Prentice Powell Explains the System Controlling You

By Natasha Foreman Bryant

Below you will find a beyond amazing performance by spoken word artist Prentice Powell. It speaks to my Call to Action posts that I have shared for men and women asking that they stand up and help our youth, families, communities, and world be better, stronger, and more dignified (note: a Call to Action part two is coming ladies).

Prentice Powell is speaking the truth and we need more Powell’s sharing the reality that we all have helped create, want to ignore, point fingers at, or are still playing a role within. If you take offense to what Powell says, then you are quite possibly one of the offenders he speaks of throughout his performance.

Yes, his message is very much directed to and about Black people, but honestly, you can insert any group of people into this configuration and see some or most of what he is addressing. What is most visible, embarrassing, and heart wrenching for him (and for me) is the breakdown within the Black community, and the accepted role within “the system” that Black men and women alike play. So this is what he speaks of, but I have friends of other nationalities, races, and cultures who could easily plug and play their “people” in this example, and say, “that’s us too”.

So I ask that you come from a place that is familiar to you, or try to see through Prentice’s lens, and then ask yourself, what you can do to help bring about a positive change to this epidemic that affects all of us—because believe it or not, we’re truly in this boat together.

Please view the video below and then share it with others. We must change our thinking and habits, and be the change that we want to see in the world. We must disengage our role within “the system” and engage in a more healthy environment for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world. Please share this with your circle of influence and re-post for the world to see, hear, and to begin a healthy (and productive) dialogue.

Thank you.


Video Source:

Video posted on YouTube by: Arsenio Hall Show

Prentice Powell:

Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. Some Rights Reserved.


Bernice A. King Trying to Stop the Sale of Her Father’s Prized Possessions

Yes, you read the title of this post correctly. Elder Dr. Bernice A. King, the youngest daughter of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, is trying her best to keep her brothers, Dexter King and Martin Luther King III, from selling their father’s Nobel Peace Prize medal and his personal Bible to a private buyer. Both of these items were his prized possessions.
 Wouldn’t they be for you?
 It’s not his floss or hair brush, it’s his Bible (road map, tool, accountability source) and his Nobel Peace Prize medal (for sacrificing everything in hopes of a better, more dignified life for all people worldwide).
 If you don’t already know the background details about Dexter and Martin suing Bernice, their aunt, Christine King Farris, other family members, loyal friends of their parents, and the King Center (where all three children serve on the board) then read more about the lawsuit and this most recent travesty here
 Then share your thoughts.
 I wonder what their parents wish they could get them to do and say to stop this madness. I wonder how their parents feel about the legacy they left behind. I wonder what it will take to right these wrongs, set things where they need to be, and build the King legacy where it should be.
 Martin Luther King III, is the only child to have offspring, his daughter Yolanda (named after their late sister by the same name). The King legacy will be left to Yolanda and in some ways (if they are willing) her cousins (from great aunt Christine’s side of the family—on the Farris side).
 But unless Martin III, Bernice or Dexter have more children (by blood), and more specifically, boys, the King name will end with Yolanda, when everyone else is long gone. Think about that.
 I just wonder how what happens today, this year, will impact their parents legacy 10, 15, 20-plus years from now. What will the King name be worth in 50 years?
 The King legacy impacts generations yet unborn, worldwide, or so it’s supposed to…
 I just wonder.
 What about you? What do you think?
 Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. The Paradigm Life. Some Rights Reserved.

