Thursday, December 28, 2006

Some Thoughts for the Holiday Season

Peace and blessings,

I must say that things have been going pretty well since i've been home visiting family during this past week and a half. I can honestly say that I do not remember when was the last time I totally did not do anything for this many days consecutatively. Although i've enjoyed doing nothing during these last 10 days, this time off as also allowed me to think about how truly blessed I am. Not just for my health, family and free food (although these things are great, lol), but for the fact that this time of year marks the celebration of when God, through Jesus Christ (JC), established a new covenant with His children. This new covenant is demonstrated by JC's birth, life, death, and resurrection.

I think the movie "the Nativity Story" does a good job of capturing the essence of what kind of conditions (e.g. economic, political, social, moral, cultural) surrounded JC's birth. In additon to the divine occurances during these times (e.g. angel appearing to Mary and Joseph, Mary's immaculate conception, the pregnancy of Elizabeth, and the birth of John the Baptist), what fascinates me about JC's birth is how Mary and Joseph chose to react to God's workings. They both trusted God and allowed God to use them to bring about change in their generation and for generations to come (because we all know JC was on some major "revolutionary" steez). I've been thinking a lot about how God will often use one person to reveal himself to another. One common example is when I'm talking to something, and they tell me something that confirms that I felt God has been saying to me. I also think that God uses one's prayers to reveal Himself to another as well. Therefore, I urge us take time during this season (and always) to think about the role(s) we each can play in representing and/or revealing God to others. A link to an article about JC's relationship to us, and what that means for our relationships with each other, is provided below. In addition, here are some things that we can pray for. Take care and as always, speekonit...


Pray for familes who have lost loved ones during this time of the year

Pray for those who are still experiencing the aftermath of past recent catastrophies, and are in the process of rebiulding their lives (e.g. Tsunami, Katrina, Plane crashes, 9-11, gang violence)

Pray for the lives on both sides of the Iraq war

Pray for the country and world "leaders"

Pray for the AIDS epidemic in Africa

Pray for the negative effect music has on youth and adults alike




Artlicle Link--http://www.urbana.org/wtoday.ephesians.cfm?article=89

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Powerful Story of Faith and Redemption

Peace and Blessings,

I've been meaning to post this story for a few weeks now, but i'm just now getting to it. It is a story about Emmanuel, a man who, while going through Seminary training to work in ministry, found out that he had HIV. It's a compelling story. The link is below, and it is also in the "Christianity" news section. Take care and speekonit...


http://www.urbana.org/_articles.cfm?RecordId=1025

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

One Year and Counting...

Peace and blessings,

I just realized that as of last Friday (12/08), it has a been one-year since I created this website. I thank God for putting it on my heart to create a space where I could write about things that I am interested in. Also, thank everyone who has visited the site and showed love during the last year. I know God is going to expand this website in major ways. Once I get a domain name, it's a wrap, lol!

In Christ,

Friday, December 08, 2006

A few updates (More to come soon)





Peace and blessings,

I apologize for not giving the page much attention this past week or so, but what can I say? It's finals time. Once the storm is weathered next week, I will be back on my hustle. Until then, here are a couple of treats for you to enjoy. A great friend of mine sent me info on documentary directed by African American teenage girl, and it's about how black women view themselves. The film is entitled "A Girl Like Me." Also, I included a video on a study that was conducted either in 1968 called "eye of the storm." If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it for you by telling you what it's about. Just check it out. I think the study relates to the documentary because the documentary includes the famous doll study, in which children were told to indicate their preferences as to which doll they liked, the black or the white doll. Let me know what you think of these videos, as they raise important questions about how perceptive and malleable young children and adolescents are, and what happens when they are "taught" to devalue themselves and others. Have a blessed weekend and speekonit...




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGDMevuZZVM





http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJLUQzwCFIo

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Is this what it took?

Peace and blessings,

It appears that Paul Mooney (comedian who was the "ask a black man" guy on the Dave Chapelle show and the father of Damon Wayans' character in Bamboozled), decided to no longer use the "N" word and the "B" word. He says that watching Michael Richards use the word the way he did "scared" him, prompting him to critically look at the word's impact. Growing up I struggled with using the "N" word, seeing how on one in it could make me feel so included yet devalued at the same time. I eventually decided to do away with the word. I did so because even though it can be used as a term of endearment, acceptance, or whatever, changing the usage of the word does totally do away with the nature in which the word was formed and used. I also feel that any word that I have to think about using only in certain contexts is a word that should not come out of my mouth in the first place. I guess being called a "nigger" by someone I considered a close friend can do that to you, lol. I pray that all people seriously decide to stop using both the "N" and the "B" words. Although the focus of Paul Mooney's decision will probably focus on the "N" word, I think it is equally laudible that he decided to do away with the "B" word as well. Although i'm disappointed that it took the Michael Richards incident for a prominent entertainer to decide to stop using those words, better late than never. A link to the article is provided at the bottom. Until next time, speekonit...



http://www.sohh.com/articles/article.php/10336

Sunday, November 26, 2006

News Section Updated





Peace and Blessings,

I included a couple of articles in the "worldwide" news section about the recent beef between Rwanda and France. Some of it stems from the 1994 genocide and some of it stems from more recent incidents. Check it out and speekonit...

On the Michael Richards incident...

Peace and blessings,

I pray everyone's holiday was well. Or if you don't celebrate it, atleast you used these few days off to spend with family and loved ones. I'm sure most of you have heard of the incident involving Michael Richards' racist and degrading comments at the laugh factory. Although I am in no position to past judgement on anyone because there are times where I stereotype other ethnic groups and act out of prejudice(either directly or indirectly, through actions or through thoughts), I especially think that those who are constantly in the public eye (e.g. actors, comedians, etc...) need to be extremely careful for what comes out of their mouth because of their words' potential impact on their listeners. Don't get me wrong, we all need to check our individual prejudices and need to be held accountable, but this should definately be the case for those who have people pay to come hear what they have to say. When you think about it, when we pay (e.g. with our money or time) to hear people speak(e.g. comedians, artists, scholars, etc...), we are in essence paying for the expression of their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. It's the same with purchasing any music artist's cd. Therefore, given the fact that people paid something to hear Michael Richards speak, his motives behind saying what he say are independent of the potential impact it can have on not only those his comments were directed towards, but on his audience as well. It goes back to that scripture that says the power of life and death is in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). We continue to pray (not only for Michael Richards and for those whom his words affected, but also) that we watch not only what we do, but what we say and think as well, because according to the Bible they are all the same. Below is the incident at the laugh factory as well as the his apology on the David Letterman show. Take care and as always, speekonit...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3RjiVcIlhY







http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uul6COkTnNU


Sunday, November 19, 2006

It's Time to Get "Exposed"

Peace and blessings,

I pray all is well with everyone. About two months ago, a great friend of mine and woman of God, Tiffani Johnson, released an album entitled "Exposed." The album is a hybrid of the most intricate sorts. It successfully and beautifully combines neo-soul and gospel, while incorporating alittle rock where appropriate. I'm a firm believer in the idea that the strength and quality of an album is often determined by its intro. And needless to say, this intro, in which Tiffani proclaims that when it comes to God's goodness, she "just can't hold it in," sets the tone for the rest of the album. The next track, "after the love is gone" starts off as sort of a love ballad addressing the frailty of human relationships and the security of a relationship with God, before switching to a more up-beat, gospel sound towards the end. "My plea," which is undoubtedly my favorite track on the album, features a destiny-type match between the Brandelyn's annointed voice and the smooth, "just sit back and groove"-type beat. This song expresses the hurt and sorrow one feels for their fellow brothers and sisters who are suffering for whatever reason, with Tiffani dropping a verse at the end imploring us to do something about the individual and social injustices we are constantly made aware of. "You gave you" is a ballad about showing appreciation for Jesus' ultimate sacrifice (bearing the burden of our sins), and trying to return the favor by giving ourselves to Him. "I surrender all" picks up where the previous song left off, emphasizing the importance of not just giving God our problems, struggles, and concerns, but striving to give God every aspect of our lives to God. This track concludes with Tiffani charging the body of Christ to lace up our shoes and run this race in the name of social justice: to live not just to attain our personal blessings, but to be a blessing to and advocate for the marginalized and oppressed. The album ends with "David's poem" and "David's song," where the poem serves as an intro into the song, which is a plea for God to continue to shower us with His grace and love, despite our shortcomings.

