Since my journey back to the Literary Arts, I have been called many things. Among them all, Role Model is the only one I have shied away from. I understand the gravity of being a Role Model and never thought I qualified. Teachers, Parents, and Celebrities I always thought bared that burden but I had a new thought.
In 1993, Nike along with Charles Barkley launched an ad campaign entitled “I am Not A Role Model”. In the commercial, he outlines that he is paid to score points, get rebounds, and be intimidating. Not raise your kids. That campaign was met with some backlash considering the amount of young people that looked up to him. He was a Role Model whether he liked it or not. However, that didn’t stop him from making mistakes on and off the court which made him a less appealing Role Model. My mistakes in life are many more.
That’s why I often downplayed myself as a Role Model. At one time, I considered embracing myself as a Role Model. I thought my new purpose in life meant new responsibilities. That was short lived. A few years ago, my son’s oldest brother was shot and killed. He was not my biological son but we had a great relationship. We spoke often. It seemed that no matter how much knowledge I shared with him, it could not save him. I took it as failure and abandoned any thoughts of being a Role Model. However, I could not avoid all the young people in my life. It was them that helped me see the real problem.
Our young people live in an unforgiving social media society. Any mistake they make is quadrupled by public opinion once a friend puts it on social media. I have made tons of mistakes and being human, I am inclined to make a few more. Our youth need inspiration to move past mistakes. Whereas Role Models are assumed perfect representations, I tell the youth I am far from perfect. I am Real. Perfectly flawed like everyone else. My message to them is don’t strive to be like me but let me be a representation of part of the journey. I am a Real Model, not a Role Model. My success have come at the expense of my struggles. My legacy will be written over my struggles to come.
Holla if you hear me
Bishop Corletta Vaughn is no stranger to this blog. I have covered her extensively during the airing of “Preachers of Detroit” and also “Women Who Soar” her coaching and mentoring seminar for women. On April 9, 2016 she unveiled her latest game changer, Herself! In a brand new documentary “Born A Girl”, Bishop Vaughn reveals her struggle to become a world renown Preacher. Little did we know, her first struggle was being allowed to preach in the first place. Simply because she was a girl.
Being a preacher’s child often carries with it a natural knack for the word of God. So preaching her first sermon at the age of 4 in her mother’s salon should have been no surprise and was the first indicator that she will follow in her father’s footsteps. This would be no problem if she was born a boy. For in the Baptist church as well as other churches, women preachers were and still are strictly forbidden. “Born A Girl” Takes you on a journey with Bishop Vaughn as she recalls the trials and triumphs that built the woman of God that she is. Everything from that fateful night her father Henry Lewis stood up for his daughter’s call on her life to preach to the murder of her brother in Memphis,TN. Nothing was easy. In this documentary, she exemplifies hard work and not taking no for an answer.
This is why she wanted this opportunity to tell her story. Because women are often told “No”. Young girls with dreams of mighty things are told they can’t just because they are girls. Bishop Corletta Vaughn is seeking to destroy those barriers. You could tell by the faces of the guests in attendance, her message was getting across. So much so that once the credits rolled, a standing ovation was mandatory. Her mission, accomplished! Her documentary is arguably one of the most inspiring films any young girl can watch.
As a man watching this film, I felt even more compelled than ever to ensure that all women have equal opportunity succeed in this world. For man’s world would not exist without a woman’s contributions. In her documentary, Bishop Vaughn quoted an old African proverb “If you teach a man, you help a man. But if you teach a woman, you help a village”. This documentary will go a long way to doing just that. Because the first thing our young women need to learn is that being born a girl is the first step to becoming someone great! Holla if you hear me!
UPDATE: I was so moved by the movie and the efforts of the Corletta J Vaughn Foundation, that I have decided Hollaifyouhearme.com will partner up. The tab at the top of the screen that says ” Support The Corletta J Vaughn Foundation ” will be there for you and anyone else to donate to their efforts to help women and girls! I will be pitching in and I hope you will also!
There are things that plague our community and we thought injustice and police brutality was tops on the list. In fact, it sparked a new movement entitled “#BlackLivesMatter”. This past Holiday season has opened my eyes to an even bigger problem. We seldom value our own lives. In the fight for peace in our neighborhoods, we are losing daily.
