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gtown

If Michael Jordan scored ten points in a game during his prime, we’d be disappointed. If his teammate Dennis Rodman scored ten, we’d be impressed. The difference is expectations. We expected so little of Rodman, as we do white people on issues of race. Georgetown University is now an anomaly and trailblazer in academia, after the school recently apologized for its role in slavery. The University renamed two buildings after slaves and will now give preference in admissions to descendants of the 272 slaves the school sold in 1838 to settle its debts. It pains me to criticize the university in any way –sincerely– because their actions are lightyears ahead of other institutions. But that just shows how little white folks have to do in order to impress us.

Georgetown University owes its existence to plantations the Jesuits operated –in the name of Jesus, I’m sure– to finance operations and the 272 slaves sold in 1838 to settle the school’s debts at that time. There is no way to erase these offenses. The hope is for some meaningful form of repair toward the untold damage done and that is not what Georgetown has offered. Renaming buildings does not repair the damage done. Giving preference in admissions is cute but the children and grandchildren of Georgetown alumni already receive that perk. Indeed, to receive in 2017 what those who (largely) benefitted from the system of slavery have received for generations is not a radical effort at repair. Still, the most important lesson in this ordeal has largely been overlooked.

Georgetown fails to understand that slavery was a system, not an individual circumstance. That system impacted all black people and their descendants, not just the 272 sold in 1838. Georgetown could only benefit from the sale of those 272 slaves because it participated in a system that made all black people subject to a similar fate. To solely acknowledge the harm done to the descendants of those 272 slaves is tantamount to planting an atomic bomb in one home and refusing to acknowledge the damage done to the entire city which that bomb decimated. It is to deny benefiting from the other slaves that worked the Jesuit plantations that financed the school and the system of slavery as a whole. The life outcomes of the 273rd slave cannot be divorced from the 272 acknowledged by the University.

Even the best known attempts at reparations in the American context are laughable, at best. This is merely the latest chapter in a larger story. But Georgetown is at least pursuing some substantive efforts toward atonement and that makes the institution rare. I want to praise them and perhaps should, but I am conflicted. If I criticize the University, well-meaning whites will undoubtedly be frustrated. They will think, understandably, that any attempt at repair –rare as it may be– is not rewarded but scorned. So why bother? If I praise the University, however, I signal that such paltry efforts at repair satisfy the requirements of true justice. That is one hell of a quandary to live in and yet one more burden black people are asked to carry.

Ultimately we must come to accept, as a nation, that the legacy of slavery is far more dramatic than we have acknowledged. Many have just now begun to understand that academia is yet another staple of American greatness that owes its existence also to slavery. We fail to grasp how deeply our banking, manufacturing and various other sectors are rooted in slavery. More troubling, we fail to discern how damaging its impact was for people of color, even to the present day. Our view is further distorted when we consider the tremendous progress black people have made in this country. It is because we fail to discern the true depth of it all that we struggle to approach repair in a meaningful way. For the sake of survival, black people cannot wait for others to understand. Black power requires committed action, even when others refuse to render justice.

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 

 

walmart

Rejecting blatant racism does not make you an “ally” to black people seeking power to determine their own fate in America. The true test of an ally is whether they believe our quest for self-determination is legitimate and truly support it. WalMart does not pass the test. A recent article on Breitbart complained that WalMart no longer sold items displaying the Confederate Flag, yet featured shirts with messaging supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement on the company’s website. WalMart caved and in doing so, legitimized a twisted logic that views the struggle for black self determination and freedom as equally offensive as the southern rebels’ treasonous devotion to slavery. This system of thought delegitimizes the pursuit of black power and WalMart catered to it. In the era of Walter Scott and Michael Brown, black people must carefully consider whether we can allow these small seeds of hostility to harvest into blood.

osu

I am a graduate of The Ohio State University and I watched in horror when our campus was attacked Monday morning. I walked those grounds for years; sometimes going to class, at others to a lady’s dorm room hoping for a kiss. This was personal. I just knew the attacker would be a white male and yet it was a Somali immigrant, a Muslim. That discovery made this piece harder to write. The Trump crowd will welcome this as a validation for their xenophobia and anti-Muslim crusade; that makes me uncomfortable. The reality is Islamic terrorists do pose some threat to us. It is also true that America has done quite a bit to create terror by its actions and at times, inaction. The OSU attacker expressed some of those grievances and the question we face in this age of Trump is whether we can be empathetic to a Muslim and hear him out.

kanye-prez

Kanye West is so gifted that he is insane. He has said that he wants to run for president and he just might be a black Donald Trump in the making: narcissistic, occasionally clever, obviously gifted but ultimately self destructive. Kanye said he did not vote in the last election but had he done so, Trump would have been his candidate. At a concert this past Saturday he compared himself to Trump and went on to give post-election analysis on why Hillary Clinton lost. His analysis validated the hurt feelings of the “white working-class,” who were privileged enough to endorse a blatant racist for president.

solange

Donald Trump brought old school back. Explicit bigotry and racial violence are now back on the table, thanks to the Donald. Solange is demanding a seat at that same table, however. Her new album, “A Seat at the Table,” matches the open hostility of Trump’s movement with an equally unapologetic affirmation of blackness and self-determination. Solange is trying to tell us something. She gave us the freedom to feel pain and articulate that but more importantly, lessons to overcome it from an unlikely role model: Master P. This is the light we will follow in the age of “President Donald Trump.”

black-voters

My ancestors died for voting rights. My vote was purchased in blood and thus it is valuable. But it won’t really count next Tuesday. My vote only matters if I have identified the issues important to my community, pressed candidates to take a stance on those issues and feel confident that someone on the ballot will fight for them. None of those conditions will exist next Tuesday. No, the prospect of a third Clinton term is not at all equal to the lunacy of a Donald Trump presidency but let’s not be delusional and think that the concerns of black communities will be front and center. Sadly, we as black people must shoulder some of that blame.

dr-dre

This conversation isn’t for white America–I’m speaking directly to my brothers. Most of my life I wondered how so many white folks could be apathetic to racism and black suffering. I get it now. Although we as black men are intimately familiar with suffering and oppression, a great number of us manage to be wholly apathetic to (at best) our oppression of black women. Nate Parker’s case highlighted many of the misogynistic tendencies we have learned to normalize but “Surviving Compton” took it to a completely different level. Sure, many whites show little urgency in confronting black oppression but just maybe their apathy parallels that of black men who aren’t all that pressed to fight the mistreatment and abuse of the women right in our line of sight.

hc-charlotte

Hillary Clinton visited a Black church in Charlotte Sunday, a city still wrestling with the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott at the hands of police. In her address Clinton said, “I am a grandmother and like every grandmother, I worry about the safety and security of my grandchildren. But my worries are not the same as black grandmothers, who have different and deeper fears about the world that their grandchildren face.” Hillary Clinton only had to say that Blacks are more likely to be shot in the streets by the police–whom our tax dollars fund–in order to differentiate herself from the other guy.