Tag Archives: Inspiration

“Sing America”

Cue the O’Jays melodic hit, “I Love Music.” I’m sure you’ve gathered from previous posts of mine that I am a lover of music. You will catch me dancing to a playlist with songs ranging from Prince to New Edition. I’ve always been drawn to great music, no matter the genre. From the electrifying beats to captivating lyrics, the combination of those two elements will send me careening down the path of nostalgia and into musical captivity. Music is powerful. While it can act as an escape on one hand, it can also help create an awareness that you’d otherwise remain blinded to in your day-to-day.

For years, black Americans have used music as a tool to give a voice to the cries of the oppressed—sometimes with in-you-face, heart-wrenching lyrics, and at other times more subtly disguised within thumping basslines and rocking guitar strums. This Black History Month, I encourage you to take a voyage through the land of black music.

I’ve compiled a list of songs from black artists, which range from issues of social injustice to the calls for unity. Allow yourself to become really engulfed in the music. Listen to the hearts of the artists. Discover their messages. Join along in their passion. Familiarize yourself with their pain.

Some of these songs are quite heavy, but the history of Black Americans is quite heavy. When we begin to learn this history and understand the journey of our neighbor, then we will be able to join together in harmony. Go ahead. Sing America.

 

  • A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke
  • Ball of Confusion by the Temptations
  • Brotha by Angie Stone
  • Can You Feel It by the Jacksons
  • Facts by Lecrae
  • Forward by K. Michelle
  • Four Women by Nina Simone
  • Free Your Mind by En Vogue
  • Glory by John Legend ft. Common
  • Hood Villains by Dee-1
  • I Can by Nas
  • I’m Black and I’m Proud by James Brown
  • Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler) by marvin Gaye
  • It’s Time by the Winans
  • Lift Every Voice and Sing by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson
  • Living for the City by Stevie Wonder
  • Love Train by the O’Jays
  • Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson
  • On My Own by Lecrae
  • Rhythm Nation by Janet Jackson
  • Scream by Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson
  • Stand by Trey Songz
  • Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday
  • The Knowledge by Janet Jackson
  • They Don’t Really Care About Us by Michael Jackson
  • Think by Aretha Franklin
  • To Be Young, Gifted, and Black by Nina Simone
  • U Will Know– Black Men United
  • Wake Up Everybody by Harold Melvin & the Blue
  • We Are the World by U.S.A. for Africa (Michael Jackson)
  • What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye

(This list is not all inclusive. Go discover the world of music!)

5 Myths Associated With Black History Month

(1) It’s only for black American people.

Black history Month is a derivative of Carter G. Woodson’s Negro History Week, which was created in order to reflect on the many contributions of African Americans to society. Black history is very important to core of America. Note the following: “[B]ecause our history is American history, erasing the contributions of black Americans makes it impossible to accurately tell the story of this country.”  -This is a quote by Taryn Finley, editor of HuffPost Black Voices, in this Huffington Post article.

Not only is black history American history, but it is also world history. People of African descent have made contributions across the globe, and countries all over the world are beginning to fall in line by providing recognition.

Black history is the ebony thread woven throughout the tapestry of humanity’s past. It is beautiful, yet distinctive. It reveals the essence of who we are as a society and what we’ve accomplished. We all should want to embrace the fullness of history.

(2) Black History started with slavery.

So much black history pre-exists slavery. If you think slavery is the beginning, then you’re doing yourself (and others) a disservice.

(3) Recognizing “Black” History Month is divisive and racist.

Short answer: No, it’s not. For years, textbooks have glossed over the brutal truth about the treatment of blacks in America. Furthermore, recognition for contributions by African Americans was usually “decades late and a reparation short.” In 2019, we can recognize the plight of African Americans  and we can appreciate the beauty of diversity. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive.

For a more in-depth answer, read a full article on why Black History Month Isn’t Racist.

(4) I’m black so . . . I already know enough about black history.

No matter who you are, there’s always more to learn! Go forth and explore the untold stories.  Read about the unsung heroes.  There’s so much history that is waiting to be discovered, and there’s also the history that is being made right now. The study of black history is never ending!

(5) There’s no actual way to celebrate Black History Month.

Are you kidding? There are a ton of ways to celebrate. Check out these links for fresh ideas:

Happy Black History Month!

Long Live the King of Pop

Me being silly at the Wax Museum 🙂

Today marks the King of Pop’s birthday. The legend would have been 60 years old. Ever since I can remember, Michael Jackson has inspired me—everything from constantly borrowing a friend’s Moonwalker VHS tape every chance I got to trying to mimic his signature moves. I even forced friends and family to watch his music videos and documentaries with me over and over again. I’m sure they enjoyed it though. (Hey family, if you’re reading this, sorry, not sorry.) I’m even convinced that my first words were, “Michael Jackson.” (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

I have always been awestruck by his musical genius. His artistry had always been innovative. His performances were always breathtaking. His talent is unmatched and his skill is incomparable. He’s inspired me to strive for excellence on my own personal journey.

