Month: February 2017

moonlight-19405x

It was not strange to work under white people ten years my senior when I was 18. Around 30, however, I was enraged that I routinely interviewed to work under people who were slightly younger –or the same age– and less credentialed. The moment you realize your graduate degree is no match for your boss’s B.A. in music, you begin to question how “post-racial” we are. Joi McMillon, a black woman, knew very well the rage that stems from seeing whites with less qualifications advance while she did not. She was told she lacked the right experience while her less qualified white peers were advancing. But Joi will not experience that rage again. She is a film editor who made history with her Oscars nomination for her work on Moonlight; a film based on the writing of two black men, directed by a black man with a black cast. The self determination of black people ended Joi’s frustration, not the benevolence of whites.

In a world where discrimination and disparities abound, it is critical that black people create our own opportunities and support those endeavors as a community. Joi was nominated for an academy award precisely because of such an endeavor. Sean Combs became a music mogul only because Uptown Records, a company founded by a black man, gave the young college dropout the opportunity to become a talent director. It is doubtful that Combs would have been given the same opportunity at another major label. In the same way, Moonlight is a work of black self determination which afforded McMillon the opportunity to finally move up from “first assistant editor” into the editor’s role. The quality of her work is obvious, for even the Academy had to give her a nod. McMillon never lacked talent but simply opportunity, in a white male-dominated film industry. Rather than waiting for acknowledgment from benevolent white people, the creators of Moonlight created an opportunity for Joi.

Moonlight’s excellence led to their infamously delayed Oscars award. That mixup was far less controversial than Jada Pinkett-Smith igniting the #OscarsSoWhite firestorm. While several have opined that Pinkett-Smith’s motives may not have been pure (oddly, Denzel failed to take home an Oscar this year and Jada raised no fuss), we should not discount what Jada actually said when she told the world, “Maybe it is time…we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways we see fit.” Also, “Begging for acknowledgement or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power.” Moonlight fulfills much of Jada’s sentiments. We should appreciate that the Academy (after some delay) awarded Moonlight best picture but only celebrating that misses the larger significance of the film. Moonlight gives us yet another model of what we should all be striving toward in every industry. In a world in which even black people with a college degree are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than our non-black peers, we need strong black institutions and creative ventures, brought about by our own self-determination.

There is only one thing that could have made Moonlight even more triumphant and that is if the movie was also financed by our community. By no fault of their own, the creators of the film had to seek financing from outside of our community and thankfully, they found it through A24, an Indie distributor. Still, we must continue striving to attain that next level of independence and power and that is to self finance our own ventures. As we support our own, that will happen. Joi had her day but now let us continue investing in our community to create opportunity for millions more. HopewellThought will continue our campaign each month to help get you started.

**No One Can Oppress You Unless You Give Them The Money To Do So**

georgewashington

Fuck George Washington and America for asking me to celebrate his birth. I do not apologize for my language nor the attack on my own country, for it attacked me first. Annually I am asked to pretend Washington is worthy of honor and each year I am insulted that the country has the testicular fortitude to make such an outlandish request. Am I to pretend Washington is not a phony, fake patriot and fraud? Should I simply act as if the man did not subject people to the terror of slavery? Am I supposed to ignore the fact that he not only pursued escaped slaves until his death but that he also used the power of government to fortify slavery? I will celebrate him when America asks the Jewish people to celebrate the good things the Nazi Party did.

Washington was no patriot. He was an opportunistic phony who withdrew his loyalty from England after the Crown began interfering with his money. Washington and other elites like Jefferson, Franklin and Patrick Henry, were heavily invested in lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. They were land speculators, essentially. After France withdrew from North America in 1763 the “Founding Fathers” hoped to cash in by selling or leasing western lands. Instead, the Crown decided that year to issue a Proclamation, effectively halting westward expansion into “Indian” territories. All land deals would now have to go through London– cutting land speculators out of the process — and from that point forward Washington and his friends decided they did not love the Crown so much. Washington then opposed the Stamp Act in 1765, the Townshend Acts of 1767 and in 1769, went as far as to help spearhead a boycott of British goods. He was mad. The fake patriot opposed the Crown at every turn, not for love of liberty but money.

Washington was an immoral man and despicable human being. While convenient to ignore, he terrorized people and held them captive from the time he inherited his first slaves at the age of 11 until his death. Washington used the brutal practices of owning people, separating families and subjecting them to all manner of terror to maintain his wealth. Washington was committed to his moral bankruptcy. After moving to Philadelphia– free territory at the time– he made sure to rotate his slaves back to Virginia regularly. This was done specifically to circumvent a state law stipulating that any slave living in the state more than six months would automatically be free. Washington also made sure to sign the nation’s first fugitive slave law, guaranteeing that any enslaved person who dared escape would have the weight of the United States government against them. Further, when a 22-year-old slave by the name of Ona Judge escaped from Washington’s home in Philadelphia, the first President of the United States relentlessly pursued her until his death. The man was committed.