A Call to Action for All Men: Part One

By Natasha Foreman Bryant, MBA
 I’m fed up so I’m speaking out and I’m calling people forward to join me, and to do their part to change our situation. Every week I will post a Call to Action. Today I share part one of this series.
 Today and every day I call for men to stand up and be men in your families and households, communities, and in the communities that are in need of positive male images. I don’t care your color, racial makeup, nationality, religion, or how much money you earn. I just want to start seeing men lead and work to take back our neighborhoods.
 I want to see more men investing time in classrooms, in before and after school programs, in local community centers, in churches and religious centers, and in outreach programs. I want to see more men tutoring our youth, and telling them about the struggles of adulthood while encouraging them to accept the challenge with dignity.
 I want to see more men teaching young boys what it really takes to be a man, and that it has nothing to do with his age, the money in his pocket, the number of females he can impress and have sex with, the size (or capability) of his sexual organ, how far he can throw a ball, how well he can dribble or shoot one, or how fast he can run. These boys need to learn that making babies doesn’t make them a man, taking care of them and treating their mothers with respect is what separates the men from the deadbeats.
 Come on fellas, step up and tell these young brothas about the dope game and how they are setting themselves up to be locked up or stone cold in a grave, and how they are risking their families lives every single day. Tell them about the marijuana and crack possession laws that are slanted to incarcerate and keep them mentally enslaved for years. There is no credible and long-term retirement plan for drug dealers or gang members, and their families.
 Tell them why being in a gang doesn’t bring them power or respect, because they don’t own the streets they terrorize, and no one respects a person they fear—they merely tolerate them and hope that God or the government will remove them from their life. The disdain that they feel by the so-called “power structure” is the same disdain their community has for them. Oh and those big, bad guns that they (and others) want to tote around, their usage proves nothing to the rest of us—anyone can pull a trigger. I don’t condone violence, but two pairs of fists make a point better than a bullet, bat, knife, or other weapon. If you can’t put up those fists and take a “chin check”, then you need to stay out of drama and don’t let your mouth write a check your butt can’t cash.
 Pulling a trigger, stabbing, kicking or beating a person, stealing from or robbing someone doesn’t make you hard or brave. It makes you weak. It sets you up for a life of failure, incarceration, or a shortened lifespan. Tell them this. Explain this to our boys and young men.
 A weapon used for revenge or punishment is a cowards way out. You can’t claim self defense when you go out looking for the person to harm. People are outraged about George Zimmerman, so am I, but I’m also outraged by the countless young Black, Brown, Yellow, and White boys who are killing each other like it’s a video game. The players don’t reset themselves in real life like they do in a video game. In real life once the person dies the game is over.
 Even a person being bullied doesn’t really get an “eye for an eye” sort of revenge when they pull out a gun and begin firing. Now one or more people are dead or injured, and the person bullied is heading to jail (if they didn’t turn the gun on themselves or get killed by a third party). I need the men to stand up and explain this to our youth and young adults.
 Men I need you to stand up, stand up, stand up, and get to work. Don’t close your eyes or turn your head, get to work. We have a world to save!
 ~Natasha Foreman Bryant
 Copyright 2013. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved.

My Response to John Hope Bryant’s Article “If Bill Gates Were Black”

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA


I wanted to share my thoughts regarding John Hope Bryant’s brilliant article that was posted on and by Bloomberg BusinessWeek today. I also wanted to have a healthy dialogue with those individuals who showed their lack of critical thinking skills before they reacted, and quickly responded in the negative, to the article.

It is my opinion that the moment many of us don’t understand something or it rubs us the wrong the way, the remaining of what we read or hear turns more into an episode of Charlie Brown, just a bunch of whah whah whah blah blah blah…and we don’t hear or interpret anything else. We are then too focused on a counter argument, but never on seeking clarification. Here is the link to John Hope Bryant’s article:

Below is my comment that I submitted to Bloomberg, that they will hopefully post in their comments section below the article. After you read John’s article and the comments made by other readers, please share your thoughts about the article and comments (inclusive of mine). Let’s have some healthy dialogue and if possible, some positive solutions to issues facing the Black community specifically, and all underserved communities in general. Here you go:

Economic empowerment and the eradication of poverty first begins with understanding the history of how this country was built, how we rebuild during economic downfalls, and how the least of God’s children are impacted. It requires us to look at the missing piece between the have’s and have not’s. 

So yes, possessing a bank account versus being robbed blind at check cashing centers is a bonus. Yes, having a credit score around or higher than 700, instead of 550 and lower, is a huge predictor of a community’s growth and prosperity—as well as an individual’s ability to thrive not just merely survive. Yes, being financially literate is imperative, because if you aren’t then you run the risk of falling prey to predatory lenders who can smell your desperation miles away.

If you don’t have a bank account then how are you depositing or cashing checks? Are you going to check cashing centers and giving them a portion of YOUR money to gain access to YOUR money? That doesn’t sound like the wisest of choices when you have a choice. Show me one millionaire or billionaire who doesn’t have a bank account. Show me one entrepreneur without a bank account. Show me. I’m sure you can’t.

