My article posted on GLH…
On August 3-4, 2012, I had an opportunity to be involved with a camp specially designed for young men ages 3-18 right here in the city of Flint. You say you didn’t hear about it? That figures because it was not sponsored by one of our local athletes nor did it fit the bill of the “normal” Flint negative newsworthy material. What it did though was give 61 young men a chance to learn and grow physically and mentally over the course of a couple days.
Kingdom of Heaven Ministries (KHM located on G-3196 W. Pasadena Ave. on Flint’s north side) hosted the camp for the group they dubbed yM.O.V.E. (Young Men of Valor and Excellence), a spin off from their men’s group M.O.V.E. (Men of Valor and Excellence). The idea was initiated by Pastor/Founder Lonnie W. Brown as a tool to reach the underserved demographic of…
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I know that some who will read this will not like it. Some may even have negative commentary about it. However, the reality of it is that I really don’t care. Don’t get me wrong, I care about who will read it, but I have long since learned that I cannot be concerned with what people think about my message, but rather my concern is presenting the message that I have been commissioned to bring forth. Take the time to hear me out, form our own opinion, and do what you do with it. With that said, here we go…
I had a dream a few weeks ago that has stayed with me like no other. I must explain that rarely do I even remember any of my dreams in detail, so for this one to remain a part of my memory for so long is astonishing at the very least. I figured that the only reason why is because it is supposed to be shared with others and that is where I am today writing this. The beginning of the dream is a little sketchy for me in the sense that it seemed to bounce all over the place, but what I do remember is ending up being in my home state of MI and reading about all of these people that were being killed and/or taken hostage. Friends, family, and associates were all disappearing around me daily. It got to a point where there was only me and my close friend remaining around me and that is when we decided that we needed to do something…we didn’t necessarily know what at the time, but had to do something.
We went to try to figure out who or what was causing all of our loved ones to disappear. Using whatever clues that we could find, we looked for any hostages, hoping that we could find the ones most near and dear to us. I know it sounds crazy, but it seemed like we were the only ones in the world even looking at first. The closer that we got to the “hub” or base of the operation, the harder the opposition. Literally, we were fighting with pistols, while they had automatic weaponry galore chasing us away. On our journey we met others who were also searching, but were easily discouraged by the enemies and fell off or were killed off.
We blazed a trail to a distinct building that I remember, but it was protected like a fortress. I remember the car being shot up like on a movie, so we moved ahead on foot. This is the part where it finally hit me what we were fighting, that is, I saw two of the main gunmen while we were attempting to get near the home base. They were none other than T.I. and Busta Rhymes. Yes, I said it…T.I. and Busta Rhymes! The dream went on for some time with us making progress, then forced to retreat by the gunfire. Then, just as it seems we were really making serious headway, I woke up.
I woke up shocked, confused, and intrigued. What in the world was that all about? Rarely do I even remember a dream when I wake up, let alone in such detail. However, the meaning of it was not immediately in mind. I couldn’t go back to sleep and something about it just kept my mind turning over and over.
It was a few weeks later that I went to Toronto, CN to see Pastor G Craige Lewis record his newest installment in the Truth Behind Hip Hop series. Somewhere in the midst of the 8+ hours of driving and the several hour event, I had an epiphany about the dream. I finally realized what the meaning of what had been on my mind and heart all of that time…
It was a microcosm of my role in the movement of hip-hop taking over the community, city, state, and country. While I know this is not a popular opinion, the fact of the matter is that hip-hop os not just music, but rather a subculture and even more so a religion. It is funny how especially in the community of Americans with African descent, hip-hop moguls and superstars have become our heroes. No more are Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, but more importantly fathers the icons that the children look up to. How many little girls want to be Beyonce, Lady Gaga, or Nicki Minaj (to the point of dressing up like them for Halloween)? How many little boys want to follow Lil’ Wayne, Jay Z, Drake, etc.? Look at the dress, the language, and the disrespect for authority. Look at the idea of promoting whatever one wants for themselves instead of what God wants for them. Where did all of that come from? Yeah, hip-hop. The saddest part about it is that so many have no idea what the history is at all and even more sad than the lack of history is the lack of understanding of what they are even listening to today. A quick run through of many of the lyrics will show you that has to be the case. What happened to wanting to be like dad, but just a little bit better?
So, I figured out that the world is in a battle with this ideology and I have a role to play in the battle. But I became curious as to why the dream was so lopsided? Then i thought about it for a while…that’s because hip-hop is winning and winning big right now. Since I was brought up in the church, my natural inclination was to then think about the church’s role and where they were. Why weren’t they a big part of my dream? That posed a dilemma for me; a question unanswered. A thought unmet by rational discovery.
Then it hit me…like a ton of bricks. On the heels of the Eddie Long scandal, Joel Osteen not answering a straight question and getting checked on The View, Bishop George Bloomer promoting the homosexual agenda, Jamal Bryant looking for money in whatever way possible while going through divorce and infidelity, Juanita Bynum and Thomas Weeks issues, Bebe Winans’ mug shots, Tonex flaming, Mary Mary selling out, Yolanda Adams joining Kanye and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, etc., this dream came to me. What was the fortress that was fighting so hard against us in the dream? That’s right, it was the church! Ah ha!
