The Response To The Romany Response

Romany Malco

Romany Malco

I’m actually a fan of Romany Malco, and specifically his character Zeke from Why Did I Get Married, or Look Like a Man Act Like A Woman or Deliver us from Eva or whatever other of my date night picks list. Yeah, him. Good actor and even better comedian. In fact, in everything I’ve seen him in, he’s delivered comedic-ally and thematically. Even in his latest blog post, A Message to Trayvon Martin Sympathizers, he delivers a strong performance.

I thought to myself, is he serious? The main message – Trayvon is not the only dead somebody we need to be worried about. I see where he’s coming from but to say the TM/GZ isn’t especially disturbing is being a little obtuse.

In this country, if it isn’t streamlined through mainstream media and pop culture, it doesn’t seem to warrant national debate.

His larger point is that we need to be constantly on alert when it comes to the well-being of our youth – not just when told to be. I can dig that.

And the violent crimes that have consumed “no headlines” is something that bothers him and, despite his op-ed, the rest of us a well.

But let’s be honest with ourselves. If the assailants of these Chicago atrocities were standing over the bodies of the victims they’d be arrested, charged, convicted and jailed with a routine swiftness. On the one had, there was a legal precedent set/affirmed with the entire Zimmerman case – one with ripple effects. On the other, a moral or chronic criminal illness plaguing entire cities.

Now are we allowed to be outraged, Zeke? Can we now agree that it’s not the media that “didn’t” arrest a gunman? It is with those that are entrusted to protect and serve that our concerns lie. The media didn’t coach us to outrage – the outrage did that.

To say that these concerns are otherwise unwarranted or even to suggest that TM/GZ is not uniquely qualified for our collective attention is glib and dismissive. I’m sure that’s not where we are.

Now if you want to now USE the nation’s recent “watchful eye” to lift up the conversation around our youth’s value and how it should be held sacred then I stand with you. I see THAT as useful. I see that as responsible. I see that as constructive and might just move us forward.

I’m not sure we can afford the separation. Aligning interests collectively is how we move forward. Let’s find that common ground, lift each others’ messages and have an even bigger voice.

Though I agree. There is a generally disgusting trend that ends in death for a number of our children – and its murder. But the GZs of the world aren’t responsible for most of those deaths – we are.

Tavis Smiley And Cornell West Are Not Yet Convinced

Tavis Smiley & Cornell West Are Not Yet Convinced

Tavis Smiley & Cornell West Are Not Yet Convinced

I understand their issue with Obama. It’s devotion. It’s about… “What are you spending your time on? And what aren’t you spending your time on?”

Any injustice is unacceptable.

They are seeking to be the conscience of the president and keep him at his pure word. They’re attempting to “keep him honest”.

Their message is anti-injustice (mainly with poverty) not anti-Obama. They are liberals still so rest assured their ultimate goals align with the president’s.

They keep their messages very direct and pointed directly at the issues and not at the temple of the president. That’s not to say that they haven’t taken shots. There have been many.

I understand them but I’m not sure where they go from here? Are they opponents of the president’s agenda. Should the administration ad them to the naughty list or the concerned citizen list. Or are concerned citizens considered naughty by this administration?

Tavis Smiley and Cornell West have already written a book on the matter of socioeconomic injustices – which targeted some of the president’s inaction. Aren’t they trying to fix an issue that the entire nation should be looking at? How can we criticize that?

Because it tears down the reputation of the first Black president?

As African Americans, we literally MUST hold this brother accountable. We have to show him and the rest of Americans that we take the office seriously. And mainly, we have to show ourselves. He encourages honest & thoughtful criticism. Trust me – he’s gone through a little bit in his day.

Tavis & Nelly make several good points and are certainly worth listening to. I don’t see them as “crabs”, I see them as voters.

Cornell West and Tavis Smiley are obviously salty. Barack Obama has, in the past, rejected a few key invitations and generally avoided officially aligning their agendas.

THIS is exactly the type of dialogue that is only possible when you encourage healthy
debate. Vetting ideologies is how ideas turn into initiatives – and then onto legislation. Dare I say it, even dissent is a necessary step in politics in order to get anything accomplished.

Enter: CorTav.

We need niches like the anti-poverty agenda they’re advocating to help vet the issues of today. Once they’re broken down into digestible pieces we can all begin prioritizing. That’s how we get to the problem solving we need. That’s how we bring about resolution – debate and action.

It’s the (in)action that CorTav have a problem with. They don’t see this president as having prioritized reconciling the plight of the banks or the “haves”. In fact, they’ve accused this president, not of commingling like opponents might, but of flat out dereliction of duty as it pertains to economic equal opportunity.

That’s a huge accusation that’s hard to digest when compared against this administration’s macro economic responsibility and efforts.

Where CorTav have a point is unlike the programs proposed by that of John Edwards, the politically-posthumous anti-poverty advocate, there has been no highlighted energy towards thwarting the negative effects of destitution. Insolvency and even starvation are both issues that America has to begin examining on a micro level. And while Obama enjoys the politically Teflon nature of a second term I understand CorTav trying to box him into hearing and dealing with these issue – however uncomfortable they might be.

