Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Blackout: "Thinking Outside the Box" News Edition




Peace and blessings,

Below are some examples of modes of thinking that I think provide a positive alternative to many stereotypes that seek to label and confine us. Also, links to these websites have added to the right. What do think of the idea behind the book? The websites? Take care, have a blessed day, and speekonit...






1) Info on the recently released book
  • More Than Entertainers,
  • which seeks to provide black youth with an overview of the many different careers that we as black people have, and to encourage them to think about as well as seeing themselves being successful. The book can be purchased through
  • Black Career Book



  • 2) A
  • new website

  • created by a black woman, for women in the ministry.

    3) A
  • website
  • aimed at altering the common stereotypes of black males.

    4) A
  • website
  • by a black male who offers information, tips, and resources for black entrepreneurs.

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    News Updates: Southern Cali Wildfires; America a Nation of Fear?; God's Love for us as Individuals





    Peace and blessings,


    Below are a few news updates. Please pray for those who have lost homes and/or loved ones during these fires. Also pray for our country. Take care, have a blessed day, and speekonit...



    1) The Wildfires that recently hit Southern California
  • may start to get under control


  • 2) A very insightful article about
  • the power of fear especially within the U.S.


  • 3) An article about how
  • God loves as individuals,
  • and how we can learn to better love ourselves. God is good because earlier this week my friends and I were just talking about doing away with guilt, and forgiving ourselves for our transgressions once God has forgiven us.

    Holding it down: Blair Wingo




    "When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?'
    They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'

    'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?'

    Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'

    Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.'"

    - Matthew 16:13-17 (NIV)

    Peace and blessings,

    I came across this video on Godtube of
  • a poem by Blair Wingo,

  • Which I think is entitled "reintroduction to Christ" or something to that effect. In the poem, she touches on the various popular/mainstream conceptions of Jesus Christ (JC), and how they all get it wrong. She reminds us of the importance of seeking the JC of the bible, not the JC that fits our level of convenience. Check it out, spread the word, and share yout thoughts. What do you think? Do you think that Jesus is often mis-characterized in popular discourse/the mainstream? If so, why do you think this is so, and how can we as Christians respond? Have a blessed day and speekonit...

    Note: If the link does not work, then go to Godtube.com and type in "allow me to re-introduce the Christ" or "Blair Wingo."


    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Of Water and Diamonds





    "Cecil Rhodes sold war and genocide into the countryside just to get his shine on/I fear what the beards and his peers use to do/before the world really knew just to get they mind on/making paper with slave labor/and hittin' little kids with lifetime bids/making them cut and shine stones/inflatin' the price and making 'em look nice/and I wasn't thinking twice when I was puttin' mine on/ about a young shorty in Sierra Leone/ or other conflict countries that people call home/I figured I would never go to Angola/so it never did affect me/there maybe indirectly/ that my necklace was funding a rebellion or a military cool/ started by militias that don't believe in following none of Geneva's rules/I was brushin' off the haters, tryin' to be cool/didn't have a clue that rapper was helping the rapers raiders of the villages/pillagers of the schools/shooters of the innocent/torturers of the witnesses/burners of the businesses and my bracelet was the fuel"

    -Lupe Fiasco, "Conflict Diamonds"


    Peace and blessings,

    While reading chapter four of Adam Smith's "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776)," he concludes with an interesting distinction between two forms of value. While there are other things in his general argument about economics and the accumulation of weath that I disagree with, I found his distinction between two types of value important to our understanding of how things are generally valued within the U.S. today. One way a commodity is valued is through it's utility. For example, he uses water as an example as a commodity whose utility is unparalleled by another other commodity on earth (e.g. water is essential to all life). The other way a commodity is valued is through it's worth in an exchange. He uses the example of a diamond because throughout history and currently, people have went to great lengths and trade many goods to acquire these heralded stones. He furthers suggests that these two forms of value are often in opposition to one another, such that water (except in areas where there is a significant shortage of drinking water) has little to no worth in an exchange, and diamonds have no worth in actual utility (e.g. the worth an meaning attached to them is purely symbolic).

    As illustrated with the above quote, I figured that this distinction between something that is essential to life and something that is purely not, is important for two reasons. For one, the significance attributed to diamonds and the lengths that people were willing to go to acquire them, goes back many centuries. In addition, I would argue that the weight given to diamonds has increased since then, and infused within American culture in such a way that the acquisition of diamonds is nearly synonomous with that of diginity and self-worth.

