On Generations Affected By…

The wife and I drove to the nearest Popeye’s Chicken. It’s Tuesday, so that means two-pieces of chicken and a biscuit for a pretty low cost. Always a good deal. She then drove us to a nearby park and we ate there. She talked about how she grew up there–was there for the local sporting events and parties. My wife, Jasmine has had a very unique upbringing herself, being the daughter of a local hip hop legend in Austin. We talked a bit about how politics and technology have crept into and dictated the way people live their lives. How would this country have been if say–our technological communications were the way they were now in 1981. We’d have smart phones to go with our antenna television sets, and the world would be a strange place indeed. Or how America has yet to find that sweet spot of making life manageable for both the well off and the lower income families. As I sat there staring into the park, at a couple of people sitting at the park benches, I contemplated the way things must have been thirty or thirty-five years ago. The contrast of the way youth live now as opposed to then is tremendous. Could some of the problems we have now be solved or handled better if we all simply went out for a walk more? Or if kids played together for an hour or two everyday? Would the racial divide be settled if we all played together in the ultimate game of kickball? Of course not. But I always like to romanticize the idea of settling differences with sport. I truly miss playing with my white, Hispanic, and Asian friends without care or worry. I do not ever recall bothering over what race someone was until I got into middle school. I never was concerned with how race affected me personally until I began to get picked on for the color of my skin. I’m a dark-skinned, African-American. A handsome, intelligent, and blessed dark-skinned African-American. If we as adults relied more on the positive experiences we have or had with members of other ethnic groups, creeds, colors–as a way to judge their worth, as opposed to the negative experiences, would we not be better off?

What saddens me about he state of affairs here in America right now is the intent figures in authority have. What is the reason behind certain agendas? Is anyone sincere anymore? Or are we perhaps too compassionate to the point that reason is left at the door? I don’t think a grey area exists when it pertains to the way our countries leaders approach the top issues plaguing our country. I personally think it doesn’t help when we seem to be so willing to ship off support to other nations, while placing our own struggles at a lower priority status.

And so with all things considered during my lunch with my lovely wife–I decided on two things. Number one, I’m going to press even harder to find a writer’s workshop to join, whether in my community or online. And two, I’m going to really have to decide how I feel about living in the best place on Earth. Because it’s very easy to say that I love it here, because I do. While at the same time, I sit and think about the condition of my people (African-Americans) and the future; and I can only be concerned. I wish only to protect those I love and care about. Be the man, my God wants me to be, and bring you the reader my best work.

So as we threw away our trash and joked about a couple of ‘hood-fabulous’ vehicles driving by, I smiled. Because I understand I wouldn’t trade this country for anything. It’s what I know. But I also knew we have so very long to go before we truly reach our potential.

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A Series of Conversations: ‘Of Jamaican Descent’

I work at the biggest hotel (as of this post) in Austin, Texas. The Hilton Austin, downtown is a good place with a lot of great people and I’ve really enjoyed my time there. One of the cooler aspects of working in a place like that, is that the community is multicultural. At Finn & Porter, I work with a man from Taiwan. One of the people who trained me is both Hispanic and Korean. And many culinary students work in the kitchen who are from other countries. I recently started to get to know a couple of young men from Jamaica. Three of them who work directly “on-the-line” with me, and I think one other one who is a steward. But let me speak on the three I work with directly.

The three Jamaicans were from different parts of Jamaica, but still shared a strong bond while living in a foreign place. They have all been strongly influenced by Western culture, and as we spoke about pop culture, there was very rarely (if not ever) a time when we weren’t on the same page with what was going on. We spoke on music and movies, fashion and food; but then the conversation turned to something a little more personal for us.

Love.

Dating.

Sex.

Women.

We have had, and continue to have various colorful conversations surrounding our ideals when it comes to these things, and the reason I thought it so intriguing was learning the perception of our generation (the younger one) to people outside the country of similar age. Without question, the men I spoke too believe that the standards set for dating, love, or even sex have been set to such a low level; that they did not even feel as if being genuine with women in America was worth it. To be clear, they weren’t blaming the issues of promiscuity on women alone, and they definitely made an indictment on the men in America. The amount of people who speak on cheating as if it was simply a part of being in a relationship–or “having a woman on the side” or being a “side nigga”. The idea that another cook in the kitchen expressed concern over her boyfriend being upset that she discussed their relationship with her “side nigga” i.e. a guy she’d meet up for sex with little to no strings attached. The rate of divorce was brought up. Then one of the men began to speak on the violence and discord in Jamaica, specifically the Garrison–an area of the country that is notorious for it’s brutal, bloody political acts of terror. He talked about how the colors–Green and Yellow–could get you killed quickly, much like Red or Blue can here in some parts of the country. How he’d seen a man shot in the face, and had to quickly turn around as if he hadn’t heard or seen the grisly act in order to preserve his own life. If the shooter believed you saw too much of the violent act committed, you’re life was also forfeit. He then showed me pictures. Things that haunted his nightmares. Things he prayed would never be a part of his life again. He wanted to cook. He had no interest in gangs or fighting in some political war. He was a chef. They all were. One, the oldest of the three, was raised in the more tourist heavy part of the country. Another was raised in a part that saw it’s fair share of murder and corruption, but still managed to carve himself out a semi-normal existence.

And then there was the last one, who survived his childhood. Let that marinate for a second.

