Friday, August 20, 2010


This weekend, a magical lineup of Hip-Hop acts will come together to perform at the 2010 Rock The Bells concert. Since I can't go, I will be putting together my own playlist of the headliners and rocking it LOUDLY to have my own Rock the Bells experience, minus the obligatory weed smoke and hard-guy screw faces. Enjoy.

Deep Cover
What's My Name?
Doggy Dogg World
Drop It Like It's Hot
That's That Isht

Can I Kick It
Bonita Applebaum
Check The Rhyme
Jazz (We've Got)
Buggin Out
Award Tour
Electric Relaxation
Oh My God

Wuuuuuuuuu Tang Clan
Protect Ya Neck
Da Mystery of Chessboxin
Method Man
Can It Be All So Simple
Ice Cream (GhostFace, Rae, and Meth)

I Ain't No Joke
Paid in Full
Know the Ledge (JUICE)
Don't Sweat the Technique
Microphone Fiend

The Bridge Is Over
Outta Here
Return of the Boom Bap
Black Cop
MCs Act Like They Don't Know

Children's Story
Mona Lisa
Teenage Love
Hey Young World

DJ Premier (Instrumentals)
DWYCK (Gang Staar)
Just To Get a Rep (Gang Staar)
Real Hip-Hop (Das Efx)
Full Clip (Gang Staar)
Kick in the Door (B.I.G.)

So looking forward to playing this out, and I don't even have to sit through the non-descript opening acts.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On Dr. Laura, Blagojevitch, NBA Ballers

This week I've got the dissertation mojo rollin', so the blog action will be reduced to a verbal drive by of things that have clouded my mind as I try to get the diss out:

I've read on a couple of different sites that Dr. Laura wasn't racist with her decision to use the N-word. WRONG! Racism is based on the notion that one leans on their ethnic privilege to maintain traditional institutions of power. Dr. Laura boasting to a Black woman caller that she told her Black bodyguard that she wanted him on her basketball team because "White men can't jump" is exactly the kind of stereotype reinforcement that is characteristic of simple-minded bigots. She later admitted having little grasp of the politics around the N-word, and that's where she should have begun the conversation. I wish her luck doing speaking engagements to other simple-minded folks whose grasp of race is as wide as a hair follicle.

It appears shocking that this seemingly arrogant dude got off especially when you hear that there were FEDERAL WIRETAPS involved, but at the end of the day his hand was NOT caught in the cookie jar. Simple. I'm actually surprised that the jury was 11-1. When I heard deadlocked, I was thinking 7-4 or 6-5. As 72 year-old Chicago native, Leota Johnson, noted from the courtroom, pay-for-play politics in Chi-town is normal. I'll be on the lookout for Blagojevich's "How to Get Off" reality show

For those who want to crush NBA ballers for symbolically saying "GIVE US FREE" by manipulating their contracts so they can get out urban "hot spots" like Denver (Melo), Cleveland (LeBron), and Minnesota (Garnett) to play in more attractive cities, I say stop hatin'. I don't know too many people who wouldn't pack up shop IMMEDIATELY if they had the opportunity to make more money in salary and other income by relocating to a more metropolitan area. It's about time the players started to cultivate their own leverage against owners who've been making money off their backs for years. They just better do it before they get locked out next year because the owners won't leave the rabbit hole open for ever.

My prayers go out to those in Pakistan dealing with continued flooding and destruction stemming from the monsoon. The notion that an area as large as London is underwater is mind-boggling.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hooray Marriage! The Book Closes on Year 8

As I again sit in a hotel room (for the 3rd year in a row) with no prospect of seeing my wife on our Anniversary, I again turn to my internet family to share and reflect on what she has meant to me over the last eight years. This year is especially poignant for us because we saw friends fall from the ranks of the married. So since I shared all my accumulated knowledge last year, I've only got a story and a recommendation this year. Indulge me if you will.

