Archive for the ‘Black Pride’ Category

The time away from the blog has done me well in terms of refocusing and re-aligning my priorities as an entrepreneur, author, husband, father and a minister.  Deep introspective reflection has brought about a new zest and zeal for the small things in life: Basketball.

As the season of spring emerges, so comes the ascent of vegetation, fruit and flowers.  Typically, this season sheds new light on debris, dirt and trash that was the result of the winter.

It is also during this time that sports junkies prepare for March Madness – the NCAA basketball tournament that crowns a national champion at its completion.  It is fitting, at this particular time, that ESPN airs the famous Fab Five on its 30-for-30 series.

Aside from the fact that the Fab Five represent a cultural phenomenon that impacted and changed the game of basketball, they also accomplished the incredulous feat all while donning jerseys bearing the name of an elitist institution.

Never before, or since, has a team of underclassmen led a Division 1 institution to two back-to-back NCAA finals.  With the increase of “one-and-done” college players, we can be certain to never experience this again.

Being a native Detroiter (45 miles east of University of Michigan), I grew up around the game of basketball where my peers included Terry Mills, Derrick Coleman and teammate Willie Burton.  As did Jalen Rose and Chris Webber, I too spent countless summers at St. Cecilia’s and other popular basketball venues.  However, it was not until I went to college that I learned the true value of education and the respect for those who attained the same.

During the 30-for-30 episode, Jalen Rose referred to Grant Hill and other Black Duke University recruits as “Uncle Tom’s.”  Jalen’s comments about Grant (and his family) were, in my opinion, very ill-stated.  We must remember that not only did Grant inherit the infamous tag of being the next “Jordan,” to this day, he continues to epitomize class, grace, humility and leadership.  Born of a famous football player and professional mother, Grant was afforded and ensured an advantage that many of us strongly seek for our children today.

To suggest that all Black Duke players were “Uncle Toms” is a gross generalization, in my estimation.  For those of you who may be unaware, being labeled an Uncle Tom is nothing short of a compliment (See The Uncle Tom In Me).

I applaud, Jalen, Chris and Grant for their feats on and off the court.  I also appreciate their perspectives on life and the game of basketball.  Each one of them, in their way, has helped to shape Black culture and the game of basketball as we know it today.

*A special thanks goes to Errol Anthony Wilkes for his contritution to the book “Daddy, Am I Pretty?”  The following is taken from the publication that went on sale Father’s Day of 2010.

Dear Priscia Liliane,

This year will mark the 10th anniversary of your Mom’s passing. Dec 11, 1999 started out the typical for us during the theatre season. I was supposed to have two shows and you had your dance recital to do that afternoon. Little did we know that our life as we know it would change, forever.

That day when I saw the remnants of the car that was once driven by the woman I pledged to love and protect, I prayed to wake up from the obvious nightmare. Alas, it was not a dream. Was it some cruel joke that God was playing? Why dear God did this happen a couple weeks before Christmas? And, on the day I was to buy the Christmas tree! Well, the deed was done. I remember Tony Baker and Mr. Astley telling me that the last thing I should ask myself was “why me”. Of course, that did not stop me from making that query. I was understandably pissed at God. We had just bought that house less than 6 months and we had just begun to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Now instead of planning for Christmas, I was planning a funeral. Ironically, I have gained more faith because you must use your trials and tribulations as opportunities to achieve successes.

The worst day was when all our guests finally left and we walked into that empty house. I looked at you, barely 12 years old and life had to suck for you at that time knowing that Mom was gone and never to return.  I made a pact with myself that day. I decided to live life to the fullest and to make sure that you grew up to be a great citizen.

I know some of the things I forced on you were not your cup of tea but I felt that in order for you to succeed, I had to remain vigilant. That’s why I insisted that you read Manchild In The Promised Land, Huck Finn and all those other great works of literature. That’s why I insisted that you listen to Coltrane, Bach and Vivaldi. That’s why I took you to all those Plays and Museums! That’s why I didn’t let “headaches” keep you from attending school. That’s why I taught you how to cook our native dishes and sang those folk songs you now have your friends call for me to sing to them over the telephone.

I felt that right or wrong as a Black person and a West Indian in this my adopted land, it is highly imperative that one has to be much better than others competing for the same job. I tried to instill in you that great study habits and hard work pays off.

It took me a year after Marie’s passing before I started to try to date. I kept my relationships away from you because as predicted most of them did not last long. Your aunt Maxine stated that I was too busy looking for another Marie. Well, there may be truth to that because your mother was a very beautiful and special lady. She was very passionate about her opinions and that lead to some of our most heated discussions that usually left me sleeping on that lumpy and unappetizing couch!

