America the… dystopia

I’ve been reading dystopia-themed novels lately. Think of The Hunger Games and Divergent series of books. I recently read the Legend by Marie Lu and started the next book in series, Prodigy. This series picks up post civil war; not that Civil War but a civil war far into the future in which the country actually remains divided. Instead of a battle between the North and South the country is split between East (The Colonies) and West (The Republic). Although the country is effectively split in two there is still fighting because Earth is losing land mass. Perpetual hurricanes and global warming have led to an ever disappearing coast line.

I don’t think that this version of the future is entirely unbelievable. Based on the way our country is going I’d venture to say that this future is probable. This country is a teenager compared other countries around the world and a toddler when compared to other great countries and empires throughout this world’s history. The Roman empire (if you count the East and West) lasted over 1000 years; from Before Christ all the way until the 1400s. The United States is only 238 years old. In this age of instant gratification and misplaced nationalism its easy to think that America will last forever and will always be the forerunner on the world stage.

Here is how I imagine another civil war could happen in this country.

Indiana is among 17 states that have filed petitions of succession from the United States of America since President Obama has entered office. The other states are: New Jersey, New York, Montana, Colorado, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Oregon and Michigan. Louisiana’s petition had over 15,000 signatures, which was the largest number behind Texas.

Succession is not an idea that is so far fetched. These states want to break away because we have a black president. Lets call it what it is.

The original civil war was fought over slavery and to a more important point it was fought over the bottom line of those slave-holding states (cotton wasn’t called King for nothing). Money is the leading cause of divorce for a reason. While slavery isn’t an issue for this country anymore what will always be a dividing force is the line between the haves and the have-nots. If poor white people and white women would stop voting against their interests there would be drastic changes in the power structure and how this country is governed.

People who have power rarely tend to want to share that power. Its addictive. Who wants to share their pie when they can have the whole thing? This is what will lead to a division that will cause the destruction of America as we know it. As the saying goes “One day the poor will have nothing left to eat but the rich.”

Lets the polar ice caps melted fast enough to cause the sea level to rise 40 feet. This would put cities like Manhattan, New Orleans, Miami, and parts of Los Angeles under water. The coast line of our country as we know it would look completely different. The capital of the United States would have to move inland. Thousands if not millions of people would die. Millions more would lose their homes and would be displaced. There is only but so much our government can or will handle. You know those people/politicians who are all for small government will probably be singing a different tune.

The battle for land that is sustainable will begin. Those states who are the least affected (Midwest and some southern landlocked states) will begin to look at “refugees” as foreign immigrants clamoring to get a free pass of their hard labor (sound familiar?). The central government will try to intervene and as certain states band together to form their own unions the federal government will try to assert its own power. This will begin our nation’s second civil war. One that we will not recover from.

This future (or one parallel to it) is possible. Too many people don’t see global warming as an issue and some even see it as an agenda-driven science. Our government is showing us (me at least) that its not a government for the people. Its for the elite. Its for corporations. Its for the haves. If left unchecked these two factors will lead to the downfall in what many deem as the greatest nation ever.

Changes

It’s been a long time I shouldn’t have left you

Without a strong blog to step to

Think of how many blogs you slept through

Time’s up, sorry I kept you.

I’ve been away from the Native Son for a while now (about 6 months) but I’m back. Since I last posted I’ve had some new developments in my life. I’ve been home in the DMV for a little over a year and I’ve enjoyed my time back. Catching up and reconnecting with family and friends has been awesome.

Just a few updates

If you know me you know that I can’t stay still for long. I’ve lived on the east coast (DC, NY) and I’ve lived in the south (TN). The only logical step now is to leave my footprints on the west coast. In less than a week I’ll officially be a resident of Oregon. I accepted a three-year (maybe less) postdoctoral position at OHSU.

One of the reasons why I fell behind on blogging was because I started a podcast called “Negros With A Podcast.” We’re about 8 episodes in. If you want to check it out search ‘NWAP’ on iTunes or click here to check out our site directly. The other Negros includes @Smooth_Orator (@realgoesright), @Fivefiths and @OleNerdyBastard. Check it out if you get the opportunity.

Since I came home last summer I’ve been serious about living a healthy lifestyle. I run 15-20 miles weekly and my average mile is down to about 7 minutes consistently. I lift at least three times a week and I’m trying to eat healthier. Keep word is trying. That’s my biggest struggle. I did have a salad, banana and water for lunch today. Only to followed by two tall Guinness’s and a plate of wings watching World Cup Soccer. I’m still going strong with the #500pushup challenge despite all the shade. I’ve also been hooping more regularly. I believe my game is getting a lot better. Can’t wait to see what cats on the West coast hoop like. Ready to kill out there.

