The Older I Get, The More Black Barbershops Suck

Black barbershops suck balls. But I have not always felt this way. Like most men of color born and raised in a major metropolitan city in the U.S., I was brought up to view the black barbershop as a cornerstone of the community. A place where local brethren can voice opinions, get advice, give advice, and debate politics, sports and women. A place where men can be men, let their hair down figuratively, speak freely, decompress and walk out feeling & looking a little better than when they walked in. But as I'm getting a little long in the tooth, I see the black barbershop as a frustrating, uncomfortable, niggardry filled place that's a microcosm of everything wrong with unprofessional black business. Let me count the ways in which the black barbershop sucks: 1. The looong waits. If you're planning on getting a haircut at a black barbershop and you don't have an appointment (which are increasingly hard to book for some reason) prepare to kill a huge chunk of time. In fact, you might want to just clear your schedule that day because you're gonna be waiting for a good 3 or 4 hours, especially if you're in there on a Friday or Saturday. Apparently barbershops are closed on Sundays and Mondays as well (must be in their barber union rules), so if you work during the week like most people, Friday or Saturday is usually the day your sorry self will be sitting in there. This sucks because I'm extremely busy in my personal and secular life and time if the one thing I just don't have a lot of. When I was a teenager, a 3 to 4 hour wait was nothing to me. I'd gladly pass the time by running up to the greasy spoon food joint on the same block, grabbing something to grub on while I played Madden on the barbershop Playstation and commented on any young ladies walking past the shop in their too tight jeans. That was all good when I was 17, I had no job to be at, no lawn to mow, no gutters to clean, no car to fix, and no kids to spend time with and tuck in. But now as a grown- ain't nobody got time for that!  2. A prime cause for the long waits in the black barbershop is lazy barbers. I thought the more heads they cut, the more money they made. But a childhood friend of mine told me that with a lot of these newer shops, the barbers are paid an hourly salary. So really, they're not inclined to cut you for whatever reason no matter how long you've been waiting. This is very frustrating. Out of 6 barbers, one will claim that he has an appointment "walking in any minute" so he can't cut me. Another barber will be trying his best to avoid making eye contact with me between giving himself a lining in the mirror and inexplicably dipping into that back room that's in every barbershop (what's back there anyway? Cocktail girls serving Martinis, I imagine). Another barber will be spending no less than 90 minutes meticulously touching up some bald brother who literally has no hair on his head outside his eyebrows and goatee. Really, why is that guy in the chair so long??! Another barber will be wrist deep in a 6 piece Harold's lunch special and clearly not about to cut anyone. Then you'll have the master barber, the king of the barbers, doing his thing. His technique is mastered, his cuts are crispy with a capital 'C', but, he's literally got two dozen heads in front of you waiting to be cut. In fact, about 85% of the clients that walk through the door are there for him. You can wait the wait, or you can take your chance with the old as dust tenured barber in the corner that you've never seen cut a soul, and his own hair looks like he just escaped from a slave plantation 24 hours ago. No thanks. 3. Barbers avoid cutting toddlers at all costs. This is frustrating because I have a 4 year old son who needs to be cut as regularly as I do. My barber friend told me that they avoid little kids because they squirm too much. So I guess thats a good enough reason to passively deny them service, right?! Except instead of just saying "Yo brotha, I really don't cut kids, but if you want me to, that'll be extra." I can live with that. Alot easier than avoiding eye contact, escaping into that barber back room, or pretending like the dude who walked in after me was ahead of me in line. 4. I'm already forking over $20+ on an average haircut after an above average wait, so I really don;t feel like dealing with the many local businessmen and hustlers who come in the shop asking for more of my money in exchange for bootleg movies, bootleg porn, African oils, jewelry, socks, Frooties, cologne, or anything else they were able to boost. And even if I was interested in that copy of Big Black Wet Booties Vol. 17, I really don't want to advertise my proclivities to the middle aged sister next to me who's a school teacher and only in there to get her natural shaped up. 5. You'll also be subjected to many pointless arguments and debates that have been rehashed over and over again. Who's better, Lebron or Jordan? Pac or Big? Harold's or JJ's? Is the NBA fixed? What rappers are in the Illuminati? What rappers are gay? Should we give mumble rap a chance? Where can you find a good woman? What makes a good woman? How and can black people finally overcome? Usually the last word in these discussions is given to the dude who can argue his point the loudest and the longest. No critical thinking is applied to these debates and little or no research is done or encouraged, just a bunch of cats in love with the sound of their own voices. 6. Why do barbershops play the crappiest movies on the barbershop television?! Every Kevin Hart movie that I swore I would not spend money on to watch, I've seen courtesy of the barbershop. The same goes for every Transformer movie, every Pirates of the Caribbean movie, every Fast and Furious movie, and every Code Black film that went straight to the $3 DVD bin at Walmart. (sidenote: the Kung Fu flicks are fire, tho!) I've accepted that going to get a haircut at the black barbershop is a necessary evil in my life. Like going to the dentist. Or going to the DMV. Or getting flu shots. Or killing those massive centipedes in my basement. I don't have the kind of job where I can go unkempt, nor would I want to. So I guess in another 2 weeks I'm going to have to do it all again.    

