Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year and A Heartfelt Thanks from The Critical Thinker

To all of you, the readers of  The Critical Thinker and listeners of  The Reading Circle with Marc Medley, I would like to take this time to pause to wish you a blessed and prosperous New Year. May 2014 be your best year ever!  I also would like to take this time to truly thank you for reading The Critical Thinker and tuning in on Saturdays at 6 a.m. ET to gobrave.org (WP88.7 FM) to listen to The Reading Circle with Marc Medley. I am excited as you can expect more thought provoking topics to be posted in The Critical Thinker and more great guest authors on The Reading Circle with Marc Medley in 2014. Please share this post with your family and friends to make them aware of the existence of both The Critical Thinker and The Reading Circle and I invite you to follow along on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and @readingcircle01. Again have a great 2014 and I look forward to your continued support.

Monday, December 30, 2013

We Went Thru Hell Just 4 Yall 2 Kill Each Other?

The caption in the photo to the left really does say it all and is as many of us would call it "Real Talk." It is certainly a question to critically think about. Shooting incidences and murder rates in our urban areas are skyrocketing, not to mention the crazed incidences taking place on school campuses, movie theaters, shopping malls, and what now seems to be everywhere.

My recent posts to The Critical Thinker have been spotlighting the quality of life or lack thereof  in our society in 2013 as we head into 2014. Posts dealing with sick games such as the Knock Out game; the flagrant disrespect to ourselves and each other with the constant use of words such has "bitch" and "nigger" to describe ourselves and each other; the celebration of the aggressor in the "Sharkeisha" tragedy; the taking of Christ out of Christmas: and yes our needing to help our children connect the dots. In all of these posts I have attempted to awaken the consciousness of my readers. To set a fire if you will under us to step up to the proverbial plate to assist with the uplifting of mankind.

I was not a major fan of Rudulph Giuliani when he was mayor of New York City, however, I did agree with his premise of stemming the "small" quality of life (QOL) issues up front while continuously chipping away at the bigger issues. In my view the stemming of issues such as addressing each other as bitch and nigger is a small quality of life issue that feeds into our larger QOL issues. Issues such as rape, murder, burglary, etc. etc. It really boils down to the lack of self respect and respect for anyone else. With all of the violent crime that is taking place, it does beg the caption seen above. Have we gone through and are still going through all of this Hell just for folks to be constantly killing each other? Constantly seeing themselves and each other as bitches, niggers and whores? Constantly settling for mediocrity and less?  Listed below is a sad list of the top most dangerous neighborhoods in America according to NeighborhoodScout, a report produced by Location, Inc., a geographic research and data mining company born of university research, specializing in location analysis, demographic and school data information products, and location-based decision-making tools for businesses and consumers.
RankNeighborhoodViolent Crime Rate
(per 1,000)
My Chances of Becoming a Victim Here
(in one year)
Chicago, IL
(S Indiana Ave / E 60th St)
65.771 in 15
Tulsa, OK
(E Apache St / N Quaker Ave)
66.881 in 15
Memphis, TN
(Saint Paul Ave / Walnut St)
67.261 in 15
St. Louis, MO
(Cass Ave / N 9th St)
67.751 in 15
West Memphis, AR
(E Broadway St / Stuart Ave)
68.91 in 15
Indianapolis, IN
(North Indianapolis)
69.021 in 14
Flint, MI
(Chambers St / Stonegate Dr)
70.051 in 14
Nashville, TN
(8th Ave S / Wedgewood Ave)
70.591 in 14
Indianapolis, IN
(N Meridian St / E 34th St)
72.711 in 14
Chicago, IL
(S Ashland Ave / W 76th St)
73.051 in 14
Houston, TX
(Sauer St / Mcgowen St)
75.891 in 13
Rockford, IL
(Kishwaukee St / Grove St)
77.61 in 13
Chicago, IL
(S Homan Ave / W Roosevelt Rd)
80.171 in 12
St. Louis, MO
(Delmar Blvd / N Euclid Ave)
82.761 in 12
Memphis, TN
(E Eh Crump Blvd / S 4th St)
82.911 in 12
Saginaw, MI
(E Holland Ave / E Genesee Ave)
85.641 in 12
Atlanta, GA
(Hopkins St SE / Adair Ave SE)
86.141 in 12
Greenville, SC
86.381 in 12
Detroit, MI
(Wyoming St / Orangelawn St)
90.821 in 11
Houston, TX
(Scott St / Wilmington St)
91.271 in 11
Spartanburg, SC
(Washington Heights)
96.551 in 10
Chicago, IL
(S Halsted St / W 77th St)
116.561 in 9
Detroit, MI
(Gratiot Ave / Rosemary)
123.931 in 8
Detroit, MI
(Mack Ave / Helen St)
145.291 in 7
Detroit, MI
(W Chicago / Livernois Ave)
149.481 in 7