The banking system isn’t corrupt, there are corrupt INDIVIDUALS in the banking system; just like there are corrupt individuals in countless other systems including government, religious organizations, educational institutions, charities, etc. You can’t blame a crisis caused by unethical behavior on an entire system, because just as there were predatory lenders who knew customers were potentially high risk for loan defaults, there are some ‘victims’ of this economic downfall who knew they bought more house than they could afford, who knew that they didn’t have true job ‘security’ but gambled with the odds anyway, who claimed to earn more than they actually had (and eventually they had more month than money). So unethical decisions from individuals caused our country to suffer these past few years.

This is a brilliant post by John Hope Bryant, that clearly expresses the sentiment that if African Americans had a Bill Gates-type-entrepreneurial role model then the vision for the Black community would not be limited to a mindset of ‘only the lucky get out’, and the ‘victory’ would not be narrowed to simply having a ‘Black President”.  

Think about it, if Bill Gates was a Black man, the money he donates and invests would be injected within his community first and then worldwide. Don’t most of us consider taking care of ‘home’ before we take care of the rest of the world? Don’t we start local and then go global? Well if this were the case, then Black communities would be resuscitated through Gates community giving, and the country (and world) would see a different ‘picture’ of these communities. 

John Hope Bryant is NOT saying that Black people don’t have entrepreneurial role models; he is saying that we need MORE business owners who are employing thousands, not merely hundreds (or less). He’s saying we need more innovators, more businesses in technology, etc. that provide a competitive advantage within the U.S. in general, and within Black communities specifically. He’s saying we need MORE Black entrepreneurs going into the community, going into the schools and teaching and sharing the ‘magic’ in their success. 

He is saying that in order to eradicate poverty and gain economic empowerment in the Black community it is going to take the Black community, not government, not charity, not handouts, but hard work and each person reaching back to an open hand and providing a hand up out of the pit. It’s going to require Black people with 700+ credit scores teaching those with 550 and lower credit scores how they did it. It’s going to require Black entrepreneurs to hire within their community, to bring on interns to learn the ropes at their company, and to mentor young Black children.

The majority of our role models that our children regularly see come from entertainment and sports backgrounds, which there is nothing wrong with that, except if you lack talent in either area, then what? 

Additionally, and no disrespect, but Oprah Winfrey, Magic Johnson, Bob Johnson, and others have built BRANDS that employ–but none to the extent of a Bill Gates level; and all three brands represent entertainment or sports. In 2007, Microsoft employed a reported 79,000 people. That was in 2007. Name one Black-owned company that employs 79,000 people?  

So John Hope Bryant’s article says, “what if Bill Gates were Black?” What changes would you see in the Black community? What would Black children aspire to become if they saw a Black employer hiring thousands of people within their community? How many Black people could be employed (since unemployment is HIGHEST in the Black community)? How many of our children would be encouraged to excel in STEM courses and pursue careers in those fields so that they too could grow up to ‘be like Bill’?

We need to take the emotion out; we need to stop wanting to attack everything we don’t understand, and start acting like we are intelligent enough to ASK for clarification if needed, and to ASK how we can individually and collectively help solve the problem.

How many of you volunteer in the Black community? How many of you work with the underserved and underrepresented? How many of you are helping to work towards a solution? Or are you merely only focusing on picking at and tearing down the things you don’t understand, and the things you are against? If you aren’t doing anything to help the Black community, and other underserved and underrepresented communities, then what does your opinion really mean, and what are you truly adding to this conversation? 

John Hope Bryant you did an awesome job with this piece. We need our children to aspire to be entrepreneurs as much as (or more than) they aspire to be athletes and entertainers. Great, they want to be a football star, but let’s teach them to also start and build a business (now) as an additional revenue stream—so when their football career ends, they still have a career…and wealth, not just temporary riches! 

A broke mindset only gets the same results…an unfinished puzzle!



Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

A Focus on Dignity and Non-Violence at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

On April 15th I was honored to lead a Dignity Day session as a HOPE Corp Volunteer through Operation HOPE (HOPE) at the Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (CSKYWLA) in Atlanta.

What is amazing is how the majority of this class of ninth graders were initially completely turned off to the idea of having to listen to yet another speaker that day as they were just returning to their classroom from an assembly that focused on the theme of 100 days of Non-Violence…so they were shifty and closed off. But about 15 minutes into our conversation some of the girls who had crossed arms were soon raising their hands and answering questions.