My Dad's consistent piece of advice when it came to women was "Jon, make sure you find a girl that's in your corner." Early on, I never thought this was exactly Yoda-like wisdom when he would say it, but as I got older, and the relationships became more complex, I quickly realized that my Father was laying on me the type of simple wisdom that one must pay their dues to understand. Having a "girl in your corner" did not mean the most sexually adventurous girl, or the girl who would bark like a dog while hopping on one leg like in Coming to America. It also didn't mean the girl who felt it was her duty to plan my life for me. When I started dating Nkechi Okoro, she had many "friends", and I felt I had no shot as I was an assistant second grade teacher making just enough to still live like a college student with my roomates who were all doing a fifth year because of their ridiculously difficult engineering majors. Nevertheless, we exchanged phone numbers, and soon were involved in a Turnpike Love that gave me the ability to navigate the NJ Turnpike with my eyes closed. One night at the close of one of our marathon phone conversations, I expressed that I wished we could see each other that weekend, knowing that we wouldn't. I was awakened by the phone three hours later

Me: "Hello"
Voice on the other end: "Did you still want to see me?"
Me: "Of course"
Voice on the other end: "Well, come down stairs and open the door"

At the moment I hung up the phone it was clear that this was the type of woman my Dad was talking about. The type of woman my roomates and I had dubbed a "Franchise Player". We were engaged a little over a year later, and August 10, 2002 remains one of the happiest days of my life. I often tell people that I know that I am capable of anything because of who I was able to marry. They usually laugh and think I'm just being charming, but I'm serious every time I say it. So with each passing year, much like an NBA franchise, I try to improve to keep the franchise player happy and avoid a LeBron-like exodus of my Franchise Player.

According to, the #1 reason marriages fail is because of financial problems, and as someone who's spouse makes more than him (sacrelige in some circles), I have to make sure I'm at least doing my part. My suggestion to my peers in the marriage game is this: THE FINANCIAL SUMMIT. Usually there's one party who handles the finances and comes up with the budgets, etc. I submit that the FINANCIAL SUMMIT should absolutely be necessary for couples so that there is equal participation in the financial planning of the house and so that ALL events and expenses are considered. Do we remodel the bathroom or kitchen? Do we go to this wedding or split? Where we going for the holidays? Vacation? Where's Lil Man going to school in the Fall? The longer you stay in the marriage game, the more grown up and important these decisions become, and they should not be left to the person with the perceived financial skillz (even if they do have multiple degrees in economics, finance, etc). So I highly recommend that old head and new couples alike do like the Mrs and I will do Sunday and set an appointment to sit down with notepads, calculators, and pencils and plan out the fiscal year so that you can celebrate those special moments as they should be celebrated.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Getting Over Fear of the Water

As I sit here on press row watching Finals during the 2010 US Swimming Nationals, it gives me a unique opportunity to reflect on how far swimming has carried me. I've been involved in the sport for more than twnety-five years now, and it's hard to imagine that I was once the kid who was terrified to jump off of the diving board. In fact, I was the kid who wouldn't jump off the board unless someone was positioned directly under me.

All these years later, swimming is still paying the bills and while I get to marvel from the deck at the growing popularity of swimming as a spectator sport and the celebrity of swimmers like Phelps, Jones, and Coughlin, I can't help but be disturbed by the continuing trend of young people drowning all across this country. My heart sank earlier today as I read the story of the seven youth who drowned in the Red River in Louisiana. Even more saddening was that of all their family members who were assembled to enjoy some good bar-b-que, none of them could swim either, so they had to stand helpless as their young ones were taken away in the fast moving current. It makes me thankful that as scared as I used to be standing on the edge of the diving board, one meter off the ground, my mother made me stick with the sport. I can't imagine the terror that those kids must have felt as they found themselves swept away from the safety of the ledge where they had been playing minutes before. As a member of USA Swimming, it's absolutely necessary that we do more to curb such incidents from continuing to happen.

