Ace's View

Dedicated to minority issues, topics and everything in between

#incasetheykillme

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I wrote a whole other entry on Baltimore yesterday that was going to be posted as soon as I got home.

I walked in the door last night from work, turned on the TV, took my shoes off, and was greeted by scenes of Baltimore on fire on CNN.

But then, I flip open my laptop and on social media, there are images of white folks looting in Baltimore while black people clean up and attempt to restore order in their neighborhoods.

It just further reminded me that we don’t control any of our own narrative through “traditional” media.

And this isn’t by luck or by chance, but I realized a long time ago that if you control the news and information that gets out, you control the presented image of what gets out, and what people hear and see.

Therefore, you control what they believe.

Our perception and what you think about a story has nothing to do with luck.  It has to do with the information that is out there, how many people know it, and the sources that are telling the story.

Bringing me to why I’m writing this today.

At the place where I work now, I often find myself with a lot more downtime than I’m used to.  Which, after years of having none of that, I cherish it and use it to get a lot done that I normally would have to wait until getting home to do.

Make a grocery list? Sure, why not.  Try to get my e-mail inbox back to 0?  Let’s do it.  Prepare taxes?  Okay, I might be stretching it on that one.

I have a lot more free time at work, is the main bullet point to glean from this.

So, naturally, when I run out of things to do, I tumble headfirst into a rabbit hole of news stories, scrolling through them as they appear on my social media or on Yahoo’s homepage.

Last night, my rabbit hole involved stories about Baltimore.  About the history of police violence, tactics.  About how much of the neighborhoods in the area where Freddie Gray was arrested and murdered have a tradition of things like this happening to people.

And then I stumbled upon a line in one of the stories that specifically said that the family of Gray had asked for no protests on the day of his wake and funeral.

Of course, since he’s dead, we can’t ask him what he wants.

So I see an opportunity here to go ahead and let you guys in on something using this space here, since what his family requested is no longer respected:

I’ve decided to inform my family and friends of my final wishes and preferred plan of action in the apparently steadily increasing chance that I, as a black person living in America, may be seriously injured or killed by police (local, county, or state), undercover cops, off-duty cops, National Guardsman, FBI/CIA agents, neighborhood “watchman”/vigilante, man at gas station if my music is too loud, or random armed person using my blackness as validation to “fear for their lives”.

Surprisingly, this isn’t me being dramatic, either.  This is actually something that I thought about way back in the beginning stages of my adolescence as I watched Los Angeles burn.

The press conference with Rodney King and Reginald Denny together and the infamous “can’t we all just get along” sound bite happened, and I remember thinking:

What would I want to happen if I was no longer here? 

If I couldn’t go to the press conference and tell my community, protest in peace and wait for justice to take its course, or tear this shit all the way up?

Or any and everything in between these two?

Should this be the start of another hashtag discussion similar to #iftheygunnedmedown?  There, you clearly see the glaring differences in the ways that minorities are portrayed in the media when they are the victims of police violence, versus our Caucasian counterparts.

#dothisinrememberance? #incasetheykillme?

Something a tad less–or–more–dramatic?  Jarring?

I think the discussion that #iftheygunnedmedown opened the eyes of more people to how we are perceived in the media—and by default, society, en masse.

But since I’m past attempting trying to fight against why such a clause has to be made by myself and others, and have just come to accept it as a reality, I strongly consider most of yout to do the same, as this seems to be something that doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.

Since I apparently have a better chance of being killed by police these days than winning the Powerball, make sure that those you love and trust know what YOU want in case something like this happens to you.

Me? In addition to me telling those I consider people who will keep my wishes enforced and will hold those accountable who claim to act on my behalf incorrectly–I’ll also be writing it into my will so there’s no confusion.

Control the narrative and make sure the right people have the information, I–and therefore we–can’t lose.  Well, there’s always the possiblilty of being severely injured or killed, but que sera, right?

In the meantime, please pray for Baltimore and think about it, honestly.

What would you want in this case?

For now, I’m off to work.

And maybe to buy some Powerball tickets.

Written by aceviewblogger

April 28, 2015 at 1:45 pm

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On The Oscars and Recognizing Our Own Excellence

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ptah oscar

As we normally do on Sunday nights, me and my wife prepare our post-toddler bedtime television viewing programs by setting reminders on the cable box.

