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Who Do You Want As Your Neighbor?: Looking Through The Eyes of the Solitarily Confined

“Who Do You Want As Your Neighbor? That’s what it really boils down to!” -Marquis 

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Above is a photo of my friend, Marquis. The words above, as well as the ones to follow, are his own. He was one of the participants who filled one of the 23-hours inside of the mock solitary confinement cell at UCLA during October 2014, the Month of Resistance Against Mass Incarceration.

What makes Marquis unique, you might ask? He actually served 15 of his young 36 year life inside a state penitentiary in Texas for a first offense, non-violent crime. Seven of those 15 years were spent in solitary confinement, so he speaks from first-hand experience and from his heart. But even after that, he still doesn’t feel he’s paid his full debt to society. I’ll tell you this, contrary to what many people’s perceptions are about so-called ex cons, the young man is very intelligent and bright, very well spoken, wise, and very open and honest about his experience inside the system. And he is committed to changing it.

Here are some of his most notable remarks as he spoke to an 18 year-old about his solitary confinement and incarceration experience:

- I have no regrets, no quarrels with the time I served. I did the crime. My issue is with the product that the prisons are producing.
– The intent of prison is NOT to reform or rehabilitate inmates, it is to torture, abuse, and use. It actually breeds an even more violent and criminal mind than the one that entered the prison, one that has little regard for life due to the violent nature of the prison environment. It eats away at their conscience.
– I no longer have the right vote, so I have little political power to choose our leaders. So I’m doing things like this as my part to help create change.
– I skipped my plumbing 101 class at the community college today because this cause is so very important, not just to me but to all of us.
– Taxpayers footed the bill to feed me, clothe me, and house me for 15 years. I’m not even close to paying back that debt.
– Solitary confinement creates insanity in what was once a sane human being. It breaks down the mind.
– I was often beaten and spoken to harshly by corrections officers and other prison staff, for trying to organize and hold study groups, encourage reading, self education, and self discovery – true reform to other prisoners.
– I saw 60 year old men become so frustrated with themselves because they could write their name but could not use it in writing a sentence. What happens to one who can’t read or write when they re-enter society? We’ve failed him yet again.
– The only reason I was able to survive and come out relatively healthy and sane was because I was one of the 4% of inmates who had great family support. They sent me books, newspapers, magazines, etc; their contact and care is what helped me maintain my sanity.
– Your bed is about “this wide”, you can barely turn over in it, and you have a toilet/sink combo over in that corner.
– People don’t realize that by not ensuring a prison system that actually addresses the real (often mental and emotional) issues that many prisoners face, when released, those same people could be their neighbors. So do you want someone who’s a worse criminal than before around your family and children, or someone who’s going to be a contributing member of society?
– Solitary confinement corrupts the mind, so it is not strange that a detainee might draw an image on his wall and begin having conversations with it…or start masturbating to pictures of fully dressed women. Something just isn’t right about this type of treatment toward humans; on so many levels.
– On my day of release after 15 years of time served, they handed me $100 cash, and sent me on my way. If you’re lucky, that might get you a night in a hotel and a meal or two. But then what?

 

Marquis, much love to you my brother for speaking out so loudly against the system that has misused and abused you and millions of others. We need more brave ones like you to fight and win this war against mass incarceration, and finally put a halt to this slow genocide. Thank you!

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LOVE,

 

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Bradford Speaks is a Life Architect, Coach & Youth Speaker, who desires to wake up the world to see one that it could exist in if only it could employ more love and less hate and war. He seeks to speak to and inspire our youth to live at a higher level of consciousness, to see themselves as their brother’s keeper. He is also an author and self proclaimed philosopher. You may visit his company’s site, Bradford Speaks Life Management, LLC to learn more about his work, and to schedule individual sessions, or book him to speak to your youth organization.

I Relaxed, I Trusted, I Shouldn’t Have – And That’s On Me

trustI am alive. As I continue to watch the struggle of being Black in America, and the flurry of young black men being brutalized and senselessly gunned down like wild animals by bullying police officers all across the American landscape, it all evokes memories of my distant childhood and the rejected messages and conversations that my dear mother so eagerly wanted me to hear and understand. It wasn’t that she was paranoid or anything, but it was that she loved me so much, and my safety and well-being was of the utmost importance to her; this didn’t only apply to me, but this was the case with all of her children. The same can be said of most mothers as it pertains to her offspring. I ignored her, and listened to my own experience but was horribly deceived by it.

Mothers and Suns often share a very special bond, as do father’s and daughters. My relationship with my mother was no different – my mother and I are still very close today. My mother was born in 1931 in the small Louisiana town of Bogalusa, located just outside the back door of the still highly racist state of Mississippi. My father actually moved to Bogalusa as a young teen (where he met my mother) from Silver Creek, Mississippi, in search of better opportunities than were afforded anyone of African descent living in Mississippi. I can’t imagine there was much more in Louisiana for a black man than was in Mississippi during that time, but he came over and just like so many other descendants of slaves, somehow found a way to make it work. He was born in 1930, not too far in the rearview of the “abolishment of slavery”, which any unbiased historian would tell you, wasn’t fully accurate. It had not been truly abolished, especially not in the south.  I mean, lynchings were still sparsely taking place, the murder of 14 year-old Emmitt Till, one of the most horrific in recorded American history, happened in 1955 for godssake, and Jim Crow Laws were in full effect!

