There From Here

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Posts Tagged ‘black’

Getting There: Howard Jean Speaks Part II

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on May 4, 2010

Getting There is a series featuring interviews from Generation Y young people who are breaking stereotypes and not only working hard to achieve their own definition of success but working to improve the lives of others around them.

Mr. Howard Jean, Director of the Call Me MISTER (CMM) Program, works to improve the lives of those around him by teaching self-empowerment and self-respect. The Program is headquartered at Cheyney University, the nation’s oldest historically Black institution of higher education. It is also the only Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). His work has garnered the interest of and put him on speaking panels with powerful players in the media elite including Bill Cosby, Susan Taylor, and John Quinones. Listen to him speak here. Mr. Jean was gracious enough to take some time to respond to questions for There From Here regarding his youth and tapping into his element. Read his responses below.

Sometimes our true gifts are hidden to us and are only revealed after someone who believes in us points them out. Did you see your gift, or did someone help you to identify it?

Gifts are something that we all possess and develop over time. Some gifts we have right now and some aren’t unearthed until later in life by design. The gifts that I possess, in my opinion, are the ability to help people, think critically and strategically, and power of discernment. My gift isn’t teaching. Teaching is the way I chose to pronounce that gift. I could have chosen any other profession and used those same gifts. We typically have gifts but confused our career or interest with the gift. Our gifts are only used to perform tasks. For me, it has been educating, community development and empowerment.

I think I began to identify my gift when I was in middle school and served as the student body president. When I ran, I looked at the problems or issues we had as students and thought of creative solutions that I or we could use to address those problems.

Authority figures can have a positive and/or negative influence on our lives. Did anyone in a position of authority over you try to steer you away from your dream? If so, how did you recover? If not, how did you fight their negativity?

I always say the situations and people you deal with and go through only help define and add more character or depth to your dream or particular goal you are trying to accomplish.

Growing up as a student in the school system of South Carolina, in a climate of subtle but present racism was the first encounter of persons (system) attempting to steer me away from my dreams. There were multiple times when our growth, creativity or zest for life could have been stifled by those in positions of leadership that did not share the same descent we owned. Parents, if you are reading, make sure you are more than involved in your child’s education; and, don’t allow those in control to deflate the potential of your children. This goes from kindergarten through high school. Misdiagnosis and misguidance seem to be extremely prevalent amongst our kids. Parents have the last word but many are unaware.  My mother made sure we had equal opportunity and exposure to activities, courses and experiences in school.

Teaching in the same school district that I was educated in seemed to have a similar plight but with different rules of engagement and protocol.  A moment, which I’d rather not speak of, could have derailed my plan but if it were not for a sense of purpose and creative map making, my success could have been hindered.

One thing that I maintain as a mantra is move forward, whether it’s an inch, foot or mile. Recognizing that every move towards your goal is a move towards your goal, no matter how large the progress. I have not always made huge steps, great accomplishments or received acclaim by the standards of others. But, I would embrace every opportunity and each goal achieved as MAJOR and BE happy in that moment. Success, to me is a pyramid that takes small and large stones to make. Some stones need to be small accomplishments or basic progressions in order to set the foundation for the rest of stones or success to come.  Measuring yourself against others is the quickest way to failure. If you are able to measure today with yesterday, then you can see and appreciate your greatness. It’s impossible to see greatness in yourself if you are constantly looking at and comparing yourself to others’ greatness.

Can you talk about an important decision you made that impacted your life? Why did you make that decision? How did you feel then compared to how you feel now? Was it worth it?

The decision I made to become an educator and join the Call Me MISTER program. That was probably a decision that has impacted my life the most. It has been the platform for which I have been able to learn, grow, give and impact the lives of others. The decision to be an educator but more so a MISTER, is a lifestyle decision and not just a career move. Living a morally sound (not perfect) life is something hard to commit to for most people who were 17 years old. Knowing that your life will be an example for younger people to follow is something that can be overwhelming. But, because of what I was being prepared for over the course of my life leading up to that point, it was easier to accept. Being reared in principles, morals, responsibility and character are the characteristics that create well adjusted adults and by default great teachers who are also role models. There was no anxiety in making the decision because it was already in me.

