Thursday, July 29, 2010

Women/Ladies, You Have More Power Than You Realize

No men, I am not PW’d or a punk or a wuss or anything else, but I do know what motivates most men and that’s women. The men can talk all of the crap they would like, but the bottom line is most things that men do are to attract the attention of females. It ranges from everything from the car they drive to the tie that they wear. (Dog, I let the secret out….)

This edition of The Critical Thinker throws out a challenge to the ladies/women (never know which term to use or which one might be seen as offensive), and that is to stop paying any attention to the brothers/men who sag. If every woman/lady were to do this, sagging would stop. Ladies/Women, stop helping brothers/men think it is cool or sexy to show their boxers; sagging will stop. Women/Ladies, stop dealing with brothers/men who listen to hip-hop/rap that contain lyrics that call you bitches and whores; lyrics will change. If every woman would do this, sales would plummet and lyrics would be changed. Stop giving your affections and adoration to brothers/men who buy and download music that degrades you. Ladies/Women stop helping a brother believe that the “Thug” Look is the look that woos you. Tell him to fix his teeth, wear his clothes the way they were designed to be worn or they can’t deal with you and watch how quickly broken teeth get fixed, gold teeth disappear and clothes get worn correctly.

I encourage every young lady/woman who is in school that I know to ask for the males’ report card before she even thinks about giving the digits (Now this does not mean the female must not come correct as well). If every female would do this, watch how quickly the young men would start EARNING A’s. My point is this; since (for the most part) male behavior patterns are developed to attract females, the females have more power then they realize (I am not talking about lording this power or getting haughty or stuck up because of the power), but I am talking about using this influence to make the world a better place. If you as a female exhibit some self discipline and self control in terms of having to have a “man at any cost," our world would change. I challenge you to take this critical thinker’s test. Raise your standard(s). Share the idea with some more sisters/ladies/women. Test the theory. Spread the word about how you are now going to seek some higher standards out of the men that you deal with and watch (slowly but surely) how sagging will be a thing of the past; Thug life will diminish and the lyrics will no longer refer to you as a “bitch,” or a “ho” (whore). Take me up on my challenge and please do let me know in the comment section how you have made out. This critical thinker would love to hear your thoughts. Who knows you may be helping to save some man/brother's life. As always, I welcome your commentary.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Time Will Bring You In

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to serve as the organist (This Critical Thinker is also a musician) at my cousin’s former husband’s memorial service. Ironically, I was also the organist for their wedding twenty-seven years ago. Even though their marriage ultimately ended in divorce and I lost touch with Keith, I have fond memories of our times spent together and shared them during the memorial service.

As I sat at the memorial service it dawned on me that I have been to several funerals over the last two years of friends and family members who are the same or very close in age to me. People who I have played Monopoly with; gone on trips with; been in their weddings; attended church with; shared dinners with; etc. etc. What came to my mind as I sat at the memorial service was a story my mother would tell me about her baby brother when they were children. She would tell me with great laughter of how she and her brothers and friends would play church under the tree in Bolivia, North Carolina and how her brother would play the “preacher,” while his friends played the deacons and amen corner. She would say how his favorite sermon title was “Time Will Bring You In.” So as I sat there looking at the urn on Saturday which contained Keith’s ashes, I thought about how indeed time will bring you in and the fact that time is bringing every one of us in.

I was extremely proud of Keith’s two children Whitney and Chase who despite the fact that their parents were divorced thought it not robbery to give their father a ceremony to commemorate the fact that he had existed on the planet. Regardless of what was done or not done in life, they still felt the need to show their father respect even in his death.

Unlike many of The Critical Thinker submissions, this one is more personal as I am encouraging everyone who is reading these words to tell your family and friends that you love them while you still have time. Make peace; forgive; love each other and do whatever you need to do while your loved one is alive. Once we get to the memorial service or funeral, it is too late to talk about how much the person was loved or will be missed. The time is now to spend time, to let bygones be bygones and to let people know that you love them and give them an opportunity to let you know that you are loved. We must learn to be okay with life not turning out like we had planned... and instead plan to love and accept life as it turns out. Gandhi says "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." Without running the risk of sharing too much information (TMI), I am constantly trying to get that message across to my own two daughters who are going to mess around and let something happen to me or other of their family members before they realize that it will be too late at the funeral. I encourage everyone along with my daughters to tell your loved ones that you love them for certainly time is bringing us all in. Something to critically think about and as always, I welcome your comments in the comment section of the blog.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cavalier Fans Want to Pay Dan Gilbert's $100,000 Fine. Critical Thinkers, Does This Make Sense To You?

