Category Archives: Life Skills

The Life Skills category establishes an understanding about the “sandbox of life”. Everyone is in the box, young men of color have to understand how to conduct themselves in it.


While attending the Black Men Xcel Summit in PGA National Resort and Spa in Florida, I was given the chance to learn, laugh, network, golf and just enjoy influential people of color. This is my second time attending the event formerly known as the Black Enterprise Golf & Tennis Challenge.



Every Labor Day weekend, BE creates an environment that provides access and resource for people of color making “money moves”. (I get that from Cardi B.)

As expected, the event was well attended and very positive. This event, in parallel to the magazine, falls into a niche for people of color that are pursuing & finding a path to success. This summit, as other BE summits, is educational and evolving. Workshops and coaching sessions this year included “Golf: The Sport of Business”, “Succeeding While Black”, discussions on community engagement and a panel on prioritizing mental health.


The reason why I found it appropriate for this blog audience, I think it’s important not to confuse movement with progress and while I’m running a business, working and traveling, it doesn’t mean I’m successful at it. You have take time to invest in your yourself and your goals in iterative patterns. It’s not always a fun holiday weekend but it’s necessary to identify and walk deliberate paths to your goals.


“Dreams without goals are just Dreams”

Denzel Washington

#BMXCEL is a great environment to resource individuals that are successful and maybe a little further down their path than you.  As with success in anything…it’s not convenient and placing myself in this environment annually provides me examples of success, whether their individuals, companies, or strategies.  It’s a checkup of where I am and where I would like to be.


Last thing…”Mental Fitness” is the newest term I’ve learned and it’s so obvious. It’s the same as working out, it helps you with your physical fitness…your mental fitness also should be cared for in the same level of importance.

Malik Yoba discussed his 5 Pillars: Spiritual, Mental, Financial, Physical and Emotional…he shared how he works on each of those tenants in his life. I believe that covers just about everything but you find your own. That panel on mental health helped me identify other ways to improve, I hope you can look to make the same improvements in your day to day life.


“Poor people stay poor by trying to look rich, while rich people are busy getting richer acting poor.”

Ramen Phase


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Filed under Career, Life Skills

Control your actions…control your narrative.

I’m starting to notice something.

When cops pull over young black kids they ALWAYS have the individuals…

outside the car,

sitting on the curb,


in clear view of EVERYONE passing in their cars.

What’s the first thing you think…”What did they do or what law did they break?”

Then I started thinking…black kids are not the only kids that break the law and drive…right?!  Well wait…have I EVER seen white kids outside the car, sitting on the curb, handcuffed, in clear view of everyone passing?!

No…not ever.

That doesn’t mean white, Indian, Chinese, and Latino kids don’t break the law. I’m just coming to understand that it’s a common practice to display black youth and men in a demeaning situation or publicly subjugated. Let’s be clear, I’ve always seen it but never really discussed in open forum.

Similar to the “perp walk” on tv, when they escort a handcuffed man who has been arrested. I started paying attention ever since they locked Mike Tyson up for rape. They covered his handcuffs up with a coat but he jokingly showed them to the tv cameras. That was the first time I saw a black man in handcuffs that were covered. I had never paid attention until that moment.

When it’s a black man, you will almost always see the handcuffs.

When it’s a white person, the handcuffs are usually covered by a coat or a jacket.

I’m not saying it’s all the time but just understand what the visual narrative does to minorities. What it’s been doing to us for a long time. It discredits us, it paints us as criminals, it lessens the empathy for people of color…most importantly people expect us to be violent or ignorant. It’s not just the law enforcement that paints us in a bad light, the news media has their paint on the canvas also. When there’s a mass killing you don’t see a white face for days, maybe not days but you know it’s a white perpetrator because they don’t show a face. If the subject is apprehended, he’s usually white, if he shot and killed he’s usually a person of color. When there’s a rape or murder and a black man has a actually been apprehended, you can bet his mug shot is all over the news. Everybody knows this, this is nothing new. That’s our country, I love it but it is what it is.

Fortunately technology is allowing us to tell our truth. We can now record on Facebook live a cop shooting an innocent child or police killing unarmed black men selling cds or groups of cops choking an unarmed black man to death while he repeats, “I can’t breathe”. Regardless if the jury finds them guilty or not, technology allows us to see what happened with our own eyes.

It’s been going on for years…it’s just now technology is recording it for the whole world to see. So…when you can, just control your reactions, change the narrative. Be intelligent like Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson. They are the two gentlemen unlawfully arrested in Starbucks back in April.

They did nothing wrong.

