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9Jul/170

The # 1 Cause of Drama (Broken Agreements) And What to Do About It

All issues, drama, chaos and confusion can be traced back to the same source. A broken agreement.

Somebody didn't hold up their end of an agreement and decided to go in another direction.

Most of us make agreements all day with all sorts of people.

Many of these agreements are not verbalized.

They remain silent, hidden, agreed upon with no discussion regarding what it is we are both needing in this situation and what it will require from both of us.

We all prefer mind reading, hints and suggestions, and my personal favorite: passive aggressive behavior.

While none of these things work long term they do provide endless hours of entertainment and create predictable and unsatisfying results.

Why focus on some forward movement when we can whine and moan about what somebody else in not doing?

So what does an agreed upon course of action look like?

For starters we get very clear about what we're agreeing to do and what we will not participate in despite the consequences.

For many years, I agreed to be the broke, whacky, fucked up artist because it allowed me a space in my family and an opportunity to claim an identity.

Years later I met my wonderful husband who asked: Why would you choose to live like this?

With that one question my life was transformed.

My identity then became one of financial solvency, savings accounts, artistic expression (beyond the desperation that goes with being "discovered" and "picked") and home ownership.

I switched the agreement with my family of origin and folks still ain't happy.

I switched our decades long agreement without discussion with or consent from them (family).

I'm not sure if people don't want you to change or feel threatened because now the agreement (in most cases to play small) is threatened.

Folks get their dander up when you switch up the game.

I've been agreeing to all sorts of tomfoolery at my job with my young people that is based in fear and with no input from me (silent agreements).

I will come in swinging with a simple, effective, agreed upon set of rules and they will get on board or move along.

I plan to push, demand and orchestrate a very different type of agreement between myself and my students. Our previous agreement was based on me surviving the homophobic environment that limits my ability to share intimacies and personal anecdotes (my strong suit that provided great teacher -student relationships).

For one, I allowed myself to shrink and be less than my brilliant self.

No one should ever allow themselves to be reduced.

As I begin to show up and be less dependent on being "safe" (which means being unseen), I change our silent and highly dysfunctional interaction.

I must keep in mind that folks prefer fucked up and familiar as opposed to new, exciting and uncertain.

Whenever we change our agreed upon dealings, there is a major upset and some immediate and unforseen push back. It shows up in all sorts of interesting ways and has only one function- stop change and prevent new agreements/arrangements.

What most of us perceive as drama is honesty showing itself as anger, disappointment and a refusal to see things from another's viewpoint.

Most of the time when things are not going as planned (our way), the immediate response is to find the cause and assign blame.

Finding blame (a highly effective tool for preventing any serious dialogue or change) is always a way to find fault with another and make sure nothing changes.

Here is the drama portion- one person wants change and the other is getting all their needs met or at least enough of them to adamantly resist change in any form. Hence, drama.

Or better yet, one party changes the arrangement without notifying the involved parties and much discussion never occurs about the changes.

While this might provide chuckle worthy material for sitcoms and movies, it wrecks havoc on real relationships no mater what our true intent.

Here are a few suggestions to prevent this type of foolishness in everyday life.

Ask- what are we trying to do and what did you agree to do? Fell free to share the same information with your conversation mate.

Tell the Truth- How many times have we rehearsed the truth in our minds and offered something else when given the chance.

Get super clear on the vision of the type of relationship you are trying to create.

2Jul/170

Are You Afraid of Being Powerful?

Power and who gets to have and wield it often get a bad rap.

Power and its direct offshoot, leadership, are not valued by people who have been victimized by powerful people.

I am very concerned with who gets listened to and why and why more of this type of inequality is not more scrutinized by everyone.

Most people don't do the work on themselves that non oppressive, manipulative leadership requires.

As a teacher and lover of young people, my teaching style is based on this mantra : the purpose of my teaching and offering you resources is so that at some point you will not need me.

My soft power approach to leadership often makes people uncomfortable and doubt my abilities and commitment to instituting change.

What seems to really get folks in a snit is when I honestly and shamelessly admit that there is something I don't know or will need some additional thinking to create a productive solution. Apparently, the worse thing anyone can say beyond the ago of six is : I don't know.

To create something new, invite in mystery and a fresh way of thinking, there must be permission granted to dwell in uncertainty.

An effective leader does not run away or avoid uncertainty.

Many of the folks doing the leading globally are not thinking and feeling, contemplative individuals.