Black barbershops suck balls. But I have not always felt this way. Like most men of color born and raised in a major metropolitan city in the U.S., I was brought up to view the black barbershop as a cornerstone of the community. A place where local brethren can voice opinions, get advice, give advice, and debate politics, sports and women. A place where men can be men, let their hair down figuratively, speak freely, decompress and walk out feeling & looking a little better than when they walked in.

But as I'm getting a little long in the tooth, I see the black barbershop as a frustrating, uncomfortable, niggardry filled place that's a microcosm of everything wrong with unprofessional black business. Let me count the ways in which the black barbershop sucks:

1. The looong waits. If you're planning on getting a haircut at a black barbershop and you don't have an appointment (which are increasingly hard to book for some reason) prepare to kill a huge chunk of time. In fact, you might want to just clear your schedule that day because you're gonna be waiting for a good 3 or 4 hours, especially if you're in there on a Friday or Saturday. Apparently barbershops are closed on Sundays and Mondays as well (must be in their barber union rules), so if you work during the week like most people, Friday or Saturday is usually the day your sorry self will be sitting in there. This sucks because I'm extremely busy in my personal and secular life and time if the one thing I just don't have a lot of. When I was a teenager, a 3 to 4 hour wait was nothing to me. I'd gladly pass the time by running up to the greasy spoon food joint on the same block, grabbing something to grub on while I played Madden on the barbershop Playstation and commented on any young ladies walking past the shop in their too tight jeans. That was all good when I was 17, I had no job to be at, no lawn to mow, no gutters to clean, no car to fix, and no kids to spend time with and tuck in. But now as a grown- ain't nobody got time for that!

 2. A prime cause for the long waits in the black barbershop is lazy barbers. I thought the more heads they cut, the more money they made. But a childhood friend of mine told me that with a lot of these newer shops, the barbers are paid an hourly salary. So really, they're not inclined to cut you for whatever reason no matter how long you've been waiting. This is very frustrating. Out of 6 barbers, one will claim that he has an appointment "walking in any minute" so he can't cut me. Another barber will be trying his best to avoid making eye contact with me between giving himself a lining in the mirror and inexplicably dipping into that back room that's in every barbershop (what's back there anyway? Cocktail girls serving Martinis, I imagine). Another barber will be spending no less than 90 minutes meticulously touching up some bald brother who literally has no hair on his head outside his eyebrows and goatee. Really, why is that guy in the chair so long??! Another barber will be wrist deep in a 6 piece Harold's lunch special and clearly not about to cut anyone. Then you'll have the master barber, the king of the barbers, doing his thing. His technique is mastered, his cuts are crispy with a capital 'C', but, he's literally got two dozen heads in front of you waiting to be cut. In fact, about 85% of the clients that walk through the door are there for him. You can wait the wait, or you can take your chance with the old as dust tenured barber in the corner that you've never seen cut a soul, and his own hair looks like he just escaped from a slave plantation 24 hours ago. No thanks.

3. Barbers avoid cutting toddlers at all costs. This is frustrating because I have a 4 year old son who needs to be cut as regularly as I do. My barber friend told me that they avoid little kids because they squirm too much. So I guess thats a good enough reason to passively deny them service, right?! Except instead of just saying "Yo brotha, I really don't cut kids, but if you want me to, that'll be extra." I can live with that. Alot easier than avoiding eye contact, escaping into that barber back room, or pretending like the dude who walked in after me was ahead of me in line.

4. I'm already forking over $20+ on an average haircut after an above average wait, so I really don;t feel like dealing with the many local businessmen and hustlers who come in the shop asking for more of my money in exchange for bootleg movies, bootleg porn, African oils, jewelry, socks, Frooties, cologne, or anything else they were able to boost. And even if I was interested in that copy of Big Black Wet Booties Vol. 17, I really don't want to advertise my proclivities to the middle aged sister next to me who's a school teacher and only in there to get her natural shaped up.

5. You'll also be subjected to many pointless arguments and debates that have been rehashed over and over again. Who's better, Lebron or Jordan? Pac or Big? Harold's or JJ's? Is the NBA fixed? What rappers are in the Illuminati? What rappers are gay? Should we give mumble rap a chance? Where can you find a good woman? What makes a good woman? How and can black people finally overcome? Usually the last word in these discussions is given to the dude who can argue his point the loudest and the longest. No critical thinking is applied to these debates and little or no research is done or encouraged, just a bunch of cats in love with the sound of their own voices.

6. Why do barbershops play the crappiest movies on the barbershop television?! Every Kevin Hart movie that I swore I would not spend money on to watch, I've seen courtesy of the barbershop. The same goes for every Transformer movie, every Pirates of the Caribbean movie, every Fast and Furious movie, and every Code Black film that went straight to the $3 DVD bin at Walmart. (sidenote: the Kung Fu flicks are fire, tho!)

I've accepted that going to get a haircut at the black barbershop is a necessary evil in my life. Like going to the dentist. Or going to the DMV. Or getting flu shots. Or killing those massive centipedes in my basement. I don't have the kind of job where I can go unkempt, nor would I want to. So I guess in another 2 weeks I'm going to have to do it all again.    

