BIPOC Block Party
BIPOC Block Party
With peace and love
It’s in us to be subservient to the dominant race – ancestral memory tells us so – its in us to appease to their liking – ancestral memory tells us so – its in us to seek their validation and approval – ancestral memory tells us so – but what I am here to tell you is this
You don’t have to – and ancestral memory tells us so
Word to Benkos Bioho
Be unapologetically proud of your beautiful black skin
Stand in your blackness
Like the roots of the trees that bear strange fruit Billie Holiday sung about
You are as rare as obsidian
Natural volcanic glass found in central Oregon
Produced from felsic lava
500 times sharper than a blade
Shining in its beautiful Black Exterior
“He’s not black, he’s not white, he’s OJ Simpson” -HBO Documentary
For decades football has brought all walks of life together on Saturdays and Sundays. It doesn’t matter what color you are on game day. Even if we don’t notice it we put all of our predispositions aside when it comes to our school or our team. This is the American way. History shows that there have always been athletes that come along who have the capability to transcend race. In my state, South Carolina, I was one of them and everywhere I went white people loved me. It was addicting.
If the state of South Carolina was a swimming pool I was drowning in dopamine. It was beautiful. Literally all I had to do was run the football and when I could no longer run the football I made a lot of people happy by just walking into the grocery store. My presence sparked joy into people’s hearts. What more could anyone ask of life right? Wrong.
After the George Floyd murder that was recorded for the world to see and Black Lives Matter (AND STILL DO AINT SHIT CHANGED) became a movement, white people that cheered for me on the field started renouncing the chant that echoed around the world for justice. I was angry at white people. Everywhere I went I was fuming. I wrote this a few days after
A comfortable illusion.
To the world of blacks.
I was “lucky”, I had a name.
And could entertain.
Through a man made game.
There’s conditions on this contract.
Fine print that’s not attached.
Especially if you have intellect.
And they felt the need to
Remind me that,
You speak your mind.
And your thoughts don’t align.
With the “superior” kind.
Quiet Boy! You’re out of line!
Stay silent you fool!
You think you’re cool?
Don’t forget who created the rules!
Since they “bequeathed” this honor,
They can revoke it as well.
A transactional hell.
Standing up, but you fell.
George Floyd is me.
And I am him.
A comfortable illusion made you forget?
This prose came out of the sheer anger and disrespect I felt that was being directed towards the family of George Floyd. To not stand in solidarity for equal rights is betrayal. Period. It was really when I started to understand that drake line “you won’t feel me til everybody says they love you and it’s not love”. It was really when I started to understand that this “love” was, has been, and always will be, conditional.
I’m still a nigga. No matter what I do. I’m. Still. A. Nigga.
What was happening in America started to conflict with the deep rooted beliefs they inherited. And when that happens they retreat back to their comfortable seat of superiority and delusion. How could I have been blind for so long?
When you’re in their circle, going to their parties, invited over to their house, hanging out with their children, embracing their constructed version of Christianity, attending big wig fundraisers; you start to dress like them, talk like them, walk like them. Unconsciously you start to wipe any trace of your heritage. They validate and confirm your identity as one of them. The laws of human nature take over, and just like a spell, you’re hypnotized conforming to their ways. In a sense, you become white. Until you’re not. This was my life from 2007 – 2020.
This is why I see the Herschel fiasco as the republican representative for Georgia as a rescue mission. In his career at Georgia he amassed over 5,000 yards, a Heisman trophy and won a National Championship. In the south if you do anything of that magnitude it qualifies you for God like status. I admire Herschel and think he is one of the greatest athletes to ever grace the field. However, he is on another planet and the people in his political camp don’t give a shit. They see him as a pawn. Personally, it’s advantageous for them to be attached to such a legend. At the end of the day he is just a stepping stone in their political career. A highlight on their resume which is why they allow him to continue with his nonsensical remarks about any and everything.
