Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Small People? The Nerve!

"I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don't care. But that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people."  BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg

I start this edition of the Critical Thinker in a similar vein of my June 6 submission where I began with a question. I am sure some critical thinker out there reading this can tell me who the small people are. I am sure it is just me who could not figure that one out.  Just as I asked on June 6th “Who is ‘That Nigger?” (with the emphasis on “that”) in today’s edition I question, “Who are the small people?”

Sadly, I guess BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg didn’t realize that as soon as the words “small people” came out of his mouth, that bloggers, reporters, journalists, news anchors, and comedians around the world began having a field day. I am sure the writers for Leno and Letterman started doing cart wheels. Similar to the lob in volleyball or tennis, his words were just ripe for a slam. We small people ought to send that big person a thank you card. (Gee, I wonder how BP’s profits would look if the “small people” were to stop buying BP gasoline?)

The really sad part is the chairman had not a clue. What’s even sadder is he is not the only one. There are people right here in the United States who subscribe to the “small people” ideology as well. Don’t believe me?………Custodian; security guard; secretary; garbage collector; bus driver and countless other “just a” titles have the “small people” connotation in far too many minds. I say “just a” because I am sure you have heard…. oh he’s “just a” custodian, or she’s “just a” secretary, or that’s “just a” security guard and if you have not, I have. Those “just a” statements and thoughts are the same sentiments that Mr. Svanberg verbalized. Oh yes, make no mistake, many of us who are not struggling with English as a second language, also see people as big and small based on income and popularity when the truth of the matter is we are all just people. There is no such thing as big people and small people. That’s why I do not get carried away over “celebrities.” A celebrity is a person just as I am. You will never find me fawning over a singer, actor, athlete, author, etc. because I do not see him/her being any different from myself. The only difference is the fact that they are seen by more people and make more money; certainly two attributes that do not make them “Big,” in fact if you critically think about it, if there were no small, how could there be big? In other words if it were not for fools (uh I mean fans….(small) there would be no celebrity (big).

I have met many “celebrities” during my lifetime due to my travels, affiliations, and career moves and have yet to go berserk over any of them (Oh the stories I could tell of what I have seen people do and say when they are around “celebrities”). I am not impressed. I have taken photos with them and chatted with them (acknowledging my appreciation for how they have developed their craft), but never awestruck or to the point where “I’ll never wash my hand again because I shook the hand of……” or screaming and crying and all of that nonsense. They are people; however, because of this worship of people who have money, position or are seen by millions of other people, we get this phenomenon of big and small people. Have you ever really wondered why people get star-struck? I don’t ask for autographs, however, when I see people particularly children asking the so called “star” for his or her autograph and he/she blows them off as if they don’t matter, I am disheartened for the child. I guess they were too small of a person to sign their baseball or autograph book. Give me a break, please!!!

So in reality, Mr. Svanberg really just verbalized what many of us right here in America do every day, and that is to judge and label people who we feel perform menial, un-noteworthy tasks. I tell you this, let the “small people” stop doing what they do and watch how far any organization or culture progresses or succeeds. Let the custodians, security guards, secretaries, trash collectors, bus drivers, etc. etc. stop doing their work and see how far the organization goes. I leave you with a metaphorical fable that I am sure you critical thinkers can figure out. Just in case you can’t, I have labeled the representation of the “big people” and the “small people.”

All the organs of the body were having a meeting, trying to decide who was in charge.

The brain said: "I should be in charge, because I run all the body's systems, so without me nothing would happen." (BIG PEOPLE)

"I should be in charge," said the heart, "because I pump the blood and circulate oxygen all over the body, so without me you'd all waste away." (BIG PEOPLE)
"I should be in charge," said the stomach, "because I process food and give all of you energy." (BIG PEOPLE)
"I should be in charge," said the rectum, "because I'm responsible for waste removal." (SMALL PEOPLE)
All the other body parts laughed at the rectum and insulted him,(BIG PEOPLE) so in a huff, he shut down tight. (SMALL PEOPLE). Within a few days, the brain had a terrible headache, (BIG PERSON) the stomach was bloated (BIG PERSON) and the blood was toxic (BIG PERSON). Eventually the other organs gave in. (BIG PEOPLE). They all agreed (BIG PEOPLE) that the rectum (LITTLE PERSON) should be the boss.