People have either ascended to the ranks of power or have anointed themselves leaders amongst a group of people too intellectually lazy to do their own thinking.

Another one of our lies is that only some people are qualified to lead.

When I first dedicated my life to one of intellectual curiosity and creative expression, I immediately sought out those that were smarter than me and had been committed on a very different level.

I am no longer intimidated by those that are wiser or more gifted.

To enter a place of creative expression (school, a play rehearsal,etc) and be the most gifted one there will limit my learning and the opportunity to grow as a human being and artist.

American culture believes the loudest, best looking, flashiest is there to pay attention to, worship and fawn over.

Power and its distribution are determined by people who have the most to gain by wielding it sparingly to those who need it the most and would use it most radically.

Gays, minorities, women, sexual outlaws are all groups who would benefit most from the redistribution of power and its significant and uplifting possibilities.

These same groups would also be wise to unlearn colonized ways of thinking and organizing.

When I have "dared" to write and speak about black male mental health, I have been interrogated by black men who insist that I share my "credentials" and then speak.

When I say : I'm black, gay, HIV negative, been dealing with intimate terrorists since I was 17, homophobic parents, racism, artist oppression and a world that hates direct questions and pure curiosity, this fails to suffice.

When I mention that older white men with Ph.D's are quoting me on their sites and journals without recognition, the assumption is that I must have something of value to offer the world.

When there is no intense and unrelenting self interrogation, our thinking becomes stagnant and we simply reinvite and reinvent the same shit we are trying to eliminate. Awhile back I wrote about progressives only being progressive to the extent that there is no true sharing of power.

It starts with honesty and discussions around who has power (ability to incite change and gather attention in large amounts).

It starts with the belief that we all have power and to wait for an outside force to grant us access to this power is doing a disservice for the world.

I recently launched a class to teach people about their true power(the ability to make choices) but disguised as s a class on surviving unemployment. Everyone that I assembled for the class knew a great deal more than me.

I knew very little and was willing to learn as the class progressed.

This is how true power is learned, shared with others and utilized to create serious social change regardless of the context and outside forces interfering.

Power to the people.

19Jun/170

Why Passion Scares Us and What to Do About It

Passion is for teenagers and foreigners. Marge Simpson

Americans do not like nor understand passion.

As a nation, our responses to passionate individuals includes excommunication and if this does not hinder the passionate individual, there is also death.

As a passionate person, my motivations and sense of urgency are often looked upon with suspicion, disgust and in some extremes, dismissed as ridiculous.

Passion and the change it requires often leave people confused and angry.

Unlike a great deal of other emotions and the way they play out, it causes trouble and can often disrupt even the most tepid of situations.

When I was a young person passionate about life, my parents and other fearful adults unsuccessfully attempted to scare me into living an unimagined and safe life.

To my parents, living in fear meant a life of few disappointments and even fewer surprises.

It seems that when you are not willing to divest of seeking answers, exploring all that life has to offer and unapologetically pursuing your heart's interest, you are deemed a trouble maker and someone who needs coralling.

I have always been fascinated with how any of us survived childhood.

There were many times that my passion took over and I proclaimed that I wanted to be a doctor, create theatre, sing and become a mad scientist simultaneously.

I also wanted to write my biography at twelve and be as funny as Redd Foxx, Carol Burnett and Lucy.

While all of these could not be accomplished immediately and before the age of twenty, there were severe attempts to coerce me into believing that life was simple.

Choose a thing to do and get a paycheck.

The scary idea that you picked something you loved then passionately committed to it was beyond the folks I knew and loved.

Nobody ever asked me what I loved to do or took the time to suggest I use my talents to build an amazing life. People who are afraid of and don't understand passion raise children by stomping on their dreams and denying their (dreams) merit.

When I sang in choirs and performed in plays, not one person suggested actively pursuing a career in the preforming arts.

When I saw the film FAME, I was transfixed.

A place where people sang and danced for any and every reason was a place I longed to be.

My plan was to attend CASS tech and stumble into fame and fortune like the Supremes.

I settled for being "just smart".

Being intelligent (getting good grades) was enough for my parents and family.

Daring to sing and dance and bring attention to the family as a result of a powerful longing was a huge NO-NO.

What would people think or even worse what would they say ?

Anyone who has been massively successful has been passionate about what lead them to success and they have also had to deal with an inordinate amount of disappointment.