Men from the Call me MISTER Program Photo Credit: Meredith Edlow

What advice do you have for men who want to achieve success in their lives?

Great question. While on my path to what I call “success”, I have met some very influential people and learned some priceless lessons.  Success should be defined and measured by the goals you set for yourself. What your neighbor is doing with their goals and dreams has nothing to do with what you are doing with yours. Success is a very relative and measurable goal. It is relative to who you are and your purpose. Your goals are measured by your impact and pace you need to accomplish those goals.

Also, as mentioned in my upcoming book “Be the CEO of YOU (working title)”, a secret that I am sharing for the first time in print but shared through my lectures to students across the country, is creating a list of “virtual mentors”. Because many of the people I look up to are far from reach, with the use of technology, they can be accessed anywhere at any time. Virtual mentors are people you look up to, admire and can learn something from. Don’t negate the traditional face-to-face mentorship experience. For those that don’t have the luxury of this form of communication, though, this technique helps.

This should be done in a way to avoid becoming them. Find a group of traits that your list of “Virtual Mentors” possess, and use those traits to create YOU. The power we have to create ourselves in the images we choose is profound. Once you tap into that power you then empower yourself, which will carry you further than any motivational speaker will take you.

I mention this in my upcoming book, which helps to organize plans for success and structure areas of your life in order to achieve balance.  My book started out as a daily text message. I sent texts focused on what was revealed to me to a group of friends I referred to as “Movers and Shakers”. I decided to make this the more personal and structured way of doing things in my life. My text messages went from one page texts to two page texts to three page texts and so on. I received positive feedback and turned it into a daily email. I added more names to the distribution list and had my thought of the day circulated around offices. My messages became the base of morning meetings for teams. I felt that my perspective on success and maintaining focus could help others as it helped me, so I started writing the book.

What advice do you have for women who want to do the same?

If you are a mother, your definition of success cannot be measured against what the next mother is doing with her child. It has to be measured by what you are doing with your child. Now take that same concept and apply it to your dreams or goals. Women have been the backbone of America through our families for centuries. If they can see the relation between the strong women that have come before them and tap in to them through a virtual mentorship, I’m sure they will see similarities and a pattern of success. Women are created with an innate ability to create strategically and critically, henceforth motherhood. Success starts at the core of who you are. The power to birth a child, a nation, lies in all women, which makes running a Fortune 500 company look like “child’s play” (pun intended).


Over my career I have worked with a few and met many famous/influential people, such as:

President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Tavis Smiley, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Susan Taylor, Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, Dr. Steve Perry, Mr. Salome Thomas-EL, Judge Gregg Mathis, Jill Scott, Mayor Ray Nagin, Boxer Paul Williams, Son of Honorable Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Warren Buffet’s Sister.

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Guest Post: 10 MANTRAS FOR EMPOWERING FOCUS

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on April 13, 2010

J. Farand has written a guest post for There From Here on believing in your right to take hold of your destiny by eliminating distraction and focusing on your dream.

If you are looking for enriching and uplifting, well informed commentary about the social and political scene from the eyes of a black man in America, OWL ASYLUM is the web residence and sound board of J. Farand, a student of life, and technology, web content provider/manager, designer and developer who loves to discuss and critique the actions of the powers that be…because it’s fun!…

1. “I’M HERE FOR A REASON”

As most people who follow my blog or my twitter feed know, I am not one for a lot of empty statements of positivity that leave you with no practical applications. My spirituality doesn’t need to be bolstered by the applause given to the preacher or speaker that can only proffer me statements such as “keep the faith,” or “the tide will turn.” However, with my experience, and my forth coming success as a writer and student, I have learned to be a little more open-minded about faith-based mantras.