Data from a study done by the University of Memphis in partnership with USA Swimming indicates that FEAR is one of the biggest factors keeping parents from involving their kids in swim lessons. While I understand the initial hesitation, I would humbly direct those parents to the example of my mother, who doesn't know how to swim, but was adamant that all three of her chidren (and now her grandson) learn how to swim. The fear of watching your little ones go through lessons is nothing compared to the lifetime anxiety you'll feel every time you're near a pool or open water with the knowledge that your loved ones can't swim. For the ethnic families that worry about the damage that chlorine does to relaxed hair, go with braids for a summer, or au natural until the kids are water safe. The sad reality is that cities large and small will continue to cut pool time from their recreation budgets as long as the public does not make use of facilities. Swimming has been too good to me for me to look at it as a sport that is killing members of my community.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Recently, the Wake County (NC) School District made national headlines for their decision to discontinue a diversity program that allowed for school placement based on socioeconomic status. The uproar resulted in the arrest of protestors at a recent School Board meeting, most notably the President of the state NAACP chapter, Rev William Barber (pictured above). In a speech to the Board during the most recent June 15 meeting, Board chair Ron Margiotta said the following in a speech to the members:

"As a Board, we have received some criticism, mostly from those who would prefer to remain in the

past. We have been unfairly criticized, many roadblocks have been erected to distract us from our

work. However, we remain steadfast in our beliefs and undeterred in moving forward; very decisively

with our goals. Our goals are lofty and worthwhile, however, change will not come quickly or easily."

(Wake Co. Board of Ed Minutes 6.15.10)

Let me quickly lay out why this is just an awful statement. I applaud the protestors at the meeting for not rioting after hearing such arrogance.


For those who don't know, I'm the son of career educators in the School District of Philadelphia. I've watched my parents go through the entire public school ringer, and have also had my own experiences in public school and working with public school administrators. On top of this backdrop, I'm a grad student in Urban Education and most importantly a parent who thinks that given the taxes I pay, I should have MANY quality PUBLIC education choices at my disposal. And more ideally, ALL people should have quality public education choices no matter their bank account status.


Wake County is made up of twelve cities, most notably state capital, Raleigh, and growing metro center, Cary. The county consists of all most 900k residents according to the most recent census numbers. The median family income ranges from $110k in Cary to as little as $44k in Zebulon.


I did some lunchtime research (defined as web surfing while eating lunch) on the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS), and some interesting trends quickly became clear. The big buzz phrase in public education these days is ADEQUATE YEARLY PROGRESS (AYP) for short due to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act signed into law in 2002. So whether you like it or not, AYP is the measuring stick against which schools are judged these days. Of the 51 elementary schools that made 100% of their AYP goals last year, 66% were located in TWO of the cities of Wake Co., they were RALEIGH, the state capital, and CARY, the most affluent city in the county. Five of the cities in the county only had ONE school meet all of their AYP goals. I think it's no coincidence that the cities with the fewest number of "quality" schools were the poorest, and had the highest rates of unemployment. I could go on and talk about how only 8% of the high schools made AYP goals, but I think you get the picture. Board member, John Tedesco, has been on TV talking about how the program was rescinded because it was not working for the poorest students in the county, but you would also recognize that there are other disparities that must be addressed so that ALL students have access to a quality education.


Board Chair Margiotta is trying to sell folks on the idea that eliminating the current school choice program is not a move to "Create high-poverty or low performing schools", but that's laughable because that was already happening, and now there will not even be the same effort to stem that trend. Without the diversity program, families who are able will pick up and move to areas where the highly-resourced schools are concentrated, leaving the already struggling cities to wilt even further without their tax dollars. My four years spent at the mighty Central HS, a Philly magnet school, certainly played a part in preparing me to work where I work, live where I live, and develop relationships with folks of various backgrounds. If public school gatekeepers continue to be allowed to make moves that institutionalize socioeconomic and racial strata, then THEY are the ones who are continuing to harken back to the past NOT the protestors who shout at the top of their lungs that they want something different.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Recent Lessons and Observations: Working, NAACP, Biz of Sports

You never know who's watching you...
I recently had to walk the plank (at knifepoint) at my previous place of employment in what can best be analogized as a Stan Van Gundy/Pat Riley situation minus the press conference where I talk about spending more time with my family. The ordeal was a clear reminder of a lecture John C. Carroll laid on me long ago. "You can show your ass if you want to," he said, "but you better be clear about what you're doing because you never know who's watching you." Had I been one known to go around acting like a jerk at every turn, then I would have never gotten another job so close to home as quickly as I did. Shout out to Pops for hammering home a lesson as only he could.