Sometimes I am haunted by the memories of that very last argument we had because she died before we made up. The lesson here is that we should always mend our fences and disagreements prior to going to sleep.

I remember that Sunday in August 2005 after you were installed at Dillard University, I cried on the way back to Houston. I was darn near Baton Rouge before I stopped crying. That was only because I could not see out of my extremely swollen eye lids.

Then came Katrina and you moved even further away to FAMU. The good thing is that you occasionally get to see your Mom’s family in Valdosta. Yes Prisca, that is a good thing. Family is family and I want you to learn their culture as well. It is what you are.

I want you to continue working hard. I know I preach a lot about grades and you get a bit testy whenever I do, but you know what? Tough. That is who your Dad is and I don’t suppose I am about to change now. I did not get where I am today by half stepping and as long as I am alive, I will not allow you to be mediocre at anything in this life. This is why you get frustrated when you call me for advice and I don’t tell you what you want to hear. My love for you just will not allow me to lie to you.

I know I normally write my letters to you with my trusted fountain pen but I am trying to evolve into the 21st century. Since it took me so long to write this one, look for my subsequent letters in your mail box.

You have grown into a strikingly beautiful young lady and as I have said to you many times before. The right guy will come along. After all, Mom and I found each other. Do not make any compromises with your life that will come back to haunt you. Everything and every choice you make in life has consequences. You have to learn that patience in the case of love is a good thing. There are some good guys out there and one day one will be yours. Right now your job is to finish your college studies and be a well-rounded individual. Real men dig smart women, trust me on that one.

I close now with this last bit of advice. It is my high school motto LABOR OMNIA VINCIT. It’s Latin and means “work overcome all difficulties”.

With All My Love,

Dad

A copy of the book “Daddy, Am I Pretty?” can be obtained at www.FootprintsBooks.com .

by Sabin Duncan

There is a scene in the movie The Best Man, where Terrance Howard’s character attempts to assuage his friend’s fears by assuring that “karma don’t come back like that.”  As a father of two beautiful girls, I am certain that I am not alone in hoping that karma indeed does not come back like that.

At the moment we first find out we’re having a daughter, every father flashes back to all the things that he has done to and with someone else’s daughter.  It is at that moment, despite religious standing or affiliation, every father-to-be communicates with God.  A communication, a prayer, or more than likely a plea, that begins with these two words: “Lord, please”.

From that initial moment of humility and probably for the duration of our days, we are never the same.  We attempt to stand rigid, but when those pretty eyes sparkle and coo “please daddy”, we melt faster than ice cubes in a heated oven.  When baby girl cries, our chest expands, our bravado multiplies and our ego rages – because whoever did this to our baby girl, they are about to be victimized by our ferocity.  Yet somehow, the money you had begun saving for a huge high-definition television, becomes easily spent when lil’ mama needs a pretty dress and sandals.  Indeed, we are never as tough as we were before daughters.

Yet I’m here to say that unlike the rest of you, I can tell my daughters, “no!”  In fact, I supplement my “no” with a crazed hysterical look that shouts, “what the heck were you thinking?”  But my girls work with charm – hey, what can I say?  They get it from their dad.  They climb into my lap and use their little fingers to outline my eyebrows or mustache.  Then they tuck their little chins to their chest and look up from under those long eyelashes.  They shrug their little shoulders and affectionately murmur: “daddy….”  The rest of the statement doesn’t matter, because this daddy springs into action. “What!! You can’t find your Princess Tiana Barbie? Well, go get your jacket.  Daddy will get you a new one.”  Later, as we proceed to the cash register of Toys’ R Us, I stoop down and plead with my little ladies, “don’t tell your mama, ok?”

This post is originally featured in Daddy, Am I Pretty? by Damon E. Duncan.  Order Your Copy today!

By now it is no secret that former Florida State Seminole safety Myron Rolle is the epitome of a student-athlete.  A recent NFL draft (Tennessee Titans), Myron earned Academic All-America honors in 2008.  Awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University, Myron recently earned an M.S. in medical anthropology.

With youth aspirations of becoming and NFL player and a medical doctor, Myron can check one of his dreams off his list, with the second surely to follow suit.

In a world where Black Professional Athletes have become synonymous with crime, affairs, gambling and other illicit behaviors, Myron is a breath of fresh air that we are sure to enjoy for years to come.

