The New Renaissance: Straight with no Chaser

“Bru u needta ramp the podcast up, do a live bi-weekly residency at a bookstore n roll”

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That’s how is started.  A random text on a Sunday afternoon.  And just like that, Bea Kay, the creative force behind A Bea Kay Thing Called Beloved, had reached out to J. Vincent, the host of the Multifarious Man Podcast with the spark of an idea.  That was January 20th.  Less than 3 weeks later we were live at D&G Deli and Grill in downtown Jacksonville, Florida.  Two microphones, a DJ (with a 90’s R&B vibe) as the background soundtrack, and two family men that can maneuver with ease between Corporate America and any corner barbershop.  The premise was simple, bring an empowerment movement to the people.  The Beloved Empowerment Movement.

Reading, education, and family are cool; not just as slogan on a Saturday morning cartoon.  Politics, public policy, religion.  All topic are open for discussion.  Real community isn’t about race and economic status.  It is about what connects us rather than what divides us.  Bea Kay (Beamon) and J. Vincent (Jonmichael) are black men with unique points of view influenced by our upbringing.  From the inner city to the suburbs.  Hardworking parents and grandparents that laid the foundation that we were able to build upon.  Give us a topic and we can discuss it from all angles with brutal honesty.  What we accomplished in just over a month of live shows is, to paraphrase Jay Z,  just  the preview, this ain’t the show we’re just EQing it.  We do this for the culture.  There’s a lost generation of youth that doesn’t need another anthem.  They need guidance.  They need someone that believes you can uplift without an ulterior motive.   Now that we have your attention, take a listen:

Renaissance Saturday Morning Edition Live Episode 1

Renaissance Saturday Morning Edition Live Episode 2: Part I

Renaissance Saturday Morning Edition Live Episode 2: Part II

Renaissance Saturday Morning Edition Live Episode 3

Renaissance Saturday Morning Edition Live Episode 4

Renaissance Saturday Morning Edition Live Episode 5

Special Thanks

So Scenic Photography (www.soscenicphotography.com)

D&G Deli and Grill (www.dandgdeliandgrill.com)

 

 

The Multifarious Man Podcast Celebrates Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In honor of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr please read “I Have a Dream Speech” in it’s entirety below.  We will return tomorrow with the latest episode.

MLK

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

We Can All Do Better in 2015

In 2015, maybe we should all agree to try something different. If someone posts “I can’t breathe”, instead of accusing them of being anti-cop or pro-criminal, give them the benefit of the doubt and tell them that you agree that the justice system does not treat everyone equally. Ask them what do they think can be done to make things better. The next time someone posts, “Breathe easy, don’t break the law,” assume that the are only saying that they support law enforcement and not that they don’t believe that you have the right to peacefully protest. Maybe we should all admit that crime and injustic impacts everyone, regardless of your skin color. Police Officers are human, and they make mistakes. Unfortunately due to the nature of their job, when they make mistakes, the results can be tragic. If a white cop kills a black man, it does not mean he is racists. But we have to be mature enough to admit that cultural conditioning and bias do exist. The environment we live and work in, does impact how we act or react to any given situation. Police should have better training, and it is not just about tactics. Using a firearm, and self defense techniques are only part of the equation. There has to be more emphasis on the community interaction and the psychological aspects of a high stress job. If all of your contact with the community is negative, then bad things will happen.

On the other side of the coin, we need to do a much better job in our communities ensuring that we know the men and women that chose to protect and serve. Every day they go out, they know they may encounter a life or death situation. Do you really think cops want to pull you over for speeding on the interstate? Traffic stops are one of the most dangerous aspects of law enforcement. Not only are you operating without back up, but you have to be concerned with moving traffic and the unknown of what you will find when you approach that car. How about we all agree to observe the posted traffic laws? And if you get pulled over, you should just be courteous and cooperative. If you live in a high crime area, how about working with the investigators and stop pretending you didn’t see anything. “Snitches get stitches” is probably one of the stupidest “hood” sayings that I have ever heard. I get that people want to protest against police brutality, but you must admit that your message gets lost when you accept criminals, and criminal behavior in your community.