Overall, the album's themes revolve around the life of David (his trials, triumphs, and his hear for God) and social justice, and how these implications for all of us seeking to know God and thus ourselves, more. Although only seven tracks, this album is a "banger" that challenges not only our conception of what constitutes gospel or Christ-centered music, but our conceptions of what is means to follow Jesus. I recommend everyone cop this album, for either the music, the message, or both. Below is a link to the album's info at cdbaby.com. Take care, enjoy, and as always, speekonit...

Album info: http://cdbaby.com/cd/tiffanimarie

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Building of the MLK Memorial is finally underway

Peace and Blessings,

In recent news, the building of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in the National's Capitol has finally begun. Below is a little clip from that news segment. Also, below is a 10 minute clip of his "I've been to the mountain top" speech (the last, prophetic speech he gave the night before he was assassinated). Although he is most notably known for his "I have a dream" speech, I think his "mountain top" speech is one of (if not) the most powerful speeches because during the speech he urges us not to turn our backs on our moral obligation to help those in need. Also, in this this speech I believe he confirms Isaiah 61:1-3, which I think outlines the responsibility of us as believers. Feel free to share your thoughts on King's legacy, and the relevance of his "mountain top" speech to today. Speekonit...


"THE SPIRIT of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] [a]and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
to grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion--to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit--that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

-Isaiah 61:1-3 (Amplified Bible)





http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbuHdNBecQw










http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_agUA-htonQ


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

News Section Updated





I've added a couple of articles. One is on the first Chinese person to head a U.N. Agency, and the other is on this expert in the field of education who argues that Education alone cannot solve social problems. The first piece is in the "people" section, and the second piece is in the "education" section. Speekonit...

Movie Preview

Peace and blessings,

I pray all is well. Below is the trailer for the movie "The Nativity Story," which is basically the prequel to the life of Jesus. It chronicles the lives of Mary and Joseph, and the social, political, and spiritual climate of the times leading up to the birth of Jesus. It looks promising. I think it comes out December 1st. Check it out and let me know what you think. Speekonit...





http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Wrs3KJMZ34



Sunday, November 05, 2006

Minority Report

Peace and blessings,


Before I get into this piece, I wanted to start off with the scripture that some brothas and I were discussing that inspired me to write on this topic.


"11Put on God's whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.

12For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

13Therefore put on God's complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].

14Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,

15And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the [a]firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness [b]produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.(A)

16Lift up over all the [covering] shield of [c]saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].

17And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit [d]wields, which is the Word of God.

18Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God's consecrated people)."

-Ephesians 6:11-18 (Amplified Bible)

In our discussion, we focused on the idea of putting on God's armor, especially when it comes to us leading others to Christ. We talked about a couple of situations in which we feel compelled to as well as struggle with spreading the truth and Gospel of Jesus Christ. On an individual level we talked about situations where we have one-on-one relationships with people (e.g. friends, family, others, etc...) who for whatever reason do not believe in God and/or that Jesus Christ died for our sins and resurrected. On a social level, we talked about situations where we may be (or feel as if we are) the only Christian in a particular situation (e.g. classroom, etc...).

In social psychology, there has been a lot of research on the various contexts in which people are more or less likely to influence others. When I originally thought of the idea of influence, I thought it usually occured in two situations. One situation is where the person being influenced is in a close, trusting relationship with someone they consider to be an important figure in their life (e.g. child-parent, mentee-mentor, student teacher, etc...). In this situation, the person being influenced most likely assumes that the person they are learning from has their best interests at heart. The other situation I thought about was where the minority is influenced by the majority. This type of influence occurs often, for example there are times where I get interested or involved in an issue or cause primarily because it affects and concerns the majority of people.


Although these forms of influence tend to be more common and visibile, I learned about an idea in social psycholgy known as minority influence. According to this concept, there are situations where ordinary individuals can exert influence over a group or social context. While attending Pentecostal Tabernacle in Cambridge, MA, the pastor would always emphasize the importance of a shared purpose and destiny. In one sermon that continues to stick with me to this day, he emphasized that as Christians we are all leaders. Further, he said that we are constantly surrounded by people who for whatever reason, are not communicating with and/or do not have a relationship with God. Therefore, these individuals are depending on us to pray to God on their behalf (i.e. to intercede).

Understanding this, and also considering this idea of minority influence, the question then arises: How do we as Christians exert godly influence (i.e. be a light) on others and our surrounding situations when in those situations we are(or at least we perceive to be)a minority? I think the best way to answer this is to refer to the abovementioned scripture, which talks about the importance of equipping ourselves with and utlizing the full armor of God (e.g. truth, righteousness, faith, salvation, scripture) through prayer. Ultimatley, any influence we exert is not by our own doing, but only through the works of God through us. Therefore, we must constantly stay "prayed-up" so that we can be light in ever situation, environment, and relationship we find ourselves in. Below are a couple of clips of the "Matrix" and "Matrix:reloaded," because I think that the whole idea behind the Matrix relates closely to this idea of the minority having the power to exert influence over the majority. Plus, I think everything can pretty much be explained by the Matrix Trilogy, lol. Take care, and please share your thoughts. Speekonit...










Hundreds of Letters to God Found in the Atlantic Ocean!





Peace and Blessings,

In recent news, hundreds of letters to God were found in the Atlantic Ocean. The letters were addressed to a minister at a Baptist church, but they were never delivered to him. You can find more info by clicking on the link in the "Christianity" news section. Check it and share your thoughts. Speekonit...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Jesus Muzik




Peace and blessings,

While attending a graduate student seminar at Atlanta '05 (an African American Christian student leadership conference put on by InterVasity Christian Fellowship), one of the speakers said the following with regards to the perceived distinction between Academics and faith,

"To the Christian, there is no such thing as sacred and secular...everything is sacred."

That phrase stuck with me throughout the whole conference and continues to resonate with me today, especially seeing that I am currently and will be in academia for a while. I took that phrase to mean that as Christians, our entire lives are dedicated to glorifying God. Therefore, regardless of what we "specialize" in (e.g. medicine, science, education, law, etc...), our approach to and usage of those skills must first and foremost be a reflection of our relationship with God. During this and other graduate student seminars, we discussed how many (if not all) of the subjects we study in school (i.e. physics, chemistry, psychology, philosophy, biology, etc...) are simply attempts to further identify, analyze, and explain God's creations. One of my favorite disciplines besides education is psychology, and the more I learn about social and developmental psych (my particular interests within psych), the more I realize that the principles discussed and researched are the same as those emphasized in the bible (i.e. leadership, decision-making, inter-personal relationships, persuasion and influence, etc...). Although I think there are tons of examples in the bible, i'm not going to discuss them here, as that is not the focus of this piece.


