Tag Archives: community

Three Principles for Embracing Martin’s Dream

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

-Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream, 1963.

Finally. I get a day off work. I get time to spend with my family, maybe do a little shopping, watch some TV, and just bum around. That’s what most people do on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. While there will still be some of that, I decided to make today a day of reflection. How far have we come in the last 50 years since the “I Have a Dream” speech? By comparison of then and now, Blacks and minorities today are doing more than they have ever done. We have our own homes, businesses and even the United States presidency. Yet, thre are still inequalities and injustices everywhere you turn. I want to take three principles from Dr. King’s speech that I feel will help us make his dream a reality.


The Tranquility of Gradualism
1. “This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”

Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened in the 1970s and 80s. Many Blacks became apathetic toward the civil rights movement and satisfied with minor victories against social injustice. After King’s death, we went from a state of activism to gradualism, accepting minor reforms as they came. Throwing a program at a community ridden with poverty and violence is like putting band aid on a stab wound. We have allowed the current welfare system to rob us of our dignity, self-worth and passion. King advocated that all would have access to the American Dream which is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In many ghettos across America that pursuit of happiness turned into pursuit of the materialistic. “By any means necessary” as quoted by Malcolm X, turned killing your brother in order to gain respect or robbing your grandmother to feed to your addiction. Let us do away with the gradualism that nullifies our soul and resurrect the passion of change deep within.

A Return to Dignity and Discipline
2. “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”

When injustice occurs there always the propensity to become angry and that anger often results in violence, hatred or bitterness. In the struggle, we must maintain our dignity and self-respect.  Furthermore, discipline for the journey ahead is necessary to secure to victory. We can’t cry injustice were there is no discipline. We must stay focused and consistent even in the face of adversity.
“The Greatest of These is Love” (1 Cor. 13:13)
3. “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

Above all, we must commit to love each other and all God’s creation. We must not become so bitter that we cannot reach across racial lines to work with and help our brother. Martin’s dream was not just that we would have Black-owned this and that, but that we would be able to work alongside other races for the common good.  We need to appreciate the diversity of humanity and the diversity within the Black race. Therefore, we should stop pointing out the differences in skin color, eye color, hair texture etc. Let us embrace Dr. King’s dream to judge one another by the content of our character and not our appearance. 

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Going to the “Height” of the Problem: Pastor lives on the roof to save his community [Video]

source

Chicago’s southside and the Woodlawn neighborhood in particular has been plagued with violence for many years. You may have seen one Woodlawn’s troubled apartment buildings in the movie “Losing Isaiah” (1995) with Halle Berry. No change…yet. What will make the difference? One neighborhood pastor is putting his faith on the line and calling us to the challenge of creating change. Pastor Corey Brooks of New Beginngings Church has taken up a new residence–in protest of the violence, on the rooftop of  the former Super Motel on the corner of 66th and Martin Luther King Drive. His church is directly across the street from the abandoned motel. (That motel, which I might add, used to be a sesspool of drugs and prositution. The church actively prayed and protested against the motel until it was eventually shut down in 2009.) They are at it again, this time taking what was meant for bad and turning it around for good.


The movement Project Hood (which is now being termed Occupy King Dr.), seeks to take the abandoned motel and turn it into a multipurpose youth center. Pastor Brooks has vowed to stay on the roof until he raises enough money ($450,000) to make the center a reality. He has been up there for weeks now, and only came down briefly to support a mother whose 16-year-old son was slain in the street. Briana McCarthy, creator of The Mane Source had the opportunity to interview Pastor Brooks on the rooftop. In the video, he shares his passion for the people and vision for the new youth center. His story of unwavering commitment and courage is inspiring. You can show your support by donating to Project Hood today. Enjoy the video (and watch the whole thing).

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A Meetup with “Purpose”: Hanging at Nia Naturals Kwanzaa Fest with Beauty Expert Rachel O

Afro to Afro…lol

I had the pleasure Saturday of attending Nia Naturals Kwanzaa Fest and Chicago Naturals Beauty meetup. The event was hosted by the beautiful Miss Rachel O, lincensed beauty expert and blogger/vlogger.  It was held at The Connection, a cozy spot located in the Bronzeville neighborhood. The place was packed with Chicago naturals and even some not. There was a friendly and warm vibe…which might be attributed to the hot chocolate that was served…However, this was not your typical meetup, this one had purpose.