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In the 1970s-80s, I was growing up in a different time than they had. I had no idea what segregation was really all about. In every school I had ever attended, classes were equally filled with black and white students, so there wasn’t much I observed to be extremely strange or odd. We played together on the playgrounds and laughed together in the classrooms and during lunch and recess. As I became more aware, however, there were a few things that began to stand out: The fact that every day after school, most of my white friends would be picked up by their parent or get on different buses and go to their neighborhoods, and we (the black kids) would either walk home or take the bus to our neighborhoods. Many of the poorer white kids took the same buses as the black kids, and didn’t live too far from our neighborhoods, but there still existed some separation between us, literal and figurative. These whites were who would be called today – and even then – “white trash”. This is a very negative term that I always abhorred and was very uncomfortable with. I would often wonder with the mind of a child though not quite in these words – why are we separated after school but not during school? Why do we live in different neighborhoods? Why can’t I see and play with my white friends away from school like I can my black ones? Where do they live and how far away from me? How do their neighborhoods and lives at home differ from mine?  These are just a few of the questions and curiosities I held inside.   

The conversations that my mother would attempt to have with me as a young lad were what I perceived to be racist in tone, but in retrospect I realize they weren’t. I didn’t want to hear her because what she was saying was in direct conflict with what I was experiencing, or what I wanted to experience in my life. I wanted to be happy just as any child or person does; I wanted to fit in, I wanted to live in a perfect world of acceptance by all, and I was trying to protect that desire at all costs, even at the risk of ignoring my mother’s precious and loving advice. I wanted to see the best, believe the best, and to trust that I was liked because of who I was as a person and human being. My mother was only attempting to protect her child from a system that she knew meant no good to a young black adolescent. Of course as a child I couldn’t see things in the way she did; my little world was already perfect to a great degree, and again, I wanted to keep it that way. Instead of listening to her, I chose to trust my own representation of society and how it was being shaped for me. Against all warning, I chose to unconsciously trust the system and those who had designed it, thinking it all had my best interest at heart. After all, I was only a child so how couldn’t they? I didn’t see myself as a descendant of slaves; I never saw myself as less than human, or much different than anyone else. I knew I was just as smart, intelligent, and talented as anyone else, regardless of my color. So why would I be treated differently, I thought?

Today I have my own children, and up until now I have taught them to see themselves just as I do – as equal, because they are. I have taught them to be virtually colorblind- to expect to be treated no less than the valuable people that they are. Today I feel that this was a little naive of me to do. Let me explain. I didn’t fail by teaching them to be colorblind per say, but by neglecting to make them aware of the unwritten, unknown, invisible disadvantages that come along with being Black or poor in America. I have succeeded in teaching them the power of self love and self empowerment, but failed to educate them to the fact that the society in which they would exist may not actually be colorblind towards them as I have instructed them to be towards it. Sure, there are many people, including white people – at least in talk – who do not see color; which is really tough to do, especially in America. The foundation of America’s systemic architecture never viewed people with darker skin – or non white skin for that matter – as equal or deserving of the same privileges. Not the Native American, not the African, not the Filipino, not the Japanese, not the Guatemalan, not the Korean, not the Chinaman, not the Cuban, not the Mexican, not the Brazilian, nor the Palestinian. They seem to be all just casualties of Western convoy and conquest. Over the centuries since slavery the laws have been slowly, systematically, and cunningly augmented to continually enforce and support racist and slavery ideologies through the use of over policing in poor and black neighborhoods, mass incarceration, the building and development of the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) and school to prison pipelineand the creation of American ghettos across the American urban landscape. Even though I have European, African, and Native American blood flowing through my veins, in America I’m only considered as Black, with little weight given to the multi-racial aspects that truly make up who I am.

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In America, this counterfeit colorblindness is indicative by the the single fact that the Unite States Constitution was not written, and was never re-written to take into account and consideration the well-being of the African, for he was never intended to be a permanent part of its society outside of the role of a slave. The “freedom” that Blacks in America have today is the result of a great miscalculation of the part of the master architects or founding fathers; an oversight of the slaves’ strength, resilience, and will to fight and rise up to defeat the oppressions that had long caged them. The rights that come along with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for every American citizen has always been a grey area for Blacks, and in many ways still are. There has never been any open apology for this crime against humanity, no reparations paid to offset the loss of life and opportunity to create generational wealth that could have helped to stabilize and empower a people that had been gravely oppressed for more than 400 years. Surely they could use an economic boost that is beyond social welfare programs, which only serve to perpetuate a search for more of the same. But I suppose that such a lift might pose too large of a threat to the system, and we can’t have that now can we.