I mentioned that quote from Atlanta '05, and the context in which it was discussed because I think it is relevant to the current debate that exists between those who are for Christian hip-hop, and those who are against it. I'm not going to get into the whole debate, but just a brief summary. For those on the "con" side, one of the criticisms of Christian hip-hop is that some artists' use the beats of "worldly" artists, and many of these beats are associated with negative behaviors. Further, it has been noted that before satan was cast down from heaven, he specialized in music, therefore the negative messages and images that are often associated with hip-hip culture(and in other genres as well) are indicative of Satan's influence(via manipulation of one's emotions and attitudes through music). The "Pro" side on the other hand, argues that hip-hop as a culture and artform in itself is not of satan, but it (as with anything) can be used to acheive destructive or constructive ends. Further, people contend that artistic expression is a gift from God, and thus another tool for ministry and spreading the Gospel. For more information on both sides of the debate, you can check out exministries.com (con) and theambassadoronline.com (pro).

What got me thinking about this debate was a song I heard on Lecrae's Album, "After the Music Stops (2006)." His album is one of the best Christain rap albums i've ever heard, and I advise you to cop it (album info will be on the site soon). The name of the song is called "Jesus Muzik" and it sounded to me like the hook sampled the voice of a secular rap artist. I called "the music expert(my sister, lol)" and she told me that when songs are "chopped and screwed," they slow the voice down so that anyone's voice can be transformed into that slow, "draggy" sound. Despite this information, I still wondered if people would view the song and its impact differently if the song did contain a sample of a secular artist? My answer is no, or atleast they shouldn't for a couple of reasons. For one, I can atleast say for me that I listen to the music I listen to not just because of the quality of the music itself, but also because of my perceived quality of the artist as well. I believe that the artists that I listen to ( both "secular" and "sacred") are generally "good" people in a sense that I believe they make music for the betterment as opposed to the detriment of their listeners. Therefore, because I own both of Lecrae's albums and I'm aware of his sincerity and fervor in spreading the Gospel, I know that whether or not the sampled voice on the track is from a secular artist is an irrelevant issue. Further, being preoccupied with whose voice was sampled will cause me to miss the purpose of the song and the album, which is to show Christ to the lost and to strengthen us as believers to do the same.

The second point I wanted to make before I sign off (Honestly, I never intend on being this long-winded when I write, lol), is that I think there is a need to distinguish between the culture and art-form of hip-hop itself, and how artists within that culture and art-form choose to use their gifts. With regards to the debate mentioned earlier, I am for using hip-hop as a tool to reach the lost because when it's all said and done, what matters is what words are spoke, not whose voice was sampled or what beats were knockin'. The bible talks about how the power of life and death is in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Christian hip-hop artists are first and foremost Christians, therefore we as listeners should be more concerned with the Gospel they are spreading, and not which samples or beats they use, how they are dressed, etc... After all, as long as the music is inspired by Jesus, we need to forever rep and support that Jesus Muzik...

Here is another scripture that I thought was relevant to this issue, as well as Lecrae's music video for "Jesus Muzik." Peace, blessings, and I want to know your thoughts on this issue, so definately speekonit...



"21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."

1 Corinthians 9:21-23 (New International Version)




Link to the "Jesus Muzik" video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaTXRaSvq-M


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Some Food for Thought...

Peace and blessings,

I came across this scripture this week, and I thought I'd post it because I found it to be very inspirational. In my opinion it speaks to the distinction we as Christians must always make between being in the world but not of the world. Namely, although we are humans and to an extent must tend to human needs and faculties (e.g. food, communication, relationship, expression, intellect, etc...), the battles we endure are not of human origin, but of spiritual origin. Similarly, the "weaponry" we use to claim victory over these batttles (because as believers we are already made victorious through Christ) comes from the spiritual power invested in us through Christ (e.g. the Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit). I'm interested in hearing what people think this scriputure means to them, so have a blessed weekend, and speekonit...



" 3For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons.

4For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds,"


2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (Amplified Bible)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

An update on the Duke Lacrosse situation





Peace and blessings,

In April, I posted a piece on the implications of the Duke Lacrosse situation, namely the rape allegations and the defense's attempt to discredit the female. In that piece, I did not express my views on if I think the girl was raped or not, but instead I suggested ways in which the fact that she was an African American woman and stripper, may relate to the "black-woman-as-sexual-deviant" stereotype. I still don't think I'm well-informed enough about the situation to argue that the defendants are innocent or guilty. Anyhow, here is a recent interview with one of the accused Lacrosse players, and a friend/co-worker of the accuser. I think you can peep the entire interview on "60 minutes" this week, or on CBS' website. Take care and speekonit...


Monday, October 16, 2006

The Unpredictability of Prayer

Peace and blessings,

I wanted to share something with you, something that God revealed to me a few about 6 months ago. But first, I have to add some contextual background...



About a week and a half ago, my girl told me about an interesting phenomena she observed while at Kaiser. Basically, she was telling me how she watched a woman who, after having an unpleasant interaction with a woman of a different race, kept telling her young son (who by girl thinks could not be any older than 7 years old) that the other woman was mean. In particular, the mother kept telling her child something to the effect that "see, now that's a mean, mean woman," and so forth. Moreover, the mother made sure that her voice was extremely soft and her demeaner was overly nice, as to provide her son with a sharp contrast between the nice, sweet mother and the mean woman of another race. After my girl told me exactly why this observation upset her so much (namely because she felt that the mother was using her influence as his mother to convince her son that the other woman was mean), we came up with the following "theory" regarding the development of prejudice and/or racist attitudes among children. In particular, the idea that the development of prejudice and/or racist beliefs within a child may result from the child's learned association between a person of another race and another trait. Further, this association (and thus its affects on the child's development of discriminatory attitudes) is stronger when the child learns this association from an influencial authority figure (e.g. his mother, etc...).


How does this incident relate to prayer you might ask? I provide this story as contextual background because as a child, I underwent a similar process in which I came to associate a behavior with an influential person in my life. That person was my great aunt. She's a matriarch of the family in that all of my cousins and I grew up over her house, as she would babysit all of us. She also one of the most annointed, sweet, and "filled with the holy ghost" type folks I have ever met. In fact, I truly believe that she is an angel, always providing the family with the type of love and spiritual guidance we always need but rarely know how to ask for it or truly appreciate it. Every day, she would pray over all of us( her children, myself and our cousins). In addition, she would spend hours in her room praying to God. As a look back, i realize that she provided me with a great deal of the spiritual foundation that I working to strenghten today.


Although as a child I didn't fully understand what the Christian walk would entail, or who God was for that matter, But started emulating my aunt's prayer behavior for two reasons. One was that you simply couldn't grow up in her house hold and not talk to God, lol. The other, and more important reason, was that even though I didn't quite know what she was doing or why, I knew HER. I knew that she always had my best interests at heart, and whoever she was praying to must be pretty important, because she truly was (and still is, of course) a strong, wise, and beautiful person. So, whenever I would be experiencing hardships, i would get on my knees and attempt to talk to God. Out of the many things I would pray for ( and out of a need to preserve my character I'm not going to name all of them, lol), the thing that I prayed for the most was for my parents to stop arguing. When I was younger, they used to argue all the time, and I was scared that they were going to get a divorce. Despite many nights of praying, my parents continued to argue (and in some instances the arguments got worse). Once my sister came into the picture and was old enough to realize what was going on, I became less concerned with how the arguing affected me, and more concerned with how I could prevent it from affecting her.