As our children can say, "Really?"  According to this report, in the locations listed above, one would stand anywhere from a 1 in 7 to a 1 in 15 chance of being a victim of a violent crime (most likely gun related). Have our ancestors, forefathers, and those of us who are still on the battlefield who have caught and are catching this hell catching it for this? The killing of each other? The labeling of each other as a bitch and a nigger. The photo of the dog and the woman appropriately admonishes us to know the difference between a dog and a woman. Think about it, two of the three men in the photo above gave their lives for this? I am going to continue to ask the question concerning  the tipping point where enough of us in society take a stand and say "ENOUGH?" We must continue to talk to and model for our boys and girls the way to go in order for them to live and live productively. Please join me in speaking to every boy/girl/child/student that you know, teaching them to respect themselves and others. Show them how not to become a perpetrator or a victim. Talk to them in "Real Talk" because we have not gone through or are still going through all of this hell just for these people to kill each other. Something to critically think about. Please share this post and I invite you to listen to the critical thinker each Saturday morning at 6 a.m. ET on gobrave.org and to follow on Twitter @thinkcritical01.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Some of the Most Flawed Reasoning on The Planet

Of all of the posts that I have shared with the various groups that I am a member of via LinkedIn, none have garnered the number of responses to a discussion like my December 10th post to The Critical Thinker, What Is This Fascination With The Word "Bitch?". The discussion has truly been thought provoking and has made salient points as to why our reasoning concerning the so called taking "ownership" of words such as "nigger" and "bitch" by African Americans and women is flawed. Many who choose to use such vocabulary will proudly say that we are taking ownership of what was used to degrade us (African Americans and women) in order for us to have control over it. When you truly think about the premise of that statement and reasoning, it really does not make sense at all. There is nothing cute about referring to myself or anyone else with terms that are used to degrade whether it was in our history or now. When I hear that type of reasoning, what comes to my mind is the title of this post and that is, it is some of the most flawed reasoning on the planet. The term Nigger, is the same whether you spell it "niggah,"  "nigga," "niggaz," "my nigga," etc. etc. etc.and the definition of bitch is still the same, whether you are a "sexy bitch," "a bad bitch," "nigga bitch,"  "this bitch" or "that bitch," etc. There is something wrong with the self esteem of a people and gender who can audaciously proclaim that they are a nigger and or a bitch. For those who are reading this and would like to debate me, there is no debating for me on this issue. The terms are degrading, meant to degrade, are self degrading and perpetuate stereotypes of women and African Americans that still exist to this day. They are utterly disrespectful to self and others. Yes, while we are running around here signifying that we are niggers and bitches thinking we are taking ownership of something, the reality is we are doing nothing but proving and fulfilling what is too often thought (but not said or left for you to read between the lines) about women of all races and African Americans in particular. Behavior is predicated upon thought so if you are thinking of yourself as a nigger or a bitch, guess what? As the quote goes, “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

Please take the time to read the responses from the LinkedIn discussion below:

I thank all of the participants in the discussion as each hit the proverbial nail on the head in his/her own way. At some point the majority of society is going to have to stand up and say "Enough." Something to critically think about and as always I invite you to listen to The Critical Thinker on Saturday mornings beginning at 6 a.m. ET on www.gobrave.org and to follow on Twitter @thinkcritical01.

Monday, December 23, 2013

We Must Help Our Children To Connect The Dots

What does properly corrugating cereal and cracker boxes for recycling; ensuring that no clothing is obstructing the clothes drawer from coming together grounded and flush; wiping all residual water from the bathroom sink; hanging the dish washing rags open for them to air dry; speaking to people upon entering a room; and making sure the bathroom tissue dispenser is never empty have to do with anything? EVERYTHING.  By now I am sure you are asking, what is The Critical Thinker talking about in this post? I'm glad I have piqued your curiosity. Do you remember the picture worksheets or coloring book pages that many of us completed as a child called Connect The Dots? In many cases it was given to us by a teacher or a parent to keep us busy. According to Wikipedia 

