A Dream or a Nightmare?

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.

Change? Yeah Right…

Wow…life is truly amazing. 

I know some are wondering what in the world that I am talking about, but “wow” was truly the thought that I have had all day.  I will explain…

After a long 12 hour day at work on 3rd shift last night, I was headed home the same way I have done for the last 4+ years on eastbound I-69 from Lansing to Flint.  The route is so mundane that I was in somewhat of a daze and driving mostly on pure habit.  About 3/4 of the way home in the area of the city of Durand, 2 state trooper cars were in the median.  When I passed them, both pulled out behind me.  They weren’t following too closely, but rather just hanging back.

After about a 1/2 mile,  one of them sped up to get close to me and flipped the lights.  The other seemed to pull up on the side and saw I was alone and went on about his way.  I knew I had not been speeding because I was watching them the whole time and I am not an idiot, so I was quite befuddled.  As I watch through the rearview, the officer gets out and walks toward my passenger side window (which I already had down) with his hand on his gun. 

He said, “can I see your license, registration, and proof of insurance?’  No problem I thought as I slowly (I told you I’m no idiot) reached in my pocket for my wallet, then to the glove box for the registration and insurance papers.  While I was doing that he proceeded to ask me where I was coming from.  I told him that I was returning home from work.  He said, “from the Delta (GM) plant?”  What?  Out of all the businesses that I passed from Lansing to Durand, why would he think I was working there?  Are manual labor jobs in the factory all an American man of African descent can get?  Please don’t misunderstand me, I love GM.  Without that plant, I wouldn’t even have my current job.  My grandfather, father, uncles, cousins, etc. all worked and retired from GM.  So, frankly I may not be here without GM.  But, why would he pick the plant as my place of employment?  I guess I don’t look corporate enough or like management material.  Perhaps it was the fact my hat was tilted to the side.  Or maybe it was just the fact that I was a few shades darker than him…

About that same time he told me that he had pulled me over because of my tint on my windows.  He must have seen the look on my face as I smirked knowing that I have NO tint on my front windows at all.  And the rear windows only have the factory tint on them.  Again, what?  I didn’t even utter a word to him at the time.  But I guess he figured something was up and asked me to roll up my passenger window two inches.  When I did, he saw that there was no tint at all.  Oops…

So, he then decided that he also pulled me over for what he said was a “left lane violation.”  He told me that on a two-lane highway that one must drive in the right lane unless there is someone over there.  I guess he did not see the semi truck that I had just passed, or the car behind me that had to get out-of-the-way for him to even pull me over.  Weren’t they also in the left lane then?  Furthermore, wouldn’t you have to be following someone for miles to know how long they drove in each lane? 

Come on officer, you can do better than that.  He asked about my driving history, ran my license, and said you’re free to go because HE HAD NO REASON TO STOP ME IN THE FIRST PLACE!!  This is so distressing to me because if you read my other posts you will see that I have gone through similar garbage at work and I didn’t even blog about the stuff I went through in college in Ann Arbor (KKK rally, thrown off a bus, etc.).  Here we are in 2010 still bound by many of the chains that have caused this society to slip behind many others in terms of growth socially, technically, economically, etc.  Instead of gleaning from one another and realizing that American is what we all are we still want to operate under the stigmata of colors that define us.  Is that the best we can do?  It has been almost 17 hours since this occurred and I am still bothered as you can tell.  What do we tell the kids?  Is it true to tell them that they can do whatever anyone else can?  Unlike Martin Luther King Jr., I have a nightmare today…one in which no matter what degrees I obtain, no matter how high I sit at the top of my class, no matter how many kids that I help, no matter how much better I do my job, no matter how much respect I treat everyone else with, no matter what books I write, and no matter whatever else I do to assist in making society a better place, that I will still be looked at by many as second tier…

Now that is sad…

Life’s Lessons

*Another young man lost to the streets.  When are we going to stop talking and do more?

Where are the real men out there today?
We just lost another boy in a violent way,
Led astray by the idea of an easy pay day.
Ray is no longer with us physically because
His spirit left his body as he lay on the pavement
In a wave of gun spray…
A life lost far too quickly, hitting like a
Ton of bricks when the news got to me.
A rain cloud so thick that it made my heart sick.

