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Fathers are Essential

Nonessential expressions in writing are words, phrases or clauses that are not necessary to the meaning or structure of the sentence.  It’s easy to determine whether an expression is nonessential by omitting the phrase from the sentence. If the meaning of the sentence is still conveyed and if proper sentence structure is preserved, the expression is nonessential.

Example: We reserved this section for their fathers, none of whom attended the program.

The bolded phrase is nonessential; but sometimes I wonder whether families today consider fathers as nonessential. This Father’s Day, in addition to celebrating fathers and father figures, I think we should spread the message that fathers are essential to the family unit.

ImageAs I thought about the purpose of Father’s Day and creative ways to thank and celebrate my father for being present in my life, I began to reflect on his influence on me. That thought snowballed into my thinking about the significance of a father’s contribution to his children (generally speaking) which then led, for some reason, into thoughts about famous African Americans and their fathers. I thought about Tiger Woods, Venus and Serena Williams, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, and even Oprah. Each of these people has dominated their field. They have risen to the top and succeeded beyond ordinary success. But each of them also credit their fathers as essential to their success. In fact, if you omit their fathers from the sentences of their lives, meaning and structure would not only be lost, we probably wouldn’t even know their names.

We can learn a few lessons from the practices of these African American fathers.

  1. They insisted upon their child’s excellence.
  2. They demanded discipline and practice.
  3. They were unwaveringly dedicated to their child’s success.
  4. They held their children to high standards and expectations.
  5. They also, in most cases, did not ask their children what they wanted to be when they grew up; they told them. 

Because of these essential fathers, the above-mentioned celebrities will be known for what their fathers dreamed they could be, as they are forever etched on the pages of Black, American and World History.

As we acknowledge fathers and father figures today, let us make sure we do our part to raise a generation of boys who will be fathers that will dream dreams for their children and gift the world with someone who will impact it in a significant and meaningful way.

Happy Father’s Day.    

To Vote or Not To Vote: Dilemma November 2012

It never fails. Every day since the Republican National Convention, my Facebook newsfeed has someone talking about the election in some capacity. Whether it’s a link to Samuel L. Jackson’s controversial ad for Obama encouraging everyone to wake up and vote, or a picture of Mr. Obama’s backside and a caption reading, “I’ve got my president’s back,” or some word of praise about Michelle Obama’s sophistication, or even a witty picture/quote pointing out an example of Mitt Romney’s so-called ill-qualifications, more than several of my Facebook friends are expressing their ideas about the upcoming election. As you may imagine, the majority of them will vote. Interestingly, someone’s status update recently provoked me to write my thoughts about voting. It said something like: “If I ever hear a pastor encourage people not to vote from a platform, that would be my last time at that church.” And while I understand and respect her sentiment, I don’t understand or respect dismissing people who choose not to vote without exploring their opinions. Since I have had such thoughts before, and am leaning toward not voting myself, l decided to explore them a little more fully.

Before I share them, however, I will share with you my understanding of the reasons people vote. I hear two the most:

1.     Have your voice heard

If you want your voice heard in a political setting, voting is the way to do it. Instead of complaining to people who have no power to address your issues, every four years or every two years, you can express you contentment or discontentment with elected officials by voting for them into office or voting them out of office. The vote is one of the main ways everyday citizens can be heard.

2.     Because people died for our right 

Especially relevant to African Americans whose history includes people being denied their basic rights of citizenship, voting becomes a moral responsibility—a way to express gratitude for the sacrifices of our forebears and ancestors. Many put their lives on the line for the right to vote and were rewarded with death. The least we could do is register and go to the polls.

A study was recently released documenting how the number of registered voters in Chicago has drastically plummeted since 2008. Although Chicago (and an overwhelming majority of Americans) were excited about Obama’s historic run, I don’t believe the aforementioned reasons are sufficient enough to keep people enthusiastic about voting in this upcoming election.  And though I don’t profess to know why people are not voting, I can imagine they feel similar to me: disenchanted because of the reasons I will mention below, or because the affect of the Obama Kool-Aid has worn off (probably a combination of both).

No. I haven’t completely made up my mind about not voting, but here are a few of the reasons why I am leaning toward not voting.