Passion is no guarantee that shit will work out.

Everybody can get a job and work five days a week then bitch another two until they start the process all over again.

Everybody can't get a singing gig or be on tv or make movies or write a book.

I started declaring my intention to write at age twelve.

I didn't call myself a writer until thirty years later.

I no longer fear being labeled weird, odd or not of this world.

Once we accept that passion is here to stay and that it enhances our lives in several ways, we can welcome it.

We can invite it in and allow it to take us away.

We can be swept up and not fear what it will do to us or where it will take us.

Often times those in long term relationships prattle on regarding boredom, a loss of interest or spark with their significant other.

What they are seeking is some type of passionate engagement with the world.

The tendency is to avoid disappointment and rely on the belief that familiarity will keep us "safe".

Passion's alternative is safety, i.e. death.

For those of us not passionately involved with our lives and their creation we are left with the alternative which is a slow, seductive , systematic death.

We get to choose.

We get to help our children decide.

It is time to choose a route that courts the unexpected that invites the unexperienced and celebrates the possibilities.

We can only model this behavior when we are living in this manner.

We could teach passionate engagement in schools.

Demand that curriculums reflect this as opposed to the fear based, test driven, useless information acquisition that we currently offer our young ones.

Passion is a choice.

15May/170

Warning: Black, Gorgeous, Brilliant Gay Man is Influencing Young Children

My very young and impressionable grandchildren cornered me one day regarding my pending nuptials.

Are you the girl? Who will wear the dress?

After the inquisition was masterfully handled, they each shrugged, looked at each other then sped off on a skateboard and bike respectively.

I have influenced hundreds of young people and it always amazes me when they are given the opportunity to ingest homophobia or racism and decide that they would rather not.

When it comes down to loving the person who has shown patience, consideration and consistency or dismissing the same person because of a "perceived difference", young folks will invariably go with the more loving approach.

Homophobia is taught by adults and is based on the images they consume.

As a result, homophobia goes unchecked and unchallenged.

My new family embraces me for the unique and powerful gifts I bring (teaching, an inordinate amount of patience and much attention to each child's personal needs).

My family of origin would like to feign shock that I am still gay and horrors of horrors am marrying another man.

My young charges are not aware (are clueless) about the reality that there are institutions (made up of scary people) that would like me dead.

Whether it is slow and methodical (drugs, alchohol, sex, low self esteem, toxic shame) or quick and effective (bashings, homicide), the goal remains the same: destroy the fag.

While I would like to prevent them from ever witnessing these atrocious side of humanity, it is important that when they are faced with it they refuse to be silent.

Wouldn't it be wonderful for all of them to stand up one day and say: I was co-raised by a black gay men who is loving and kind.

I was recruited by a Black Gay to be powerful, fearless and demand that the world and my country live up to its promise and move beyond domination and scapegoating?

With all of the media images (which make money from our suffering) attacking our psyches, it makes it difficult to live a trauma free life.

Media influence is real and not to be dismissed or overlooked by those of us who know better.

My younguns while questioning my marriage and this level of commitment only questioned it to gain clarity.

They assumed we (my husband and I) were already married.

This was when it became clear to me that all of the bullshit we take on as "reality"/just the way things are is a learned, systematic process that can be just as systematically done away with.

When a four year old asks you : When is your ceremony?

You can do nothing but smile and feel hopeful.

I would like the dumb bigots that consciously confuse pedophilia with homosexuality to visit my grandchildren so that they can learn.

Wouldn't it be incredible to have my four year old school conservative "family values" folk in how to stop being an idiot?

This would make a great you tube clip.

16Apr/170

Why Male Teachers are Good for Children

Whenever I have taught children, there has been an obsession with safety.

This was a statement I made four years ago when I wrote an essay about people and their insane, irrational fear of being around children.

Men need children. Children need men.

While all men shouldn't or have no desire to be around children, it is wise to look at the reasons why and be honest in our assessment regarding men's interaction with children.

What must change (in relation to men's influence with children) if we are attempting to create a saner, more loving and thinking world?

For several years, I heard from friends and family that I would make a wonderful father and teacher.

Having switched my major in college to English with an eye on instructing eager, hungry minds, I began making preparations to move into the world of erudite instruction that would serve the young people that I would be fortunate enough to teach.

During the early 90's, homophobia was in full swing and nowhere was it more pronounced and encouraged than in education with almost a witch hunt focus on gays and lesbians.

