Inspiration — America By The Numbers: Pass or Fail in Cambodia Town

http://video.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365363645

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#BlackHero Richard Pryor

#BlackHero Richard Pryor

Genius! Honest, uncompromising, and courage. The ability to make audiences of thousands across racial, gender and social economic lines relate to him at the drop of a dime. The power to make this same audience laugh at the sometimes harsh realities and the ability to make them think. Most importantly the ability to look in the mirror and be honest not only with his self about his self, but with the entire world. Also the ability to change his ways and speak loudly and truthfully about his own pitfalls, growth and enlightenment. Legendary…

#BBUM

titathomas:

The revolution will not be televised. When it comes, it will run thru the streets like blood, killing anything without substance. | Please be sure to check out the #BBUM hashtag on Twitter! #JoinTheMovement #BBUM #OurVoicesWILLBeHeard #BlackSolidarity #UMich

THIS IS WHAT WE NEED! I SUPPORT THIS 100% USING TECHNOLOGY TO FIGHT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE, TO TELL THE STORIES OF THE OFTEN UNHEARD AND VOICELESS AND TO SHARE OUR IDENTITY. THE BLACK EXPERIENCE AND THE EXPERIENCES OF ALL HUMAN BEINGS ACROSS ETHNICITY IS TO DIVERSE TO BE LIMITED TO A 2 HOUR HOLLYWOOD FILM OR 30 MINUTE TELEVISION SHOW. SPECIFICALLY THE BLACK EXPERIENCE IS MORE THAN SLAVERY, CIVIL RIGHTS, DRUGS, AND OBAMA. I HOPE #BBUM SPARKS FORWARD THINKING AND PROGRESSIVE THOUGHTS AT ALL PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES AND WE CAN USE THESE CONVERSATIONS TO SPARK DIALOGUE WITH MY GENERATION OF THINKERS WHO KNOW WE TO ARE GREAT!

-AmbassadorNique

Thoughts After Reading “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?” By Touré (Written by AmbassadorNique)

This book was recommended to me a couple of weeks ago, and I am glad I picked it up. I’d seen Touré on television on numerous occasions but had no idea of his written work. In the book he was able to reflect on his own experiences and those of other influential blacks. I thought the book stayed very relevant to the times, while discussing the harsh realities of growing up black in the 60s and 70s while not slighting the struggles of today’s black youth and young men and women. Yes there are many resources and opportunities available today that our elders could have never dreamt of, however; obstacles and barriers still exist. When speaking of today’s institutional racism he stated “the death of your self-esteem by 1000 cuts can still lead to the murder of your soul.” This to say the most racist thing to ever happen to you won’t be blatant, and you probably will have no idea of its existence (i.e. you don’t get the promotion because of your race etc.).

The book was filled with interviews from successful black people that spoke candidly about identity. While speaking about the inequities of our society Chris Rock added, “The black man’s gotta fly to get to somewhere the white man can walk too.” While Paul Mooney noted that “We complain about racism but we don’t wish to change costumes.” This quote was interesting to me for a few different reasons. One, because I agree, secondly; because while recently in Los Angeles visiting the Fung Brothers we had a long conversation about race when David came to the same conclusion. Black-American’s and Asian-American’s have many things to complain about, but neither side would want to trade places with any other race on this planet. I suppose the pride that comes with the culture is deeper than the struggle. While I feel we all wish to end most of the struggles, we never lose sight of the pride that comes with history and culture.

It is my thought that we must look at the story of what it means to be black from a different angle. Reverend Al Sharpton stated, “We are not victims we’re victors.” From the depths of slavery and oppression, which were key elements marked in American history, black folks were brought together and created community. It takes community and unity to survive through trials and tribulations. Black movements for equality ere deemed radical for being more blunt and direct regarding their feelings about the system and what they wanted, while other movements focused on peace and non-violence. This is not to say one way was better than another, but personally I believe both were necessary. In a way it shows how different we are as people. Everyone views the world through different lenses.

These two pages were probably my favorite in the book. Ironically in the same conversation with the Fung Brothers, David asked me if I thought the notion of black men always feeling the need to “keep it real” or be “authentic” was holding us back from achieving economic success. While, my first thought was YES among other things, when answering questions that require me to speak to my identity based on race I have to think about the answer and what other things may be implied in the question. Eventually I agreed, however I pointed out that there is probably a laundry list of items that can be added to this list. Furthermore, that being Chinese-American male’s whom often speak about their racial identity they had to understand why black men may fear being emasculated. Especially living in a country where Asian males in general have been emasculated by the American media. I believe somewhere in the middle is where we should be, between wanting to keep our identity, but also being able to turn DOWN enough to gain success without sacrificing whom we are. While we should not stop wearing hooded sweatshirts, we should also be aware of the harsh consequences. There are consequences to losing your identity and comfort, however, there are also consequences for not caring and/or not knowing.  Admittedly those are hard realities and hard sentences to write because do we embrace the hooded sweatshirt and tell people to embrace identity, or do we tell them to dress differently to make others around them comfortable and success will come. What if success doesn’t come? What if instead of being uncomfortable about your hooded sweatshirt your skin color makes them uncomfortable? THIS cannot easily be changed. Nevertheless I do not have the answer, but one must find their own.