Now plenty years have passed and I've gotten older. Further, I have come to know for myself, the same God that my aunt so fervently prayed to day in and day out. Although I could now say that I had a personal relationship with God, at times I would still feel that because my parents didn't stop arguing, that God did not answer my prayer. However recently, out of nowwhere, it was if God spoke to me and was like "look at the bigger picture." I thought about my fellings regarding the answering of prayer, and how sometimes when I would tell others to trust God I would feel like a hypocrite because deep down I felt like that one my sincerest prayers as a child did not get answered. However, as I widened my perspective of who God is and the extent of our relationship, it became clear that many times when i pray, my "prayer-scope" is limited due to the limitations of my human nature and rationality. Because my parents didn't go from arguing to "the Huxtables," I thought that God "dropped the ball" with regards to that prayer. Despite my doubting of God, he nevertheless reminded me that He did in fact answer my prayer, but He answered it HIS way, which was in much broader scope than I had initially perceived. Even though in my prayer I wanted my parents to stop arguing, what I really wanted (e.g. my heart desired) was for my parents to stay together. By the grace of God they just recently celebrated their 23rd anniversary and I don't have to spit out divorce statistics to illustrate how much of a blessing that is.

So in sum, it took alot of wrestling and growth to realize that God answers all your prayers (assuming they are in accordance with His will), but He does so His way. Further, His way is the way that has our best interests in mind. So if I've learned anything from this realization, is that not only does God answers prayers, but that if we feel like we have been constantly praying to God for something to no avail, then it probably means that our "prayer scope" is too small, and that when God answers it, He's going to do so in a way that 1) gives Him the glory and 2) goes over and above what we thought we wanted or needed. Until next time, speekonit...


Saturday, October 14, 2006

A New Film about the Old Testament




Peace and blessings,

Below is the trailer for "One night with the king," a movie about Queen Esther, a powerful woman of faith in the Old Testament. It came out Yesterday (10/13/06). Have a blessed weekend and if anyone checks it out, make sure to speekonit...




Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It's official: Things are definately all bad...




Peace and blessings,

A good friend of mine sent me an e-mail about these pop music twins called Prussian Blue. I did a search and couldn't believe what i found. They are two 14 year old girls who sing a message of white nationalism and hate. I can't even comment on this right now because my spirit is too grieved. Lord we need you...



A perspective on "The Passion"



Peace and blessings,

I came across this clip the other day and I thought it was an interesting stance to take on the movie "The Passion of the Christ." In this clip, Cornel West talks about the socio-political contexts of the Roman empire during Jesus' time and the "American" empire today, and how his view the former was not adequately addressed in the film. Enjoy and speekonit...





Saturday, October 07, 2006

More Movie Previews...

Below are a couple of trialers for films that are coming out next year. The first trailer is of Spider-Man 3, and the other is of Transformers. If you've read my "more than meets the eye" piece I did in Februrary, then you know I am partial towards Spider-Man films, because I think his plight mirrors that of the Christian walk in some respects. With regards to transformers, I haven't made any "deep connections" with that concept yet, but for now I'm "pubbing" the ilm solely on the strength that I grew up watching the cartoons as a child, and was "devastated" when Optimus Prime died in the first cartoon movie, lol. Anyway, I'm interested in whether people think there is a "deeper meaning" behind the spider-man story and if so, what it is. So as always, speekonit...







Recommended movie!

Peace and blessings,

I've been meaning to put up a trailer for a movie that I saw a couple of months back, and within a week or so of renting it I purchased it online. It's called "the Second Chance" and it's about the politics and inequality that exists among two sister churches and their respective communities (one church is in the suburbs and the other in the urban city). I thought the movie was very good simply because it was a Christian film (of which we need more mainstream access to), but because it dealt with alot of social issues that I think are not always addressed among and between the body of Christ and people in general. When u get a chance, rent the movie and/or cop it and let me know what you think. Have a blessed weekend, and speekonit...



Thursday, October 05, 2006

God is Lord over all (News section updated!)





Peace and blessings,

I just came across this and I thought that it was just yet another reminder that God is always around, even when we don't acknowledge it. Apparently there was a cross-shaped beam that survived the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center. This cross ended up becoming a symbol for workers, and those who lost loved ones as a source of inspiration. It is currently being moved to a church (St. Peter's) so that construction workers can start rebuilding the towers. The article is included in the "Christianity" news section. I know it's not a coincidence that the source of inspiration that survived the attacks was a cross, and that it is being moved to a churched named St. Peter's. Peter is one of my favorite people in the New Testament, and it seems fitting that this cross, this symbol of stregth, faith, and hope would be moved to a church named after him, seeing that Jesus told him that it is through him (the name "Peter" means rock) that He would build His church. Enough of the connections and symbolism for the day, I gotta move my car before I get a ticket! LOL. Speekonit...

When it's all said and done...

Peace and Blessings,

Recently, many people who are close to me have been experiencing the lost of life-long friends to cancer. Before I get into the purpose of this piece, I want to emphasize the importance of living and eating healthy, as cancer is constantly taking lives irrespective of age, race, gender, etc... So make sure you get regular check-ups and take care of your body, as it is a temple for God. While driving to campus yesterday morning, I was listening to the album "Crossroads" by Deitrick Haddon. I was thinking about the recent lost that my loved ones have recently experienced and I started to think about how I still struggle with the idea of people dying, especially when I feel like it was "before their time." God quickly reminded me, however, of something that as a believer I often forget...


Regardless of what ethnicity and culture you represent, I'm pretty sure that within every family there is that older cousin who often serves as the "nucleus" holding all the younger cousins together. For me, it was my oldest cousin on my father's side of the family. As a child I remember going over his house playing football, staying up all night playing video games, and so forth. On top of being one of the coolest people to spend time with, he was also one of the most gifted. He ran track, played football, and was an exceptional honor student. During his senior year of high school he got a scholarship (I think a full ride) to go to UCLA. So as you can see, it was not difficult to view him as a mentor and strive to be like him. After all. as young men we are always looking for guidance from an older male figure.


One day, however, everything changed in a blink of an eye. A few days before his graduation, he was walking home and was approached by a couple of people who tried to take his cd player. Realizing they were outmatched (like I said, my cousin was a football player so he was considerable bigger than them), they left. However, they shortly returned in a car and shot and killed him. I was in the third grade when this happened, and ever since then, I have always felt that my educational pursuits are not just for me, but they are for him and his parents as well. Actually, his passing was the reason why I wanted to go to UCLA as a youth. Not because I knew anything about the school, but because that's where he was going.


Fastforward about fourteen years and now i'm at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. While having a long conversation with with a young woman who went to the same undergrad as I did and it now at MIT, we found out that we were both from california and had plenty of similarities. When she asked me about what motivated my educational pursuits and I told her that the loss of my cousin plays a significant part, she told me that she remembered hearing about my cousin's passing on the news, and was talking to her friends about it when it happened. Now I figure by now that I had "dealed" with the loss of my cousin, but that conversation reminded me that I hadn't. There was still this weight that I carried around because I still could not understand why God allowed for my cousin, whose future and spirit was about as bright as can be, to go be with Him at such a young age. Till this day, I still think about where my cousin would be and what he would be doing right now if he were still alive.

These thoughts continued to resonate within me until one day, I was listening to a track called "After While" off of Deitrick Haddon's album "Lost and Found," and it is about dealing with the loss of a loved one. In short, the song basically says that although I cannot understand why you are no longer here, I know that I will see you again. It was at that point that I felt God ministering to my spirit, and finally giving me some "piece" about the situation. While I'm still living, I will never know why got took my cousin at 17, but what I do know is that I will see him again when God calls me home. When I think about the afterlife, I tend to view it like this. Just as we (belivers or not) are unable to fully explain where we come from (meaning we know how babies are made, but we don't know the full extent of God's reasoning behind it, or behind creation for that matter), the same goes for the afterlife. We cannot fully explain what happens to us when we die, therefore we are in no position to assume that once we die, that's it. As believers, however, that's where our faith comes in. As scripture says it is the "evidence of things not seen," thus we must trust that God has everthing in control, especially those things that surpass human reason and understanding, like what happens to us once we die. I pray that this is able to bless whoever reads it, but it sure does a number on me, lol. Also, although it doesn't include the song "afterwhile," below is a clip of D. Haddon performing live. Until next time, speekonit...



Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tavis Smiey's Interview with Venezuela President Hugo Chavez (plus more updates)

Peace and blessings,

Below is very recent interview with Tavis Smiley and Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela. Also, makke sure to check my archives, because I have started adding videos for some of the movies and themes I mentioned in those pieces. Most recently, I have made updates to posts I made in February and in June. Enjoy, and as always, speekonit...



Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What has changed?

Peace and blessings,

I was speaking to some folks today, and we were commenting on tonight's NFL football game. We were discussing how there is alot of talk about the superdome reopening, which is a tremendous blessing. However, we were disturbed by the fact that in many of the areas that were severely hit by Katrina, especially the "poorer" neighborhoods, little to nothing has been done, nor have the levees been repaired. In light of this, I decided to post Kanye Wests' comment about the inequalitites that were heightened during Katrina, not to point the blame at or to "crap" on Bush, but to remind us that the moral let down that the victims faced and continue to face at the hands of the "Havs" (as opposed to the "Have-nots") demonstrates, if nothing else, that we can never get complacent when it comes to making sure we value the quality of EVERYONE's life, and that we are morally obligated to address these and other forms of systemic inequality. Speekonit...





Monday, September 25, 2006

The Diversity of the Spirit

Peace and blessings,

This piece is something I felt God has been putting on my heart for the last couple of weeks. It seems like within American ideology there is this over-arching sense of and need to polarize beliefs, ideas, and groups. For instance, a large part of our livelihood tends to consist of a composite the choices we make from polarized alternatives. Either you're a Democrat or Rebublican, beautiful or ugly, fat or skinny, and so forth. I know these examples are somewhat simplistic, but the point is made nonetheless. Many aspects of our lives are dictated by an "either/or" framework.

Now I am not making a case for absolute relativism, because I believe that the enactment of absolute relativism, especially moral relativism, would pose a great threat to the human existence. Moreover, I believe that when it comes to how to live and how we should treat one another, there is an objective truth that governs these and all behaviors, and it resides in the relationship with God through Jesus Christ. With that said, what I am making a case for is for the acknowledgement of the spiritual diversity that derives from a relationship with God.


As a child, I thought of God as someone who was a strict disciplinarian who saw and knew everything. I thought that if I ever did anything that was contrary to His will, He was going to severly punish me, if not immediately, then eventually. Therefore, I attempted to stay away from trouble and be a "good boy," but for the wrong reasons. Although God is a sovereign and jealous God, our primary reason for living holy lives in accordance with His will should not be because we are afraid of what God will do to us. Instead, I believe that our primary reason for living for God is simply because of WHO HE IS! Once we change our conception of God from someone who is waiting for us to mess up so He can "lay the smack down" to someone who created, redeemed, and called us into a loving relationship with Him, we will be able to walk with Him, and thus live for better lives for Him.


Lastly, it is this "living for Him" part that inspired me to write this piece. Once we are in a relationship with God through Christ, we learn about the Christian docrtine and the principles of the faith. I know for me, there were times where as I was getting more into the Bible and into what it means to be a Christian, I would not only feel marginalized within a larger social context (e.g. there are just certain places and things a Christian is not suppose to go and do), but I would also feel limited in terms of the way I thought about God. I think it is often easy to confine our conception of God to the books of the Bible. Even though He is the same God, He also created each and everyone differently, and thus speaks to us differently. As I began to realize that, I stopped assessing my conception of and relationship with God based on others' conceptions of and relationships with Him, and found my own. That is the beauty of God working in us through the Holy Spirit, is that God not only meets us where we are at, but He also uses us according to our interests, personalities, and ways of thinking. For me, the way I view the world and the phenomena within it is heavily based on me viewing things in terms of connections, patterns and analogies. In order for me to truly understand something, I must develop a comparable analogy that explains it, or see how it connects to something else. It is no surprise that becaause God made me this way, that these are the ways in which I feel that I see God at work in the world. Things like how the little, everyday things we do (either by deliberate choice or out of reacting to the circumstance), can make the difference in receiving or missing our blessing, as well as in our opportunities to be a blessing to someone else.


Through my experiences and the constant changing of my conception of God, it is clear that while there are many people who do not have a relationship with God because for whatever reason they do not believe, there are also many of us who have a narrow conception of God and of the avenues through which He plans to use us to do His will. It is my prayer that we as Christians place substantial emphasis of the diversity of the Holy Spirit, namely the fact that our conception of God should never be limited, but to expand so that once we realize that God uses all of us according to our unique personalities, ways of thinking, interests, and talents (assuming of course these do not conflict with His will), we can put ourselves in a better position to serve Him. Stay blessed and as always, speekonit...




Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Stay away from (fresh) spinach!




Peace and blessings,

I'm not sure if folks have been keeping up the the latest news with the E. Coli outbreak, but health officials are warning people to stay away from fresh spinach (spinach from the bag), but i'm going to play it safe and stay away from spinach in general until I hear otherwise. Definately spread the word because the amount of people getting infected and even dying throughout the country is increasing. Also, there is a link to an article on the latest in the "Health News" section. Speekonit...

Access (not) Granted Pt. 2

Peace and blessings,


I last left off with the lessons learned and the implications from the seminar I attended on hip-hop and Christianity. Before I move on, I want to emphaisze that the focus of the seminar was to discuss 1) How we as Christians can become more aware of and use hip-hop culture to expose our youth ( I say "our" to indicate that we must take back our youth!) to Christ. The summer of my sophomore year, a friend of mine introduced me to many Christian hip-hop artists, among them being Cross Movement, KJ-52, Sev-Statik, and Grits. From then, I was hooked. They provided me with a springboard into another dimension of hip-hop music and culture that I was previously closed off from. In the past, when I would hear of the term "Christian rapper," I would automatically assume that their lyrical content and skill would be lacking in relation to the secular artists who I listened to. And although, like with anything there are people who are more talented than others, I have found that from the Christian artists that I constantly keep in rotation (most of which are included on the "hip-hop" section of the website), having a relationship with Christ does not stifle artistic expression, creativity, or breadth (the ability to address mutliple issues and experiences). On the contrary, a relationship with Christ stimulates and enhances these things! And as I reflect on this notion it makes perfect sense. Since God is the creator of all this good, of which gifts. talents, and skills are included, it makes sense these things would be exponentially improved if they are used in a way that gives credit and glory to God, the source and creator of these gifts, talents, and skills. Which brings me to my last point...