Perhaps Starbucks has it right. Have you ever noticed the cross-section of society that you will find in you average Starbucks? You will find people of every race, religion, color, and vocation. I know it is oversimplifying race relations, but you have to start somewhere. The next time you are on line for your java fix and you see a police officer, say hello thank you. If you are on patrol, stop and that ball field and introduce you self to the kids and parents. If we remember all the things we have in common, then maybe we can start to see things from the same point of view.

Dear America…..

Dear America,

I’m sorry that my protests are inconvenient. That you were late for work and missed your latte. I’m sorry that people commit a high percentage of crimes against the people that look like them, or live near them. I’m sorry that criminals are lazy and find travel inconvenient. I get it. No really, I get it. After Cain slew Abel, if you had started suspecting every sibling whenever there was another murder, it would have made sense to suspect every male sibling, because based on your statistics, every murder had been committed by a male sibling. I know it’s not your fault that people are protesting the perceived injustices perpetrated by the systems and people that are supposed to serve and protect the people. How dare they prevent you from going about your daily lives without having to think about the plight of someone that doesn’t look like you, or live near you, or pray like you do.

Imagine if the police stopped you and searched you whenever you drove past a school because someone that looked like you slaughtered children with an assault rifle. Or if you had to be stopped and frisked every time you went to a movie theater because a madman that looked like you massacred innocent people. Would it be right for me to take my savings out of your bank because you look like someone that ran a Ponzi scheme.

I feel sorry for you when you hear people are protesting and you have to take five minutes out of your commute to ask Google or Siri what’s going on. I am sorry that the inconvenience forces you to post snarky comments that the protestors probably don’t have jobs. Or that your regularly scheduled programming is preempted so that the local news can report about the protests.

I am sorry that you are infuriated whenever a dog kills someone people say Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are too dangerous but you don’t bat and eye when politicians get on television and say that the only reason black and brown boys are profiled by the police is because they commit crimes against their own. I’m sorry that you read this and think I am comparing pets to people.

America I am truly sorry that when you turn on the news and hear about crimes, terrorism, and injustice you only see it as the inconvenience caused by other people’s problems. Those people are killing themselves, or those people need to get a job.

Dear America I am sorry that you can’t see that there are evil people in the world and good people in the world. I am sorry that all you can see is the statistics of race and not the fact that laws exist because it is in human nature to sin. People commit crimes for many different reasons, but race is not one of them. The difference between the Bernie Madoffs of the world and the common street criminal is that there is not difference. How many people are homeless or were driven to murder suicide because someone in a suit took their life savings. The criminal with a pen affects millions while the criminal with the gun only affects a few. The difference is how the legal system treats them both when they are caught. You expect the street thug to go to jail forever but you are not angry when the “white collar” criminal gets a fine and a small sentence.

I am sorry that when someone holds up their hands and says “don’t shoot” or wears a shirt that says “I can’t breathe” you instinctively see it as attack against the fine men and women in law enforcement and not the cry against injustice that it truly is. If you hit me with your car by mistake or on purpose I am still injured regardless of intent. Don’t get mad at me if I demand to know why something happened so it doesn’t happen again.

Dear America I am sorry that is nearly 2015 and we have to discuss race because bias and prejudice exist. Having a bias or being prejudiced does not make a person bad or evil. Ignoring the fact that our actions are driven by the bias and prejudices of our experiences and the experiences of our community, that’s the real crime.

Stand Your Ground…Leave Common Sense Behind

Like many people, I sat in anticipated disbelief when the verdict was read in the George Zimmerman second degree murder trial for the shooting death of Trayvon Benjamin Martin.  Anticipation because that part of my brain that has known the difference of right from wrong since I was a toddler believed there was no way that a man could profile, follow, confront, and kill a teenaged boy would be convicted of some if not for all of the crimes for which he had been charged.  Disbelief because I knew that history has shown that the lives of young black males in the country are not held in high regard so there was now way that the jury would find him guilty.

I keep hearing that this case had nothing to do with race or racial profiling, but how could it not?  By his own admission, George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin because due to a rash of burglaries committed in the community reportedly by black males, one of which had been found with stolen property, and Travyon, a young black male, fit the profile.  He was seen walking slowly in the rain wearing a hood which obviously was suspicious because in the absence of an umbrella, only someone up to know good would wear a hood or walk slow.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), racial profiling refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of a crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin.  Criminal profiling, generally, as practiced by the police, is the reliance on a group of characteristics they believe to be associated with crime.  On the night of February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman, carrying a legal firearm, acting as the Neighborhood Watch captain, followed Trayvon Martin in his vehicle, at some point exiting the vehicle, and after an altercation, intentionally pulled out his firearm and shot Trayvon once in the chest.