The man pictured above is Anthony Tolson. Arguably Detroit’s best on bass guitar. The truth of that statement may never be known now. Last Christmas eve, Anthony was shot and killed by thieves who carjacked him for his truck. The truck was found. His children’s gifts and his bass still in the back. One of the young men arrested for his murder indicated that they only wanted the rims. A few months later, A young man was shot and killed at Eastland mall. It was over a minor dispute in the mall but I continue to read his mother’s major heartbreak on Facebook everyday. Every week since then, there has been a murder here in Detroit, 90% of those under the age of 30.
It’s not just here in Detroit. Chicago, Miami, and Memphis have seen some of the most bloodiest days in their history in the past month. Guns are easy to get and easily stolen. Now that Micheal Jordan has released his latest color of his old throwback gym shoe. To my knowledge, there have been 3 fatalities due to being robbed for those shoes at gunpoint. These factors have driven people to the gun stores at record numbers. It feels more like we have given up.
We have given up raising our kids, We have given up mentoring our teens. We have given up passing knowledge of self and community. We have abandoned the notion that we can control our own; raise our own; provide for our own. We want to fight mass incarceration yet give into mass neglect. We, yes WE! We are the key to everything. Not lawmakers or lawmen. We who are in the neighborhoods everyday. It is We who must teach what really matters. Not Jordan’s, expensive rims, not even foolish pride, but the lives of every one who looks like you, lives like you, and in the future…will learn to believe in you. Holla if you hear me!
I always respect everyone’s choice of religion or style of worship. I don’t consider myself the perfect Christian, yet I hope to inspire anyone to take a leap of faith. The word of God is the foundation of my beliefs. The blood of Jesus Christ the very source of my salvation. Whereas I understand that some of my fellow Christians may not interpret the Bible the same as myself. I have recently become aware that the same Bible I read can be misrepresented to a disturbing degree.
I hoped that the Supreme Court ruling on Same-Sex marriages would have ended the debate for good. An act of separation of church and state to quell the moral struggle in our country. My hopes proved to be too high as the most religious of men and women would deny us peace in this area. The latest individual being Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis. Mrs Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples citing her belief in God’s law. She was called into a court room to explain herself after many complaints. The judge offered compromises that would allow her to do her job without breaking the law. However, she would not be swayed and was found in contempt which landed her in jail. This was met with outrage from hardcore Christians around the United States. Facebook and Twitter were flooded with posts in support of her stand.
After a couple of days in jail, Kim Davis was released. She emerged from the building to a cheering crowd holding crosses, Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” blaring over loudspeakers, and Republican Presidential Candidate hopeful Mike Huckabee standing at the podium waiting to exploit the situation for his own political agenda. As I watched Mrs. Davis praise God and urge everyone in attendance to keep up the fight, I couldn’t help to think how misguided the whole scene was.
There are many Christians who work in casinos, bars, and other professions that may be frowned upon by religious doctrine yet they have to make a living. Christians must work along side people who are atheist, homosexual, or non-christian faith in all professions. It is the fundamental belief in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which includes religious freedom that our country was built upon that we must respect. It is the very reason why we have separation of Church and state. So that the very freedom that we have to worship God; we give to everyone else. Even Jesus paid taxes to a government that didn’t acknowledge him nor was he disobedient to the law in return. To do so would have undermined his purpose. Kim Davis’s unwise actions led to her stance being undermined and in a sense look…. foolish. She made Christians appear unforgiving and disrespectful. She was used by Mike Huckabee for photo ops and his political agenda. In an ironic twist, The rock group Survivor has filed a $1.2 million lawsuit against Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee for using their song “Eye of the Tiger” without permission in an event which goes against their personal beliefs.
I tell my son constantly that he is a reflection of me and he must act accordingly. It is the same with us as children of God. To those that don’t know God, we are the only representation of him. We have to love and forgive one another as he instructed us to do or nothing else we try to teach the world will be accepted. The minute we start operating without God’s love and forgiveness, we look like religious terrorists to the rest of the world. That is the most unfortunate and unacceptable outcome ever. Holla if you hear me!
I have heard an old saying in reference to African-Americans. It states that we are like crabs in a bucket pulling each other down. Upon further study of crabs, I have made a new conclusion.
The immediate question is why the hell are crabs in the bucket? Crabs don’t live in buckets. I have seen them near oceans just doing what crabs do. They are not overly aggressive animals prowling the beach looking to snap at other crabs or terrorize tourist. They keep to themselves mostly only venturing out to find food or a mate. During certain times of the year, you can catch them moving in unison across the beach like an army. Yet pulling each other down or hindering another’s movements is not among it’s activities. If a crab ends up in a bucket, Its usually because someone has plans on making that crab dinner. Given the size of crabs, that someone would need quite a few crabs to make a meal. So now you have a bunch of crabs piled on top of one another, fighting for their lives.