Normally it’s whatever’s on until Walking Dead, including special programming, and then after that, news or something a little more lighthearted until bed.

A couple of weeks ago, it was the Grammys, which reminded me of what I wouldn’t be watching at all tonight.

The 87th Annual Academy Awards (or, more popularly known, the ‘Oscars’) is tonight.

And for once in several years, not one of the nominees in any of the major categories is a minority.  An all-white field is what the Academy has to choose from this year, which, judging by the makeup of the voters who decide on the awards (over 90% of the voters are Caucasian)–isn’t really a surprise.

But I’m not actually here to write about that today.

What I would rather address is why we seek this acknowledgement from others who refuse to accept us in any roles other than what they are comfortable seeing us in.

Think of it this way: without me posting a link giving away any of the answers, think of the last few black Academy Award winners and the awards given to them.

Now, think of the roles that they played.

Take it a step further and think of the last Spanish actor to win the Supporting Actor award.

Who–or what–did he play?

It has long been understood that you cannot gain acceptance from those who refuse to accept you.

So instead, perhaps we should divert the energy we spend protesting and demanding to be included in award ceremonies that were not intended to reward our talents in the first place.

And before anyone comments “well, the head of the Academy is a black woman,” might I refer you to the statue in the picture above that the Oscar statue is based on.

Putting a black face at the head of the ceremony or copying the culture does not equate to including us, at all.

Just wanted to make that clear.

In the meantime, you all let me know who wins tonight on Facebook or Twitter, because I’ll be in the middle of watching the walkers.

For now, I’m out.

Written by aceviewblogger

February 22, 2015 at 4:02 pm

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Introducing Luvvie

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Well, this is awesome. & I’ll be buying some as soon as I get paid tomorrow.

*Not to be confused with Luvvie Ajayi over at awesomelyluvvie.com. But I bet she’d be with it. 🙂

diaryofanegress

Luvvie Luvvie (TM)

When I was growing up, I couldn’t go into a store or marketplace offering baby food that didn’t have the Gerber Baby on it.  I wondered why we, as Africans, didn’t have our own line of baby products with a child on the logo that looked like us. After much contemplation, we decided to create our own line of organic Baby Soap and Bum Balm that would represent us as a global nation.

This beautiful, Afrikan baby picture was commissioned by the very talented artist, Moni Rickert.

Introducing Luvvie…

Luvvie Baby soap

Luvvie Baby soap2

An organic baby soap made with all natural ingredients from my farm. Hand cut and sliced, it is delicately scented with the sweet scent of fresh chamomile and lavender. The Luvvie Bum Balm is 100% vegan and whipped with raw Shea Butter and vegetable oils. We used natural anti-bacterial peppermint from my garden to help heal and soothe diaper…

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Written by aceviewblogger

February 20, 2015 at 10:41 am

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On Jackie Robinson West and Breaking The “Rules”

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Consider this, if you will:

Every year in Illinois, the high school teams that play for the Class A state basketball championship are usually from predominately black schools.

Never really becomes an issue of where the kids live when they win, place or show.

In fact, I can’t think of the last time since I’ve been aware of IHSA championship basketball that there has been a time where two teams have played each other in Class 1A that haven’t been all-black or predominately so.

And it’s a dirty little secret that most of these kids live outside of the school district they attend, in order to attend a school to benefit the athletics program.

So it’s really not a shocker to me that there was at least one player on the Jackie Robinson West team that was considered ineligible by Little League rules, at all.

What is infuriating is knowing that this isn’t just a case of a black team being caught breaking the rules and being punished–

–it’s that this is a common thing across the board, and only becomes an issue when they are crowned champions.

Especially after beating a white team to advance to the championship, while running up the score.

(Edit: the coach who “blew the whistle” on the falsified residential boundary map, Mike Janes of the Evergreen Park Little League, is the guy who coached the team that lost by over 40 points to JRW.)

Therein lies the difference.

Would have been a non-issue if Evergreen had won the game, but since they didn’t, the investigation was launched.

As one of my Facebook friends pointed out as she is apt to do, in the eyes of whites who control and operate the league, we are meant only to be entertainment.  When we become competition is when the trouble starts.

So, this got me thinking about my super brief stint in Little League as a kid.

And before realizing that baseball was not for me, at all, I got to see that there was a great disparity in the fields we played on.  They were unkempt and poor quality.

Our equipment fees barely covered uniforms, and those were of the iron-on number variety, with no names on the back and you took whatever size and number was still available.

Our concession stands were sparse and run by parents who volunteered, pulling double-duty while cheering on their kids playing on the field.  What little they had to sell, at least at the parks we played at, were gotten from the corner store or on at least one occasion, Jewel or some other actual grocery store, probably paid for out of the pockets of one generous person or from funds pooled together from the few adults who could take a night off work to bring their kids to the games.

I remember the one batting helmet we all had to share.  No bullshit.

And it all seemed okay to me at the time because that’s what I was used to, and I had nothing to compare it to.

Until, after I quit (I didn’t make it three games, admittedly), and went to attend the exhibition game that my old team played right down the street from my grandparent’s house, against a team of white kids from Oak Park.

And they showed up in bright green and gold uniforms.  Brand new cleats.  Gloves.  Last names stitched on the back of jerseys.  A coach in a matching team color windbreaker, even though it was unnecessary in 70-degree weather.

Wouldn’t you know they all had their own batting helmets?

And for once, all of the lights at the park seemed to work.

And that’s when I realized that something was very, very wrong here.

The disparity didn’t get any better when I reached high school and was able to travel to places like Glenbard North and Hinsdale, hell, any place outside of District 209–where I was in awe of the facilities that student-athletes had access to.

While we barely had a pool, they had a practice pool and a full competition pool.  When we had to roll up our wrestling mats and bring them into our main gyms before meets ourselves and lay them out, they had a crew to do that.  Weight room too small?  Unheard of.  Theirs were the size of our drill court (which was huge.)

I say all that to say this:

I realize that in spite of these disparities, we still produced some of the best athletes AND students in the area, who have gone on to do great things in Illinois and in the country.  This has more to do with our sheer determination to make do with what we were given, instead of having things handed to us.

The adage of having to be twice as good to get half as far is true, and even moreso in this case, because having a group of kids overcome the odds during one of the most violent summers in city and national history to win a national title, only to have it stripped from them on a technicality, is sickening.

But I’d be lying to myself and to you all if I was to say I was surprised.

And here is the thing I want folks to take away from this: collectively, black people who are aware of this disparity between areas in which we live versus areas that are an improvement will find a way to use it to our advantage.  It would be foolish not to.

It is why today we are willing to risk jail time to send our kids to schools in better districts, even if it is only slightly better.  Any improvement is better than none.

Hope is better than remaining hopeless.

Just to drive home my point:

During my time in grade school, right up until I graduated from Irving Elementary, I was consistently the top student in my grade level.  And, of course, based off of district rules, I attended Irving because my old address on 19th Avenue allowed me to be there.

But, here’s the kicker: I actually lived about 15 miles away in Summit, Illinois, which was as violent and as drug and gang infested as Maywood is right now.  Probably moreso.

Guess whose parents got up and drove me, my brother and sister out to Irving every morning?  Whose grandparents let me use their address to register in District 89 so I could receive a better education than attending the ramshackle elementary less than a block away from my apartment building?  Why I stayed with one grandparent or another on weeknights when my parents were too tired to make that trip so I could get up and go to school in the morning?

Damn right.

I didn’t officially move to Maywood on 19th Avenue until I was 14 years old.

Somebody want to come take my 8th grade diploma from me, or nah?

I guarantee if I asked them would they do it over again in order to give their kids a better shot in this world, they’d say yes in a heartbeat.

And I’d do the same for mine.

If it means giving hope, I’m all about bending the rules.

I’m also for breaking the rules that keep disparities happening, because it’s not like they weren’t put in place for just that reason.

And at this point, I’m also for uplifiting these young brothers and telling them that they are still champions to all of the people that matter.

And no one can ever strip that from them.

Written by aceviewblogger

February 11, 2015 at 10:41 pm

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Open Letter #1: Marshawn Lynch

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Dear Mr. Lynch:

I want to start this off by making it clear and plain that I do not know you, nor have we met in life.  I have only been familiar with your on-the-field game over the past couple seasons as a Seattle Seahawk–and most recently, this season, was introduced to your off-the-field personality when a picture of you that someone took in a Seattle Starbucks surfaced.

Truthfully, wearing a hoodie emblazoned with “Fuck You” several times over on the back would probably not endear you to a whole lot of people.  And as taken aback by this as I initially was, I was also intrigued.

What is this man’s motivation, I wondered.

Then, the stories became more about your post-game interviews–or, lack thereof, I guess–and I started to notice a direct contrast in the way that the media portrayed you and your teammate Richard Sherman.

See, I’ve noticed that “they” call Sherman a “thug” because he is outspoken and opinionated.

These same folks call you a thug because of your refusal to speak on command.

And again, I will reiterate that I don’t know you personally, so I cannot and will not speculate on the reasons that you won’t do mainstream media interviews.

In my opinion, if you get paid to play a sport, the league being in your pocket because you won’t do interviews on command is one of the most asinine things I’ve ever heard of.  And I was completely unaware this was a rule until you had all of this controversy surrounding you.

Well, the press conference you did a few days ago confirmed that here is a man who is completely aware of his place in this world and that some people want to control what comes out of his mouth, and when.  But that doesn’t matter to a man who knows what he stands for and for who he plays the game for.

If I can find the clip of it, it’ll be posted right at the end of this sentence.

Allow me to paraphrase it, for those who can’t view the video: basically, beyond the people who really matter to you in this world (i.e., your family and close friends)–nothing really matters to you.  When you go home at night, there are no media.

No flashing lights.  No microphones.  No fanfare, no players or coaches.

Just you, in your world.  Surrounded by what’s really important: the people who you do this for.

And I respect that immensely, because I’m the same exact way.

So I will keep this short, brother, because I know that coming off of this tough-ass loss in one of the biggest games of your career is probably going to require being AWOL from Internet and what people are saying right now.  And perhaps you’ll never read this, but I want you to know a few things just in case this makes it to you:

First, I struggled with doing a series of open letters, because there are a lot of things that I want to say to people that are considered celebrities, but I was unsure of how they would be received.  You have definitely shown me that no one can control your message unless you let them.

Second, I’ll be posting this entry and going immediately to buy a Beast Mode hat or T-shirt.  You and your team may have lost a Super Bowl (this season, anyway) but you have definitely gained a fan in this brother from Maywood, Illinois.

Third, along those same lines: if you’re ever in my neck of the woods (Maywood being a suburb of Chicago, it’s pretty much the same damn thing–trust me) and doing that inner-city work with your charity that dude questioned you about during that recent press conference?  Let me know how I can be of service.

Definitely about that action, boss.

(And if you want to do an interview, I ain’t mad at that either.  Just throwing it out there. lol)

Finally–much respect to you on maintaining your blackness in a world where it is constantly harder each day to live as a black man.  I’m not one for hero worship (by a long shot) but it is nice to be able to turn on my television with my young son and be able to point to an athlete that actually stands for his people.  Shout out to my real Afrikans, for real.

Just thought I’d write this tonight, before I didn’t.

Peace and blessings to you.

Sincerely,

-Ace

Written by aceviewblogger

February 1, 2015 at 11:00 pm

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On Black(out) Friday and Ways To Affect Retail Profit

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Ok.  So there has been a lot of speculation—

–well, I won’t call it speculation.  Just downright naysaying about how a Black Friday weekend boycott will have little to no impact on, well, anything.

I thought about writing a brief Facebook status attempting to explain the ways in which this would actually force long-term change by using this as a springboard to something bigger.  But that would be a pretty long status.

So, in addition to running down just how much of an impact this could have on the economy, in this post there are also tips and hints as to how you can really hit retailers where it hurts by removing your  spending dollars from businesses that have little to no interest in investing in your community, whether that be in the form of jobs or tax dollars.

Follow me, if you will:

  • African-Americans are projected to spend 1.1 trillion dollars in 2015. Yes, that is a “T” in the front of that “rillion”.  This isn’t a new trend with us, as we, as a collective group, have been one of the biggest consumers in American society since being able to be paid to work.  There are several reasons for this, but in short, we spend this much with others because we don’t typically have many options to spend our earned revenue among ourselves.  Therefore, our dollars tend not to stay and benefit our communities, but are put into the pockets of people who will turn and invest your spending dollars into their own communities.
  • So, here is the rub: your goal this weekend is not necessarily to boycott ALL spending and not support the economy at all. In fact, it is geared to get people to invest in establishments that are invested in you and your community.  Take advantage of Small Business Saturday (which just happens to be the day after ‘Black Friday’) by finding  and supporting small businesses in your community or other communities.
  • Your other goal, meanwhile, should be to have an adverse effect on pockets of any other retailer who does not fit into the aforementioned categories. They count on your presence in their stores this weekend to benefit them; so the best way to counteract this: show up in the stores.

Buy nothing.

If anything, use the time as a chance to plan out your spending over the next month.  Compare prices.  But do not spend one cent in these stores, as any transaction would count towards the total number of transactions (yes, they keep track of that) and affect margins and profit for the business in question.

Also, one other thing that is often tracked at these stores are the amount of customers that enter the store versus the amount of customers that actually make a purchase.  Want to really mess up the stats?  Any store with one entrance and exit (like, a Best Buy, for example) track customers using cameras and sensors to count customers.) Entering through the entrance door and leaving back out through the same door will count you as a customer twice.  Or, just walking in and out of the store will count you as a customer multiple times, even if you don’t make a purchase.

Throw off the statistics and make it appear that even less was made over this weekend.

  • What you think about whether or not this will work says a lot about your faith in us, as people. It says a lot about your willingness to try something different.  Peaceful protests, rioting, looting, die-ins, banners—all of these things actually have their role in starting a revolution.

But this is something that has been proven to generate a response.  Look no further than Selma and the bus boycott during the civil rights movement.  Whether or not this generates anything depends solely on you and who you can get to help you support it.  And for those who have not developed a plan to not consume for two weeks or more (yes, some of us are prepared to do just that–more on that later)–the goal is to at the very least, minimize your spending.  You may still have to purchase gasoline, get prescriptions, etc.  But plan accordingly and if you must shop, try to spend less than you might in a regular trip.

  • Finally, as I mentioned earlier, this is meant to be a springboard into something bigger. To find out if we can actually start to pinpoint minority businesses that actually support us and have our best interests at heart.  To find out how many dollars we can actually keep in circulation in our community before the money leaves.  Let’s see if this can actually make any sort of difference.

And if it needs to be fine-tuned, so be it.  A failure isn’t marked by some of us still supporting the retailers this weekend.  A failure is marked by us doing this this weekend only to resume consuming in the same pattern we have been.

Written by aceviewblogger

November 27, 2014 at 4:53 pm

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Iota Sweetheart Profile #18: (The) Financial Aide

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s.bester1

(Writer’s note: This profile is being written on the eve of the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital Walk, to be held in various locations throughout the country tomorrow. 

At the time of this writing, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated has raised over $30,000.

At the time of this writing, Iota Sweetheart Sherri Bester has raised $3,690 of that total.

What kind of individual could raise 10% of all funds collected, proving that, literally and figuratively, we “Walk that Walk?”

You’re about to find out.)

Please introduce yourself to the readers.

Name: Sherri Bester.

I became a Sweetheart, Spring 1991, Sigma Chapter, Boston College.
Our line name was called ‘All as One”.  There were three men and two women, myself included.
What drew your interest to Iota Sweethearts?
Well, at the time I can honestly say I didn’t know too much about Iota. I was approached by 3 young men. They asked me if I’d be willing to help, and naturally, I asked how would this benefit me. Actually it’s funny now but, they explained the whole Sweetheart thing to me. It piqued my interest and so it began. (LOL)
What is your current job title/career?
I work for Strayer University I work in the finance department and I’ve been here for 4 years in December. I love what I do and if you ask anyone they’ll tell you that I love working with money. 
Please name an aspiration you hope to accomplish within the next 20 years.
My aspiration I want to accomplish, is to become the National Treasurer for Iota Sweethearts.
How has Iota helped you in your endeavors, personal or professional?
Iota [has] helped me with both areas. I find myself stepping up to the plate more, taking on more responsibilities in my current profession, as well as in my personal life. 
What would you say to anyone considering membership in Iota Phi Theta or Iota Sweethearts?
What I’d say to someone considering membership….well, I’d let them know that you must be willing to work, and to be involved with your community. It’s not always about the party but the message. Showing the world that we are not the average organization but, to show we will excel at being the best! I have the honor of working with the best group of women, [and] they exemplify what it means to be “Gracious Ladies”.
To donate to Iota Phi Theta’s St. Jude Walk, go here or the hyperlink above: 
(photo provided by Sherri Bester)

Written by aceviewblogger

November 21, 2014 at 9:23 am

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