Monday, May 30, 2011

Are You Serious?

There must be someone who can tell me why the label/sticker is kept on and under the brim of a popularly marketed baseball cap. I've polled young men repeatedly and have in most cases received the answer "I don't know." One told me that it made the cap "official." 

When I asked according to who? I was once again told, 
"I don't know."   One told me that it makes the cap always appear "new."  

Folks, are our self esteems so low that we need a marketing sticker to make us feel good?  Do we really need to be validated by a sticker that says "59 Fifty 7 1/4?"  In my mind this keeping the label on the cap is another example of how we can be sheep and the funny thing is these folks really think they are being unique when in reality they are being the same. The folks who are being unique are the ones who take the sticker off and wear the caps properly.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Is There Such A Thing As A White Standard of Behavior?

I am currently reading Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by the late Manning Marable, and as I was reading, I came across two passages in the book that brought me to the question in the title of this blog post, Is There Such a Thing As A White Standard of Behavior? To set the stage, Mr. Marable is describing life in the 1930’s and 1940’s and in his description he talks about the clothing and music that had become popular during that time. The two passages that caught my attention were as follows:

“Similarly, the zoot suit uniform was an act of defiance against white standards of behavior.” (page 45)

“Like the zoot-suiters, beboppers implicitly rejected assimilation into standards established by whites and were contemptuous of the police and the power of the U.S. government over black people’s lives. Both sought to carve out identities that blacks could claim for themselves.” (page 63)
For years the question has plagued me concerning why we [African Americans] do some of the things that we do. I am speaking particular of things that just don’t make sense such as sagging pants; caps worn in every way accept the way in which it was made; taking derogatory terms such as “nigger” and thinking we are redefining it by our use instead of a Caucasian person using it; using Ebonics and slang; not getting our education; wearing our boots/sneakers untied; wearing raggedy clothing such as ripped jeans; and the list goes on and on. Supposedly all of this is done to create our own individual and unique “identity,” which made the Marable passages leap off of the page at me.

I’ve asked this question in other blog posts as well concerning how silly are we [African Americans] willing to look in order to create this individual and unique identity? The Marable passages helped me to see clearer what I believe that we believe we are doing when we are doing some of the silly stuff that I see on a day in and day out basis and that is we truly believe that we are defying this alleged “white standard of behavior.” In too many of our [African American] minds we truly believe that there is such a thing as a white standard of behavior opposed to just a standard of excellence that is a standard for everyone regardless of what color, race, or creed that we are. That’s where this notion of someone who speaks well is seen as “talking white,” or someone who does something in an excellent manner as “acting white.” The last time I looked, doing something in its correct manner does not have a color, race or creed associated with it. You either do it in an excellent manner or you don’t. Wearing pants with your underwear showing is not symbolic of excellence. Dummying one’s self down because you don’t think it is cool to be smart is not symbolic of excellence. What are African Americans who tell other African Americans that they talk or act white saying about African Americans? Are they saying that African Americans ought to be illiterate and do things ass-backwards? Do we really think about what we are saying when we say that to each other? Secondly, the statement gives too much credit to White people. Who says that doing something in a correct, proper or excellent manner is only done by White People? Yet that is what the  "You speak or act white” statement says.

That’s why Mr. Marable’s words describing the 1930’s and 1940’s made me wonder if that is what we call ourselves [African Americans] doing (showing defiance against white standards of behavior and rejecting assimilation into standards established by whites) and if so, to what lengths are we willing to go particularly when we are making ourselves [African Americans] look like fools. We are not looking unique,we are looking like fools. So the question is, is there such a thing as a white standard of behavior or is it just a standard of behavior to achieve excellence?

Why not defy this so called white standard (if exists) by surpassing it? Surpassing it educationally; surpassing it behaviorally; surpassing it financially; surpassing it in responsibility. No, instead we defy it by sagging our pants, twisting our caps with the stupid little label still affixed to the brim , calling women bitches and hoes (whores), dropping out of school, etc. etc. etc.

Now I know there are some brothers (and perhaps sisters) out there who will challenge me and even try to argue that we [African Americans] ought to be able to act anyway we want. After all we were brought to this country against our will in chains and on the slave ships. As sure as you are reading this (if you have read this far) there will be some brother(or sister) out there looking to condone our [ African Americans] irresponsible behavior thinking he/she is indeed defying this “white standard of behavior,” while in the meantime we are falling further and further behind in every category. Oh and now the brother will say that it is by design that we are falling behind. I know the arguments, I hear them all of the time, yet the fact of the matter is, for the most part African Americans have the highest numbers in anything negative and the lowest numbers for anything positive and it does not have to be. In many instances we are our own worst enemy. So I don’t know about you but if there is such a thing as a “white standard of behavior,” I am looking as an African American male to go way beyond it; however, I don’t think a “white standard of behavior” exists and that there is only a standard of excellence that applies to us all regardless of color race or creed. More to critically think about and as always I welcome your thoughts in the comment section of the blog.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