How many of you had to ‘survive’ your childhood?

As I stood there listening to these men speak and give testimony, I felt something in me sink. My heart. I felt so much for these other men–their struggle, their resolve, and the people along the way in Jamaica who saw fit to bestow wisdom in all three. All three are fantastic chefs. All three are incredibly insightful young men. And all three have tremendously bright futures, in whatever it is they pursue in life. I could not be any more proud of my friends then I was for that series of conversations.

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New book from Isaiah Austin

Marfan Syndrome :

The most serious manifestations involve defects of the heart valves and aorta, which may lead to early death if not properly managed. The syndrome also may affect the lungs, eyes, dural sac surrounding the spinal cord, the skeleton, and the hard palate. People with Marfan syndrome tend to be unusually tall, with long limbs and long, thin fingers and toes.

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What I think is an inspirational story that almost anyone can relate too, simply because it’s about a young man’s refusal to accept defeat. He possess an ironclad will power and an even stronger faith in God above–this is a story that needs to be heard. Check out the exceprts and what others are saying and grab the book.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fbooks.simonandschuster.com%2FDream-Again%2FIsaiah-Austin%2F9781501107399&ei=Ki2LVZy7HMrl-AHY_YEw&usg=AFQjCNH8O4Ag_ZVAHFgJu6ZkkXEVmc724w&sig2=yGoepl9vnmeM8331tv9aZg&bvm=bv.96339352,d.cWw

An Aside

I’m really trying to get back into the habit of reading and writing everyday–especially since I’m taking some online courses soon toward my profession. I think I’m comfortable managing the things I wanna talk about on a blog like this…

I’m taking some writing courses for the most part to polish up what I learned while in college. Hopefully I will be able to go back regularly when I’m in a better situation financially. We’ll see.critical-thinking1

On ‘Perfect Blue’

Once again I watched one of my favorite animated movies ever and my opinion of it has not changed. This time I wasn’t alone, my wife and her best friend’s younger brother were along for the ride; and they were not disappointed.

I find it interesting the struggle Japanese pop idols seem to go through in this film and even today. The hustle and bustle of assembling a group of singers and dancers, the struggles endured during the rehearsals and such. I can only imagine what little relief they get from charting one of their many dizzying singles.

Perfect Blue is a psychological thriller about Mima, a pop star who is one-third of the super popular CHAM. Their success has come and while they haven’t become has-beens, they’re definitely knocking on that door. This story really begins when Mima, the Beyonce Knowles of the group, decides to venture out alone and become an actress. There are many fans who don’t like her decision, and maybe even a couple who are willing to kill to keep Mima a pop idol forever.

There’s some bloody, gory depictions of violence, and one scene in particular has quite a bit of stabbing–but for the most part–the first 2/3s of the movie feature some nudity and that’s pretty much it. Check it out if you can, you won’t regret it, especially fans of psychological horror films.

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Here is the trailer below:

On Reason

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I am always captivated by the amount of attention we give celebrities as opposed to our government leaders. Earlier today, I was reading an article about how intellectualism is being thrown aside in favor of ignorance, some of it willful. It’s like, the moral fiber/fabric I was writing about the other day–we as a country seem to wanna ignore ‘the right thing to do’. The strange thing about this way of thinking is that we don’t necessarily pass up reason or common sense for something more convenient–we’d rather take the long road of ignorance when it comes to civil matters.

But why? Why choose ignorance over reason?

There are some things that I do not apply ‘reason’ too, as matters concerning the soul (or spirit) tend to rise above logic and tack onto things like faith. That’s fair enough, as a Christian I completely understand that. However, when it comes to abandoning reason and common sense over civil matters like police brutality, or the exploitation of blacks in America for profit or entertainment–it really kinda pisses me the hell off! I understand I’m part of the problem, but using this platform as a voice to stand against it counts for something, doesn’t it?

Putting professional musicians, actors, and other entertainers aside for a second, the level at which we promote ignorance and this negative image of blacks is alarming. Now go ahead and throw in the ‘professional’ entertainers, musicians, and actors–it’s even worse. It’s like there are so little people in the public eye who are willing to speak out against obvious ignorance. Are they unsure of where they stand? Are they afraid of how we’ll all react toward where they stand? Or are they simply concerned with only the matters that pertain to their own lives and careers?

Bottom line for me, is that we have got to reeducate society at large. We don’t have to be doctors and lawyers to be critical thinkers.

You don’t have to be a MLK or Maya Angelou! You just have to be a critical thinker…escape from carpe diem in the context it’s used in today’s world. It’s not being used correctly. Seizing the day without using your head is going to lead to someone’s funeral. It’s what we’ve seen in the news, it’s what we watch on these stupid videos of people fighting or doing other absurd things–it’s right in front of us! Reasoning is so key when dissecting the sort of issues that we’re facing today. You can’t protect a Dylann Roof! You just can’t. I don’t even think the guy wants to be protected. But the insane amount of people who are actually standing up and questioning the man’s sanity, and even his race!? We all know that if I killed 9 white people in a church and said I did it because I don’t like whites…the cops wouldn’t be able to get me out of that same town. No questions about race, or motives, or sanity–I’d just be some crazy thug killer who murdered innocent people. The double standard is as real as the threat of global warming, people! Abandon ignorance, and embrace reason. PLEASE!!!!!??/

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