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.
 
 
 

“Frankie Leg”: A Fun Image of Grandmothers Shedding their Frail Stereotype, or is this Adding to a More Negative One?

 

I’m really not sure what to say about this video, its message, and the impact (if any). I also am not sure what it says overall about the people it will ultimately reflect upon and clump together into one classification. Is this a fun and possibly healthy image of grandmothers and grandfathers shedding and shaking away the frail stereotype normally associated with getting older? Or is this somehow only adding to the negative stereotypes about Black people?

I start thinking of the buffoonery we once used to fight so hard against, and I wonder if we really have gone full-circle and found ourselves smack-dab in the middle of where we once were; if we have grown to accept not only other nationalities laughing and mocking us, but also embracing it as a reality for ourselves–so we too take part in this…we too find it acceptable; so we laugh, dance, smile, shuck and jive, and roll around comfortably in mediocrity.

Are we really in that much pain that we would rather entertain ourselves in this manner than uplift ourselves out of our pit of shame and despair? What message are our children really getting? Where is our dignity? When is enough truly enough? I believe that music and dance is healthy, healing, and cleansing–but does the “Frankie Leg” fall into those categories?

I am still letting all of this soak into my mind (which may be dangerous). But let’s have a healthy conversation about it shall we?

 

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. The Paradigm Life. Paradigm Life. Rights Reserved.
Video provided by YouTube

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.
natashaforeman.com
natashaforeman.info
paradigmlife.blogspot.com
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>This is one of the Most Powerful Letters I have Heard

>By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

It was brought to my attention that a group of young girls wrote a letter that was made into a song, and later a video, addressed to rapper Lil’ Wayne.

I had to see it and hear it for myself. Through love, a concern for Black women and Black people, and a desire to change the current conditions we face as a nation of people- these young ladies reached out to Lil’ Wayne and asked him to stand up and change his ways; if not for himself or his people, then for his young daughter; and without saying, his other children.

Their group is called Watoto from the Nile, and the letter now song is called “Letter to Lil’ Wayne“. For those of you who don’t know Swahili (and my comprehension has fallen off considerably) “Watoto” means children. These young girls, the eldest is age 10, are rooted in a love and appreciation of their culture, heritage, and history; and it is clear that these impressionable young girls understand the power of language and imagery.They have been raised to consider themselves beautiful, Black queens of the future; but images, references, and endorsements for sex, drugs, and alcohol contradict what they have been taught. So their question to Lil’ Wayne directly and other rappers and entertainers indirectly is who should these young girls believe and follow. The message is deep and as clear as the waters in the Caribbean…we must stop the self-hate, forgive ourselves and others, and begin the healing process.

Watch this video yourself and see why this is one of the most powerful letters that I have heard….

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. Some Rights Reserved.
paradigmlife.blogspot.com

Source:
Watoto from the Nile “A Letter to Lil’ Wayne” retrieved from YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-T-FVR0WZw