I’m going to make a concerted effort to get back to updating my blog more consistently. Please bear with me.

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

C. S. Lewis
 

I’m the best you’ve had…

*** A lot of people who know me personally read my blog. If you’d rather not hear me talk about explicit material then you might want to stop reading here. Don’t want to get texts later. They’ll go unanswered. ***

I’m not the type of person who talks about sex often. With that said this is going to be about sex. Awesome toe-curling, orgasm-inducing, nasty sex.

I don’t discuss it often because I’ve always thought sex (or at least the personification of it) was best left to being about it instead of talking about it. Sex is one of those things I’ve felt that if you always have to say how good you are at it then you might not I’ve even wrote about it here.

“You’re the best I’ve ever had.”

There was a point and time where those words would make me cringe because I would think of the how she might have said that to someone else.  I didn’t need my ego stroked. As long as you enjoyed yourself and I enjoyed myself then I was cool.

“You’re mouth makes me cum in waves. No one has ever made me feel that way before.”

I don’t feel that way anymore. I love hearing that shit. Stroke my ego. Matter of fact while you’re stroking my ego you can also stroke….

Go ahead and tell me how you love the way I fill you up and hit every spot just the right way. The dirtier and nastier you let me know the better. Look me in my eyes while you’re telling me, so I know its real.

Sure I could learn and read your body to let me know exactly what and when to do it. I’m pretty good at that. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear you whisper that nasty shit in my ear while you ride me until my waist and lower abs look like a glazed donut.

There’s nothing like a woman with a filthy mouth. I’m not cocky I’m confident, so when you say I’m the best it’s a compliment.

Now I normally don’t talk about sex but I felt compelled to write this. Why? One word: Beyoncé.

Can conditioning affect religious doctrines?

Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities.-Pope Francis

Recently Pope Francis made comments criticizing “trickle-down economics” and the wealthy disparity around the world. Pope Francis’ condemnation of the “idolatry of money” has drawn harsh criticism from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and the rest of the conservative right. This isn’t surprising to me that the right would have something bad to say about the Pope.

Like many of the people I follow on social media, I’ve been very impressed with the Pope thus far. As I stated earlier his stance on wealthy disparity mirrors my own but his acts of public kindness and gestures are not like those I’ve witnessed from other Popes. From embracing a severely disfigured man to washing the feet of convicts to choosing to wear simple papal regalia and living in a guest house at the Vatican I love the choices that Pope Francis has made in his short time as the Pope.

This led me to a series of thoughts. I was raised in a Methodist type church (C&S Nigerian church to be exact) with specific values, standards and ethics. These values that were taught to me were taught to my parents and their parents before them. I’m going to marry a woman of the same faith as me and we’ll teach our children these same principles. So what ideologies would I hold today if I wasn’t conditioned by my parents and to a larger extent by my church as a youth?

Since many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church and others are non-believers, from the bottom of my heart I give this silent blessing to each and every one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you but knowing that each one of you is a child of God.-Pope Francis

There are certain doctrines that I have the utmost certainty that I would still possess regardless of what type of church I was raised in.  I know killing is wrong and under extreme circumstances I couldn’t see myself taking another life. Loving my neighbor as I love myself and honoring my mother and father are other principles that I believe are found across various religions.

I’m entirely sure that if I weren’t Christian I would still uphold these principles. I wonder if I was raised on a deserted island and reemerged into society without any prior influence or knowledge of organized religion which one I would follow if any at all.

If my first exposure to Catholicism were Pope Francis what would I favor being Catholic? If I first learned of it was priests and inappropriate contact with young boys how would I feel then?

Would I lean towards Christianity if I observed the charity and compassion or would I hate the hypocrisy Christians tend to portray and how it’s been used to justify slavery?

Would I fall victim to stereotypes linking Islam to terrorism? Or would I admire the discipline and intellectuality of the religion?

Could it be possible that I would rebuke all organized religion?

A Thankful Heart

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. (Psalm 100:4)

On my birthday about two months ago I published a post here called “My obligatory, honest introspective birthday post”.  In that post I discussed a lot of setbacks that I have experienced this year.  I was laid off my job due to cuts in government allocations to research and I was forced to move back home. I talked about being humble, religion and joy versus happiness.  Although I highlighted a lot of things that I have to be thankful for I felt that overall theme of the post highlighted all the things that were going wrong in my life. In the two months since I wrote that post God has opened up a lot of opportunities for me in a short amount of time. I think its time that I started publicly counting my blessings instead of detailing my burdens.

