Monday, September 1, 2014

25 Years Later We're Still Fighting The Power - @PublicEnemyFTP

I remember turning on the TV and seeing this video for the first time. I was mesmerized as a 16 year old to see the power within the video of a group of people coming together for a united front.  Even at such an early age I recognized what that video meant to me as a black teen.  It meant that there was still work to do to bring about equality in the United States among the races.  I had no idea how much more this video would mean to me 25 years later after Michael Brown and Ferguson, MO.

Seeing the unity that "Fight The Power" displayed in a rap video was nothing short of amazing.  This wasn't a group of rappers coming together on their own for a cause like "Self Destruction" or "We're All in the Same Gang."  This was a video about a rap group marching down the streets of Brooklyn during the time of a political rally and the people just randomly started joining in.  It was just recently that I found out that the neighborhood people showed up only by word of mouth.  There was no plan to have them all there.

I got on board the PE train with their first album, "Yo! Bum Rush the Show!" in 1987.  I was fascinated with the side of blackness they taught that I couldn't get anywhere else at the time.  Remember that this was roughly five years before people starting regularly using the Internet.  In fact, a majority of the black history that I learned as a youth came from listening to Public Enemy.  I would listen to their album and then go to my city library to learn about the people they mentioned.   Stokely Carmichael.  H. Rap Brown.  Huey P. Newton (Huey Freeman on the "Boondocks" series is named after him).  These were people that were never talked about in any history books that I read at school.  And regardless of how people felt about them and what they represented they were still a very important part of black history which is essentially American history.

The video also contained images that will forever be embedded in my brain of Angela Davis, Medgar Evers, Jackie Robinson, signs that encouraged voter registration, and most importantly, youth participation.  There were kids everywhere in this video.  Also, one of the most powerful scenes at the time was at the 6:00 mark when teenager, Tawana Brawley, was shown standing in all white.

Tawana was part of a huge rape case back in 1987 when she accused six white men of raping and defiling her.  Although it was ruled in 1988 that she made up the false allegations against her accusers, she has always stuck by her story and said that the rape occurred.  Seeing her smiling and participating in the video was a sign that she was still standing strong with the support of the black community.  The community had her back.  That sentiment was also shown in Spike Lee's movie, "Do The Right Thing," with a scene that displayed graffiti on the wall that said "Tawana told the truth."  I can still remember the applause in the theater when people saw it during the movie.

"Fight The Power" would prove to have an impact on the consciousness of many people of all colors as it depicted how black people came together to promote unity.  Another important part of the video to note is that it showed how blacks can be peaceful yet firm in making an impact on society.  Despite the "nervous" police presence according to P.E. front man, Chuck D, there were no incidents.  Not one.

Enter 2014.  Music has changed tremendously.  The only people rapping about political consciousness aren't on the radio.  Gone are the days where KRS-1 is rapping "Why is That?" or Gang Starr is dropping knowledge on "Who's Gonna Take The Weight?"

I'll continue to hold on to old school rap although I know it's next to impossible to pass down to younger generations.  They just aren't buying into things from back in the day.  However, I'll do what I can to expose them to conscious rap with hopes that it catches on.  I won't let Public Enemy die with my generation.

So, click on the video below and "Fight The Power" in 2014.  We still have a long way to go.
 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Managing Day-to-Day Stress

Your alarm goes off.  You hit the button and look at the clock.  It's 6:00 AM and Tuesday.  The first thing that hits your mind before your feet hit the floor is that you have a 1/4 tank of gas left.  You walk into the bathroom trying to wipe the sleep from your eyes.  You look in the mirror only to have your focus disrupted when your child reminds you of a field trip on Thursday.  She will need $10 for the trip.

You say, "okay" and now try to figure out what you need to do to accommodate that $10 for the field trip.  At the same time, you're trying to coordinate all of your errands on your way to work so that you can take care of it all in one trip and save gas.

You finally get dressed, grab a bite to eat for breakfast and head out the door.  As you watch your kid board the bus, you turn around and look at your car only to see that your back, left tire is on a flat.  You're almost brought to tears as you pop the trunk to get the spare.