With dreams of changing the world (which I believe is one of the many purposes of education), I was left sitting on my hands.

I could either jump in with the sharks wearing blood soaked swim trunks and hope for the best or I could save myself a buttload of misery and stay out of the water.

I stayed away from young people and teaching for as long as I could.

I watched in shear horror as my partner dealt with very vocal homophobic students, coworkers and faculty.

I watched with incredulity as people dismissed the powerful offerings of teachers and adults. My heart broke when people chose fear and ignorance over the possibility of change that a male presence could offer.

There was no blueprint for being talented in a given area and knowing that you would not be accepted in this arena or worse yet be run out of it and soon as there was any whiff of being "different".

While homophobia was partly to blame, there was also the belief that men around children was a bad idea simply because of our gender.

Men and their (perceived) devious, predatory ways was the real issue.

Many educational colleagues love to rail on about pedophilia which is not the same as homosexuality.

I have yet to hear an accurate or fact-based account of any teacher ever experiencing this dramatic scene(confrontation with and defeat of pure stupidity) at work with a colleague.

So where does all of this irrational fear and straight up stupidity come from and how do we challenge and defeat it?

We start by recognizing men's goodness.

When good men have skills that are necessary for the maturation and psychological well being of young people, we can work together (with allies that love, respect and admire men) to assign men roles with children that highlight skills our young people need.

We are no longer in need of men who are assigned the role of silent, emotionless ATMs whose response to anything emotional or deep consists of pointing out the failings of those asking questions and or then referring them to women who "know more about those things".

It is not ok to assume that beyond donating sperm and financial assistance men are useless and have little value.

Children are not better off without men.

Men and those that love them must offer assistance in reestablishing male input and the particular ways men approach the world and navigate their existence in it.

We all have much to learn from how the world is seen by men.

Anyone who has met a powerful man whose power stems from his commitment to mental health, self evaluation and improving children's lives recognizes and understands the goodness of men.

Men are psychologically harmed when they are assigned social roles that only benefit patriarchal.

Men are harmed when we get assigned the role of non-thinking monsters.

While I have never subscribed to the ridiculous notion that only men can raise boys, I understand that male energy is different, needed and should be invited in on a consistent and well thought out basis.

So the next time you are considering a baby sitter or someone to care for your young ones, consider a male colleague or family friend to take up the challenging, eye opening and heart expanding task that is influencing and loving children well.

Start small and build.

There is much to be learned and nothing to lose.

9Apr/171

The #1 Reason Men Struggle with Relationships (And What to Do About It)

Men lie.

We live in a culture that encourages lies and shame.

Men are rarely supported in speaking their truth.

We are supported in giving up what makes us vulnerable, real and ultimately human.

Male gender assignments start early thereby limiting and infringing on our ability to become better men and human beings.

Primarily, we learn to lie often and always about our feelings.

Many of us are not taught that having and worse yet sharing our feelings is a big fat no no and should be avoided no matter the consequence. Men not being able to cry no matter the consequences is not just a stereotype or punchline to a bad joke.

I know several men who have witnessed the burial of parents and beloved siblings who refused to give in to the grief that would be a natural and healthy emotional expression.

I know several men who have such an inordinate amount of emotional pain inside of them that I am awestruck by their ability to function on any level.

Men who are not allowed access to a full emotional expression do not make for great companions nor are they able to be great resources for themselves in terms of liberatory and radical self love.

If a person is not allowed to feel they will not allow themselves to fully love another nor allow another to fully love them.

Part of sharing feelings also involves creating tools that will allow us to express the "good"ones as well.

The ability to experience powerful and loving feelings is something we often struggle to incorporate.

In bell hooks' wonderful, We Real Cool, the concept of coolness is addressed and deconstructed as necessary and problematic.

Men,particularly men of color, get introduced to the culture of cool via the men in our lives whose only emotional expression is one of anger and cool.

Coolness was the chosen mode of being and the indicator of all future success.

I was often reminded of my inability to be "cool" and not exhibit an emotional response regardless of the circumstances.

Whether I did a jaunty dance step because I made the honor roll or physically showed my disapproval of an injustice or the cancellation of my favorite show, the message given to me was clear.

You are not cool.

Uncool men will not make it in this society.

At 45, I have style but still lack cool.

I am ok with this.

We often inflate our talents, abilities and personal accomplishments and downplay our lack or inability to "make something or crate a certain result". I have had several failures in my life.

