02
Jan
14

Speak Now!!

I know it has been a while since I have written on the topic of love and relationships. Part of that reason was because honestly I had run out of things to talk about and felt that I needed to just be silent in the affairs of my love life. However, over the holidays, for the first time in a couple of years, something hit my spirit that I feel that I need to get out.

Sidebar: Outside of that little internet appearance I made last April, I opine mostly in the Ring|Side group on Facebook

In most wedding ceremonies, there’s a portion of the ceremony where the presiding minister will say “If there is anyone who feels there is just cause for these two not to be joined in marriage, please speak now or forever hold your peace.” I remember several years back when I was at my cousin’s wedding in Vegas. A quote by the presiding minister was made that became an “A-Ha” moment later in my life. Instead of the aforementioned, he said (paraphrasing) “If there is anyone who feels these two should not be together, there is an exit on both sides of this room. Please walk out of one of them right now, and don’t come back.” Of course at the time I looked at the quote as him saying that the wedding should only be attended by those who are in agreement with that union (and a quote I might actually steal for when I get married).

But as I was sitting one day, thinking about what will it be like for me when I meet the one. One consequence I know that will occur is that I will lose some female friends; not because it will be a requirement to keep my woman (because I will not court/marry a woman that has trust/security issues), but because these are women who are not genuine and only wanted to be my friend in the hopes of being pursued by me at some point in time, sometimes without making it known that there is an interest or development of feelings. I know this because I’m not a guy who will settle to be a woman’s friend if I have a romantic interest and will kill the connection before staying in the friend zone. 

You know there are sayings such as “closed mouths don’t get fed” or “a closed hand won’t let anything out or in”. The same applies in relationships. As a man or woman, regardless of societal rules on dating, a certain level of transparency is key; if you don’t speak up and let it be known that you’re interested, then you can’t be mad that they didn’t choose you. What, you expected them to read your mind and just know?! It doesn’t necessarily work like that.

Don’t wait until they get in a new situation or get engaged to finally let it be known that you are “feeling” them; SPEAK NOW! You don’t want to look up months/years from now, and you’re having a “shoulda coulda woulda” conversation with yourself (or in some cases, with said person you are interested in). If the fear is losing a great friendship, then that great friendship is (to a degree) built on a lie (to yourself and to your friend). Believe me folks, I’m a witness to being a dummy, lying to myself and wasting years of your life doing exactly that.

Ok, I go back to relationship silence now. LOL

14
Jul
13

Letter to Julian: Meet Latasha

Like most of the world, to say that I was disappointed in the verdict of the George Zimmerman case involving the discriminatory profiling and murder of Trayvon Martin is a obvious understatement. To get it out the way, this case is another example of how much value that AmeriKKKa puts on the life of a black man in this country, and that to a lot of folks in this country, whether we reflect 2Chainz or Allen West, Diddy or Obama, we are still reggins in this country. PERIOD!!!

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But this post here is for my little brother Julian, who is 15 at the current time. Ever since I found out my mom was pregnant with him, I have prayed for him everyday even when he didn’t deserve it, anyone with siblings can relate, LOL, and have always wanted to be the right example, along with my parents of course, of how to live life. One of those realities about living life in this country is that, as a black man (young, middle aged, or old), regardless of how “well” you act, dress, speak, or dance (LOL), that you are NEVER, and I mean EVER, immune to racism as long as you are breathing. So because of that, you have to watch your back at all times (on the street, in the classroom, in the workplace) because there will ALWAYS be someone trying to bring you down.

And maybe because I’m older there’s a chance that I may not be able to relate to the life of the black teenager in America, but like Mom and Dad told me (and I know they tell you) there’s nothing new under the sun. Mom and Dad were 10 when Brother Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot in Memphis, and I was 11 during the L.A. Riots. One thing that was a spark for the civil unrest was an incident that took place in south LA.

Our parents had Emmitt Till and Medger Evars, and you have Trayvon Martin. My era had Amadou Diallo and Prince Jones, amongst many others, but there’s one I want you to meet. She’s your age, and went to high school across the street from where you go to high school now.

So Julian…………… I want you to meet Latasha Harlins.