The Day They Tore Ol' General Lee Down

General Lee being knocked off his pedestal. (Scott Threlkeld/AP)

General Lee being knocked off his pedestal. (Scott Threlkeld/AP)

I was in New Orleans last week, and apparently there was this controversial Thing, where the city had decided to knock down some dusty ass monuments that had been erected to individuals that committed treason and promulgated terrorist acts right here in the USA.  In-fucking-sane, right?!  First, that these things were placed in a position of prominence, and then that when sanity prevailed, that there would be any sort of controversy involved in taking them down.  These were monuments to m'fuckas that literally fought against this country -- like, literally -- and they killed people.  Like, literally.  And the city of New Orleans was like 'well, hell -- these guys need to be celebrated!  Let's put them on pedestals in squares across the city!'  Like, literally.

Astounding.  At least until I clarify that these were monuments to White terrorists of an era that too many in this country think of as being sadly bygone instead of righteously buried by the sands of time.  Now that we know the color of these terrorists, we are no longer surprised to hear that the decision to remove these artifacts of a more openly, opulently racist time was met with controversy, intellectually lazy protest, and indescribable foolishness

So many idiots out there invoking "history" or "southern heritage" in their defense of the indefensible.  I was on a cheesy tourist bus when we circled the monument to Robert E. Lee, his stony visage glaring haughtily down from his 60 foot tall perch, looking like he wished he could still will his frozen lips to call me a nigger.  The tour guide mentioned that this would be General Lee's last day on his pedestal, and some idiot in back of me booed his removal.  My head whipped around of its own accord and I fixed a glare on the woman, who immediately stopped and couldn't hold my gaze... Though she got the ovaries up to boo again moments later in a softer tone that she clearly hoped I could not hear.  Since I did hear, I loudly said to my husband, "Are people seriously booing the removal of a treasonous terrorist from a position of prominence in this city?"  Another brave White soul in back of me whispered "But it's history."  Oh yes, history, that old intellectually lazy argument, typically used by those who do not want to admit their racism.  So let's talk about that.

Arlington National Cemetery, former home of General Robert E. Lee which the federal government turned into a cemetery. (Wikipedia)

Arlington National Cemetery, former home of General Robert E. Lee which the federal government turned into a cemetery. (Wikipedia)

Let's talk about the fact that this statue wasn't erected during the Civil War, when it might have made at least a tiny bit of sense to put the damn thing up.  No, it was conceived during Reconstruction, an era that also saw the great expansion of the KKK, and it was placed there for much the same reason.  To intimidate former slaves and their descendants and to serve as a reminder that Black folks should always fear.  The statue was elevated so that we must always look up to it.  It was gargantuan in its proportions, turning Lee into a larger than life, imposing figure.  He was placed facing the north, so that he could always glare in the direction of his enemies, arms folded over his chest in defiance.  This was not just history.  This was a symbol when it was erected, and it remained one until the day it was removed.  So fuck that noise.  Now if you really want to consider the opinions of people that were actual contemporaries of Lee, let me remind you that the federal government gave so few fucks about this dude that they confiscated his home in Arlington, Virginia and turned it into the military cemetery that we know today.  Savage.  Arlington National Cemetery?  Yeah, that's where General Lee used to call home.  So don't talk to me about history, or judging people by modern standards, or whatever other BS White Supremacy is currently using in an attempt to justify keeping this stuff around. 

Geechee Anne cheering the removal of Lee's statue.  (Google Images)

Geechee Anne cheering the removal of Lee's statue.  (Google Images)

The next day I rode a different cheesy tourist bus down the same route through New Orleans, and watched as cranes surrounded the stone figure of General Robert E. Lee, ready to topple him from his lofty pedestal.  On this bus, the racial mix was different, and a feeling of excitement was in the air as the tour guide explained what was happening.  Gleefully, we Brown and Black folks watched, hoping to get a glimpse of the actual removal, some of us disregarding safety to lean our bodies off of the top of the bus in an effort to get a snapshot of the actual moment.  My husband and I smiled our quiet satisfaction, and clasped hands, savoring the moment together. 

The day after this we boarded the last cheesy tourist bus of our stay in New Orleans.  This time as we passed the monument there was nothing at all at the top of the pedestal.  Nothing but a blank space, which our tour guide did not feel the need to draw attention to.  The city has not yet explained what they will do with these spaces; there are 3 more empty monuments across the city and there has been talk of replacing the offensive statues with something or someone more meaningful to the city, such as a statue of Louis Armstrong.  I would argue that Armstrong deserves his own, unsullied monument and not the tainted seconds of a place once dedicated to the promotion of hate and White Supremacy.  The site now sits empty and barren, its place of honor left void and scarred from the removal of what should never have been there in the first place.  Seems fitting to me.