They’re forcing the president into taking a position AND executing accordingly. It’s the same tactic the president and Harry Reid use when they try to force a public up or down vote just to show citizens where they stand. It’s a pretty slick strategy.

I get it though. Yeah, they may be salty about “The Covenant” and the “State of the Union” but they’re big boys. They can get over that just like the president will have to get over the 2010 elections… that we didn’t show up for and CorTav didn’t canvas for.

7 Steps to Protecting Our Sons

George Zimmerman Acquitted ~ CNN Video

George Zimmerman Acquitted ~ CNN Video

In the wake of the recent Florida acquittal of one citizen having taken the life of another I feel some next steps should be discussed. There is certainly an appetite for a discussion on how to keep our young Americans protected. Calls for a change in laws and behavior are in the air across the nation.

Also in the air – despondence. People are beginning to give up hope that the justice system is even concerned about repairing itself as our society evolves. The value of young Americans’ lives is in question. It needs to be addressed that a number of citizens don’t think their voices will be heard or quite simply – nothing will happen.  We can’t afford inaction. And we can’t afford to wait, so let’s start conversation about the way forward:

  1. Talk to your sons and tell them the threats of this world are real – and don’t always look like threats. Standing up for yourself always is very human. It’s a good thing to do so but how it’s done matters greatly. You never know what people have in their possession. And you never know people’s motives. Are you purposely being provoked? Recognize that some simply want to “get a rise” out of you so they can have a reason to react. Just remember if someone is provoking you, especially those in a position to protect you, they have an agenda. Manipulation in this way is poison on our society and rampant in policing our communities. Don’t be a victim.
  2. Neighborhood Watch

    Neighborhood Watch

    Where is the app for Neighborhood Watch personnel? We’re certainly at a point where the transparency of technology can aid in the monitoring of our communities. This is a simple and practical solve for both knowing your residents as well as the citizens devoted to crime prevention. In gated communities ALL residents are registered anyway. Why not extend these features to expected guests? Maintaining a running inventory of visitors is not a new concept and is already being used in other areas. Those charged with crime prevention should know this list well. This suggestion for neighborhood watch is to ensure they know their residents and their residents’ guests. In the event something happens, you’ve now empowered watchmen with the tools to stay informed.

  3. Know where your sons are at ALL times. Trayvon Martin’s father was unaware of his whereabouts for almost 12 hours after the shooting. Trayvon may very well have been the more responsible young man but no matter how “grown” our youth feel we have to stay in touch with them. It’s time-consuming and may feel burdensome but we simply have to keep tabs on our children – children meaning those in our immediate care. Yes – this could have happened to any parent but for that very reason we want to stay in close contact with our teenagers and be readily available to them when needed.
  4. Remove Section 2 (A) from Florida Law 776.041. It’s broad and essentially absolves provocateurs from being accountable for reasonable reactions from other citizens. All individuals who feel threatened in a real-world scenario should be protected by self-defense. However, creating the scenarios for which violence reasonably ensues should establish some order of intent. I can’t see all the freedoms and assumptions afforded to citizens being available to individuals who knowingly create dangerous situations. How others respond to an otherwise non-aggressive situation should be considered if & when these instances play out in court. Section 2 (A) provides too many luxuries to that of an aggressor.
  5. Minors without weapons should be excluded from Florida Law 776.041. Not just actions that rise to the level of imminent danger but only the use of deadly weapons should warrant the use of deadly force towards a minor especially WHEN one is themselves, the aggressor. We afford minors additional inherent protections against their own underdeveloped assessments in other instances – why not in physical altercations. We must also consider the actions of an aggressor just as complicated a set of circumstances for minors as their judgement in, say, sexual situations. These automatic protections should be levied here. Retrofitting a law would not service prior legal outcomes but we must consider all the ways we can protect youth and the Trayon Martin case offers us an example of a gap our children can unknowingly fall into
  6. Only 1 self-defense law should apply at a time – no 2 can apply. Combining these protections seems like bad practice. Remember, there are several lives at stake – not just that of the aggressor. That amounts to under-collateralized protection and almost promotes provoking attacks. It also promotes zero accountability. Does this mean good judgement no longer needs to be exercised? Or worse, that bad judgment is excused? The laws should not be in place to protect overzealous citizens in instances where their actions result in a death. This is dangerous and could lead to many fatal situations where the only witness to corroborate or counter these judgements will be unavailable for questioning.
  7. “Aggressor” must show just cause for approach AND be subject to legal exploration. This exposes ALL aggressor’s actions (including those leading up to an encounter) to explanation in a court of law. Jurors should have the opportunity to consider both “motivation” as well as motive when ruling. “Citizen” and “aggressors” can not mean the same thing. Zealous citizens cross a line and should accept a new standard and duty of behavior. Where we are today amounts to vigilante behavior.

