straight from the heart

Archive for August, 2014|Monthly archive page

Rights, Struggles & The Cost of Being Black

In Education, Politics, Racism, Society, Spirituality on August 17, 2014 at 11:30 pm

Ferguson, Mo, the site of the most recent crime against a person of color can be any town USA. This type of atrocity has occurred all over America spanning decades. It is a travesty the powers that be continue to allow these acts to go for the most part unpunished. As a human first & a person of color second, it saddens & infuriates me that these instances continue to occur without any seemingly remorse from those who continue to perpetrate these crimes – and yes crimes is what they are. If two men are fighting and in the course of their battle one man unintentionally kills the other, he is brought up on charges – usually murder at first. Then tell me please how the police can continuously kill unarmed black males without charges? Don’t give me that fear for their life shit! In these cases there was no life or death instance. As a person of color, a Latino male and a black man, I have been victim to many a racial insult, profile or injustice; instances that have shaped me, have stuck to my gut and is never far from my thoughts. They have made me who I am. My anger and my sorrows. I easily could have been Mr. Mike Brown, Mr. Travon Martin, Mr. Oscar Grant, Mr. Sean Bell….must I continue? I have been in situations just like these young men found themselves in, in some instances even fighting back, but was lucky enough to have physically survived them (thanks Brother Blood), but each left an emotional scar. So each time this happens, I can taste the anger inside me. As a youth, my initial reaction was to strike back with force, but with age comes knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Unfortunately the protests, the rioting, the speeches don’t change much. They bring some awareness, but are usually forgotten in short order. When these scared souls see the rioting as portrayed in the media, they sit at home shaking their heads while exclaiming….”see they are animals!” Are we supposed to expect these fools to understand how the years of institutional hatred, human betrayal and attacks on our dignities have affected us? These simpletons believe all that they see & fear what they do not understand. I can go on for pages on the issues, but in my humble opinion, to make real change, we need to change ourselves too. We need to first & foremost focus more on education, as it will be our salvation. With education comes confidence, comes creation, comes self reliance. We need a change in our leadership. We need leaders who understand the plight, not just wax poetically when shit goes down, but leaders who are there everyday trying to teach and help. Leaders who will hire, educate & mentor. We need to raise our families, be fathers to our children & take pride in our communities. We have to stop giving ignorant people reasons to fear us. We need to teach our people that a singular action by them can cause a ripple effect on us all. Let’s stop giving the police reason to stop us, fear us or kill us. Let’s pull up our pants, tighten our belts and speak intelligently. Youngsters put the colors away, channel that energy into uniting and growing stronger collectively. Let’s pick our brothers up when they struggle with the change. Let’s stop complaining about what they are not doing and let’s just do ourselves!!! Create our own commerce. Let’s get the Jordan’s, Beyonce’s & Lebron’s of the world to the table and become spokespeople for our communities. Let’s force them to take a stand while teaching the youth who look up to them. Let’s work hard at whatever it is we do for a living. Let’s teach our young people how to respond when we are stopped by the police while still keeping our dignity. When we get into the boardroom, let’s bring more with us while remembering where we came from. Unfortunately, we can not keep expecting these folks to change, we gotta make the change. Each and everyone of us must do our part or our future will remain our past.

Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.

– James Thurber

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Life, Tragdey & A Lost Brotherhood

In Family on August 15, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Today has been a contradiction for me; it is a beautiful, sunny day, 75 degrees with blue skies. Just perfect – except, on this day, 37 years ago, my older brother, Jose Lorenzo Martinez passed away at the tender age of 15. He had just left our apartment and I remember vividly as he was looking in the mirror, as he was always well kept, and I excitedly asked him, as only an 8 year old can to his older brother, if he would be coming back home soon so we can watch our favorite movie at the time – “Aaron Loves Angela”.  I can see his smile now as he responded, “Yeah Brother Blood”, before departing.  I remember how he yelled up to our 4th Fl. window as my sister and mother told him to be careful, as I peered down at him from a crease in between them.  Sadly, before my mother walked the ten steps back to the sofa, my sister screamed in horror. My mother, instantly knowing it was her son, yelled and immediately ran downstairs.  My brother was walking his then girlfriend home with a bunch of his friends, 10 to 15 in total, when he was struck by two cars as he crossed the street, catapulting him into the air & causing him to hit his head on a fire hydrant on the opposite corner. I remember the ambulance come take him away. As they drove by our window, I peered into the ambulance, catching a glimpse of my brother through the small window on the right side of the ambulance, as he laid there. How I was able to focus and see his face clearly as they sped away, I could never explain.  For some strange reason this year, the anniversary of his death has resonated with me more.  I was sitting having breakfast with some family when the news came on mentioning the date. A heavy feeling came over me, as emotions filled my soul. My little baby girl was smiling at me as if she knew, telling me to be easy. She would have loved him, everybody did. He had that swag, that charisma.  I often have wondered how his life would have turned out had he remained among us. How I may have been or what changes in life would have occurred.  A lot of his friends, especially those he was with that fateful night, didn’t end up well.  My hope & belief tho is that he would not only have risen above the temptations of the street, but as a leader, he would have helped those who struggled with it. I have seen a lot of those guys through the years after his death and to a man, they each would tell me how his death shook them; how he was a real dude, their brother. Each time I would smile proudly, saying to myself, “Yeah – it’s in our genes”.  I have sat many a time, wondering if he has been the one looking out for me when I have found myself in uncomfortable or challenging situations. Was he the one giving me that extra strength or quickness when needed?  Was it him and later my Dad, who have sat there looking down on me – helping to keep me focused.  It’s the only reason I can think of sometimes.  Although I only spent 8 years of my life with him and he was tough on me, I have missed him.  Rest easy Brother Blood.

Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.

– Lionel Hampton