After being hit with a $100,000 fine for his ode to anger, Gilbert received an offer of his own from some Clevelanders who totally agree with everything he said, if not his font choice. From the Associated Press:

Critical Thinkers does this make sense to you?  I would be willing to bet that most of these fans are barely at poverty level and yet they are willing to pay the fine of a millionaire. In my view, there just in not that much "fan" in the world. Now if this makes sense to you, I really would love to read your comments.  Please be sure to respond in the comment section of this blog. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

We Must Stop Making Martyrs Out Of Thugs

Like popping a DVD in the DVD player for the hundredth time and watching your favorite movie over and over again, we witnessed the ruling in the Oscar Grant case. It was not our favorite movie. Unfortunately, as the script seems to always call for, an African American male was shot by a Caucasian police officer. Now, I know many of you readers expect me to take up the cause of Mr. Grant, particularly since I am an African American male also; however, in this writing, I will not do that because I need us to really focus on connecting our decisions to possible consequences. There is no doubt the Grant family has my sympathy for the loss of their loved one. In fact, a part of me grieves as well just knowing that another brother is dead that did not have to be, but what we must look at are the events that lead to Mr. Grant’s death, and I am not talking about his last days when he was turning his life around and talking about his job and his daughter, etc. etc. There were some bad choices that were made early on that contributed to Mr. Grant suffering the consequences that he did. He was not a stranger to the police or the court system. Guy Finley has a brilliant quote concerning our choices and our consequences that says “We have freedom of choice, but not from the consequences of those choices.” Yes, Mr. Grant had freedom of choice his entire life; however, he did not have freedom from the consequences that followed those choices. Mr. Grant is not alone, hence the reason for this issue of The Critical Thinker.
In far too many cases we are ready to defend and glorify bad and wrong behavior to the extent of making martyrs of thugs. The inspiration for this blog came from Sistas, Divest, Now, also known as (AKA) BlowTheTrumpet on Twitter   (,) where the author is facing multiple issues from respondents concerning her position on the death of Mr. Grant. Many of the responders (like many of you will do after reading this) were criticizing her for her position concerning this glorification of thugary or thug life when a thug is killed. Not only was she criticized for her position but was also criticized differently as a woman with her point of view compared with a man who shares the same view. There was some sexism going on there too.

There is no question that EVERY life ought to be thought of as precious; however, the time to start seeing life as precious is not when one has lost it. To add fuel to the fire when it involves an African American and a Caucasian, we immediately begin deifying the African American even if he/she is a thug or thugette and vilifying the Caucasian making the thug or thugette a martyr. They are not martyrs. It is usually a case of being where you are not supposed to be in the first place. In Bill Cosby’s Pound Cake Speech, he asks a wonderful question hence the name of the speech. “What were you doing with the pound cake in your hand to begin with?” That’s what always seems to get overlooked when Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jessie Jackson are called. What were you doing stealing that car? What were you doing raping that woman? What were you doing breaking into that house? And on and on and on. We never go back to the root, and because we never go back to root, we keep coming up with the same old sad story like popping a DVD in the DVD player of a movie you love and watching over and over again, except this is not a movie we love. These are the lives of our people. Michael Conliffe, an author who has done the thug life and was fortunate enough to get out before he got “got” is doing everything he can to spread the word about our choices and consequences. For all of the wannabee thugs, I recommend reading his book Hotter Than The Streetlife from Mr. Conliffe will be the first to tell you that the thug life leads to two places; death or jail.