 1.     My vote doesn’t count

“He who votes counts for nothing. He who counts the votes, counts for everything.” – Joseph Stalin

When I first heard this quote sometime in graduate school, I had to read it a couple of times before it really clicked. But when it did, I was changed. Putting aside your personal feelings about Stalin and his philosophies, it is difficult to deny the truth of his quotation. There is, indeed, a veil between the voters and the declaration of the outcome of the election. That buffer is the counting process. It seems pretty flawless. If people can be persuaded to vote and then agitate the outcome to the favor of a predetermined candidate, the voters will have no idea of the corruption. They will go along with results because they have faith in the system. It’s interesting, people suspect cheating via counting in elections in high school, civic organizations, American Idol, and even churches who vote their pastors in and out, but the same suspicion appears to be absent in the people’s mind concerning the election of President of the United States and other local and national political offices.

Funny clip. But there is a message above that should not be overlooked. Electronic voting machines, though said to be more proficient, have the capability to swing elections. But don’t take my word for it; listen to a public testimony from a programmer who created a program that could fix an election.  In his testimony, he talked about the importance of receiving a receipt upon voting on an electronic voting machine. When I voted in 2008 on one of these machines in Indiana, I asked for a receipt and was told they didn’t give any out. I was encouraged to trust the accuracy of these machines that “nullify” the human error factor.  Knowing that the digital gas pumps are rigged, digital thermometers have been inaccurate, and digital scales just plain wrong (according to some women I know), I just shook my head and left wearing my “I voted” sticker.

2. It doesn’t matter who the president is, he is just a puppet

Since 1913 politics and politicians have been compromised. As we should know, The Federal Reserve is not federal at all. It is a privately owned corporation that operates independently of the government. As you research the Federal Reserve System, you will find that the bank creates our currency (Federal Reserve Notes) and that your and my income taxes go to the owners of the bank. This is relevant because the Federal Reserve loans money to the American government and the American people pay back the loans with interest (unconstitutional income tax).

“Give me control over a nation’s currency and I care not who makes its laws” (Baron Mayer Amschel Rothschild).

In summary, the president serves the Federal Reserve. As I see it, that drastically conflicts with serving the people. The Federal Reserve has controlled every president since 1913. And the ones who have gone against the directives of the banking elite have been assassinated.

 “I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is now controlled by its system of credit. We are no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominate men” – Woodrow Wilson (1919)

So when I hear all of the many things “Obama has done” in his first four years touted as reasons he should be reelected, I get annoyed. Regardless, however, of the laundry list of successes or failures we attribute to Obama’s administration, I think acknowledging Obama with the credit is superficial. I sincerely believe that Obama (and any other president for that matter) makes no real decisions. The president is a parrot—repeating what he is told to say, and a puppet—doing what he is told to do. Whether the puppet tricks or treats, kisses or kicks, intelligent people direct their response of the puppet’s action to the puppet master. Don’t be confused, however. Puppets can puppet. In such a complex society, it shouldn’t be a surprise to find that puppets themselves can occupy the second and third tiers of the show. If you want to see the mind that facilitates the action, follow the strings—all of them.

 3.     Campaign issues are different from real everyday life issues

In my opinion, coverage of campaigns before a major election is huge distractions. The debates, news commentary, and commercials play on the emotional aspect of voters, getting them excited about irrelevant issues that have little to do with real decisions that affect citizens. In every election, issues related to Christianity (religion), abortion, homosexuality, gas prices, education, rights of illegal immigrants, etc. come up. The politicians give their usual campaign rhetoric about the matter, then the people who feel affiliated with a particular perspective vote en masse to support the candidate who professes to support the cause they are most passionate about.

This bothers me because it makes me feel like I am being played with. Many promises are made. Few are kept. I feel that the politician is fully aware of his impotence related to keeping promises. He is told to do or say whatever necessary to appeal to the masses. That way, whatever story is spun, the people will believe it. I am uninterested in being toyed with. I also uninterested in being promised something by someone who has no intentions on keeping the promise and/or no power to deliver it.

4.     Voting is NOT the only way to voice one’s concern/ express one’s voice

The main reason I voted in 2008 was because I was advised not to complain about the state of the union if I didn’t vote. You may have heard the argument that if you don’t vote, you essentially subscribe to whatever the outcome is, and therefore can’t complain. As a former complainer who wanted the space and place to complain, I decided to vote. After I voted, however, I thought about how I still couldn’t complain if my candidate didn’t win. If you vote, and your candidate doesn’t win, you can’t complain either because the process is such that your candidate may not win. He or she did not get enough support… the system works…so try again next time.