I should have been a little less trusting of you, and more trusting of my mother. No one loves me like she does; what was I thinking? I should have been a little less optimistic in my belief that the society to which I was raising my children to go out into and become loving, value contributing citizens in, might not embrace them in the same way as they would embrace it. I trusted that my Suns would be allowed to dress in whatever way they choose (as long as they were not violating any laws) without the worry of being profiled, harassed, and hunted down on the streets like some kind of prey. I trusted that you would protect them, respect them, and value their lives as you do your own children. You don’t, because you don’t see them as you do your own – they way that I see yours as my own. I can see it so clearly now, and I can’t change you by myself, but I can change me, and I can re-educate my own. I will not teach them to stop loving or to stop trusting, but to be more keenly aware of what surrounds them. My misunderstanding of your intent is totally on me. It’s on me that I gave you so much credit, entrusted you with so much, and expected so much of you as it pertained to the value of my life, my children’s lives, and the lives of all people.

LOVE,

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Bradford Speaks is a Life Architect, Coach & Youth Speaker, who desires to wake up the world to see one that it could exist in if only it could employ more love and less hate and war. He seeks to speak to and inspire our youth to live at a higher level of consciousness, to see themselves as their brother’s keeper. He is also an author and self proclaimed philosopher. You may visit his company’s site, Bradford Speaks Life Management, LLC to learn more about his work, and to schedule individual sessions or book him to speak to your youth organization.

What Exactly Will It Take?

pledgeofresistanceprofpicI attended a demonstration protest yesterday at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). October 1st 2014 was the first day of the Month of Resistance against mass incarceration and the criminalization of a nation of black and brown faces by America – mainly Black and Hispanic. Desiring to be on the right side of history as it pertains to the rights of all humans, I’ve chosen to be an active and vocal participant in this movement to STOP the madness of what is increasingly becoming a police state in America.

POTUS Nixon first introduced the idea and initial launching of The War on Drugs in the early 1970s, and subsequent perpetuation of it was headed by the following former POTUSs Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, both Bush’s, right on down to Obama. This all happened right underneath our noses; not many people other than its architects were cognizant of its effects of it until decades later. As a product, today it boasts increased incarceration rates in America of more than 500 percent – wait a minute, I don’t think you heard me clearly…I said FIVE HUNDRED PERCENT!! If we are negligent in allowing things to continue as they have, statistics indicate that 1 in 3 black males will see the inside of a prison during his lifetime. This is NOT acceptable!

The United States (including Hawaii and Alaska, accounts for less than 10 percent of the world’s population, but it imprisons somewhere in the neighborhood of 26 percent of that same population. The number of people incarcerated in the U.S. more than triples the number of any other so-called “civilized” society. Doesn’t sound very civilized to me.

This had to have been an act of deliberation, not much different than the forced transportation of African slaves across the Atlantic and to America for the deliberate purpose of cheap labor needed to build and feed the then infantile corporate greed monster. Of the more than 2 million people currently warehoused behind prison walls, upwards of 60 percent of them are Black or Hispanic male. A large proportion of these prisoners are tortured and placed in solitary and often unsanitary confinement, with only one hour of freedom each day. This is modern day slavery if we’ve ever seen it. What makes these numbers even more condemning of our justice system is that there is no evidence in terms of what race or ethnicity commits the amount of crime that would justify such a disproportionate increase or occupancy. There are also many injustices that are happening with the women in American society and around the world, but we’ll have to touch on that one some other day.

youth inprisonI would like to commend the very small group of students – all female – that headed up the demonstration today and for exhibiting great courage in the face of their peers. You did that bullhorn major justice today! :) I was reminded of myself, who as a young college student, had very little hesitancy to stand up for what I believed was right and fair. Seeing this encouraged me that there truly is hope. I must admit, however, that I was a little disappointed with the number of students who were willing to jump right in and stand beside us against this slow genocide taking place among us – among them. It is a genocide of epic proportions of their generation, so I hoped that having a close proximity to these happenings might give them more motivation to engage. What we received from most of the students passing by was apathy. I know they had other agendas, but apathy was what we received. Just like most of the adults who regularly occupy and influence their lives, apathy is mostly what they could offer. Without being able to identify directly with this issue; without having had someone relatively close to your life go through this or be touched by this; without having someone who at least looks like you be targeted and criminalized on the basis of their skin color – seems to able to breed only apathy, I guess. I will tell you this – apathy will get us absolutely nowhere, of that I can assure you! I will give credit to the many students who were willing to at least stop and inquire of what was going on, as well as those who were willing to accept a copy of the informational leaflets we were distributing. Thank you.