Herschel is stuck in a false sense of reality hermetically sealed in whiteness so tightly that he’s forgotten what it’s like to be black. I, too, once had Herschel Walker syndrome. When he speaks it is filtered from a diabolical reverse bias that is psychologically impossible to become aware of until you step out of the environment where you are coveted and celebrated. White people have been kissing his ass for forty years. This is all he has ever known. I’m over here like shit – we need to pull a rescue mission to save this motherfucker!! But the question becomes – has he been immersed in it for too long? Has he completely crossed over? I hope not – but as a fellow running back I just want to cut the bag and pull him out of the abyss of lunacy. Wishful thinking I guess…
I drive through small towns
Because I’m a wanderer
And whenever I’m in a small town
Particularly where there’s not a lot of black and brown –
And I see that football field
Of what ? I don’t know
A lot of things
A reminder that unity
Is a possibility
Regardless of what’s happening
Its a blanket of security
Although my body was broken a few times on those fields
I still gravitate towards those fields
I don’t know
Maybe I’m an addict
Maybe I love pain
Maybe I’m crazy
Why would somebody still love it
How could someone still love it
Maybe I’m stuck in mentally abusive situation
And my partner manipulates every time I try to leave
It’s a part of me
Etched liked a tattoo
Engraved like a tombstone
The remedy for my mood
The fuel for my joy
Because without that grass
-I wouldn’t know how to fight in life
Without that grass – I wouldn’t know how to get my ass up when I’ve been knocked down
Without that grass
I wouldn’t know the definition of courage
And without that grass I wouldn’t have experiential knowledge
That I can do anything
You can’t change someone’s mind
You can’t change how someone feels about you
You can’t fight delusion
You won’t win
All you can do
At the end of the day
Is be an example
Of what compassion looks like
All you can do
Is be an example
Of what forgiveness looks like
All you can do
Is be an example
Of what love looks like
At the end of the day
We all need it
Even crazy mf’as
“Rule #1 – Go and get the money. Rule #2 – Don’t forget to get the money!”
Before visiting Colombia quite frankly the only perception I had was from two of the most notorious drug dealers of all time in Griselda Blanco and Pablo Escobar. That’s all I had ever seen and as a kid it simply fascinated me that there were places where drug dealers actually ran the country. However, when I got there I learned that it was a lot more than cocaine. And perfect empanadas.
We stayed in Cartagena, the 5th largest city in the country. It sits right on the Caribbean ocean and is one of the dreamiest places on earth. The old city which is a legit fortress, is where our hotel was. Construction started back in the early 1600s and lasted almost two centuries. It was built to fight off continuous pirate attacks. You feel the history the moment you enter the walled city. When riding in your taxi from the airport what you immediately notice when looking out the window is how beautiful the people are. A combination of Native descendants, Africans, and Southeast Asians created a magical genealogical soup that birthed a slew of gorgeous human beings. Every possible shade on the brown palette is represented and only crayola could rival its array. They coexist harmoniously in the buzzling hustle of Cartagena like the intertwined roots of the trees that line the streets. Men, women, and children are all unbelievably beautiful. It is to the point that you can’t even believe that there is a place like this that exists. Now look, I’m not shallow. I know that beauty encompasses a lot more than the physical attributes. But hypothetically if we lived in a world where beauty was currency Colombia would by far be the richest country on earth. But that’s just the people.
In preparation for writing this I found myself researching and learning colors I had never even heard of before. One afternoon when we were sitting in the pool there was a school of parakeets that flew above us. Yes, I said parakeets. Not the ones that we’ve put in cages and forced to be our slave. Fuck that. I’m talking about a wild parakeet that makes pit stops at mango trees and pecks at the mango until it falls on the ground and some amber red squirrel comes and picks it up. They were this green color that I had never seen before in real life. I googled “green palette colors” and I learned that the color of that particular green is called parakeet! Crazy shit!
On every corner in the city there were people with coconuts striking a hole in the top for people to enjoy for 5000 Colombian pesos. Which is equivalent to a little more than 1 US dollar. The biggest and most scrumptious avocados, mangoes, watermelons. It is fruit heaven. I kept thinking to myself the whole time I can’t believe we pay anywhere from $3 to $5 a pound for this shit back in the states and here it’s just too many of them!
as I paint this picture of paradise, simultaneously, there is another reality being played out.
Yes the city is gorgeous, the people are beautiful, the scenery is spectacular, but the whole time you are giving in or holding your ground. All of these wonderful things do not remove the fact that Colombia is still a 3rd world country where people do what they have to do to survive because of a multitude of reasons. The people that call this place home have to fend for themselves and it is a dog eat dog world. If you are a tourist, understand: you’re going to get hustled! From sun up to sun down all day. It’s simply a part of the experience. Interacting with beggars, being coerced, it’s all a part of it and the kids are the most clever. Tugging at your heartstrings as they gesture signs of starvation in your face. What do you do? How do you respond?