Get off the mat NAACP
The NAACP has a chance to be revive it's image as an organization interested in doing more for the community than putting on a solid awards show. It has been a long time since the group has been seen as a leader in advocating for the human rights of those who have traditionally been denied rights and opportunities for advancement. Current leader, Ben Jealous strikes me as someone who is both aware of the history, but more importantly has a plan on how to be viable in today's more nuanced racial landscape. He just got a fire baptism on how nuanced the political game can be in this era, but he can't let the egg white stay on his face and keep him from the mission of advocacy on a number of fronts. One of the key initiatives should be domestic job creation. The statistics around unemployed men of color in many urban centers is staggering and it will be difficult to get people out to vote in these all important November elections if they are not working. Let's get to work Mr Jealous, I'm ready to ride...

Hood Rich Ain't Wealthy
It will be interesting to see how athletes in both the NBA and NFL in particular will strategize to navigate through upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations. I was one who applauded how James, Wade, and Bosh leveraged their free agency against the owners, I'm hopeful that the rest of the league has planned properly so that they can have leverage against owners who claim to be losing money yet continue to hand out enigmatic max contracts to overrated players. Athletes across both the NBA and NFL have long been been painted as mindless worker bees with weak unions because of their hyper-consumer mindsets. Analysts like Chris Collinsworth are already estimating that as much as 25% of NFL players will go broke with any kind of extended work stoppage. A sad thought, but here's to hoping that players have realized that amassing wealth is a game of chess, not checkers.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lessons Learned in London

It was an interesting first trip to the UK. Always good to fellowship with the abundant clan of inlaws. Along with the usual genealogoy lesson, a couple more things I picked up during my stay:

10. My tolerance for temperatures lower than 70-degrees is higher than I thought after 5+ yrs in LA.

9. It is harder than one might think to get used to cars driving on the opposite side of the road. If you swivel your head the wrong way, you will get runover by a cab.

8. It's weird to see the NBA, NFL and MLB replaced on the sports pages by Soccer, Cricket and Tennis.

7. Shortbread is overrated.

6. Boutique hotels try to hustle you by charging for WiFi PER laptop, and also by trying to prevent you from bringing food into the premises.

5. "Mind the gap" is not a reference to dental imperfection.

4. "Skinny" jeans are just not a good look on dudes.

3. The 2012 Olympics should be sponsored by Marlboro or Camel. If athletes thought the air in Beijing was bad, they're in for a rude awakening in London. I won't be surprised if I see a Brit light up during the medal ceremony.

2. Stay away from all appliances with plastic handles. I wasted a my whole last day because I broke the handle on a mini washer/dryer with a cheap a$$ handle. On top of that, it didn't dry squat.

1. Whatever you save up to spend when traveling to the UK, DOUBLE IT! It is no fun to shop when you're only getting $.70 to the UK pound.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Be Ready When Youth Reach Out

So James walked onto the deck late on a Saturday morning and started his normal routine of getting dressed slow, flirting with whichever of his lady teammates is on deck, and of course his "rigorous" stretching routine. Knowing that it is pointless to try and hustle him into the water because I've tried, and with it being 7am, I simply watched the whole thing play out from the other end of the pool. As warm up ended, he still wasn't in, and the look on his face wasn't the usual "I'm so cool", it was more like "My dog just got hit by a truck". As I walked up to him, I fixed my face from disgruntled to concerned.

"What's up? You sick"? I asked

He shook his head no. That was a bad sign. This dude usually wastes no opportunity to talk.

"So what's going on? You hurt"

Another head shake no. Now I'm getting worried.

When he finally could summon the words, he got out "I can tell you anything right?"

"Sure." It sounded serious

He started to talk three times and couldn't. He went to the locker room to compose himself, and when he finally managed to tell me what was going on, I was shocked, and all I could do was stand patiently and listen. When he was done all I could do was offer continued support because the nature of what he told me was so far beyond my life experience that I could not even try to picture myself in his shoes. Thank goodness listening helps. This young man felt he couldn't discuss this issue with his parents, but by luck, his father dropped by practice, and he ended up having to tell his father what was on his mind. It was quite the lesson that no matter how well today's teens seem to be handling things with their skinny jeans sagging, they still need guidance, mentorship and support.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

When Daycare Becomes A Nightmare

They say that educated parents have the social cache to make sure that their kids don't get caught up in the BS that keeps some children from navigating school successfully. That maybe so, but it doesn't mean you don't have to do your due diligence to avoid said BS. Given the recent deterioration of our respect for Lil Man's daycare, here's five clear signs that it's time to yank your child from a bad situation.