Latasha Harlins 1975-1991

Latasha was a 15 year old sophomore at Westchester High School (Shout out to Class of ’98) who stopped into a corner store on a typically mild LA late winter day (LOL, winter, yeah right) to grab some juice, which appeared to be a common thing for her. So instead of doing the typical thing of just going up to the counter, showing the product you intend to buy, and then paying the money, she put the juice in her bag and began to pull her money out with the intent to buy. However, the cashier, Soon Ja Du, a Korean woman, assumed Latasha was trying to steal from the store and confronted her. Summarily put, they got into a confrontation, and after Latasha decided to not buy the juice, took it back out her bag and began to walk out, the cashier pulled out a gun and shot Latasha right in the back of her head, killing her instantly.

The case then went to court, where Ja Du claimed Self Defense (sound familiar???). The jury found Ja Du guilty of voluntary manslaughter. However, the JUDGE in the case, Joyce Karlin, only sentenced Ja Du to five years probation and a $500 fine, citing that the defendant acted, although inappropriate, under duress, and basically told Ja Du “girl, I’m feeling you”. In other words, Ja Du walked out of the courtroom that day a free woman. This incident, along with the Rodney King verdict a few months after that, started the civil unrest in LA.

Just like George Zimmerman with Trayvon Martin, Soon Ja Du profiled Latasha and acted based on prejudicial classical conditioning. In other words, the way that Trayvon and Latasha were confronted (and eventually killed) were based on who or what someone thought they were, even if that’s not you.

And Julian, I can understand how you can watch TV and see this happening, then you turn around and see Michael Vick get 2 years and change for killing a dog, and see a black woman get convicted IN FLORIDA and sent to prison for 20 years for firing warning shots at her abusive boyfriend, yet couldn’t use the same “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law that Zimmerman just got acquitted with. Just like I couldn’t understand at 11 years old how 4 cops beat a black man within an inch of his life (and also tazed him), on camera, and a jury of “their peers” said they were justified.

So Julian, when I come home to visit and I’m constantly challenging you to be better than me, now you can see why. In the words of Rev. Waller of Enon Tabernacle Baptist in Philly, “you can’t make it close”. In other words, life is a game. Don’t win it with a clutch shot  or field goal at the buzzer, you have to BLOW THEM OUT. Meaning the following:

  • Establish a relationship (not religion) with God and know him for yourself. The stronger that relationship is, everything else will fall into place.
  • Keep your grades high (above 3.2) so that you can get into the best college possible (even if it’s not Howard) and leave with as little debt as possible.
  • Treat EVERYONE with respect, even if it’s the homeless person on the street that asks you for money. If not for the grace of God, that could be mom, dad, or me.
  • Don’t ever get either full OR still. Meaning, don’t ever be satisfied. It’s like the game of Pac-Man, the moment you stop eating and stop moving, the ghouls will catch up and take you out. That means there are some days that video games will have to chill out and you’ll have to roll to LMU or UCLA for some college prep workshops, or days where you don’t play in the yard with your friends and you roll to the college office to research your future. If your big brother didn’t do those things, who knows where I would be.

Now fam, Julian is my little brother, but I’m sure this message could apply to any young black man in this country. This time in our Black American history is critical now, and we have to ensure that we (literally) preserve our future. And at the rate we are losing our (young and old) black men, there is definitely a demonic force that is looking to paradigm the black community into a permanent underclass in this country by “rolling back the clock”. This is 2013 fam, and if we don’t wake up soon, we’ll wake up to a 1955 world with 2013 technology.

Please feel free to comment below and to also share with your people.

11
Apr
13

RichBrand featured on TVONE website

I was blessed back in December when I got a phone call from Hasani Pettiford, the host of TVOne’s “Love Actually”, where I was asked to take part in a TVOne.tv feature that highlight some of the attributes of a good man. As far as what category I was selected for, I will let the video in the link  below speak for itself.

But to re-emphasize, I was definitely humbled by this opportunity, and concurrently it will challenge me internally to stay focused on doing right by the women in my life, whether I date them or not. For the other guys who were part of this project, I think it’s a great opportunity for us men to baseline each other and ensure that we continue to grow in all aspects and socialize the standard that needs to be out there.

Hope you enjoy the video! Be Blessed!

