Saturday, July 18, 2020

"If We Begin To Direct Our Children's Attention To Strong Images Like Themselves, They Will Grow In Self-Respect"

The title of this post is a direct quote from the book Breaking The Chains Of Psychological Slavery written by Na'im Akbar, Ph.D. Dr. Akbar has been described by Essence magazine as "one of the world's preeminent African American psychologists and pioneer in the development of an African-centered approach to modern psychology. 

I write this post the day after the passing of a living legend, Congressman John Robert Lewis and two days subsequent to the passing of yet another legend, the Reverend Cordy Tindell (C.T.) Vivian. While not a betting man, I am willing to wager that our children, particularly our African-American children do not know who these two African-American heroes are. I would be willing to bet that if you approached an African-American high school senior who just graduated in June of 2020 or perhaps even an African- American Class of 2020 college graduate and asked them about these two gentlemen, they would not recognize their names much less tell you anything about them or what they did. Why??? Because they were never taught about them, that's why. They were not taught about them at home or at school. 

While I love the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (and I do), our children must learn about more than just him and Rosa Parks. It is incumbent upon us as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers, principals, superintendents, pastors, and preachers to direct our children's attention to strong images like themselves in order for their self-respect to develop and grow. According to Dr. Akbar, we must honor and exalt our own heroes and those heroes must be people who have done the most to dignify us as a people. I could not agree more. Your average Caucasian or African-American child can only name Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks when pressed to name an African-American hero. In most instances, you will get the name of an athlete or entertainer. Quoting from Breaking The Chains Of Psychological Slavery again: 
"Entertainers and athletes are the popular heroes of the African-American community. Physical prowess or comic exploit are the only characteristics Black heroes are permitted to express. Intellectual acuity, prophetic vision, moral integrity, technological know-how, and managerial efficiency are characteristics seldom, if ever, portrayed."
The African-American community must do a better job to educate its own children. Black history curriculums, Amistad laws, and teaching mandates have their place; however, they do not surpass the teaching that is handed down from generation to generation from parents, grandparents and great grandparents.  We [African-Americans] must help our children connect the dots between themselves and their ancestors. 

Last week I visited for the second time in a number of years the Ferncliff Cemetary in Hartsdale, New York. It's only about 30 miles away from my home and a nice little drive just to relax. There are many notables buried in Ferncliff including Malcolm X and his wife Betty, Paul Robeson, James Baldwin, Jackie "Moms" Mabley, Adolph Caesar, Whitney M. Young, Jr. and Northern J. Calloway (I visited all of their gravesites). Many more notables such as Judy Garland and Cab Calloway are also entombed there. As I visited each grave, I literally felt connected to each one even though I had never met any of them in person. 

I placed flowers on the grave of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and his wife Betty. As I visited each grave, I reflected upon his/her contribution to the world. Now I know for some of you reading this, it may seem strange to walk around a cemetery, however, for me, it is an experience of connecting with my ancestors. I know the spirit speaks because the very next day someone posted on Vero - True Social, a social media platform similar to Instagram, a debate between Malcolm X and James Baldwin (see below). 

I had literally been at the gravesites of those two men one day prior to the post and whoever posted that post on Vero did not know me from Adam's housecat, yet that post appeared. It was as if Malcolm and James were letting me know that I had visited them the day before. 

"to handicap a student for life by teaching him that his black face is a curse and that his struggle to change his condition is hopeless, is the worst kind of lynching. It kills one's aspirations and dooms him to vagabondage and crime."
I'll wager another bet that most of the names that I listed above would not be familiar to a teenager in 2020. Maybe Malcolm X and that's a maybe. Folks, we must do better in educating ourselves and our children in terms of where we have come from and the great contributions that African-Americans have made to the world. By doing so, the self-esteem and self-respect of all of us and particularly our young African-Americans can do nothing else but increase. Let's get out there and make our ancestors proud.






Thursday, July 9, 2020


Guest Post By Miles Jaye


I have a recurring dream in which I imagine where we might be had they not taken our King. King, like David, had a heart for God. In the Old Testament, the book of Judges and both books of Kings illustrate the fate of a people whose hearts stray from the will of God. When corruption, idolatry and greed infect God’s people like a virus, the punishment is horrible, the outcome-- predictable. It was the job of the prophets to remind them of the consequences of disobedience and unfaithfulness. In my dream, America was Judah, America was Israel and King was our prophet.

King was always recognized as a legitimate Negro leader. He was respectable, predictable, and his peaceful protests posed no threat to the status quo or the power elite. His rhetoric and methods may have been considered weak and ineffective by some, but the government found him useful, pliable, so they indulged and tolerated him. 

What may have been overlooked is the fact that a true leader, a gifted tactician conceals his strategy until time to strike. Also underestimated was King’s willingness to interact with other influential Black leaders. In this essay, which I admit is more of a collection of timely and relevant quotes, I share the wisdom and warnings of a prophet to his people. My comments are simply an attempt to apply a 2020 context.

“Urban riots are a special form of violence. They are not insurrections. The rioters are not seeking to seize territory or obtain control of institutions. They are mainly intended to shock the white community, but most of all, alienated from society and knowing society cherishes property above people, by abusing property rights.”  

Here he stresses their value of property over human life, begging the question, do Black Lives Matter?

“We suffer domestic colonialism. We must achieve self-determination.”

If, according to Webster, colonialism is: “the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically”, what is domestic colonialism and how do we apply it to our condition? How do African people best achieve self-determination within a Western societal construct? Diasporic Identity? Diasporic Double-Consciousness?