If you're confident in your teaching and how you're handling my child, then it shouldn't be a problem when I go from the relaxed sweats and T-shirt look to the more serious khakis and button-down look and ask to observe class for a while.

4. TEACHER THINKS 3 yr-olds CAN BEHAVE WITH THE DISCIPLINE OF THE MARINE CORPS. Guess what? It might be somewhat difficult for a child to sit "Criss-cross-applesauce" for more than twenty-minutes. It's also not a given that a toddler is going to clean up just because you said it's time for recess. Finally, just because a child might speak like a young Barack or Michelle doesn't negate the fact that they're still just a kid.

3. EVERYTIME YOU GET A COMMUNICATION (E-MAIL, NOTE) FROM SCHOOL. YOUR CHILD IS CHARACTERIZED AS THE NEXT DENNIS THE MENACE. I know my child is not an angel. I remember all too well, what I was like at 7, so I can only imagine that what I'm seeing from Lil Man at 3 is vintage Carroll. Nevertheless I pay big money for my child to be taught, so in addition to hearing about what we need to work on at home, I should be hearing about how Lil Man can spell, identify colors, and count in English and Spanish. I shouldn't get that info from other parents who happen to visit the classroom.

Note to any preschool director or teacher, if you call me at work or at home to tell me that Lil Man ate glue, ran into a tree, or God forbid laid hands on someone, be prepared to give me the whole story. It's one thing to deal with your child when he hits someone for no reason it's a whole different ball of wax when he hits someone because a kid snatched a toy from him and then teased him about it.

1. WHEN ANYBODY ON CAMPUS WHO POSSESSES LESS THAN A Ph.D or ED.D in CHILD PSYCH OR DEVELOPMENT TRIES TO "DIAGNOSE" A 3 yr-old. Plain and simple, unless you've spent years studying cognitive psychology, I don't want to hear your armchair "evaluation" of my child based on one behavior incident when everything else about his demeanor indicates he's on a normal developmental path. What happens the next time? Ritalin prescription? As soon as this happens, just pack up your child's things and say goodbye.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Black History Month = Building Bridges For the Future

When February 1 rolls around every year, I have to chuckle at the clockwork-like precision with which the Black History-themed commercials and PSAs get rolled out by every network to make sure they have satisfied their "duty" to recognize the contributions that Black men and women have made to this country. While imperative to continue recognizing the contributions of all ethnic groups to the fabric of our culture, what is even more important is to promote the continued CONNECTION of youth to their cultural legacies. As I shook my head about the "missionaries" looking to "save" Haitian children by illegally taking them across the border, I couldn't help but think that we don't truly understand the value of this connection to our cultural legacies. Peep this example:

In sixth grade, my third grade teacher who was put in charge of the annual Black History Month assembly, asked me to portray Martin Luther "the" King by reading one his "Mountaintop" speech to the whole lower school. Given that the private school I attended K-8 was predominantly white, I was one of maybe five candidates for this job, and I can easily see where the skeptic says that selecting me to portray MLK could have soured me on my own identity as Black male. The counterargument being that placing the "burden" of portraying one of the most important leaders of our generation on me could have made me feel self-conscious, and isolated from my predominantly white peers. The opposite was in fact the case, as having to study the words of MLK gave me a greater understanding of the Civil Rights Movement, the man himself, and my connection to the continuring struggle for justice and equality. My outlook on being a Black male was enhanced by participating in the assembly and set a foundation to always cast off attempts to pidgeon-hole me into any type of categorical box. When we have that understanding of the richness of our past, it is then possible to branch out and make bridges with others. This is why not only is Black History month important, but also the contributions of all ethnic groups which call America home. Let each of us find ways to connect youth with a greater understanding of those who have toiled before them.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Random Musings

As I try to keep my nose to the grindstone transcribing interviews and writing papers worthy of publication, I've noticed a couple things recently. Now that I've been at home with Little Man and his runny nose for a few days, I've had a chance to piece some of my thoughts together.

