Step 1

The first step to eliminating privilege is treating everyone fairly. If white Christians are not responsible for Tim McVeigh, Jim Jones, David Koresh etc, why should muslims or black people be held accountable for the actions of strangers they do not know? Heck in America the parents of white serial killers are rarely held accountable for their actions. So next time you try to selectively blame certain groups, remember that makes you part of the problem. When you talk about black on black crime but not white on white crime, you are part of the negative forces destroying our world. When you “otherize” groups and “normalize” yourself, you are part of the problem. When you make excuses for extrajudicial murder that you would not make if the victim looked like you, you are not just part of the problem, you are the problem!


Lady justice does not blink

Our nation has a long history of criminalizing poor and minority children. The early colonists brought with them notions of debtor prisons and children could be imprisoned because their parents were broke. The atrocities committed against slave children, native children, and children of indentured servants are shameful stains on our history. Post slavery,  children’s rights remained secondary to capitalist aspirations as poor children. So why are we surprised that lady justice sees nothing wrong when grown policemen touch female children inappropriately after-all  lady justice did not blink when the blood of children was spilled multiple times.

Be the change you desire and be the peace you seek….

As a child growing up in Nigeria, I had the great fortune and privilege of being constantly told that my only reason to exist was to make my world a little bit better. One of the most interesting quotes I read was from a little book called ‘The way’ by Josemaría Escrivá, “To criticize, to destroy, is not difficult; the clumsiest laborer knows how to drive his pick into the noble and finely-hewn stone of a cathedral. To construct – that is what requires the skills of a master.” The quest to create change seems to be a dominant theme of my life.  I know that other kids growing around me had similar experiences since so many of us have dedicated our  lives to becoming  the change we crave in our world. Perhaps our parents were closeted or outright revolutionaries disillusioned by a nation that many returned to after years in the diaspora only to find decay that continues to marinate five decades later into festering, putrid hopelessness. Complacency was not an option, and I learned to shout my dissent, march my dissent, and sing and cry and write, all in an effort to effect change. I also learned that idealism without practical, decisive goals was only fit for the trash can. I also learned that gluttony and greed make nightmares more colorful. Sometimes it seems that all my prayers, words, and actions are futile as change is so so slow. I quietly remind myself that it takes time, perhaps a lifetime to evolve into a master, capable of constructing effective change but that will not stop me from creating my own little oasis of change and peace. Until then, I savor spectacular sunsets as they foreshadow inevitable change.


“Skin I’m In” 26 years later –

In 1988 as a second year college student in North America, I took a grey hound trip across the continent. Ok I first took a ferry from Vancouver British Columbia to Seattle Washington. Then I took the greyhound from Seattle to Schenectady New York. This was no express bus ride, it was a trip with multiple stops in several cities, where I learned more about myself and the country which I would eventually adopt as my own. On that trip I was proposition by many predators. I maintained my sanity by listening to music on my walkman, enjoying and discovering radio channels across the country. More than 25 years later, I still miss the David Sanborn show. Also the late night sounds of the “Quiet storm.” Driving through Minnesota meant coming close to the essence of the purple one.  After 3 days and 11 or 12 states depending on who’s counting, I had a full journal, from lack of sleep and knew all the words to several Cameo, Prince and Bob Marley songs.

One song that served as the part of my soundtrack for that trip as well as subsequent cross country trips was Cameo’s “Skin I’m In.” This song is not one of their most popular but is an anthem of self respect, consciousness and self determination. The lyrics are so powerful and I think the song was just too powerful, too thought provoking to be popular. As an immigrant discovering race for first time,  Cameo’s words cut deep:

“Who’s this face in the mirror that I see
Sometimes confused by the double standards of society
And maybe I’m wrong about the way I feel
But then will somebody tell me what is really real 

Now I respect myself
I respect you too, but in the end it’s got to be
Do unto me as I do to you”

Almost 30 years later with all the police brutality, neo-racism, prejudice, anger of 2014 the words of another verse seem to challenge our collective conscience if we even have one left:

Peaceful world just out to see,
basic respect humanity
I’m just trying to be realistic without becoming pessimistic
If we have hope we can survive
A damn good reason to stay alive
Is it immoral or a sin
It seems to be according to the skin I’m in
Skin I’m in”

So almost 30 years later, I mourn our continued refusal to see beyond the superficial. I also wonder why we as humans continue to stoke irrational fears and create monsters where there are none, while allowing the real bogey men to walk free.

More Dangerous than the Klan

Things were much simpler
when racists wore their badges,
and stood out in the open,
burning crosses in yards
and strange fruit on trees.

Things were much simpler
when people with a drop of color
knew whom to avoid, to survive
and the unfair rules
were clearly articulated.

Things were much simpler,
though more dangerous
as homes, churches, streets,
and towns were bombed
at the word of a single person.

Things were much simpler
when the color line was a barrier
etched in black and white
all the while drenched
in the blood of unholy sacrifices.

Things were much simpler
then as the sheriff evolved
from slave catcher to grand wizard,
all the while watching strange fruit burn,
sending the stench of human pain to silent heavens.

Today, they hide
in plain sight,
sometimes spewing anonymous bile,
other times singing
of reverse racism.

Things were much simpler
when mothers knew
they could mourn their murdered babies
because the killers did not give a damn
what their names were.

Today while bodies are still warm,
their names are defamed
as bylines to a narrative
that serves to prepare
for the next extrajudicial killing.

Today, so-called supporters
dismiss your pain / life / experience / death
while dictating how you
should feel / talk / act / react / mourn / live
yet sheltered by their unacknowledged privilege…

Today, so-called supporters
discredit your accomplishments
/ intelligence / knowledge / hard work
as products of affirmative action
or reverse racism.

Things were so simple
back when friends were friends
who listened / saw / heard /felt
and lived / died with you
regardless of skin color.

Things were so simple
when everyone knew
who the enemy was
and which boogeyman
lurked in which shadow.

Now I know why some folks
keep longing for the good old days.

Presumed dangerous – playing while black or brown

I drove by a park today. A typical park in Houston and little boys and girls were playing all sorts of games as kids do. I looked on enviously at their carefree youthful exuberance. Memories of childhood games rushed into my mind, toy guns, action figures, bikes and utter glee. The ability to play oblivious to time constraints.
The light changed and I continued on my way. One little boy sitting alone on the sidelines caught my attention and all I could think about was the video, of the little boy. The 12 year old playing with a toy gun like boys do, who was shot without warning. I was angry that the media portrayed him as guilty. I was angry that so many people said he should have known better. I was frustrated that the cops lied about the encounter, reframing their extrajudicial killing of a child as justified. I was sad that another mother had to bury her baby. Her baby who died not knowing why? A 12 year old kid who did not know that playing while black / brown is a capital offense in the USA.  RIP Tamir Rice.

@Pharrell, is being #malignedbymedia who never read the #Ebony article.

We live in an era where information travels by tweets and texts so fast your 15 minutes of fame is gone in 15 nanoseconds. Ok that’s an exaggeration. But there is no excuse for so called reputable media to misquote @Pharrell (Pharrell Williams) when the Ebony article is available with a simple google search. While I expect this behavior from certain online tabloids, the fact that mainstream media have embraced the same nonsense is scary. I am not sure what they are gaining from twisting his words and I do not want to speculate because some folks will then misquote me and accuse me of something else. Instead, I am attaching a link to the original story for those who have a brain and choose to read for themselves and refuse to embrace the noise and gabbage and sound bite. Remember misinformation is more dangerous than ignorance #PeaceandStayHappy