The moral of the story is: We are ALL important and there are no small people; only small minds. As always, I welcome your commentary in the comment section of the blog.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

See and Say

Two of the best compliments I have received over the last couple of weeks came from a parent of a student at my school and the President/CEO of, Luisa Rosario. The parent told me that "I don’t play" and she wished that she had had a principal like me when she was in school and that if she had, she might have done better in school. At that point I knew I was heading in the right direction because this was a parent who in many instances fought me when I stood my ground in imparting high expectations and standards at the school. The second compliment came from Ms. Rosario when she was presenting me with an award for being one of the contributors to, an online magazine where you can also find me blogging. During her introduction of me she said, “He’s blunt, and when you see his articles, it is his writing and not mine.” I concurred with Luisa’s assessment wholeheartedly and thanked her for the compliment. Yes I am unashamedly blunt.
I share both of these scenarios with you because if we are going to progress, we will need people who see issues that need to be addressed and will say something about it and then take it a step further and do something about it. When I was a child there was a Mattel toy called See and Say that allowed toddlers and infants to pull a string or pull down a lever and whatever the large arrow in the center of the toy stopped on, the toy would say whatever the picture was that the arrow was pointing to hence the name "See and Say." New York currently has a slogan that says "If you see something; say something,” encouraging people to report suspicious activities. I must agree; If you see something, say something. Time is out for us being afraid and scared to address issues that are literally killing us mentally, physically and spiritually.

As we see mis-education, we have to say something. As we see boys and men walking around exposing their boxer shorts with their pants sagging, we have to say, “Pull them up.” As we see young girls and boys “sexting” on their cell phones, we have to say something. As we see boys and girls who think playing is hitting each other , we have to say something. As we see people littering by dropping their chip bags, gum wrappers, and McDonald’s bags on the street, we have to say something. As we see people talking on their cell phones while driving, endangering their lives and ours, we have to say something. As we see men wearing twisted caps in buildings such as schools and churches, we have to say something.

By now I think you get my point. To stand silent is to become a part of the problem. To stand silent is to condone the very behavior that you complain about to everyone else. To stand silent in the midst of all of this chaos will help the chaos to continue. So like the Mattel toy when you see something that needs to be addressed, don’t be afraid to say something. Say it and act upon it.  I end with a quote from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. where he says "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." I encourage you to don't let your life begin to end. More to critically think about and as always, I welcome your commentary.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I don’t know about you but as I listen to people talk as they walk along the street, or hang out with each other, and even from many of our youngsters, I too often hear them talking about “That Nigger.” “You should have seen That Nigger,” “Man I told That Nigger,” “I wish That Nigger would,” “That Nigger was bad,” and on and on and on about “That Nigger.” So I often find myself questioning who is “That Nigger?”

While it may seem that I am making light of this, the use of the word “Nigger” is a very serious issue. I don’t have to go into the history (at least I don’t think I do) of the word for one to know how serious of an issue it is. When I hear the word it does something to my ears…….like someone scraping his/her fingernails across a chalkboard, or the chalk squeaking on that same board. It hurts my ears to hear it and yet far too many of us just toss the word nigger around like it is nothing. We’ve even gotten so politically correct that we call it the “N” word. Enough is enough. We must stop pussy footing around and call it for what it is: we must stop using the word “Nigger”....... period. No soft –soaping; no different spellings (nigga, niggah,niggaz) ; no excuses about art imitating life (which is really art perpetuating bad life), etc. etc. etc. None of it! We must just stop using the word. It must be eradicated from our vocabulary. I even hear my Latino and Caucasian brothers talking about “That Nigger” with the irony of it all being that in many instances the conversation is with an African American. “Yo man, That Nigger crazy yo".......................

