10 Things I've Found Out So Far In My 20's.

My birthday was June 1. I'm now 24 years old. Which means I'm a year away from the big 25. Every year on my birthday my dad asks me, "Any words of wisdom?" This year I wanted to deliver in high style and have few words of wisdom to share with the group.


1. Treat your money right: I mean this seems obvious. Until you realize that you're an adult and people (family) will no longer be obligated to bail you out. Have fun. Take chances. But be smart with how you spend your money and what you spend it on.

2. Be responsible: Again obvious. But come on. If you want to be treated like an adult you gotta take on the tasks that adults have. No cop outs allowed. Step up to the plate and get your priorities in order.

3. Listen to people: Being in your 20's is like being a sophomore in high school again. You're no longer a freshman, but you sure as hell aren't a senior either. Put those ears to use and learn something. You might learn something from someone else that leads you to learning about yourself. Remember Pocahontas from 1994? You'll learn things you never knew you never knew.

4. Talk to people: Online. In person. Both. Put yourself out there. Get to networking. Build those relationships. Because it's these connections that are going to impact you for the rest of your life. (At least that's what it's done for me so far...)

5. Be vulnerable: It's okay to have weaknesses. In fact you should embrace your weakneses. Put yourself out there in your vulnerable state. You might fail. But you might find something...that's going to make you better. Something that will make you stronger. Something that might unleash a strength inside you that you don't know about.

 
It’s only when you risk failure that you discover things. When you play it safe, you’re not expressing the utmost of your human experience.
— Lupita Nyong'o

6. Keep learning: You're probably sick of school by this point. You don't want any more finals. You're probably glaring at trees as you pass by them because you know they're to blame for that 15 page thesis you were forced to print out. So damn the grades. Get rid of the proposals. Get rid of the scantron. Get rid of that #2 pencil and that godforsaken bubble that must be filled in all the way. Learn without the stress. Learn beyond obligations.

7. Look out for others: You're not at the top. You're on the way. But pull yourself out of your journey up the ladder to take a glance back at the ones behind and beside you. If you can help. Do it. What goes around comes around and you never know what will happen in the future. Plus it feels great.

8. Remember your journey: *sings Started From The Bottom* Don't punish yourself when (And you will) you fail. Remember that everyone's journey is different and you're further along in yours than you were the day before. Setbacks will happen but so can dreams.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
— Maya Angelou

9. Self Love: Love yourself. Love yourself before you even understand yourself. Love yourself before you love someone else. Love yourself before you listen to someone's opinion. Love yourself from beginning to end. Love every single part of your body and being. Even if your self identity changes, love your spirit and your being above all. You're the only you in the world. Being someone else is only ever going to get you second best.

10. Keep on Dreamin' On: Crappy job? Check. Student loans to pay off? Check. Crappy roommates? Check. Some/All of these may be relevant to your current life. But they don't define you. They also don't last forever. You might be drowning in student loan debt and you might really hate your job. But there are other jobs. Loans will eventually be paid off. But something that should never stop is your ability to dream beyond your current situation. Big dreams or small dreams, they matter. They matter and you should fight for your dreams no matter what they are.


So there you have it. 

That's all I got. 

I realize that some points they were a little lengthy and wordy and yada yada yada. 

But I think it's important to learn and teach as you go on in life. That's what Maya Angelou taught me. She passed away on March 28 and I took it as a personal blow. I was still learning from her. I was still embracing the fact that she considered me one of her children despite the fact that she never knew me.

I'll take her energy and teachings with me wherever I go. 

Until next time.

#WhyDoBlackPeople ..... I'm asking myself the same question.

Twitter is always the place where anything can smack you in the face. Fake celebrity deaths. Political news. Racism.

You get used to it after awhile.

Interacting with friends, strangers, and strangers who become friends is a great thing.

Sometimes I learn and sometimes I educate. I primarily use my Twitter to do just that.

So for  a few times this week #WhyDoBlackPeople was a trending topic.