The cops tried to provoke them…they didn’t get react.

The manager lied about what happened…they didn’t argue.

They still didn’t raise their voice and they still controlled the optics. It was recorded for the whole world to see. They didn’t get upset…they didn’t react…more importantly Donte & Rashon didn’t give the cops any reason to arrest them on some minor offense that puts them in the prison system. If they would have done anything wrong…


we wouldn’t be talking about it. The nation wouldn’t be talking about it. Starbucks CEO wouldn’t be trying to “fix” anything. They would be just like those kids outside the car, sitting on the curb, handcuffed, ready to processed and churned in the billion dollar prison industry. Donte and Rashon would be among the thousands, millions of incarcerated black men trying to get out of prison.

So…let’s take the lesson from these two mature individuals, control your narrative.


“Have you ever seen a successful person angry? It is very rare. It is extremely difficult to become successful if you go around letting others control and manipulate you, which is what happens when you let them make you angry.”


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Filed under Etiquette, Life Skills

Black Panther: Stand up, you are a king.

Saturday wasn’t just a movie trip for me, it was a “Black Panther” day!

When I heard Marvel was doing “Black Panther” I was equally skeptical and optimistic. I’ve been conditioned to lower my expectations when a “black” movie comes out. American cinema rarely presents black men in my demographic; single, gainfully employed, heterosexual, tax paying, college educated, without a criminal background and no baby mothers. If there was a movie with a positive black male role in the script he definitely would be killed first or dressed like a woman the entire movie but hey, maybe that’s just me. The only “superhero” I remember was Blade and he was half vampire and Handi-man but well, you get my point.

When I heard Ryan Coogler, director of Fruitvale Station and Creed, was the director, I was excited at the potential. Ryan’s projects tend to have a great balance between action and script. In his words, “I like to tell a good story” and regarding this movie, his statement, “most personal to date”, resonated with me.

I purchased two fundraising tickets to WPFW’s screening almost immediately.

Not only the directing showed promise but the lead actors: Chadwick Boseman from 42, Get On Up, Marshall, and Michael B. Jordan from Fruitvale Station, Creed, and Fantastic Four are actors I have started to give special attention.  With a supporting cast of Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyon, Daniel Kaluuya  and Danai Gurira, you just can’t go wrong.

I’ve not been this excited since “X” from Spike Lee.

I wasn’t the only one because Disney-Marvel’s “Black Panther” set a new record for Fandango as the top seller among Marvel Cinematic Universe movies in the first 24 hours. So when Dedan Bruner, President of the DC Chapter of Concerned Black Men asked me to accompany and support some mentors and mentee from their “Just Say Yes” program, I said, “Sure!”, that was before I knew we had to be at the movie theater at 8am, plus this was my chance to get an instant response from youngsters in the “middle passage”.

I received the following invite:

Mentors and Moms,

Saturday is the day we take the boys to see Black Panther! Please read carefully. We will be attending the 9:00 am show (yes 9:00 am). Boys are arriving at 8:30, mentors should be there by 8:15. With all of the moving parts that day, no arrangements will be made for those who arrive late. Mentors will be needed there early to ensure the day goes smoothly.

After the movie, we’ll head to Howard Law. (1/2 mile away). There we’ll reconvene, and have lunch and discuss the movie. After lunch, we’ll meet with the Law School Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs Reginald McGahee. He’ll talk about what he looks for in Law School candidates (it’s never too early). We’ll also hear from Iron Man Michael Shipp. Mike recently completed Iron Man Maryland. He’ll share his story and what it took to translate a achieve his goal of completing the 140.6-mile (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run) race.

We talk a lot about goal setting. The idea behind this workshop is to show our boys extraordinary black representation on and off of the big screen. We want them to know that they can dream as big as they dare, but that they will also be accountable to those dreams.

We want to give them to tools to translate those dreams into goals so that they may start chipping away at them.

We had about 12 youth tickets and 12 adult tickets, after the movie, like other movie workshops with the mentee, we discuss the movie and the messaging. JSY has done many workshops, some where they watch and discuss movies like, The Great Debaters, A Long Walk, Red Tails, 42, Hidden Figures, Selma, and Marshall

This movie didn’t disappoint. The movie had several messages and parallels. Many of the mentors and mentee recognized a beauty of a perceived Africa, the feminine presence, the “duality” of the hero and anti-hero.

There wasn’t disposable black life, every death was a noble death.

“Death is better than bondage.”