The way I see it, this cannot be the only way to express one’s discontentment with political matters. There have to be ways, in the meantime, to have one’s voice heard. Unfortunately, this is where Black people, in my view, have been stuck for the past number of years. We have participated in the system and have patiently endured the suffering that ensued from a decision we didn’t support or legislation handed down by a candidate we didn’t vote for. And we have also waited another four years to see which of several candidates would be the “least evil” to replace the one with which we are currently dissatisfied. Why are we so content with voting for the poison that will kill us the slowest? This is one of the reasons I supported the recent teacher’s strike in Chicago. They had been lied to for years and years and finally acted in a spirit of unity to express their frustration with being false hope and empty promises.

I feel that it is past time that we, as an American people, found other ways to make our voices heard in this society. Voting is NOT, despite popular opinion, the only way to express one’s voice. I lean toward not voting because voting makes us more likely to accept the status quo and go along with whatever happens during an administration. The vote has put us in a position of passivity. We are not complaining as much. We are not complaining loud enough… we are too compliant. Smh.

5.     Our ancestors fought for our right to choose.

I may get in trouble for this one, but people who say that our ancestors died that we may have the right to vote, or the right to sit in the front of the bus, or the right to eat in a segregated restaurant or sit beside white people in a waiting room are only partially right. As I see it, our ancestors died that we may have the right to CHOOSE to vote or not to vote, to sit in the front of the bus or the back, etc. They fought to have the restrictions that limited the Black man and woman’s right to determine for themselves. Our ancestors fought for true freedom and independence (as evidenced in the right to choose) and I think it is misleading to superimpose manipulative thoughts like these on our youth. I think our ancestors want us to do what is best for us in this day and in this time, not attempting to repeat what they did in their day and in their time.

Ultimately, I feel that the political system is corrupt—very corrupt. I believe that it’s a huge illusion designed to make people believe their concerns matter when, in fact, the government will almost always carry out their agenda despite what the people want or need. It is structured in such a way that gives people a sense of hope during times they would express themselves in rebellious and even violent ways because of feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness.  The way I see it, American democracy, American justice, and American politics are just ideas paraded around as realities until the government becomes so powerful, nothing can be done to stop it. In an ideal society, I would vote. It would be a legitimate way to voice one’s concerns about the state of the union and the issues that are important and relevant to elections. It would be fair and honest. Everybody’s vote would count. But sense we are not living in an ideal society, I have a dilemma: to vote or not to vote. Help me decide.

Thanks,

Tim Lee

Addressing Black-on-Black Violence

Black-on-Black violence is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. I have been personally frustrated for some time concerning this matter because I feel that we, as a people, are waiting around for someone else to pass a law or install a camera that will end it once and for all. Though they are easier to do, and may even seem like good things to do, the aforementioned suggestions will do little to solve the problem. This piece will explore the problem, the source of the problem, and suggest solutions toward addressing Black-on-Black violence.

 

The Problem

Over the last 15 years, the statistics concerning Black-on-Black violence have gotten worse. And in these years, efforts to stop the violence have not worked. Curfews have failed. More police patrolling the streets of high-risk neighborhoods have failed. Metal detectors in the schools have failed. Surveillance cameras, with their flashing blue lights, mounted atop telephone poles have failed.

Despite the fact that these attempts to solve the problem have not worked, our communities are still flooded with police and cameras. Public schools have security guards, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, mandatory student uniforms, and transparent book bags. Every year there is a new idea that supposedly will be the one to stop the violence — but just like the radical ideas from all the other years, they fail.

Two years ago in Chicago, there was an idea to call in the National Guard to help the police stem the rising tide of urban violence. Is the only way to stop violence in Black communities to infringe on the privacy of all community members and intimidate them with a military-like presence?

The truth of the matter is that the aforementioned efforts have not worked and are not the best answers to the violence problem. The surveillance cameras do little to deter or solve crimes, and the police seem to occupy our neighborhoods rather than protect them. These efforts only add to the hostility, tension, and frustration that serve as a spark for much of the violence in the first place. If we really want to prevent the violence, we have to attack the cause. If my shoulder is bleeding, a Band-Aid on my forearm will not help. Neither will a Band-Aid on my hand or leg. But that is what seems to be happening in the case of violence in our communities. Much of the attention to curb violence has been misdirected and does not address the source of the problem.