Historically African Americans are the only group that has taken a term that was meant to degrade us, and call themselves turning it cute; allegedly using it now as a “protest” to the fact that it was used to demean us. Ridiculous!!! Latinos are not running around talking about “That Spic,” nor are Italians running around talking about “That Guinea or That Wop” nor are Jews running around talking about "That Hymie.”  So I end this as I began with the question, can someone please tell me who "That Nigger" is?

Once again, something to critically think about. I welcome your response.

Why African Americans Must Use Twitter and Facebook Beyond Entertainment

A few weeks ago a report came out revealing that African Americans appear to spend a disproportionate amount of time on social networking sites such as facebook and twitter. Let me preface this edition of The Critical Thinker by saying that I truly want to see all people of all races progress and do well in life; in fact, it’s one of the reasons I surface the topics that I do in The Critical Thinker. I want us all to THINK!! It’s one of the reasons I created the Critical Thinker to begin with. However, as an African American, like anyone else, I pay particularly close attention to what impacts my heritage and background. This does not diminish or take away from any other ethnic group, but again, like anyone else I have a vested interest in what happens to and about my ethnic group which happens to be African American. If I were Irish and born with this same mindset, I would be the same way; the same holds true for if I were born Latino, Caucasian, Asian or any other ethnicity with the mindset that I have.

I say all of that to say, that if the issues I write about tends to be targeted towards or about African Americans, the message can be applied to anyone regardless of their background. Now back to African Americans seemingly using social networks more than other group. Facebook and Twitter are awesome TOOLS if intelligently used. I say intelligently because I would be willing to gamble that the majority of the usage by African Americans that the report is referring to is for entertainment purposes. As African Americans, we must move beyond the entertainment value of dynamic tools such as Facebook and Twitter and use them for our betterment both educationally and financially. The same holds true for the television or the computer. We have to do more than just look to be made to laugh, crack jokes, curse, show off our pictures (because we are so stuck on ourselves), track who is screwing who (both literally and figuratively), and all of the other mindless activities that really don’t matter. Interestingly enough, similar studies have found that African Americans watch more television than any other group. What are we (African Americans) doing during all of these hours of watching television, being on Facebook , and being on Twitter? If we are mindlessly using these tools as passive activities to slowly suck the life out of our brains, then shame on us. If they are nothing more than brain drains, then once again, shame on us.

I must admit, I really had nothing for Facebook and Twitter to do until I realized how they could be used to help me improve myself and promote my radio show. Through these two tools I have been able to do everything from book guest authors on my show to ascertaining a commencement speaker for my school’s eighth grade graduation. Once I figured out the value of these sites beyond entertainment, I was hooked. I also use these mediums as another way to educate others. My postings are not just about what a good time I had at a barbecue, but are about educational items of interest that followers and friends may not have known or may have their curiosity piqued to the point of wanting to find out more about the topic. I also look for postings that are educational. Both Facebook and Twitter can be wonderful educational tools; however, just like TV and the internet, it will become a haven for passivity instead of challenge if not used wisely. (Hey this is the Critical Thinker; what do you want?) Everything we do cannot be just about entertainment. It amazes me the lengths we will go to for entertainment. As I make my away around the city, I am stupefied at how many satellite dishes can hang on a roof that is in deep disrepair. “I don’t have roof, but I have cable or dish TV.” How pathetic is that? I am not knocking entertainment per se, however, a balance must be struck and in too many instances reports are coming out that African Americans are out of balance and are too heavily weighted on the entertainment side with the scale hanging in the air on the educational or intellectual side. That is why Bill Cosby’s Pound Cake Speech (See Critical Thinker Pound Cake Anyone?) is so critical and so true. I am sure there will be those who will be more than willing to give me flak about the commentary I have made with this entry, but once again, I do not care. We will not move forward until enough of us are willing to take a stand and call things for what they are. We must call a spade a spade (no pun intended). We cannot keep making excuses for African Americans being down (or for any group for that matter). We have the tools to make things happen if we use them in an intelligent, efficient and effective manner. In 2010 we can get in touch with anyone anywhere in the world and in many cases regardless of how much of a celebrity he/she is or thinks he/she is; he/she will respond back. I have been able to contact the rich and the famous through Facebook and Twitter to take care of business; not just follow who is with who this week and their latest escapades. We must learn to maximize the many tools that we have at our disposal and stop wasting time on meaningless chatter and gossip. As always, I welcome your thoughts in the comment section of the blog.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pound Cake Anyone?