As I have become more engulfed in Christian hip-hop, and learning more and more how within the broader hip-hop culture, God is raising up biblically-sound, Christ-filled, and lyrically gifted MCs who are out to reach the youth and the lost, the resistance to this movement is become more and more evident as well. In my opinion, the lack of visibility and access many Christain MCs have faced and are currently facing can be illustrated by the following hypothetical situation. Imagine a child who, for whatever reason, is intentionally starved. Once the child is to the point where he or she is really hungry, they are only given bad-tasting food. Now, the fact that they eat this food demonstartes that they were hungry, but simply eating the food in no way suggests that the food itself was good to them or for them. However, because the child was starving and that was the only food available to them, they got their grub on for real. Further, and more devastating, is that because we often form perceptions of others and their behaviors based on a superficial analysis of that person, the child's eating of the food is perceived as meaning that 1) the child likes the food and 2) the food must be good. It's the same with the current hip-hop scene. Many youth and people who are going through difficult times or do not have a relationship with God are looking for some kind of guidance or "blueprint" for how to navigate life. In other words, they are hungry, to the point where they may be starving. To these individuals (as it was to me during early adolescence), mainstream hip-hop (e.g. the same 8 songs that get played on every major radio station, each with catchy, hypnotic hooks and touch on the similar themes of sex, violence, crime, and materialism) becomes their bad-tasting food. Because this appears to be the only food gaining mainstream visibility, they are quick to consume and eat because they are not aware of a quality, healthy alternative. Therefore, although listeners may call in to these stations and request these songs, I argue that they are not FREELY choosing to hear these songs in a way that attests to the song's quality. To freely choose something, one must also have a somewhat comparable alternative to validate one's choice. For instance, In order for a child to choose to do their homework, he or she must weigh that choice against a comparable alternative, such as not doing their homework and hanging with friends. Until these major radio stations and other media outlets present the public with comparable alternatives, the public will never have a FREE choice when it comes to which music they want represented in the mainstream. And we all know that the opposite of freedom is slavery, but let's not get into that right now, lol. Now i'm not saying that hip-hop should not address issues of sex, crime, violence, drugs, or whatever. These are all aspects of people's life experiences, so i think they should be addressed within hip-hop culture. However, my beef is not with WHAT is being addressed, but HOW it is being addressed. For instance, many mainstream hip-hop artists address these issues and the negative affects they have on people, but fail to mention how people can overcome these and other vices. Further, the argument that artists are ONLY speaking their reality and would have more positive, uplifting lyrics if that was their experience does not hold hold weight for two reasons. One, I know that many if not all of these artists are aware of God, and know of his power. As Shabach, one of my favorite Christian MC's puts it:

"I pray for secular rappers with dope music/who have that Godly intuition but they don't use it!"
-From the song "Speak to me" off of the album, "From Sin to Shabach: The Rebirth"(album info in the "hip-hop" section)


Second, because of hip-hop's influence, artists must realize that millions and millions of people look up to them from throughout the world, and thus they are obligated to steer the youth and others they influence in a more positive direction. As I conclude, I would like to ask those who read this to pray that God continues to add more avenues for Christian hip-hop to gain access to the masses. Although I'm a humble dude, I am overly confident, actually 150% certain that if the youth and the lost were aware of positive, quality Christian hip-hop and were thus able to choose between the bad-tasting food and the food that helps us (by directing us towards a relationship with Christ) transform our earthly lives and solidifies our spiritual lives, I know they will choose the latter. This is an issue that I felt God has laid on my heart for a while, and thus I will continue to address this issue in the future. I'm interested in hearing people's thoughts on this, so please speekonit...

Access (not) Granted Pt. 1

Peace and blessings,

As you can see, I have recently been making many updates to the site. Although I have updated many of the site's components, I have recently been focusing more on the "Holy Hip-Hop Resources" section. This focus is the result of two factors. One is that I am a serious hip-hop head and would not turn down a freestyle or cypha if my ife depended on it, lol. Quiet as kept, I was actually one of two MCs in a live hip-hop band for a semester while in undergrad. The other reason why I have been adding more media, artist info, and other Christian hip-hop related stuff is because I know that God has created this subculture within the broader hip-hop culture for a reason. In my early teens, I got real heavy into the whole hip-hop/rap culture. My first hip-hop cd that I consistently rocked was Snoop's first album, "Doggysyle." From then on, I got my hands on any and every rap cd there was, from Ice Cube to DMX to Jay-Z to Bone Thugs and Harmony. You name it, I either had it on cd or used cassetts to record their songs off of the radio (real talk, that was the thing to do in the mid to late nineties, lol). In high school (in particular Junior and Senior year), I became more engulfed in the music and culture, to the point where if my boys and I did not freestyle either during lunch, after school, or driving home from school, then a brotha didn't feel right. In college my love for hip-hop grew stronger, but little did I know that God was working out something within me.

My first year of college, hip-hop played an important role in getting me through. By this I mean that in college everyone needs a healthy outlet to relieve stress and relax from the academic demands, and for me my outlets were hooping and freestyling, although freestyling occured much more often. When we couldnt find anything to do on the weekends or just wanted to "take a mental break," my friends and I would have freestyle sessions that would last hours. My sophomore year, my love for hip-hop remained the same, but what I loved about it started to change. Upon attending "Atlanta '02," a black student christian conference put on every three years in Atlanta by Black Campus Ministries (a branch of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship), I was most looking forward to attending the seminar on Hip-Hop. At the same time, however, I was alittle reluctant because I just knew that going to a Christain conference and discussing hip-hop (especially as it is represented in the mainstream), would mean that I would have to throw away all of my "secular" hip-hop cds (which at the time was all of them because I was not yet exposed to Christian hip-hop). To my surprise however, I did not leave the seminar feeling convicted to throw away all of my secular hip-hop cds. What I did learn from the seminar and thus took from it was that 1) "the church" (both in an institutional sense and in the sense of we as a collective of believers) should pay more attention to hip-hop culture because we cannot deny the influence it has on the lives of youth and young adults. 2) We also discussed how there are some "secular" artists (i.e. DMX, Pac, and Nas) who at times offer their perspective on who God is and what the power of God can do for people who are disenfranchised. It is important to note that the seminar's speaker did not condone the lyrics, behaviors, and messages of these artists, nor do I. He was just using them to illustrate the point that as Christians, we need to be aware of the cultural messages permeating the minds of our youth, and hip-hop is no exception. 3) Lastly, and probably most importantly, we learned that there is a spiritual battle going on within the the culture of hip-hop, and thus because of the culture's many facets and what it's often associated with in the mainstream, it is not for everyone. For example, although I did not feel that I had to throw away all of my secular cds, I did throw away most of them, not necessarily because I felt a strong conviction to do so, but because as God was widening my perspective in terms of the influence of hip-hop and how He intended it to be used, I no longer had the desire to listen to most of the stuff I used to let infiltrate my spirit. Now there are still a few secular artists I listen to from time to time (some pac, some jay-z, some nas, some AZ), but I have become alot more cautious of the type of music I listen to. In order to avoid making this post super long, the rest of this messsage will be included in part 2. Speekonit...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

"Viktory" added to the "Holy Hip-Hop Resources" section

Peace and blessings,

"Viktory," a Christian hip-hop artist has been added to the section. Check out his info and make sure to listen to tracks off of his album. it's so sincere! Speekonit...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Finally, and update! LOL

Peace and blessings,

I apologize for the scant coverage I have been giving the site this summer. With school starting back and me living in the computer lab these days, site will be updated more frequently. It seems that recently God has been teaching me to have patience and wait on Him, and I think maybe in some weird kind of, "God works things out in His own time" sort of way, I think the time I spent away from this site this summer is indicative of that. That's not to say that I am going to continue to go long periods between updating the site (because I'm not), it's just to say that sometimes by letting my thoughts sit and marinate, God is able to revise them for His purposes. I have plenty of ideas and thoughts to share, and I would really like for them to be coupled with thoughts and reactions from those who take time to check out this site. To kick off this update, and as a prelude to the thoughts, ideas, and experiences to come, I want to leave you with a scripture to jumpstart your day. Until next time (which will be very soon), stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit...

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

--Romans 8:38-39 (New International Version)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Everyone playing their part?