The Source

Not long ago, I picked up a used social psychology textbook. After reading the first chapter, I was reminded that violent behavior has long been a topic of interest among scholars. The various theories that have been tested over the years have revealed that the problem of violence is not one of inherent delinquency. What follows is a short excerpt from the textbook. As you read, consider the solutions being offered up by today’s politicians and so-called experts. Do blue-light cameras, more policemen, metal detectors, etc. address what this book identifies as the source of the problem?

“… frustrating situations make people angry and increase their tendency to act aggressively. This is called the frustration-aggression hypothesis. It predicts that when people are blocked from achieving a desired goal, they feel frustrated and angry and are more likely to lash out…. The frustration-aggression hypothesis can also explain how large-scale economic and societal factors CREATE [emphasis mine] situations that lead to violence and crime. For instance, people who are poor and crowded into urban slums are frustrated. They cannot get good jobs, find affordable housing, provide a safe environment for their children, and so on. This frustration may produce anger, which can be the direct cause of violent crime” (Social Psychology, Prentice Hall, Eleventh Edition, 2006).

In our cities, people often commit crimes because they are frustrated, because they are poor, because they feel there’s no other option. People do not commit crimes, violent or non-violent, based on the absence of a surveillance camera or law-enforcement officer. People don’t steal because they want to be cool. People don’t join gangs because they don’t have a family. People don’t sell drugs to pass the time. People do these things because they’re hungry — both physically and spiritually. They do these things because they’re poor, because their angry, because they’re afraid.

This vantage point is important because, as I said before, if you don’t address the right source of the problem you will never arrive at the right solution to the problem.

To be honest, I am no longer convinced that the attempts of the government are well thought out or even submitted with the expectation to truly solve the problem. More often than not, the “solutions” are offered as quick fixes to keep voters placated or to keep certain public officials gainfully employed.

So, what do we do now? What can we do to rebuild, strengthen, and protect our own communities?

The Solution

We have to do something. We cannot let news reports cause us to feel overwhelmed and powerless. We cannot push aside our responsibility to the youth in our community because we think someone in a high place is working on a solution. We have to do something. Here are a few suggestions for actions we can take ourselves:

1. We must seek help from higher sources. Seeking wisdom through faithful and consistent spiritual practices help to discipline people and to provide them with a healthy outlet for venting frustration. Additionally, many problems are spiritual in nature. Everything that happens on the visible (physical) plane was birthed on an invisible (mental, emotional, spiritual) plane. We must ask ourselves and the Most High God/ Creator of universes known and unknown to reveal what needs to be addressed in higher spheres so that we can see a shift in the material sphere where we perceive reality.

2. We must educate ourselves. We cannot respond to our problems with frustration. We must learn more than what the media is telling us about these problems. We must also learn our history so we can see what methods were effective under similar circumstances in the past. We can use this knowledge to think creatively about how to address current and, in many cases, worsening conditions.

3. We must downsize. We cannot get sidetracked by American consumerism, teaching our children and younger people to purchase expensive materials and possessions to the point of going into debt, or robbing and killing to get what they want.

4. We must respect each other. Unity and community are not a thing of the past. In fact, African Americans coined the phrase “unity in the community.” We have to make a concerted effort to instill in our youth (whether we know them personally or not) that there is certain behavior that is unacceptable — and that killing your brother or sister is an extreme example of this unacceptable behavior.

5. We must fight poverty and we must fight any system that allows poverty. This is one of the chief causes of crime and violence. We cannot passively accept, or participate in, unjust economic systems that thrive on keeping a certain segment of society below the poverty line.

6. We must focus on better parenting. Many of our youth have little to no idea of what is right vs. wrong because they do not have responsible adults guiding them. As younger children they are taught that mischievous behavior is “cute” or worthy of being overlooked or handled lightly. This only perpetuates the misbehavior and adversely affects the structures/rules set by schools and greater society. This inevitably leads to trouble and the aforementioned frustration. We must learn to reprimand our children fairly and effectively and not be “scared” of DCFS or police intervention for being an active parent. Remember who the adult is and who the child is.

7. We must stop making excuses. The fact that we have multiple jobs, or work at night or on the weekends, does not exonerate us from being active parents to our children. In fact, it requires us to work even harder to be present and involved with our youth. The connection to our children, now more than ever, is of grand importance.