What I mean is that the world is supposed to act like they do, but the church is supposed to have a higher standard of living. Unfortunately, they have been the main ones ushering in this subculture in an effort to “reach the youth.” An effort that has failed miserably by the way. But it was then that I realized that my main focus is not to convince the world of the error of judgement, but rather the church and the dangerous road this is leading to. Does anyone think that it is a coincidence that all of these “major” religious leaders are having issues now? I didn’t even mention many others along that same vein. No, it is not happenstance, it is directly proportional to them embracing the hip-hop subculture in an effort to truly gain fame, membership, and fortune. Money is at the helm again and the scripture is revealed even more that the “love of money is the root of all evil.”
That evil was personified in my dream and I know that I have an unpopular role to play in this battle. This blog is just one piece of puzzle in that endeavor. Many will have difficulty understanding and accepting this. It will challenge me as well to stay diligent to the cause. But that dream was not in vain. My remembrance of it was not by chance. My mission is clear. Love me, hate me, believe me, doubt me, accept me, or reject me, it really doesn’t matter. I know what I need and have to do. This is just the beginning.
The wonderful thing about this country of ours is the ability to hold near and dear to the right to free speech as granted to us in the Bill of Rights. Obviously I am a proponent of said right as I am the author of this “free” blog here. However, as we all know, there are some limitations to the freedom such as the proverbial yelling of “fire” in a crowded theater.
But where exactly do we draw these lines? What are the mitigating factors involved? Does it matter the audience you are talking to?
Clearly, there has to be some distinct rules and both of the written and unwritten variety. For example, one cannot go into a courtroom screaming profanities at the judge, jury, attorney, plaintiff, defendant, and/or witnesses without likely being held in contempt. Police often will not allow themselves to be berated by a suspect or convict. While there is likely no written rule, one would certainly not condone improper language in the church either. Students need to certainly address school officials a certain way or risk insubordination troubles. There are many more that could be described here, but I believe my point of there being some definite exceptions to the general rule of freedom of speech, right?
Of course, I must have brought this whole topic up for a specific reason and I will get into that now. I recently ran across a video of a school official scolding a student in a “mini tirade” laced with profanity. This just happened to be aired on local news stations as well as on the internet. What raised my attention is the fact that many people praised it as exactly what that student needed and a life lesson taught well. That student in this scenario just happened to also be an athlete and it was his coach that was talking to him right before a big game. I began to wonder if that praise would have been so loud had it just been a teacher in a class cursing at one of the students right before their big exam? Somehow I don’t think so…
As a coach in my own right, I know very well the pressures to win and succeed every year despite extenuating factors that are present. I am also very well aware that times have certainly changed and kids act more and more like adults at earlier ages, perhaps a result of less time spent being with their parents as a kid, the relative youth of the parents, best friends as parents, or any other mitigating factors. Therefore, they seem to understand things differently and are generally a less respectful generation.
That said, what happened to the times when adults sought to change kids as opposed to conforming to them. We have more school officials, pastors, parents, mentors, etc. adapting their behavior to meet the child. What happened to teaching them the way to go AND showing them yourself as the example. Not just in the scenario described, but in other questionable behavior that a kid may show. Many adults are now walking around with pants sagging, gaudy jewelry “blinging”, speaking slang, music blaring, etc. trying to be “cool”, “young”, “hip”, “down”, or whatever you want to call it. Is any of that “wrong” in and of itself? Not at all, but when they are not taught the appropriate time and place for things, abuse is inevitable.
There used to be a time where the adults, to include coaches, really sought to stand apart from the individual or group that they were the leader/mentor of. One attribute of that group does not make one a member of it, but my concern is that it is a sign of a general trend of confirmation and acceptance of all behavior that is prevalent in the world as a whole today. For example, there are churches that are having “club nights” on some Sunday evenings. I know that some may think that is a good thing and they are really reaching out, but what happened to reaching out with what you have and not reaching for what they have? It doesn’t make any sense really. If you’re trying to help someone, does it make sense to reach out for their life preserver?
As a coach, there will never be any player that has played for me that can tell you I disrespected them at any time. I pride myself in that. There will never be any player that will tell you that I did the very opposite of what I told them to do. I do not curse at my kids because I feel it is disrespectful if done to me, but how could I expect true respect if I don’t give it? Because I am the coach gives me some assumed power, but respect is truly earned both ways. I don’t want my players scared of me, I want them to know that I will just about break my neck for them, but at the same time have the respect to know that I mean exactly what I say and will carry out proper punishment when necessary. That to me is true “freedom of speech”, not the ability to say what you want, but rather the skill to say exactly what’s needed in the appropriate manner to set someone free from what may be holding them back…I know I can find another way other than profanity, especially since one of my mentors long ago told me that using it meant my vocabulary may be limited. I do not have to conform to them to reach them. I will continue to throw my own life line out to them, whether they grasp hold is up to them. If I can reach just one, I have done my job…