As an American Male, I am coerced into keeping my failures to myself. Male culture does not allow or encourage reflection and honest self and emotional assessment.

We are "supposed" to know what to do and have all the answers all the time.

Dealing with and accepting disappointments is another trap that confuses and seduces us.

bell hooks states that men can be seduced by power because it offers long term and ongoing rewards.

This is another lie that men get pitched that it is easy and simple to partake of the power structure (patriarchy).

Patriarchy's cost is never examined:men lose so much.

Men are not taught that emotional needs are important so when an opportunity (participation in patriarchy) is presented that requires that they give up more of their souls (lying), it doesn't feel odd.

Men who are disappointed sexually are never shown or resist ways that would increase their enjoyment of sex and lead to greater overall emotional satisfaction.

When young boys and then men are told to "man up ", it leaves them angry and confused with no outlet to address their pain.

Male culture is steeped in grief.

Many men can only address grief when they are drunk or high.

Men need tools that allow us to sit in and work through our pain.

It is time to stop lying and pretending that things don't hurt.

26Feb/171

Why 2016 Sucked for Most Americans and How We Can Do Better

Americans have had one solid year of angst and disbelief.

Prince, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, George Michael all checked out with very little warning or preparation for those of us committed to lives of mastery and courage.

For me, 2016 was all about trying to figure out and navigate new systems with no understanding of these systems and why they are needed.

After looking at the joke that is politics and pop culture over the last twelve months, it is clear to me that we have lost our way because we are existing in a world without boundaries.

Brene' Brown states it best with this succinct definition of boundaries- this is what's okay; this is what's not okay.

We have spent the last year allowing confusion to remain instead of setting boundaries.

Bullying , scapegoating and the level of racism and misogyny that our most recent presidential race highlighted was shocking and beyond disturbing.

When those seeking power are seeking more power, it sends a message to all of us that we don't need boundaries not when it interferes with getting what we want.

I stopped being shocked at people's behavior the minute creating a sex tape was the requirement for breaking into the entertainment industry.

I also stopped being shocked when Americans sucked up all the lies regarding what President Obama was doing or not doing.

I, like all Americans, have only two choices: stay shocked (in shock)- or strap on the head gear and get in the game, i.e. create some change by personally being a change maker.

2017 must be the year of boundaries and clear thinking.

When the subject of boundaries comes up, most of wince and deliberately try to change the subject.

Boundaries are uncomfortable for most of us because it means saying no to someone we care about (friends and relatives) or in many instances(someone who may have "perceived" power over us-supervisors and large government agencies and big businesses).

Boundaries are also sorely needed in a world with too many choices about every aspect of our lives.

Whenever there have been hurt feelings and or misunderstandings that I've allowed to easily settle into resentments, there was a boundary I didn't set or allowed it (the boundary) to be negotiated away(a semi firm one built on shaky ground) or hoped that the person causing the drama would appreciate my "niceness" and set one for the both of us.

I always ended up screwed and resentful.

When the "Donald" began his bid for the White House, I dismissed it. I foolishly believed it was a publicity stunt that had gotten out of hand and America would see it as the tomfoolery it truly was.

I believed we could all get back to the seriousness of our daily lives and co-create next steps for moving our country in a sane, positive direction.

I was wrong.

Once again, I and the rest of the country failed to maintain a boundary.

29Jan/170

Ten Ways to Survive in a Trump World

Greetings fellow Americans,

Three weeks ago we all received a shocking and historical blow. While the election is over, many fellow citizens are bemoaning the fact that this actually happened and "the Donald" pulled this off. It is time we stopped being shocked and instead start moving towards some action.

Here are my ten ways to survive in our new world order.

1. Stop bitching-Start a Revolution. I saw this on a bumper sticker some years ago and never forgot it. Probably because it's true. The time for belly aching is over. What we need are powerful people to build powerful coalitions and fight like hell to make sure we don't regress as humans. We also need powerful people who can actually listen to and be with people and their pain.

2. Make sure that all of your finances are in order. Moving beyond just paying bills and living paycheck to paycheck, it is important that we invest, understand what money can and can't do and plan for our future. So many of us are waiting for the government to save us/ bail us out and yet we turn a blind eye to their stellar record of handling money. No folks, we have to make sure all life insurance policies, wills, trusts and power of attorney paperwork is filed.

