Black Dreams, Fantasies & Realities (Opinion Piece)

cropped-blackmaggie2.jpgIt’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We take this time to honor the life and vision of a man who unapologetically risked it all to work towards equality employing a strategy of non-violence. His stance on not fighting fire with fire helped shape and control the narrative to highlight exactly what was going on around the country.

His power was not in his “hands” but in the strength of his mind to do the thing that goes against every human instinct for the sake of further proving his argument and developing a stable foundation for an entire movement. His leadership in maintaining this strategy was met with opposition from within the Black community as some felt as though fighting back and taking an eye for an eye would yield better results. There were some that felt as though Blacks should completely disengage from White society as a whole and focus on building wealth.

Who was right?

This depends on who you ask and how they see the end goal. If your family suffered on the back-end of desegregation with store closures and farm profit decreases you may hold one opinion. If your family suffered from mass incarceration as a result of Jim Crow laws you may hold another. However, had the foundation not been established with undeniable video evidence of Black peace being met with extreme violence perpetrated by the State as well as White citizens at the time, would any school of thought have a place to take root? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that there’s only one right answer to how we achieve better treatment and equitable economic standing in our given environments over the years.

The social constructs of discrimination and racism are multifaceted and manifest themselves in almost every avenue of life in America (Work, worship, education, financial access, voting, socializing…) so we need every type of Hero we can muster to tackle this beast. Nobody’s wrong, but not everybody’s right in every situation.

Where does that leave us today?

Just like in every other portion of history, Black is not a monolith. Not even Black in America… not even Black in the same city. We each have a realm of experience that shapes how we would like to see the future of people who look like us. Even when we isolate the last 6 years, most of which we spent with Obama as President, we didn’t all have the same outlook on the state of Black America.

I’m sure from the outside in, it’s evident to those paying attention. The same time that we had President Obama in office, we were enraged and mourning the fact that Trayvon Martin died because of the suspicions of a White Latino centered solely on his race and presence in a decent neighborhood. While we couldn’t have seen the day of anyone other than a white male holding the highest office in our country without the work of Dr. King, there’s a hole in the tapestry that still makes horrible people feel as though they can treat us how they see fit and never have to answer for the crimes they commit. Here’s the piece that makes it even trickier, there’s no proven formula that keeps Black people from getting gunned down and/or manhandled like dogs just for being Black in a particular space. Poor kid in Ferguson to Harvard Professor… we’re not a monolith, but we are all candidates for similar treatment.

How is that possible?

Even though we have come so far on the shoulders of those that went before us like Dr. King, we have failed to establish any real infrastructure for systemic change. We have some black owned banks, but not enough to stop frequenting establishments that have been proven to discriminate against us. We have lots of black owned businesses, but not enough are in a position to employ large segments of our communities and provide alternate avenues for economic sustenance. We’ve climbed, but not together. We’ve achieved, but not as an organized unit.

How does that affect how we treat one another?

The internet is an animal that Dr.King didn’t have to endure. He was able to execute his strategies without the ever looming comment section or editorial page posts. Would we be able to accept and respect his strategy today without coming down with a case of the “If I had been there..” syndrome where behind a keyboard we fancy ourselves some version of Luke Cage or T’Challa? In this age the incidents are more easily reported and the power of the narrative is in the hands of either the one with a badge, or the camera with the clearest angle.

We look at incidents like the young woman being beaten in a pizzeria in Pittsburghand then shame the cameraman and the only visible black female employee for not going all John Stewart and Storm. We don’t ever stop to consider what’s at stake for one another. It’s easy to say, “you should have jumped in the middle of the mob” or ” you should have called the police” and “what good are you doing behind the camera?”. We’ll support a woman risking her job and possibly her life, but won’t have an answer for her as to where she can then feed her family and pay her bills afterward. We talk bad about the cameraman, calling him a coward, but he’s the only reason that there’s been an arrest on the correct side of the incident. We aren’t fair with one another as much as we could be.

Now what?

We have a present need, to understand and respect that there’s room for all of us. Not just room, but each of us have something special that we can bring to the table and in any given situation we should seek to use the strategy that fits the circumstance. Dr.King was not docile and mild, he was strategic and emotionally intelligent enough to know how to prick the hearts of those that stood in the way of progress. He knew to devise specific goals and work to achieve them. We need to move forward with a balance of proactive and strategic reactive methods if our goal is to see major and measurable positive change.

This piece is a summation of my opinion based on my observation. I encourage you to seek out the perspectives and research the concepts presented here for yourself and share your conclusions. This is a safe space for the exchange of ideas. Links provided in-text for reference.


A Sense of Community..

T&M Podcast- Community Hips (Episode 3)-

There used to be a time that it didn’t take a lot to make it. Most of the things that we needed were a short walk away, and our neighbors were a network of resources akin to a Tribe.

I’ve been sharing the story of Ms.Dott, the neighborhood babysitter as a reference to that simpler time as you’ll hear in the Podcast. She symbolizes the neighborhood watch, the extra set of hands, and the spare cup of sugar. She is what we have lost with this wave of Gentrification over the past decade. Her story represents what we need to fight to restore.

This week’s post is just a quick note to remind you that there was a time that we could count on one another, so we are capable of it being that way again. If you have ways that you get involved and maintain a sense of community, share those tips in the comment section. My goal is to get the voice of my readers into the ears of my new listeners. You all always have great input, so I look forward to what you have to say.