Thirty minutes later the tire is changed and you're on your way to work a few minutes late.  Now you have to get your tire fixed on top of the $10 for the field trip and having to make it until Friday on 1/4 tank of gas.  You're going to skip lunch today because that's where your daughter's $10 for her trip will come from.

You get to work and your trifling coworker has been slacking and causing you more work.  You can't say anything to him because his uncle is the boss at your branch.  He pretty much has a lifetime immunity at the job despite the fact that he's non-productive.  You have to smile and deal with his shenanigans.  

After a full day of work, you're hungry due to skipping lunch, but it's only three minutes until quitting time.  Your day is almost over!  But, your desk phone rings.  It's an irate client and he keeps you on the phone for an additional 30 minutes after quitting time.

You finish up at work and finally head home.  Traffic is bad, but it gives you an opportunity to figure out a game plan for dinner.  Is there enough in the refrigerator to generate a decent meal or will you need to stop by the store?  You decide to head on home and cook what's there.  You've made something out of nothing before.

You arrive home, cook, eat, and finally sit down for the evening.  It's 7:30 PM and you just want to watch some TV and unwind until your daughter comes in the room with that look she gives when she's in trouble.  Her science project is due tomorrow and she needs some supplies from Office Depot.

You do everything within your power to not curse as you grab your shoes and keys to take her to the store.  You've told her time-and-time again not to wait until the last minute, but she's a kid.  That's what they do.  If you only had a spouse to help manage things it would be so much easier.  But, it's just you and your daughter.

After coming back from Office Depot and spending $27 that you really didn't have, you start her on the project and eventually make your way towards the bedroom.  It's almost 9 PM and you're exhausted.  You plop on the bed and before you know it, you're out like a light...

Your alarm goes off.  You hit the button and look at the clock.  It's 6:00 AM and Wednesday.  The first thing that hits your mind before your feet hit the floor is that you have less than a 1/4 tank of gas left.  You walk into the bathroom trying to wipe the sleep from your eyes.  You look in the mirror only to have your focus disrupted when your child reminds you of a field trip tomorrow.  You give her $10 for the trip.

You now try to figure out what you need to do to compensate for the $27 you spent on that Office Depot visit you made last night.  At the same time, you're trying to coordinate all of your errands on your way to work so that you can take care of it all in one trip and save gas

You finally get dressed, grab a bite to eat for breakfast and head out the door.  As you watch your kid board the bus, you turn around and look at your car only to see that spare tire still on the back, left of your car and it's two more days until pay day. 

Some people live a life very similar to this.  Every day is a new struggle as they wake up to take on the world.  There's not enough money being paid on jobs and corporate greed is slowly strangling a lot of American citizens.  Married couples and co-parenting appear to be a dying breed.  So, one person is taking on so much responsibility when it comes to raising kids.  Simple things like school projects, gas, car maintenance, awful co-workers, or even sitting in traffic all build pressure within our minds.

If we don't find a way to release the pressure, then our heads will explode.  You can release that pressure by having a hobby.  Read a book, play an instrument, paint, jog, go fishing see a movie, whatever.  If that's not enough then talk to a friend to vent a little.

And if push comes to shove then absolutely do not hesitate to speak to someone qualified to help you find ways to reduce that stress.  Call (888) 866-7561 to reach the 24 hour stress counseling support line at CrisisSupport.org.  E-mail counselor and a friend of mine, Brandy J. Flynn, if you want more of a personal touch.  Talk to a life coach like Veronica Cuyugan to help prioritize your life if that's what is needed.

The bottom line is this: if you don't find a way to release that pressure then it will consume you.  I guarantee you that it will.  Seeking help is not a sign of weakness.  It's a sign of strength.  What's more embarrassing: losing your mind at work and curling up in the fetal position under your desk or speaking to someone in confidence who can help you roll with the punches until you get back on your feet?

Think about it, but don't take too long.  It's not a hard decision.  No one should have to live the above story everyday like a bad "Groundhog Day" sequel.  Take charge of your life by finding a way to free your mind.

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