3. Pull your loved ones in closer and begin to work towards creating new and stronger alliances with people who are vastly different than you. For example, watch the great film , Lorenzo's Oil. In it the white female middle class mom unties with poor people of color in an effort to create and sustain change. When the world gets crazy, it is imperative that we get more sane.

4. Start obsessively reading and watching the fine print. Whether a written piece or a ridiculous talking head, task yourself to question, scrutinize and challenge. In the past 18 months, I've seen more tom foolery and hijinks than ever. Television interviews and news sources just love a good comeuppance and my god have we had our share of it this last year. Fine print in the written word is somewhat easier to spot. Incidentally, feel free to use this time to bone up on your vocabulary because mark my word, we are getting ready to see a whole lot of name changing, i.e. high falutin' code switching designed to confuse and immobilize many of our citizens.

5. Get all travel documents in order. For those of us who have done international traveling, make sure those passports are current. As a black gay man, I know that understanding and acceptance can be eliminated in a blink of an eye with awful repercussions. While it is wonderful and brave to stay and fight, let's not be the idiot refusing to cover all bases as opposed to hoping that good people will stand up when it counts and that humans eventually do the right thing.

6. Do you speak one language? Two? Three? As Americans, myself included, we are notoriously arrogant in our refusal to learn about other cultures and languages. With this new world order, it is wise to start learning Spanish, a language spoken by more than a third of the world's population. As comrades in struggle, we must join forces with a community that has largely been dismissed and overlooked. By joining with our Latino brothers and sisters we have the opportunity to harness the same power that made a Trump victory possible. We organize around people whose voices have been systematically squelched. Scared, voiceless people in serious pain can be a scary and misguided group. Scared, voiceless people who are self directed with a united voice can move mountains.

7. Figure out what the hell the Electoral College is so that we can either improve or eliminate it. I have no idea what it is, how it works or why in the entire hell it only seems to elect Republicans. It requires further examination and a firm commitment to making sure things work for everyone (all Americans).

8. Pray. Pray for courage and wisdom. The wisdom to know what to do and the courage to actually do it. It is easy to hand wring and fret. Be bold and take the right action.

9. Get a sense of humor and know that every loudmouth idiot has his day. Keep in mind that anybody over 40 has seen these type of shenanigans before. There are those of us who've lived through not one but two Bush Administrations and of course the one who promised to save us (Clinton Administration); he served us with Don't Ask Don't Tell and a failed war on crime/drugs with the lovely and highly effective "Three Strikes Rule". Humor helps with all this crazy shit. I live in the great state of California and when I arrived in 2008, the governator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was our governor. Personally, I've always felt many folks liked him being in office because they could mispronounce his name Schwarzenigger and get away with it. Californians had no problem allowing a man with no previous knowledge or political experience to run our state. An out of work actor decides to throw his hat in the political ring and no one objects. I can't be held responsible. It happened before I arrived. The big question remains- what the frig are we gonna do now? Do you resist with angst riddled protests and demands for justice that quickly burn us out? Or do we say this shit is f#$&#@ and let's find something comedic that joins us as a nation and provides a way out of this mess?

10. Strive for personal and professional excellence. In a world of mediocrity and feeble minded individuals, it is time to buck up and smarten up. We're going to need everyone of us in this battle and no excuses.

15Jan/170

Why Being a Movie Star No Longer Concerns Me

At 27, I made the declaration that I am an artist.

With very little to guide me other than outdated stereotypes and much discouragement form my family, I began trotting down the path that is desperation and a need for constant attention.

There was no handbook nor mentor to guide me.

I only had the will to work and the belief that anything was possible.

I was very unaware of the big machine that devours anything in its path and that there will be several obstacle both internally and externally that would have to be navigated if I wanted a career in the arts/creativity.

When I speak of no longer lusting for movie stardom, I am making reference to being in a world that needs, rewards and loves those that are white, young and straight.

As much as we all try to pretend or believe that the movies and Hollywood are places where imaginations and creativity soar, anyone with a brain can see that to be a part of this machine is to be young, white and straight.

Recently I've noticed a trend: romanticizing slavery and sentimentalizing anything that has to do with Civil Rights.

I must confess that I had been lulled into being happy with so many beautiful black faces and talented folks working. What I was distracted from noticing like most moviegoers was the narrative that was being shared and who was in control of the sharing.

Much of what is forced upon me has very little to do with me.

Many times I am so mezmerized by the visual that I forget to question things like point of view, intention and clear, decolonized interpretation.

