Thursday, December 30, 2010

Letter To My Son

To my son,
Only time will tell if this letter will be applicable.  If my destiny sees fit, you will be created as a product of genetics, my love, and my dreams.  It is at this time in my 21 years of being under these stars that I have chosen to reach out to you and share the lessons I have learned.  Not doing so would be irresponsible on my part.  Depending on the age that you begin to fully comprehend these words, you will realize that all the lessons I teach you presently and in this letter will be feeble if seen in a dark room.  In addition, you will know that all lessons cannot be learned by spoken word.  Rightfully so, you will challenge the limits of this societies so call standards.  As your father, I will fear for your consequences, but, as my son, I trust you will lay gravel for your own dirt road of your standards of magnanimity.  Even as I type this letter to you I find it very difficult to choose what to tell you and what you should find out on your own.  I guess this is what parenthood really is. 
While I write to a son that I have yet to create, I find pointless to give you the numbers to life’s everyday Sudoku puzzle.  If our futures are meant to collide, I will gladly show you the strategy of filling in each box.  That’s a guarantee.  Instead, I will give you the clues to your daily crossword puzzle of manhood.  Take heed to them but also recognize that as this letter, I am also not perfect. 
With that being said, across 15 is simple.  You will struggle.  At this point in my life, I have come to the revelation that the distress I’ve endured have made the beautifully tattered man writing this letter.  Only time will tell how far this tattered soul will get me but I have high hopes.  The cliché that I have created in my time is -No Struggle.  No Identity- meaning that when something you do becomes part of who you are, expect struggle.  At the same time, do not seek struggle to validate your existence, but don’t stray from it either.  As your father, I will shield you from all the agony targeted for you as long as I can.  As time progresses, with the disapproval from my own psyche, I will remove the plastic from life’s couch and let you experience its stains and abundant opulence.  Because you are my son and I am my father’s son and he a son of his father, you will be able to rid of the stains without ruining the material and handle the abundant opulence without getting stuck in its settling nature. 
Speaking of lineage, you come from a long line of proud Brown men.  The funny thing about pride is it can be the greatest advantage while also being your greatest disadvantage.  Imagine a disease that gives you unlimited strength but kills you a little bit faster every time you use it.  Pride has killed a lot of men.  You will need to find the balance between the destructive pride and the advantageous pride. 
Down 22 is a more difficult clue for me to give insight on because I have yet to figure out the word myself.  Let love be your conscience.  Try not to accede to hate and mistrust consuming you.  As you grow intellectually, you will notice that certain things will be uncontrollable in your eyes.  When the anger and lack of control are mixed in your heart, you get a martini of hate with olives made of despair.  Then you will begin to stagger away from the ones who have invested love in you.  Your speech of peace will begin to slur.  Your memories of happiness will fade away.  And one morning you will wake up from your intoxication with a lonesome induced hangover.  Your father has been drunk many times but my 12 step program is in full effect. 
I do not know if I should give you across 2.  I could force upon you the lessons about who you are as a black man or let you learn these lessons painfully.  You may ask why but as your life progresses, you will answer that same question.  What I will say is do not be ashamed of who you are and what you came from.  I cannot predict the obscure future of our people.  Yes, our people.  Treat them as such.  The rest you will figure out on your own.
Lastly, down 44.  A day will come when you learn that fiction is not true.  Most people say that this knowledge is the first step into the “real world.”  At first this pseudo-truth will hinder you and make your outlook on life mauve.  This “real world” they speak of is a product of their despair created by the energy they used to stop chasing their dreams.  You can live in a life of pure imagination, and as my favorite song quotes “There is no life I know that compares to pure imagination.”  I say even the most fantastic things are true.    Throughout this entire letter I have chosen not input my experiences and demand you of anything because I recognize that you will live your own life.  Right now, I will not become victim to the fallacy that by telling you and that.  Instead I say, mess up and learn.  But, if I am to make one demand of you it is to not stop chasing your dreams for they are the only things keeping us away from the ground.