OBAMA - The State of the Union Address gives us yet another example that our President is gifted with his rhetoric. We need to see, however, a change in his game plan when it comes to pushing policy. There's only so much extending of the olive branch across the ailse before you say F*&k it and get it done. You start to look like a clown when you keep trying to collaborate with folks who have no intention of helping you be as productive as you need to be to earn a second term.

GUN-TOTING WASHINGTON WIZARDS - I'm tired of athletes not recognizing the privilege they have earned to make millions playing a game, and the attitude of entitlement that seems to come with it. Should Arenas and Crittendon lose their ability to play in the league forever? No. I also hope that Gil's contract doesn't get voided, but if it does, I won't shed a tear for that stupidity, and I also won't need tissues if Crittendon is done in the league. Brother Sharpton is right in saying that letting these fools off easy is equivalent to saying we expect nothing more from Black athletes.

DIDDY GIVES SON A MAYBACH - It's well within his right to buy his son whatever he damn well pleases, but a $350k car with a driver? WTF does that teach the kid? If Diddy had to spend $350k, why not buy the kid some property, or make an investment that the kid will still be able to capitalize on when he's say 40. This is how you promote WEALTH. Hood-rich spending habits get you broke. Having the kid give a $10k check to Yele Haiti is nice, but how 'bout we spend $10k on the car, and send the kid TO Haiti with 350k in tow to renovate buildings so that they won't fold like envelopes the next time the earth shakes. Diddy's work ethic is the stuff of legend. He can't rob his son of developing a similar one by not having him EARN his Maybach.

JERSEY SHORE A CULTURAL "PHENOMENA" - At least you can say MTV is an equal opportunity employer when it comes to giving people the opportunity to totally denigrate themselves and their cultural legacies in front of MILLIONS. Proud Italian Americans now understand how many Blacks feel watching Flavor of Love, College Hill, or The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I have no time for any of that garbage.

Back to the grindstone...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Black Hollywood Taking Steps Backward

Was at Best Buy with Little Man. As I passed the racks of DVDs, I figured it couldn't hurt to see if there was anything new out that hadn't made the theatres featuring a cast with more than one Black person, or a story about Black people . For some reason, these movies hardly make it to the theatres these days. This is especially important to me as Little Man's ability to differentiate skin color and understand race increases. Amidst all the celebration of The Princess and the Frog and the first Black princess, overall there are fewer and fewer stories that feature black main characters, and even fewer that feature stories of Black life. One site I visited had the following as the Top 5 Black movies of 2009:

1. Precious
2. American Violet
3. Princess and the Frog
4. Black Dynamite
5. Good Hair

Of these five, American Violet only opened in 5 cities. Black Dynamite was also released on a limited basis. So even at the top of the list, very few Black movies are getting major releases and the opportunity to make money like the Disney-backed Princess.

ROOT OF THE PROBLEM: In order for most movies to make it to a theatrical release, they must be picked up for distribution by a major production company. The most famous example currently is Tyler's Perry's relationship with Lionsgate. Perry has made Lionsgate execs look like geniuses by being one of the most bankable moviemakers in Hollywood, and therefore he gets to keep making movies with them. Those not as famous as Perry, have to go the Film Festival route, and roll the dice that they may or may not get tapped by a production company for a theatrical release. American Violet was distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films, Good Hair benefited from Chris Rock's relationship with HBO. Black Dynamite will be distributed by a relatively company, Apparition.

WHAT I WISH WOULD HAPPEN: There is a critical mass of Black leading ladies, men, and directors that have had a enough success where they can leverage their notoriety and resources to not only make, but distribute films that they want to make instead of hoping, praying and complaining that more suitable roles come their way. Mel Gibson did this when he made The Passion of the Christ, and he got to laugh all the way to the bank when the movie made almost $400 million domestically. It's hard to imagine that if Will Smith (who already has a production company, Overbrook Films, which produced ATL), Denzel (direted Antoine Fisher Story), and Chris Tucker (a reported $20 million per movie guy) got together, they couldn't produce a good story from some up and coming screenwriter with a tight script. But alas, the lightbulb has not quite gone on yet, so until it does, I'll continue to support the products of Code Black Entertainment, see what I can find at Film Festivals. If and when I happen upon one of said celebrities, I'll be sure to put the bug in their ear. There are too many talened Black actors, actresses, directors and writers out there for me, my family and the rest of the world to not know who they are and what they can do.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Souled Out on Fatherhood

Was listening to Hezekiah Walker's "Souled Out" in the car the other day, and after a weekend where I almost laid hands on Little Man, I realized how souled out I am on Fatherhood. Some notes from a young Dad.