So, what’s it going to take? Is it going to take the number of people incarcerated to reach a whopping 3 million? Is that what we’re waiting for? That number is very likely if we don’t wake up and act NOW to reverse this tragedy. Is it going to take every single individual having someone close to them, or someone they know peripherally, to be murdered or brutalized at the hands of law enforcement? Is it going to take a number greater than the sixty black and brown men who have been murdered in the last sixty days alone? What is it going to take to fuel this much needed movement?? What’s it going to take to get as many people to LIKE and inquire about “what it is I am involved in, and how can I play my part to help” as I get to LIKE a recent photo of my favorite pet? Are human lives not as important as a cat’s? Are human lives less valuable than the latest pair of Jimmy Choo pumps? Watching my Facebook feed, such would surely seem to be the case. I can tell what won’t move us to the next plateau as a society fighting for equality – and that is the kind of reaction we saw from people yesterday. We will need the energy of millions of you to propel this engine of demolition and reconstruction of a broken penal system forward. Standing around watching your brothers and sisters fight on your behalf simply is not going to cut it as it has in the past. We are at a very pivotal point in regards to two main topics – Global Climate Change and Mass Incarceration in America. If America is intent on remaining the Superpower that it is (and I’m fairly certain that they do), it had better start doing right by its citizens and immigrants, else they will inadvertently create an entire generation of enemies living within its own borders. The veil that has covered its dirty underwear for so long is wearing thin, and their “privates” are slowly being exposed to the rest of the world. How can you continue to project yourself as a nation of peace when the way you treat your own citizens are so barbaric? How can you do this when all you do is perpetuate war and not peace?

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Get from behind those laptops, mobile phones and apps people! Come out and join the fight the power structure that is intent on suppressing, oppressing, and alienating poor people and people of color, forcing them into a social under-caste . We must stand together, hands interlocked and united in love and respect, and demand systemic change that will take us all in a better direction that will serve to salvage this young generation that is on the fringe of being lost for good.

LOVE,

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Bradford Speaks is a Life Architect, Coach & Youth Speaker, who desires to wake up the world to see one that it could exist in if only it could employ more love and less hate and war. He seeks to speak to and inspire our youth to live at a higher level of consciousness, to see themselves as their brother’s keeper. He is also an author and self proclaimed philosopher. You may visit his company’s site, Bradford Speaks Life Management, LLC to learn more about his work, and to schedule individual sessions or book him to speak to your youth organization.

Who Is It That Has Such Ill Will For America?

There seems to be some very malicious intent on the part of somebodys to run The United States of America deep into the ground where no one can ever find it; somebodys wants it seriously destroyed. For its leaders to have allowed so many events to occur on its watch – events they surely must see and realize are intimately connected and interwoven that they can only crash like a stack of dominoes when nudged – seems to be such a mystery. Or is it? The engine can only run for so long on its current condition before finally collapsing.

Particularly, what is going on with our penal, justice and law enforcement systems will ultimately have a negative and profound long-term affect on life as we have come to know it here. The disproportionate incarceration rates of young black and Hispanic males for small drug crimes are staggering. Due to the methods by which much of the economic data we are given is calculated, the foundational devastation that is occurring beneath our feet goes largely unnoticed to the masses – especially to those of us who feel we are OK/safe for the most part because we have taken the correct steps to keep it that way. To not see how these events connect and affect us all, is very naive. We are the ones who don’t typically pay attention because we are too busy making sure we remain OK/safe; but we are also the ones who hold the power to demand that America change its course. If we don’t, we are going to find all of our neighborhoods (black, white, Asian, Hispanic, or whatever) surrounded by million dollar privately and publicly owned prison facilities, filled with American citizens who will one day re-enter society, no longer able to earn a fair living due to the stigma of now being labeled an ex convict. Now what for them? Remember, many of these people are being locked up for crimes that just a few decades ago would’ve maybe gotten them a warning. Today the same offense costs 5-10 years of your life. People don’t see this – it isn’t reported in the mainstream media. Prisoners become guaranteed streams of revenue for a prison system that PROFITS from the imprisoment of American citizens. Why is this OK?? What kind of madness??! So in truth, many of our “criminals” aren’t necessarily bad people – they are just victims of a system designed to criminalize them for profit.

What can we expect as a result of this allowance? More crime, fully militarized local police forces (citizens will be asking for additional protection out of fear – they’ll foolishly vote it into legislation), increased unemployment, homelessness, starvation, more hate/racism, increased debt, and the list goes on and on. None of this will happen because people are bad per say, but simply because they will be trying to survive! No different than someone who is currently living in the ghettos of America. This cycle has already begun; it has been happening underneath our noses for several decades now. Some might argue a century but let’s not split hairs. It is moving very rapidly to those who are aware of it and watchful. The good news is, it can be dialed back. Bad news – It will take many years to do so and a bravery and solidarity of the people of this nation that is largely unknown to this alive today. We have lost our will to fight. We are unguarded at a time when we should be most. So I do believe it is possible, but not at all an easy undertaking.

Though America’s beginnings were constructed in murderous conquest, extortion, slavery, and major injustices towards Native American, African and poor people, it was once upon a time a country that had so much potential for true greatness; it has had numerous chances to truly ‘right its wrongs’, but has turned its back. It has continuously pissed those opportunities away by failing to do what is right by ALL people, and choosing instead to bow down to corporate and racist interests. America has held the golden key in its palms [but fumbled] on many occasions, to become the flagship for other nations to pattern themselves after. Many have greedily done so, and have tied their hitches onto it and its whores of Wall Street. They will sink right along with her if they refuse to abandon ship. The many wrongs that America’s “leaders” and citizens have allowed to continuously be done to underprivileged poor people and people of color, is a debt that cannot be overlooked and must eventually be paid. They can’t be so blind not to see the inevitable consequences of their actions, which is why I feel it is that the continuous running down this same self destructive path is intentional.