I started off by talking about the concept of legacy and that that day we were laying the foundation and road map for them to create and eventually leave behind a strong, dignified legacy. I had them define the term legacy in their own words and then share some of their dreams, goals and aspirations. Then as our conversation deepened I shared with them the history of how HOPE was founded, the services and programs that HOPE offers, and I started to weave a story where life included them and their legacy.

I think helping them share the names of empowered and dignified women they see in their family, community, and elsewhere who had similar or worse lives growing up helped them to see that they too could be those same type of women- that they are these women but in-training and with the potential to do more and help more in the long run because they are being equipped with the tools at a young age; and our adversity isn’t an excuse to let life pass us by or a crutch to coast through life doing and expecting the bare minimum, but a reason and motivation to excel and succeed.

These young ladies were shocked to hear that the civil rights movement as it pertained to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Ambassador Andrew Young was sparked, motivated, and pushed along due to their wives Coretta Scott King and Jean Childs Young- two women who endured and overcame adversity and strife. Hearing this information made many of these girls sit up straight in their chairs and listen intently.


When I spoke about not holding grudges, and that forgiving people is not to benefit the person they were forgiving but to help themselves heal, grow, and overcome- some girls shifted in their seats their seats, a few others rolled their eyes in disbelief; but then when I mentioned Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Iyanla Vandzant and their ability to forgive their abusers and using strife as a launching pad towards success- some of the girls started naming other people like Fantasia and Tyler Perry who was sexually and physically abused and how he also overcame and pushed himself to success.

We discussed the concept of family and that it isn’t just our immediate family we need to be concerned about but our neighborhoods, cities, state, our country, and our global family. Because I know that girls can be equally as cutthroat as boys, I made sure that we had a heart-to-heart chat about trash-talking and “clowning” people and how although initially it can be lighthearted and funny, it can also be crippling and tear apart our “extended” family.

We discussed being relevant not only in this country but globally, and that true wealth (spiritual, financial, etc) can only be maintained long term by leading a dignified life, not by living up to the negative stereotypes that are projected globally about Black females. We discussed self-empowerment and not waiting on the government or specific programs to help us, that we have to help ourselves. That we shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to pick up trash on our sidewalks- we should pick it up ourselves.

We shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to cover the graffiti on our walls and buildings- we should paint over it ourselves; we shouldn’t wait for someone else to beautify our streets and parks with trees and flowers- we should plant them ourselves. I explained that they should be volunteering in their community through church or some other organization taking pride in restoring, building, maintaining, and beautifying their neighborhoods.

We had a pretty good time. We laughed and talked about boys and expectations of being respected by males and all people when you carry yourself with respect and dignity. We discussed the language of money and being financially literate, and how this literacy will empower them. It was refreshing to see that many of them have savings accounts and that two of the students had traveled abroad- one to London and the other to the Bahamas. Two young passport carriers living in an underserved and underrepresented area of Atlanta- doesn’t that give you hope? It gives me hope and encourages me to continue my work in the community, and my work through Operation HOPE.

I hope more men and women find it in their hearts to invest one hour of their time at least once per month to volunteer in a church, in a class room, or in a youth center through Operation HOPE. One person can make a difference!

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

>Black Power at it Again:Picking Up Where I Left Off…Let the Heads Roll!