Date Rape by Alyse Fowlks

by Alyse Fowlks

1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape). Also, 17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape. There are multiple so-called “Date Rape” drugs, which include Roofies, Alcohol, GHB, Ketamine and etc. Those chemical compounds amplify the effects of the drugs. Although date rape affects the individual it can also effect the culture, while there are ways to help.
Rape culture is described as a societal view that normalizes sexual assault and blames victims for attacks. It is believed that the person who was raped, did not try enough to prevent it from occurring. Date rape prevention education often helps to teach individuals how to avoid rape. Although date rape prevention education was created to help people to avoid assaults, It doesn’t teach individuals to not become perpetrators. During the classes, individuals are taught to never leave their drink unattended, avoid getting over intoxicated while on a date or at a party and to take self-defense training classes. However, the date rape prevention education was designed to alter the implication of rape and help individuals be aware of the drinking.
Date rape has a huge impact on the individuals who were assaulted. The victims often experience emotional concerns within the brain and physical effects. A few example of the physical effects of date rape are bodily harm, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. A few example of the mental effects are confusion, fear, or shame. For example a survivor might blame themselves for the rape and would believe no one would believe nothing they’re saying. The mental effect can scar one for a lifetime. Although the scarring may be there, there are ways to receive help.
People who have experienced date rape or any other type of rape, are urged to request help from someone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a group that specifically helps people who have been raped, but even a close family member or friend would be fine. Most medical doctors will suggest mental health practitioners to the survivors of rape. The mental health practitioners will help the individual understand the rape was not their fault and give them options on what they can do to mentally help them not be haunted by the situation. Posttraumatic stress can also be caused by date rape. There is also a hotline called RAINN to help individuals who have experienced such a horrific event. However every person is different, so there may need to be some searching for the right attention from a medical doctor.
Overall date rape goes much further into whether to figure out who is to blame after the rape is over. There is much more entailed such as post-traumatic stress, RAINN and the date rape prevention education which is to help women to prevent themselves from being raped, rather than teaching men to control themselves and think before you do something you may regret.

Can We Talk Honestly About The Latest Incident With Lavar Ball & Kristine Leahy?

Let me first of all state that I think both Lavar Ball and Kristine Leahy from FS1 suck in their own special ways. This ain't about picking sides, this is about the tangled web that's weaved by the irresponsible media, the flamboyant and undeserving personalities that same media fawns over, & the public who have knee jerk reactions and pick sides between the two for the flimsiest of reasons. That being said, the latest incident (the Kyrie Irving incident is unfolding as I type this) with Lavar Ball going on the Colin Cowherd sports show and firing back at co-host Kristine Leahy for her criticisms of his parenting, ZO2 shoes, and overall Lavar-ness, illustrates more than ever why this guy needs to go away. If you haven't been paying attention, I'll summarize: Lavar refused to talk to or even physically face Leahy, dismissed her as a hater, stated his Big Baller Brand isn't for women, & depending on how you interpreted it, issued a threat to Leahy as well. He reacted to her criticisms the way most bullies do. He couldn't figuratively or literally face the music. I've commented on Lavar Ball in the past and how I find him to be nothing but a brash, ignorant, greedy blowhard who's making black fathers look bad, but I ignored the likely outcome that people of his ilk often see: they eventually screw up, say the wrong thing to the wrong person, burn one too many bridges, and next thing they know their run is over and they get dropped by the same people who raised them such famous heights (this outcome has also been predicted for our current president). I kind of knew in the back of my head that this dude was gonna get his eventual, what the legendary Paul Mooney calls, his "nigga wake-up call". In other words, he will experience a moment where's he's reminded of his place as a black man in white America. They'll keep putting those cameras on you to document your tomfoolery and get ratings, but as soon as you forget your "place" and step on the wrong toes, you will get reminded of what they really think of you. I'm also tired of our people defending this clown with the same old "he's a black father who's in his sons' lives!!" statement. Just because a black man is a present father, doesn't mean he's a good father. Sure, statistically the majority of black children do not grow up in a home with their biological dad, but that doesn't mean we should give this dude all the wiggle room and excuses in the world just because he chose to stick it out with his white wife. I have no issues with interracial dating, but I point that fact out to say Lavar's situation is different from the majority of the black community and thus he should not be touted as some sort of example for black men who walk out on the black women who bear their children. Lavar's agenda is clear. He's pushed (and will keep pushing) his sons on the world and toward lucrative careers in the NBA and will do so in the way that grabs the most attention. That doesn't make him a good father though. Simply "being there" or being present, does not make you a good father. No more than the ratchet mothers I see in Walmart cursing out their 2 year old are good mothers simply because they're there.  As for the reactions from this Leahy incident, she has claimed she's received death threats from the fall out of this incident, but I think she'll be alright at the end of day. She's a young, white, attractive, blonde who can discuss sports intelligently, so she'll always be able to bounce back and have a decent career. Lavar, however, is a different story. The mainstream American media is way less forgiving of black men who speak their mind. But let me say: Lavar, this criticism is what you've asked for once you make the decision to jump in front of those cameras every chance you get. People (who are paid to do so) are going to question your business acumen, your sons' talent, and yes... even your parenting. You signed up for this. But I think he'll bounce back from this and hopefully learn to be more discerning in his words and actions, but I fear the damage he's doing to the image of black fathers might not be so easily repaired. As for Leahy calling for other sports networks to ban Lavar Ball from appearing on their shows, its clear it is just sour grapes. Like my wife once told me "when people show you who they are, believe them." Homie has been disrespectful of current NBA players, retired NBA players, players' children, other sports commentators, & even his son's college teammates. What made you think he wasn't eventually going to get around to disrespecting you??!!!??! But, its all good as long as he's doing it to others and getting you ratings, right?! And to my fellow black people getting behind this dude just because he's present in his sons' lives (albeit, in a very domineering way) and black man who's not scared to voice a strong unpopular opinion, he ain't Muhammad Ali. He's not speaking out against the evils of racism, encouraging knowledge of self or higher spirituality, or calling attention to any of numerous injustices that take are taking place today. He's just out for a dollar.      

Let me first of all state that I think both Lavar Ball and Kristine Leahy from FS1 suck in their own special ways. This ain't about picking sides, this is about the tangled web that's weaved by the irresponsible media, the flamboyant and undeserving personalities that same media fawns over, & the public who have knee jerk reactions and pick sides between the two for the flimsiest of reasons.