The America we could have known has been taken captive, and is being held hostage. She is being raped and is screaming for freedom. Who will come to her rescue? Somebodys at a very high level does not want good for America. Either that, or they want so good for themselves that they can only see America as a pawn in their rearview. I can see it so clearly…can’t you?

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Is Black America Failing Its Young Men?

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I recently heard from a friend that Attorney General Holder is considering passing new laws that would eliminate mandatory or extensive sentencing for drug crimes. 

I don’t know fully what this means exactly, as I have not done much research on his intention with these new laws. While I find the information on the surface to sound appealing and admirable, I must admit that I do sense that additional trickery could be at hand with the passing of such a law. America has not been too kind in its attempts to restructure laws that obviously place black people at great risk and disadvantage. There has been little hesitation to put large segments of them right at the epicenter of harm’s way. These perceived attempts have mysteriously and consistently been undermined by individuals and groups who occupy powerful positions within the United States’ legislative branches – entities that possess the potential to determine the fate of millions of black people, as well as all Americans who reside under its control and living near the bottom of its socio-economic totem pole. For centuries now, there has been an ongoing battle for the rights and equality of African descendants in America, and their basic rights as humans. In fact, their humanity in general has been questioned and continuously hangs in the balance. While there are many people living in the United States who believe black people are just as much human as anyone else, not many of them would be willing to trade shoes with a black person – not in America. Being judged based purely on your skin color – something you have essentially no control over, and shouldn’t desire to – can be a heavy burden to bear. This imbedded mindset has not totally disappeared, and if you believe that it has, then you are naive. Too much evidence exists to the contrary.

Back to the law changes. Remember, it isn’t the length of a sentence – nor any mandatory sentencing laws at all – that tosses both black and hispanic males into this social under-caste system that current legislation does, but it is the tag that comes along with any conviction that hinders them from re-entering society with a fair chance at reform – things like higher education, housing, economic and employment opportunities, and even a retention of their right to vote. Sentencing is only the beginning, and just one part of the casting process. The stigma that is attached to someone who carries a felony conviction on their backs, is just as bad as actually “doing the time” itself. Whether sentenced or not, 6 months or 6 years, it is the attachment of this label – and the criminalization that is to follow – that places them in jeopardy of losing the aforementioned rights. So let’s not be suckered into some soothing political lingo, disguised to woo the general public – particularly blacks – into thinking they will be getting a better deal than the one they are currently living. I mean, don’t get me wrong, no jail time sounds like a really good deal, especially to poor and underprivileged families who are forced to live in impoverished conditions due largely to the strong male figures having been systematically removed from their communities, causing them to search outside for assistance. These economic conditions are most conducive to producing a life of crime just to survive, and an unfortunate cycle that is predictably hard to break.

Many black people are asking the question today:

Is it the black community who is failing the young black men in our communities by not giving them the support they need? My answers are, “yes and no”. Yes, we are failing them because we have allowed and are allowing it – again – to happen on our watch. And no, we aren’t failing them…in larger part, it is the system that blacks and hispanics have had no part in setting up, that is failing them.  I am speaking of the American legislative and penal systems in particular. Law enforcement agencies are failing them; drug enforcement agencies are failing them; the U.S. federal government is failing them; the education system is failing them; the American people are failing them. Just about everything around them is set up to be a pitfall. The police protection they are theoretically given, is only a facade for covering up a much more sinister plot to destroy them. They are living underneath a social and political system, with the primary aim of killing them – both literally and figuratively. They are being slowly and systematically plucked out and exterminated in genocidal proportions. The evidence of these claims is blatant, but yet remain obscure to most. We can look right at the blaring data that suggests such a genocide is – and has been – taking place; but so many will still deny that it is. This baffles me!

I often wonder:

Do most of us turn away our heads because we feel so helpless to do anything about what is happening? Do we avoid touching on it because it hasn’t touched close enough to home for us personally yet? Do we avoid it because the scars from the pains of our past run so deep, and we don’t care to re-open them or revisit it? Is it possible that we are completely oblivious to what it taking place?  Or are we just afraid of challenging the system…or rising up against it in revolt? I seriously hope the two latter are not the case.

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child

It really does take a village: Even in a world of feminism and equal rights for all, a strong, hard-working, family focused male figure is essential for providing communities with the stable foundation it needs to build itself up. Men are the hunters and gatherers; they are the core. A community with high quality feminine and masculine images and actions for its youth to look up to and model after, yields a community that is unstoppable in what it can achieve. In thriving, non-infiltrated, black American communities of our past, the men were the strength, courage, and muscle of those villages – they were the motor that powered and guided the people to drive forward. The women were the oil, the backbone, the glue holding it all together as it sped along. The religion that African slaves were given was used by slave masters as a tool to misguide, miseducate, and subdue his captives. Though most eventually came to believe it was their religion, and not one they had adopted. Many Africans were heinously murdered by “good ole Christian folk”, claiming to love GOD, while hoisting a negro up on the branch of a tall oak tree with a noose around his neck – often in front of his wife and children. When one thinks with any level of logic, however, how is it possible for Christianity to be authentically an African’s religion, when in Africa Christianity did not even exist until the Greeks brought it over with them during their conquests and inquisitions? Africa had totally different philosophies and spiritual systems – practices that European imperialists considered to be “primitive and uncivilized”. Much of this was lost in the journey to the West.