    1) More information on
  • Cecil Rhodes,
  • a British man who captialized on Africa by seized control of some diamond mines and used the money to further expand colonialism. When you click on the link, scroll down past the maps, and he is the first guy pictured there.

    2) Also, below is a
  • freestyle
  • by Christian hip hop artist Japhia Life, that addresses conflict diamonds as well. Check it out and share your thoughts. What do you think about the "diamond situation" in the U.S.? Around the world? Do you think the significance attributed to diamonds is "out of control?" If so, what do we think we (individually and collectively) can do about it? Stay blessed and speekonit...


    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    Changed My Life Man (Glad to Be His Child)!

    Peace and blessings,

    I think a friend of mine sent me this link a couple of months or so ago, and I was blown away. It's beautifully done and the message couldn't be any more powerful. This skit was uploaded to Godtube May 31, 2007, and has since been viewed over 3 million times. That's around 750,000 views per month! Ok, enough with the math. I really want to give it away and just tell you what it's about, but it's better if you just check out the
  • Lifehouse Everything skit
  • and see for yourself. Also, share your thoughts on the skit after you check it out. Take care, have a blessed day, and speekonit...


    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    Health Nutz, pt. 1





    "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."
    - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)




    "You know, we're not just staying pure, because we're afraid we'll get pregnant. Not as believers. The world, they don't do it because they fear circumstances. We don't just stay pure because we're afraid of getting a disease. Now these are things that you got to factor in. But that ain't the only reason we're not doing this. We're staying pure because we love God."

    - Da Truth, from "Fourplay (Interlude)" off of his album, "Moment of Truth (2004)"


    Peace and blessings,

    While sitting in my public health course one day, I had an interesting revelation. During our many discussions and readings about the health issues facing us as humans (i.e. diseases, mental illness, physical illness), it hit me: to be a Christian is to be a health nut. As illustrated by Paul's letter to the church of Corinth, our bodies are temples purchased and set aside for use by God. Further, I am convinced that the extent to which God can use our bodies as vessels to do His will (e.g. spreading the love of Christ and thus changing the world) depends (at least in part) on how much we value and take care of our physical and mental selves. Now I must clarify that by taking care of our physical selves i'm not suggesting that we need to all be lean and/or thin, nor am I suggesting that for us to be overweight or have meat on our bones means that we are not taking care of ourselves. This is not what I mean at all. Instead, what I am saying is that as we ascribe to the Christian faith and doctrine, we are inevitably promoting our overall health.

    A few examples of the behavioral requirements/implications of our faith serves to illustrate this point. Preserving sex until marriage has obvious health benefits on two levels. On a physical level, a sexual relationship within the context of a godly marriage reduces the chances of contracting a STD. If both spouses were virgins prior to getting married, then this risk is practically non-existent. On a more social level, I believe that because sex establishes just as much a spiritual connection as a physical connection, that bonding with someone on that level can potentially have negative consequences if we're not careful. For instance, engaging in many sexual relationships may make it difficult to have meaningful relationships, given how one may have to struggle with these physical and spiritual connections they have with all of these people. Therefore, it may be hard for us to recognize the person we are supposed to spend the rest of our lives with, when we are still connected to these other individuals from previous relationships. Other examples of health - promoting behaviors that we as Christians are required or at least encouraged to practice include avoiding "greedy" behaviors (gluttony, etc...) and avoiding the use of faculty-altering substances. I think that consuming our temples with greedy behaviors and faculty-altering substances also makes our temples too "cluttered" to be used by God.


    The above quote by Da Truth makes an important disctinction regarding this issue. Although there are these and many other health benefits that result from walking the Christian walk, it is important to know that these benefits in themselves are not our motivation for engaging in health - promoting behaviors. First and foremost, engaging in health - promoting behaviors should follow from the gratitude for being redeemed by Jesus Christ, and the desire (via love) to live a life pleasing to God. Because God is like hecka smart, and thus He cares for us better than we care for ourselves, it "just so happens" that by serving Him, we are also promoting our physical and mental health.

    On a related note, here's an article discussing the potential of
  • religious faith being linked to good health.


