Archive for the ‘ Identity ’ Category

Stolen Goods

Stole us from our homes

Stole our gold

Stole our babies while crying

Stole our blood, sweat and tears

Created the conflict

Stole the diamonds

Stole our culture

Stole our music

Stole our drums

Stole our voices

Stole our fun

Stole our choices

Stole our smile

Anything we created

Stole our style

Put our skin on trial

Jury of non-peers:

Color’s not worthwhile

See

We thought it was a trial

But it wasn’t really a trial

Stole the natural date of  death

Stole our loved ones

Stole their breath

Of all the things that were stole

You will never steal our soul

Thoughts After The Last Dance

Watching the last 2 episodes (7 & 8) of The Last Dance this evening touched me in a way I didn’t expect.  These episodes partly focused on how intense Michael Jordan was with the methods that he used to motivate others… It made me reflect on certain times in my life where I was similar.  Sometimes people can misunderstand that intensity.  When it comes to getting results, I have a more, “let’s get straight to the point” mentality.

The first memory I was visited with:  I previously was part of the coaching staff at a school in Detroit, MI called Burton International. I coached there for eight years total and coached both, girls & boys that were 7th & 8th graders (4 Division Championships, BTW). I had this one student during that time named, DC that came to me crying once. She said that she needed to talk to me and the first thing that she asked was why I was so hard on her. It seemed to her I was harder on her than anyone else.  The truth is, I didn’t know exactly why I was so hard on her at the time.  All that I knew is that I saw massive potential in her and I was trying to force that potential to the surface.  Luckily at the time, one of the senior coaches, Rev. JW, who always knows what to say, told her that I wouldn’t focus that type of energy on her if I didn’t really care… if I didn’t care about her and her being successful.

This has been a common theme with me that started with my younger brothers when the three of us were younger.  I was especially hard on my brother that is closest in age to me.  We didn’t grow up in the most favorable environment.  In that environment, I lived with a certain fear of not making it.  My fear wasn’t really of me leaving this earth… it was more, if I were to leave here, who would be here to protect my brothers?  So, in my mind, it was my job as the big brother to toughen them up enough where I knew they could protect themselves, each other and that they could also stand strong independently as individuals.  Mental and physical toughness was needed.  I’ve had the same best friend since I was in high school (CA).  If you were to ask him, he’d tell you, that’s the only thing that I worried about at that time.  There are no two people that I have talked about more than my two brothers.  The day that I knew that they would be OK is when we were out in the back having an intense game of basketball and I was being a little rough.  That game ended in my brother closest in age using a fighting move that I taught him and striking me above my right eye in retaliation for my roughness.  I was standing there leaking blood and needed to go to the hospital to get stitches. My brother thought I was going to kill him (figuratively). I’ll admit, I was more than a little angry that he used that move on me, but I was more proud than anything.  That’s when I knew.

I moved away from Detroit in 2005.  I ended up taking a job in Cincinnati, OH.  I actually had no intentions on coaching anymore and certainly didn’t think about mentoring, however, it fell in my lap anyway.  As I got to know people in the area from frequenting basketball courts, people started to ask me to work with high school kids in the area. I was very reluctant to do so since I had spent the previous eight years coaching at Burton International.  During that time, I felt that I needed to focus on me.  That never really happened.  I met a former Xavier University basketball star, BM, that was then studying to be a pastor and he asked me to check out this kid, GW, at a local high school, Roger Bacon.  BM and I went to a game to see this kid play; he then asked me to train, GW.  I initially said no. BM asked me to join him at a Men’s Night at his church and we really got to know each other, dropping the surface level pleasantries.  We had more in common than basketball. After BM heard my story, he stressed the importance of people like me wearing the mantle of a mentor. I told him, I only know how to do it one way… I push and push and push and then I push some more.

I started out Mentoring and training only GW.  Then his teammate, WF, became part of our group.  Shortly after that, a kid from Burton International that I had coached before, BJ, now in high school, called me up and said that Detroit was no longer the place for him and since we were from similar types of neighborhoods, I would be able to understand him, deal with him, and get him on a better path.  During the conversation with BJ’s parents, I was asked what my plan was to get him on the right track if he were to move in with me. I told them that I plan to treat him as he is one of my younger brothers and all that entails.  His parents didn’t necessarily completely understand what that meant, but BJ did.  To me, that’s all that mattered.  BJ knew that I would do everything in my power to make him a better person, whether he liked the method or not.  And just like that I had three teenagers that I accepted responsibility for.

I’ve had talks with all three of my Cincinnati guys as we grew to become a family. I’m sure though, if you were to talk to GW or WF initially, they would have sworn that I was a maniac.  BJ already knew how I operated from our time in Detroit together. He knew it was nothing but tough love.  He knew that I used my personal experiences and focused them into methods of motivation.  I was even trying to push them along in case I was no longer able to be there for them.  Not in the same manner I was worried about previously with my brothers as far as leaving this earth, it was more so just knowing that life happens… and if something happened where I could no longer mentor or coach, they would have gotten the best they could have gotten from me in the time that we shared.

Although my intensity has worked well in the mentoring arena.  I’ve also struck out with it at times.  Another memory that comes to mind is when I had been dating someone and she essentially told me that my tactics to motivate are very effective but sometimes not pleasing at all.  I can’t really disagree with her.  I am the type of person that will say what people are afraid to say and I’ll say exactly what you don’t want to hear if I think that will be what it takes to help you move in a better direction.  I am mostly like that with people I care about most.  Yes, it is something that I can work on.  It’s probably something that I should work on.  However, at the same time though, it’s hard to argue with results.