We African-Americans are very similar. When left alone, we tend to keep to ourselves and live pretty normal. However, we are constantly being put in a bucket. This bucket is not made of metal or wood but of far more sinister materials. This bucket we are being put in is made of racism, income inequality, poverty, cuts in education funding, racial profiling, police brutality, and injustice. Also like the crab, we are fighting for our lives. So we struggle frantically and some violently for a way out.
That is one of the reasons I write this blog. This is my way of kicking over the bucket, I write so that the way out is attainable without having to pull our neighbors down along the way. Yet there are those that choose to stay in the bucket. They were born there, raised there, and more than likely will die there. They have become accustomed to the bucket and will choose to live there. Institutionalized in their own homes. This is also why I hate stereotypes. Some find it easier to lump people up in one big pot rather than treat everyone as an equal. Next time you hear someone lumping a group of folks together in a comment, keep brother crab in mind. Listen to the substance of the bucket people are being put in then ask yourself a question: Am I a cruel person that admires the bucket or am I a conscience person that helps people find tools on how to get out? Holla if you Hear Me!
Recently, I have been thinking about the quest to make money. I know what you are about say, “Why now? You should always think about making money.” The truth is that I don’t. It enters into my mind maybe once every two weeks or so. I know your next question summed up in one word…Why? Well I will tell you.
For the record, yes I would like to be rich. Famous would be nice too but not necessary. However, when and if that happens I want to be mentally ready. I know a lot of people who want to be rich but I almost fear what they would turn out to be. Money doesn’t solve your problems. It enhances them. I know you would get yourself out of debt, buy homes for your family, and want for nothing. Sounds cool doesn’t it? What isn’t cool is that you are soon broke. Why? You started in debt which means that you were probably bad at budgeting from the start. Your rags to riches and back to rags story confirms it.
I don’t watch reality shows but you don’t have to in order to find out the latest foolishness. It winds up on the news or TMZ and you say “I would never do that”. If you have unresolved personal issues, you could. Drugs, Sex, Anger, Jealousy, and Narcissism all become magnified by your new social status. Any one of these can ruin your life in an instant. Greed makes it 10x’s worse. Some would fight to stay rich. Even commit murder.
Most of my friends and family are talented, very talented. Any of them can easily be thrust into superstardom overnight. Here in Detroit, we are rich with talent. The harsh economic climate had given our local artist time and incentive to perfect their passions. I hope however, that they take the time to read this. I want them to take the time to perfect their souls as well as their craft. Personal wealth comes from within. Deal with your faults and seek peace with yourself. So when fortune comes your way, YOU are in control and not fame. Holla if you hear me!
– K. Greene
As a member of the Motown Writers Network, I look forward to our monthly meetups. The amount of information and support that I get from my fellow writers is enormous. We also spend a huge amount of time networking at these meetings resulting in powerful collaborations.
April is our poetry month so we decided to invite our friends and literary cousins Poetry, Pages, and Scribes to our monthly meetup. We also had the pleasure of Ber-Henda Williams, host of the YouTube show “B in the City” who is also a powerful poet in her own right hosting it. As an added bonus, the representatives from poetry power plants Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe and Manila Bay Cafe were present. The host of the newest poetry venue 1917 American Bistro made sure it wasn’t left out. It was cool to have Detroit’s best writers, poets, and the venues that have shown us love, together in one place. This doesn’t happen often. This was shaping up to be the biggest literary gathering since our Literary Jam and Conference last November!
At the halfway point of the meetup, a massive networking session ensued. Poets and Writers exchanged business cards and ideas in a flurry of chatter. Many of us were already fans of each others work, but today, we had the opportunity to express our appreciation for each other’s work and discuss opportunities to create together. We also shared our struggles with the creative process as well, new bonds were being formed among Detroit’s top literary minds. There was a powerful positive energy in the air and it charged every body in the room! A few of the poets even blessed us by performing some of their stellar pieces: including our gracious host.
When the meeting ended, the networking resumed and many of us hung around to forge bonds and friendships. After talking to a few people, I found myself pinned against a wall admiring the scene. Detroit is in dire need of a shot in the arm. Something that could raise the spirits of its citizens and get them through these dark days. That shot may come from the artist assembled here; and many here in this cafe are up to the challenge.
This Saturday morning in Detroit may go down in history as the start of the new Detroit Literary Movement.
Just remember that you hear it here first! Holla if you hear me!