So here is one of the more faith based affirmations I walk around with: I am here for a purpose. Regardless of if I am simply a unit of congealed waveforms or a hierarchy of cellular organs in cooperation, there is a high level of work that has been put into each of us. I have never thought about giving up. I’d almost say any failure I have suffered through was more bad values than bad aiming. However, we have all gone through a situation where we could taste the pity. In those times it has always been my practice to remind myself of who I have touched and what my gifts are; and, that usually helps to jog my memory as to why I embarked on the journey in the first place.

We are all being driven to vibrate at a higher pitch. We are all being driven to live our lives in a healthier more stable and more satisfying way. Never forget that the Sun shines on you and not without reason.

2. “NO SENSE IN LOOKING BACK NOW”

Have you ever watched a game show where contestants must vie for an exclusive position? Have you ever seen a second place contestant’s complimentary parting gift and said, “I WANT THAT!!” Never? Yeah, me neither…

No one wants to finish in second place. But often we dare ourselves only enough before complacency sets in. We fail to push ourselves that one last lap as hard as we can; and, we settle for second best. The reality of this metaphor, however, is that settling could mean the difference between a good career and a great self-owned business. Once you have begun to walk that plank keep going. Don’t turn around. We know what is back there: the life we left to pursue our goals. The place where our dreams didn’t come true is back there. Don’t go back there.

3. “TRANSCEND THE MOMENT”

I used to cut out pictures of toys that I wanted my parents to buy when I was a child. As I grew, I began to do the same thing with the type of home I wanted. I imagined how the furniture might look and the means in which I was entertained. I even had a pet snake in one of my collages. Nothing defeats your focus better than being stuck focusing on the present surroundings. I live here. I’m not here. For many who have never been in the worst of places, it is easy to tote philosophies of being in the moment, and in the present. Yeah. Tell that to a child buried under a building awaiting assistance, “Just think about the moment…” Blah and more blah!

The more practical approach is to transcend the moment. Step outside of this dimension for a moment; and, walk into the dimension that you are now creating. Smell it for just a minute. Taste it. Tape stick-its to its walls. You have to have sight beyond sight. This is not for those of you who are simply hoping for a raise. I’m talking to those that truly wish to transcend. This writing is for those who are focused on transforming their lives in a major way. Those types of people have to momentarily tolerate the mediocrity of their present condition, while forging their future, now, by transcending the moment. Live in the now while behaving and thinking as you would if you had already accomplished your goal.

4. “EXERCISE YOUR FUTURE YOU”

In the same vein as the last, you must learn to be your future you, now. One of the basic fallacies of learning is that we believe that we will always enjoy the same things, or behave in the same manner in the future as we do now. How immature would the world be if that were true?

Consider yourself. Consider what words you would use. Consider your posture. Consider your working habits. How can you increase the frequency of your performance in the present to the level you believe you would in your future? Long term or short term goals leave indelible marks on our souls once accomplished. The world changes around us as well. It is as if you begin to emit a pheromone into the air that says successful.

Why not become that person now? Train your focus by training yourself to be what you are focusing on becoming. Why wait?

5. “SMILE, YOU’VE GOT TO PREPARE FOR YOUR AWARD CEREMONY….”

This one is ironic, mainly because everyone says I have an aggressive mug, so even I have to practice my smile daily. I believe it is important to enjoy yourself. Yes, you may still have a few more years to crank out that final lap of your goal, but hey, why not get ready now? Success comes with a social life, and you’d better have a decent meet and greet posture.

I smile just to remind myself I am one step closer to that vision. I smile to calm myself. I smile to tease away the temptation to pull away from an assignment that is necessary for my overall success.

I smile because I love me enough to. Part of success is happiness and inner peace. I express that with a smile.

Look out for Part 2 in the near future!