#WhyDoBlackPeople get their nails done instead of feeding their kids?

#WhyDoBlackPeople get angry when I say nigger when they say it in their songs?

#WhyDoBlackPeople want stuff for free instead of getting a damn job? #Obamacare

Blatant racist and discriminatory tweets were filling the feed.

After reading the feed for five minutes I started creating my own tweets.

Instantly someone in my feed had a response back. They began to reply back.

Told me I didn't know what oppression was.

Told me my people "weren't oppressed" anymore.

Told me that I needed to get over racism and stop talking about it.

Told me that my history of dealing with racism and discrimination wasn't as bad as their Irish first generation immigrant grandfather's.

Oppression and racism go beyond shackles as I said in my tweet above.

Mississippi just ratified the 13 amendment in 2013.

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Writing about something as painful and life altering as racism is hard. I've actually had to step back and think about and recall all of the moments where I've been discriminated against.

I've dealt with racism. From a peer and an authoritative figure. Both impacted me deeply. I've also seen racism and mental oppression affect those around me.

 I think there's a problem when people are afraid to talk about race.

But there's an even bigger problem when people don't listen about race.

Everyone in life has struggles. Every single day there are people going through something that you don't know about. When I talk about racism and oppression, I'm not just talking about Black America.

I'm talking about the injustice that any minority racial or otherwise have faced culturally and systematically throughout history.

When you take someone's history and alter or erase it, you oppress them.

Native Americans. Asian Pacific Americans. African Americans. Latin Americans.

A majority of our history has been left out of the history books.

Mass killings of buffalo to decimate the Native American culture. Genocide in Africa. Medical testing on women in South America. Dropping atomic bombs on Japan.

Always written off as a regret or an incident that should have been done in a different manor.

It wasn't our problem. We didn't need to get involved. There was nothing we could do. We didn't know.

Who's at fault for people being tortured, gassed, killed, and erased from history?

I blame the people who ignore the people who are oppressed. I blame the people who refuse to listen to people when they say they're in pain. I blame the people who don't take a second to look at and acknowledge that they have a privilege of having their entire history in the textbook.

But I can't just blame the oppressors. But then I also can't blame the oppressed.

All I can do is point out that there's a problem when people don't believe that others are being oppressed because "we're in the land of the free".

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Racism and oppression impact almost every part of life.

From voting to food to clothes to music. They touch everything.

Oppression is when you try to deter someone from voting by creating legislation that makes voting harder.

Oppression is when you use race tactics to sell or go against a medical product.

Oppression is when you shame someone on their culture.

Oppression is when you  don't talk about the differences people have faced.

Oppression is when you build a system that will allow people to legally discriminate against someone based on their skin.

Oppression is when you stifle the voices of millions by saying that they don't deserve anything back for the problems they've faced all their lives.

Oppression is anything that attacks the lives of a group of people and makes it harder for them to live.

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No one wants to be called a racist. It's getting to the point where if you talk about racism or accuse someone of racism, they think you're a nonsensical jealous person that just wants attention.

What people need to focus on isn't just racism, but race ignorant.

Racism is from hatred. Race ignorant is from lack of proper education. The key part of this is to realize that you can be race ignorant and not be racist.

However you don't want to be either one of these.

Racism can be easy to battle....just don't hate people because of their race.

Race ignorant can be hard. First thing first, check your privilege. Acknowledge that you're going to have the upperhand in a lot of situations in this country because you're privileged enough to be born on the other side of the racism/oppressed people. Kudos.

Secondly and most important of all educate yourself about other cultures. Take the time to acknowledge that you probably don't know why some things are considered racist. Ask someone to explain it to you.

Most importantly...Trust someone when they tell you that what you've done is offensive and hurtful to them and their history.

I think that's the biggest problem when people talk about race. There's no trust. There's no trust in the person's story or in their emotional attachment to another's actions.

Trust that you can be wrong. Trust that we all make mistakes. Trust that you can learn something.