There is no honor in Washington, nor any deed that would cause me to ignore his true character (or lack thereof.) While I find him loathsome, I am more troubled that my country would ask me to celebrate him. I descend from slaves and the nation asks me to overlook the terror he subjected my people to and celebrate him? Can anyone honestly fathom asking Jewish people to celebrate the social welfare programs that the Nazi Party administered or the Party’s role in helping Germany bounce back from economic depression? Would anyone take seriously the notion that we should celebrate the great and handsome actor that John Wilkes Booth was and simply overlook that he assassinated President Lincoln? If you answer no to both questions yet consider Washington’s birthday a legitimate celebration, you are saying that his deeds were not so bad. If you concede his deeds were bad but still wish to celebrate you are all the more dangerous: you know but just don’t care.

 

 

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10:  (L-R) Actress Jessica Biel, singer Beyonce, rapper Jay-Z and singer Solange Knowles attend the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

The Grammys were brought to you by Donald Trump, a man who has managed to even make white America say “enough!” The the national mood of Trump resistance permeated the Grammys, accented by Katy Perry’s stance for “pantsuit nation,” Paris Jackson’s shot at DAPL and Laverne Cox’s call for solidarity with the trans community. These themes are popular in this moment of Anti-Trump fervor, black people still aren’t. While the NCAA is willing to boycott North Carolina over transgender rights, it said nothing when a US Court of Appeals essentially ruled that North Carolina was trying to block black people from voting. Seattle’s City Council (rightfully) voted to divest from Wells Fargo due to the bank’s ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline but when banks were found to have targeted blacks with subprime loans leading up to the economic collapse, municipalities never considered divestment. Black people are not and never have been en vogue. Wake up.

There is a surge of activism in response to Trump–from travel ban protests to the Women’s March–but that resistance does not necessarily include the core concerns of black people. That would be too risky for most, including many black folks. The stances taken at the Grammys are indeed important but not necessarily risky. Since most Americans support transgender rights and oppose so-called “bathroom bills,” even the NBA and PayPal have joined the NCAA in boycotting North Carolina, due to HB-2. Yet when voting, the most fundamental of American rights, was under attack the sports world batted not one eye nor did any corporation decide to abandon the state. The response of white liberals to DAPL helped to move the matter into the mainstream, such that it is more palatable to side with water protectors than clearly embrace the idea that “Black Lives Matter.” It is refreshing that thousands protested Trump’s travel ban at airports across the country but I don’t recall a massive non-black resistance to blacks being murdered on tape by police (although there certainly were and are white allies to the BLM movement). From the streets to the Grammys, ignoring black suffering carries no social consequences.

What troubles me is that routinely, blacks are asked to support every cause mainstream Democrats care about but reciprocity is often nonexistent. Yes, we as black people should stand up for all marginalized groups, even poor whites who are oppressed by the ruling classes. That said, it is hurtful that we cannot rely on those who ask us to support others to also stand with us. A Tribe Called Quest also performed at the Grammys and there is a significant lesson to be learned from their contribution to the show: if black people are to have our concerns voiced, we must voice them. Period. Our liberation is strictly our concern.

With this understanding, we should allow no one to question us when we advocate for ourselves. We must, for no one else will. Let no one shame you for caring about black people. It is not “racist” but simply rational and healthy to care for self. It is not “reverse racism” when we decide to vote and shop based on our interests. When you bank and buy black, it is a matter of self-preservation in a society that daily reminds us we do not matter. Until stars are lining up to denounce the injustices faced by black people daily, we must be focused on black power. Until the nation considers black concerns national concerns, every penny and ounce of energy we spend must be toward black liberation. We are not fashionable but it does not matter, for we are strong.

 

lips

I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. Why? I’m a good guy and as such, V-Day only serves to mitigate my actions the other 364 days of the year. If I’m good to a woman all year but fail to produce on this day, I’m discounted. On the other hand, if I treat a woman subpar all year but produce this one day, I get points. Valentine’s Day is set up perfectly for even the sorriest man to score points…but even this day can’t help an unemployed man. If a man–even a good man–doesn’t have a check, the woman he desires won’t be the envy of her coworkers on the 14th. For an unemployed man, Valentine’s Day is a lost opportunity. HopewellThought is committed to attacking black unemployment this year and this month it starts with your mouth.

