The Trayvon and Zimmerman Show Season Finale

B-Trayvon_Martin_George_ZimmermanIf you didn’t see it live there’s no doubt that you’ve still heard about the Trayvon and Zimmerman Show Season Finale! I mean the shock of the final outcome threw everyone for a loop! Not many saw that twist coming and it’s still creating a buzz today!  I mean the entire show from day one had so many twists, turns, and surprises that it kept you glued to the screen and wanting more…wait….what now…this wasn’t a TV show? You mean to tell me this was real life!?!?

Because of the way the media and television has been portraying this case you would think that a boy did not lose his life and a man did not stand a chance of having his freedom taken away. I’m really not sure if there is anyone else who has capitalized more than the folks behind the cameras.

My wife and I happened to stumble on one channel’s daily coverage of the trial as they called it “The Most Shocking Moments of the Zimmerman Trial” where they recapped some of the pivotal moments of the day. Another show (can’t remember if it was the same channel) had a panel of guest who would quickly fire off their points in a roundtable debate while other guests would interrupt, and the next thing you know everyone is arguing back and forth. It made for great TV, but should it have?

Even the way the media originally crafted this story, later being accused of tampering with the 911 call, “all of a sudden” having pictures of Zimmerman’s wounds, and even going back and forth from showing Trayvon being 12 and Zimmerman’s mug shot to Trayvon giving the middle finger and Zimmerman in a suit, was very manipulative. To some degree we should all feel like puppets.Master with puppet

But, this should be no surprise to us because our media companies are still businesses and in the end it’s about ratings and the almighty dollar. So what does this mean for us, should we not watch at all? I’m not saying that. Because we watched and there was an uproar, this case was at least brought to trial.

What I am saying is that when we take in from these news publications of various sorts, we need to be careful and sober minded with what is said and how it is portrayed. We should remember that though it’s coming through the same medium as some of our favorite forms of entertainment, it’s not entertainment.  So when season 2 of the Trayvon and Zimmerman Show comes out (aka the wrongful death case or civil rights case) we’ll be ready for the circus and see right though it. And please keep the Martin Family in your thoughts and prayers, it’s more real to them than anyone else.

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~Stephen J. Taylor

In Addition to the Tie: What They Need on Father’s Day

fatherFather’s Day, the time of year when corny mugs and tacky tie sales skyrocket. This year go ahead and buy the power drill, or the grill, but add this gift as well, affirmation. Here’s a little secret, though we act all tough and unemotional, men need it too (and I just said that in the manliest way possible…just so yall know). We all know women want and love affirmation, and they typically enjoy the “you are so_______ (fill in the blank with a characteristic)” affirmation. Men on the other hand being more goal and task oriented tend to like the “you are doing a good job” affirmation.

So this Father’s Day tell your dad or a dad you know how well they are doing! Being a father, I think that we as men do a terrible job of doing this for each other. We cannot let the fear of man to man affection and going beneath the surface (though it’ not easy) prevent us from encouraging each other. In this day when fatherhood seems to be dying (especially in my demographic of young black fathers) we gotta stick together and call one another higher.

So this Father’s Day…

Affirm the Father who is involved with his children and assure him that the work he’s putting in will be the biggest blessing his children will know. Encourage him to stay the course by letting him know he’s doing well in his role.

Affirm the Father who has joint custody and has to share time with his kids, but he still sacrifices and does what he can to see them.  Let him know how proud you are that he’s making those sacrifices unlike so many others who shrink at their responsibility.

Affirm the Father with baby mama drama. Tell him that you see his struggle and fight to be a part of his children’s lives and how much you respect his efforts. Tell him his labor is not in vain.

Affirm the Father who has raised his children. Be sure to tell him how much you appreciate the heavy burden and responsibility of raising children he carried, and how he carried it well.

Affirm the Father figure who stepped into the role of someone else to benefit the life of a child. He needs to hear that though he is not a biological parent, the priceless paternal influence he is giving will last a lifetime.