RichBrand is one of Hasani’s Hand Picks

12
Jan
13

From whence I came: Childhood in LA

 

For those who know me, they know that I take full ownership of my Angelino heritage and I don’t shy away from the elements of growing up there that have influenced my life to this day. Since it is coming up on 15 years since I have left LA, I felt it was time to revisit some of the biggest influences on my 18 years that I lived there. So I hope you enjoy this pictoral stroll down memory lane that I captured when I was in LA most recently for the holidays.

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This is where I spent most of my childhood (up to 11 years old) in the neighborhood that’s now known as Little Ethiopia, right on Fairfax Blvd, one of the busiest streets in West LA. The window you see in the top left is the main bedroom for the apartment I stayed in. From a high yella baby up through elementary school, this was home for me.

 

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Brookins Community AME Church was my home church growing up as a kid all the way through high school. This church will always be home to me, even after they filmed UGK’s “International Players Anthem” video here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awMIbA34MT8

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When my grandma would take me to church, she always loved to go to 8AM service. And since she taught Sunday School and didn’t want everyone in the church to see her walk out early, she would always sit on the 2nd pew from the back (as shown here).

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Since I was with my grandma all the time, I had to be in Sunday School as well. Sunday School was always held in the church basement, with each level having their own space to get their lesson. This was also where every choir came to warm up and robe up before they went upstairs. This is also where they taped the reception portion of the UGK video. 

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Apparently, I was born with a musical gift, and it was one that my mom recognized early on, so at 7 years old, I became a member of the Buds of Promise Children’s Choir at Brookins. That began an 11 year stint of choir singing, which included becoming a founding member of the Majestic Voices Youth Choir, along with being a member of the SoCal AME Youth Choir.

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This house here was home to a bunch of different activities, including some choir rehearsals, YPD meetings, and opening gifts from Black Santa. The memory that stands out the most here was back in the 80’s when Mrs. Fields would serve breakfast. I’m talking grits, chicken, eggs, sausage, pancakes, and BACON! I’m not talking Vons/Ralphs/Albertsons bacon, I’m talking the bacon with the rinds on it that left you sucking on them after the meal.

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Before I started public school, my mom had me in private schools for the first several years of my life. Out of nowhere, she decided to send me to Carthay, which was right up the street from where I lived. I swear I got into some sort of trouble at LEAST once a week going there. Had more fights in my one year and change there than the rest of my life COMBINED!

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Coming home from school everyday, regardless of how much money I had in my pocket, I would make a stop at the 7-Eleven on Fairfax to get my Bazooka Joe gum fix or play whichever video game they had in there at the time. The one I blew a lot of allowance money on was Sega’s “Shinobi” game.

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1117 Orange Grove was a refuge for me (or my mom, depends on how you ask it). Too many memories here to go over. The first time I heard rap music, danced for the family on Christmas, and found out the hard way what happens when you drink mouthwash ALL happened here. But don’t get it twisted, many a day I had to go out to the back and pull a switch off the tree so that Moma-Si (my great-grandmother) could (once again) remind me who was running things there.

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After a year and change at Carthay, I was pulled out in order to attend arguably the highest ranked elementary school in LA: Wonderland Ave. Elementary School . At first I was PISSED because I had JUST earned my stripes with my peers at Carthay, and now I had to leave to attend a school full of “others”. Silver lining was that my bus stop to go to Wonderland was at Carthay, so that bought me an extra year to hang with them. In the end, I began to learn at an early age how to interact with a diverse group of people.

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Right when I was about to finish up elementary school, my mom decided to up and get married. When that, we moved on over to the Mid-Wilshire area on Dunsmuir, where we stayed all throughout my middle school days.

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Graduating from Wonderland and moving on to Palms was a shock to the system to say the least. To simply put it, I felt like I was back at Carthay all over again, only some of the antagonist had older brothers with guns. Honestly, this was the worst 2 years of my life and many tears were shed, but I got stronger and wiser as a result of it.

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Everyone knows how important the barber shop is to the black community. This one here is where I got my haircut all throughout middle school and part of high school. Shoobie used to hook ya boy UP (when I had hair).