“Throughout our history, laws affirming Negro rights have consistently been circumvented by ingenious evasions which render them void in practice. Laws that affect the whole population-- draft laws, income-tax laws, traffic laws, manage to work even though they may be unpopular; but laws passed for the Negro’s benefit are so widely unenforced that it is a mockery to call them laws.” 

Yes, it is a mockery, as they were never actually for our benefit, nor are they now.

“There aren’t enough white persons in our country who are willing to cherish democratic principles over privilege.” 

Agreed, but is the issue democracy or capitalism and can the two co-exist?

“I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to “justice”; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice…” 

I suffer no such disappointment. If the “justice” I seek is fair treatment from the very one, the very system which benefits from my oppression and maltreatment, I’m disappointed in my own naivete.

“I’ve come to the realization that I think we may be integrating into a burning house.” 

Yes, and either we are so resolute, so determined to demonstrate our fidelity, by attempting to extinguish the fire, or we simply enjoy the smell of smoke.

“White people view Black people as inferior. A large percentage of them have a very low opinion of our race. People with such a low view of the Black race cannot be given free rein and put in charge of the intellectual care and development of our boys and girls. I don’t see school integration successfully happening right now and being beneficial… It will be disastrous.” 

It amazes me that we agonize over leftovers and hand-me-downs as though whatever they have is better? I waste no time with their low opinion of me or of my race. What white people think of our intellect is irrelevant. It’s what we believe that is relevant. Have we not educated the world? Do we now beg for participation in a brain-numbing education system that perpetuates the perception of our inferiority? 
“There are Negroes who will never fight for freedom. There are Negroes who will seek profit for themselves from the struggle. There are even some Negroes who will cooperate with their oppressors. The hammer blows of discrimination, poverty and segregation must warp and corrupt some. No one can pretend that because a people may be oppressed, every individual member is virtuous and worthy.” 

So sad, so true! No names please! Have one of those hammers handy?

“The trouble is that we live in a failed system. Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we’re going to have to change the system.” 

Fifty years later and we haven’t changed the system. The question is, has the system failed or has it worked perfectly well for descendants of the small privileged few you call Framers and Founding Fathers. I don’t hear them complaining.
“At the very same time that America refused to give the Negro any land, through an act of congress our government was giving away millions of acres of land in the West and the Midwest, which meant that it was willing to undergird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor. But not only did they give the land, they built land grant colleges with government money to teach them how to farm. Not only that, they provided county agents to further their expertise in farming. Not only that, they provided low-interest rates in order that they could mechanize their farms. Not only that, today many of these people are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies not to farm and they are the very people telling the Black man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps. This is what we are faced with and this is a reality. Now, when we come to Washington in this Poor People’s campaign, we’re coming to get our check.”

Once King’s strategy became evident, his “neutralization” became inescapable, a foregone conclusion. Already a target of Hoover’s COINTELPRO program, King was no longer deemed harmless, but was now a clear and present danger-- an enemy of the state. Regrettably, the speech he planned for the Poor People’s Campaign, “America May Have to Go to Hell,” was never heard. 

That’s what’s on my mind!

Meet Our Guest Blogger Miles Jaye

Singer, songwriter, Miles Jaye, is a native New Yorker; it is there that he studied music theory and classical violin for more than ten years at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, Saratoga School for Orchestral Studies and Brooklyn College.

An accomplished musician and producer, Jaye is best known for his chart-topping hits, "Let’s Start Love Over", "Heaven" and "Objective" featuring Grover Washington, Jr. His heart wrenching "I’ve Been A Fool For You" has become one of radio’s favorite R&B classics.

While Jaye laid the groundwork for excellence with his three highly acclaimed CD’s on Island Records, MILES, STRONG and IRRESISTIBLE; he continued that standard of excellence on his own Black Tree Records with titles such as the ODYSSEY, DIVINE ASCENSION, ROMANTIC STORM and HUMANITY.

Under the Miles Jaye Davis Productions label, his extensive training as a classical and jazz violinist is evident on his latest release "ATTENERGY", the voice on the violin which is an exceptional musical “coming out celebration” with sixteen beautifully crafted performances.

Now a Floridian, Jaye enjoys a long-standing reputation as an R&B and Contemporary Jazz writer/producer, having partnered with some of the giants of jazz on his recordings such as George Duke, Roy Ayers, Nat Adderley, Jr., Rachelle Ferrell, Grover Washington, Jr., and Branford Marsalis. The list of notables with which Jaye has shared the concert stages of the world is too extensive to include here.

Jaye is especially proud of writing and producing six tracks on the certified Gold JOY CD from his mentor, legendary R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass. A prolific composer, Jaye has penned and recorded more than 50 original compositions and has the unique distinction of recording no less than 12 different musical instruments on several of his critically acclaimed CD’s.

In addition to side-man duties early in his career for the songstress, Phyllis Hyman, balladeer, Jon Lucien, and jazz guitarist Eric Gale, Jaye served two years as lead-singing Cop for the hit pop group that brought you YMCA, Macho Man and In the Navy - THE VILLAGE PEOPLE.

Jaye is also a novelist, playwright, art student, and an award-winning journalist. He is an active supporter of campaigns for AIDS Awareness, Breast Cancer research, and an advocate for victims of domestic violence. He also actively supports arts education in public schools.

Miles Jaye Davis, like his namesake, legendary trumpeter, Miles Davis, is one of music’s most gifted, distinctive and dynamic artists.