What men in his life showed him that
God is the plan to have true success
In this land and led by both example and talk,
Communicating the responsibility you speak with your
Words, but more importantly with how you walk?

Who took his competitive fire and molded it
To wade through Flint’s muck and mire?
Did anyone take that athletic skill and translate
It into life’s lessons to live in the prosperity of God’s will?
Did I do enough in the limited time we spent?
Did I owe him more than a pound and a hug when away he went?
I know this much, all real men need to step in,
Fill the void and foot the bill for the lives of these
Boys; to help them see the truth and escape all of the noise.

How can the depressing rain from the death of this young man
Not be in vain?
Only if we all learn from his life even
Through all the pain; “Rest in peace?” No,
I think not because his body is the only thing
Laying in the ground without a shot at
Impacting others now.  His spirit can still help
If we carry the lessons, both good and bad,
With everything we’ve got and all of our know-how.

So, what are we going to do men?

Fathers

This is another piece to pay respect to those that step up even when the children aren’t their own.  There are plenty of them out there and they deserve credit as well…

“Biological” Father

 

I know a man, who thus far has yielded no seed of his own,

But yet many look to him when they feel alone

Because their father is gone; he may have

Finished his course on earth or decided the time

Was not worth it sometime after birth.

Either way it is the adolescent that pays

For so many days and I continue to be amazed

At how resilient the children remain.

 

They still need a strong male force

In their lives to help steer their course

Helping provide what they’re missing from the original source.

That’s where this man I know comes into play,

He can and does demand a ban on excuses with what

They say and the misuse of the emotions that

They’ve kept at bay…

 

I also know that the man needs more help to reach

All the kids’ lives his impact is supposed to breach.

Especially with so many males in jail or in a world that

Feels like a living hell while they fail to bail

Themselves out of the sinking ship of their past;

No hope for the future because everyday they wonder

If their life is going to last or end fast at the sound

Of a gun blast.

 

So men, real men, please step up to the plate and help

These kids escape the fate that many will say has an

Inevitable date; spread the love and wisdom you have gained

From God to retain the youth and help allow them to attain

The goals that they set before, but began to wane due to the stains

Left in their hearts and souls from the void that remains.

Perfection is not needed for it is the pursuit of such that

Means you have so much to give; a calming word and

A delicate touch, but sharp as a knife when you know

Their life is on the line and the small strife will be worth

It in time.  I know a man who will appreciate that assist

And kids that push during their uphill climb.

 
I thank you real, true men.
 

Company Man…

Here is a little something to express what has been going on lately.  I know that I have been gone for a while, but now I have a lot to say and most importantly, a platform to say it…

 

Company Man

 

Change?

Yeah, things are way different these days,

But these times for many are still not nearly

What they say.

Even in 2010, “nigger” is still a common theme and

Ropes tied as nooses with it on the same team, as inside

My heart screams while dreams of equality constantly

Lose steam…

The American ideal of getting a degree, finding a

Fortune 500 job, and being placed on a salary, may

Really be just a fallacy.

With my promotion within three months and raise to boot,

All the time my respect they were trying to loot

And make all the success moot by putting my voice on mute.

Could I, Marcellus, be the token one?  The one put

Out front so an ethics review can be done with their name

Under the gun?

I know I’ve earned what I got, right?

It makes you under if out-of-sight, what’s done in the dark,

Will come to the light?

Promises of bonuses not kept, profit goals unmet, but you can bet

The company pet has all she’s supposed to get.

But I have to trust God to clear my path and keep me from

Revenge and wrath, as that is His job alone;

He will repay and atone for opportunities unfairly now gone.

Until then my patience can’t wane and I will refrain from

Taking things into my own hands and dealing with the pain

As I stay sane and win this game.

No one said it would be easy…

I suppose that only time will tell in the end, but the questions yet still remain.

Speaking Your Mind….

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…

2010 or 1950?