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After the blood, sweat, and tears of Palms, it was time to move on to get some more. Westchester High School!!! I remember going into school wanting to do it all and be it all, but looked up after sophomore and was farther away from what I wanted for myself. Eventually I got there, but then realized that we will always be works in progress.

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Once I got into high school, around the same time was when my parents made their first home purchase. I felt we were moving on up like the Jeffersons when we got into this place. I won’t go into the transformation that has occurred here in the close to 20 years they have been here (and the only house my little brother knows), but I was definitely happy to be in the Baldwin Hills area now.

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Since I lived not as close to Fred’s anymore, and the risk of riding my bike through the 18 St Gang (largest gang in LA) territory to get to Fred’s to get my hair cut, I decided to move on to Barber Shop Row on Crenshaw to get my hair cut. The place I went to was All That Barber Shop, where you saw everything get done from Dj Quik-style presses for the pimps to fade-ups to relaxer treatments (yes LA was, and still is, big on having that good hair, even for the guys).

Everything you just read and saw were arguably the biggest influences, along with no-nonsense parents, that got me (tuition free) to here………………

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…………..and back, and BEYOND. Of course there were things in between, such as Top Teens, AME YPD, Young Black Scholars, my peer group growing up, etc that definitely had their share in it. My journey thus far from 1980 to 2013 has thus far not been one of perfection, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. A lot of Monday Morning Quarterback conversations I have had with myself over the years, but who knows where things would be in my life if I didn’t go through (and fail some of) the trials and tests that I went through. Despite all, God is good! The rest of life will be a ride, but it always good to reflect on from whence you came.

 

06
Nov
12

RichBrand Rant: Election Day 2012 and my 4 year wishes

I remember on Election Day 2008, I got on my laptop at work, neglected all of my work that day (sorry Paul) and wrote how I felt about the 2008 election. Now, in the words of the late Rev. Calvin Nelson Sr, “Lord………. Here we are again!”

We as a nation are once again at a point where a decision has been made on the direction we will mandate this country takes by way of our government.  Of course the government will not be all Democrats, all Independents, or all RepubliKKKans (yes I spelled it like that on purpose for a reason), but in the end, this is what we will have to deal with. Bipartisan cooperation and adult behavior will be key the next 4 years if we want to move this country forward. With that being said, instead of me sitting here going on a rant related to why folks need to get to the polls to vote for Obama (which is my view), I’m going to list 6 things that I hope get accomplished in Obama’s second term which I know will NOT get accomplished in a Romney white house. Keep in mind this is mostly based on observation as I do not claim to be a very political person.

1. Minority Education stimulus bill: One thing that is clear is that our public education system is in decline nationwide (hence why my little bro is in private school more out of necessity than privilege right now). If we want to compete with the world in STEM-ready Americans, and do critical things such as maintain our space program, and best innovate for the future, our workforce should be populated based on who had the best paid education. Education is turning into a privilege based system and our youth who are going to Eastern SHS in DC or Dorsey High School in LA should have the same level of educational opportunity and same level of resources as the youth who are at Glenbrook South HS in Glenbrook, IL. Now, the key to making this successful is accountable oversight to ensure the funding (from tax increases on the rich) not only goes to schools that need it, but also that it is disbursed properly (with accountability controls in place) and students come FIRST. In other words, don’t use it to raise salaries or provide bonuses for school district employees, but it should go to adding books to classes, updating a school’s technology infrastructure, etc.

2. Revision of the drug policy: One thing that was not talked about virtually AT ALL during the election campaign this year is how each candidate would revisit and possibly revamp the drug policy. In my humble opinion, the policy is skewed to impact minorities in this country, it’s a cost waste to tax payers, and the only clear winners of this policy are the private prison systems. For starters, crack and cocaine should be sentenced equally, and the illegality of drugs should be based on human side effects and not based on who can make money off of it. To put it another way, if Phillip Morris found a way to make money off of marijuana, trust and believe K Street would be lit up with lobbyists trying to make it legal.