And I’m definitely known for getting results.  I am good at it.  I’m just not good at being soft about it.

X-girlfriend

Thirteen years…
Thirteen years…
It sure seems like forever,
Doesn’t it?
That’s how long
She and I were together…
I was just a teenager
When I met her

She appeared suddenly
I lost myself to her will

A powerful woman she was
She’s what my world became
Before I could grasp what was really going on
I was already consumed
Not much of my identity remained

Friendships before her became a mystery…
The faces seemed familiar
The relationships just weren’t the same
I was wrapped so tightly around her finger
Fearing exposure,
I had to fake it
I couldn’t connect the memories to the names

So much time had passed in our relationship
I thought for sure
Amnesia would be the one
I would be with
When I breathed last

Just as quick as she came initially,
Although thirteen years later,
In an instant,
She left just as fast

WRITER’S NOTE: This was inspired by the plethora of commercials and news articles I have seen recently that are focused on Traumatic Brain Injury awareness. This includes the texting while driving commercials and what’s going on with mainly former but some of the current NFL players and/or other athletes in sports with extreme contact. TBI is very real. Call it what you want, but I am one of very few who has survived and recovered from the debilitating injury. I lived for thirteen years with partial amnesia, along with other effects, after being in a car accident with a Detroit city bus (16 Dexter) at 17 years of age… Protect yourselves and especially, protect the children. Teach them proper safety in sports, while driving and in all that they do. Their lives depend on it.

We Rise

While looking to the sky

Yesterday,

We let baloons fly at Belle Isle Park

Symbolizing your new freedom…

We embraced each other

Wiped our teary eyes

Held hands in Prayer

Asking God

To welcome you into His Kingdom…

Although not exactly positive of

His reasons

In Faith we all must continue to

Believe Him

In obedience,

Continue trying to please Him…

You will never be far from us

When we sit and think back to where we originated,

We know it wasn’t by chance how you became

Part of us

Detroit’s Bates Academy wasn’t only a place for

The intellectually,

Artistically  and

Musically

Gifted and Talented children

It was a learning atmosphere

With a greenhouse effect instilled in

We were seeds

And you…

You were our nurturers

You fed us knowledge

You fed us inspiration

You fed us love

Filled our hearts with your same steadfast dedication

You helped us develop the roots for the trees

We perceive as being our lives…

You believed in us

Before we believed in us

Kept feeding us and breeding us

Until we believed in us…

Healthy we became

Enabling us to be

Omniferous,

Fruitful in the world’s eyes

Collectively and individually

We thank you

Because of you,

We rise!

***I was going through some of my things and found this poem that I originally wrote in 2001 following the loss of two of the best and strongest women/teachers/mentors/role models that I have ever met.  Too many times as clay, we forget how we were shaped.  This is for them, in remembrance.

Authentelli-Gent

AUTHENTIC

Who are you?  Do you know?  Do your friends know?  What mask did you wear today? What persona did you initiate?  What person did you imitate?  Do people know your character or do they know you for your caricature?  Do you even recognize yourself in the mirror?

The world has become so superficial that no one knows when someone is actually being super official.  I feel like I’m living in opposite world… In this place, real equals fake and the definition for common sense needs to be rearranged.  Authenticity has recently been taking a back seat to what seems to be halloween on repeat.  Maybe it all began when people started to believe that Reality TV is actually reality.  I am the type of person who prides himself on being, exactly that, himself.  In doing that, I am someone that no one else can be.  To know that and to know me is to understand me.  I’d rather strive to be the example that hasn’t been set, instead of a mere carbon copy of mediocrity.  They say, “actions speak louder than words.” I’m a firm believer of that but, know this, my words are a component of my actions’ GPS.

INTELLIGENT

Intelligence is such an underrated quality. In my opinion, intelligence is sexy.  A lot of people don’t realize that or don’t care to notice.  There are some that try and hide their intelligence, like it’s a bad thing to be knowledgeable.  Or maybe because it’s considered not cool or against the status quo.  I don’t know.  I do know what I like, though.

There is nothing like an intelligent woman.  Nothing like her… I’m of a different kind, Sui Generis, if you will… For me, real attraction is non-existent if I’m not attracted to her mind.  Physical attraction only goes so far.  Speaking of which, if you have a lady and you tell her, “I love you with all my heart,” stop it.  Tell her, “I love you with my mind”

Hearts can be transplanted…brains can’t be replaced…

GENTLEMAN

Chivalry isn’t dead but has suffered major health complications…Has been hospitalized for too long, while clinging to life, breathing only with the help of a respirator.  Chivalry, an ally of The Gentleman, has become an endangered species as The Gentleman has and is in dire need of emergency conservation  and preservation efforts.  It would be such a shame to continue to allow the weak man reign.  Leaving the women, excuse me, I mean, The Ladies who love us and cherish us to settle, become flustered and suffer is not acceptable.

CHIVALRY needs you:

Find that inner Gentleman inside of you and put a defibrillator to his chest and resuscitate him before we’re all lost and can only be found on display in museums…

If you are looking for a good read:

BEREOLASQUE