Peace and blessings,

First off, I must apologize for the long hiatus, but this past month has been hectic with graduations and moving and all. But as always, I'm back like I left something. The focus of today's entry is something that has been on my mind for a little over a month during a course I was taking. In one of the required readings, Michael Resnick (1996) argues that people tend to view things from a centralized mindset, namely that massive or large-scale events/phenomena are caused by a "central" source. Common examples of this type of thinking include the belief that the productivity of hundreds of worker ants and bees is the result of their respective queens. He further contends that this way of thinking is misguided, because these and other phenomena are not the result of a central source, but of the combined choices and actions of individual agents. To illustrate this idea, Resnick (1996) and colleagues developed a computer program called StarLogo, which allows people to experience various ways in which individual agents work to create unintended phenomena. For example, high school students were able to alter the rules of different StarLogo environments (e.g. cars in traffic, turtles moving in particular directions, and termites picking up wood chips) and see how a series of individual actions can create massive results. To the students' surprise, they found that without a "central" cause, cars eventually formed a traffic jam, the turtles still organized in clusters, and termites still stacked wood chips in a pile. Although these activities may not seem that important, it is the idea behind these activities that we must consider: Individual choices and actions are important, and collectively they are powerful.
Once this idea was made clear to me, I started to think about a movie I recently saw, V for Vendetta. In a nutshell, the movie was about a man who sought to achieve justice on behalf of all the people who lost their lives in the past and are currently being deceived, due to the lives and cover ups of a corrupt government. Sounds familiar? Examples of such lies and cover-ups addressed in the movie include immoral medical experiments resulting in the deaths of many people, and government-fueled ideologies that elicit fear and compliance. Again, sound familiar? I don't know about you, but the syphilis experiments in Tuskegee and the "war on terror" comes to mind for me. Although the movie included good action scenes and the main character was very fascinating, the most significant scenes in the movie came not from the main character, but from the actions of the "community." by 'community" I am referring to the everyday citizens who realized they were being deceived and collectively did something about it non-violently. After discovering "the truth" about their government, huge multitudes of people marched to a central location (for the specific reason of the march and location, go peep the movie) and the government powers nor law enforcement could stop the because it too many people on one accord for a righteous cause. The most memorable line in the movie for me was the statement: "the people should not be afraid of their government, the government should be afraid of its people." While most of us would agree with the first part, we rarely focus on the second part. Governments should "govern" its citizens in a way that reflects not so much fear in terms of being scared of its citizens, but fear in the sense that the government respects its citizens enough to the point where it is afraid to deceive and disappoint them. There's all this propaganda and focus on how much love citizens don't have, have, or should have for their country (i.e. patriotism), but I pray that the hearts and minds of all governmental officials are oriented towards showing love, devotion, and allegiance to its citizens.
In sum, I wanted to draw-out a connection I made between the StarLogo program and "V for Vendetta." Although the former is a computer program and the latter a major motion picture, the common thread is that they both demonstrate the power of individual choices and actions. Further, they show how agents can create massive change by each playing their role in collective action. It doesn't happen often, but it puts a smile on my face when education and popular culture converge for a cause worth considering.

Source: Resnick, M. (1996). Beyond the centralized mindset. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 5(1), 1-22




Monday, April 24, 2006

Wake up Call...

Peace and Blessings,

During the last few weeks or so, the rape allegations involving the Duke Lacrosse players and the stripper have permeated various news mediums. The other day, however, the situation was brought to my attention in a way that views this case within the context of a much larger, but often neglected issue. A good friend of mine sent me the following article (peep the links section) that addresses the ways in which the beliefs and themes around this case reflect larger stereotypes about African American women. After looking at the various headlines about the lacrosse players' lawyers seeking information to weaken the woman's credibility, it confirmed the sentiments expressed by the African American women in the article, mainly that black women are intrinsically sexual deviants, and thus cannot be rape victims. Although there are exceptions, no one would disagree with the assertion that this stereotype about black women constitutes the prevailing notion of black women throughout history as well as contemporary discourse.


The purpose of this piece is not to offer my hypothesis on what actually happened with the lacrosse players. Instead, I would like to call our attention to this form of ideological oppression that has been plaguing black women for centuries. Oppressive systems have a way of only presenting one side of an ideological coin, the side that perpetuates inequality and notions of moral and intellectual inferiority. If we are to inquire about the root cause(s) of the current belief that black women are sexually superior and aggressive, we must go back to the 19th century and look at Europeans' exploitation of
  • Saartjie Baartman
  • , an African woman from the Khoikhoi people in what is now the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Europeans took her and at least one other Khoisian woman all throughout England and exploited them as an attraction under the name Hottentot Venus. They were viewed and treated as an attraction because of what Europeans considered unnatural bodily features, arguing that these features are proof that black women were abnormal, sexual creatures. Although not as explicit as Hottentot Venus, black women today are still viewed more so as victimizers than victims when it comes to sexual crimes.




    While this image of black women was being shaped a couple of centuries ago, another image of black women existed in the United States. I'm sure everyone is aware of the belief that suggests that all black women as sexual deviants, yet what they may not be aware of is that also in the 19th century
  • Maria Stewart
  • , the first American-born woman of any race to speak out on political themes, gained national prominence. She spoke out heavily against the immorality of slavery, espousing beliefs and moral principles stemming from her Christian Faith. I find it ironic that the first woman in American history to exercise her voice on political issues was a black woman, who's mission, which she firmly believed reflected God's calling for her life, was to denounce the immorality of and liberate black people from the same inferiority ideology and exploitation that Europeans used to try to denigrate African women. This image of black women as beacons of strength, epitomizers of faith, and advocates of all things moral is the proper image of black women that we should all come to know, love and cherish. I argue that this is the rightful image because unlike the sexual deviant image that is based on beliefs, stereotypes, and interpretations, the image of black women as moral agents of strength and faith is based on and evidenced by fact. Whether it was utilizing their "superwoman" characteristics to provide for their children during slavery, or providing the backbone for many churches, especially those instrumental in creating social change throughout history, black women have and consistently continue to overcome obstacles. Further, this is the rightful image because it is consistent with the image that I believe God wants all of us to represent and uphold.

    In closing, I wanted to address the issue of "Where do we go from here?" Before we proceed with this question, we must make an important distinction. Although it is easy to point the finger at the media and the entertainment industry as being primarily responsible for the maintenance of this sexual-deviant stereotype, there is more to the situation that meets the eye. There are three aspects that contribute to the prevalence of negative images about black women. One aspect involves women who carry themselves one way, but are portrayed and perceived another way. A common example is assertive and independent black women who are often viewed as having an attitude, aggressive or confrontational. The second aspect involves women who are in certain occupations that have negative connotations, but only hold these occupations because it is the only way they can "keep their heads above water" in a society where they are oppressed on two levels (e.g. as a black person and as a woman). A common example here are the women who are strippers only so they can pay their way through college or provide for their child. The third aspect is one that I don't think gets addressed often, and it involves women who, regardless of the reason, operate with the mentality that deems engaging in behavior and in occupations that are objectifying as permissible. A common example are women who are in "highly-sexualized" music videos, artists and video girls alike. The point of identifying these aspects is not to pass judgment or to point the blame, but to hopefully shed light on the extent to which stereotypes about black women, which were socially and ideologically constructed a couple of centuries ago, still affect us today.

    Even though this piece focuses primarily on women, when I say "us" I am referring to black men as well. I am in no way suggesting that the sexual-deviant stereotype is a black woman problem, because it affects and sadly to say, is often perpetuated by we as black men as well. As a black man, I implore that we take more responsibility for and thus more of a leadership role in respecting and maintaining the God-appointed image of black women, who are simultaneously His children and our queens.

    What do you think? Stay blessed and speekonit...

    Saturday, April 15, 2006

    God is good!