3. Tax Breaks for Companies that outsource to 3rd party companies within the US: There has been talk about jobs going overseas on both sides of the aisle, and of course there are varying perspectives (on and off the record) on how this should be approached. Speaking from experience, the corporate operational strategy of outsourcing specific front and back office processes is here to stay, REGARDLESS of who is in office. Companies who outsource to 3rd party companies (Xerox, Accenture, Genpact, CSC) are not included in any tax laws (penalties or benefits) that relate to outsourcing. If you want a win win for Wall Street and Main Street, if a company decides to move processes to a 3rd party company, reward that company AND the 3rd party company if they utilize American employees for those jobs. Some of the aforementioned companies have BPO operations here in the US. Give them incentive to expand.

4. Consolidate our military and spend smarter: Let me make this clear. WE SHOULD NOT BE THE WORLD POLICE!! Yet, our level of military spending has put us in that position to date. Granted that there are places that we should set up shop, per se, in order to ensure the safety and security of our planet by way of keeping tabs on certain areas. But why do we have military bases in places in which we haven’t been at war with (or thought of going to war with) in DECADES. Why do we still have military bases in Germany and Japan?? We are cool with them now, and Hitler’s dead. I think we can leave now *kanyeshrug*. And if we need to have bases set up, why don’t we set one up in Africa to ensure the safety and security of the African continent? Things that make you go “Hmmmmmmmmmm”.

5. Overturn Citizens United: This one here is, in my opinion, wishful thinking because I don’t see both sides of Congress agreeing to it. I’m sure everyone who is reading this is sick and tired of all of the negative ads that took place during the election and how Citizens United directly impacted that. I don’t care what Romney says, CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE!!! Without going into it too much, the fact that there is no cap on how much a company can contribute to a political candidate is very dangerous to our democracy and that’s the true compromise of our “freedom”.

6. Restructure bankruptcy laws to include ALL debt: Given what our economy has gone through in the last several years, lots of folks have been filing bankruptcy as a way to start over and reset themselves from a financial and credit standpoint, although folks have been taking advantage of it for as long as it has existed (Donald Trump, TLC, Toni Braxton to name a few). However, one of the things that you are not allowed to write off as part of bankruptcy are student loans. Regardless of where your credit stands, that money will still be owed to the bank of which you received that loan. The bankruptcy laws in this country do not completely fulfill their purpose if ALL debt (“good” or “bad”) is not inclusive to the laws (including education debt).

So there are just a few changes that I would like to see that are an outside chance of happening under Obama, but NO chance under Romney. I’m sure there are things that you the reader would like to see changed that I didn’t mention, but feel free to comment below and give your input and what you would want changed.

 

17
Oct
12

5 People you won’t avoid at Homecoming

It’s October, and in the HBCU world, that means it’s time for HOMECOMING. Yes, that wonderful annual event that most of us who didn’t just go to class then go home look forward to. The time where you reunite with old friends, old frienemies, your frat, your sorors,  recollect on the good times and the bad times from undergrad,  and possibly make some new connections along the way. While those who are currently in undergrad and most likely those who graduated in the last 2-3 years will partake in activities throughout the entire week, the majority of alumni will partake in the events that go from thursday night through sunday afternoon. And although it seems like enough time to cover ground, the weekend usually goes into overdrive, and then you wake up and it’s Sunday and it’s time to go back home. Understandably so, a lot of alumni, regardless of age, go HARD during this time and try to maximize their opportunity for the 72 hours they are in town.

What comes with the territory are some realities that all of us must face whenever someone decides to partake in homecoming. As I checked into my flight earlier today, I was pondering upon all possible scenarios that could happen this weekend, and got myself into the mind state to expect the unexpected and stay ready for it.

With that being said, here are 5 people that, unless you just do not go ANYWHERE, you most likely WILL have to deal with during your 36 hours at Homecoming (along with some honorable mentions).

1. The EX
The majority of us have that person that you went to school with that you “have history” with either when you were in school or once you graduated. And if you two are not on good terms at the time of the breakup (or more importantly not on good/speaking terms now), that encounter will be an awkward one, especially if you run into them AND their new boo/spouse (if they feel confident enough to bring them to homecoming). So many different emotions could enter your head at that exact moment when the encounter happens. However, the best road to take is to just be cordial, keep your head, then keep it moving. Remember, they are your EX “situation” for a reason, especially if you happen to be in a situation your damn self.