That being said, the latest incident (the Kyrie Irving incident is unfolding as I type this) with Lavar Ball going on the Colin Cowherd sports show and firing back at co-host Kristine Leahy for her criticisms of his parenting, ZO2 shoes, and overall Lavar-ness, illustrates more than ever why this guy needs to go away. If you haven't been paying attention, I'll summarize: Lavar refused to talk to or even physically face Leahy, dismissed her as a hater, stated his Big Baller Brand isn't for women, & depending on how you interpreted it, issued a threat to Leahy as well. He reacted to her criticisms the way most bullies do. He couldn't figuratively or literally face the music.

I've commented on Lavar Ball in the past and how I find him to be nothing but a brash, ignorant, greedy blowhard who's making black fathers look bad, but I ignored the likely outcome that people of his ilk often see: they eventually screw up, say the wrong thing to the wrong person, burn one too many bridges, and next thing they know their run is over and they get dropped by the same people who raised them such famous heights (this outcome has also been predicted for our current president). I kind of knew in the back of my head that this dude was gonna get his eventual, what the legendary Paul Mooney calls, his "nigga wake-up call". In other words, he will experience a moment where's he's reminded of his place as a black man in white America. They'll keep putting those cameras on you to document your tomfoolery and get ratings, but as soon as you forget your "place" and step on the wrong toes, you will get reminded of what they really think of you.

I'm also tired of our people defending this clown with the same old "he's a black father who's in his sons' lives!!" statement. Just because a black man is a present father, doesn't mean he's a good father. Sure, statistically the majority of black children do not grow up in a home with their biological dad, but that doesn't mean we should give this dude all the wiggle room and excuses in the world just because he chose to stick it out with his white wife. I have no issues with interracial dating, but I point that fact out to say Lavar's situation is different from the majority of the black community and thus he should not be touted as some sort of example for black men who walk out on the black women who bear their children. Lavar's agenda is clear. He's pushed (and will keep pushing) his sons on the world and toward lucrative careers in the NBA and will do so in the way that grabs the most attention. That doesn't make him a good father though. Simply "being there" or being present, does not make you a good father. No more than the ratchet mothers I see in Walmart cursing out their 2 year old are good mothers simply because they're there. 

As for the reactions from this Leahy incident, she has claimed she's received death threats from the fall out of this incident, but I think she'll be alright at the end of day. She's a young, white, attractive, blonde who can discuss sports intelligently, so she'll always be able to bounce back and have a decent career. Lavar, however, is a different story. The mainstream American media is way less forgiving of black men who speak their mind. But let me say: Lavar, this criticism is what you've asked for once you make the decision to jump in front of those cameras every chance you get. People (who are paid to do so) are going to question your business acumen, your sons' talent, and yes... even your parenting. You signed up for this. But I think he'll bounce back from this and hopefully learn to be more discerning in his words and actions, but I fear the damage he's doing to the image of black fathers might not be so easily repaired.

As for Leahy calling for other sports networks to ban Lavar Ball from appearing on their shows, its clear it is just sour grapes. Like my wife once told me "when people show you who they are, believe them." Homie has been disrespectful of current NBA players, retired NBA players, players' children, other sports commentators, & even his son's college teammates. What made you think he wasn't eventually going to get around to disrespecting you??!!!??! But, its all good as long as he's doing it to others and getting you ratings, right?!

And to my fellow black people getting behind this dude just because he's present in his sons' lives (albeit, in a very domineering way) and black man who's not scared to voice a strong unpopular opinion, he ain't Muhammad Ali. He's not speaking out against the evils of racism, encouraging knowledge of self or higher spirituality, or calling attention to any of numerous injustices that take are taking place today. He's just out for a dollar. 

    

Word! by Maia Williams

By Maia Williams

Pittsburgh’s 1Hood media organization will be holding a Word Remake Learning Workshop on Friday May 26 5-6:30p.m at the 1Hood Media studio on 460 Melwood Ave. suite 207.
The event will allow participants to tell their stories and share their voices by using Hip Hop skills to speak on social justice issues. Each participant will use a beat, chose a topic and perform live. Although it is mainly targeted to teenagers, it is open to people of all ages. It is a free event.
1Hood is a group of conscious artists and activist. They use art to spread awareness on social justice affairs that affect people globally. According to their website, “Art is the best way to challenge inequity, raise awareness and unify humans.” They provide performances, written, and visual art. They also provide blogging, videography, and media literacy etc.

Some members of 1Hood are highly impacted by the organization workshops. Ashley Brown, 18, is included. Brown joined the organization on April 20 2016.  Brown said, “My first performance at CAPA High school was a proud moment for me because it helped me get out of my comfort zone.” 

It has given her the opportunity to perform live and record in their studio at no cost. “1Hood helped me grow by helping me identify and brand myself as an artist,” Brown said.
Rapper Jasiri X is the cofounder of 1Hood. He advises the artists to be consistent with their creativity and attending the meetings. An obstacle he faces as an artist and activist is some racism in Pittsburgh. He became a cofounder to help bring neighborhoods in Pittsburgh together. Jasiri said, “Our unity is like our power.” 

1Hood has had a personal affect on him as an activist. “It gave me the real experience of real community work.” He is also impacted by 1Hoods affect on the artists. “We’re helping to develop the next generation of voices. Paying artists to do what they love to do is the greatest feeling in the world,” he said.