School is starting. Let’s pray that it’s a safe and positive one for our youth. And let each of us ask ourselves: Will I be a part of the solution or the problem?

 

An earlier version of this post appeared on UrbanFaith.com.

Chick-Fil-A Protestors: Please Stop Acting Like Morons

by: Aaron P. Taylor

…Okay, so I didn’t want to write a note about this. In fact, my goal was just to stay out of it altogether. But then I started reading more and more stupid comments from people about this issue, and felt the need to make my opinion on the subject heard.

There’s been a recent bru-ha-ha about comments the President of Chick-fil-a made during an interview with the Biblical Recorder in North Carolina (later reprinted by the Baptist Press). Prior to reading the actual comments made, the only thing I heard that could be gathered from it was that Dan Cathy and the Chick-fil-a company were against gay marriage. Frankly, I wasn’t surprised at this – Chick-fil-a’s been a company running on Christian values since it opened. What, you think their “closed on Sunday’s” policy is just to give the chicken an extra day to marinate?

What I couldn’t understand was why someone would come out and blatantly state this, knowing full well that gay people may actually go to their restaurants.  So, rather than listen to what everyone else was saying, I decided to find the actual article that started this whole thing.

And, as it turns out, my suspicions were correct: that’s NOT exactly what was said.

For those of you who don’t care to hear second-hand info, here’s a snippet from the article as it was written (click here to read the entire article):

Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” said Cathy when asked about the company’s position.

“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.

“We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that,” Cathy emphasized.

“We intend to stay the course,” he said. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

Let’s get a few things out the way here: first of all, nowhere in the ENTIRE ARTICLE do the words “gay,” “lesbian,” “transgender,” or “bisexual” appear. So, anyone who’s been saying that Mr. Cathy stated he was against gay marriage has been misquoting him.

Mr. Cathy’s statement was made when he was being interviewed by the Biblical Recorder, which one can assume is a CHRISTIAN organization. The website that posted the article, the Baptist Press, is also a CHRISTIAN organization who’s motto is “News With a Christian Perspective.” The Christian view of gay marriage is that it’s wrong. Therefore, companies built by Christians are going to have the same viewpoint.

Furthermore, nowhere in his answer did he say he hated or had any animosity towards the gay community. In fact, he didn’t even go into discussion about his company’s position on marriage – one that’s been well-known for YEARS – until he was asked about it. And even then, it wasn’t as if whatever answer he gave was going to be that shocking. Can all of you who are now suddenly against Chick-fil-a seriously tell me, based upon how they’ve operated all these years, that you’re really, REALLY all that shocked that Chick-fil-a would support what they consider to be the biblical definition of a “family unit?”

I’ll just come out and say it: gay people take comments WAY too seriously sometimes.

They assume Mr. Cathy’s comment is just about their community. It’s not. Look at the way it’s worded: “traditional family.” Their stance is not about NOT supporting gay marriage (though I’m sure it’s not exactly something they’re looking to throw money at to support either). It’s about supporting the things and values they feel make for the healthiest family environment.

Their statement, if delved into more deeply, means they’re also against the following:

*Kids growing up in single-parented households

*Parents wanting to get divorced

*Families that constantly abuse themselves, each other, or others

*Incest relationships

*Families where the parents live together but aren’t married to each other

*Devil-worshipping families

It would be against the mission statement of the company – not to mention their image – if they decided to say “screw it” and show support for any and everything that goes against the nature of what their actual values are. If they are claiming to be a company based upon Christian values, supporting certain things – like the list above, as well as gay marriage – would be more harmful to them in the long run.

This is not to say these types of elements are not allowed to enter their restaurantsHowever, if their vision of what a “healthy family unit” is consists of households with a mom, a dad, a few kids and some grandparents, they have the right to support that vision.  They’re not discriminating against other types of families who come into their restaurant, but at the same time they shouldn’t have to feel the need to bend and/or change their views of what they feel a healthy family unit is just to make one group of people happy. In fact, if they DID do that now, it would be worse.

Before I finish this article up, I feel I should add something: I know someone is going to read this and want to comment with the response: “But Aaron, you’re Black! You should empathize with how gays would feel about this issue! How would you feel if they said they only support the idea of White marriages?”