1. When Little Man is on punishment. Dad is on punishment
When you tell the Little One that he can't watch TV for the rest of the evening that means I don't get to watch any TV because if I do, I'll hear this until it's time to go to bed "But why do you get to watch TV Daddy?". Now the lesson isn't being learned and I'm just getting more angry because the answer "Because I said so" isn't working. Better to just dig into my "To Read" pile and curl up with a blanket.

2. No Hip-Hop in the car...Yet
For now, a solid exposure to Earth, Wind, and Fire, Anita Baker, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder will have to do. Can't have Little Man walking into day care singing "I'm in Miami trick!" or "Niggas compare me to Biggie and 'Pac already..." Needless to say that wouldn't be a good look. So we'll wait til he has a little more discretion before he gets his Hip Hop immersion.

3. No more sleeping in on Sundays
Train up a child in the way he should go, and he'll never depart from it. That means Dad and Mom can't be lazy on Sundays and skip church. The moral and spiritual compass is set early, and gets more rooted with consistency.

4. Hearing Little Man disrespect the Mrs. sends me over the edge
I don't consider myself a hot head by any stretch of the imagination, but when Little Man decides he wants to test boundaries and tell Mommy "NO!" or snatch his hand away, it takes all the WOOOO SAAHHHHs I have in me to keep from turning into the Incredible Hulk and catching a case. Little Man is only 3, so my logical mind eventually wins out and reminds me that he's still learning.

5. I'll change my career in a heartbeat to ensure Little Man gets the attention he
This is the most telling realization to me because I see and observe many parents who are able to do the bare minimum as parents in the name of being able to provide monetarily and materially anything a kid could ever want. That's not the model I have in mind. God forbid, Little Man should succumb to his genes and be swimmer. If it comes to pass, I'll sign him up with one of my coaching brethren and be at every meet. Times are too perilous for young Black men to be a part-time Dad.

Friday, January 1, 2010

No love for coaches

2010 has arrived, and I enter the new decade with some momentum. Dissertation data is collected, my family is healthy, the wife and I have projects percolatin'. December was busy, and I wanted to stop in and post, but just never found the time to sit down and organize my thoughts. Could be because headlines flew furiously as '09 went by the boards. It was hard to really get a chance to formulate a take on it all. The following were things I thought about engaging:

Tiger was pimpin..poorly. And what to think about his choice of side joints?

Oprah announced she's moving on in '11...Who's next? Will there be a next?

President Obama became a pinata after year one...Chile please

All this and a whole lot more made the headlines, but what has moved me to write at the onset of 2010 is COACHING. At it's most altruistic, it's a position where you are tasked to teach young people skills that they will use in the athletic arena, and later in life. At it's worst, it's a position where power is bestowed an abused while making gobs of money. Given that coaching is currently a major part of my livelihood, it boggles my mind how coaches on all levels, from pee wee to pro are being pushed farther and farther away from being teachers and mentors to simply being producers of "success", however that may be defined. I look at the situations of recently fired coaches like Mark Mangino and Mike Leech and can't help but think that continued winning would have kept any complaints from players, boosters, and admin under the rug. Mangino turned Kansas football from laughing stock to contender, and the minute he had one bad season, gone. Mike Leech made Lubbock a relevant city in football-rich Texas to rival Austin, College Station, and Houston. The minute he even considered leveraging his success into a better position, the witch hunt began, and now he's gone.

Sure coaches know what they are getting into when they sign the contracts, but it is still a surprise when success is met with a "What Have You Done for me Lately" attitude. I guess the sacrifice of health and family isn't enough. I see now why coaches with multiple championships (Phil Jackson, Joe Torre) leverage it to the hilt. There is no loyalty in the coaching game, and wins are the bottom line. If you happen to keep players out of trouble and instill a few life lessons, that's a bonus.