Street food vendors are selling their best Colombian snack lobbying for your attention. Hat man, bracelet man, excursion man, massage lady, souvenir person. All. Day. Long.
However, Colombia was not as scary as it was portrayed in the media the past decade of my life. These were good people who are in impoverished situations doing the best they can. They are intentional about eating that night and I ask myself what would I do if I was in a similar situation? What would be my hustle?
We’re all just a product of our circumstances. I can’t do anything but respect it. Although the shit is annoying and exhausting, I can’t fault them at all. When you understand the conditions of a place it’s easier to accept it. Money is the universal motivation. Money is the universal desire. Those with it are considered successful, and envied. And those without it are striving to get in that seat. This way of thinking was adopted into the minds of the natives when the imperialists came. And that mindset stayed. Just like in America.
As a matter of fact when I look at it, America is not much different than Colombia. We value money more than our citizens but we would rather be deceptive about it. We’d rather exploit it by hacking into people’s psychology conveying a story to their emotions. At least in Colombia it’s direct and to the point and I appreciate that. Shit I guess everybody no matter where you go is really on the same thing. The more extreme the circumstances the more creative we become.
Four years ago, in the city that changed my life, my wife and I stumbled upon a Buddhist center. We met a woman named Toba. She had such a calm presence that when we entered into her aura we instantly became tranquil. Although our encounter was brief, when I reflect back it was the single most impactful moment along my spiritual journey. After that experience I wanted to know, I had to know – how could a human being have such energy? And why was it happening in front of a Buddhist center?
Unknowingly, the societal norms I’d inherited were being tested for validity. Buddhism was not forbidden but it damn sure wasn’t something I knew of, or saw of, which is why I was so perplexed. I thought an experience like this was supposed to happen in a church, or at bible study, or during a baptism. But no. It happened on the side of a street looking at a bulletin board where I saw titles like “skillful compassion” and “lovingkindness” . This type of vocabulary spoke to my heart, it spoke to my soul, but the person in me said this was wrong. This wrestling in my mind went back and forth for several months. To have even the tiniest of inkling into this philosophy/religion I thought would send me to hell. But the values, beliefs, and ideals I had adopted only lead to suffering, unhappiness, and dissatisfaction masked by attainment, achievement, and financial stability. I knew when I moved back to the west coast it was time to do something new. It was time to open my mind and see what happens. A bit apprehensive, but underneath the veil, my soul was ready.
I started to spend more time in nature. My wife started teaching and practicing yoga. A practice that improves concentration and focus which is much needed in a society that values instant gratification. I started learning about Qi Gong. An ancient medicine that incorporates mindful, rhythmical movement in a fast paced rat race world. Slowly, but surely, my nervous system was resetting. This allotted more space in the mind. I started to engage in wholesome activities. When I needed to cry, I cried. When I was feeling a disturbing emotion, I didn’t numb, I voiced it. Little by little I started to do the opposite of what I would normally do. What I started to notice was that the majority of my waking hours was spent in my head. I was either running from something, planning for something, or worried about something. Without slowing down, without meditation, I would’ve never been able to see this.
We have to think. Thinking is a necessary function to keep us alive. Thinking is how we have come up with some of the greatest inventions that make our life easier. Thinking is how we pay the bills. But always thinking means that you’re not present. Reality is now. Reality is here – in the present moment. These practices force you into the present moment. Over time this new habit becomes a comfortable place. Less time on the phone and in front of the TV because real life becomes a lot more interesting. You gain control over the mind that has been programmed to overthink and ruminate. The mind constantly tends to float away to the next activity or the next assignment or the next task or the next…whatever the hell it is. With these practices you’re able to coral the floating mind back in. You’re less likely to hurry and panic. You feel less stressed. You make better decisions because you’re able to gather yourself. You realize that these changes have nothing to do with Buddhism or Hinduism or Jainism, or Christianity. Meditation – the art of being still is not exclusive to any one religion. Every holy book that you pick up mentions meditation, being still, repeating verses, repeating mantras, praying. All in an effort to focus your attention and fix your mind. You can have both. You can do both. When you direct your mind and practice with consistency and devotion, you – will – change. This is why today I appreciate all religions. The attempt is to get you to that stillness. That place outside of your head. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when. Naturally you come in contact with the truth of reality and that is that we are transcendent spirits. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
I can be physically present and simultaneously in my head and not even notice. It’s hard to tame a mind that’s always run the show. We’re human. I’m human. I still take my mind away from reality through pleasure portals unmentioned. I’ve realized that those pleasure portals are unreliable though. Meditation is sustainable. It’s the only way. Extend yourself grace and compassion for even trying to meditate. It’s a challenge but the challenge bears ripe fruit; peace.