Strange title, huh?  I know but it was the best one for the issue.  As we enter into this new year, one can only wonder what it has in store.  There is still a serious economic recession,  a president who has gained a lot of popularity while yet having a ton of promises to still keep, unemployment is at an all time high, real estate is in the worst shape since the depression, and we have still not solved this country’s most fundamental problem.  The problem, u ask?  Racism…

I know that there are people who will read this and think I am crazy.  They will say that we have come a long way in this country in that area.  They will point out that there are more minorities than ever in the workplace.  This is all very true, but the battle is not complete.  Let me give you three examples from the last three months of 2009 to illustrate my point.

First, I am talking with 3 of my co-workers about the job.  I will point out for the purpose of this discussion that I am the only “black” member of management in my office.  That said, it was me, my boss, the equipment manager, and another logistics manager such as myself.  Everyone but me will remain nameless as I do not think it wise to divulge names.  Anyway, we were discussing the trucks and how the mechanics we have fix the clutches in them.  The log manager says, “I was out there one day and saw him nigger-rig it.”  Can you believe it?  Well, I couldn’t.  I just put my head down and shook it.  It seemed like time stopped.  The conversation certainly did.  My boss then says to me, “did he just say what I think he did?”  I just continue to shake my head…

Second, same place but this time the incident was amongst the drivers.  Again, one black driver amongst the rest on this particular dock on this shift.  There is a traditional water cooler next to the dock door where the black driver delivers and picks up his load.  The doors at the docks that they deliver to are roll-up doors so there is a rope tied to each so that they will be able to pull them back down once opened.  Anther driver, decided to tie that rope around one of the empty water bottles while it was on the ground and the door was closed, knowing that the black driver would be next to deliver.  What happens?  The black drivers comes in and opens the door only to find the bottle now strung up and hanging from the door.  Does that put anyone else in mind of a hanging?

Third scenario…same job, drivers again.  A white driver sitting among other white drivers decides to go on a tirade about his black neighbor at home.  “Nigger” was used by him several times and he thought it was funny.  When one of the other drivers voiced their displeasure with what he said, he grabbed her shoulders and basically told her that it was no big deal.  She thought it was and decided to report it.  When he came in to be interviewed by HR, my desk was outside the office where he sat behind closed-door.  I could hear everything he said.  And he was shocked that someone told on him for saying it in the first place.  What?

Now I am not going to get into all of the details that followed each situation, but rather just give you the results.  The first one ended with the company asking me what they should do.  They wanted to know if I could continue to work with him or should he be terminated.  I told them that they are in that position to make those decisions, but I just wanted the best for the company and could handle whatever choice they made.  Well, he is still employed there.  In the second, the driver made a complaint to HR and the investigation they did said that they couldn’t find “intent” in what he did, so they only wrote him up for what amounts to a slap on the hand for “horseplay.”  Was that driver’s complaint a joke?  Horseplay?  Wow.  The third situation did end up in a termination for the driver, but it wasn’t for the racial terms.  Rather he was termed for rubbing the lady’s shoulders as a violation of the harassment policy.  I know you’re thinking that you must be kidding…but I’m not.

I wrote all of that to say that we still have such a long way to go.  Trust me people, this is clearly a battle that has not ended like many believe.  I can tell u firsthand that it hurts to be in a position that you have to deal with it firsthand, but I have to continue to let God shine throughout and humble myself to understand that I am placed there for a reason.  That reason being to show people that there is someone who will not back down, but will also not engage in childish behavior either.  You tell me, what do you think?

Here I am…

I just wanted to introduce myself and why I am doing this.  First, I am Marcellus C. Miller, Logistics/Safety Manager for Ryder Systems, Inc. and basketball coach at Flint Northern High School.  At this point, I am a 31-year-old, Christian, aspiring author, and MBA graduate of the University of Michigan. 

Yeah, there are a lot of other details that I could go into, but that seems counterproductive right now.  Why do I have a blog?  Well, I guess there aren’t a whole lot of great reasons for it.  I believe that I have some interesting thoughts and that some need to be shared.  This blog will also serve as a place for me to release some of my writings.  All in all, I guess anyone can have blog, so count me in that number.

If you have comments, please feel free.  I am a fan of controversy and well-placed debate, so if you don’t like what I say, let me know!  If you do, let me know that too!  That said, time to get it rolling…