First off, please stop comparing the gay struggle to the civil rights struggle. It’s not the same thing: Blacks were taken from their homeland, sold into slavery, separated from their loved ones, whipped, demoralized, pit against each other, and had to fight to get even an ounce of freedom and recognition as citizens. Tommy having to “struggle” about whether to tell his friends he likes boys is NOT a comparable situation.

More importantly: a company’s opinion about what they view a true marriage to be doesn’t concern me. What concerns me is how they treat me when I go into their establishment. Reality check: many, MANY businesses in this country were started and/or still ran by people who have views on things that are against my viewpoint. If I stopped supporting each one who had an “opinion” different from mine, I’d be walking around butt naked with no electronic devices or apartment to speak of.

Bottom line: if you liked Chick-fil-a before, don’t let Mr. Cathy’s sudden “shocking” statement about his company’s views on marriage stop you from eating there. You were eating there the day before you heard about him making the statement, but the company’s opinion has been public knowledge for YEARS. Suck it up, get your eat on, and make sure you order their lemonade when you do.

Aaron P. Taylor is a graduate of Hampton University. He currently resides in Los Angeles, CA, where he works as a film editor, creative consultant and writer. You can read more of his articles at www.1001ThingsToBeThankfulFor.com

Normalizing Homosexuality (pt 3)

Examining the Drastic Changes in Public Opinion—The 2000s

When Rosie O’Donnell came out in 2002 and became a spokesman for gay rights, public opinion shifted again. More people felt liberated by the caliber of celebrities coming out and the people started coming out of closets everywhere. The philosophical discussion around homosexuality also shifted. Do gay people have rights? Should they be allowed to marry? Should they be allowed to adopt children? Is homosexuality the civil rights issue of the new millennium? Interestingly, can you see how such questions subtly imply the acceptability of homosexuality generally, but the specifics within the “lifestyle” are up for debate?

We can’t forget JL King’s book, On the Downlow in 2004. “Down low” was no longer associated with the R. Kelly 1996 hit song talking about a secret (heterosexual) affair, but became a new term used to describe the anomaly of “straight” Black men who secretly had sex with other men, but didn’t classify themselves as gay. Society considered him as an authority because he was a Black man living the secret life he wrote about. As a consequence, the level of suspicion rose among different sects of the Black community against Black men.

Perhaps as a response the heightened suspicions, during this time period phrases like “pause” and “no homo” became very popular. “No homo” was used to preface a statement that may sound or be interpreted as homosexual, but is not. “No homo” is like a disclaimer people used so they would not be mis-taken as homosexual based on their comment. Soon after “no homo” came on the scene, “pause” was erected…no homo. LOL! If a man said something to another man that sounded homosexual in nature, the man hearing the message would have to say, “pause” to encourage the speaking man to think about what he said and say it another way to remove the homosexual suggestion. They not only showed a concerted effort of people attempting to distance themselves from being associated with homosexual before making a statement, it also indicated how homosexuality colored and influenced the mentalities of the masses.  Language and definitions changed. Symbols changed. The general sense of humor changed. Popular culture changed. Advertisements changed. Everything, in a real sense, has been affected by homosexuality.

In 2006, I distinctly remember controversy surrounding the book, King and King by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland. An elementary school teacher read the book to her class in Lexington, MA when talking about weddings. There was an uproar around the fact that parents were not notified and that children were being influenced to accept homosexuality as normal. But parents would not be able to stop the other forms of media as it injected ideas of homosexuality to an impressionable generation of children.

From the middle of the first decade in the 21st century, to now, so much has happened. I don’t know everything, but here is a short list of things that I remember. Feel free to comment and add what you remember and I have left out.

In 2004 Governor (New Jersey) James McGreevey resigns over gay affair.

In 2006, pastor and spokesman against homosexuality, Ted Haggard, is involved in a mega-scandal where he is accused of sexual relationships with a male prostitute.

In 2007, at the MTV Video Music Awards, Brittney Spears and Madonna. Also in 2007, John Amaechi made history as being the first (former) NBA player to be an admitted homosexual.

In 2008, Wanda Sykes came out of the closet (rather loudly) at a rally in Las Vagas protesting Proposition 8. Katy Perry, A preacher’s kid, became an overnight sensation with her hit “I Kissed A Girl.” Clay Aiken came out later in the year.

In 2010, there was a lot of talk about My Princess Boy—a book inspired by real events about a 4-year-old Black boy who enjoys dressing up like a princess (to see more books similar to this, click here)

Late in 2010 and into 2011, Eddie Long, mega pastor and outspoken preacher against homosexuality faces accusations of sexual immorality with teenage boys.