The United States of America – the establishment that stole millions of African people away from their homeland – eternally separating daughters from mothers and fathers from sons – tearing apart entire families who had been together for many generations – is what has failed black people again and again by keeping them economically and socially destabilized and disadvantaged through the use of political and legislative power and police force, even by the use of brutality; thereby making it difficult to come together, find common ground, and organize any true movement away from the slavery that still exists today via the prison industrial complex’s mass incarceration agenda and other systems. Instead, America has moved “blindly” into a state of colorblindness, which is a myth and really does not exist. Color certainly does exist, though many are wishful that it did not. Let’s be clear about it, there was never any long-term need nor want – outside of slavery – for the so-called “savage” African’s presence in America. So there is a psychologically and perhaps physiologically imbedded disdain for those who fall under the “one drop rule”. There was, and is also, a political and propaganda-driven agenda to cause blacks hate themselves. It is very difficult to quantify, but this is why the lack of self love is so prevalent among black people today. This self hate would cause an implosion of epic proportions within the black community, and a self perpetuating genocide through black on black crime vis-à-vis “Chi-Raq”. We don’t value ourselves, so we kill ourselves. We don’t value the lives of those who resemble us, so we easily accept the apathy of others toward black life. None of this is by accident, but a deliberate and psychological design.

So….what about Michael Brown? What about Timothy Stansbury? What about Sean Bell or Oscar Grant? What about Eric Garner or Alonzo Ashley? I tell this appalling story to prove true that from a historical perspective, there has never truly been a value for black life in America. The way in which black people have been mishandled by the since their arrival on western shores – from slavery to Jim Crow to the War on Drugs and senseless killings of its youth – exhibits this fact  to me very clearly. That is the REAL problem we are witnessing come to a head today. It is even bigger than what I have shared here, but this is a good place to start.

“You can only conceal the fact that you are pregnant for so long – sooner or later the truth of your pregnancy must be revealed. American has been pregnant with a revolution for quite some time now, and soon she must give birth to that child.” -Bradford Speaks

 

dred scott

In 1847, in a fight for his and his family’s freedom, Dred Scott (then a free man for three years) was told: “It is too clear clear to dispute, that the enslaved African race was not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration. Black men have no rights which the white man is bound to respect.” – Chief Justice Roger Taney, Dred Scott vs United States Supreme Court

This judgment has yet to be overturned….causes one to wonder why.

 

 

LOVE,

 

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Bradford Speaks is a Life Architect, Coach & Youth Speaker, who desires to wake up the world to see one that it could exist in if only it could employ more love and less hate and war. He seeks to speak to and inspire our youth to live at a higher level of consciousness, to see themselves as their brother’s keeper. He is also an author and self proclaimed philosopher. You may visit his company’s site, Bradford Speaks Life Management, LLC to learn more about his work, and to schedule individual sessions or book him to speak to your youth organization. 

Does “Truth” Really Set Us Free – Or Does It Kill Us?

Watchtower_Magazine_English_issues

As I exited the metro train at the airport destination, rode the escalator down into the corridor of the facility and walked into the building, looking straight ahead at me were two individuals standing next to a book stand of sorts. Their display housed a paperback publication called The Watchtower that was being handed out to travelers for FREE – much like the Christian missionaries do. The Nation of Islam (Black Muslims) in America, led by Minister Louis Farrakhan, also hand out a similar publication, a newspaper named The Final Call. The Final Call is a publication that has expanded its content immensely over the last few decades, now covering topics from religion to entertainment, technology, and other news from around the globe. Its contents I find to be very enlightening and far reaching.

These individuals at the airport also had signs posted next to The Watchtower stand that bore the message, “the way we can bring peace to the world”. Now, if you are not familiar with what The Watchtower is, I’ll explain. It is a magazine that is published by the Jehovah’s Witness religious organization. It contains scriptures from the bible, and then provides its followers/readers an interpretation of the scripture – essentially telling them what they are supposed to glean from the particular passage. This practice is the same in all three major religions – Christianity, Judaism, and Islamism – in order to push their particular religious agendas and recruit or convince others that their truth is the truth. Writers also give account of the missionary activities of believers in the faith promoting their truth around the world; they also provide real-life examples of how to apply their teachings to every day life. Jehovah’s Witnesses are widely known for their early morning door knocking practices, one in which they walk around specific residential neighborhoods handing out their publication, along with other small pamphlets, seeking to share their truth with those who will listen and sift out would-be converts over to their beliefs and way of life. Each edition of the magazine also consists of articles written by columnists and designed to give its readers additional guidance. I might add that the life principles teachings, detached from the religious aspect, I feel can be a very good thing. But people must ultimately make their own minds up about following them; it tends not to last very long if done any other way. It can be very short-lived or turned on its head if the decision to pursue the new life wasn’t a sincere one, but perhaps coerced. To my knowledge, Christianity was the first religion that aggressively sought to convert others over to its faith and beliefs through missionary work and active recruitment. It was also the first to judge other people’s religious beliefs – even those that pre-dated Christianity by thousands of years. It has vehemently opposed any belief other than its own, and moved swiftly across the globe to spread the “Good News”. Historically, most ancient beliefs were purely cultural in nature; children were born into the faith (or cult), not bombarded with being told what they believed was wrong, and that this other belief – not theirs – is actually the real truth. The problem with this? Nobody knows the real truth!