  • As another point of clarification, I do not wish to come off as judgmental or as if I don't have flaws, because Lord knows I do! I just want to put this topic in the open as it's been on my heart for a while, and I pray that it's received in good spirits. With that said, what do you think? Stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit...

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Contemporary Christian Music Section Coming Soon!!!

    Peace and blessings,


    I will be adding a "Contemporary Christian Music" section to the site soon. I'm a hip-hop head to the heart, but I also go hard on that Contemporary tip. Below are a few songs off of Casting Crown's "Lifesong" (2005), courtesy of
  • GodTube.
  • The first video is a live performance of the title track, "Lifesong." The second is a picture slideshow to their song "Praise you in the storm." It's funny how God may put a song on your heart, and initially you don't know why that particular song resonates with you soo much. It's not until later that you realize why that song has such a powerful meaning to you. Does anyone else have a song like that, or is it just me? Another song like that for me is Deitrick Haddon's "Amen" off of his album "Crossroads" (2004). Anyway (my bad, got off topic there for a second), the third video is actually a music video for the song, "Does anybody hear her?" It speaks to the issue of how people can "slip under the radar" if we as Christians are not on our grind. On a lighter note, I think the dude's steez who is dancing in the club during the second verse is straight comdey, lol! (Sorry, I couldn't help myself). Enjoy, share your thoughts, and speekonit...








    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Technology and Society, pt. 2






    Peace and blessings,

    In light of pt. 1 of this topic, I wanted to let you know about some alternative technological websites that provide alternatives to Youtube and Myspace. As mentioned in pt. 1, I don't have anything against Youtube and Myspace in themselves, as I use both of them. I just wanted to put people on to a couple of other sites that are more Christ-focused. The first is
  • GodTube,
  • which is clear in the name is like a Christian Youtube. The other site is
  • Cool Christian Friends,
  • which is like Myspace. Below are four videos put together by the
  • Community Christian Church
  • in Naperville, IL, which are parodies to the MAC/IBM commercials. I like the concept behind these videos. The first one deals with clothing conventions, the second deals with "advertising" Christ, the third deals with music, and the forth with the holy spirit.











    What do you think of these videos? Of
  • GodTube
  • and
  • Cool Christian Friends?
  • Have a blessed week and speekonit...

    News Updates: Income Gap Out of Control; Life Imitating Art?





    Peace and blessings,

    Below are a couple of news updates. Take care, have a blessed day, and speekonit...



    1)
  • The income gap is getting more out of control


  • 2)
  • Murder inspired by a movie?
  • Saturday, October 13, 2007

    News Updates:Racism at Teachers College; Social Justice and Christianity; Jena 6




    Peace and blessings,

    Below are a couple of news updates. Have a blessed weekend and speekonit...



    1)
  • Mychal Bell ordered back to jail


  • 2)
  • Noose found on the door of a Teacher's College Professor


  • 3) An article dicussing the
  • similarities and differences between social justice and Christianity,
  • and how to avoid the "good person" paradigm.

    Friday, October 12, 2007

    Technology and Society, pt. 1






    "She's so young with so much pain/there's so many things Shante wishes she can change/
    So what she does is spend hours of the day/meeting new friends in her own little place/
    Just today she counted and 300 friends/most of them young, but yet some were older men/
    But it's ok/Shante says that's safe/her own little place to get away, her myspace"

    -Flame
    "Myspace" off of the album, "Our World Fallen"