I close this with a true story that happened as I was writing this. I am sitting outside on my porch and three young boys ran past me playing “shoot-um up” with cap pistols. Calling each other nigga and pointing the pistols at each other (some at close range) and firing the cap gun. The sound is real. I called the boys over and asked them do they realize how many people get killed in Paterson every year by gun violence and they shook their head yes (they don’t know) and I asked them, and you are still willing to play with toy guns? They walked away thinking. One of the little boys said “Is that your uncle?” and I yelled back, “No just someone who is interested in our young men staying alive. “ We must stop making martyrs out of thugs and help our young and old people connect their decisions with their consequences. I end with Guy Finley’s quote “We have freedom of choice, but not from the consequences of those choices.” When you get a chance check out some of the lyrics to “Thug Life” songs. I welcome your commentary.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What does Lindsey Lohan and Lebron James Have In Common?

MY LEVEL OF INTEREST!   The following excerpt from  the sitcom Frasier,  tremendously illustrates my point. I really could not have said it any clearer myself.

- A caller (Roger) wants Frasier to help him decide whether he should call his boat 'Lulubelle' or 'The Intrepid':

  Frasier: "Roger, at Cornell University they have an incredible piece of scientific equipment known as the tunneling electron microscope. Now, this microscope is so powerful that by firing electrons you can actually see images of the atom, the infinitesimally minute building blocks of our universe. Roger, if I were using that microscope right now... I still wouldn't be able to locate my interest in your problem. Thank you for your call."

If I had that tunneling electron microscope of which Frasier speaks, not even it would be able to locate my level of interest in where Lebron James plays basketball or if Lindsey Lohan goes to jail or not. You can rest assured there will be at least one television that will not be tuned in tonight to Lebron's television special announcing his decision to the world and as for Lindsey, the judge did her a favor. I welcome your response.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What Are You Pumping Into Your Spirit?

A couple of weeks ago me along with the eighth grade teachers were chaperoning the school’s eighth grade dinner dance (I refuse to call it a prom because proms are for those who have completed the requirements to graduate high school) and the disc jockey (DJ) was playing one thug rap song after another. The students (who really don’t know how to have a good time) were just standing around huddled up into a crowd in the center of the dance floor and seemed to be confused as to whether to dance or not. They literally looked like a football team in a huddle when they were supposed to be dancing.

At that point one of the chaperons said, I’m sitting here listening to this music and for some reason I am feeling angry. She wasn’t angry at anything or anyone but the music was causing her inner spirit to feel angry. She even said this music is making me feel angry. Note she did not say she was angry at the DJ for playing this type of music; she did not say she was angry with the music; she said the music was making her “feel” angry. My response to her was that this is what our students listen to on a constant and regular basis. It is this type of music that is being listened to when our kids are plugged-in to their IPODs and MP3 players and it is having the same effect on them that it had on this teacher that night. The music is making them feel angry and they then express that anger through fighting, cursing, name calling and bullying. (see The Psychology of Music Effects on Behavior, Intelligence, Learning, Pain and Health)

Conversely, on last Sunday I was driving along the Garden State Parkway on my way to Pleasantville, NJ (which was 112 mile drive from my home) and was listening to gospel music and began feeling really good. The exact opposite was occurring. I was listening to positive music and was feeling great wherein at the dinner dance we were listening to negative lyrics and were feeling angry.  It was at that point that I thought of the conversation with the teacher at the dinner dance inspiring me to write this blog entry.

We really must be conscious of what we allow into our spirits. We live in a time where we can literally shut ourselves off to the world by plugging a pair of mini stereo headphones into our ears. We can virtually shut out any surrounding sounds other than what is being pumped directly into our minds, bodies and souls from these IPOD’s and MP3 players. The words, rhythms, and instrumentation are going unfiltered into our spirits and we think that it does not affect us when in reality it does. Just as the chaperon described, it’s making us feel angry. Again rappers will say that it is “Art imitating life,” and again I will counter with it is “Art perpetuating a bad way of life.”

Parents and children be mindful of what you are letting into your spirit through music, as whatever you allow in will take control of your feelings which will in turn take control over your actions. The next time you are listening to a piece of music, check yourself to see how your are feeling.  As always, I welcome your opinions and commentary.