As one who has great respect for freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to practice religion of choice (except for pushing yours onto others – let them seek you out), freedom to live as you wish as long as you aren’t harming others, even the freedom to bear arms. All that I have mentioned, I view as the problem, not the solution, in our attempts to obtain peace. I see this as actually a work against peace as opposed to working in conjunction with it. In this peace I’ll attempt here to explain why.

WhatMustBeDone_FerrakhanTo my knowledge, throughout documented history religion has never served to unify humanity as a whole; it has mostly served to separate them. It only unites those who share in that particular faith, and even within those there is often separation. Though it might be their intention unite, it has not ever been fully achieved. There is infighting, disagreements, abuse, even murder that has gone on for thousands of years, e.g. today this ridiculous war between Israel and Palestine, all in the name of religious superiority – a belief that one’s GOD is right and the other’s is wrong. Both of them believe that this small strip of land was divinely granted to them by GOD. So the Israelis, who are armed like a military brigade, are bullying and murdering the Palestinian people, driving them off of the land and forcing them out of their own homes – all because GOD promised them this land. What insanity!

The Christian crusades, as early as the 1st Century A.D. sought to impose the beliefs of the Catholic church on neighboring countries and continents. Its fanatics ran around various parts of the globe spewing its “truth” onto any part of humanity in order to convert them over to their beliefs, and often through the use of violent acts. As people resisted, these crusades often turned into bloodbaths that resulted in the brutal torture and murder of tens of thousands of innocent humans, simply because they refused to convert. These militant extremists believed that they were the enlightened ones who must reach the un-enlightened ones, for they surely had the Light that all others needed but just didn’t know it.

IS (formerly known as ISIS) or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is made up of a group of religious zealots who believe that it is their duty given by GOD to bring Islam and Allah (their definition of GOD at least) to the rest of the world by force. This is their truth, and they feel compelled to do so even at the cost of their own lives and the lives of many innocent others. It could be propaganda created by America to bolster fear in the hearts of Americans, but the organization has been quoted saying “we intend to hang the flag of Islam on the White House eventually. America, IS is coming”. Or something along those lines. To mention something like this to war-mongering America and men like John McCain, are true fighting words. We now have all the makings to spark up global conflict in the Middle East – again, with the U.N. at the helm. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if America will soon reach out its military might to take on ISIS in order to protect “national security”. So you see now how what we believe can cause the opposite of peace – war and chaos? Our beliefs drive us, and often drive us into utter madness.

Most of us have heard the words before, “know the truth and the truth shall set you free”. The problem with this is that truth is subjective to what the individual considers and has accepted to be truth. How can all of our truths possibly be the same, when we all grow up under different social, political, cultural, and religious constructs? You can already see how this could cause intense disagreement between groups or individuals who have different truths and opinions, and are fervent about theirs being right. Further, I contest that at the end of the day we really know no truth – that the only truth that bears undeniable proof is the individual’s truth; which can turn into a collective truth of millions, as in the case of religion. But that collectivism still does not make it true – it only makes it a cult. So I ask, is it really possible to have this peace that many speak so hoping-ly of?

peacevariousreligions

LOVE,

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Bradford Speaks is a Life Architect, Coach & Youth Speaker, who desires to wake up the world to see one that it could exist in if only it could employ more love and less hate and war. He seeks to speak to and inspire our youth to live at a higher level of consciousness, to see themselves as their brother’s keeper. He is also an author and self proclaimed philosopher. You may visit his company’s site, Bradford Speaks Life Management, LLC to learn more about his work, and to schedule individual sessions or book him to speak to your youth organization. 

America’s Constant Lack of Respect For Black Life

police van-fergusonI have a question – Why is Mr. Al Sharpton always the one black person called onto the scene of violence against blacks, but doesn’t seem to ever do a damn thing!? I am not implying that he has never done anything at all for blacks; I believe he has done a lot up until a point, but I also believe that the mainstream media seeks him out to come and pacify or quiet down black people’s rage when the justice system has abused them. He does so by using the same old civil rights jargon of nearly 50 years ago, to numb the minds of protestors. He is still using the same old tired ass non-violent marches – while singing church hymns and negro spirituals – that he did back in the day with MLK. I am not crucifying Mr. Sharpton here, that isn’t the point of my post. I don’t know him personally, and as I said, I do believe he has fought in the past, but I also believe he has now been bought. I say this because it is common practice to have an inside (or spies) “policing” of a people by its own people. (Click Here To See Trailer for Mississippi Spies). We have not gone forward in terms of race relations, we have gone backwards!