This blog entry stems from my reading the introduction to the book written by Juan Williams, ENOUGH where in his introduction, Mr. Williams references a speech by Bill Cosby known as the “Pound Cake Speech.” I’ve known of Mr. Cosby’s thoughts in other speeches; however I was not aware of the “Pound Cake Speech” in its entirety. I read the speech and felt compelled to re-share it with the world once again in my blog The Critical Thinker (for those who may have missed it like I did), because Mr. Cosby was lambasted by well known and unknown African Americans for his remarks. The sad fact of the matter is, every bit of what Mr. Cosby said is true. Every bit! I am re-sharing this with the world because in this particular case I stand with Bill Cosby and I am willing to be lambasted as well for siding with the truth.

African Americans will never move forward and take their rightful place in society until ALL (did I say all?) of these issues raised by Mr. Cosby are dealt with and addressed. Rev. William D. Watley has penned a book that pretty much sums up what African Americans are going to have to do if they are to truly move forward and it is entitled, YOU HAVE TO FACE IT TO FIX IT. We must face our issues and deal with them; not chastise and ridicule the messenger. I stand with Bill Cosby on this one. If any of you who are reading this knows Mr. Cosby personally, please let him know that I support this speech 100%. Say what you will, I don’t care. Critical thinkers, I give you the Pound Cake Speech.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I really have to ask you to seriously consider what you've heard, and now this is the end of the evening so to speak. I heard a prize fight manager say to his fellow who was losing badly, “David, listen to me. It's not what's he's doing to you. It's what you're not doing. (laughter).

Ladies and gentlemen, these people set, they opened the doors, they gave us the right, and today, ladies and gentlemen, in our cities and public schools we have fifty percent drop out. In our own neighborhood, we have men in prison. No longer is a person embarrassed because they're pregnant without a husband. (clapping) No longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away from being the father of the unmarried child (clapping)

Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic and lower middle economic people are [not*] holding their end in this deal. In the neighborhood that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on. (clapping) In the old days, you couldn't hooky school because every drawn shade was an eye (laughing). And before your mother got off the bus and to the house, she knew exactly where you had gone, who had gone into the house, and where you got on whatever you had one and where you got it from. Parents don't know that today.

I'm talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was two? (clapping) Where were you when he was twelve? (clapping) Where were you when he was eighteen, and how come you don't know he had a pistol? (clapping) And where is his father, and why don't you know where he is? And why doesn't the father show up to talk to this boy?

The church is only open on Sunday. And you can't keep asking Jesus to ask doing things for you (clapping). You can't keep asking that God will find a way. God is tired of you (clapping and laughing). God was there when they won all those cases. 50 in a row. That's where God was because these people were doing something. And God said, “I'm going to find a way.” I wasn't there when God said it... I'm making this up (laughter). But it sounds like what God would do (laughter).

We cannot blame white people. White people (clapping) .. white people don't live over there. They close up the shop early. The Korean ones still don't know us as well...they stay open 24 hours (laughter).

I'm looking and I see a man named Kenneth Clark. He and his wife Mamie...Kenneth's still alive. I have to apologize to him for these people because Kenneth said it straight. He said you have to strengthen yourselves...and we've got to have that black doll. And everybody said it. Julian Bond said it. Dick Gregory said it. All these lawyers said it. And you wouldn't know that anybody had done a damned thing.