Don’t just let Hallmark speak for you, speak for yourself too! So, I know you have some father’s in mind that you want to express your gratitude and appreciation to, so go do it. Dads this is our day, but we need to get over any hang-ups that might be there and show love to other dad’s too.  There’s not much that can replace a peer or someone who has gone before you in a certain role assuring you of your progress. They need to hear it!

~Stephen J. Taylor

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7 Ways to Help You (Yes YOU) Not Shoot Someone this Summer

Well, summer is almost here and you know what that means…heat a hike in assault, battery, and homicide related crimes. Here are a few practical tips to keep you from smacking, punching, cutting, vandalizing, stabbing, and of course shooting someone:

1. Stay Yo Butt Inside! Summertime equals more people out and about. Especially in the northern cities, the moment an ounce of sunlight and heat appears people are scrambling to get outside! But, this outpouring of people increases the probability of stepped on shoes, people mean mugging, and higher attendance at the club, which results in more conflict. So just stay inside where itlemonade’s safe.

2. Stay Hydrated. A key issue with the summer causing violence is the heat. When people get hot, they get bothered. When people get bothered they get angry a lot easier and situations can turn violent.  So, keep that cold beverage handy. Make sure you have that chilled glass of water, iced tea, lemonade, or Kool-Aid ready to go. If you wake up in the middle of the night, be sure to get you a “cold pop”, cuz being parched and pissed, well… ain’t nobody got time for that!

3. Stay Cool by Being Cool. Like #2, in order to keep your composure you have to stay cooled off. Go ahead and fix that AC in your house, and get that freon for your car. If money is tight, next time you’re at church take a few of those funeral home/ MLK fans home with you. It’s ok, God knows your heart, thou shall not be hot and therefore murder.

4. Bring Back the Ice Cream Man. This guy has been missing in many neighborhoods, and we need him back because his treats Vintage-Ice-Cream-Truck-350x213bring so much happiness to us all.  It’s hard to be ticked at someone when you’re enjoying a fudge sickle, and it’s definitely a difficult task cussing someone out while savoring a push-up or ice cream sandwich.

5. Change the Music You Bump.  When the temp goes up, windows roll down and music gets turned up. I know you want to ride to that Chief Keef down the street, but how about something a little less threatening or temper arousing? Classical anyone?supersoaker

6. Substitute Real Guns with Water Guns. Simply stated if you just have to shoot someone, how about using a super soaker?

7. Communicate with Your Significant Other. The cold winter months are also known as cuffing season (when you’re tied down in a relationship). But when that heat comes, clothes get skimpy, people get out, and a spirit of singleness seems to sweep through the nation. With this being the case, talk to your “boo,” and make sure yall are on the same page to prevent any unnecessary fights, keyed cars, and shootings.

But all jokes aside, be safe this summer. Be aware of your environments, and learn how to let stuff roll off your back!

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-Stephen J. Taylor

Can We Get a Belafonte?

           Not too long ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Dusable Museum of African American history in Chicago. The museum had exhibits covering ancient African kingdoms, the history of blacks in the armed forces, the progression of gospel music, and more. In one exhibit there was a poster that I walked by and quickly did a double take. It was a promotional poster for an event that had a star-studded cast with the likes of Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Dick Gregory, and Mahalia Jackson. What was the event you ask? It was a fundraiser promoted by none other than Martin Luther King Jr. (the keynote speaker for the night) and the SCLC to raise funds for civil rights work in Chicago.

            I was so impressed with that lineup as it consisted of some of the top stars at that time. Seeing it also reminded me of some of the works of MLK I read where he spoke highly of Harry Belafonte and his support in the civil rights movement. Belafonte would become a key resource to assist king financially and visibly promoted his endeavors. I thought to myself about how awesome it was to have celebrities use their platforms for that movement. They could have easily sat back in their mansions and played the safe card to not hurt their images in the entertainment industry. They could have took the “safe negro” approach but instead they got their hands dirty by joining their people in the struggle. They owned it, and used the influence they had to assist in making a difference.

belofontemlk

Harry Belafonte greets Martin Luther King Jr. (right) at a 1965 civil-rights march in Montgomery, Alabama.

