Sunday, April 09, 2006

RE: Let Me Know What Yall Think...CRASH - A REAL LIFE VERSION...

Dear FAM,
I appreciate the responses I got concerning the last post...I would like to share some of the responses so far...This one in particular is the response to the Crash article by the first responder and also includes my reply to "The First Responder of the Crash Article post"...The actual names of the people who replied will not be printed, but the words will be!!! ;o)
- Bro. R2

On March 7,2006, H.S. wrote:
Sad to say but I read this whole email thread and I do not find these conversations to be productive in any way. Food for thought, sure - but you seemed to be very defensive in your replies. I am unsure of the point you're trying to make by sharing this conversation. Are you still trying to reiterate your points? Are you trying to make your friend look bad? Are you trying to find more people with his or your opinions?

Defending what we have to hold on to is good. At some point we have to let our guard down, take two steps back, and take a good look at ourselves - even our own races if that is the case. I say this in relation to where we are in the world today. Sure, history has brought us here - but it is only today that will take us to tomorrow.

Forgiveness is a vital key to moving on, and to growth. Until that lesson is learned, someone can talk about their abuses, etc. until they are blue in the face. Only when they forgive their oppressor and then themselves can they move on.

Your friend J seems to be one of the many people who have "moved on" in regards to the race card, and even history to some aspect. You on the other hand, seem to be "living and breathing" various injustices each and every day. The fact is, you're just two different people and there's nothing wrong with that. Personally, I believe there has to be a balance between the two. Looking forward to tomorrow while remembering the lessons learned from yesterday...40 acres and a mule.... Seriously, let's talk about the injustices concerning the Native Americans if you want to talk land....Honestly, I love Memphis. I moved from the city two years ago, and I miss it every day. Looking in now from the "outside" - it is hard to defend so much of the current day corruption that makes up the city. From child care centers leaching money from the government in the name of "no child left behind" - while the children suffer from lack of adequate care in the centers - or even die at the hands of day care drivers under the influence..Seriously - should there be 24 hour child care centers ? (be it in Germantown or Lamar Ave?)... How many babies have to die in hot vans due to negligance?.... From well-to-do business owners making a huge profit from Hispanic day laborers just so they don't have to cough up insurance costs...From millions of tax dollars being spent on new construction projects for roads leading out of the city.. Why do you think we need all these roads leading out of the city? .... To optional and traditional programs in Memphis city schools... (Forget about the systemic problems of the educational system as a whole. Focus on your own backyard and ponder / act on why there are two sets of learning standards for children with an equal hunger for knowledge.)

Education is key and we all know that. To dismiss the entire education system as one simply meant to increase the oppression of the poor and increase the acquisions of the wealthy is not wise. We have to utilize the tools that we are given in life and encourage others to do the same. To critize the entire "system" is simply not productive. Imagine back to when you were a kid - what if your peers shared with you the same beliefs you hold about the educational system? Would your artwork be the same today? Would you have been motivated to learn and grow in yourself and your

We have to take what we have and grow as a people. Together. Everyone has a bigot inside. To simply dispute who is the biggest bigot is a waste of time and energy. We really have to move on and motivate each other to do so as well.

I sincerely hope that you do not share your opinions (that "The whole purpose of our educational system is to create a permanent underclass of people to be exploited by the few in power") with the youth you encounter. A big aspect to forgiveness is rising above your wrong doings in order to accomplish a higher goal. Surely you will movitate youth to set their goals high and take advantage of knowledge. To not do so would simply be falling into the hands of "the few in power" and creating the impression that there are only a few in power. Everyone has the capacity and the power to take control of their situations.

These are just my thoughts on the whole conversation. One can complain all day, or one can take action and strive for positive changes. I believe the last time I saw you was at the cermony for lighting Memphis' World Peace Flame. May we all continue to spread the flame...
(please let me know before / or if you share this email with other people. by the way, I hope you are doing well. The fact that Crash won an Oscar shows that we really are moving in the right direction..)

On March 8,2006, I Wrote My Reply To H.S.:

Dear H.S.,
It's great to hear from you...I am assuming you are currently living in California as you stated you were going to do three years ago...I actually saw you last at the South Main Arts Festival with your two friends from Africa, one was a sculptor who had his works on display in the parking lot next to the Joysmith Gallery as well as at the Memphis Botanic Gardens...

I must say that your response is thorough...Actually my argument was a defensive one and was meant to be...In order to argue or debate successfully you must not only provide colorful commentary, but also sources and facts to defend or back them up...I was by no means picking on my friend,but rather showing in a constructive way where he can find and receive actual facts instead of superficial fluff..The fact that he could not provide factual info just heresay was the problem...You can't load your gun with the wrong ammunition and expect it to operate correctly...You must also understand as a Black man in this country that people (including some delusional Black folk) always assume that you don't know what you are talking about because I am not a white authoritative figure with the backing and the blessing of a powerful institution behind me...I have had talks with several distinguished men and women of color with PH.Ds as well as people of color with enormous knowledge in their field of expertise whether it be politics, computer programming or the arts among other things and the majority of these wonderful people seem to confirm my positions on the lack of actual confidence in the intellect of people of color which is very sad and disturbing...