Yesterday I shared with everyone about the tiff between Tavis Smiley and the Reverend Al Sharpton that took place over the airwaves. Since I’m long-winded I decided to make my post a two-part discussion so not to overwhelm my readers. I look forward to hearing back from each of you. So far I’ve been told I hit it on the nail. Let’s see what folks have to say today….
What This Means to Me
One of my passions is teaching young Black students about their culture while empowering them to become great leaders at school, home, within and outside of their communities. Let me tell you what I won’t do…. I will not teach them to expect our President to ride in and overnight move mountains; nor will I teach them to ask for (and expect) any hand outs, especially not our 40 acres and a mule reparations cry. Let’s be real shall we?!? 
I also won’t discuss the suggestion that our economy be bombed by another multi-million dollar stimulus injection.  Can we take a break from looking like a country of idiots for just a second? I’m not going to teach children that just because we have a Black President that now our problems should soon go away, and that he alone can write our future. 
Yes, we all have concerns we want addressed. Yes, we have every right to do a double-take at the President and his advisors and ask, “Uh…what’s going on with us getting some jobs in the marketplace and healthcare for those of us struggling with being uninsured or underinsured?” Yes, we need help in our schools as we see our high school drop-out rates skyrocket. Yes, I’d like to ask why we have 20 and 21-year-old students in high school because states like Georgia want to have ridiculously high graduation requirements (although they rank embarrassing low nationwide in testing and graduation rates). 
These young adults are at an age when most people are graduating from college…not 12th grade. But I’m not solely looking to our President for the answers to my problems or the problems of the Black community. I need those other leaders who line that ladder to the top to be on board of the plan for change that uplifts my people…not provides handouts…that brings about long-term positive change where there is visible growth, wealth, prosperity, and equality in education and health measures, not simply while he’s in office but until the end of time. That way our President’s plan can be welcomed (even with friction) and not shut down.
What’s the “Black Agenda” Exactly?
How effective is it to have an agenda when at the grassroots level we can’t even reach those that are within an arm-length distance? How do we go to the President with our “Black Agenda” when we obviously haven’t come together on the ground level to collectively determine what the agenda is exactly? It’s obvious that there are some folks that are out of the loop so to speak….maybe because there are too many segmented agendas floating around. Have we determined who will oversee the process once everything has been put into action on our behalf? Who is assuming what role? We need every Black leader to get off their high horse and have a seat in a chair in one room and respectfully hash everything out now!
Our Measure of Time and Action
If you were the President who could you trust when it appears that a great deal of people have their finger on the trigger? Yes, he is very difficult to read…his pulse is not clear. Should it be? I’m not sure. Should he keep a solid poker face as he strategically finds a way to address our needs at the same time he’s addressing our country’s needs? Or should he just come straight out and say, “Black people have been mistreated for hundreds of years, disenfranchised and overlooked, so I’m issuing an order of blah blah blah to take place effective immediately to re-birth a nation that built this one”? Which Black leaders can he trust to be frank with, listen to, and take advice from? Maybe that is an issue…some Black leaders are upset that they aren’t part of his “circle of influence”.
So let me throw something out there….Is President Obama not moving fast enough for us? What should have already been in place by now that directly impacts Black America? I know what I would have liked to have seen implemented. Should he be moving faster because he’s Black? Some folks felt he was not Black “enough”…what must he do to be Black “enough” so that we are satisfied that he is representing us to his fullest capabilities? What must he do to prove that our needs and concerns are important to him, and that all the work he’s done within our communities over the years was not simply the layered motives of a politician wanting to gain ground and leverage? How long are we giving him to prove himself before we turn our backs on him and throw him under the bus? 
What time frame did we create for our last 18 Presidents that held office during the 20th and 21st centuries to speak up and produce proof on how they would serve the needs and interests of Black America? How well did they fair? I mean heck the situation that I see in the Black community did not just pop up once Obama was elected. 
So I’m trying to figure out what exactly the last 18 Presidents did for us that was so overwhelmingly impressive that proves that Obama is slacking? I’m not saying his slow action or inaction is acceptable, nor am I attacking him. One thing I can say is that with the exception of the long-time jokes about Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton being “Black” presidents- Barack Obama is our first (only God knows if he is to be our last). In this role he is doing something no other Black person has achieved. I understand that he has a limited window of time to get the job done (or as much as possible). I understand that unlike other countries he can’t “reign” for another 50 years. What I also understand is that although we are part of an instant gratification society, we can’t ask or demand of this president what we didn’t ask or demand of the past 18, 19, 20…or 25 presidents. If we did then why don’t we just say, “hey just refer to the last 10-18 requests we’ve submitted to your predecessors and then add this, this, and that…“?