Resisting Gravity,
Your father, Bryant Brown

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pen Pals: Respons from my Proffesor.

I am heartened by your sensitivity to the plight of our people.  I think partly what you are feeling is the fire that wells up in us because of the obvious injustices we experience.  Be assured that this is not a bad thing.  You can mold your sensitivities into a lifetime of service, of giving so that good can become more real.  But you must not allow your sensitivities turn into a lasting anger and hate, because this can lead you to engage in unproductive thoughts and actions.  White racial domination is an odious phenomenon that predictably drives far too many of us to an array of self-destructive behavior.  Indeed, it is one of the natural outcomes of it.  We have to rise above it, however.  Richard Hatcher, elected mayor of Gary, Indiana in the late 1960s, use to implore us to get smart and not mad.  This was a lesson his father taught him when he was in the midst of the Black revolt of the 1960s.  Like you, I am ever outraged about White injustices, especially police beatings and killings.  See my article, "The Logic of Black Urban Rebellions," in the Journal of Black Studies (January 1998), where I explain that Black uprisings are one category of political response to injustices experienced by urban Blacks.  The talents and genius you have, find a way to use for rectifying some of the problems we have.  At the heart of Fanon's observation is just that, for us to rise above self-absorption (i.e.; individualism) to make ourselves relevant to the quest for liberation and social justice.  I hope this little bit is helpful.
Daryl Harris

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pen Pals: Letter 1/ Response

Dear Bryant,
I'm so sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your e-mail.  I've been in England for the past week.  I'm gonna try to answer your questions with an experience I had on the plane from Liverpool to Berlin:  Two rows from my seat I could see a man (he's white) flirting with a girl (also white) who he obviously didn't know.  Watching the two of them saddened me, not because I wanted him to flirt with me, but because I knew he would never even give it a thought.  In his mind, I’m probably not beautiful.  In his mind, I’m the perpetual foreigner, the individual that represents the outside that continues to invade his world.  Knowing this, even while he may not consciously understand it himself, is what sometimes makes this trip a difficult one. 
Being in Europe, mother of America and the origin of whiteness can sometimes be very uncomfortable.  Walking down the street I can see people staring at my hair, my skin, my nose right through to my very soul, unnerving me as though they were forcing the clothes right off me.  Sometimes, this makes me feel embarrassed, other times angry, that they don’t see me, but only my blackness.  Over the past two months, I’ve come to realize just how displaced we black people, African-Americans/Negros/whatever actually are.  In Europe and even in America, no matter how large our population swells we will always be foreigners forever marked by the hyphen that divides us from a true citizenship. 
And the saddest part is that it wouldn’t be any better in Africa.  I don’t speak any African languages; know any African customs, hell I don’t even know which part of the continent I come from!  Not to mention the fact that my skin tone alone would brand me as inauthentic. 
I know that these are some heavy and distressing thoughts, but I’m telling you because no one else could understand.  I’m the only black person in my program and there are some days when I don’t even see any other black people at all.  I need to know that I’m not going crazy, that we do exist, that we do have a home, that we at least love ourselves even when the rest of the world refuses to even see us.
I hope this answered your questions.  If not, to put it shortly: The day I realized I was black was a sad one.  It was sad because someone else forced me to see my blackness and it was a negative experience that for a long time shaped the way I saw myself.  If I had realized my blackness for myself through my own eyes, then maybe it would have been a more positive experience. 
I’m really happy for you Bryant.  I hope the things you say you want aren’t just meaningless words.  I really do believe in your strength as a leader, a friend and a man. 


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pen Pals: Letter to my Proffesor

Professor Harris,
Greetings first and foremost. As you have probably learned of the events that have taken place in Detroit where another innocent life was taken, I am frustrated.  Frustrated past the point of theorizing and learning and to the point of mobilization and action.  I know the problems that surround our people but I honestly do not know where to start in order to solve these problems.  How can you make a people realize that the things they were socialized to love are really destructive?  Our people have been plagued with the ideals of individualism, submission, accommodationism, and inferiorism.  After the news of another innocent black killed by the police, I went into a deep reflection about all the systemic faults in the black community.  My friends and I are outraged and looking for a solution.  I came to you because I noticed that you and I have similar perspectives after taking your Intro to Black Politics class this last spring.  Please advise me on the steps I should take to solving these problems.

