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.

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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2018 Annual New Years Resolution: Living free

Every year we all commit to resolutions to make our lives better, eliminate bad habits, to be successful, etc. Every year we either fail or succeed and every year, without fail, we make the attempt.

My previous New Years blogs…

…have always been about incrementally getting better.

For me this year is different, the same in nature, but different. I’ve been thinking this way ever since I completed one of my last resolutions…something about paying off credit cards. I paid off about 5 of my 7 credit cards and I feel freedom for the first time in a long while. I mean I could maintain the debt but now that it’s gone, I feel free….yes 5…don’t judge.

Resolution: The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.

So before you accumulate a mountain debt, enjoy your freedom, protect it, live free. It starts with changing your priorities and how you live your life. Yes we have to spend money to live, college books, tires for your car, suit for interviews, laptop, etc. There are necessities, there are, but PLEASE don’t get caught up with buying “things” that don’t give your life value. A weekend trip to the Caribbean costs more than a set of rims but at least you’re living, you’re just not in the hood looking good but “ain’t never been nowhere“.

 Living free takes discipline not to buy things that have no value. 

The blog about about slavery and money I wrote a couple weeks ago, yeah I’m still feeling that. I don’t know exactly what it is but it starts with just basic decisions to be free. That need to be free has shaped my spending and allowed me to value my decisions. Decisions about my habits, what I eat, what I watch, what I respond to, my energy, my stress….everything.

I’m getting preachy but I just want you young males have the freedom to engage the world, to live free.

Happy New Year!

or comment below.
“Money buys you the freedom to live your life the way you want.”
Keanu Reeves

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Buying your slavery.

We all like nice things, everyone likes nice things but what does it cost?

No…I don’t mean cost as in the price, I mean the cost of keeping it; the maintenance, interest payments, stress, freedom…yes, freedom.

For example, let’s say after your rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, food, gas, and entertainment expenses per month you have $1000.00 left. That’s kinda high but whatever.

You have roughly 12,000.00(12k) a year in fun money, that’s assuming you save 10% have retirement and are doing all the things we’re supposed to do. You can go out on a few dates, go to Martha’s Vineyard, travel to Africa, a couple of black ski events, etc. Then you see it, that Z07 Corvette, for a easy $350.00 a month. Why not?!…you have the money and good credit for no down payment. Bang, it’s yours…it’s fun to drive, you increase your gas costs for 93 octane premium gas but you can swing it. Insurance goes up and depending on how you drive, those ultra performance tires at $400.00…EACH are nothing to forget. Yes $400.00 look it up,  Yeah you buy tires once over 2 years but it still a expense. So $350.00 car payment, increased gas and insurance cost, before you know it, your fun money has dwindled to about $550.00 a month. Yes, you can still pick up some airline tickets, and hang out but with a little less money, no problem. Then you see it…the Rolex watch, better yet the Breitling watch. How much? $4k, that’s $4,000.00 for something you DON’T need, you want it but you don’t need it. Yes, it’s a nice performance luxury watch but your cell phone can tell the damn time?! Next thing you know, it’s on your wrist with what…No Money Down, for 18 months then it’s 24% interest if you don’t pay it off.

INTERESTn. money paid regularly at a particular rate for the use of money lent, or for delaying the repayment of a debt

So your payment is $222.00 a month, that’s not to bad but just think, we started with $1000.00 a month spending money

– $350.00 Corvette payment

– $222.00 Breitling watch

= $428.00 a month

$400.00 is still not bad but that’s just two purchases for things you DON’T need. You want a $4000.00 watch and your furniture isn’t even paid for yet. You can’t even take your mom on a cruise, take time off from work, you got bills to pay! Now you’re starting the cycle of debt, you can’t even drive the Vette cause you gotta eat and make a living….there’s no traveling, no playing, get your a$$ to work SLAVE!

And that’s my point, be discipline enough to NOT buy things you don’t need. It can wait, your freedom is more important.

No…I’m not saying don’t buy nice things. Just think, if you wait one year, you could have at lease 10k in the bank. With 10k in the bank your stress level is different, you travel more, you can buy the watch straight out and get a decent car until you can afford the Vette. If something goes wrong at work, hours get cut, laid off, you have a few months to fall back…this is what you call saving money for a “rainy day”.

Most of us can buy anything we want, but we can’t afford the lifestyle that comes with it.

I forgot the reason why I wrote this blog…

I saw a Range Rover, I love Range Rovers, I purchased one a couple years ago. My friend Terry told me not to buy it…I didn’t listen…warned me about that maintenance…I didn’t listen…told me it was a piece of s#!&…I didn’t listen. I bought it for about 10k, it was used and old but I loved it…classic. I spent about 7k on repairs in that year. It is a horrible car…loved the ride, nothing like it but that air suspension cost money to repair. It was a 20k lesson in about 15 months. I should have listened. This was all before God blessed me with rain on my commute and someone rear-ended me and totaled it…wooo hooo! Got a pickup truck and left it at that. So take it from me.

Homework: Look up the terms; depreciation, interest rate, credit score, net worth


“Money buys many things…the Best of which is Freedom” Mary Renault

“The only thing money is good for is to buy your Freedom” Humphrey Bogart

“Money equals Freedom” Kevin O’Leary (Shark Tank: Shark)

“I have a fantastic relationship with money, I use it to buy my freedom”

Gianni Versace


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