Furthermore the 2 pages really touch on the fact that race is socially constructed, our true identities should not be. We can be whoever we want to be, and should never let something like race stop us. Society tells us we can be black or we can be successful, but we can’t be both. Because although we can act like we don’t know what the term “acting black” is, we all really do. When did acting black become being ignorant? That’s a whole other can of worms. The fact that in order to be authentically black one has to be in poverty, or in close proximity to the ghetto is ridiculous. Before I place blame or point a finger at anyone I will look in the mirror and fix myself. For me that’s where it starts, and educating the people around us about how unrealistic these standards can be.

In a society that’s still in the beginning stages of this digital age keeping it real and being authentic won’t get anyone too far for too long. We now have easier access to take advantage of free resources and opportunities. While we encourage each other to be ourselves remember the internet is a footprint that cannot be erased permanently.

In closing President Barack Obama spoke to young black men in his recent commencement speech at Morehouse College. “Don’t take a vow of poverty, but it’s poverty of ambition to think only of the goods you can buy versus the good you can do.” As black men continue to do great things and open doors everyday as they have always done, there will be those who complain about the resources and opportunities we do not have, and there will be those who take advantage of the ones that we do to create the unimaginable. At the end of my conversation with the Fung Bro’s we all anticipate what President Barack Obama will do after office. We are more than confident that he will continue uplift the black community, which will in turn inspire the world. We must all continue to do our part, stay educated, stay focused and keep looking up!

Top 10 most dangerous cities in America 2013

Probably the dumbest stuff I’ve seen on the net in awhile. A friend sent the link to me and this was my response. 

A few things. 

1) As I’ve told you many times before… numbers ALWAYS lie. 

2) Who cares what the population’s race is? (why are they all African American populated cities and why is that the FIRST thing reported)

3) When we talk about crime the median income stat should be the first stat up their, to your average uninformed reader well these places have high crime rates because there are a lot of black people there, right? 

4) “count your blessings and lock your doors” WHAT?! How much do YOU trust the lock on your door from keeping danger away from you? Lets all lock our doors and sleep with bibles under our pillows so the boogy man wont get us. 

5) What constitute as a dangerous crime?

6) So why is the percentage of race important again? Whats more dangerious, gun violence and robbery (not that this is what they mean…) Or men in suits and ties buying elections, trading cash for our freedom, public safety, education, and paychecks.

7) So after they did the study and published this list… now what? Does the article give plans to rebuild? Does it even give reasons why these cities are dangerous  Nope.. it just says pray and lock your doors if you live around these places as if the people that live IN these places have some how adapted and enjoy this crime. HAAAAAAAA!!!! 

8) If we are talking about DANGEROUS by way of murders and robbery how is Chicago NOT number 1 (Oh… bc there are not enough black people per capita…. Smh)

Its all bs, if you want to let the media scare you into thinking you are not safe anywhere by all means go right ahead, but to me its racism, fear mongering and its unproductive and unprogressive. Furthermore if you look into most of these cities I’m sure history will show you at one time or another either there was some type of corruption or a booming factories, business, and establishments that no longer exist. 

Let us all lock our doors pray and sleep with bibles under our pillows, and everything will be okay!

-Ambassador

Top 10 most dangerous cities in America 2013

Just My Thoughts: Discussing Oppression in African American Identity (Written By AmbassadorNique)

I had a great conversation about identity with a Nigerian graduate student today. The conversation started because she had mentioned that the church she attends here in Seattle had been talking identity, and the significance and the importance of community. I told her that recently I had been thinking about my role in my community. How I am currently struggling to find a community to attach myself to as a young African American recent college graduate now living in Seattle. There is always the excuse of time, but nevertheless it’s personally something I am working on.

I told her that I had been reading Ronald Takaki’s: A Different Mirror lately and learning about the history of migration to America. Her next question to me was one that caught me off guard. Her question was, why are you reading this? And why do you think African Americans feel the need to always hold on and personalize past oppressions? She said she meant no disrespect by the question, but she had gotten in disagreements with friends when she asked them what good could come from it and why they could not just move forward. She felt like it was hurting African Americans more than it was helping them. Ironically I had discussed a similar conversation recently. I’ve been told that holding on to such oppression is a “slave mentality” and that thinking this way just proves furthermore that shackles have been placed on the brains of African Americans without us knowing it.  