The fact that you responded the way you did proves that the content of the dialogue wasn't a waste of your time and my effort wasn't in vain...The education system do suck believe me I know first hand...Early in my school career, many well meaning yet inadequate teachers thought I was slow and were trying to write me off as a waste of time and a failure as early as first grade...My saving grace was my beautiful mother
who instilled in me the value of true education which is self motivated learning not a system dedicated to one way of applying and retaining knowledge (different people learn in different ways)...She brought a World Book Encyclopedia set while I was in grade school which I read from A to Z with overwhelming enthusiasm and a thirst for knowledge...I would supplement this by reading history books from the school and public libraries as well as watching documentaries and speaking with older or elderly folks...I was blessed in the fact that armed with the knowledge I got outside of school that I was able to overcome many obstacles in the school system where many others in my same shoes had failed...For example although I was nowhere near making the honor roll in my Third grade year many people in the classroom still considered me to be the smartest person in the class because I knew all the U.S. Presidents...That type of advantage helped me to earn a confidence in my abilities that many teachers throughout my school years (even in college) failed to acknowledge or nurture...However I was also blessed to meet individuals in the system as well as outside of it at every step of my school years who inspired me to always think out side of the box and to accept or expect nothing less than excellence...YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD OR GREAT AS WHAT YOU COME UP AGAINST...However these same beautiful individuals always seemed to be the ones that were least valued by the educational system to begin with and were in some ways marginalized by this repressive system and in some cases kicked out of the system...I can not help that I know what I know it is a part of me and I do not apologize for it...

As far as my fellow artists in the system some got caught up in the obstacles thrown at all of us because the way the system works it can not guarantee you a future...The only way you win or lose your future is purely by the choices you make in life during times of great difficulty and discomfort as well as during so-called times of peace and tranquility...The fact that I took time to actually respond was not done out of bitterness and hatred but in love and really trying to make a difference...

As far as the other things you have stated concerning Native Americans and Hispanics and "No Child Left Behind" I am definitely hearing you, but then you must ask yourself why are so many people miseducated about their rights and history,what system(s) helped our people into these conditions in the first place...There is no statue of limitations on unacknowledged injustices from the past...Why should we forget about the past??? That means we should all forget about the works of Shakespeare, Mozart and Beethoven because they were done several centuries ago...That also mean we should forget about the Emancipation Proclaimation and The Jewish Holocaust because that's in the past as well...

As far as forgiving the oppressor it is not my job...Historically speaking Black folks have loved and fought for White folks as a whole more than we as Black folks have loved and fought for ourselves...Black folks in this country fought in all
the major wars (5,000 strong with Gen. George Washington, nearly 200,000 during the Civil War and 1.2 million in WW 2 alone),our women have raised children of
their 'masters' to the detriment of their own children during slavery as well as post
slavery...95% of businesses in this country are run by White people yet Black folks are the biggest group of consumers in this country...These numbers are truly disturbing considering that we are currently in the most multi-racial and multi-cultural America in history...I can not forgive my oppressors not because I don't want to but because the power of their own forgiveness or redemption is in their own hands not mine...When the concentrated wealth in this country is redistributed fairly then true forgiveness in the form of peace of mind will be given not by me or any other mere mortal, but by a higher and wiser source...

I do not doubt for a moment that we probably have more Einstein brain types sitting and rotting away in our prison industry complexes and our ghettoes than we do in all of our greatest so-called universities combined...If you have no past you can not have a future worth striving for in the present...Paraphasing Socrates a life unexamined is a life not worth living...Dialogue is very important because we must discuss and re-assess things in order to figure out what we really must do if we are sincere in bringing about change...

H.S. when you speak of Memphis you must realize that the U.S. is nothing but a bigger version of Memphis,TN...So the question must be posed to you as well as me, what are you going to do to help us bring out about change in this country so that everyone will have a chance to reach their fullest potential...That's a question I ask myself everyday and I have committed my life to finding out the answers because I am all for leaving the world in better shape than I came into it...You must be the change or the flame you want to see in the world. Thanks once again for your beautiful and well received message, I hope I can share it with people if it's possible...Please let me know.
With great respect,
Crash was a great movie I agreed with you on that...However we must continue to speak truth to power in real life not only in the movies if we our going to live together in true harmony and righteousness...True freedom is never free!!!;o)

On March 8,2006, In Response To My Reply H.S. Wrote:

I'm interested in this conversation and I'm going to respond - however I'm swamped at work right now. I was in Memphis for the last week and a half, back in the office in Bev. Hills this week, and out to Vegas for conferences all next week. Life has changed considerablly, but I'm enjoying the ride. I'll get back to ya when I can. Take care. I agree that dialouge is necessary, as is embracing our history. I've never been so interested in my history as I am now that I've moved out of my "comfort zone"

Talk to you soon -

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