BEWARE - The Taking Of Your Life Is Not An Issue

When are we going to learn that it is not worth it?. We are no longer in the day of "shooting the one" and "may the best man win." Even when you think you have won; you've lost. Now the loser goes back and either comes back with a weapon or a gang of friends and relatives to beat you down because you "won." In too many instances the biggest loser is the winner, hence the story below.  Sometimes (probably most times) it's better to "shut up" and keep it moving.  It's not about being a "punk" or a "wuss," it's about being around to see another day.  Let's face it, it is no longer an issue that your life can be taken. Folks would just assume kill you now than look at you.  Also notice these things tend to happen in the wee hours of the morning, i.e. 2:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m., 4:00 a.m. etc. etc.  and are usually at some "party" or club.  Young people (and old), it's not like it was 30, 40, 50 and 60 years ago.  Lives are being taken senselessly.  Take my advice and be quiet, stay home and learn not to argue because it is not worth your life or mine. Use your head. As the old adage says, "The life you save may be your own."  Something else to critically think about.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
The Record
PATERSON – A 17-year-old boy needed emergency surgery early Saturday morning after he was struck in the head during an altercation with an unknown assailant, police said. Police believe Diego Gonzalez, 17, was in a verbal argument, which ended in the attack, at about 2 a.m. Saturday morning outside the Father English Community Center on Main Street, Capt. Heriberto Rodriguez said. Gonzalez was taken to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson where he received emergency surgery. His condition is being watch closely and doctors are still unsure if Gonzalez will survive, Rodriguez said. Police are searching for the attacker.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Go Up On The Third Limb Jazz CD available at and

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Does This Make Sense To You?

There is no one is the world that can make me believe that this makes sense. There is no argument or justification in the world that can make me believe that this makes sense.
 Not one...........

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Is It A Case Of A Pot Calling A Pot A Pot?

Reaction to Rashard Mendenhall’s Twitter posts is exactly why The Critical Thinker was birthed. To provide a brief overview, Mr. Mendenhall posted on Twitter his thoughts on the reactions of many people on the death of Osama Bin Laden. One of his posts read as follows: “What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side….” Well Mr. Mendenhall was lambasted and harshly criticized for his views. He has even lost endorsements over it.

I totally understand the sensitivity surrounding Osama Bin Laden and September 11, 2001 (I get that), but as The Critical Thinker, I have to agree with Mr. Mendenhall. I too questioned the need for “celebration” and “cheering” at the death of anyone. Conversely, I understand the emotions involved as to why someone could cheer or be happy, but the long and short of it is, the death of Osama Bin Laden will not bring back those we lost in the attack of 9/11.

We tend to love buzz words like “closure,” but can the loss of a loved one in such a horrific manner really be closed or brought to closure at the death of another individual? Is there really such a thing as justice because the perpetrator or mastermind is killed? Mr. Mendenhall states in his blog, “This controversial statement was something I said in response to the amount of joy I saw in the event of a murder. I don’t believe that this is an issue of politics or American pride; but one of religion, morality, and human ethics.” This critical thinker agrees. It is for the same reason that I am not a fan of the death penalty. Now don’t get me wrong , I am totally for guilty killers/murderers being dropped off on a deserted island without any provisions and no chance of ever reaching a mainland again and for them dying naturally when God gets ready, but not for another human killing another human and then calling it justice. What makes the lethal injector or the sharp shooter any different than the perpetrator? They have both committed the same act just under a different justification. This critical thinker just does not understand how the killing or the dying of anyone brings closure to someone who has lost someone through death. It would seem to me a slow suffering would bring more of a feeling of revenge than a quick death. (I know, I know, just the fact that they are gone from the earth) but what really does that do?

Mr. Mendenhall states, “I wasn’t questioning Bin Laden’s evil acts. I believe that he will have to face God for what he has done. I was reflecting on our own hypocrisy. During 9/11 we watched in horror as parts of the world celebrated death on our soil. Earlier this week, parts of the world watched us in horror celebrating a man’s death.” In other words, aren’t we a pot calling a pot a pot? When does someone stand up and say enough of this madness? Do we really think about what we do and say or are we just happy with sound bites and buzz words? We seem to always be so thrilled with words that sound good during an interview. That’s why the tag line for this blog is “For those who choose to move beyond the sound bite.” When are we going to move beyond the sound bite? Closure…………..

This critical thinker is an extremely proud American and my views like Mr. Mendenhall’s does not change our pride in America or our thankfulness that we are Americans; however, because we are Americans we have just as much right to express our views as those who felt so comfortable with cheering and celebrating the death of another human being. For the record I felt the same way when Saddam Hussein was executed. Killing is killing no matter how you slice it (I will talk about the issue of water boarding torture tactics in another post)

Lastly, Mr. Mendenhall ended his blog post with the line that inspired me to write this post when he said, “It [his statement] was only meant to encourage anyone reading it to think.” As the Critical Thinker I could not agree with him more. As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments in the comment section of the blog.