Myron excels in the world of academia and sports.

Over the past year FathersFootprints has written features such as When Will My Brothers Start Reading, The Uncle Tom In Me and Remembering Len Bias to point out shortcomings, inconsistencies and to promote overall awareness and responsibility within the race.

Myron Rolle is our answer to all the stereotypical images of unintelligent, Black athletes who desire nothing more than jewelry, women and exotic cars.  Myron will do for us now what Paul Robeson did in during the 40’s and 50’s.

Our grandparents dreamt of a day when kids would play in the sandbox and pretend to not only be like Mike (Jordan), but to also be famous surgeons like Ben (Carson).  As told by Langston Hughes at the conclusion of the poem A Dream Deferred, Myron Rolle represents the dream that has exploded.

Util next time,

Dorothy Irene Height (March 24, 1912 – April 20, 2010)

Pioneering civil rights activist, Dorothy Irene Height, died at the age of 98 at Howard University Hospital, where she had been in serious condition for many weeks.

Height, who marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and led the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, was known for her determination and grace. She remained active and outspoken well into her 90s and often received rousing ovations at events around Washington, where she was easily recognizable in the bright, colorful hats she almost always wore.

Dorothy Height was recognized by President Obama as “the godmother of the civil rights movement” and a hero to Americans.  More importantly, she was also a hero to Black-Americans

Some of Height’s notable accomplishments include:

  • Received two of the nation’s highest honors: the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004
  • In 1957, Height was named president of the National Council of Negro Women, a position she held until 1997
  • In 2004, Height was recognized by Barnard for her achievements as an honorary alumna during its commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision
  • Pledged and served as National President of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority
  • Listed on Molefi Kete Asante’s list of 100 Greatest African=Americans

Just four days after I buried my maternal grandmother, the world loses yet another civil rights icon.  The question begs whether or not we will ever experience the kind of significant Black leadership that stapled the 60’s. 

On April 20, 2010, the world lost a notable African-American Administrator, Educator, and Civil Rights Activist.  It literally took Dorothy almost 100 years to witness the first African-American to be elected to the office of President of the United States.  It is without question that her diligence past efforts helped to paved the way for a White House with two little Black girls.

Reaching higher Heights,

Alyce (rt) pictured with her photographer and sister in-law, Tina Thompson

New York, LA and Atlanta have no shortage of up and coming authors, producers and playwrights.  Today’s interview features Ms. Alyce C. Thompson (ACT) of Philadelphia.  Alyce is an author and filmmaker with her own publishing and production companies.

An alumnus from Philly’s famous Overbrook High School, Alyce is charting her own course in the print and film industries.

Here is a recent discussion we had with Alyce.

You have six novels.  How did you get your start in writing?         I got my start through research and studying. I found self-publishing suitable for me at the time of my start almost ten years ago because I had three young children and limited resources, but I knew I wanted to become an author and publisher. Although publishing houses were interested in my work, it wasn’t feasible for my situation. I couldn’t lock myself into a situation and not be able to deliver so once I finished my first novel, I had it copy-written, got my ISBN’s, found graphic artist and printing companies and I was on my way and in charge of my own destiny. Being a single mother, it was important that I could move at my own pace.   Before my book had come back from print, I incorporated my company and I’ve been writing and publishing ever since.  It has been an interesting experience being a small, Black-owned company, but I wanted this so I had to endure all that came with it and I’ve learned a lot and (I am) still learning.

In addition to being a published author you have written two screen plays, one of which is currently in production. Tell us about your film venture.

 Wow. This is a very trying but interesting process, one I enjoy no matter what obstacles are thrown my way.  For me, because I am the main character in the feature, it was hard to pick and choose what I thought would be interesting enough for a feature.  Writing a book is different from writing a script. You have one to two hours to tell the story so being inside the story was difficult.  Once the script was complete, I had auditions and I knew exactly what I wanted from my cast.  Once rehearsals started, I had rewrites.  We had a small budget, but exceeded the budget. I was told, “anything is to be expected during production,” and I found that to be true but as long as you’re working with good people, have God on your side and you remain positive, you can overcome anything that comes your way.  I allowed the cast to bring their own creativeness to the set and that made the experience so much easier and exciting for us.  We had real firearms and although we had professional and skilled pyro-techs on the set, as well as the cast learning safety beforehand, it was difficult for me to stand by and watch my oldest son shoot my youngest son on set.  I didn’t want any of my cast hurt on set so I prayed before and during. Everybody did a wonderful job, became a real family and personalities fit perfectly. The experience was overwhelming.