I digress…I simply don’t agree that his approach is relevant in today’s fight against racism, as it is a very different fight than it was back then. That approach is played, brother! We don’t need any more peaceful protests, peaceful marches, peaceful nothing. What made the Black Civil Rights Movement so potent was relentlessness! When white America realized that if they killed two of the freedom fighters, five more immediately stepped up ready to die…kill that five, seven more took their place. It was that “we ain’t going nowhere until it stops mentality” that forced them to install legislative changes to make things more equal for blacks. This also forced them to find a new way to enforce Jim Crow When they realize they had a serious war on their hands that wasn’t going away easily. THAT is when things truly began to change and they decided to compromise and change the face of racism and the treatment toward ppl of color. But it only changed costumes, don’t get it twisted. Thus is why protesting publicly is so important. It shows resolve and resiliency that cannot be ignored. Looting is an act of war. Throughout history, looting has been done by opposing troops in order to weaken the state of the enemy and strengthen your own. When a country decides to go to war with another, one of the first things to happen is a disarmament of their foe by seeking out known military supply yards and destroying it. In this destruction, they will salvage what they can to use against them.

ferguson teargas-missouri-protests

So this is how we solve problems in America? We are on camera to the entire world, and as one who projects itself as the world’s leader and peace preserver, we can’t even preserve peace within our own borders; from South America to Central America, to the North. Prayer doesn’t seem to be cutting it either, as the number of senseless murders of young black men is steadily rising. While you are on your knees praying for Michael Brown, another 25-year old black male – a known mentally disturbed one – was murdered in Los Angeles, less than 48 hours after the Ferguson shooting! Shooting an unarmed person is a complete act of cowardice, in my opinion. In many cities around the United States, these young black people are being profiled, and police are being trained to identify and select them as targets by the way they walk, talk, and dress. They are being run down like dogs in the streets in broad daylight, murdered in cold blood by the people who we as taxpayers compensate to protect them! They have rights, too! Most of them are unarmed, and NOT dangerous. It is a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality that our law enforcement are being brainwashed with; showing very little respect for human life/black life, and civil rights – and that is bullshit! Additionally, the shooters are rarely justly punished for the crimes they commit! Just because a kid has on baggy jeans doesn’t mean he’s a thug or threat to you! Because his hair style doesn’t fit your description of what is conservative, civil, humane, or in alignment with your idea of the status quo, doesn’t make him any less human or deserving of such brutal treatment and disrespect. When we show no resistance to this type of behavior from our law enforcement, we are in essence saying that we are OK with it. So if you are not OK with it, you must not be afraid to speak up and speak out loud!

military gearI am all for Peace & Love, but there comes a point where you have to stand up and make it clear to the oppressor that what is going on around you just is no longer acceptable or tolerable. You must display that you are willing to fight (and die) to make it stop! WE must stand together to show them that this is NOT the kind of world we want to live in, and together create the one that we DO want. Big Ups to the Ferguson, MO residents, and the supporting St. Louis, MO black community for standing vehemently against yet another senseless slaughtering of an unarmed, young black male. Stand by and watch if you will, while your local police forces practice military tactics on civilians here on your home soil; the black male seems to be the primary “lab rat” at this point in the experiment. Not all police officers are bad, but if you are one and are unwilling to stand up against what you know is wrong, then you are no better than the rest of them. They are practicing in preparation to use these same tactics on YOU in situations of mass hysteria and any protest to whatever kind of police state they are trying to set up here. It is complete fear tactic that is designed to send a message of, “this is what could happen to you if you resist police force – you could find yourself at war in your own neighborhood”. You may or may not know, but many small town, local police forces are receiving millions of dollars worth of military grade protective gear, weaponry, and other war-ready technology from the United States federal government. This is the equipment they are using to deal with civilians in our communities. We must ask the question, “Why?” Why is such heavy artillery needed to control a population, some of which are armed, yes, but in no way comparatively? Most of the people in these neighborhoods are harmless, hard-working, and innocent, so why in the world would you need to possess such barbaric utility?

I don’t care what race, ethnicity, or color you are, if you have a job, must work every day like most of us in order to feed and support yourself or your family, and you refuse to fight in some way for those who can’t fight for themselves, then don’t be alarmed when you find yourself unable to protect your own rights and freedoms in the future. We must learn to see these victims as a part of our collective selves. In order to see an end to this insanity, this entire country must some day stand hand-in-hand, and rise up against these hate crimes against black America, and all people of color who have earned a right in blood to a share of this soil. Until then – and without racism – there will be no true peace in America.

 

~R.I.P. Michael Brown~

 

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Bradford Speaks is a Life Architect, Coach & Youth Speaker, who desires to wake up the world to see one that it could exist in if only it could employ more love and less hate and war. He seeks to speak to and inspire our youth to live at a higher level of consciousness, to see themselves as their brother’s keeper. He is also an author and self proclaimed philosopher. You may visit his company’s site, Bradford Speaks Life Management, LLC to learn more about his work, and to schedule individual sessions or book him to speak to your youth organization. 

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