Do these tips help you? How do you find focus in your own life? Answer in the comments and let’s all help each other get there from here!

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Misdirected Anger Strikes Again

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on February 10, 2010

UPDATE! John Mayer didn’t call black women “dark ass hoes” but Kevin Hart did. Where’s the anger about this?

UPDATE: John Mayer tearfully apologizes for his comments

See Video below

John Mayer did an interview for Playboy Magazine wherein he said, “I think the world would be better off if I stopped doing interviews.” Well, I think it’s a good thing that he did this one because it set off a hailstorm of tweets, making the words “John Mayer” so popular it became a Trending Topic on Twitter. More importantly, it showed one flaw with American society. Many are quick to read, trust, and share thoughts from other people without critically analyzing and forming their own opinion. What set this off in my opinion? The following two tweets are from Dr. Marc Lamont Hill.

John Mayer on dating Black women: “I don’t think I open myself to it. My dick is sort of like a white supremacist.”

John Mayer cont’d “I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock.”

I have no issue with Dr. Hill; and, I have no agenda to pursue. I feel that his tweet caused the subsequent re-tweets, which resulted in the controversy. With his reputation, many people read his tweet and stopped there without reading the article to get the entire quote, trusting him to be fair and balanced. What Dr. Hill left out was an extremely vital piece of Mayer’s message:  “I’m going to start dating separately from my dick.” Dr. Hill says it was not intentionally left out, but he believes that making such a decision signifies a decision to date women unattractive to him. There are a couple of problems with this.

Problem 1: Critical reading

The quote that was sent out was incomplete and did not paint an accurate portrayal of John Mayer’s thoughts on dating Black women. One would have only to do a close (critical) reading of his statements to see his intended message: I let myself be guided by my carnal desires without listening to my heart. I’m going to start listening to my heart.

On his site, Dr. Hill responds to the interview by saying, “I can’t say John Mayer is racist. He probably thinks he was being edgy and funny because he has a “black pass.” It’s still irresponsible.” I don’t believe he was saying that at all. In the interview Mayer says that someone else asked him how it felt to have a “hood pass”. A hood pass being a figurative statement meant to indicate that he’s been given an honorary membership into the Black community. Simply because someone else asks how it feels to have one does not mean that he accepted it and feels the right to use this privilege. How did Mayer choose to speak about this?

…it’s sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a nigger pass. Why are you pulling a punch and calling it a hood pass if you really have a hood pass? But I said, “I can’t really have a hood pass. I’ve never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, ‘We’re full.’”

I believe Mayer meant that having a hood pass enables you to say the word “nigger” without opposition from the people who that term was used to abuse. Mayer acknowledges that he does not have one because, even before his fame, he has never been refused service based on a first impression. Meaning, the only people who have hood passes are the ones who, on first glance, would be immediately refused service upon entering a restaurant. Was his statement insensitive? Sure.

Problem 2: Misdirected anger

Mayer’s statement may have been insensitive, but what did he really do wrong? He stated an attraction towards a specific type of woman and made a comment about race relations. A lot of musicians do this and we in the Black community do not threaten to stop playing their music. In fact, women were the main people preventing radio stations from taking the following song off the air because of the volume of requests for it.

[Lil’ Wayne]
Un
I like a long haired thick red bon
Open up her legs then filet mignon that pussy
I’m a get in and on that pussy
If she let me in I’m a own that pussy
Go’n throw it back and bust it open like you ‘posed to
Girl I got that dope dick
Now come here let me dope you
You gon’ be a dope fiend
Your friends should call you dopey
Tell ’em keep my name out they mouth if they don’t know me
Huh
But you can’t come and tunecha
I’ll fuck the whole group
Baby I’m a groupie
My sex game is stupid
My head is the dumbest
I promise
I should be hooked on phonics
Haha