    Peace and blessings,

    I was in class a few weeks back and came across a very interesting article. The article explored the potential causes for adolescents choosing to participate in risky health behaviors, such as substance use, sex, and so forth. The author, Laurence Steinberg (2007) presents a neuroscience perspective on adolescent risk taking, which argues that choosing to engage in risky behavior is largely depends on which networks in your brain are more salient during a given period in your lifetime. In other words, the argument is that there are times in our lifetime when the socioemotional network (SEN) in our brains, which operate primarily on emotion, arousal, and impulse, is more salient than the cognitive control network (CCN), which primarily deals with thinking things through, weighing the costs of our decisions, and thus regulating our behavior. This is what is believed to being going on in adolescence (Steinberg, 2007). One of the findings which supports this perspective is that in general, antisocial peer pressure is most very influential in pre-adolescence and mid-adolescence (i.e. around puberty), where the gap between the SEN and CCN is the largest, in favor of the SEN. Therefore, because peer pressure can appeal to one's emotional arousal (i.e. a person getting "hyped" up when your peers are encouraging him or her to do something), it's no surpsrise that many of the risk behaviors adolescents engage in are also often shared by their peers. As people move into late adolescence and adulthood, the CCN becomes more and salient, helping one to make decisions that take the costs of one's behaviors into consideration (via logic, reasoning, reflection, ect...) (2004, cited in Steinberg, 2007). The implication from this article is that because since the mere presence of peers provides rewards (e.g. encouragement, arousal, approval) for one's behavior, then this social influence will be more important in an adolescent's decision to engage in risky behaviors than any other rewards the adolescent would factor into their decision when alone (Steinberg, 2007).

    Given that I am in the social sciences (education and human development), this article was of great interest to me because it presented a perspective on pre-adolescent and adolecent behavior that I have not been exposed to. What really interested me as a developmentalist is the idea that during adolescence, whether or not adolescents are making decisions in a solitary context (i.e. alone) or social context (i.e. in the presence of peers) can have a profound impact on the decisions adolescents will generally make. With the advancements in technology and the mass incorporation of these advancements into just about every aspect of many societies, it seems like the distinction between the solitary and the social has been blurred. For instance, with the development of the internet, and most recently Myspace, Facebook, and Youtube (just to name a few), one can be in a solitary context (e.g. in one's room by oneself), while at the same time communicating and participating within a social context via the internet (e.g. video chatrooms, being apart of various Myspace and Facebook networks and groups, etc...). This idea of simultaneously being in a solitary and social context makes this issue of technology and society an issue of great importance. As an avid internet user, I personally do not have an issue with things such as Myspace, Facebook, and Youtube, because I use all three. However, I wonder about what having this kind of social access does for younger children and adolescents, especially when they are being exposed (via observing the behavior of others, the TV, etc...) to certain themes, images, and behaviors at a younger age. I know what my mentality was during pre- and mid-adolescence, and let's just say that my having access to these social mediums back then would have been "all bad." Like with anything else, I think that these technological advancements can be beneficial in may ways. However, if not used properly and if unchecked, these mediums can be detrimental as well. Everytime I sign on to my Myspace page i'm presented with images and adds that I don't need to see. And i'm just signing on to check my messages! As more people are becoming connected through these mediums, it is important that we are conscious or and careful of how we use them, and especially how the youth are using them (or whether or not they should be using them at all). Most importantly, we must stay prayed up that God gives us discernment as to how to use these mediums to further our relationship with him and for the betterment of our fellow brothers and sisters, especially for the youth. If not, then we must ask ourselves: Are these technological advancements really "advancing" our society?

    Below are a couple of articles I came across related to this issue. Also below, is a live performance and audio track of the song "Myspace" by Flame, who addresses the Myspace phenonemon. What do you think? Take care, stay blessed, and speekonit...


    1)
  • A teen who made a fake ASA Coon page on myspace


  • 2)
  • Schools and libraries respond to the Myspace phenomenon








  • *Steinberg, L. (2007). Risk taking in adolescence: new perspectives from brain and behavioral science, CURRENT DIRECTIONS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE, 55-59

    Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    Jena 6 and the Little Rock 9





    Peace and blessings,

    Below are videos from "Democracy Now's" special on the Jena 6 and the 50th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine (parts 1-4), and video of parents of 2 of the 6 speaking out. The incident of the Little Rock 9 have made their way into classrooms across the country, thanks to Facing History and Ourselves'
  • study guide for teachers.
  • Speaking of the Little Rock Nine, there's a lady in my church who went to high school with some of the parents of the Little Rock Nine. Talk about history! Also, it appears that
  • some students may be mocking the Jena 6 case.
  • I don't know for sure if they are mocking the Jena 6, but the clip is suspect nonetheless. Come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised if they were. As always, feel free to share your thoughts on the recent developments of the Jena 6 case, and/or the Little Rock Nine. Stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit...