Fast forward some 50 years later and where are our celebrities? Now I’m not saying that our rich and famous do not give to charities and meaningful causes. I’m not claiming to have investigated all of their financial statements.  I also know of some who step to the forefront as advocates for different issues, but something still seems to be missing. It just doesn’t seem to compare to that poster I saw that was just a snippet of the work done by those famous men and women. In a day and age where celebrities are placed on pedestals probably more so than any other time period, I don’t see the use of platforms for the advancement of our people.

In a culture where the masses hang on the every word of the famous and follow their every move, I don’t see our celebrities taking advantage of this fact to speak to the problems that plague us. In a society where the famous can be so easily accessible through social media, it just seems that more of what is said and done hurts us rather than helps us. Where are the actors like Poitier or Belafonte? The entertainers like Mahalia Jackson or Dick Gregory? Where are the music artists like the James Browns or Marvin Gayes who will write anthems to inspire our generation? Where are the athletes like the Jim Browns or Muhammad Alis who will use their platforms to stand for what is right and be vocal about injustice in this country and the world? To whom much is given, much is required. Our celebrities have been given so much influence today that it’s mind-boggling! I pray they will use it for good.

~Stephen J. Taylor

Dear Mr. Rapper: A helpful tip if it’s just entertainment

Dear Mr. Rapper,microphone07

I will be honest with you up front; I am not pleased with the music industry. The lyrical content from hip-hop songs that promotes these misogynistic, violent, hedonistic, and reckless mentalities is truly disturbing.  The disappointing part of it all is that I grew up in the hip hop generation and still feel as if it’s my music, but you can only nod your head to a good beat and a nice flow for so long before the hoes, mollies, and bang bangs start to wear on you. Now, there are some of your industry mates that bring some hope to the genre, but I don’t see the majority taking note. There’s a lot that can be said about rap music (and over time will be said) but in this letter I want to address this common statement I hear from rappers, that their music is “just entertainment”.

At various times this argument has been made where listeners were told to “calm down” or to “not take things so seriously” because again the music is for listening pleasure not a guide to reality. Now some may ask, how can promoting drugs, violence, and exploiting women be viewed as entertainment? This indeed is a good question but one can’t forget about the violent and sex filled movies and TV shows we entertain ourselves with night in and night out.

trainingdayNow Mr. Rapper, before you think that I’m making an argument for your craft, my mentioning of TV and movies is for a reason. My advice to you Mr. Rapper is to take note of your fellow entertainers from the world of film. For instance, we all know that Denzel Washington is not a crooked cop in LA, or a pilot with a drinking problem, or a high school football coach during integration, or a civil rights activist from the 60’s. We know this because when Denzel leaves the movie set his name ceases to be Detective Alonzo Harris , Whip Whitaker, Coach Boone, or Malcolm X. Once the director says cut, he’s back to Denzel Washington and done playing the part of his characters. When we see him on interviews, award shows, late night TV, or if we even get the privilege to meet him in person, he’s Denzel, his true self. No one will run up to him and thank him for inspiring them when he went to the lengths of holding people in a hospital hostage in order to get his son medical treatment, because they know he didn’t do that in real life.

But with you Mr. Rapper it’s different and therefore quite confusing. When you leave the studio or video shoot, you go by the same name and you stay in character. We see you on interviews, award shows, and late night TV and you still keep the same persona. If it was just entertainment maybe it would help if you came out of character. This will help people separate the reality from fiction. It’s also confusing Mr. Rapper when you stay in character to the point of getting arrested, starting beefs that turn violent and at times deadly, and even go to prison for the same stuff you rap about in your songs. You deserve acting accolades for your performances and praise for the lengths that you are committed to your “entertainment”.  So in closing, if it’s just for show and not real, come out of character, use your birth name and real persona. Help people, especially these young kids out here see that it’s not real…unless it really isn’t entertainment. Then Mr. Rapper, I think we have a serious issue on our hands.

Sincerely,

Concerned Music Enjoyer

~Stephen J. Taylor