Connect the dots, also known as dot to dot or join the dots is a form of puzzle containing a sequence of numbered dots.[1] When a line is drawn connecting the dots the outline of an object is revealed. The puzzles frequently contain simple line art to enhance the image created or to assist in rendering a complex section of the image. Connect the dots puzzles are generally created for children. The use of numbers can be replaced with letters or other symbols.
In adult discourse the phrase "connect the dots" can be used as a metaphor to illustrate an ability (or inability) to associate one idea with another, to find the "big picture", or salient feature, in a mass of data. Reuven Feuerstein features the connection of dots as the first tool in his cognitive development program.
All of the tasks listed in my opening question and so many others connect to the discipline that our children will need to succeed in their present and adult lives. The correct discipline and habits developed by learning how to do something first correct and then well are habits and skills that will transfer later in life to school and career work habits. A child who learns how to discipline him/herself  at an early age to strive for excellence in even the most mundane tasks is setting him/herself up to be school and career ready. Let's take a look at some possible connections and I am sure you will come up with some of your own.

  • Corrugating cereal and cracker boxes for recycling connects to packing and maximizing space 
  • Ensuring that no clothing is obstructing the clothes drawer from coming together grounded and flush connects to the attention to detail needed for the writing and submission of reports written and numeric
  • Wiping all residual water from the bathroom sink connects to knowing that no one is going to clean up after you and that you need to do that for yourself and how about those proofreading skills?
  • Hanging the dish washing rags open for them to air dry connects to using common sense and making sure the job you are assigned to is completed with no loose ends remaining
  • Speaking to people upon entering a room connects to just plain old common courtesy 
  • Making sure the bathroom tissue dispenser is never empty connects to thinking ahead and thinking about those who may come after you.
When I was a child in school, one of the categories on my report card was "Self Control"  The category has since been changed to "Work Habits" and "Social Responsibility."  Self Control is the one grade my parents would not accept anything lower than a "B" (preferably an "A") because in their minds, that was the one grade that I was totally able to control. They helped me to connect the dots at an early age and as a result of that I am able to successfully take care of myself and contribute to society. 

As parents, it is not our job to be our children's friend.  It is our job to help them connect the dots in order for them to function successfully in life. They will not like being told what to do over and over again, but keep enforcing and demanding discipline. One day they will be glad that you did (and so will you). When they are adults who begin to see and experience the "big picture," they will appreciate having had to break down the cereal boxes; make sure no clothes were hanging out of their drawers; wipe the sick; not leave the dishrag wet and balled up on the kitchen table; say "Good Morning;" and change the bathroom tissue dispenser when the spindle is empty etc., for they will have indeed connected the dots. Something to critically think about. I invite you to listen to me live on Saturday mornings beginning at 6 a.m. ET on gobrave.org and follow on Twitter @thinkcritical01. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Nine Letter Word In A Two Word Greeting Does Not Require Short Hand

Xear's Day
Xing, Jr. Day
Xington's Birthday
Xorial Day
Xdence Day
Xor Day
Xbus Day
Xans Day
Xgiving Day
Xhog Day
Xentine's Day
Xth Day
National Xbor Day
Xother's Day
Xag Day
Xather's Day
Xtriot Day
X Xor Day

I think you get the point by now. As a critical thinker, I did indeed do my homework on this issue of shortening Christmas to Xmas and learned that the “X” is actually indicating the Greek letter “Chi”, which is short for the Greek meaning “Christ”. In other words we are using shorthand when we write Merry Xmas. While conceptually I understand that rationale, most people are not going to take the time to research Greek letters and thereby not really know the history. The letter "X" as we know it leaves too much room for misinterpretation. For example when Malcom Little (later also known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) changed his name to Malcolm X, his rationale was that the "X" represented the unknown name of his African ancestors and their culture that had been lost during slavery. In 2013, nearly 2014, usually when one sees an X over something in a circle, it usually means "no" or "don't." My point is, the letter "X" as we know it today usually is associated with blotting something out or something that is not acceptable or is unknown, hence the outcry of people saying do not take the Christ out of Christmas. Even if we were to go with the shorthand explanation, take a look at the list above. Does each name of the celebrated or acknowledged day have the same feel it does when you say or write the entire word? So even if historically the letter "X" may be Christ in Greek lettering, is it that much more trouble to write the five additional letters in Christmas (9 letters) vs. the 4 letters in Xmas. I just don't believe we are that scholarly to know that we are using Greek shorthand when we are writing and displaying Merry Xmas. I could be wrong, but as for me, I am spelling out the entire word Christmas in my correspondence and in my verbal greetings. I choose to keep the spelling and use the letters in the alphabet that we know to write the word Christmas. As always, something to critically think about. I invite you to listen to The Critical Thinker on each Saturday morning beginning at 6 a.m. ET on gobrave.org and follow on Twitter @thinkcritical01.com

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Societal Fail - The Knockout Game & Pantsing