2. The one who got “Stephan’d”
You remember that one person back in undergrad who was too (shy/corny/fat/skinny/unattractive), and you may not have seen them in years, then all of a sudden, they show up to the friday night alumni party as if they just took this elixir and became a totally different person. Maybe they got in the gym and made something happen, maybe they finally grew into their big head, maybe they finally went to the dermatologist. But either way, something is DEFINITELY different. Now if said person walks around with confident humility about theirs, then its cool. HOWEVER, if their new found swag comes with a narcissism that’s intolerable, that’s not a good look. Either way, show them their props, and if they do happen to be cool now, rock with it and enjoy.

3. The Known Hoe……………… and their spouse
This one is tricky because of a reason I will expound upon later, but suffice it to say, this is the one girl who slept with the entire defensive secondary of the football team and half of Spring 200x of a fraternity, or the dude who slept with all of the girls on your floor your sophomore year, and about 5 of your line sisters the year after that. YEAH…………. THAT PERSON who you might have slept with your damn self but want to try and act righteous. It’s probably been years since you have seen them; but after some years, you run into them again if you haven’t run into them on Facebook or Instagram already trying to get another taste, and………… they introduce you to their spouse. Of course the first thing that pops into your head is “Who walked down the aisle with THIS HOE?!?”, but 99.99999% percent chance that the spouse did not go to undergrad with you, them, or anyone in their 2nd or 3rd degree network (LinkedIn users know about that), and has NO clue about his/her past exploits. However, this is a time that you keep your grit, have a brief elevator conversation, and (once again) keep it moving. After all, maybe he/she had a come to Jesus moment, went celibate, got his/her life together, and found the right person for them.

4. The One that Got Away (or you should have at least gotten at back in the day)
This person could concurrently be #2 on this list, but when you run into this person, the most likely first emotion that enters is regret. This could be someone that was feeling you back in the day, and you could have had them if you wanted to, BUT you decided to pass on them thinking that “you could do better”. OR, it’s that person that YOU wanted, but for some reason, you never made your interest known, and you let years pass by and nothing ever happened. Now, this person could be married now (or YOU are married), which means that all you can do is sit and wonder what could have been (hindsight is 20/20). Then again, both of you could actually be single enough and, who knows, this could be the opportunity to make up for lost time. Either way, there’s nothing wrong with thinking back on the old times, but either way it goes, stay in your lane.

5. The One(s) you won’t Let out of your Bubble of Perception
I can’t let this one pass because we are ALL guilty of this one. Given that I have written on this topic before, I won’t go into too much detail. This person (or set of people) could very well fall into #2 or #3, and a lot of other categories, but you have to do what you can, in theory, to “empty your cup” of those people. Think about if you have worked over the years to self-improve, and people still hold you to who you used to be, and how you would feel. Although you say you don’t care, you would care a little and subconsciously feel some type of way about it. So, simply put, to use an old phrase “don’t dish it out, if you can’t take it”. Take people for who they are TODAY and ……………………………………… ah hell, who am I kidding? You only have 72 hours in town, you ain’t got time to get to know the new version of people you don’t rock with in the first place. LOL

So in summary, make sure you keep your head during homecoming weekend (alcohol is NOT an excuse), embrace every situation you are faced with (because God put you in it for a reason), and just have a GOOD TIME!! See you on the yard!!!

Honorable Mentions:

  • Mr. or Ms. YOLO – the person who spends an entire paycheck on tables and bottles. After all, you only live once. This person could also be #2.
  • The guy/girl with the Hall Pass – since they left their boo/spouse at home, they are clearly looking to have some things stay at homecoming, except diseases, children, and/or a stalker.
  • The Perp – this is the person who thinks they can front like they went to the school, or they think they can perp a NPHC org and get away with it at homecoming without proper validation, given that people won’t care to verify them like that.
  • The interracial couple (for HBCU’s only) – Self-explanatory, and those who know do understand the exceptions that will not get you the side eye.
  • The “out of place” boo – the one who, no matter what, just can’t seem to fit in or have a good time with their SO, and you should have just left them at home.

If there are any that I missed, definitely feel free to leave a comment below. 