I think these are practical considerations and can all be implemented in under 20 months. That may sound like a lot but it’s been almost that long since Trayvon Martin had his life stolen by George Zimmerman.

Can’t we get this done? Can’t we try?

A justice system without the justice is just… the system.

There are countless examples of a system that does not lean in the favor of minorities. It is more than obvious the courts alone can not keep our youth safe. In fact, the courts are not designed to – queue the prison industrial complex conversation. But more that it’s our job to own the protection of our children – with knowledge, fair representation in law enforcement and proper regulatory reforms.

I think there’s enough here for a spirited debate so let’s see where it takes us.


Nickels and Dimes and Legends

Jay-Z Slams Harry Belafonte, Tells Him to Respect ‘…Youngins Boy’

Jay-Z Slams Harry Belafonte, Tells Him to Respect ‘…Youngins Boy’

If you breath oxygen then you’ve no doubt noticed a recent album release that’s more than raised a few eyebrows. Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail is sucking all the air out of the music industry’s respective room. While igniting the creativity of a new generation of listeners and artists it’s also managed to incense a handful of legends – and 1 legend in particular to be exact.

Without mentioning, much, the fact that Carter has moved away from wearing chains to wearing God(ly) robes, this album is a premium-caliber exploration in narcissism. Oh, wait, my sources are telling me that’s just rap in general. Nevermind. He does a pretty good job cementing his place as THE great rapper of today by literally rewriting the rules of engagement.

Let’s now spend a little time discussing his rift with Hava Nagila and civil rights titan, Harry Belafonte. In the summer 2012, the Legend joined a conversation around how the current class of superstars are simply not pulling their weight when it comes to advanced their own cultures. In summary, Hollywood brothers & sisters simply aren’t getting it done.

I think one of the great abuses for this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile arts, power celebrities. But they [Black Stars] have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyonce, for example. ~ Harry Belafonte

Hopefully this is a non-story. Belafonte is definitely owed respect and that’s actually what happened.

Firing back with the Nickels and Dimes track, Jay-Z mentions extending an olive branch to former trailblazers, called Belafonte a boy, harkens conservative values and much more. Wait? Jay-Z calls Belfonte a boy? The answer is. While aggressively attempting to separate both his genre and era from Belafonte’s, Carter bookends a verse with “Respect these youngins boy, it’s my time now”.

The boy thing is just plain inappropriate; certainly considering the context. But does Jay-Z not have the right to respond to criticism?

The hip-hop brand of respect (or any conciliatory action for that matter) is “mentions”. Jay-Z is definitely not advocating the same message as Belafonte. Belafonte’s was that of a pure, communal and social inclusion. Jay-Z’s theme is self-empowerment & narcissism. Dude considered himself a “god”. How can you expect their wavelengths to blend?

Mentioning your adversary as a form of respect in hip hop is definitely a stretch. It’s more the acknowledging than anything I thought was interesting. The fact that he said boy was definitely in poor taste but I’m not ready to say he disrespects Belafonte’s acumen and contributions. Not just yet.


An Ode to the Movement?
Because I trust Belafonte’s judgement in terms of civil rights I will always give him an ear on the matter improving the culture. His and Poitier’s and Cosby’s and Ali’s voice’s had to penetrate far more bigoted thickness than Carter could ever imagine.

I’d like to think he would go out of his way to pay homage to each of the greats… but in what way? In what way can you, HOV, a self-proclaimed “god” pay respect to similar “gods” from another time? By performing! By besting the industry itself. By engaging in a monopoly and buying & filling stadiums. You pay respect by literally being the best. I think Jay-Z is annoyed by having his name mentioned as part of the problem and simply felt he had to respond – especially since he thinks his plan for “us” is grand as well.

Social Responsibility
Note to Harry Belafonte, social responsibility has a very broad scope with deliberate and cerebral methodologies. Much in the same way President Obama serves a beacon of hope for change, I think both Jay-Z and Beyoncé emit an err of entrepreneurship. They also spend time on community-building initiatives and empowerment programs. In fact, just a few lines before the nudge in Nickels and Dimes (the same track Belafonte was jabbed in) Carter talks about how he wants to position people for opportunities and not handouts.

Though it’s very possible Belafonte acknowledges that. It may be that even in their efforts to help build up the culture, their lavish lifestyle draws too much attention away from these much-needed social endeavors. In Belafonte’s comments he mentions popular artists in general and later goes on to single out Jay-Z and Beyoncé – no doubt because of their influence.

I hate to sound like I’m advocating Carter’s boy sentiment or even apologizing. It was in poor taste. But I did want to draw attention to a fact that Carter also alluded to – having a conversation with the likes of Belafonte and probably all other old-heads. At least that’s what I gathered. It would definitely be worth seeing Harry Can-I-Bus back but maybe a quaint dinner at the 40/40 Club would be more appropriate.

Although there’s only 1 “B” in Carter’s life. He apparently wants to keep it that way.

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