The organization was founded in 2006 as a group of men who addressed violence in and against the African American community. They have expanded into an intergenerational and intersectional community and still focus on injustices revolved around the African American community.

For more information on the 1Hood organization, visit www.1hood.org . Anyone interested in joining can contact them directly by email at info@1hood.org
 

Something Interesting by Tyreek Peppers

I would like to take a pause and clarify a couple of things before I proceed—I am not going to be deeply explaining each type of music genre, because it's simply something I have no plans on doing. Perhaps some might slip out—just know that is not my intention. I simply want to explain what type of music I listen to; nothing more, nothing less. Now that I've got that out the way we can proceed...

Rock

I listen to every type of music that a person can refer to me. It just so happens that rock music is one of the many genres of music I listen to. Rock music that isn't loud, like heavy metal when the person is just screaming to the top of their lungs, is something I don't enjoy listening to. I listen to rock bands like; Paramore, Pierce the Veil, and Panic at the Disco—these are some of the best rock bands in my personal opinion.

R&B

This genre music has been with me for years; it's probably the first genre that I've ever listened to. Some R&B music can play at the listener's heartstrings. Most R&B artists perform songs that put the listener in a certain mood. Some of the R&B music that I like listening to are the ones that have a story of emotional value or if they are from the past. I find it to be a very creative way of telling the story in song—such as R&B artists like R.Kelly, who is very well-known for his collaboration with the Isley Brothers.

Gospel

Gospel music, in my opinion, is the best music genre. Depending on what artists you listen to depends on how your gospel music experience is going to play out. My favorite type of gospel artist is Jessica Reedy, because of her well-known song, “Better.”  A. Priestly stated before that some songs tell of a story about an artist’s past—this is one of those songs. The story tells of troubling moments in people's live, and how eventually these troubling moments have to pass to make way for the positive moments.

Hip Hop

I listen to hip hop music a lot of the time. Today's hip-hop is a little different from the old hip hop that I'm so used to. There's a lot of mumbling, and not enough words being delivered to the listener. I'm not going to lie, some of today's hip-hop is very catchy and some of the rappers that stepped in the game are really hot right now. But I've noticed that some independent rappers aren't really well-known to some listeners, which is a shame to me because there are some really good rappers with really good punchlines and bars out there that people just don't notice. That's just so sad.

Unleashed

by Tyreek Peppers

Ever since I was eight years old, I was considered to be a hyperactive child. It was also the time I started to sing. When I was eight, my mother played a lot of Dru Hill, Usher, Ne-Yo, Stevie Wonder, etc. As a child, I loved those songs; I remember singing those songs with my mother who was also a very good singer.

I rarely sang outside of my house. I kept my performances in my household—earshot of no one else—with the exception of my mother and family members of my household.

When I was a little older—around the age 10 or 12—I tried singing for other people besides my mother. The elementary school I attended threw a talent show that I signed up for and was supposed to perform at. The conflict was, I was super nervous and my mother got into a car accident. I ended up not going to the talent show, which later on give me horrible stage fright. And all throughout elementary school, I did not hit a single note.

When I attended Trenton High School, my old elementary teacher suggested that I attend the visual, performing, arts (VPA) department. The craziest thing about Trenton High School was that my aunt was the school principal and she was a well-known performer. My aunt was known for having a great voice and crazy acting skills. When I arrived at the school, I spent half the school year doing nothing but laying low and getting my work in on time. I worked out with the football team, wrote music and nothing else. At the end of the second semester, my aunt told me about the choir that the school had upstairs on the third floor. One day, when she felt I was just wasting my talent, she took me upstairs and introduced me to the choir director, Mr. Taylor. My first impression about him was that he was very loud—loud for no reason. I mean, the room was quiet and he was raising his voice.

Mr. Taylor conversed with my aunt for a moment and he looked over at me with the biggest simile on his face. After their conversation concluded, he walked over and asked if I wanted to join the TCHS choir. Out of nowhere, my aunt answered for me and I was a permanent member. I was so mad and could not comprehend why she did what she did, but I could never be mad at my aunt; I was mad at the choir director for asking the question. I later on got over it, of course. I’m not a person that holds grudges so I forgave him and forgot. After the fifth week, I started comfortably conversing with with the other members of the choir. A year passed and I adopted the choir members as my second family.

The choir and I went on performances and we killed every performance! Mr. Taylor one day put me up to a solo, which made me super nervous. I later on got comfortable enough to do it, but when I moved to Pittsburgh I stopped singing for a year. Even though I took a break from singing, I never stopped drinking tea with honey, so if I wanted to get back into singing I wouldn’t sound rusty.

I know that I’m still young and I can only get better with more practice. All I’m waiting for is the perfect chance to unleash my full potential. 