When I met Toba, I wanted to know so bad what she had. I wanted to know how she got that. What did she do? And then it hit me, she wasn’t doing anything. She was operating as we all intend to operate. We’re human beings, not human doings.
I know it’s your job to report news for the NFL. I appreciate you because you keep me informed on the sport I love and you’re really good at what you do. However, your lack of empathy for those who intimately know Dwayne Haskins is disturbing.
The news of death was never intended to spread so quickly. The birth of twitter drastically changed the speed of reporting information to the public. Yes he was a high profile individual and the world was going to find out sooner or later. But what about his mama? What about his teachers? What about his close friends? The face of the person they love is plastered around the globe making the grieving process more difficult than it already is. Maybe some of them already knew but what if they didn’t? It was the same with Demaryus Thomas earlier this year. That shit is bogus. I know it’s your job but should his loved ones have to deal with the element of surprise by the media? I know it’s your job, but are there any boundaries you won’t cross? When you have an audience of 9.3 million followers, whether you know it or not, you have a huge responsibility to think about everything and how it will affect everyone! The sickening part is that because of the nature of what you do, pumping out content is essential. Tomorrow there will be a new hot topic that you’ll tweet out. Life will go on and your mind will be fixed on feeding the frenzy.
This is directed at Schefter but ultimately it’s for anyone who reports the news of someone’s death. First and foremost enter your heart. You are not your job. You are not your title. You are not your followers. You are not your popularity. You are a human, with a soul. Period. When you see yourself from this view you’ll come in contact with our interconnectedness as people and from that perspective everyone demands love and respect including at the time of their transition. Let’s stop right now sensationalizing and glamorizing death. Death is not one of your hot topics; it demands humility.
I get it, you have to report on death. It’s. Your. Job. But before you send a tweet out – particularly when it comes to the transition of a soul – think with your heart, not your mind. Allow those who pass to truly rest in peace.
The University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball team just won their 2nd national title in six years. When the clock hit zero and confetti dropped from the sky, jubilation was written all over their faces. When they’re in action, you see the grit- the will- the desire, the I will not be denied mentality. We see their confidence. We see these selfless superstars, who could be starting for any team in the country, come together playing for each other every time they step on the court. We see their humbleness. We see all of these things but do we ever ask ourselves the question: how?
A commercial came on during halftime of one of the women’s games last week and I heard a familiar voice telling me that if I try these oofoos I will never own another pair of slides again. Shit! Why do I want to buy these shoes now? The Target center is in Minneapolis, Minnesota; 1,200 miles away from Columbia, South Carolina. But all I hear is gamecocks cheering during the game. How? How is she able to inject a whole city, state, and country with pride and joy?
“This journey was divinely ordered”
–Dawn Staley 2022 National Championship presentation acceptance speech
I’ve only met a few people in my lifetime that, when you enter their aura something shifts inside of you. You feel it in the atmosphere. Something is distinctly different about this human and you are healed when in their presence. I could try to describe it but no words can convey it. It is an experience.
Spirituality is the only true realm of reality. We conduct ourselves as a person with a mind and a body with wants and dreams and desires but the womb of existence is none of these things. Personally, my spiritual life was inherited and unexamined. This led to a misinterpretation of what it means. This led to a misunderstanding of what I really am. Thank God I found my way back home.
We’re all divine. The difference with Dawn is that she knows she is divine and that is why she is a cultural icon. When you’re in tune with the divine everything aligns. That doesn’t mean everything is perfect, there will be struggle. But at the end of the day you find refuge in the unchangeable and omnipresent. You realize that you don’t have to be anything but yourself. She is a walking certificate of authenticity because that’s what comes with knowing. An understanding that you are complete as you are. No enhancements or alterations of thy self are necessary. Dawn just doesn’t make you care about basketball. Dawn makes you care, period. Basketball is a medium that she uses to infuse her wisdom into the lives of the next generation and it spreads out of the gym into all walks of life. Dawn is way more than a coach. If we pay attention, there is something deeper she’s evoking. There is something she is unintentionally and intentionally displaying for the world to see…