    Peace and Blessings,

    I know my updates have been sparse as of late, but blame the mind not the heart. Been on my academic grind lately plus traveling. Anyway, I'm back like I left something, and I wanted to direct your attention to the two newest additions to the "archives" section. With all of the negative press currently in the media, especially as it relates to people of color, it' s good to hear of stories where God is obviously present. Yesterday I came across the article about the young girl who testified against the person who shot her. The image of her on aol.com had her crying, and initially I didn't want to click the link. My spirit has recently been grieved with all of the "bad" news I've been exposed to lately, and I felt like I couldn't take reading another article about a young child suffering. However, the "her words might surprise you" part of the link caused me to click on it to read about what happened. Apparent this beautiful young girl was hit by a bullet fired during a shootout when she was 3 years old, and is now paralyzed for life. Now five years old, she confronted the shooter in court and after telling him that what he did to her was horrible, she broke out in tears before replying with "but I still forgive you." I was blown away that a five year old who was the victim of a terrible crime and is paralyzed for life can do something that we as adults fail to do all the time. The power of forgiveness is not just manifested in the way in which the "forgiver" can now move on with their life. Forgiveness is also and more importantly a transformative act that changes the way in which the perpetrator, regardless of the offense, views the moral implications of their actions. The bible's emphasis on forgiveness (e.g. many of Jesus' healings were in the form of forgiving people of their sins) reflects one of the many ways that things work out for good for those who believe. In particular, God's love and transformative power can be revealed even during times when our choices have detrimental affects on others. I believe that being confronted by his victim and then forgiven by her, especially seeing the severity of the bullet's impact and the fact that she is only five, resulted in some sort of "transformation" for the perpretrator.
    The other article I wanted to speak on briefly was the one about the father finding his daughter after 13 years. There are not really any implications I can draw out of this situation as with the one mentioned above, therefore I can do is thank God and give Him the glory. There is no doubt in my mind that people were constantly praying for him and his family and that he be reunited with his daughter. With all that is going on, it;s a blessing to come across stories like these where the only explanation of the outcomes (e.g. how can a five year old who has suffered so much take the moral and spirtual high road and forgive her shooter? How can a father who has not seen or heard from his daughter in 13 years since she was deemed missing now have the opportunity to reunite with her next week?) point to the Lord Almighty. Until next time, continue to, and always, let's continue to pray for out friends, families, communities, and for situations we may not be directly tied to, because if it's one thing i've recently realized is that prayer not only works, it is revolutionary! Speekonit...

    Tuesday, March 28, 2006

    Updates





    Peace and Blessings,

    A few updates have been made to the website section. Among those are links to websites of the Ambassador and DA Truth, two of the hottest Christian Hip-Hop artists this side of Heaven. The Ambassador has a degree in Theological Studies, and his website includes sermons he's performed, articles he's written, and other things related to his youth ministry. DA Truth's website has info on a national he's apart of in collaboration with Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary, called the "Hero" Tour. Also, there's a link to the "Realize the Dream" website, which approaches youth education from a wholistic, developmental approach. Enjoy, stay blessed, and speekonit...

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    Weekly Bible verse(s)

    Peace and blessings,

    The verse I wanted to share this week is the following:

    " Drink waters out of your own cistern [of a pure marriage relationship], and fresh running waters out of your own well. Should your offspring be dispersed abroad as water brooks in the street? [Confine yourself to your own wife] Let your children be for you alone, and not the children of strangers with you. Let your fountain[of human life] be blessed [with the rewards of fidelity], and rejoice in the wife of your youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant doe[tender, gentle, attractive]-let her bosom satisfy you at all times, and always be transported with delight in her love. Why should you, my son, be infatuated with a loose woman, embrace the bosom of an outsider, and go astray? For the ways of man are directly before the eyes of the Lord, and He [Whou would have us live soberly, chastly, and godly] carefully weighs all man's goings. His own iniquities shall ensnare the wicked man, and he shall be held with the cord of his sin. He will die for lack of discipline and instruction, and in greatness of his folly he will go astray and be lost."
    Proverbs 5: 15-23 (KJV-AMP)

    In my opinion, this verse speaks to four themes. The first is importance of remaining faithful in marriage and resisting the temptation to "dip out." The second is consequences that "dipping out" in marriage can have on the married couple's children. The third theme is the sanctity of marriage. That is not to say that everyone is supposed to get married (because God may have not called some people to get married), but that for those God calls to marriage, it is imperative to use that union as a testimonty to God's love and grace. This testimony is for the benefit of the couple, the couple's children (their children, etc...), and for others. Therefore anything that threatens that union (i.e. "dipping out"), inevitably thwarts are ability to realize and actualize God's purposes for the married couple'd lives. Further, children often shape their perceptions of and reactions to relationships based on that of their parents (or guardians who fulfill that parent role), therefore married couples have a moral responsibility to their children in that respects. The fourth is less of a theme and more like an application for today's times. American society prides itself on effieciency and variety, and their depictions of relationships is no different. Epecically with regards to men, there's this dominant idea that the more women the better (at least when you're young, because eventually when you get older you'll settle down). I argue that this is especially true for Black men, as we are constantly being fed images and messages (e.g. music, videos, other aspects of popular culture, etc...) that having many women is the signifyinf marker of what it means to be a man. However, I urge us a Black men to be men of God and to not to succumb to societal pressures. I am in no way saying that this would be easy. By the fact of simple demographics alone, black men are disproportionatley dead or incarcerated, creating situations in society where in various institutions (schools, churches,e tc...) and places of employment, the women heavily outnumber men. So in essence, black men have a large pool of women to choose from, making it that more difficult to maintain a one-woman relationship. This temptation is what makes the reliance upon and word of God so critical to our (and everyone's ) approach to relationships. Let's pray that God will revolutionize how this country values relationships and the sanctity of marriage, so that male and female relationships reflect God's image, and not ours. Until next time, stay blessed and speekoinit...

    Friday, March 10, 2006

    Paying Homage to our Fallen Soldiers...

    Peace and Blessings,

    Lately, a friend and I have been talking about all of the people who've passed in 2005 and in the first quarter of 2006. With Gordon Parks, an African American pioneer in film and photography (see link) passing earlier this week, he joins an honorable group of individuals and freedom-fighters. Richard Pryor, Ossie Davis, Corretta King, and Rosa Parks are just a few of the individuals whose legacy will be forever felt. In addition to reflecting on the lives of those who came before us, we've also been asking oursleves a semi-selfish, yet undeniably relevant question: "Now that many of our soldiers are gone, what are WE going to do to honor their names and the causes that they dedicated their lives towards achieving?" It is commonplace to honor individuals through memorials and grave visitations (of which I am in no way criticizing or devaluing). I believe that there also comes a time, however, when we must honor those who came before us by our actions. Although I like the New Testament(NT) much more than the Old Testament (OT) , one thing that fascinates me about the OT is the heavy emphasis on the mentor-mentee relationship. Whether it's Moses - Joshua, Samuel - Saul, or Elijah - Elisha, the OT gives importance to leaders raising leaders. This dynamic was also evident within early churches (although women were unfairly denied participation in such dynamics) and religious institutions (Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X in the NOI, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, etc...) during the civil rights movements, which is the era through which many of the fallen soldiers discussed above lived and contributed.




    Pic of Richard Pryor, courtesy of
  • AirMassive



  • Rosa Parks, courtesy of
  • Achievement




  • Coretta Scott King, courtesy of
  • People



  • Although our soliders may not have physically took our hands and showed us the ropes in terms of imparting us with lessons of wisdom and leadership, they did so by their actions and the lives they led. I pray that we'll be able to lead lives of leadership and righteousness so that the generations to follow will have a sort of "blueprint" through which to navigate through anything this world presents them with. Speekonit....