I am far from an expert in this subject and I can only speak from my opinions, my thoughts, my experiences, and my assumptions. I told her personally I was reading the book to learn more about the country I live in. Everything that I have read thus far have been events that I felt like I should have learned back in middle school. Yet truth is we were only taught surface level facts and white lies.

In my opinion African Americans as a race have been stripped of their connection and importance to this country and to the world through slavery. Slavery may have happened a little over a century ago but I explained to her for African American’s many of our families cannot trace our roots back further than the South.

Psychologically I feel as though this affects us in many different ways. There is a feeling from recent generations that they would rather be considered “black” and not “African” American because they do not consider themselves to actually be from Africa. While I am not one of the people who agrees with this sentiment, I am beginning to understand it. Stories of slavery were rarely passed down to African American families, furthermore the forced migration processes that took place from most of our ancestors was not discussed either. While we all know as a culture this was our contribution to America, most of us do not have specific details or know where our people migrated from before ending up in the south. Therefore, there is no direct connection. For many cultures who migrated to America, while there is still a loyalty to America as home; there is a since of cultural pride when it comes to their country of origin. African American’s are expected to be prideful to a continent they have no family connection too.

I hope I haven’t lost you, Digging even deeper into the subject we discussed travel and location. Things that many of us take for granted like thinking globally. What effect does having a family connection to an area outside of the United States have on a persons mindset. The urge to learn about these area’s, the urge to travel to these areas? Without this connection the bridge has been broken. Not every person has this urge, but I feel like as we get older and start to learn more about identity and discover, the information is a lot harder to come by for African Americans.

On a simpler note, how about the infatuation with “blocks” or hoods or geographical locations. While there is so much that plays into this, could this be a cry of wanting to feel a deeper belonging. Wanting to feel as though they are a part of something? Nevertheless this is their community.  While there are China Towns, and Little Italy’s, and Little Japan’s or some sort of the same all around the United States that cultures take pride in, African American communities never get the credit deserved. They have been too often been reduced impoverished neighborhoods through illegal housing practices, corrupt business practices, and a drug infested communities. That’s a whole other conversation.

My conversation with this young lady was abruptly ended by an interruption. My last opinion was this, even as we strive everyday to be successful, for many African Americans it becomes a stressful journey when you look around and realize that the higher you climb up the latter in this country the less African Americans you see. That internalized oppression can be scary when you are treated like the exception to your race.

In writing this I have more questions than ever. Maybe looking to deeply into oppression is a bad thing. It can easily consume who you are as a person. Personally, I guess I am still in search of truth, and history. I feel a since of social responsibility to know things, and to be educated and speak from factual opinions. I don’t know everything there is to know about anything, but as long as there is information, and books readily available I feel that we have the opportunity to learn and educate ourselves. 

Eddie Huang – Fresh Off the Boat (Written By AmbassadorNique)

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Last night the one and only Eddie Huang spoke at Town Hall Seattle. He is currently doing book lectures for his memoir Fresh Off the Boat. Last night he was joined by Seattle’s own Blue Scholars, Sabzi and Geologic. The talk was a good one. I write this in the least critical way. He spoke on topics from his life, culture, identity, technology, Hip hop, and food to critics. Eddie talked about how we as Americans can be so engulfed in our judgments and miss the moments that we are supposed to enjoy while loading  pictures of food on Instagram. (Interestingly enough I’ve been having the same feelings and thoughts specifically after seeing the film Jango.) Everybody has an opinion of why they either like or don’t like something but at the end of the day its just art that is to be digested. Hate something or love it, save the criticism for the critics who get paid to criticize.

The one hour Q & A format hosted by Gio (and later the audience) delve into his upbringing in Orlando. He talked about how the city was married to “The Mouse.” This concept never really crossed my mind. Eddie spoke about how Disney World basically left Orlando cultureless. He said there was a danger in having a city being ran by a corporation and used the example like Seattle being married to Microsoft (or Amazon for that matter), or how Portland is to Nike. Eddie noted this concept is dangerous when a corporation gets so big that they become larger than the government itself.  

*Disclaimer* Start Tangent…

Interesting enough on the way to the show from Beacon Hill my girlfriend and I were talking about her culture and the diverse background of her parents being Chinese coming from Cambodia moving to Thailand and eventually to America where her father would be assigned a Vietnamese last name and they would eventually attend a Vietnamese Christian church. We spoke about her trying to make sense of it all while creating and forging her own Chinese-American identity that she hopes to share with her younger sisters. Very heavy and a lot to think about, but nothing easy is ever memorable ;).