With it being Thanksgiving week I think this is also a great time to list all that I have to be thankful for. There are too many people in the world that would trade places with me and take my problems with a smith on their face. I’m on a mailing list for a newsletter called Beyond Sunday; it’s a refresher that’s meant to inspire people throughout the week. Today’s letter was especially inspiring.

Be thankful unto Him. Let the praise be in your heart as well as on your tongue, and let it all be for him to whom it all belongs.

And bless His name. He blessed you, bless Him in return; bless His name, His character, His person. Whatever He does, be sure that you bless Him for it; bless Him when He takes away as well as when He gives; bless Him as long as you live, under all circumstances; bless Him in all his attributes, from whatever point of view you consider Him.

A Thought to Keep

When we focus on our problems, we forget that giving thanks must be as natural as breathing. No matter our circumstances, God is worthy of thanks. Let your praises rise and enter His presence.

When I moved home in April I had no job prospects. I spent the summer traveling, reading a lot of books and I even took a bartending class and got my license. I appreciated taking the summer of and just being able to relax. When autumn rolled around the feelings of complacency faded quickly. A lot of my friends were making advances in their fields and I was just chilling. I got off my ass and starting applying to different jobs in the research and education field in the Washington, D.C. area and Portland, Oregon.

Funny thing is that you would think with my credentials it would be easy to find a job doing just about anything that has to do with science. With the cutbacks to the public and private sector it was harder than I imagined. I even applied for volunteer position at a STEM school and got no phone call.

You know the saying that it’s not what you know but whom you know? That saying couldn’t be truer. In October a friend and colleague of mine told me that she knew of a university that was hiring online teachers and since I was interested in getting more teaching experience I should check it out.

A church friend of my mom from the time I was in elementary that I call Aunt recently told my mother that there might be an opening at her job. Growing up I didn’t particularly care for her because she seemed to take the whole it takes a village to raise a child mentality too far so I took her kindness with a lot of skepticism.

By God’s grace and mercy I was able to land both jobs, which will be starting before the end of the year. I will be an adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University and medical analyst at the FDA. This time two months ago I didn’t have any jobs at all and now I have two and hopefully a bartending gig once I get a better idea what type of free time I’ll have once I start working. Definitely not my ideal choices right as far as work right now but it’s definitely a lot better than I was doing as far as salary. I’m still at home right now but I’ve realized that I shouldn’t be in a hurry to leave. Living at home will allow me to save more money towards my goal of being a homeowner in 2014.

Other reasons I have to be thankful:

I have my health. In a year where a lot of hoopla has been made about the rollout for the Affordable Healthcare Act, I’m thankful not to have had as much as a cold. This is big because I haven’t had health insurance since April. I do need to get two cavities filled so this gig has come at the perfect time.

I have family and friends. Although I didn’t move back home by choice being home has been good for me in ways. I’ve gotten to spend more times with my close friends from high school and college that I kind of grew apart from when I left for graduate school. One of my best friends from graduate school happened to move to DC so people that love me dearly surround me.

My girlfriend. My relationship has grown by leaps and bounds this year. Being in a long distance relationship isn’t ideal especially when you’ve never lived in the city. Regardless we’ve grown closer physically, emotionally and spiritually.

My God. Is a great God. A merciful God. Although I have yet to find a church home since I left Nashville I think my relationship with God has grown stronger. I talk to God during the low times as well as in times of success. I’ll always exalt His name.

What do you have to be thankful for?

Black American ambition

“Black American ambition, unchecked by healthy doses of fear, would lead to slow, painful death. This was our American story.” –Kiese Laymon

I’ve always dreamed big. My ambition came from my parents. They believe in prophets, signs and visions. When I was around eight years old this prophet visited our church and told my parents that one of their children would become a doctor. I believed that prophet so I guess I believed in prophets, signs and visions too.

I never thought I couldn’t be anything that I put my mind to. My freshman year in high school I saw a movie entitled The Rock which costarred Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage. The movie took place in San Francisco and Alcatraz. Cage played a biochemist that specialized in chemical warfare. I loved that movie as a teenager and I knew then I wanted to be a biochemist. I now hold a PhD in biochemistry although I wouldn’t know the first thing about biological weapons. I knew what I wanted to be and with hard work and dedication I achieved my goals. This is the supposed American dream.

The other day I walked down the street to the corner store to buy some snacks for a basketball game I was watching. Since it was chilly out I put on a hoodie. As I entered the store the clerk asked me to take off the hoodie so he could see my face. I didn’t think it was an odd request until I noticed a white man in the store with a hoodie on. I understand it was a safety concern that I had a hoodie on but what made me different from the white man besides the color of my skin? I’m used to being the target of discriminatory practices. As I was walking back home I wondered how many people would view me as suspicious walking around a dark neighborhood with a hoodie on.