I Really Hate Lavar Ball

When the father of NBA prospect Lonzo Ball by the name of Lavar Ball surfaced, I really didn't pay him too much mind and didn't see what all the hate and derision was about. He was a black father who's been involved in his kids' lives (maybe a little too involved, but involved nonetheless) who was extremely proud of what his sons have accomplished (albeit, not much) and very confident in what his sons will accomplish in the future. No harm, no foul, right? I mean we live in an age where schmucks are famous and celebrated for nothing but being rich, so who's this guy really hurting?!     But, after a few weeks of watching Lavar Ball's behavior, and most recently the "release" of the prototype of his son's sneaker which came with a five hundred dollar price tag, I have to say- I'm really starting to hate this clown. When asked on a radio show to explain the steep price of the shoes, he only said "That's what I felt they are worth." I was expecting him to reveal that there was some sort of space age technology built into the shoe to help athletes perform better, or at least some powder cocaine tucked away in a zip pocket of the shoe to help you think you could run faster and jump higher...but nope, just a "I wanna rack up!" explanation. But, if you ain't "baller" enough to afford these unimpressive, don't-even-have-ankle-support, rip offs, you can buy a pair of the even more unimpressive Big Baller Brand flip flops for just $220!!! SMH.  Never mind the fact his son hasn't even been drafted into the NBA yet to play a single game and didn't even make it to the Final Four in the NCAA tournament, his middle son isn't even that good, & his youngest son is still in high school.... he's gonna charge over triple the amount of the shoes that carry the name of the best basketball player to ever step on the court, who actually has rings, and a solidified legacy!!!!!  This isn't about being a proud father. This is not about his sons and securing their future. This is about greed. This is about celebrity. And above all, this is about him. And it kind of always has been about him. From him going on various sports shows to promote his Big Baller Brand, to him claiming he would slay Micheal Jordan in a one-on-one game, to him claiming his sons are way better than the current crop of NBA all stars, to blaming UCLA's loss on the white players... its all about getting himself attention and in front of the cameras. He's even revealed that he's aiming to land himself his own reality show.  This clown is bad is for basketball, bad for his sons' potential careers, and bad for the public image of black fathers. Its great that his his sons are likely not going to become statistics to the streets, but when Lavar publicly makes statements that his sons will never be able to live up to, and scares away endorsements when companies don't want to invest with his Big Baller Brand, he's only doing damage that's going to be hard to get undone. He makes it seem as if black fathers are only involved in their kids' lives when they are top NBA prospects and potential cash cows. He also makes his sons targets for when they do get their careers going. At best, he comes off as a failed athlete himself who's reliving his glory days by vicariously living through his sons who are going to redeem the Ball family name. At worst, he comes off as a boisterous, ignorant, loud mouth, greedy Negro who's trying his best to pimp out his kids. And right now, I just want him to go away. And take those ugly shoes with him. 

When the father of NBA prospect Lonzo Ball by the name of Lavar Ball surfaced, I really didn't pay him too much mind and didn't see what all the hate and derision was about. He was a black father who's been involved in his kids' lives (maybe a little too involved, but involved nonetheless) who was extremely proud of what his sons have accomplished (albeit, not much) and very confident in what his sons will accomplish in the future. No harm, no foul, right? I mean we live in an age where schmucks are famous and celebrated for nothing but being rich, so who's this guy really hurting?! 

   But, after a few weeks of watching Lavar Ball's behavior, and most recently the "release" of the prototype of his son's sneaker which came with a five hundred dollar price tag, I have to say- I'm really starting to hate this clown. When asked on a radio show to explain the steep price of the shoes, he only said "That's what I felt they are worth." I was expecting him to reveal that there was some sort of space age technology built into the shoe to help athletes perform better, or at least some powder cocaine tucked away in a zip pocket of the shoe to help you think you could run faster and jump higher...but nope, just a "I wanna rack up!" explanation. But, if you ain't "baller" enough to afford these unimpressive, don't-even-have-ankle-support, rip offs, you can buy a pair of the even more unimpressive Big Baller Brand flip flops for just $220!!! SMH. 

Never mind the fact his son hasn't even been drafted into the NBA yet to play a single game and didn't even make it to the Final Four in the NCAA tournament, his middle son isn't even that good, & his youngest son is still in high school.... he's gonna charge over triple the amount of the shoes that carry the name of the best basketball player to ever step on the court, who actually has rings, and a solidified legacy!!!!! 

This isn't about being a proud father. This is not about his sons and securing their future. This is about greed. This is about celebrity. And above all, this is about him. And it kind of always has been about him. From him going on various sports shows to promote his Big Baller Brand, to him claiming he would slay Micheal Jordan in a one-on-one game, to him claiming his sons are way better than the current crop of NBA all stars, to blaming UCLA's loss on the white players... its all about getting himself attention and in front of the cameras. He's even revealed that he's aiming to land himself his own reality show. 

This clown is bad is for basketball, bad for his sons' potential careers, and bad for the public image of black fathers. Its great that his his sons are likely not going to become statistics to the streets, but when Lavar publicly makes statements that his sons will never be able to live up to, and scares away endorsements when companies don't want to invest with his Big Baller Brand, he's only doing damage that's going to be hard to get undone. He makes it seem as if black fathers are only involved in their kids' lives when they are top NBA prospects and potential cash cows. He also makes his sons targets for when they do get their careers going. At best, he comes off as a failed athlete himself who's reliving his glory days by vicariously living through his sons who are going to redeem the Ball family name. At worst, he comes off as a boisterous, ignorant, loud mouth, greedy Negro who's trying his best to pimp out his kids.

And right now, I just want him to go away. And take those ugly shoes with him. 

Solutions by Tyreek Peppers

Based on the title, you probably have a good idea of what this blog is going to be about. Many of us search for a way to solve problems. By us, I mean people that get lost in thought, thinking about the world’s problems. Some people think and think about problems that America has: like the President of the United States, racism, the universe and relationships—even problems of other countries.