Initially after observing Trayvon, George Zimmerman called the local non-emergency phone number and informed the dispatcher that he was “just walking around looking about” and saying “This guy looks like he is up to no good or he is on drugs or something.”  At some point he lost sight of Trayvon and exited his vehicle advising the dispatcher that he was still following him.  The dispatcher told him, “We don’t need you to do that.”  While this is not an explicit instruction to stop following him, it was certainly implied.

The call ended and within several minutes, based on eyewitnesses and Mr. Zimmerman’s statement, an altercation ensued ending with Trayvon Martin’s death.  Once the police arrived at the scene, several minutes later by approximately 7:17 PM, Trayvon was laying face down dying or already dead.  As the only other true eyewitness could not make a statement, Mr. Zimmerman’s account that he acted in self defense were eventually accepted and he was not charged with crime.

My purpose here is not to cover the initial investigation by the Sanford police department and subsequent public outcry which eventually led to State’s Attorney’s office charging George Zimmerman with second-degree murder on April 11, 2012.  What concerns me is that although the defense attorney’s did not use Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” as part of their strategy, merely claiming self-defense; the jury instructions did cite this law.

After the acquittal, the woman known as Juror B37 stated that Mr. Zimmerman “started the ball rolling” and could have avoided the situation by staying in his car.  “He was justified in shooting Trayvon Martin.”  Now I have to assume that they jury understood the law, understood the instructions, and based on the evidence in the case, had no choice but to find George Zimmerman not guilty.  Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you see it, my common sense tells me the he was guilty of manslaughter.

According to Florida Statute 782.07 subsection 1, “The killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification according to the provisions of chapter 776 and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder, according to the provisions of this chapter, is manslaughter…”  Of course I would be remiss in not showing the aforementioned provisions of chapter 776, specifically 776.013 “Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm” was the basis of Zimmerman’s defense.

Subsection 3 of 776.013 reads: A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.  My question here is, didn’t Trayvon Martin have a right to defend himself if in his mind, George Zimmerman, a stranger, was attacking him?

Statute 776.041 Use of force by aggressor says: The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter (776) is not available to a person who:

(1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless: (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

Unfortunately, based on the language in subsection 2 and 2a, both Trayvon and Zimmerman were well within their rights.  To quote William Shakespeare, “aye, there’s the rub”.  Trayvon is dead and Zimmerman is alive, so he is the only one that can make this claim.  My common sense argument is that Zimmerman got out of the car knowing that he had a gun to defend himself.  He brought the proverbial gun to a fist fight.  Does anyone doubt that George Zimmerman is what I like to call an Iron Thug?  This means that without the gun, he never would be emboldened to get out of the car in the first place.  There a lot of people in the world that need a firearm to make them feel brave enough to get into an altercation.  This is the problem with the law.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not attacking anyone’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.  At the same time, don’t attack my choice to not keep and bear arms.  Common sense tells me that a child of 5 feet 11 inches and weighing 158 pounds should not be able to make a grown man of 5 feet 7 inches and weighing 185 pounds fear for his life if the man brings a gun to the fight.  Do I now have to worry that a shouting match in a mall parking lot or road rage, can lead to someone shooting and killing be because somehow my size of 5 feet 8 inches, 175 pounds, and black skin makes them fear for their life?  The Preamble of our Constitution reads as thus:

We the People of the United States, In Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Now as the framing fathers owned slaves, I don’t have any illusions that at the time it was written that this included the general Welfare of my ancestors, the document is powerful as it did allow for the later Amendments that provided a course correction which ended slavery and granted rights people of color and women.  With all of it’s faults, this is still the greatest country in the world.  I just have problem with laws that allow people to legally infringe on the right’s of others.  Trayvon Benjamin Martin had every right to walk to the store, buy Skittles, and an Arizona Iced Tea, and walk home unmolested by an overzealous Neighborhood watch volunteer with a loaded gun and aspirations of being a hero.  Your right to bear arms should not supersede my right to be left alone and when threatened defend myself with my fists.  The tragedy is that George Zimmerman gets to live with his mistakes, Trayvon Martin died because of those same mistkes.