But anyway I think you’re bionic
And I don’t think you’re beautiful
I think you’re beyond it
And I just wanna get behind it
And watch you
(back it up and dump it back-
Back it up and dump it back)

[Chorus:]
Cause we like her
And we like her too
And we like her
And we like her too
And we like her
And we like her too
And we like herr
And she like us too

I wish I could fuck every girl in the world
I wish I could fuck every girl in the world
I wish I could fuck every girl in the world

[Drake:]
Yea
Alright
(ohh ohhh)
She be jumpin up and down
Tryna fit that ass in
Took her half an hour
Just to get that belt to fasten
All they want to talk about is partyin’ and fashion
Every single night I have a dream that I am smashin’
Them all
Young Money man this shit so timeless
And I’m in the mood to get faded so please bring your finest
And what are all your names again we drunk remind us
Are any y’all into girls like I am let’s be honest

She wants me she wants me
Cause I got it all shawty tell me what you don’t see
I will fuck with all y’all
All y’all are beautiful
I just can’t pick one so you can never say I’m choosy hoes
And Wayne say pussy pussy pussy
And weed and alcohol seem to satisfy us all
Damn
And every time I think of staying with her
She bring that friend around that make a nigga reconsider man

[Chorus]

[Jae Millz:]
I ain’t being disrespectful baby I’m just being Millz
And I don’t know how fake feels so I gotta keep it real
I just wanna fuck every girl in the world
Every model every singer every actress every diva
Every house of diddy chick every college girl every skeezer
Stripper and every desperate housewife that resemble eva
My role model was will
So married boy I’m in the milf
It don’t matter who you is miss
You can get the business
Haaaa

[Gudda Gudda:]
These hoes is gods gift like Christmas
I like ’em caramel skin long hair thick ass
And I swear I’m feelin’ all y’all
I’m scrollin’ down my call log
And I’m a call all y’all
My butter pecan Puerto Rican
She screamin’ out “papi” every time a nigga deep in
And I’m about to get my Bill Clinton on
And Hilary can Rodham too boy I gets my pimpin’ on

[Chorus]

[Mack Maine:]
And bitch I’m Mack Maine -aine -aine -aine
Sanna Lathan
Megan Good
Angelina Jolie
Hah
D Woods
For free suites I’d give Paris Hilton all-nighters
In about 3 years, holla at me Miley Cyrus
I don’t discriminate, no not at all
Kit kat a midget if that ass soft I break her off
I exchange V cards with the retards
And get behind the Christian like DR cause he are
Mack Mizzo
Baby
Cause he are Mack Mizzo
Baby

[Chorus:]
Cause we like her
And we like her too
And we like her
And we like her too
And we like her
And we like her too
And we like herr
And she like us too

I wish I could fuck every girl in the world
I wish I could fuck every girl in the world
I wish I could fuck every girl in the world

Young Mula baby

Milan Ford, the man who tried to get the song taken off the air had this to say about where “we” direct our anger,

Remember when Don Imus called the Rutgers [University] women’s basketball team a bunch of nappy-headed hos? We got CBS to remove him as a host just a few days later. Why do we limit our defense only to those who don’t look like us? As a husband and father, something in me just said we need to protect our women.

We really need to reevaluate what causes us to rise up and show our strength. The way it seems, nothing will stop Lil Wayne. Unless, of course, he raps about only wanting to *&$( every White girl in the world. Cause, you know, that would be bad.

Next: The 3rd Problem

Posted in Media Analysis | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments »

She’s so “Precious” – A Review

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on November 26, 2009

Precious, her mom, and her daughter

Upon entering the theater I felt nerves and anticipation coursing through my body. I expected to cry. I expected to feel anger and helplessness. I did, indeed, feel all of those emotions; but, I also felt more emotions than I expected inspired by the people around me and their comments. The experience of watching Precious has likely strengthened my resolve to tell my story. Not because anyone can do it if Precious did it, but, because, it will be my red scarf handed down to the little girl who feels all alone in the world.