Last month I laid out our 2017 strategy toward ending black unemployment. If you haven’t, I’d strongly encourage you to read that first before continuing this journey. We can make significant strides simply by identifying one product or service each month we already use, then begin using a black owned company to fill that need going forward. Now back to this. I’m single but it doesn’t mean that I don’t keep my mouth ready. I’ve been told that I keep Listerine in business. For years I’ve used their mouthwash. Listerine breath strips have been in my pocket since they hit the market. I even use their dental floss. I. Stay. Ready. That said, the idea of using a different mouthwash never crossed my mind. That changed when I came across a black owned company, Garner’s Garden, that produces a 100% all natural mouthwash; a company actively looking to expand and hire black people. Still, I’ve been a Listerine guy forever and change is difficult. After all, Valentine’s Day is approaching and my mouth needs to be ready, just in case! I decided to reach out to the owner.

I purchased my bottle of mouthwash and gave it a try. As the owner explained, this product is not simply designed to cover up mouthwashbad breath but to actually heal your mouth. That sounded good. I want my mouth to be ready, after all. It contains healing oxygen particles that attack a host of dental issues such as cavities, gingivitis and gum disease. Not only is it antibacterial but it is also antiviral, anti-fungal and it whitens teeth naturally. I found every bit of that to be true. I felt my mouth getting healthier when I started using it. It burned like hell the very first time I tried it; that’s because it was healing everything my Listerine did not. It no longer burns now, my mouth feels healthy. I’ve also noticed that I no longer have that “Enter the Dragon” morning breath! I’m sold.

The company also sells a “remineralizing tooth powder,” which they recommend using in tandem with the mouthwash. In all honesty, I was most skeptical of this part of the deal. After all, I’m accustomed to toothpaste. In my research, however, I discovered that every toothpaste on the market is made up of a tooth-powder-4ozbunch of poisons. The tooth powder is a natural product that literally pulls toxins from your mouth and naturally whitens teeth. I’m getting used to it and I like the results thus far. As a consumer, I appreciate the fact that the mouthwash and tooth powder are getting my mouth ready for Valentine’s Day (just in case), naturally. Most of all, I love that my purchases are going toward providing jobs in my community.

You can purchase the mouthwash here and get a 10% discount this month when you use the code “HopewellThought.” If you’d really like to make sure your mouth is ready for Valentine’s Day and save even more, buy the mouthwash and tooth powder together here. You’ll receive 15% off when you purchase the two products together, using the code “HopewellThought2.”

Valentine’s Day is no picnic for an unemployed man, nor is any other day. We have the power to begin creating jobs in our community now, simply by getting our mouths ready.

**Be sure to also purchase our featured products from each prior month**

January–True Laundry Detergent 

 

trumpprotest

President Obama accomplished a great deal but not as much as he should have. One critical component was missing from Obama’s presidency: you. Us, to be more precise. We failed to raise hell and broadcast Obama’s shortcomings, in the same way we call attention to Trump’s missteps. We look for opportunities to jab the “other” side and hold them accountable but when our side falls short, we are dangerously silent. This would be a different country if progressives at large and black people in particular had sought out opportunities to correct Obama in the same way we now seek confrontation with Trump. Had that energy, fire and protest existed the last eight years, America–and especially black America–might have been made great again.

The phone lines are jammed at the offices of several senators because many are fighting to block Trump’s nomination for Secretary of Education. But where was the outrage when Obama appointed a friend of Wall Street to head the FBI, all but guaranteeing that no one responsible for the financial crisis of 2008 would be prosecuted? We scream in terror when considering what a Trump presidency will mean for “the blacks” economically but said not a word when the Obama administration closed all five regional Offices of the Minority Business Development Agency. Those offices existed to help minority-owned businesses in their region navigate the federal contracting landscape and become more competitive but to save $30 million, they were sacrificed and we said nothing. I guess it was because Obama was on our side of the aisle. 

I am no fan of George W. Bush but he did more to fight HIV and AIDS in Africa than any President had before. Obama threatened that progress when he cut funds from a highly effective program aimed at combatting the HIV/AIDS crisis on the continent. Once again, we were silent. It is especially disappointing that people of African descent (like the author) raised no hell in response to this. Is it possible that we would have given “W” a pass if he’d done the same? Not likely. He’s a Republican, after all and we apparently think that being an engaged citizen means only protesting when the other side is in power. This brand of selective civic participation limited the prospects for “Hope and Change.” We had the opportunity of a lifetime and we failed to maximize it, choosing instead to blindly root for our team.

It is without question that Obama was hindered by a Republican opposition determined to see him fail. I would also argue, however, that a base of supporters unwilling to protest its own leadership is also a hindrance. Do we honestly believe that the same vigor in protest and democratic muscle we have shown thus far toward Trump, if pointed toward Obama for eight years, would not have produced better results? Black and white, Democrat and Republican, we are all guilty. We cheer for our team and remain silent when it fails to live up to its ideals. We watch the other side like hawks, hoping for any misstep. Perhaps if we gave the same hawkish glare to all power structures we would have a more perfect union.