So ask yourself, how can he best serve us while also serving the millions that also voted for him (and those that did not), while trying to secure a second term- so that we can see the fruits of all of our labor? Maybe he won’t get a second term…what are we doing to help prevent this from happening? Can we help? In what ways can we hurt his second term election?
What Are My Leaders Doing?
I know that we need help desperately. I know that I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I know that it rips me up to see my people on the streets homeless and feeling helpless and hopeless. I’m tired of seeing my people being pimped out with payday loans, rent-to-own furniture, and too-high-to-sleep-at-night interest rates. I’m tired of seeing young Black girls dropping it to the floor, shaking and showing what God and their mama gave them. I’m tired of seeing these Black girls thinking it’s cute to be dumb as a rock in the woods that no one sees. 
I’m hurt every time I see a teen mother…when will birth control and adequate sex education be an option at all of our schools? 
We say that abortion is causing genocide in our community…birth control and sex education would help prevent this. We have too many young girls between the ages of 10 and 17… pregnant…some on their second and third child…birth control and sex education would help prevent this. I’m tired of hearing and reading stories about a mother leaving her baby in the trash can, park, alley, etc….birth control and sex education would help prevent this.
I’m tired of seeing our young Black men with their pants so big, hanging off their hips (struggling to walk, trot or run) barely able to hold a decent conversation above that of a third grade level because it’s not cool to be intelligent. 
I’m tired of seeing kids in my community going to and coming back from school with no books in hand. I’m tired of seeing half-empty public libraries. I’m tired of seeing school libraries being used for in-school suspension…are the kids in there reading, studying, doing class work? Not likely. I’m tired of seeing visits to the museum limited to school trips (if it’s in the budget). I’m tired of seeing Black parents working just to put their kids in designer clothes, shoes, and bags but can’t pay their rent and utilities. I’m tired of hearing my people say, “I don’t read” when I ask them, “so what book are you currently reading?” or “so what kind of books do you like to read?”
I’m tired of seeing kids “slanging” drugs and can break down how much an ounce, pound, or kilo costs but go dead dumb in the classroom. Yes, I said dead dumb. I’m tired of these so-called “reality” TV shows that depict Black people as loud, ignorant, uneducated (even when it’s a show with college students), sex feigns, hoes and players, dead-beats, alcoholics, and drugged out. I don’t need to mention these cable TV shows, besides there are so many I would need to write a separate piece just on that subject…and don’t let me start on those flippin’ grills! I don’t want to see another child or worse, adult with a grill in their mouth…please stop!
I’m tired of seeing my people more concerned about how they’re going to “front” with a fake 5-7 carat stone in their ear or on the hand; or twirling around a huge cross or some other emblem made out of crystals pretending they are diamonds (each stone roughly 1-3 carats in size). 
If my people understood the true cost of those items had they been real…maybe (but I doubt it) they would elect to wear something smaller (like 0.25 carats) or something else more appropriate. Oh and by the way the image you just saw…here’s the eye-catching description at the website that sells it for $89.99:
EXCLUSIVE All Ice 36 inches White 8mm Stones Bling Chain
– All iced out 150 karats of ice!
– You’ve seen these worn by all the rappers!
– This chain will attract crazy attention by all the ladies!
Wow 150 carats huh? Oh excuse me…karats…for only $89.99
I understand this madness clearly…they imitate what they see day in and day out. So what are leaders in my community doing about it? Speak up those of you who daily go into the classrooms, walk these streets speaking with your people, interviewing them, recording them, documenting their progress…tell me what you are doing right now to change this…besides saying, “we need the President to do….
I want education reform, I want true financial literacy being presented and taught in our communities and in our classrooms. I want Black studies, multi-cultural studies, and religious studies being taught in the classroom and not just as an option on college campuses. I want affordable health coverage where I can pick my doctor, dentist, and specialist, and not because I’m getting “aid”. If I lose my job and get independent, private insurance I don’t want to be denied service, face a laundry list of exclusions, or be put on the traditional “one year” clause because of “pre-existing conditions” or other nonsense. I want to see unemployment rates plummet while watching my people get those jobs they have been desperately applying for…and so Black men can resume being the true head of their household, with dignity and self-respect. I want to see more state regulations (especially in southern states like Georgia) in place so employees feel valued and companies can feel the sting when they mistreat their employees.
So what are leaders in my community doing about this? What do we tell our President that we need him to do to resolve these issues? What is our collective message in this Black Agenda? Where do I go to have my say, listen to the masses, and see this outlined proposal for change?
The Standard for All
Accountability should be addressed to every politician and leader who has been put into office by our vote, our say, our power, our support. Not just one or some, but all leaders should be held accountable for what they claimed they would do before they got into office, what they said they would do the first 100 days, and what they have done those first 365 days and every year thereafter. You don’t hold them accountable once the diaper hits the fan…it is to begin from day one. Just like when Jerry McGuire yelled, “show me the money”, you must tell your leaders, “show me what you can do and what you have done”.
You make it difficult for this dialogue to take place when you’re having a monologue!
Copyright © 2010 by Natasha L. Foreman. All rights reserved