Bryant Brown

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Random Thoughts Vol. 2

-Learning is a disease. If you don’t learn you will live forever. Not life in terms of age, but in terms of ignorance. I dream to die young.
-Black women’s hair should be a class in college .  
It’s so complex that it could probably be a major with a concentration. In fact, that subject might be the hardest major ever. Classes would include, hair history ,
hair literature, hair biology, hair philosophy
, hair political theory, hair art
, women and hair, human sexuality and hair, grammar and hair, freshman hair seminar, hair theory, French hair
, Spanish hair, German hair, hair in fiction, Black hair since 1940, Black hair before 1940, and Black naps and society.
I guess the moral of this thought is I can’t go to beauty school.

-Best friend connections are amazing. Regardless how often or not you talk or see them, the great connection still remains.
-Last night, I had a dream/nightmare that somehow I had to go back to my middle school as a grown 20-year-old-man because of some justified political-educational loop hole. I woke up scared senseless. I’m not sure it was repeating what I once despised or the fear of regression that that petrified me the most.
-How tall is Spike Lee for real? I wonder if he will ever put out a movie as good as Do the Right Thing.

-What ever happen to the art of the Black movie? Black films used to be controversial and impacting. The movies of Robert Townsend, Spike Lee, John Singleton, Melvin Van Peebles, Keenan Ivory Wayans, and Gordon Parks that would express the plight of blacks while displaying black pride and black traditions. Nowadays, Black film is just drama and comedy with no substance. Where are the black love stories like Jason’s Lyric
  and Love and Basketball? Where are the black films that show blacks in the aspects of black culture? Movies like Do the Right Thing, The Inkwell,
Boyz in the Hood, Friday, and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song?
Where are the films that showcase the greatness (good and bad) of black society? The movies like New Jack City, American Gangster, The Five Heartbeats, Head of State, Roots, Glory, The Color Purple, and Men of Honor. Where are the BLACK FILMS?

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Ugly Show

I used to be a pretty serious poet way back in the day.  This is Black Ice's "The Ugly Show."  By far one of my favorite poems of all time.  Listen to the words and see if you are not inspired for change.  You house niggas might not get it, but bare with me for 2 minutes and 39 seconds.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Random Thoughts Vol. 1

-Bad Guys/ Villains are cool because their power is not contained by society’s morals.

-Many people see racial segregation as a bad thing. If the two races were separated, which do you think would be more powerful? Honestly, if the United States surrendered 3 states as an act of reparations, and blacks were given complete sovereignty and independence; those 3 states would be a new and improved world.

-I guess that makes me a villain.

-I kissed my girlfriend last night and I liked it…a lot.

-Sometimes I think I like her more than she likes me, but she said yes so I aint trippin.

-Why do white people want to be like black people without the black problems? It’s like in Aladdin when Jafar wanted to be a genie without wanting the pains of being a genie. Whites want the full lips and hips like our women. They want the big dicks and swag like our men. Get the fuck off my cultures dick.

-“Shit” and “This” are spelled with the same letters. It’s kind of like they were meant for each other.

-When I’m writing, I don’t think, “Damn, that’s a mean ass preposition I just wrote.” I feel that my job as a writer is to make people forget the theory of words and enjoy the magic of the art. In music, people who don’t study the art don’t listen to the music and say, “Damn, that tuba in the 15th phrase of the 3rd movement hit a means as pedal 9th that was off the chain.” No! They enjoy the magic of the art. To the artist, the theory is important but not meant to be noticed in the actual art.

I wonder what it feels like to be “passing?” How do you cope with seeing all these black folks?

Why capitalize the word “i?”

If “I” before “e” except after “c” then science is spelled all the way wrong.