One thing that we can glean from the superstar’s life is that we should work hard, dream big, and maintain a giving and humble heart. Though he is no longer with us, may we continue to be inspired not only by his music, but by his creativity, work ethic, excellence, and his philanthropy.   May each and every one of you all’s journey be filled with purpose and love.  Blessings.

No Scrubs, No Waterfalls, Just Opportunity

My first TLC concert!

Recently, my great nephew and I were watching a television show, and one of the individuals on the show mentioned the term, “scrubs.” He then asked me, “What’s a scrub?” I defaulted to an intellectual response and said, “It’s a person who is lazy and doesn’t act to his full potential.” It didn’t hit me until the ride home that all I had to say was simply, “A scrub is a guy that thinks he’s fly and is also known as a busta . . .” Darn it! It could not have been a more perfect time to break into a TLC song, but I had missed it.

Missed opportunities stink. You’re left with the uncertainty of whether you’ll ever be granted such an awesome opportunity again. You wonder, “What if?How much sweeter would my life had been if I’d actually taken hold of the opportunity? Granted, missing the opportunity to bring up a TLC lyric might have been on the smaller end of the opportunity spectrum (unless you’re a TLC superfan 😉 ); nonetheless, it was a mini, illustrative life-lesson.

The old adages, “Stay ready so you won’t have to get ready,” and “Practice makes perfect,” now hold even deeper meanings. The stick-to-itiveness of preparation is bound to pay off eventually. You will no longer waste time chasing the waterfalls of hasty nothingness; rather, you will stick to the stability of rivers and lakes as a beaver preparing his dam. (Too much? Okay, so, I went a little far with that last simile, but you get my point.) The point of preparation is to allow you to capitalize off the moment of opportunity.

Who knew that the lyrics of a super-girl group would help bring clarity to life’s perplexities?! It must be a MTB (Meant to Be) thing. (Yes, I managed to slip yet another TLC reference in this post, but I just couldn’t help myself.)

Nine Gems of The Black Panther Film

Wakanda Forever! The Black Panther movie was A+mazing and I left the theater beyond inspired. Don’t worry. NO SPOILERS here, but I do plan to speak on topics generally. The film deposited several gems throughout each scene, allowing the audience to excavate each one and bury them within the subconscious. I would like to unearth those priceless gems within this post, dusting them off, shining them up, and bringing them to the forefront of your mind. Journey with me as I uncover the intoxicating beauty of Black Panther that is guaranteed to inspire and influence dreamers of this generation and generations to come.

Gem 1- Women Rule!

Yes, I know that Prince T’Challa, aka the Black Panther, is a man, but the empowerment of womanhood can be felt throughout the film. I just had to point out the head nod and the respect the film gave to women throughout the entire picture. The fact that the film embraced women in multiple roles as powerful leaders, more so than any other film that I can think of, speaks volumes to little girls everywhere who do not realize their power. There’s a certain degree of edginess that can only be embodied by women taking on leadership roles. She is able to instinctively transition a nurturing heart into a fierce capability to protect. How awesome is that?!

Gem 2- Loyalty, Loyalty, Loyalty

It is important that you have a great team around you when trying to build and maintain your empire. Black Panther characters showed us the importance of loyalty, trust, and support within your inner circle. They were the ultimate #squadgoals.

Gem 3- Slay While You Get Paid

The team behind the makeup and costume designs is to be commended. The vibrancy, the color, and the attention to detail—it was all astounding. The film did a great job of balancing the characters’ ability to possess both style and allure all while maintaining a seamless execution of combat and battle tactics. It just goes to show you that you can still look fashionable and fierce while performing your duties with the highest degree of excellence. You can walk in purpose and Prada. You don’t necessarily have to sacrifice the “slay” while you get paid. We can each walk boldly and beautifully into our individual callings. I know personally that it can be hard to put a look together when suffering from Sunday night blues. I found this film inspirational partly because on those days when I’m just not feeling it, this gem helped me to see that I owed it myself to provide the world with a good presentation of myself.

Gem 4- Young Innovation

Never underestimate the power and innovation of young minds. Oftentimes, the older generation tends to brush off the ideas that younger people have to offer. The Black Panther film confronts this notion head on. It is the Black Panther’s younger sister, Shuri, who is the lead innovator of many of the technological advancements in Wakanda. She was definitely a scientific force to be reckoned with. It was wonderful to watch a film that let a young person invent, and it did not allow her age to be a disqualifying factor from the ability to possess knowledge.

Gem 5- More Than Just a Pretty Face

The way that the film captured women as beings who weren’t one dimensional, but rather individuals who were both beautiful and brilliant, was phenomenal. It was empowering to see women characters not limited to their physical attributes, but rather embraced for their minds and their character. Whether leading warriors or creating innovations within a science lab, the film allowed women characters to challenge the notion that women could not be as capable or more capable than their male counterparts. If you’re in a field that is within a male-dominated industry, do not let that discourage you. You still have the potential to be the best. Keep studying. Keep working hard. Continue to build the skill within your craft. Your talent can blur the lines, eliminate barriers, and shatter glass ceilings.