Tavis Smiley “Tavis Smiley Talks” Transcript Source:

Tavis, Sharpton and Ogletree Conversation Source:

New York Times Article Source:

Black girl in shorts Image Source:

>Black Power at it Again: Part One


Something I have not done in awhile is discussed politics…in general… “Black” politics specifically. Today is the day that I bring up some issues that are troubling. Today is part one of a two-part blog post where I discuss issues that cause so many of us to shake our heads and ask, “Have we taken another step backwards?” I may tick some folks off today and tomorrow with these two posts…so let’s talk… 
Let me explain what has taken place….
What I Have Seen
We are our biggest enemies. We undercut, undermine, overrule, overshadow, shoulder climb, backstab; open our mouths when we should be listening, blame, blame, blame…pointing fingers but never looking in the mirror. Everyone wants to lead but not really. Everyone wants to have a say, but not be held accountable for what they say and do. Everyone thinks they can do a better job, but obviously the “people” don’t think so because you don’t hold the position of the office you are attacking regularly. The model of Black leadership waves above our heads in the faces (and on the backs and shoulders) of men and women who really should know better. You can’t blame “the man” for this mess!
There has been one too many school yard fights amongst our leaders over trivial things. Too many fake smiles, half hugs, and loose handshakes in front of the camera and moments later blunders of honesty on forgotten “hot” microphones. In my almost 35 years on this planet I have wondered, “When are we going to get it together individually and collectively? If our senior leaders and mentors can’t do it, how can the 35 and younger group take over effectively?” If you want to know why some Black folks old and young don’t get involved in the political process, don’t get involved in community action planning…it’s because they can’t trust their leaders to effectively lead…and they question, “what makes them qualified to lead me?”
What Just Happened
I sit here reflecting on one of the most puzzling displays of public pissing contests I have seen amongst my Black leaders. It’s not the first and unfortunately, it is not the last in our bubble. This one happened to be between Tavis Smiley and Reverend Al Sharpton (with Charles Ogletree waiting on the line and occasionally addressing particular points, questions, and attacks when he could get a word in). The argument…over President Barack Obama…over the “Black Agenda”…over what was said and not said by Sharpton, Ogletree, Dr. Dorothy Height, Ben Jealous, and other Black leaders…over individual agendas that will always overshadow the big picture without healthy dialogue…first privately then publicly.
Thanks to technology, a conversation that should have taken place privately between three influential Black men, took place publicly over the airwaves for all to tune in and tear up to shreds. What went wrong here was lack of better judgment, lack of effective communication, and lack of respect for individuals and for the “Black Agenda” This argument highlighted our very issues within our community…we have no unity but keep expecting for it to appear out of the clouds like the North Star that led Harriet Tubman and others from slavery to freedom. We point the finger at each other and say, “Your actions caused the rest of America to once again size us up” yet those very actions have also done the same.
I can see both points of view….the breakdown in respect and communication unfortunately overshadows all of it. Tavis Smiley on the Tom Joyner Morning Show [see show transcript and video] basically said that many of our Black leaders were giving President Obama a “pass” on having to deal with Black issues…which are also America’s issues. That is a huge boulder of a pill to swallow considering Tavis pointed the finger at Al Sharpton…the thorn in many leaders’ sides over the years. Is it possible that Sharpton is making an exception for Obama? Hmmmm…not likely…maybe I’m wrong.
 Singling out Sharpton and these other leaders without dialogue was a misstep. Tavis then went to another level by misquoting more than once the New York Times as though the referenced quote in the article was a direct quote from Sharpton (and taking it out of context), when in actuality the writer paraphrased a sentiment. Instead of speaking with these leaders he calls “friends” in private and getting clarification on quotes he and others read, Smiley blasted them on the radio which in turn caused Sharpton to make contact with him for dialogue on public radio [hear audio]. It would seem that there was no other way to diffuse this, right? Tit for tat…he said he said…It got a little ugly folks.
 To me it is clear…we do not all think alike. Period. But why should we? Why should we all vote alike? It is clear that we don’t. It is clear that some of us are Democrats, Republicans, Independents, etc. and some of us simply don’t vote for whatever reason.  Some of us are conservative while others are liberal. Some voted for President Obama…some did not. Some pray that he successfully leads us through a second term…others hope he fails before the end of this term. Some voted for him simply because he’s Black. Others refused to vote for him…because he’s Black (no, I wouldn’t be surprised that there were some Black folk who did not vote for him simply because of this fact).