50 percent drop out rate, I'm telling you, and people in jail, and women having children by five, six different men. Under what excuse, I want somebody to love me, and as soon as you have it, you forget to parent. Grandmother, mother, and great grandmother in the same room, raising children, and the child knows nothing about love or respect of any one of the three of them (clapping). All this child knows is “gimme, gimme, gimme.” These people want to buy the friendship of a child....and the child couldn't care less. Those of us sitting out here who have gone on to some college or whatever we've done, we still fear our parents (clapping and laughter). And these people are not parenting. They're buying things for the kid. $500 sneakers, for what? They won't buy or spend $250 on Hooked on Phonics. (clapping)

A\Kenneth Clark, somewhere in his home in upstate New York...just looking ahead. Thank God, he doesn't know what's going on, thank God. But these people, the ones up here in the balcony fought so hard. Looking at the incarcerated, these are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then we all run out and are outraged, “The cops shouldn't have shot him” What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand? (laughter and clapping). I wanted a piece of pound cake just as bad as anybody else (laughter) And I looked at it and I had no money. And something called parenting said if get caught with it you're going to embarrass your mother. Not you're going to get your butt kicked. No. You're going to embarrass your mother. You're going to embarrass your family.

If knock that girl up, you're going to have to run away because it's going to be too embarrassing for your family. In the old days, a girl getting pregnant had to go down South, and then her mother would go down to get her. But the mother had the baby. I said the mother had the baby. The girl didn't have a baby. The mother had the baby in two weeks. (laughter) We are not parenting. Ladies and gentlemen, listen to these people, they are showing you what's wrong. People putting their clothes on backwards. –isn't that a sign of something going on wrong? (laughter)

Are you not paying attention, people with their hat on backwards, pants down around the crack. Isn't that a sign of something, or are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up (laughter and clapping ). Isn't it a sign of something when she's got her dress all the way up to the crack...and got all kinds of needles and things going through her body. What part of Africa did this come from? (laughter). We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans, they don't know a damned thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed and all that crap and all of them are in jail. (When we give these kinds names to our children, we give them the strength and inspiration in the meaning of those names. What's the point of giving them strong names if there is not parenting and values backing it up).

Brown Versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem. We've got to take the neighborhood back (clapping). We've got to go in there. Just forget telling your child to go to the Peace Corps. It's right around the corner. (laughter) It's standing on the corner. It can't speak English. It doesn't want to speak English. I can't even talk the way these people talk. “Why you ain't where you is go, ra,” I don't know who these people are. And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk (laughter). Then I heard the father talk. This is all in the house. You used to talk a certain way on the corner and you got into the house and switched to English. Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't land a plane with “why you ain't...” You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth. There is no Bible that has that kind of language. Where did these people get the idea that they're moving ahead on this. Well, they know they're not, they're just hanging out in the same place, five or six generations sitting in the projects when you're just supposed to stay there long enough to get a job and move out.

Now look, I'm telling you. It's not what they're doing to us. It's what we're not doing. 50 percent drop out. Look, we're raising our own ingrown immigrants. These people are fighting hard to be ignorant. There's no English being spoken, and they're walking and they're angry. Oh God, they're angry and they have pistols and they shoot and they do stupid things. And after they kill somebody, they don't have a plan. Just murder somebody. Boom. Over what? A pizza? And then run to the poor cousin's house. They sit there and the cousin says “what are you doing here?” “I just killed somebody, man.” “What?” “I just killed somebody, I've got to stay here.” “No, you don't.” “Well, give me some money, I'll go...” “Where are you going?” “North Carolina.” Everybody wanted to go to North Carolina. But the police know where you're going because your cousin has a record.

Five or six different children, same woman, eight, ten different husbands or whatever, pretty soon you're going to have to have DNA cards so you can tell who you're making love to. You don't who this is. It might be your grandmother. (laughter) I'm telling you, they're young enough. Hey, you have a baby when you're twelve. Your baby turns thirteen and has a baby, how old are you? Huh? Grandmother. By the time you're twelve, you could have sex with your grandmother, you keep those numbers coming. I'm just predicting.

I'm saying Brown Vs. Board of Education. We've got to hit the streets, ladies and gentlemen. I'm winding up, now , no more applause. I'm saying, look at the Black Muslims. There are Black Muslims standing on the street corners and they say so forth and so on, and we're laughing at them because they have bean pies and all that, but you don't read “Black Muslim gunned down while chastising drug dealer.” You don't read that. They don't shoot down Black Muslims. You understand me. Muslims tell you to get out of the neighborhood. When you want to clear your neighborhood out, first thing you do is go get the Black Muslims, bean pies and all (laughter). And your neighborhood is then clear. The police can't do it .

I'm telling you Christians, what's wrong with you? Why can't you hit the streets? Why can't you clean it out yourselves? It's our time now, ladies and gentlemen. It is our time (clapping). And I've got good news for you. It's not about money. It's about you doing something ordinarily that we do—get in somebody else's business. It's time for you to not accept the language that these people are speaking, which will take them nowhere. What the hell good is Brown V. Board of Education if nobody wants it?

What is it with young girls getting after some girl who wants to still remain a virgin. Who are these sick black people and where did they come from and why haven't they been parented to shut up? To go up to girls and try to get a club where “you are nobody..,” this is a sickness ladies and gentlemen and we are not paying attention to these children. These are children. They don't know anything. They don't have anything. They're homeless people. All they know how to do is beg. And you give it to them, trying to win their friendship. And what are they good for? And then they stand there in an orange suit and you drop to your knees, “(crying sound) He didn't do anything, he didn't do anything.” Yes, he did do it. And you need to have an orange suit on too (laughter, clapping).

So, ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for the award (big laughter) and giving me an opportunity to speak because, I mean, this is the future, and all of these people who lined up and done..they've got to be wondering what the hell happened. Brown V. Board of Education, these people who marched and were hit in the face with rocks and punched in the face to get an education and we got these knuckleheads walking around who don't want to learn English (clapping) I know that you all know it. I just want to get you as angry that you ought to be. When you walk around the neighborhood and you see this stuff, that stuff's not funny. These people are not funny anymore. And that 's not brother. And that's not my sister. They're faking and they're dragging me way down because the state, the city and all these people have to pick up the tab on them because they don't want to accept that they have to study to get an education.

We have to begin to build in the neighborhood, have restaurants, have cleaners, have pharmacies, have real estate, have medical buildings instead of trying to rob them all. And so, ladies and gentlemen, please, Dorothy Height, where ever she's sitting, she didn't do all that stuff so that she could hear somebody say “I can't stand algebra, I can't stand...and “what you is.” It's horrible.

Basketball players, multimillionaires can't write a paragraph. Football players, multimillionaires, can't read. Yes. Multimillionaires. Well, Brown V Board of Education, where are we today? It's there. They paved the way. What did we do with it. The white man, he's laughing, got to be laughing. 50 percent drop out, rest of them in prison.

You got to tell me that if there was parenting, help me, if there was parenting, he wouldn't have picked up the Coca Cola bottle and walked out with it to get shot in the back of the head. He wouldn't have. Not if he loved his parents. And not if they were parenting! Not if the father would come home. Not if the boy hadn't dropped the sperm cell inside of the girl and the girl had said, “No, you have to come back here and be the father of this child.” Not ..“I don't have to.”

Therefore, you have the pile up of these sweet beautiful things born by nature raised by no one. Give them presents. You're raising pimps. That's what a pimp is. A pimp will act nasty to you so you have to go out and get them something. And then you bring it back and maybe he or she hugs you. And that's why pimp is so famous. They've got a drink called the “Pimp-something.” You all wonder what that's about, don't you? Well, you're probably going to let Jesus figure it out for you (laughter). Well, I've got something to tell you about Jesus. When you go to the church, look at the stained glass things of Jesus. Look at them. Is Jesus smiling? Not in one picture. So, tell your friends. Let's try to do something. Let's try to make Jesus smile. Let's start parenting. Thank you, thank you." (clapping, cheers)