 Overbrook High School (Philadelphia) has some famous alumni which include Wilt Chamberlain, Guion Bluford, Will Smith and James Lassiter to name a few. What was the culture like at Overbrook?

The culture at Overbrook was diverse. You had your athletes, the popular cliques, the nerds, the dressers, troublemakers. I would say I fell in between, maintained good grades, loved fashion, arts, experienced some negative things, and I was admired and respected for my uniqueness.  Most of my teachers and role models made me feel at home, like anything could be accomplished as long as I believed in me.  Overbrook was a great experience; more like a family environment. Becoming someone of importance was inevitable.  If you were a part of the Overbrook family, you knew you were special.

Tell us about the film 3 Men I Choose to Love.

3 Men I Chose to Love is based on my life’s story; all of the tragedies I experienced during my young life. I have three children; my first son’s father and I were together for five years and planned a life together with children, good careers, houses, cars, etc. We accomplished a lot for our age but things began to change, we finally went separate ways, and when he had gotten his life back, and wanted to be settled down with our son and me, he was gunned down. My second son’s father and I were living together, engaged, had a newborn son, and he was shot and kidnapped for thirty days for ransom but had died. My youngest child; my daughter’s father whom I had been with for two years was gunned down by a fifteen-year-old boy from his neighborhood. Three young lives were taken before they reached twenty-four. So, in short, they are the 3 Men I Chose to Love.  The “3” also represents, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who carried me through my storm and is the reason that I am here today because I couldn’t see life without my children’s fathers and raising my children had been very hard, but “I’m still standing.”

What can we expect from you in the near future?

I have so many dreams and desires, some things that I can’t mention right now but I am currently finishing up, “3 Men” the stage play and I am also working on a TV series based on my other novels.

We are extremely grateful for the time we’ve spent with Alyce and look forward to the books, films, stage-plays, television shows and whatever dreams she causes to come into fruition. 

To learn more about this modern author, playwright and producers, visit her website at www.alycecthompsonbooksinc.com.

Until next time,

Copyright © 2010

Recently, I heard someone refer to another brother as an Uncle Tom.  Although the remark was intended to degrade the target of the remarks, it only demonstrated the users lack of historical and literary acuteness associated with the terminology.

Not unlike most that use the term; to grossly mislabel another while attempting to belittle that person often backfires in a way that demonstrates one’s own lacking of Black history and ultimately the knowledge of self.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Published in 1852, the novel had a profound effect on attitudes toward African Americans and slavery in the United States, so much in the latter case that the novel intensified the sectional conflict leading to the American Civil War.

The author Harriet Stowe, a Connecticut-born preacher at the Hartford Female Academy and an active abolitionist, focused the novel on the character of Uncle Tom, a long-suffering black slave around whom the stories of other characters—both fellow slaves and slave owners—revolve. The sentimental novel depicts the reality of slavery while also asserting that Christian love can overcome something as destructive as enslavement of fellow human beings.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century, and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible.  It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s.  In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the United States alone. The book’s impact was so great that when Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln is often quoted as having declared, “So this is the little lady who made this big war.”

The book, and even more the plays it inspired, also helped create a number of stereotypes about Black people, many of which endure to this day. These include the affectionate, dark-skinned “mammy”; the “pickaninny” stereotype of black children; and the Uncle Tom, or dutiful, long-suffering servant faithful to his white master or mistress. In recent years, the negative associations with Uncle Tom’s Cabin have, to an extent, overshadowed the historical impact of the book as a “vital antislavery tool.” wiki

How many of us have done whatever we had to do in order to survive in the midst of an oppressive situation.  Anybody remember when racist cops and discriminatory lunch counters were the order of the day?  Although we life to romanticize the vigilant 60’s, bear in mind that many of us tolerated untold oppression at the hand of the oppressor.

So I ask the question: “Was Uncle Tom really an Uncle Tom?”  Or was he simply a symbiotic depiction of the innate ability for survival?  I dare to say most of us (and our grandparents) silently accepted the frequency of dehumanization in order to preserve the race in hopes of a brighter tomorrow.  A tomorrow where our children’s children are so comfortable that they fail to realize the significance of the suffering that predates their ipods, x-boxes and their cell phones.

Truth be told, the spirit of Stowe’s fictitious character Tom resides in many of us today.  Don’t be ashamed of it.  Recognize it. Embrace it.  Appreciate what it represented and never forget it.

D’s deux ¢

Copyright © 2010