Once again, the thing that intrigued me the most about this meetup, and the ones that I have been attending lately is the support and promotion of Black-owned business. A very fitting name for the event, Nia actually means purpose and is the 5th principle of Kwanzaa:

“To make as our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.”

For me, these meetups are more than just a group of girls gathering together to talk about hair. It is a movement toward restoring our people and rebuilding the community.

The natural hair segments were presented by Darya’s Naturals Salon. Stylist, Darya was there giving tips and style demos (I have to add that her little girls are gorgeous with their long, flowing locs.) In between segments where raffles, makeup demos by Rachel O and Kwanzaa and vendor presentations. And, I must not forget the, ahem… plus-size fashion show by Hidden Treasures Boutique which left us all drooling over their signature, designer fashions.

Another highlight was a presentation by a nonprofit organization, Pure and Sure which helps young women to achieve a lifestyle of purity, integrity and self-assurance. Also promoting a positive self-image in young people was Celeste Parker, author of a children’s book, entitled Pigs Don’t Wear Pearls (adorable with a message).  Certainly, the “Nia” principle was in full effect at this wonderful event.  If you were a vendor, or attendee feel free to post a comment about your experience or a link to your website! View the slideshow below for more pics.

Succeeding in Life with a Unique Black Name

A while back, I read an article on Madame Noire’s website entitled, “Poor Child: 5 Hood-ish Baby Names That Take Creativity Too Far.” When I first saw this article in my news feed, I was like, “Oh, Lord, here we go…Get ready for some outrageously ghetto names.” The article certainly does not disappoint on outrageous… Of course, names like Le-a (La-dash-a) and DaFinest are ridiculous. That fact that many black parents like the way a name sounds, but do not know how to spell it is quite sad. I don’t find aggregious name misspellings funny at all.

Social Class and Black Names
What this article really points to is the lack of education and poverty in our community. All the more reason to support and promote entrepreneurship and business within the black community. If this were done, blacks nor whites for that matter, would not have the desire to name their children after major brand names and such. As an article on Salon.com by David Zax points out,

‘” [It’s] a class thing, not a race thing,” says Cleveland Evans, noting that he has encountered twins named Camry and Lexus who were white. If you are poor and wish a better life for your kid, a name like Lexus declares that hope.”

People in general, tend to name their children after that which they idealize (fast money, the high life, cars, religion, hobbies, etc.). We are no different in that respect.

Being Successful
One of the primary arguments people pose for not giving your child an American-American sounding name is the high likelihood of being discriminated against when applying for jobs soley based on your name. From my personal experience, my husband and I named our two boys traditional biblical first names, and my oldest has an Arabic middle name. We chose that approach because we figured that Black men have a hard enough time making it in this world, why give them one more hurdle with an Afrocentic first name? I figured if my son chooses to go by his middle name, Jabari (which means fearless) later in life, he can do that. Now, I must say that if I had had a girl, she would have gotten a “pretty” name with meaning. (Another argument for another post on whether or not Black women have it easier than Black men…)

So the question then becomes, does your name even matter when it comes to being successful? One commenter on the article made a good point when she stated,

“To many White people hiring there is no difference between Shaqueetra Johnson or a Tiffany Johnson or a Shaunna Williams. I think we should be training our children to able to provide for themselves from a entrepreneurial standpoint in whatever endeavor they’ll choose, so they won’t have to be too concerned about filing out a job application”

Case in point, I know a Black man who has a fairly “normal” name and well-qualified, who applied for a corporate security job. They never called him back. One thing he noticed upon entering the lobby was that the faces in the front lobby were light and faces in the control room were dark faces. He did not let that detour him. He kept calling. He introduced himself to management. He went to the office of the head manager and pleaded his case. And, you know what? He got the job. It doesn’t always work that way, but as a Black person, you have to go that extra mile, be the best and never give up.

The Final Word
Starting out with a good name could be the icing on the cake, but I want you to be encouraged that no matter what your name is, God has your back. I think many names can still be seen as “unique” and “creative.” Even some names that take liberty with stretching the spelling are OK in my book. I’m going to take the unpopular view and say that this creativity is a general part of African-American culture which should be celebrated not berated. As we embark on this journey of loving ourselves and our hair we should embrace those facets of our culture that make us a community. We take race out of the equation by building and restoring our community and elevating our mindsets. Not everyone can be an entertainer or is born into a celebrity family. So, let’s continue to strive to help one another to succeed and support each other’s business endeavors and educational goals.

So, what’s your take on unique black names?