Most of the mentee aligned with the role of Michael B. Jordan, “Kill Monger”. Giving the parallels of the youth we serve and their backgrounds, that was interesting. Mentors were happy that the story didn’t take place in the “United States” and that there wasn’t some “white savior”. The entire group thought the women were amazing, their strength, beauty, and femininity…just badd in a good way.

That night I attended a  WPFW fundraising event. After the viewing, there was a more in-depth discussion relating to Pan-African subliminal topics and other controversial topics not readily appropriate for this audience. For me the discussion was a sort of wake up call to the other influences both subtle and obvious in the overall “Infinity Wars” plot.

This movie showed women, beautiful darked skinned women, that weren’t prostitutes or crack addicts and black men that were noble and regal. There was love and emotions exhibited by black men and women that weren’t drawn to extremes.  There was love without lust, and anger aligned to duty and not random violence. There was one moment of intimacy without it being sexual. There was a love of country and honor. There was a humor without losing the story and making it a comedy. This movie touched on real issues in our communities and reflected on the anger of our youth and our oppressive institutions.

In a medium where the worst of black people is often magnified and endorsed, this movie showed our dignity without losing the authenticity of the story.

Some people are making the movie more than a movie, I think it’s just a great story. These reactions, in my opinion, is just an indication that we’re starving to see movies that depict black people in such positives. It’s relevant imagery that we can identify and dialogue, but you gotta remember this was just a Disney-Marvel superhero movie.

A Rolling Stone article quoted the director, Ryan Coogler, “We were making a film about what it means to be African,” Coogler says. “It was a spirit that we all brought to it, regardless of heritage. The code name for the project was Motherland, and that’s what it was. We all went to school on Africa.”

The presence of Howard in this activity and movie for me was overwhelming. Dedan Bruner, Howard Law grad, is the President of the DC Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Inc.  He, a volunteer, coordinated this entire activity.

Reginald McGahee, is the Law School Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs. He  talked at length about what he looks for in Law School candidates. He provided examples of evaluation criteria. Chadwick Boseman, the “Black Panther” applied to study directing at Howard.  Ta-Nehisi Coates – a contemporary of Boseman’s at Howard coincidentally, was a writer of the Black Panther. Also, Boseman took extra acting classes to help improve his directing. One of his teachers was Phylicia Rashad, a Howard alum.

In the essence of giving back, when Chadwick Boseman and a few classmates couldn’t afford a prestigious summer program at Oxford to study theater, Phylicia Rashad garnered money from her celebrity friends to pay for some students,

Denzel Washington paid for Boseman.

To help the DC Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Inc. continue positive activities for young black boys of color, please click this link: I want to support activities like this.

Stand up, you are a king.


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A passage from “The 12 Universal Laws of Success”

There are four types of people in the world.

  1. The Players
  2. The Watchers
  3. The Wonderers
  4. The Wanderers

If life were a game of baseball, the Players would be the people or teams on the field. These are the ones that have sacrificed and practiced until they are the best that they can be. They generally do what they love and love what they do. They reap the rewards of their efforts. The players use their powers to make things happen. they reach within to that well of power that they have developed to get the desired results. The Players take the risks and get the rewards.

Need a grand slam – Got a grand slam.

The Watchers are the spectators sitting in the stands watching others play the game of life. Watching somebody else get the money, the recognition, and the girl. Everyone who is not on the playing field is a spectator.

True Watchers are the people who never really try hard at anything. They may dream of being a Player, but at the first signs of difficulty, challenge, or disappointment, they discard their dreams and scurry off the playing field of life, silently vowing never to try that again. These wannabe Players take their seat in the stands with carefully crafted excuses and explanations for not being in the game. Watchers are generally people who had a dream, but let it be compromised. Watchers often say, “I should have done this, or I could have been that, but I’ve had a good live.”

The Wonderers are the people in the parking lot outside the stadium where the game of life is being played. They hear the sounds of the players and the spectators, but they are not a part of the game. They know something is going on, but they must wonder what it is, since they can’t see. Wonderers learn about what’s going on secondhand. They live their lives responding  to outside stimuli, and developing other peoples’ programs. they often see the world in terms of would have, could have, and should have.

The Wanderers are the people who are lost on the dirt road to the freeway, to the parking lot, outside the game of life. they have no idea of what is going on, and no plans to find out. The Wanderers are like thistles in the wind. They blow from pillar to post, without goals, plans, or roots. Ruled by their addictions and their appetites, they live for the moment and nothing more.

Book: The 12 Universal Laws of Success, Second Edition Expanded

Author: Herbert Harris

I like this passage not for the roles, we’ve all heard them before, but for the rationale that define each role.

Which one are you, which one do you want to be?


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Filed under Life Skills