Well it seems we keep sinking lower and lower. Two extremely stupid games have surfaced or resurfaced causing people to be injured, killed, embarrassed or all of the above. The savagery under the guise of a "game"or "just playing," are The Knockout Game and Pantsing. The "Knockout" game is where an unsuspecting person is hit so hard by an unknown assailant that the victim in many instances is knocked unconscious. Pantsing, while more in line with a prank is when someone's pants are unexpectedly pulled down by another, usually in public(see definitions from the Urban Dictionary below). The true craziness of it all is that the perpetrators have no reason to do what they are doing nor any remorse even if they are caught. Come on folks, is this where we are as a society of human beings? Animals in the jungle or zoo don't act this way, yet we as human beings who have the capacity to think and reason do. Something is terribly wrong in 2013 going into 2014.

 1. pantsing What many high school students will do to fellow classmates if they decide to wear sweatpants. It is far to easy to catch the wearer of the sweatpants off-guard and pull their sweats down. Any other form of clothing on the bottom is not to be messed with.....only sweatpants. Poor girl decided to wear her sweats today; she's probably going to get......oh, and the pantsing begins.
 2. pantsing a. to forcefully remove another person pants as a form of embarrassment. b. same as above except for sexual gratification.
 3. pantsing The act or practice of pulling someone's pants down. The Seniors and I went pantsing today. The Freshmen never had a chance.
4. pantsing To yank someone else's pants down. Usually done in a humorous fashion. Also reffered to as pantsed. "Dude, did you see when Mark pantsed Tom? That was hilarious!" "Jack got expelled for pantsing the principal." 
5. pantsing The act of someone pulling down another person's pants exposing their boxers/ briefs Today Bill and I made a plan for pantsing John. We did it in gym when he was sagging showing his orange briefs. He was so embarrassed!
When are we going to say "ENOUGH?"  When are we going to put an end to the madness? How much lower can we go?  In the words of  Martin Luther King, Jr., "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Our lives are ending; haven't we been silent long enough? Something to critically think about. I welcome your commentary in the comment section of the blog and invite you to listen to The Critical Thinker live each Saturday morning beginning at 6 a.m. ET on gobrave.org. Follow on Twitter @thinkcritical01.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Oh, To Get That Jacket; The Significance Of A Team/Group Jacket

This morning as I was leaving for church I saw one of my neighborhood kids donning his newly received football jacket from Eastside High School. I didn't know until that point that he played high school football and I asked him what position he played and responded "receiver."  His response had an air of pride to it as he strolled along in his new jacket signifying that he was a part of the team. As I drove along, I saw another young man walking the street with his jacket on as well. I could tell the jackets were new as the letters were a crisp and bright orange leaping off of the navy blue athletic jacket fabric. My mind raced back to when I was sixteen and had received my Eastside High School Jazz Band jacket. Oh, how I could not wait to receive my jacket once I had passed the audition for the band. In fact, one of the first things I did upon becoming a part of the jazz band was to order the prized accouterment, for not everyone could attain this jacket for it was for the select few who were chosen to perform in the jazz band, not just any jazz band, but the Eastside High School Jazz Band under the direction of Mr. Peter Nelson, the director of the famed award winning New York Jets/Nets/Knicks and Giants half-time performing Eastside High School Marching 100. While I had missed my opportunity to march with the marching band due to shortsightedness on my part, I was not going to miss my chance to play with the jazz band and get my jacket. I still have my EHS Jazz Band jacket that I received in 1978 to this very day (see photos). I would experience those same feelings later in life as I joined the military and my fraternity.

I write this post because seeing those two young men this morning reminded me again that everyone wants to belong. Everyone wants to be a part of something. That's why gangs are able to attract young people who cannot find that belonging anywhere else; the kids who are not for whatever reason able to make the jazz band or the football team or even have a functional family for that matter. Yes, the gangs offer the same thing that all of us seek; the chance to be a part of something.  I initially was going to name this post "Every Team Ought To Have A Jacket" but I changed it in order to look at the bigger picture of belonging.  Given that everyone wants to belong, I do believe every team/group/organization ought to have a jacket whether they are champions or not. The jacket ought to be given just because you are a part of the team, win or lose. In many cases, jackets are only awarded if you win a championship, however, think about what I said concerning having a sense of belonging. While I am using the team jacket as an example in this post, it can be a shirt, uniform, sweater, pin, etc. etc. They all symbolize belonging. When you ask yourself what would make a kid join a gang, just know that it is the need that all humans have and that is to belong to something or someone.  Something to critically think about. I invite you to listen to The Critical Thinker live each Saturday morning beginning at 6:00 a.m. ET on gobrave.org and WP88.7 FM and  follow along on Twitter @thinkcritical01.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What Is This Fascination With The Word "Bitch?"