In 2012, GLADD demands that CNN fire Roland Martin over controversial tweet that “encouraged violence against gay men.”

In May, President Barak Obama made headlines when he openly affirmed his support for same sex marriages and more recently Josh Dixon trying to make gay history by becoming the first out male gymnast on the US men’s Olympic gymnastic team, and the coming out of Anderson Cooper and Frank Ocean.

Next post: Formula to Normalize Homoxexuality

Normalizing Homosexuality (pt 2)

Examining the Drastic Changes in Public Opinion—The 1990s

In the early 1990s, I remember RuPaul getting a lot of attention in entertainment news. While I had seen Jamie Foxx portray “Wanda” on In Living Color, and Martin portray “Sheneneh” on The Martin Lawrence Show, and even heard about Flip Wilson’s portrayal of “Geraldine,” I never knew of any Black men so serious about dressing up like a woman they would make a career out of it. RuPaul’s appearance in the 1990s introduced the concept of a national figure (in my day) who didn’t care about what other people thought about his choices. While his presence was liberating to some, for the most part, homosexuality was still seen as unacceptable.

Later, during my high school years, I remember philosophies starting to change. I don’t know if I can put my finger on why, but it seemed like people were becoming more open-minded. In the black community, when rumors surfaces that certain celebrities were gay, I remember people saying they didn’t care what others did in the privacy of their bedrooms, as long as they didn’t approach them… For the first time, I also remember there being an intellectual debate around homosexuality. Where as in the past, the Bible was enough evidence to support the immorality of homosexuality, it became insufficient in philosophical  debates that argued that homosexuality was natural, and that animals exhibited homosexual behavior. The argument that homosexuality was nature and not nurture was prevalent and talks of a “gay gene” promoted the idea that people are born gay. It was also during this time that homosexuality became a “lifestyle.” Historical Black figures like James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin, and Angela Davis were presented as evidence that homosexuality had been in the Black community for a long time.

I think Ellen Degeneres was one of the first famous people to come out of the closet. And when she did, she made waves. As I recall, the waves were not all waves of disapproval. Yes, her show was canceled later (some may say because of her falling ratings that resulted in her sexuality), but her coming out had a ripple effect that did not only influence other celebrities to come out of their own closets, it also shifted public opinion as a whole. We will see more of this as we make our way into the new millennium.

 

What do you remember about the public opinion of homosexuality from the 90s?

Next post: Examining the Drastic Changes in Public Opinion—The 2000s

Normalizing Homosexuality (pt 1)

You see evidence of it everywhere. You can’t miss it- even if you try. You may like it, hate it, dismiss it, or even applaud it; but one thing you can’t do is ignore it. The campaign to normalize homosexuality is real.

Let me be clear: I do not aim to be offensive. I use the word normalize to convey the dramatic shift in public opinion about the matter in just a few decades. My intentions for writing and sharing these ideas are four: 1) to examine the drastic change in public opinion, 2) to explore the potential motivation of the unseen parties behind (what I’ll call) the gay agenda, 3) to publish One Black Man, Inc. survey results on homosexuality and 4) to introduce (insert) my personal thoughts into the discussion about homosexuality and Black manhood.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the notion of same-gender sexual relationships, we can all agree that there are more people today who identify themselves as homosexual than 20 years ago. We can also agree that media depictions of homosexual relationships have increased exponentially and that upcoming generations are more tolerant of “alternative lifestyles.”  Upon noticing these observations, I wondered what other people thought of the matter. I decided to conduct some research of my own. Before we get into the results, however, I want to take a quick look at the morphing of the views of homosexuality in my short lifetime.

Examining the Drastic Changes in Public Opinion—The 1980s

When I was growing up in the 80s, homosexuality was taboo. People accused of being gay were ridiculed with names like sissy, faggot, and queer. There was a degree of shame and embarrassment associated with homosexuality, and nobody wanted to be linked with such behaviors or labels. AIDS was also connected with homosexuality on a large scale. Looking back at Oprah’s 1987 coverage of AIDS in Williamson, West Virginia, one can not only see how ignorant the American public was concerning the disease, but how vehemently opposed to the homosexual lifestyle most Americans were at the time.

 

 

Next post: The 1990s