06
Aug
12

RichBrand Rant: The Black Church and Gay Marriage

I just read an article that was posted by a friend of mine on facebook related to a group called the Coalition of African American Pastors, a group of mostly southern based clergy, who disagree with President Obama’s stance on gay marriage and are telling the Black Church to withdraw their support from the President, meaning do not contribute to his campaign and stay home on election day, unless the President agrees, more or less, to renege on his stance (or worse case, meet with them and “explain himself”).

Wait……….what?!?!?!

Ok, let’s get something out of the way. RichBrand the Christian believes that marriage before God (key phrase: Before God) is defined as a union between a man and a woman. However, in the great United States of America, marriage is also a legally binding contract between two people that would like to enter into said union. There’s this thing that all married couples have in their personal “vault” somewhere, and that’s called a marriage certificate, which makes their marriage legal by law (key phrase: by law). Now, a minister within a church (regardless of faith) could preside over the ceremony and have delegated legal power to sign the certificate (most times upon completion of the ceremony and official exchange of vows and rings) and declare the marriage legal within the eyes of the state in which the ceremony was completed. Or…………………. you can go on down to your local city hall or your preferred AC/Vegas chapel and have the ceremony done by someone with the same legal power of that state.

There’s a difference between married in the eyes of the church versus being  married in the eyes of the law, technically. However, most Christians who get married arrange it to where the marriage concurrently becomes binding in the eyes of the law and the church, especially given that some ministers will not perform the ceremony without the certificate on stand by to sign upon completion of the ceremony. And I won’t go into detail about the benefits you receive by law when you’re married (tax breaks, health benefits, inherited power of attorney, etc).

With all that said, I believe that homosexuals should not get married within the Christian church. However, to deny them the same rights, privileges, and benefits of heterosexuals by local, state, and federal law because of who they choose to love is wrong. (In my Katt Williams voice) This right here, homey, is exactly what Gandhi was talking about when he said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

So back to where I was going with this. So the CAAP decides they want to turn their back on a President who has your overall best interests at heart with most of his policies because of this ONE issue??? That’s almost as asinine as some of my black friends who backed Bush in ’04 on the same ONE issue. So this is the train that CAAP wants to ride? How about there are some other “trains” you need to ride on that are more important to our black community. For example………..

1. Dealing with the breakdown and demise of HETEROSEXUAL relationships in the Black Community (several sub categories under that which I will not dilute this blog entry with).
2. The high level of crime in minority communities leading to more and more deaths every day and how local law enforcement is just chilling and letting it happen (Southside Chi, I feel for y’all).
3. Infrastructure in the minority communities is outdated and not up to modern standards, allowing for easy access to work, live, and play.
4. Lobbying state, local, and federal officials for more investment into education in our public schools, which at this rate could turn minorities and the poor in this country who can’t afford private school into a permanent underclass.
5. Questioning,a la Ron Paul, why we spend so much of our tax dollars on stuff we don’t need (bases all over the world in countries we haven’t been at war with for decades, and all the money spent in Iraq, Afghanistan) versus stuff we DO need (all the aforementioned points above, and then some).

But naw, you Uncle Ruckus acting clergy want to get together, and waste the tithes of YOUR congregations to go on Fox News, put up a wack and non-informative website, and deny the President a second term on this ONE issue that does not have financial, social, or spiritual impact on the lion’s share of your congregations, or the congregations of the Black Christian Church. Real talk, you really need to check that alarm clock.  In the words of Atlanta mayor, Kasim Reed, “Stop comparing (Obama) to the Almighty, and start comparing him to the ALTERNATIVE.” And if you decide to keep this up, your personal Old Testament battle is going to cost the minority community collectively the WAR.

I hope your respective congregations are smart enough and grounded enough in the Word of God to not get Karl Rove’d into staying home in November (or just as bad, vote for Romney) because of your short minded views. With the CAAP out there, who needs voter suppression laws when we are suppressing our own vote?! At the end of the day, if our communities still drag behind in infrastructure, education, economic quality, healthy bodies and relationships (things that Christ himself would probably care more about), then you can look back on this moment, look yourself in the mirror, and know you could have done more to remedy that, but decided to fight a battle that was less relevant to your flock’s spiritual balance.

As a final remark, to the black clergy that is not down with CAAP, when are you going to follow the lead of Rev. Otis Moss, III, and call these guys out??? You have an obligation too, so don’t skate on that either.

Ok, I’m done………..




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