I’m 32 years old. I’m a doctor. I’ve never been trouble with the law. Despite this I’m surprised that I’ve lived as long as I have. I know too many of my peers who’ve fallen victim to gun violence, drugs and/or prison. Whenever I drive somewhere and I see a police car in my rearview my heart rate still increases because I know that there’s always the possibility that I could get pulled over for “matching the description of a suspect” or there’s always the possibility of “justifiable homicide”.

Last week a friend and I were asked to speak to a group of children for a program called “Little Geniuses”. They were two groups of children of color (aged 4-7 and 8-12) that lived in NE Washington, D.C. I was asked to tell the children what I do, how I became interested in science and to tell them there are many other types of doctors they can be besides physicians. I told them all about the joys of science and research but I also wanted to explain to their young minds the reality of being born with skin the color of ours. If I could get away with telling the naked truth and being sure they could grasp all I had to say it would have went something like this:

“Good morning young geniuses. You are amazing boys and girls. You can grow up to be anything you want to be. Doctors or lawyers. Engineers or teachers. Nurses or politicians. You are in fact our future kings and queens. You come from a legacy of great men and women do did and do amazing things in this country and around the world. People that look like us have ruled countries. We’ve invented many of the things that we use on a day-to-day basis that makes life more convenient.  We’ve been to space, we fly planes and we are write books. It is tragic that there are people who don’t feel the same way that I do or appreciate what people like us have done and continue to do.

I’m unhappy you can’t walk down the street with a hoodie on without fearing for your life. I apologize for you not being able to play your music too loud without the possibility of being shot. I’m sorry that you can’t ask someone for help without being shot in the head. Its sad that even if you are killed or injured because of the color of your skin there will be rationalizations and excuses as to why what happened to you happened. It’s disheartening to see the value that is placed on black life. There are going to be people who hate your very existence because of the color of your skin. What they don’t realize is that they have so much in common with you if they would just open their eyes. These are the type of people who can only feel tall if they believe they can stand over someone; and what easier way to distinguish yourself to feel superior than by race?

I’m not going to tell you to be a bigger, better person and love them even though they hate you. I struggle with that myself. Love your neighbor as you love yourself is lost on me when my neighbor considers me less than them. I followed my dreams to get to be the person you see standing in front of you today. It wasn’t easy; in fact it was a lot harder than it needed to be. I don’t want that to discourage you though. I want you to use the fact that there are people who expect you to fail as motivation to succeed. I would be remiss in my duty here today if I failed to warn you about coupling that ambition to succeed in becoming the kings and queens that you are with apprehension of what can happen to you despite of how far you make it. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but that’s what you have to look forward to being Black in America.”

How Hip-Hop Influenced My Life

Currently I’m reading a work of essays entitled ‘How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America’ by Kiese Laymon. There is an essay entitled: ‘Hip-Hop Stole My Southern Black Boy’ and while reading it resonated some feelings about my relationship with hip-hop and music in general from my youth.

I think that we all have unique experiences with music and can relate certain albums, songs and artists to certain points in our lives. Hearing certain songs can bring us right to those points in our lives and produce back the same emotions that we felt during that time.

I started thinking about my experiences with music and how they shaped how I feel about certain subjects. I wanted to share some of those experiences here today.

Winter 1988

My parents were always behind the times when it came to electronics. Thankfully I’m not quite old enough to remember 8 track tapes but I know my parents had them for a long time. What I am old enough to remember are my parent’s record collection and their 2-speed turntable (33 1/3 and 45 RPM). They had a lot of albums, from Michael Jackson’s Thriller to Anita Baker’s Rapture album. They had a lot of contemporary and pop albums but they didn’t have anything that resembled rap. One day while I was thumbing thru their collection I came across an album with a man standing on a car leaning against a fence wearing a Kangol bucket. I thought that LL Cool J was a funny name for a singer but I decided to listen one day when my parents weren’t home.

I was so glad that I waited till my parents weren’t home that day. Bigger and Deffer was my introduction to rap music. When those opening bars hit me I was hooked. No rapper can rap can quite like I can/I’ll take a muscle bound man and put his face in the sand.  I really did think I was bad. I would sneak and listen to that album whenever my parents left me alone at home. I quickly became a fan of rap music with LL Cool J being my favorite rapper (It’s a shame that he fell to such a level as to do a song like Accidental Racist). Regardless Bigger and Deffer is still in my top 5-rap album list.