Until next time…

Blackest Weekend of the Blackest Month… (Journal/Reaction)

This is my take on the high I’m feeling after the blackest weekend in the blackest month. 
I’m black all day every day, not just in February. The weekend prior to this one was spent trying to make a dent in helping a city that’s mostly black feel some sense of love after having been poisoned by their (our) government. Although there were faces from multiple backgrounds I couldn’t help but feel like the things going on in Flint are a direct attempt to extinguish the poor and the black by any means possible. This was how we started off our Black History Month, reeling from the emotional ride and 18 hour day of service and still feeling like we couldn’t do enough. Also feeling like, what the hell could anybody have done to deserve this? 
In the background of the Flint mission, I was on The Daniel Fast with my church family. We had a prayer call every evening, and even though there were praise reports on the calls, there were still points during the fast in my personal life that I felt like “oh my Lawd” with the hood problems. Keep in mind that my body was in a state of hunger and so that reaction may have been 70% hanger fueled, but nonetheless, I was “Tide..”. Because no matter how many degrees, titles or accolades we receive, we still have cousins and homies that remind us of both, how far we have come, as well as how far we still need to go as a people. 
Since I decided to work in corporate, much of my day consists of being black in a way that doesn’t make the people that do business with me uncomfortable…because that’s just the way the game is. I’m almost 6ft tall, and that above kinky head is mine… so sometimes I’m not always successful in the attempt. 
So when I got a weekend jam packed with all the out loud blackety blackness that my little heart beating inside of my black body could stand…
Ladies,  you know how you feel when you get home and take off your bra? 
Guys,  you know how you feel when your girl isn’t home so you can fart, scratch and leave the seat up without getting yelled at?
That kind of freedom.
BEYONCE BEING WOKE OUT LOUD– Official Site to watch the Formation Video
Followed by her being Woke, LIVE in front of everybody, backed by what felt like a sea of black women in Afros and Berets in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Formation of the Black Panther Party… 
All of these things, to the backdrop of Super Black Huey… I mean Cam Newton playing for the Panthers, in the 50th Superbowl. I wore my “My Black is Beautiful” t-shirt all Sunday… and as far as I’m concerned, Beyonce won the Superbowl. Shout out to Peyton and all but, well you see it. 
I am so excited for the generation of little kids that are old enough to know what they are seeing. Don’t you know that when I was 5 Whoopi Goldberg  and Oprah Winfrey were who I saw on TV that looked like me. I’m sure many of us almost peed our pants when the world was introduced to Lisa Leslie because she was tall. Don’t even get me on thick version of Serena Williams during the years of early adulthood and body image shaping, when I was serving in a Navy that told me that my big butt was “Un-sat”. 
Many of us had to be comfortable learning how to define our own version of Blackness because usually if we showed up on television, there weren’t 5 of us at once, let alone a football field worth, at the same time, not just doing something with the ball. So while some may have been watching this weekend unfold as just another great marketing move, there’s plenty of us that feel like… 
…so just let us have it. 
As always, we can talk in the comments section. 
-Black Maggie 

Flint Water Crisis (Why I’ve been away and how you can help)

The Rundown-
A view of the Flint River in downtown Flint, Mich.,
Jan. 24, 2016. Photo by Danny Wilcox Frazier/VII for MSNBC
Click on the picture to get the latest timeline of events in Flint as told by MSNBC. 
This past week I’ve been working diligently with the zealous ladies of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.. Both my home chapter Pi Sigma Zeta (PSZ) in Forest Park, OH and the Flint, MI Chapter Zeta Beta Zeta (ZBZ) have been working hard to:
1.Bring fresh water to the people of Flint
2. Maximize the donated dollar through bulk purchases. 

The Plan-
PSZ is collecting money on behalf of ZBZ to facilitate a bulk purchase here in Ohio. The price that we were able to secure with coupons, club memberships and sweat equity is cheaper than the bulk pricing including delivery that was quoted to ZBZ. Also our chapter has just a few more lightly seasoned new grads able to sling and haul water up the highway. That’s for everybody that’s been wondering “Why not just send the money directly to the Flint Chapter?” It’s because as everyone knows in times of disaster and resources are at a premium, prices go up on products and delivery. I could write about how I feel about that, but the bottom line is, we don’t have crisis prices here in Cincinnati so that means… more water. 
Saturday January 30th PSZ will link up with ZBZ at the National Pan-Hellenic Council Water Collection Drive with the water that we’ve been able to purchase at the lower price and also a check to aid in the upcoming ZBZ drive. If you just got mad as hell with the rest of us and have loaded your car with water to give, we can help you unload it there. 
The Latest on Collecting-
PSZ is making our bulk purchase tomorrow evening and loading at our local Costco at 5:30pm. We are STRETCHING every donated dollar. Our overhead was locked at $200 for the truck and we have more than covered that as a Chapter through our individual donations.
Not one dime of the money donated from the public is allocated for anything other than fresh, clean, tasty WATER…Gas? we got that.

How You Can Still Help!-
We just need you to show out in the home stretch so that once we fill our truck we have extra money to give to the Flint Chapter for another bulk purchase. Even better Tia Coles and the Sorors of the Zeta Beta Zeta Chapter are going to focus on the elderly and other people that can’t get to the drives. So your donations are assuring that those left behind are remembered.
Don’t think there’s such thing as a small donation. Don’t you know that $5 will provide 2.5 cases.. that’s 5 people that can drink the recommended amount of clean water a day. $1=1 person $10=10 people… Every drop counts! 
Also when you add your name to the role of donors via PayPal sending to you will receive a full report of the work you’ve done, written BlackMaggie style 😉 “Girl Whet?” Moments included if they occur. I just want you to smile at your good works!
Thank you for allowing me to use this space to talk about some work we’re doing for our neighbors. 

Flint Population: 74,000, 57% are Black… that’s 42,180 people that look like me. 
Oh I care, and thank you for caring too! -Black Maggie