Before the election started, people had knowledge of whom would be running for President of the United States. I mean, it wasn’t a secret we as citizens of America know of the billionaire and the lady that keep secrets. After the president was selected, there were a lot of complaints. If Americans paid attention and actually cared to research the the two parties and what they were about, there wouldn’t be complaining. It amuses me to hear people say that they couldn’t decide on who to vote for so, they didn’t vote at all. It was the third party that had every solution to the problems that America would face, also ideas that sounded amazing. Yet, people couldn’t decide on who to vote for.

Even though no one wants to hear it, racism is still a problem that has no solution. I mean, people try to figure out ways to solve this issue, but there's never a good rock-solid solution. When Barack Obama was elected to be the President of the United States—to me—that was the first step to getting rid of racism. I was really happy too, you know, until Obama’s eight years were up. Then we made a trade; we went from a man of his word to a man of just total craziness.

Then you have people who are really racist but keep it on the low—people that don’t want to make their secret public. Now, these are probably the same people that believe there are aliens hiding out there in the cosmos. It makes me laugh to think that these very people that are really racist at heart, have hopes and dreams of meeting gray or green aliens. I can’t make sense of the very thought: how do you expect to meet beings of another planet when you can’t get along with the various  people of color on this planet?

Then again, I can’t tell what people are really think. I just don’t want people jumping the gun too early. Let's just deal with the problems and people on earth first; to at least try to fix the problems people have with each other. We need to get rid of the deep hatred the we as people hold inside of us because—believe it or not—hating other the people takes too much energy. It’s much better to just forgive and try to build strong relationships; it could really be a positive step in the right direction.

I believe that America should try to build strong relationships with other countries. The only problem with America trying to build relationships with other countries is that the history is filled of bloodshed and mistrust. No one can really trust each other. So, when the billionaire started talking about kicking people out, he just sounded like a fool to me.

Coming back to the topic at hand, for all of these problems that people love to talk about, there are solutions. It’s just people don’t care enough to join in and help their brethren solve them.

“It is better to chase and catch one rabbit, then it is to chase and catch two rabbits at the same time.” 
 

       


 

   

Autism Awareness for the Black and Brown

Here we are at the close of Autism Awareness April, and as usual, there remains one area I hardly ever see awareness being brought to.  The fact that there exists a huge disparity in the diagnosis and therefore treatment of Autism in minority children, and especially in Black and Brown boys.  And as the mother of a little Black boy with Autism, one of the most important things I can do this month is speak to the serious of that issue.

...whether from overt racism or implicit bias, when Black children present with the exact same symptoms their White counterparts do, the professionals in their lives are much more likely to marginalize these children and label them, as opposed to seeking a cause and getting them help.

Autism symptoms present fairly early on, and if you know what you're looking for the signs are obvious.  Yet, whether from overt racism or implicit bias, when Black and Brown children present with the exact same symptoms their White counterparts do, the professionals in their lives are much more likely to marginalize these children and label them, as opposed to seeking a cause and getting them help.  If there's a speech delay, which is a huge red flag, Tad may be referred over to a therapist, whereas Carlos' mom might be told that "your kids often just talk later."  If there are behavioral issues, Jax is more likely to receive a referral to a specialist, while DaShawn is kicked out of daycare after daycare and labeled an unreformable bad kid before he even sets foot in an actual school.  Sisters: If you have concerns, do not be put off by an "expert" telling you that your child is okay, he'll grow out of it, or that's just how some kids are.  To be sure, some kids ARE like that.  And some kids have a neurological disorder called Autism, where the earlier the diagnosis, the better the outcome.  Statistics are very clear on this: Black kids are diagnosed on average 1-2 years later than their White counterparts, and since early intervention is key, this delay leads to greater deficits down the road.  A missed or a late diagnosis can have repercussions that will reverberate throughout a child's entire life, especially when you consider that since the average age of diagnosis across all races is 4, that puts the average age of diagnosis in Black children at 5 or 6, when the child might already be in Kindergarten or 1st grade.  That is simply unacceptable.

So what can our community do if our trusted professionals aren't on top of this?  BE AWARE.  Know the early indications, and be proactive on your child's behalf.  Autism lays on a spectrum, and symptoms and/or severity differ based on the individual.  Don't let yourself be convinced by family and friends that your child's symptoms don't bear looking into because they "aren't that bad" and don't fit a stereotypical picture of Autism that may not even be accurate.  Often, we as a people can become preoccupied with stigma, and would rather keep hoping and wishing that our child's symptoms are something they'll grow out of, or that they'll just poof and one day disappear, leaving us with a neurotypical child.  As with any other health issue, if you think your child is exhibiting symptoms of Autism, get it looked into.  If your child is referred over for a multidisciplinary evaluation and your kid ends up not having Autism, awesome!  You looked into it and can put your mind at ease.  If the results of the evaluation show that your child is on the Spectrum, awesome!  Now you have a diagnosis and can get a game plan together knowing that you have helped your child immeasurably by getting the earliest diagnosis you could.

So while other parents and organizations have taken this month to focus on acceptance, or awareness on a larger scale--as the mother of a little Black boy with Autism, I urge you to simply Be Aware.  It is awareness in our own communities which will push these statistics in the right direction, and get our kids the help they need that much earlier.