As I was reading various posts on various social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc, I could not help but notice how often the term "bitch" was used in many posts. If it is a female pictured in the post, many of the men and women commenting would refer to the female as a "bitch" in one way or the other. She was either a "Fine Bitch," "Hot Bitch," "Sexy Bitch," or "I wish that was my bitch" and on and on and on. What was even worse was the self proclamations made by myriad females of being a "bitch." Women proudly proclaiming that they are  "Bad Bitches" and all of the other types of bitches mentioned above. If you think about it, it is absolutely mind boggling that someone would refer to him or herself as any of the definitions listed in the photo taken from the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary. Proud to be referred to as the female of the dog or some other carnivorous mammal; a lewd or immoral woman; a malicious, spiteful, or overbearing woman; and something that is extremely difficult, objectionable, or unpleasant.  I don't know about you, but in my mind, something is terribly wrong with the women and men who so proudly don this title whether it be bestowed upon them or it be self proclaimed. Something is wrong with a society who does not see how far we've fallen from wanting to be a king or queen, a prince or a princess to now being proud to be a "Bitch."
Marianne Williamson says it best in her book, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3 (Pg. 190-191).

 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 
Happily being referred to as a bitch is "playing small" in my way of thinking. As an educator, I sadly see children attempting to spell "bitch" in their attempts at graffiti spelling it "bicth." I will actually walk upon a wall with "bicth" either marked or spray painted on it. This is sad on multiple counts as you have a young child who first of all cannot spell (bitch is not the only word he/she is misspelling), and secondly he/she is attempting to use the word in a derogatory manner. Where do you think a five or six year old learns this vocabulary? Ironically enough, I have asked my young perpetrators when I catch them, what does the word bitch mean, and needless to say they could not give me any of the definitions shown above. Most of the time the answer is "I don't know."  I usually give the child a lesson on the definition, a spelling lesson and why it's inappropriate for a five or six year old to be using such language. I even explain to them that it is inappropriate for grown ups to be using it out of context. After our little conversation which is analogous to an old fashioned washing out of the mouth with soap (no, we cannot physically do that) from days of yore, the child has a better appreciation for the meaning of the word and its use. I wish I could say the same for our adults who wantonly use the word both verbally and in writing (T-shirts, social media posts, lyrics, scripts, etc. etc. etc.).

When I come to the point where I am in writing this post, I begin to think, maybe I am missing something and need to be clued in. Maybe these people are sane and I am the crazy one. So when I feel this way, I throw the question out to the reading audience for help. I ask the reading audience to school me on something I obviously do not know about or missed somewhere along the way. That is the case with this post. I need someone or a lot of "someones" to school me on the fascination with the word "bitch." I need someone to school me as to why it is a badge of honor for a woman to consider herself a "bad bitch." I need someone to help me understand the pride in being a lewd, immoral, overbearing, malicious, objectionable, extremely difficult, unpleasant and spiteful woman. I need someone to help me understand why a female human being considers it a compliment to be called the female of the dog or some other carnivorous mammal.  Will someone please school this critical thinker. I hope this is some food for thought as I welcome your commentary in the comment section of the blog. You are invited to follow The Critical Thinker on Twitter @thinkcritical01 and to listen live each Saturday morning at 6 a.m. ET on gobrave.org. As always, something to critically think about.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Sad Part Is, Society Celebrated The Aggressor

I won't perpetuate the horrendous video here in this post concerning a teen aged female known as "Sharkeisha," who savagely and violently attacked another female teen. The upshot of this post is how sad a statement society has made with the glorification of Sharkeisha's actions. For those like me who may have been unaware, Sharkeisha is seen in a video forcefully hitting another girl in her face, knocking her to the ground and then kicking her in the face. To say the commentary and responses to the Twitter, Instagram and video feeds have been overwhelming is an understatement with the majority of them celebrating Sharkeisha. Literally celebrating Sharkeisha's violent punch to the face of the unsuspecting individual.  Have we truly become barbarians? Does not human life matter? What have we become when the majority of viewers of a heinous act think it is funny? I won't even continue to expound other than to say it is something to critically think about. I invite you to follow The Critical Thinker on Twitter @thinkcritical01, on Tumblr @thecriticalthinker01.tumblr.com and to hear The Critical Thinker live on Saturday mornings from 6 a.m. - 9 a.m. ET on gobrave.org and WP88.7 FM. I welcome your thoughts in the commentary section of the blog.