Summer 1993

My parents were still behind the times and were still using cassette tapes. By this time my sister was in high school and had a part time job so she had extra money, which she used to buy a 3-disc stereo. One day while she was at work I snuck into her room to look at her CDs. She had a CD with a picture of a guy in a baseball cap on the front. In my opinion he didn’t look like any doctor I had ever seen. Maybe it was an audio lecture. Either way I was about to find out.

I wasn’t a fan of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and by extension I wasn’t a fan of much of west coast rap (although for some reason I had an infatuation with Eazy-E. Str8 Off Tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton is also a favorite of mine). Even though I wasn’t a fan of The Chronic, I knew a lot of people in my neighborhood lauded it as the best rap album to come out in years so I played along to fit in.

One day I was playing with the white girl, Shelly, who lived across the street. I noticed that her parents had a surround sound system (well at surround as it could get for it being 1993) with a CD player. Since her parents weren’t home, I wanted to show off how cool I was so I ran across the street and grabbed my sister’s Chronic CD and brought it over. Looking back at the scene it just didn’t seem right, a black boy trying to impress a white girl by playing rap music in her parent’s home.  I wonder what her parents would have thought if they came home early that day.

Summer 1995

I was in middle school and while before I had a general understanding of what artists were saying in songs I really couldn’t internalize and dissect lyrics. It was during this summer that I really started to comprehend what it was I was listening to. This was also my first real exposure to any artist from the Midwest. It wasn’t their debut album (although I did hear bits and pieces of it on the radio and from friends) that made me a fan but their sophomore album that I still play to this day and still gets me hyped. E. 1999 Eternal by Bone Thugs N Harmony is a classic album, 5 mics or whatever descriptor you want to use for great albums.

I played that album so much that I popped my tape. Twice. The album opens up: East 1999, my niggas/Thinkin’ ’bout back in the days when the year was ’89/Little nigga on da grind, gotta get mine doing my crime/Wid two in here, steady stackin’ my ends/Puttin’ my serve down on the Claire 9-9. When I heard that no one could tell me that I wasn’t from Cleveland and at the time I doubt I could have pointed it out on a map. That Christmas my parents bought me a Sony Discman and although I already had the tape, my first two CDs I got were E. 1999 Eternal and their EP Creepin On Ah Come Up.

I remained a diehard Bone fan until they dropped that sorry Art of War. I can’t think of 5 artists who have successfully dropped a double album. It’s just too difficult to do.

Autumn 1997

I was a junior in high school and at this time in my life I thought I knew everything there was to know about rap music. The epicenter of hip-hop was in New York. If you weren’t Biggie, Pac, Nas or Jay-Z then you weren’t shit. Everyone else was an afterthought. My best friend in high school (the same one who put me up on Bone) came to me one day before basketball practice and told me that I should listen to this southern rapper named Master P.

By admission in high school I believed the stereotype that southern rappers were less intelligent and didn’t rap about anything of substance. He let me hold this album called Ghetto D and he said I should listen to this song called Make’ Em Say Ugh. After hearing that song I was apart of the tank. I listened to that song before every game that season to get my hyped.

Between my junior and senior year of high school, I bought somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-30 No Limit cassettes (yes I was still listening to them then) and CDs. I was in PA Palace (popular music store during the mid 90s in the DMV area) every week buying records from Master P, Mia X, Fiend, Mac, Skull Duggery, Mystikal, Kane & Abel, Mr. Magic, C-Murder and even Silkk the Shocker. My favorite artist off of the label was Mac, who was able to combine the lyrical prowess of an east coast rapper with the grittiness of a southern rapper. He could have been one of the greats if didn’t throw his life away.

I eventually burned way thru my No Limit phase because Master P put out too much product in a short period of time. No Limit did allow me to appreciate southern rap although I never was a fan of another southern rapper after them until J. Cole (and yes that includes Cash Money. While I liked certain songs they put out I don’t ever think I was a fan).

—-

There are a number of artists whom I grew up on who influenced the feelings towards hip-hop music today but these are the ones that stood out to me the most. I discussed one album from each region of the country; New York City, West Coast, Midwest and the South. Today it’s no surprise that when I listen to music the first thing I listen for is lyrical content. I also hold production value to high regard. My favorite artists today have are still spread out across the country. From the East coast: Talib Kweli, Nas, Joe Budden, A$AP Rocky. From the South: J. Cole (although he has an east coast feel) and Phonte. From the Midwest: Royce Da 5’9, Common and Black Milk. From the West coast: Kendrick Lamar, Crooked I and the Game.