    Sunday, October 07, 2007

    Where's the National Attention and Response?: The Case of Dunbar Village, pt. 2



    Peace and blessings,

    Last week, I included an article on the incident in Dunbar Village, a housing development in Florida. The argument made at
  • What About Our Daughters
  • was that given the other incidents involving criminal acts and/or the lack of justice that have received consistent, national attention, the Dunbar Village incident should have received much more coverage and elicited much more reaction from the nation's leaders than it has. Now by "attention" I don't mean we should be bombarded with the incident constantly. I am referring to attention in a more moral sense, as a reminder of how bad we can treat one another if we are not constantly guarding our mind and spirit. On a personal note, I think this argument is valid because it seemed like since the initial article in which I heard about this horrific event months ago, I haven't really heard much more on the issue. For one, no one should have to experience what that woman and her son experienced. I will continue to keep them in my prayers and pray that God restores their life two-fold. I equally pray for the young men who committed this crime, because the nature of this act is proof of the spiritual warfare that exists, and we must constantly guard ourselves. I pray that they seek Christ, receive forgiveness, forgive themselves, and transform their lives according to His will (Romans 12:2).

    Hearing things like this truly hurts my heart. One cannot read about this incident and not feel for the victims. The more I think about it, the more I am perplexed as to why there is not more of a national response on behalf of leaders to not only bring closure to this issue and to do what's needed to help out the victims in any way possible, but also to make sure that we as a nation, as people, are more careful about how we treat each other, and more aware of our need to pray for and look out for each other. In a nutshell, this should not have happened. Below are a few articles on the incident. Even in writing this post I am late and behind in terms of the most recent updates, so I'll make sure to provide updates as I find them. Let me know your thoughts on the issue. Take care and speekonit...


    1)
  • Info center for the Dunbar Village Incident


  • 2)
  • Family discusses details of the event


  • 3)
  • Pharmacy donates medicine to the mother and her son


  • Thursday, October 04, 2007

    News Updates: Hate Crime in the Town?; NBA player hurt by the condition of his hometown; Rescue efforts for miners in South Africa





    Peace and blessings,

    Below are a couple of articles last week that caught my attention, as well as an update on the rescue efforts for the miners who were trapped in a gold mine in South Africa. Continue to stay blessed, pray'ed up, and speekonit...


    1) As of last week, cops are probing
  • a hate crime in The Town



  • 2) Also last week, an article came about discussing
  • Samuel Dalembert's trip back home to Haiti.


  • 3) And this week, the rescue efforts for the 3,000 plus miners trapped in a gold mine in South Africa
  • started
  • and
  • ended
  • successfully, praise God.

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    Where's the National Attention and Response?: The Case of Dunbar Village, pt. 1

    Peace and blessings,

    With all of the attention given to Jena 6 and the influence of hip-hop on the youth, you would think that we as a nation would have hightened senses to ALL immoral and heinous acts which threaten the human condition. Unfortately I was wrong. As someone who is always on the internet and checking e-mail (and therefore always coming across national news headlines), I don't understand why I am just hearing about this issue. Now a couple of months back I read an article on a woman who was raped and her child watched, but I'm not sure if this is the same incident. The point is that this issue needs to get more attention. Big props to
  • What About Our Daughters.
  • for working to put this issue in the forefront of America's consciousness. Here is
  • an update on the situation,
  • and below is a video tralier about the incident at Dunbar Village and the lack of response from national figures and organizations. More on this issue is coming shortly. More info on this issue, as well as how to get involved, can be found at
  • What About Our Daughters.


  • In the meantime, stay blessed, encouraged, and make sure to keep the victims, the suspects, and the situation in prayer. Share your thoughts and speekonit...


    Important Perspectives: Jena 6, Racism in the Church, Anti-violence protests in Chicago, and more...

    Peace and blessings,

    Below are a few articles that I came across, which offer some important perspectives on many of the issues facing us as God's children. In addition to reading about these and other issues, I also encourage us to continually and fervently take these issues up in prayer. Take care, stay blessed, and speekonit...

    1) A Bishop and pastor discuss
  • how the Jena 6 case may reflect larger racial issues that are affecting the body of Christ



  • 2) An Op-ed contributor to the NY Times
  • argues that the racism within the justice system is only a fraction of the larger issues plauging black families.


  • 3) The Million Father March comes to the West Coast, holla! Videos on the Million Father March in Sacramento, CA, and the Black Cross March protesting youth violence in Chicago:
  • Click Here