My girlfriend and I also spoke about the gentrification that is taking place right before our eyes as we passed through Yesler here in Seattle. It’s shocking that large parts of Rainier and MLK have been gentrified and the same thing is happening currently to Yesler before our eyes. Is the International District next? While there is a lot of history, the same can be said about the previous places here in our city. I hope we can all wake up and get active about keeping Seattle’s rich culture before Paul Allen owns the entire city and leaves it cultureless.

End Tangent

The audience Q&A was better than I had expected. Aside from the disappointed female that wasn’t to happy about him having a girlfriend, most of the questions were good. He managed to give good answers to the ones that were not. Eddie said the goal of an artist is to bring the audience into your world and let them see what you’ve created, they will judge it, break it down and indulge, but the hope is that you can let them out so that they can create a world of their own. He compared old school hip hop to the WWF in that it always had its characters that were fun with big personalities and ego’s. There were rappers that had the illest fantacy’s and created their own worlds like Harry Potter books. He compared his cooking style to the likes of a Kendrick Lamar who managed to make the world fall in love with him for showing a different side of a familiar story. A quote that stick with me is, “Always mix some sugar with the medicine to go down because Robitussin is some nasty shit.” His spin on Mary Poppins.

When speaking about food Eddie said that he would tell the youth to put their health first and make them read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (about the Chicago meat packing industry). Understand the impact of a slaughterhouse, and teach nutrition. Most importantly be creative.

Also Eddie was big on JUICING. He reiterated that was what he was into was juicing! He stressed the importance about not being swayed by critics and yelp reviews and to make your own decision about what you like and to learn the real history behind these foods and just to enjoy. So much of his talk could be related to so much that we do in life.  

In closing one thing Eddie said towards the end is that he was never afraid of being broke. The thought is an interesting one to think about, because based on your background broke and rock bottom can mean really different things. However, in all definitions that lack of fear and a lot of dedication to yourself and your art is what makes legends. This superior belief in yourself that nothing can stop you is what will fuel your passions. While there may be different dynamics and layers to this, life is nothing without sacrifice, hard work, belief in the impossible, and dedication.

Thanks for inspiration Eddie Huang.

-Ambassador  

6 Myths About Poverty


I thought this was very interesting. At a time when talking heads care more about Facebook IPO’s, who will smith slapped, and what people are doing in the privacy of their own bedrooms. There are a lot of myths about poverty that circulate, especially during an election year when the word poverty is avoided at all cost. As the world continues to occupy, in the mist of post Nato conference demonstrations and as we enter the 100th day of a student protest in Montreal, Canada, here is a repost of 6 myths on poverty… If you don’t know.. now you know.. I guess the revolution really WON’T be televised… Especially not if Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner have anything to say about it. The post was taken from change.org’s Christopher Hill.

Enjoy,
Ambassador

The following passage was taken from an article written by Chris Hill of change.org

#1: The United States has one of the lowest poverty rates in the industrialized world.

Nope, sorry. At about 17 percent, the U.S. actually has the third-highest poverty rate of all the OECD countries, coming in only slightly ahead of Turkey and Mexico. Denmark boasts the lowest poverty rate, an inspiring five percent.

#2: Income inequality isn’t a big problem in America.
Incorrect. Unfortunately, the U.S. still has above-average income inequality, joining the likes of Poland, Portugal, and, once again, Mexico and Turkey. Is this any surprise? After all, in 2006, CEOs of large U.S. companies made more money in a day than average American workers made throughout the year.

#3: Due to our exquisite health system, Americans live longer than residents of other countries.
Wrong, once again. The average life span of an American is below the OECD average, right above the Czech Republic. Of course, rich Americans can still expect to live to ripe old ages; an average wealthy white woman, for example, will enjoy 81.1 years of life. The average life expectancy for her poor, black, male counterpart, on the other hand, is only 66.9 years.

#4: Okay, well, due to our exquisite health system, the U.S. has a lower infant mortality rate than other countries.
No. In fact, out of all the OECD countries, we rank third to last in terms of infant mortality. But at least we get to hang out with our good friends, Mexico and Turkey, who once again join us at the losers’ table.

#5: At least Americans don’t have to spend as much money on health care as people from other countries … right?
The truth is quite the opposite. Americans spend substantially more on their health than people from any other OECD country. Over 15 percent of the national GDP is spent on health care; Switzerland, the closest contender for most money spent on health care, only comes in at 11 percent.

#6: The U.S. spends more money on helping the poor than any other industrialized nation.
This is perhaps the biggest myth of all. At about 16 percent, the United States ranks fourth to last in public social expenditures as a percentage of GDP, beating only Turkey, Mexico and Korea. On the other end of the spectrum, Sweden spends about 29 percent of its GDP on public social expenditures.