Toni Morrison states: That as soon as a character of color is introduced in a story, imagination stops.

Films and TV often trot out characters and story lines that forecast the performance long before they open their mouths to speak.

Fifteen years ago, I was unaware that the performing field was not open and fair to anyone willing to work hard, pay dues and get good at their craft.

With a growing frustration with what I was being cast in, I began writing my own material.

After creating an array of interesting characters : an abused child, a ninety year old man, a love starved twenty something and a Nazi Landlord, I was still not thrust into the public eye in any sort of meaningful way and Hollywood didn't come a calling.

I was told to stay in my lane that in order to make it I would have to allow myself to be a type (put into a box/creative straightjacket) until "they" knew what I could do and then "they " would let me out and allow me to play in other areas.

When I made this discovery, I was angry and undeterred.

I was gonna show them all and prove that as a gay, black thinking man there is a place for me in the public eye.

My major beef is that not only do I have much to offer the world but there are countless others that do as well.

Who will tell our stories?

Who will start with a new narrative and allow blacks, gays, women of color access to the center?

I will no longer watch brutalization of beautiful, powerful black folks and chime in with what a wonderful movie or story it was.

In a recent review of Hollywood's obsession with slave stories, a young brilliant black man pointed out that Oscars are given to whites for acting and blacks for subject matter.

I want to see Viola Davis as the star of a film and be sexy, smart, powerful, cunning and breathtaking (rocking her natural hair).

I don't want "real stories". I want tales of what could be.

I want imaginations that open up when a black, latino, gay person enters.

I want writers, myself included, to demand more of everyone around them.

I want Kasi Lemmons, Julie Dash, Kimberly Pierce and Lee Daniels to continue to create and devise all manner of stealthily creating characters that are interesting not because they're comedic, tragically doomed or will be put to death because they see and think differently.

Where is my black audience who wants to keep things authentic and interesting as opposed to real?

We will no longer allow ourselves to be entertained by violent images that involve slaughtering, disrespecting or dismissing black bodies.

We will fight to bring back characters like Precious Ramowste and her small band of comrades who rely on their minds and companionship and trust in each other to solve life's problems.

We will fight to see stories told powerfully and quietly that invite the sacred in and offer solace from a world gone mad. I can't wait for this change. What are you willing to do to see this happen?

1Dec/161

The Shocking Truth About American Intelligence According to Daryl T. Sturgis

What has happened to us in the United States?

When I was a kid I was told the key to success is hard work and a good education.

My mother took me to the library.

She took me on field trips to learn about the Moravians at Old Salem or we went to see the Woolworth store in Greensboro where the four A&T students kicked off the civil Rights Movement in North Carolina with a sit-in.

When I was a child we had commercials that talked about science.

When I was a child and an expert came on television people listened.

Now it's all about showboating and how you look and the tone that you use.

We have crossed over into some kind of anti-intellectual Twilight Zone where blubbering, bloviating buffoons with bloated egos shuffle around speaking in sentences that are barely above a 4th grade reading level.

We have elevated these people to the status of leaders of our political parties.

We no longer argue and debate on how to fix things like the economy or the climate or racism; we now argue over if they are real or not.

Everyday I see folderol pass for political discourse.

I see spin and hackery supplant data and analysis.

There was a time when we voted for politicians because of their intelligence and Bona Fides.

Because they displayed some acumen or knowledge of the complex interlocking mechanisms of economies and culture.

They knew how to be grand in their oratory and small in their humility.

They wanted to work together for the good of all people and not just be Leninist and destroy the system completely.

Now we vote for the candidate who we'd most like to share a beer with and yap about the winner of Dancing with Stars.

We want to be told pretty lies about how our lives would be better if that other group would not be around to screw things up for us.

We live in a world of Googled facts where anybody can upload a poorly edited website and have it cited alongside our nation's greatest and most venerated news organizations.

We are not boldly going where no one has gone before.

We are sliding into an inert future with brooding, slobbering hordes screaming over which team will get the dog skull on the pike first.

Our sense of exceptionalism has become inverted.

We now call a man and a woman who came from modest means and worked hard as they were told; went to top schools and prepared for the most important job of their lives -elitist while a brooding, preening, petulant billionaire born into money is seen as a man of the people simply because he is willing to be nastier and more of a blowhard than anybody else.

Idiocracy is not our future.

It is our present.

 

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