Trust in change.

This is all I'm going to say about this topic for now. I honestly think that it's important to talk about this.

I would encourage everyone to take a minute or two and just think about the people who have no history due to war, genocide, and enslavement.  Think about the family trees that have been cut off. Think about the violent and legal ways that people lost their identity over time. Think about how slurs have been used throughout history and if you really want to push people back to that time period just because you heard the word in a song.

Just think.

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#BlackPowerIsForBlackMen: Letters from Brothers Writing to Live

#BlackPowerIsForBlackMen: Letters from Brothers Writing to Live

We are a collective of black men dedicated to challenging the ideas of black masculinity and manhood through the written word. Through our work we explore the ugliest parts of ourselves and our community, in the hope that we can illuminate the beauty that we know exists as well. We challenge each other daily to create and be more than what this racist, patriarchal society has raised us to be. But simply wanting it will not do. It requires tons of hard work, and much of that work includes listening to our sisters, black women, who tend to bear the brunt of our messiness. Unfortunately, in this regard, we have been woefully absent.

 

When the hashtag #Blackpowerisforblackmen, created by Ebony.com editor Jamilah Lemeiux, took over Twitter, it was a clear sign that we haven’t been doing enough. Thousands of our sisters (and brothers) tweeted for hours about the imbalance in our community. We, black men, tend to pride ourselves on our anti-white racial supremacy activism but often fail to reach out and consider the pain and trauma faced by the women in our lives. Our culture actively denigrates the very existence of black women. We take their love, support, nourishment, and spiritual presence for granted. As a whole, black men have not reciprocated our love and support in a way that affirms the humanity and dignity of black womanhood in the face of white supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, sexual violence, physical and verbal abuse.

#Blackpowerisforblackmen became the call, and as black men dedicated to fighting alongside our sisters, we have taken up the responsibility of answering. As individuals, we recognize where we have fallen short, and as a community we make a promise to participate in deep self-reflection and correction. 

This ain’t just an apology; it’s a commitment.

Kendrick Lamar Call Out vs. #MockObamaDay

So guess who got into a Twitter Troll battle over racism? It all started with one tweet and before you know it. Things got beyond a little ridiculous.

That Escalated Quickly
That Escalated Quickly

Wow.

That escalated quickly.

I've always had the knowledge  that in social media you're always going to come across...individuals who don't agree with you. Which isn't that big of a deal because you're always going to find people in the world who don't agree with you; such is life. But then you have people who are saying things because they're being ignorant, stubborn, and given blinders by the environment around them.

I like to call them trolls.

They'll usually enter a conversation (almost always uninvited) and decide to spew out whatever ignorant tirade they feel like for the day. It's often never ending and you often find yourself continuing to have the conversation/argument with them because you sure as hell aren't going to let a troll get the better of you.

So let's get into the nitty gritty of my troll conversation.

Basically I was frustrated over the trending topics on Twitter. I have my location set for a mixture of the Southeast. That way I'm not getting some tweets about something I don't really care about in another place of America. The higher, more popular, trending tags on Twitter earlier today were #MockObamaDay and something witty about Kendrick Lamar and the rappers he called out.

I think we can all accurately assume which group of people on Twitter were primarily talking about which trending topic.

I let it known that I was not too happy about it.

Kendric Lamar vs. #MockObamaDay
Kendric Lamar vs. #MockObamaDay

I found it interesting that the people that did have a problem with it....were three white people who just didn't approve of my talking about racism. They just didn't want to hear it. And apparently the above statement was screaming racism.

All I simply wanted was for people to get their priorities in check and start focusing on more important things. Was that too much to ask for? Black people, including myself, were just screaming, "Justice for Trayvon" and "We are Trayvon", less than a month ago. Quick to anger and slow to actual resolutions. We have quickly jumped onto the next topic, as though  Trayvon is a thing of the past. All I was trying to do with my tweet was say we as a people need to get our priorities in order.