President Obama received over 66 million votes. Let’s be clear that there are not 66 million Black people in the United States.  Yes, we as a people have common concerns that are unique, honestly, only to us…and yes, we as a people need those concerns addressed and resolved. Yes, there are issues that require the President to have his hands all “in the mix”. But our President is not the sole “great hope” responsible for taking care of (all of) our needs. He’s not our Moses.
Can we miraculously come together like the cartoon, Voltron, and be…one…all the time in every situation, at the drop of a hat without thought…even when we’re rolling our eyes and sucking our teeth at the person beside us? What other culture or nationality thinks, speaks, and acts collectively as one? None!
God gave us each a brain…our minds are ours to make up based on our interpretation of folks, facts, figures, and fiction. We all have our own interests in mind. We all have separate needs. Yes, Black people come from generations that walked and crawled through hell in order to make today better for each us…and yes we need to make sure our voices are loud, strong, clear and focused. Still some of us haven’t learned to work the “system”- haven’t learned how to make your voice be heard where action takes place on your behalf…not shuffled to the bottom of the pile as you’re being patted on the head. 
I’m not talking about passivity, passive-aggressive behavior, or any Uncle Tom foolery. I’m speaking strategy. I’m referring to looking at every situation and deciding if there are steps you can take before you take a stand, cause ruckus, and declare war. Looking at the situation as though it is a map and you’re in battle…picking the ones you can win quick and in a hurry (with the least amount of casualties)…then coming back to the camp to rest up, re-group, and re-think the ones you have doubts about.
We don’t need to embarrass one another, call each other out like we’re ready for a neighborhood brawl. We don’t need to always try to prove we’re right and the other person is wrong. We don’t need to ride a wave of accusation based on quotes from mainstream America’s resources when we can simply place a call and ask for clarification…then move forward.
What Was the Purpose/Agenda?
So Tavis makes a point of promoting his upcoming meeting of the minds panel discussion amongst the leaders he’s accusing basically of trying to sabotage or downplay the “Black Agenda”; along with other Black leaders that he selected…some of whom have publicly “attacked” President Obama and other Black leaders. 
So does it seem as though the agenda is clear? A back and forth, finger-pointing session it would seem. Who is the moderator of this meeting? Mr. Smiley. Tavis’ first summit slated for this month was cancelled, and the newly scheduled “discussion” was quickly organized for next month…but which leaders besides the one he mentioned going to be there to address our issues and our agenda? The scales of open, healthy dialogue don’t appear to be balanced.
I admire Tavis Smiley, have read and own a couple of his books; frequently listened to his reflections and calls to action on the Tom Joyner Morning Show; I have even watched his television program on PBS. So my eyebrows raise high when I notice a side step or two. I agree with Reverend Sharpton and others, like Dr. Boyce Watkins that Mr. Smiley should also be a panelist in this discussion, not the so-called unbiased moderator when it is clear that he is very biased against the Obama administration; and has publicly voiced his negative opinions of the President long before he took office. 
Just as he wants these leaders to speak up and share what they have discussed with our President over the course of a few weeks or so, and what their intentions are in furthering our agenda; he too should share with the public why he appears to be on constant attack mode; what solutions he has to offer, and how he plans on being an intricate part in the whole equation.
Tavis is right in that we need everyone on the same page. The problem is there are too many egos that simply can’t be checked at the door so folks can get down to work. The same reason more leaders were not obviously invited and won’t be present next month at the discussion in Chicago. Maybe Reverend Sharpton is correct in his thinking that Smiley may not be the appropriate person to make the rally cry for everyone to have a Black town hall meeting so-to-speak. 

What are your thoughts?

Tomorrow I will pick up from this point. Yes, I dig deeper and explore both sides of the table. I wish I could just share all of it in one post, but I know that you have a life beyond reading blog posts.

Copyright © 2010 by Natasha L. Foreman. All rights reserved

Presidential Election Results Source:
Tavis Smiley “Tavis Smiley Talks” Transcript Source:
Tavis, Sharpton and Ogletree Conversation Source:
Voltron Cartoon Source: