age of 13. While other kids his age were mastering videogames and hip-hop lyrics, David was preparing to dominate the future, taking a whopping 25 college courses while he was in high school, which he started at the “wise old age” of 10.
Ferguson holds its first city council meeting since the murder of an 18-year-old African American youth, Mike Brown. The Ferguson murder is one of many attacks on African American men across the United States. Is this the tipping point for African American families? In the context of media, political, social, and judicial scrambles to maintain anti-African American rhetoric and stereotypes, there is the most salient issue. How will African Americans redress the age old virus spread across America? After all of the protests, will African American leadership sink back into the muddy American political pool, as they did after the Civil Rights Era? Or, will our young develop new substantive strategies, educators, and alliances out of this new surge of African American awakening? #OYRchallenge
New York Times: Residents pelted the stone-faced officials with angry questions: Why had Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson officer who shot the unarmed black teenager on Aug. 9, not been arrested? Why were young African-American men so frequently arrested by the police? And why were so few black residents elected to city government?
“The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us: That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation…shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address
Take the OYR Challenge #OYRchallenge
Hattie, her men and her children — unmoored, lost and isolated — stumble through a joyless world where “talcum powder and hair grease and smoke fouled the air.” All are seeking a place for themselves, an identity to hang on to: sexual, spiritual, geographic, familial.
The author of “The Conversation” takes his conversation to the Web in “The Epiphany”
I know that there are a few people who like to give actor Hill Harper the “side eye” (as I believe it’s called), or think that he’s corny. But you definitely cannot deny that he’s a seriously committted guy who wants to affect positive change in society.Shadow and Act.
- Celebrity Drive: Hill Harper, Actor and Author (motortrend.com)
- Hill Harper, Raye Mitchell and Lisa Jones Johnson Lead Successful Launch of The M.B.A. Series™ Executive Discussion Forums to Train the Next Generation of Global Leaders (virtual-strategy.com)
- Myrdith Leon Mccormack: Hill Harper: Big Brother, Big Dreams (huffingtonpost.com)
- Carrying Baggage… (dizzy612.wordpress.com)
- Inciting Epiphany (thetawny.wordpress.com)
- The Subtle Way to Wear Metallic Eye Shadow (bellasugar.com)
- A New Chapter in a Used Book (thehopescholarship.wordpress.com)
Doreen Lawrence has had a memorable year. Her 2012 began with the conviction of two of her son’s killers in January. In the summer she led out the Olympic flag and the year ends with her making plans to mark the 20th anniversary of her son’s death. She talks to Hugh Muir about her efforts to keep the Stephen Lawrence trust going and to maintain pressure to convict the other men involved in his murder
- Coalition responds to Doreen Lawrence over race equality (digger666.com)
- Stephen Lawrence’s mother honoured for her ‘shining example’ (standard.co.uk)
- Doreen Lawrence: ‘Stephen is always in my thoughts’ (guardian.co.uk)
- We do care about equality, David Cameron and Nick Clegg insist as Doreen Lawrence accuses government of ignoring race issues (scotsman.com)
- Coalition responds to Doreen Lawrence over race equality (oddonion.com)
- Pride of Britain Award for Doreen Lawrence (itv.com)
- David Cameron and Nick Clegg reassure Doreen Lawrence over coalition’s commitment to equality (independent.co.uk)
- Coalition respond to Doreen Lawrence over race equality issue (guardian.co.uk)
I have always maintained that women should have the right to choose what they want for themselves, as far as their lives go. I believe that if a woman wants to work and focus on her career, she has every right to, and where possible, I believe a woman should be able to stay home and focus on her family and home, if she so chooses. If a woman wants to remain single all her life, so be it. If a woman does not want children, I say “more power to [her]“.