Gem 6- A challenge is not over until it’s over.

When you’re going through the fire and all hope might seem lost, don’t give up. You never know when things may take a turn and you’ll come out swinging to finish on top.

Gem 7- The Bold and the Beautiful

The women characters of the film so tastefully exhibited a wonderful balance between power and strength along with femininity. These women were not just leaders, but they were also love interests. These women were able to carry out their duties with such passion and zeal, and still be able to capture and soften the hearts of the men in their lives. Too many times, both in film and the real world, women are bombarded with the idea that you can only achieve power and leadership by capturing the brashness of men. I beg to differ. (See Gem 1.) The characters in this film provide a stark contrast to that stereotype. These women were authoritative and compelling, but yet warm and benevolent. Capturing both ends of the spectrum without sacrificing one characteristic for the other takes enormous talent and I can respect that of ability of both the director as well as that of the actors. The reality is that the women throughout our lives have been amazingly able to show the balance, and this film capturing the essence of that—brilliant.

Gem 8- Give Back

Without giving too much away, I want to take a moment to emphasize the importance of giving back to the community. There may be people out there who look up to you, but aren’t blessed with your access. Always take your knowledge and resources and use it to build up the community for the greater good. Use your privilege to help build future leaders.

Gem 9- My Black is Beautiful

Given that it’s Black History month in the United States, I’d be remiss not to talk about all of the melanin magic that was in full effect on the big, silver screen. No, the color of someone’s skin does not determine the content of her character. However, that does not mean society is without discriminatory systems and prejudices. For example, colorism is “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.”  For years, Hollywood has failed at inclusion of various shades of blackness that reflects the true representation of the black community. The fact of the matter is that blackness in America includes people of African descent from the lightest of light to the darkest of dark tones. Nevertheless, Hollywood has continuously focused on displaying only one end of the spectrum. Consequently, the lack of representation of dark skinned individuals has contributed to the self-hate and the low self-esteem of many.

History has shown us the powerful effect that representation plays with the psyche of an individual, particularly that of a young person. In the 1940s, the famous Doll Test was conducted in order to show the effects of segregation on black children. Children were presented with a white doll and a brown doll and were asked a series of questions in order to determine which doll they thought was better. The test showed how children held biases towards lighter skin. And in 2010, when the doll test was recreated, the biases were still evident.

While not always done so overtly, society bombards us with images that promote stereotypes and promote superiority and inferiority amongst specifically targeted racial groups and specific skin tones. Given the history of colorism within the black community, it was breathtaking to see so many main characters possess darker hues. Children need to see individuals who look like them as they grow because representation carries with it a sense of pride and self-confidence. It impresses upon youth that the opportunities are endless. Black Panther helps black children, especially children with darker skin tones, to realize that not only can black be beautiful, but black can be smart and powerful too.

 

Faith Over Fear

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God….” -Marianne Williamson
I can not simply depend on my own ability, for I am weak.  As a child of God (see John 1:12, Romans 8:14-17, and Galatians 3:26), I must learn to depend on Him for my strength to move forward, for His strength is made perfect in my weakness. It is a struggle but I am determined to let my faith outweigh the fear, especially when it comes to my dreams.  I will continue to move forward. How about you?  Let your faith be bigger than your fear.

1 of 86,400 Seconds

Thanksgiving is around the corner and people will begin to post more about what they’re thankful for. That’s great. However, after some careful self-reflection, I cringe at the lack of gratitude that I’ve shown to God recently. If I’m taking an honest evaluation of my behavior, I have complained, groaned, eye-rolled and just plain ole’ threw adult-sized tantrums. I’ve shaken my fist at God over my displeasure and discontent with what I lack. I may have spoken the words, “I’m grateful,” but have my actions really shown it? Probably not.

I have had thoughts of entitlement, and I have shown the rage of my ego. The nerve of me focusing on what I haven’t yet received instead of honoring God for what He has given me now. I have breath. I have loving, caring people around me. But more importantly, God, who is the epitome of graciousness, has loved me through all of it. He’s had so much patience with me as I pouted, grimaced, and whined.

Whenever life gets tough, I blame Him, instead of praising Him and taken in the moments of calm that He’s allows me to have. Right now, I just want to take a moment to say, “Thank you.” Thank you God. Thank you Lord for your refuge, your peace. Thank you for your stability. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for being gracious. Thank you for your mercy—for not giving me what my actions deserve. I know that I could never thank God enough, but acknowledging my gratefulness in the moment can’t hurt.  🙂

Food for thought:  What are some things that you have to be thankful for today?  Take a moment today to show gratitude…  No, seriously.  Go forth,  and take a moment.