Especially when you have people blaming victims and giving asinine and insulting reasons as to why minorities or black people in particular are constantly being victims.

So what do you do when the people around you aren't taking the initiative? What do you do when it seems like no one around is remembering the steps and paths those before you have made?

You get up and keep the movement going.

Just because those around you are doing nothing, doesn't mean you have to follow their lack of footsteps.

It means you have to make your own.

You educate those who are ignorant to the truth.

You speak for those without voices.

In America it's really not that hard to find someone who falls under that demographic.

There's a lot of us here in this country who need justice; even more of us on this planet that need justice as well. So why shouldn't I stand up and fight ignorance and racism when I see it? Just because someone is tired of hearing me yell? Well quite frankly I'm tired of yelling. But it's the only way to properly combat the silence the assimilation and racism that has blanketed us since the birth of this country.

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

Get out of your comfort zone and stand in the challenge.

Become that controversy.

Be that change.

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Whitney Houston: The Voice (8/9/1963 – 2/11/2012)

This is going to be the hardest thing I've ever had to write. In fact I'm already tearing up and I haven't even started. I don't know how to start out on writing about someone that honestly changed everything for music for me.

Whitney Elizabeth Houston, born on August 9 in 1963 was more than a singer or performer to me.

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My parents had and played her "I'm Your Baby Tonight" album constantly when I was growing up. They played other artists, but it was only Whitney whose entire album I knew. I can recall jumping up and down and dancing around in my socks in the living room to the single "I'm Your Baby Tonight" with both my parents and sister. "I'm Your Baby Tonight" is and always be not just my favorite R&B album, but my favorite album of all time.

When Whitney did "The Bodyguard", I was two. As soon as the soundtrack came out, I became obsessed with that one. My mother while pregnant with my sister would dance for hours to "I'm Every Woman" with me. Her rendition of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" was the best selling single by a female artist in music history. This album didn't just win her a Grammy for best soundtrack, it won her a part in making music history because she became the first act (solo or group, male or female) to sell more than a million copies of an album in the first week. 

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I'm going to speak very little about her problems with addiction and by that I mean I'm not going to speak about it beyond acknowledging the fact that she had one. Because thinking and speaking about those bitter moments are not what made Whitney. What made Whitney was that God gave her a talent and a gift. She knew this and was never hesitant to show it. When she made an appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show she let loose a beautiful unscripted raw piece from her first song she ever performed in church. When she did the movie and the soundtrack, "The Preacher's Wife", it became the best selling gospel album of all time.

As time passed I fell even more in love with Whitney Houston. When she sang it was as though it was effortless. Whatever emotions the lyrics were supposed to portray and make the listener feel, I felt. I was enraged at some unknown guy for cheating on Whitney when she sang "It's Not Right But It's Okay" or "Heartbreak Hotel" Kelly Price and Faith Evans. I remembered how great a friendship is each and every single time I hear the hit "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" from the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack. "Exhale" is actually my go to "everything will be fine" song. I listened to it right after I made my post about having to leave DC. I cried. Played the song. Didn't cry again about leaving DC. I even fell in love with love listening to "Run to You" and her live performance of "All The Man That I Need".

Some people are wondering why I'm so upset about her passing. It's very simple. Because of her I love music. I was always "Team Whitney". When people wrote her off and said that she wasn't the same she used to be, I asked "Well who is?" I always wanted her to get better. I always believed she would get better. 

Over the span of her career she won two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, and 22 American Music Awards, and numerous other wards that gave her a grand total of 415 awards throughout her career in 2010. This placed her in the Guinness World Records as being the most awarded female act of all time.

From her first big hit "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" to her last big hit  "I Look to You" I was a fan.

Whitney Houston was not a perfect woman. But without her, I would not have a love for music. I would not have an understanding of how music can aid a person when they need it the most. So for now, I shall go back to the multitude of memories that Whitney Houston gave me and remember her for who she was.

The artist. The mother. The woman.

The Voice.

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