Prior to viewing this movie, I read tweets from people who refused to see it, from those who saw it and were deeply touched, and from those who opined on the gross amount of racial stereotypes. Of those who refused to see it, many found fault based on the previous work of the people responsible for bringing the film to the big screen: Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry, and Oprah Winfrey. Words and phrases such as “coonery” and “typical black girl from the ghetto” were common in their complaints. Of those who saw it and were unimpressed, this tweet speaks volumes: “Whoeva suggest anyone too see this movie “precious” need to kill urself….dis givs black familys a bad look smh.” Please don’t listen to this person. I could cry peeling back the layers of disillusionment and incongruity present in that one allegorical onion. What came first: Precious or the Black Family?

This movie was adapted for film by Lee Daniels based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire. It is a first person narrative dictated to us by Clarice “Precious” Jones. Walking through the streets of Harlem with a scowl on her face and the weight of years of sexual, physical, and verbal abuse on her shoulders, she tells us the story of her life in such a manner that it prompted one viewer behind me to say, “This is realistic. I like it.” A concise and accurate statement, it is the reason to see the movie.

In the afore-mentioned tweet we see a common model for behavior in (Black) families. What goes on in the house, stays in the house; and, this is a thread that runs throughout the movie, as well. From the outset, we see Precious avoiding the truth and refusing to tell her story, petrified that her mom would kill her. Meanwhile, her mom continues to call her a fat ass, tells her that she’s a dummy, education won’t help her, she’s a nobody, and she should rely on a welfare check to get by in life. These are the racial stereotypes that people are afraid to see. They don’t want people to know what is said in their homes. Well, maybe what is said should change. It’s just a theory. A theory that “Precious” is attempting to make a practice.

In one form or another everyone can relate to her story. We have all either been the abuser or the one abused in some way. Other comments heard around me include: “Is that really how big she is?” “She looks like a boy. She looks like Eminem.” “Y’all ain’t right.” The second comment was directed to Mariah Carey’s performance as a social worker. Without her glamorous hair and makeup team, Mariah looked like an average woman, but it prompted someone to call her a boy. Worse, her friends laughed and made other jokes about her appearance, causing one girl (the only big girl in the group) to casually denounce their behavior. It is this casual accusatory tone that encourages the abuse. It is not seen as something that is really bad behavior. If she were to leave the theater and discontinue the friendship, she would be blamed for taking herself too seriously. “It’s just a joke” they might say. Well, Precious didn’t take it as a joke when she smacked her classmate for calling her fat.

The tagline for the movie is: “Life is hard. Life is short. Life is painful. Life is rich. Life is….Precious.” Does it have to be this way, though? We’re so busy preparing each other for the “real world” that we forget to take care of each other. We forget to love. We forget to be the models of good behavior that we actually seek in others. Life is not some made up entity that comes out of nowhere to do us harm. Life is people. We are the creators of Life. If our lives are so rich and precious, why do we choose to de-value it?

Posted in Media Analysis, RandomThoughtOftheDay | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

RTOD – Racial Profiling

Posted by Chanelle Schneider on August 1, 2009

When will it end? In 1990 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air tackled the issue of racial profiling in the episode entitled “Mistaken Identity”. This episode is, sadly, still relevant today in light of the recent case with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Especially relevant is the difference between the reactions of Carlton and Will who are from differing spheres of influence regarding class, which impacts their own view of race relations.

Here are the first two parts if you would like more background on the episode.

In an episode of Family Matters Eddie Winslow is upset because he believes he was profiled. His father, a police officer, approaches the cops who stopped his son. One officer in particular is clearly agitated at being accused and says, “Come on. Give me a break. It’s dark. It’s a black guy.”

The relevant portion begins at 5:00.

Here are the other parts if you would like more background on the episode.

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Posted in Media Analysis, RandomThoughtOftheDay | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »