Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"So, Pennsylvania Republicans are now trying to tell women what they can do with their bodies?"

Its not just Republicans…men (period)?
How can any man, “really” speak to what a woman does or does not do with her reproductive system. Just for clarity, and not to sound sexist. I feel that we need to hear more voices of those with experience and have a uterus.

I think we should be speaking more to this point despite being Republican or Democrat. Is this a Democratic or Republican thing…should it be a political issue up for “discussion”? Why does it even matter?

In retrospect...When it comes down to the everyday realities of many women, not just in Pennsylvania...I am speaking about across the nation, and really, world-wide...Republican or Democrat, when it comes down to the uterus, it really does not make a difference.

For example, when a woman has issues with fibroids, uterine cancer, menopause, menstruation, miscarriages, being pregnant in her tubes, or having to decide on an abortion....or some who cannot bear children...

For any woman, and speaking from experience, the reproductive system, birth control etc it is an intimate issue not a political one. I remember my mother giving birth to my little brother. The pain, the pressure, the breathing…the living, while dying, yet giving life out of love is the only way I can describe it. Can I ask, how many men know what it feels like t give birth? Or to go through the emotional and physical pangs of having an abortion?

I know when I am at the doctor, especially a OBGYN, as multitudes of women, I take that seriously. When the doctor not only touches and looks at our most intimate parts, that can be a scary experience, where most women are most vulnerable. Who dares makes decisions about and for my uterus except me.

And to those who are elected, speaking as a voter...I look to those who make decisions, to make the best ones, not just based off current laws and legislation...I want someone who understands me not just as a voter...as a human being.

Now if we are talking about jobs and social and economic justice...that is where politics come into play. When are we going to get it? People are not pawns on a chess board. People want paychecks, and opportunity...Makes me wonder, how can one consider this a democracy if all those who live here, do not experience democracy and all that it entails...?

In this day and time, and economic climate…I would love to hear less on what they are proposing about my reproductive system and more about how they are creating jobs, increasing funding in education, fixing our roadways, bridges and unsafe streets. That is what affects me. Do you know how many tires I have lost due to this atrocity? What has been done?

How can the education system be unstable, underfunded and all we hear about is more budget cuts? The education system is the one of the only things that is going to allow Pennsylvania to grow and compete in the high-tech global economy of tomorrow.

Our children must become strategic, smarter, faster and better to compete. We need to grow as a state. Our future and the lives of our children depend on it. Let us spend more time talking about the real issues and the issues that matter most to the people.


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Temple News: Warm Hearts offers help, warmth for the homeless

Warm Hearts offers help, warmth for the homeless

October 31, 2011 by Dominique Johnson
Filed under Opinion

Fareeda Mabry, founder of Operation Warm Hearts, recognizes the need to keep Philadelphia’s homeless warm this winter through organizing blanket drives.

Last year, Philadelphia native Fareeda Mabry, 33, started a grass-roots organization known as Operation Warm Hearts with a simple goal in mind: Help those who cannot help themselves. The organization is seeking to collect and distribute 1,701 blankets across the Philadelphia region for those who are unfortunate enough to find themselves trapped in the cold this coming winter.

The organization was formed by Mabry with the help of Justina Shaw from the nonprofit organization, OPPORTUNITIES, and friends Carl Daniels, Nakisha Peterson and Tarisse Iriarte.

“They helped pushed this initiative on the ground by taking donations and playing a major role in the street team,” Mabry said. “We meet people where they are. If they are living on the streets, we go to them.”

Currently Operation Warm Hearts is looking to maintain the relationship that they have with Shaw, by working with OPPORTUNITIES. They also plan to build partnerships with other organizations.

Mabry is a product of Philadelphia’s Olney High School, graduating in 1997. Attending Peirce College and the University of Pennsylvania later, Mabry considers herself a “maverick,” and a community leader who is “from the people and for the people.”

“The same people we elect, some turn to elitism and it is hard for people to relate to them,” Mabry said. “I want people to still relate to me as a sister, a cousin, a daughter, a niece and a friend.”

As housing and social service cuts decrease and the economy continues to pull itself out of a recession, it is estimated that across the country there are approximately 200,000 to 500,000 Americans who are currently homeless. It is estimated that there are approximately 4,000 homeless people in Philadelphia on any given day. This includes those who are in shelters or on the streets.

As a result of the economic downturn, Mabry and her team wanted to address this particular need. Starting out at first by accepting only blankets and comforters, Operation Warm Hearts now accepts items such as soap, toothpaste and shirts.

“We are looking to do a blanket drive every year from [Oct. 1] until March 1,” Mabry said. “As we collect, we give to folks who are in need and also receive requests from low-income families to provide support.”

Last year Operation Warm Hearts serviced more than 800 homeless families and individuals. Mabry hopes to partner with more organizations and political leaders as the organization moves forward, so that they may continue to have blanket drives.

Although its initial goal is 1,701 blankets, Mabry said that she is looking to collect double that number since Operation Warm Hearts is also supporting the Occupy Philly protestors camping outside City Hall.

“Philadelphia grew from a few hundred inhabitants in 1683 to over 2,500 in 1701,” Mabry said, on why the organization chose that number for its goal. “Before William Penn left Philadelphia for the last time on Oct. 25, 1701 he issued the Charter of 1701.”

William Penn envisioned Philadelphia as a ‘City of Brotherly Love,’” Mabry added. “He was realistic enough to know that law, not love, is the mechanism that regulates the interactions of men.”

Currently, Operation Warm Hearts is not holding any blanket drives. Mabry said that she is looking to students, volunteers and others who may be interested in doing them while also increasing Operation Warm Hearts capacity to service more individuals.

“Operation Warm Hearts knows that it is the simple things that can help keep a person going when they are losing everything,” Mabry said.

Anyone interested in volunteering time or donating to Operation Warm Hearts can contact Mabry at 267-707-8979 or email fareeda@fareedamabry.org with the subject line: Operation Warm Hearts.

Dominique Johnson can be reached at dominique.johnson@temple.edu.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Philadelphia Police…Hero or Gestapo? Please don’t taze me bro

Philadelphia Police…Hero or Gestapo?
Please don’t taze me bro

Who moved my McGruff? And who in the hell polices the police? Like many of you I grew up with the images of police as heroes. Our “boys in blue” are here to help people, protect and serve the community and educate with honesty and integrity. As a kid…who was more up standing than an officer? In movies the good guy always wins…McGruff the Crime Dog’s motto was to “take a bite out of crime”…

McGruff image indicated that the police mean a safe refuge. However as time has changed, the role, image and what it means to some to be a police officer has drastically changed from hero to Gestapo.

In recent news, we see many police officers being reprimanded on all sorts of corruption, brutal/terrorist acts, and misconduct. What creates a corrupt cop? Where is the accountability? The police it seems are the only ones who police themselves.  Well, why doesn’t the community trust them? Is there a reason for fear of the police? The many minority and ethnic communities have become a place where trust of the police is obsolete and the code of the streets is “stop snitching”. There is a disconnect between the two.

The community has been victimized by the same people who are sworn into oath under God to protect and serve. Stop snitching is a major unspoken campaign not to mention the aggression and backlash. Stop snitching is a way for the community to protect and serve itself. The people’s revolution will not be televised… For every action there is a reaction. I feel the community reacting to being victims.  No one wants to be targeted, or enslaved. Snitches are the lowest form. A rat, a snake is what they call it. 

Power and the hunger for it corrupts even the most innocent. There is no justification for crime. Crime is merely reactionary. When we look at Marlow’s Hierarchy of Needs, if any of these needs are not met, all hell breaks loose.

We're not anti-police... we're anti-police brutality. 

Al Sharpton

A recent incident that drew national attention, a young man Askia Sabur, brutalized by the Philadelphia Police Department The video link provided captures the violent arrest of Sabur outside a takeout restaurant at Lansdowne Avenue and Allison Streets. This neighborhood although has turned around in many years, is no walk in the park.

Sabur, outside of the restaurant he reminded officers he was “waiting for his food”….how do you go order 3 chicken wings, and some shrimp friend rice and end up your skull cracked open? Sabur was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, and resisting arrest.

The Beating of Askia Sabur

Not sure if Sabur was also charged with robbery…because police claim, Sabur reached for an officer’s gun. When has anyone in African American history seen or heard of a black man who reached or had any kind of weapon and is still alive to speak about it?  The other officers would’ve filled him full of bullet holes.

If you do not believe me, ask Amadou Diallo only 22 at the time of his death… There was no justification in the increased level of force and the level brutality taking Sabur into custody…

Police brutality is an international human and civil rights crises, so much bigger than Philadelphia. From Nigeria to New York, police brutality is an issue. Let’s take Oakland, CA…Oscar Grant, who was shot dead by a transit officer, doing his job a bit too much if you ask me.

The Shooting of Oscar Grant

Not sure why a person would shoot an unarmed person who was not resisting. Grant was faced down and shot in the back…execution style, by the same man who was hired to serve and protect his life. I mean…If you cannot trust the police to protect you…Who can you trust?

Danroy Miller, 20, equally as sad. Promising college student “he was killed by police in Mount Pleasant, N.Y., located about 35 miles north of New York City, according to police and university officials. Henry was behind the wheel of a parked car when police arrived at Finnegan's Grill, in a neighborhood called Thornwood, police said. He allegedly attempted to flee in the vehicle when officers breaking up a nearby brawl approached him”.

Miller’s friends where even beaten when they tried to administer CPR to save his life: http://jonathanturley.org/2010/10/21/new-york-police-accused-of-assaulting-college-students-trying-to-give-cpr-to-friend/.

The police have created an image of brutality, and domestic terrorism. Invoking resistance and fear in the community. Protect and serve or alienate and exterminate? The systematic heavy handed violence of police targeted towards poorer, under resourced and under serviced communities is out of control.

Amnesty International (AI) on American Police Brutality: On its web site, AI says "Police brutality and use of excessive force has been one of the central themes of (AI's) campaigns on human rights violations in the USA," launched in October 1998. In its "United States of America: Rights for All Index," it documented systematic patterns of abuse across America, including "police beatings, unjustified shootings and the use of dangerous restraint techniques to subdue suspects."

Little is done to monitor or constrain it the brutality that is dished out…Racial and ethnic minorities are the ones who are disproportionately harmed by the harassment, false arrest, beatings and terrorism.

For Philadelphia police excessive force seems to be the norm: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/05/07/philadelphia-police-caugh_n_100569.html.

Looking at west African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, shot at 41 times by four New York policemen, struck 19 times and killed while he stood in the vestibule of his apartment building, unarmed and nonviolent, another life snatched….a victim of police brutality. Sabur unlike Miller, Diallo and Grant, he may have gotten his skull cracked open…yet he still has his life.

The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) is the nation's fourth largest police department, with over 6600 sworn members and 800 civilian personnel. The PPD is the primary law enforcement agency responsible for serving Philadelphia County, extending over 140 square-miles in which approximately 1.5 million reside. Geographically, the Department is divided into twenty-two police districts (each headed by a captain), which comprise six police divisions (Northwest, Northeast, East, Central, Southwest, South - each headed by a Divisional Inspector), into two major sections of the city, Regional Operations Command North (ROC North) and Regional Operations Command South (ROC South), each headed by one Deputy Commissioner under Field Operations. Personnel are assigned to work in 55 different locations throughout Philadelphia, with Police Headquarters located in the 6th Police District, in Center City, at 750 Race Street. http://www.phillypolice.com/about

Brutal men with unlimited power are the same all over the world.

In Philadelphia since 2009, “11 officers have been arrested on charges including murder, rape and drug dealing. They are among 51 police officers fired for misconduct since May 2010. Brutal beatings and assaults by Philadelphia police continue particularly in African-American and Latino/neighborhoods”. http://www.workers.org/2011/us/philadelphia_1027/

I thought the idea was to stop and prevent crime before it happen and not perpetuate it. There is a long legacy of brutalization in the community stemming from excessive force from the Philadelphia Police Department.

Most people are aware of the recent police beating of Thomas Jones here in Philadelphia, but fewer people remember the police beating of Delbert Africa in 1978 caught on videotape and broadcast worldwide. This incident prompted the Department of Justice to file the first ever lawsuit against a city for police brutality. In 1985, the police dropped C-4 plastique from a state helicopter on the MOVE house resulting in the death of eleven people including five children. Sixty-one homes were burned to the ground.”

To me a police officer who abuses his badge is no different than a priest who shames the church. Shame...All cops are not bad, and all people are not good. Many victims eventually become victimizers.  The psychological affects of brutality is worse than the beatings. For those who are not killed, some are paralyzed, and suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, aggression, emotional disturbances, drug abuse, suicide and paranoia. Its historical, it’s generational? Brutality, bullying and Gestapo tactics are modern day lynching.  Most importantly what are we teaching our children and our next generation of law enforcement? 

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Children Under the Stairs: The Foster Care System:

The Children Under the Stairs

Going Beyond the Foster Care System:

After watching the movie The Blind Side, a movie based on a prolific true story about a African American young man whose mother was a drug user and he lived in the projects. A Caucasian family took interest in him becoming his legal guardians and groomed him to be one of the best players in the NFL.

After seeing the movie about Michael, I was bought to think about how many other Michaels there are in the world that comes from broken and/or dysfunctional homes. It was personal for me, as my little brother, who many would consider a very blessed young man, straight A’s, football and basketball. Even made it to “Whose Who”…My little brother is an example not an exemption. Although both my brothers and I were raised in a single parented home. I think about those who are like my brothers best friend Gerry, who does not have either parent…no mother nor a father.

Over the years after my parents marriage, I often times reflect on my father, him as a man and him as my father. His faults and the lessons I have learned from growing up with out him fully present in my life. As a young lady…it’s hard, creating basically a skeptical cynic from birth about life, love and relationships. Being a child on the receiving end of broken relationships…it’s tough. Yet, I am happy I had one parent even if the other messed up!

What about those living with no parents? Could you have live on your own 12 or 15? Each year, thousands of young people “age out” of the foster care system, many without family or economic supports. Without connection to a caring adult and support to plan and prepare, these youth face steep challenges, including higher rates of unemployment, poor educational attainment, health issues, incarceration, and homelessness.

When I first met my little brother friend, Gerry, who lives in foster care with six other foster children, now brothers and sisters, mother and father…where there was none before. I know Gerry has it hard. He said to me one day, “Ms. Fareeda, you should adopt…adopt a boy”…kind of threw me off, and after looking into his life a little deeper I begin to see why he said what he said….He was looking for a chance or to give someone else a chance and an opportunity at life.

Although a well, soft hearted, mild mannered very caring young man, who I come to love as my little brother…I learned that Gerry’s living conditions in foster care are no better than if he would be living in a shelter, alone…He has trouble in school. Even as a teen, he urinates on himself, and wreaks sometimes where my family and I have to make him wash up, and provide him new socks and under garments. He cannot help his situation. Not only has he lived in the refuse…the other children do as well. It breaks my heart. Gerry is a good kid and could very well be a great man. The young mind is so impressionable.

My point with this blog entry…how are these children being prepared for life? And what programs are people are tapping that potential?

In school, behaviorally and academically they are just passed along so teachers do not have to deal with them. The movie bought to light a scary reality for many children who reside within the walls, and subways of Philadelphia streets, a real reality for those children who live within the shelter and the foster system and are still not getting adequate care….

“Approximately 3,000 children come into out-of-home care in Philadelphia each year. Many of these children are placed in temporary foster care while the family and social workers work together to build upon a family’s existing strengths, address concerns, and when at all possible, reunite the children with their family in a safe, loving home.

Unfortunately, this is not always possible, and it is sometimes necessary to find another permanent placement option for a child – in many situations this means adoption.”(1)

Unfortunately every homeless and parentless child cannot be brought about like the movie. Gerry lives in conditions that groom him for doom. What is up with the foster system? Are there provisions in place to make sure foster parents are not just collecting checks from the government and actually taking care of the Gerry’s of the world? I’m not a parent yet after learning more about him, I am inclined to help others who are like him and live like him. Is the foster system preparing or breeding individuals for prison? Is the foster system flawed or are the folks adopting many children abusers of the system?

We know all children have aspirations, strengths and talents, and the potential to become fully participating citizens who contribute in a range of fields. Yet, the main challenges facing young people in foster care and in the welfare system are: (1) the culture of low expectations for those in care and (2) the lack of accountability or real motivation for success or failure. A principle challenge is changing the thinking and current practices prevent many from taking on individual responsibility for preparing for a future of successful independence.

Until that happens, most young people coming out of the foster care will not be prepared for college and meaningful careers. Too many will continue to end up homeless, jobless, and incarcerated, without the resources they need to become successful adults. The fate of these children depends wholly on the goodwill of the community and their personal ability to persevere.

http://dhs.phila.gov/intranet/pgintrahome_pub.nsf/content/Adoption (1)

Fareeda Mabry

Life, Liberty and Neighborhoods First!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


After Judgment – Guide to Getting Results

*Dehumanization through Words*

Words, (especially the perversion of them) have a powerful affect on the mind.

"It is not whether your words or actions are tough or gentle; it is the spirit behind your actions and words that announces your inner state."
-- Chin-Ning Chu

I can think to when I was about 10 or 11 years old I had my first run in with being called a nigger. It was not another African American it was a middle aged Caucasian gentleman. At that time, living in a neighborhood with few blacks, and being the first African Americans on our street, my family and I experienced a lot of racism and racist things at that time as I grew up. Nothing so chilling as to me remembering that man calling me a “little nigger”. Can you imagine how that felt at that age?

I think that is where my self pride grew from the black little girl to the budding young Bell Hooks you see before you. I thought how dare he? I am SO more than that. So much more, shit, I’m the next Oprah Winfrey slash Grace Jones, LOL.

Despite the circumstances, what child deserves that type of dehumanization? An adult to a child. Would you say the effects of this is less than that of molestation? I would say worse. Attempting to degrade me and raping me of who I could be....Yet, I learned this is really the American way through the eyes of many. This is what we are taught. How many have those conversations in the home, you would not dare to have outside the home. 

Remember, "if they can't use the comb, don't bring them home..."

This is how I began my quest to understand people.

As I grew older, and pass that experience I come to the realization, that most people who are ignorant do not know they are ignorant, and common sense is not really all that common. This type of generational ignorance is deeply rooted and subtly plays on insecurities of people. It is a mere reflection of the person projecting. It speaks to the victims superiority and the victimizes insecurities. There is no reason for it. It really does not matter what color you are if your ignorant, your just ignorant. I come to understand, people hate what they fear most. They seek to destroy it.

Dehumanization is a DIRTY conventional warfare tactic played on the minds of those who are ignorant or unaware. Through frames and messaging the mind is easily influenced in many cases, particularly if it’s subtle or subliminal. Let’s take the “residue of slavery” which remains, and is reflected in the historical racist and dehumanizing treatment and views of African Americans/people of color as it is projected and plays out in modern society.

My personal experience caused me to think about those who have been in institutional settings such as prisons, and schools. Those who were told they would not be amount to anything. And if your told to aim at nothing, your are surely to hit it! I am sure, that put them in the mindset to feel like nothing, leaving them at a disadvantage, mentally. Bureaucracy keeps them running in circles. Men and women who return home from prison are at a much greater disadvantage because they are stripped of certain rights and denied certain transitional opportunities, especially if they are a minority.

Modern society plays out the stereotypes fueled by dehumanization in poorer violence ridden drug infested urban communities, and found primarily in places where the word Nigger is very popular. Not to mention overly populated by those who are in many cases very intelligent and socially aware, socially constructed in a systematic way of keeping these people, under resourced, inadequately-socialized, under educated/employed, under-utilized all leading to dehumanization and indifference.

No matter how awful, nigger is a popular word. “Nigger is a noun in the English language, most notable for its usage in a pejorative context to refer to black people, and also as an informal slang term, among other contexts. It is a common ethnic slur. The word originated as a term used in a neutral context to refer to black people, as a variation of the Spanish/Portuguese noun negro, a descendant of the Latin adjective niger, meaning "black[1]"

Dehumanization through words only perpetuates and reinforces stereotypes behind words such as Nigger, Spic, Gook, etc we see it ingrained in the social fabric of America. Novelty makes the world go round and because of this lack of understanding on many levels, this dehumanization is reinforced.

Look at the competitive factor among whose race is superior. If it was not, groups like the KKK would not be so successful. Because America are the main consumers of this bullshit, we are socially unaware and unconsciously are shifted into treating one another indifferently because of modern day racism reinforced through stereotypes built upon a hate and a perversion of words. Thus reflecting and projecting this ignorance on an international basis. Promotion of this dehumanizing way of thinking.

A way of thinking, a way of being taught for generations. Killing ourselves, by working against one another over something that is unrealistic. Man can accomplish so much more by working together. Race is arguably socially constructed....I mean, who is really black or white nowadays?

Yet, aren’t we all mere human beings? Why dehumanization? It baffles me, how is it our similarities do not seemingly override our differences. It is the words behind the differences are which separate us, stereotypes.

“Chapters of the same book just a different page, Niggers in the struggle all out to get paid”…Beanie Siegel

Nigger I believe is the primary root of separatism among African Americans. To an educated black man a “Nigger” is someone who looks like all other black people in terms of skin color, yet messes everything else up for the rest of the proud African/Jamaican/Haitian Americans. A nightmare walking, and a shoot out waiting to happen! Now, you don’t see any black person referring to Martin Luther King Jr as a nigger…?

And let us not forget the infamous, Whigger? WHIGGER—whites who act “black” or like “niggers” depicted and defined by educated blacks. Emenim , the Beastie Boys, and MC Search would be the along and among the Whiggerish ones.

Possible Characteristics of a Nigger: Laziness, Ignorance, Racism, Belligerence, Kleptomania and an all around urge to just do dumb shit all the time.”…Unknown

For example: Shooting and killing a police officer on Broad Street, in broad daylight on Halloween or Mr. Malvo training a teenager on sniping innocent people across Washington DC…yup, I admit, that is some real nigga shit. Yet, although comical in a sense, this is a word used to separate us from ourselves. Nigga shit embarrasses the educated black. Yet, I think the "nigga" really knows no other way. The only way they know, is the way we have known for over 300 years, "survival of the fittest"...

It is for the educated black man to make the difference, pave the paths and show the way. Like they say, "it takes a village"...

Some understand being a Nigger is a behavior trait based on a foundation of ignorance, yet by the use of the word, we dehumanize ourselves. Because we can distinguish, it does not mean it is okay. And those on the outside looking in cannot distinguish, so as African Americans we are grouped, and we categorize and catalog ourselves and in turn are grouped in the eyes of the media, in our homes, in our schools and within the walls of the prison. So if you want to stop being called and/or treated as such, please look within. And be sure to help those who cannot help themselves...

“Even if you in a benz you still a nigger”….Kyane West. Nigger, Nigger, Nigger, Nigger, and we drill it into ourselves…what is the purpose, and where does it end? Self destruction....or?

Another example of the skillful use of the ideologically based dehumanization in action is, Adolf Hitler's references to Jewish as 'vermin' or 'rats'. “Dehumanization is a psychological process whereby opponents view each other as less than human and thus not deserving of moral consideration.[2]” Word removes personal identification, annihilation of character all allowing the public to override their repugnance to conflict by perceiving their enemies as inhuman. After 9/11 notice the increase in Muslims now labeled “Terrorist” and “Extremist” in turn making it okay to murder. Do you hear them saying hey "rat" sup, or hey "terrorist" wassup?! No, we as a people need to learn to lead by example. Be proud!

“Who pulls the strings?... Are you making things happen or watching them happen? Set the stage or you will become a mere character in a play Its best to be a puppeteer of life and not a puppet….” F. Mabry

The next time you or someone you know calls you a nigger, or uses the term nigger as a description, think about the mighty weight that word carries and has carried for over 300 years.

Progression or regression…

Niggerism and using the word nigger is thinking backwards, not forward. Think about what you are saying. When you judge someone based on the color of their skin, this does not speak to who they are as a person, it speaks to who you are.

As a African American, if you are using nigger in a way to describe someone African American considered uneducated, low class…etc…try helping your fellow man. Never throw stones when living in a glass house, remember how society views you no matter what IVY League degree you possess. 

Do we really wonder why we as blacks are so separated? Look at yourself. If you see no problem there, move on. If so, there is the problem, change your way of thinking, the generational problem resides there. Words we use not only among ourselves on a micro scale, think on a wider global level. How do we expect to be considered an international force if we can't get our own shit together, and utilize resources instead of always trying to exploit them? 

If you don’t want to be put in a box, don’t put yourself in one, and don't box others in either.

Words can be weapons used for good or evil. Writing and freedom of speech is one of my weapons against the atrocities we face. I personalize the struggle, because struggle is part of life, and life is very personal to me. I am thinking of those human beings who look like me in disproportionate numbers wrongfully imprisoned, hated, degraded and dehumanized, just for being born. I am from the community and for the community.

If I am too intense, or too passionate, or too overbearing, I am not only thinking of my life, I am thinking of yours too and the lives of your children. So I apologize in advance for my realness.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

WATCH YOUR WORDS you may be forced to eat them.

As Albert Einstein says, “you cannot change a problem with the same mind that created it”, so you have to change your way of thinking in order to change the problem. Although I have to curb my tendency to use the word, I see the harm it caused, and causes. Not just on an external level, on an internal self-esteem level of the African American community. Why are you broken? Who wants to be viewed as no matter what you accomplish you are still a “stain” on society i.e. a nigger.

That was then, this is now! Today, calling me a Nigger, you are guaranteed to get your feelings hurt no matter what color you are. Ain’t no niggers over here. I am for respect no matter who gives it. As Pearl Strachan Hurd says, “handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs”.

Fareeda "TheMaverick" Mabry

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Jones...WHO in the HELL?

Who in the hell are the Jones?
why are we keeping up with them?
“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased”

I never met these Jones and cannot understand why folks want to keep up with them!! For myself, I can only speak from my perspective, and let me be correct it’s about lifestyle and choice. Personally, I cannot afford it. I have not always been this way. For me, flea markets are a blessing from God himself. I like thrift stores and discount shops. Even if I could afford it, I could not see myself paying $500.00 for anything that is not a necessity just to be down, or in the loop. I refuse to pay a lot for this muffler. Its about practicing frugality, and still come out looking stylish!

Those who suffer from this Jones Syndrome. are those want to project a particular image. Why? Shopping is an expensive habit. For me, in the African American community, I find many will spend when they do not have it or before they get it. We are the number one consumers in the nation. Why? I never met the Jones and really do not care to know who they are unless they are willing to adopt me.

Some of our young black men are willing to sell drugs, rob, kill, steal and destroy one another to get at fashion, to get at women. I see rappers like lil Wayne; his teeth have to be worth $100,000 in his mouth. His mouth alone could wipe my bad debt away and have enough for a vacation for my entire family! And I love me some lil Wayne….Some of our young women are either exploited or even willing to prostitute themselves for a Gucci bag or the latest. Its sad. Why the need to cover oneself in material?

“Got 30down at the bottom, 30 more at the top, all invisible set in little ice cube blocks, if I could call it a drink I call it a smile on the rocks, you call out a price, I call it a lot, I got platinum and white gold, traditional gold, I’m changing grillz everyday like Jay change clothes”
Nelly “Grillz”

Are we that vain we go through any lengths to keep up an image for people who could careless about us? “A recent study by Essence Magazine showed that African American women alone spend $7.5 billion annually on beauty products. In an industry that is estimated at $80 billion, $7.5 billion may not seem like much, however, African-American women shell out 80 percent more money on cosmetics and twice as much on skin care products than the general market. That difference is largely due to the fact that African-American women sample more products to find the ones that are most effective on their skin as the majority of the consumers are left feeling unsatisfied.[1]” That is a lot of make up and hair products. Can you imagine the cost of the other upkeep? Many still left dissatisfied.

“Man I promise, I'm so self conscious
That's why you always see me with at least one of my watches
Rollies and Pasha's done drove me crazy
I can't even pronounce nothing, pass that Versace!
Then I spent 400 bucks on this
Just to be like nigga you ain't up on this!
And I can't even go to the grocery store
Without some ones that’s clean and a shirt with a team
It seems we living the American dream
But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem
The prettiest people do the ugliest things
For the road to riches and diamond rings
We shine because they hate us, floss cause they degrade us
We trying to buy back our 40 acres
And for that paper, look how low we a'stoop
Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coop/coupe

KAYNE WEST “All Falls Down"

This materialistic mentality has a great deal to do with attitudes and behaviors towards spending. In my opinion, hip hop not only highlights and glamorizes fashion, allowing listeners to draw conclusions and parallels between what is “whack” and what is considered corny (i.e. not up to the latest style). This has gotten to the point where teens have been able to use clothing as a way to represent a certain gang affiliation, and also compete among one another. Drawing parallels between the children who have and do not have. Possibly inclining the child who does not have to "get it" by any means. Reminds me of the Emperors Clothes, the value we place on them...

I see parents spending hundreds and thousands of dollars for their children to keep up with the latest…clothing and electronics…Are we just a glutton filled consumerist nation as a whole? And does this “Keeping up with the Jones Syndrome” affect the poorer community more than others? It has gotten to the point, schools have had to implement policy changes in what our children wear to school not just for safety, for self esteem…Like my mom told me, “You go to school to learn, not for a fashion show”. Yet she always struggled to not only keep me in the latest, in quality.
Through clothing I realized you are judged...cleanliness, attractiveness, worth etc. Such a shame how the mind generalizes. I find those who are not of the materialistic mentality are those who actually established and not projecting an image of being so. Its about stability and not the glam and glitz of material.

In High School, I seen many die over material, victims of the Jones. Is what we work so hard for worth dying over? In my lifetime, there have been many senseless killings over clothing, sneakers, jewelry throughout the world. Materialism equates to futility and pride to humility, self esteem and self respect. Materialism causes our society to not only harbor and judgments against one another based on clothing. What is that about?

Self respect…self esteem, something the African American community had very few lessons in over the last century. Willie Lychism only fuels the hate we have for one another. Where is the pride? Self love without the cover ups? African Americans as a whole, are taught not to love thy self nor one another. Is materialism a way to cover up these issues? Why so much emphasis on clothing and material? Dealing with internal issues and material as a way to cover up, over compensate for what is lacking or is it to enhance what is already an immaculate untarnished beauty. Keeping up with the Jones, the American Dream or being self conscious?

“Just because you are blind, and unable to see my beauty doesn't mean it does not exist.” ******Margaret Cho

Think about plastic surgery….Are we that vain we would destroy alter or hate what is naturally given. Naturally you...Beauty is skin deep. Anthropology taught me, beauty is what you see, it depends on who you are and where you come from. This world is so vast and beauty is created on many levels in many variations. . Preferences, ideals, and the media shape our ideals of beauty. Some Europeans want to look more ethnic, and those who are ethnic want to be more European. Think about the idea of a tan...How is it some people hate dark people yet they run the very risk of skin cancer, and sun burn to achieve darkness...Botox, and injections to have fuller lips, bigger butts etc to be that of a sister.
So, all this Keeping Up with the Jones, depends on your attitude towards yourself. Materialism fuels insecurities within self. Satisfaction is mindset and starts with self. Its okay not to be able to afford the Neimans, because the outlets work just as good and are much cheaper! :)

"Be what you are. This is the first step toward becoming better than you are."
Julius Charles Hare

Just being who I am fuels my confidence; life is meant to be lived, not for a fashion show.
Shop smarter, not harder.
Be an original. Don’t die a copy!
Fareeda “The Maverick” Mabry

[1] Fashion, Beauty and the African American Consumer (http://www.getemgirls.com/?p=7238)