|June 6, 1967 black athletes show public solidarity with Muhammad Ali for rejecting the U.S. military draft.|
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Quest For Fire
When I was was in the second grade my teacher Mrs. Smith asked our class what we wanted to be when we grew up. Some said football players, others said doctors and still others said a lawyer. Of all things I could be I said, "I want to be a Zoologist!" At that age, and even today, I've been an animal lover and nature enthusiast. There wasn't a nature program or animal show I didn't watch and I would memorize their facts like some of my peers would do baseball stats. I longed to travel the world, study nature and narrate documentaries like Jacques Cousteau, Carl Sagan, Donald Johanson, George Page, Marty Stouffer and Sir David Attenborough. Later on I became a big fan of the late Steve Irwin. I credit my Ole Dad with orientating me this way because he sat down and watched all of these shows with some of my siblings and I. We also invested a lot of time on the Tuscarora Reservation in our area and through this socialization I became much more aware of my relationship to the planet. Besides the Cryptozoology, the study of hidden/mythical animals like big foot, loch-ness monster and etc. that many youth find fascinating, the core aspect of any animal study is animal sexuality, mating habits and their family dynamics. Have you ever seen leopard slugs mate?
Within that study of animal sexuality, mating habits and family dynamics exist the roles of being dominant or recessive -regardless if animals roam in packs, herds or live solitary. In other words, sexual prowess, the right to mate and ability to sire/birth offspring depends upon that animal's status, genetically, physiologically and socially. Those who are most dominant and hold the rank to do so are known as Alpha Males/Females. Those who are recessive and don't hold that rank are known as Beta Males/Females. Sometimes certain animals are born Alpha or Beta Males/Females and that is their fixed destiny. In some cases that isn't true. Take an orangutan for example. All orangutan's don't have pie faces with those big meaty cheeks called a flange. Only "king orangutan's" do -which is caused by a massive testosterone growth spurt similar to that of Dr. Bruce Banner changing into the Hulk. So in this sense, an orangutan that appears to be a Beta Male can transform into a mammoth Alpha in a matter of months. On the female side, a mating queen bee is dominant in a colony based upon her ability to reproduce -and there's always virgin queens killing off their sisters and waiting in the wings to run the Bey Hive. In this regard, we as humans are not much different, or better, than animals.
This brings me to the discussion about Alpha vs. Beta human behavior, particularly among males. There are a host of websites that categorize the qualities and characteristics of males as either Alpha or Beta, dominant or recessive, masculine or feminine. The truth is ALL males possess Alpha and Beta male qualities -some more than others. ALL males have a little Alpha Tony Starks [Iron Man] and Beta Peter Parker [Spider Man] in him. I think the problem arises when we as males fail to recognize which qualities are the most appropriate to express in a certain situation. For example, known for being more aggressive, domineering, assertive, hot headed, primal and etc., an Alpha Male mentality may not be the best way to resolve some conflicts. In the same sense, the laid back, quiet, sensitive, peaceful and etc. Beta Male mindset may also not be the best approach to deal with some confrontations. Either of these approaches/dispositions may be right and exact today, yet totally wrong tomorrow; wisdom allows us to differentiate this. In a western society steeped in misogyny, male chauvinism and sexism, the John Wayne, James Bond, 50 Cent image of Alpha Males often takes precedence over the application of wisdom. Even worst, you have Beta and even Omega Males fronting, posturing, posing and aspiring to these non-contextualized western ideas. I see these males every day, or on social media, trying to convince people that they're #1 [Alpha]. This pissing contest competitiveness does nothing but perpetuate the low/vacant esteem and inferiority complexes these males are really dealing with. In the quest to be number #1, most males don't consider the fact that they already are, respectively, as the original man. This is one of the main reasons why some of my male peers find it difficult to "advocate a society of men or group of men for one common cause." This lacking is also what proceeds our inability to be equal, in everything, with each other. Some of us are so worried about thinking others are outdoing us, or trying to outdo each other, that we're not doing anything of real substance to uplift each other.
In the animal world, males typically demonstrate various forms of physiological pageantry to "show-off" their so-called dominance to each other and onlooking females. Whether it's flashing bright colors like golden-headed lion tamarins, butting heads like big horn sheep or singing sophisticated songs like a lyre bird, male animals, obviously in their primal state, thrive on competition. The same can be said for male humans -who have not evolved beyond our primal reptilian brain function. Cognitively speaking, there is no difference between a raging bull elephant during musth or a raging male talking bull at a parliament. Both are in the throws of passion and both are unreasonable. Aside from all of our pageantry and pheromones we give off to communicate our -genetic- profile, the most essential clue we share about that profile is our legacy. In other words, one of the main qualities a female looks for in a mate is security and all the showboating and Pherazone cologne in the world won't attract a female if we're insecure and we haven't secured a legacy.
Nowadays, as in our past, Ujima [collective work and responsibility] is one of the guiding principles of any group desiring freedom, justice and equality for and among its members. In order to carry this out successfully males in particular must be willing and able to cooperate. Cooperation is impossible if we're competing 'against' each other. I emphasis 'against' because I think competing 'with' each other is healthy -like we did in high school when our track team faced an opponent during a meet. If three of us were running the 100 meters, our goal was get first, second and third place for our team. There is no silver bullet when it comes to all of this yet the bullion consists of males being more honest with ourselves about where we're at, what we actually have and our commitment to brotherhood, family and community. One of the main reasons I have been and continue to be successful in my undertakings is because I'm not afraid to say I need assistance. I am also not afraid to not be the center of attention, top dog or quietly or loudly support a brother who is best qualified to represent a project, program or initiative. Some of us have a problem with that and it's this kind of pride that continues to come before our misfortune and destruction. We can act like we're money team members, take pictures with our chin up to look taller, thumb thug on social media or have sex with a different female every day of the week yet none of these things demonstrate manhood. Nor can we use any of that as practical tools to help propagate a family, communities or a nation.
Friday, April 03, 2015
"It's not you, it's me"
For those of you who didn't know, I facilitate a youth mentor program called STYA which is an acronym for Successfully Transitioning Youth to Adolescence. My demographic are nine to twelve year old's and we do everything from critically analyze cartoons, arts & crafts, cooking classes and etc. to encourage them to expand their consciousness, build self esteem and discover their purpose in life as they transition into their teenage years. What I love most about working with youth, which I've done with various programs and initiatives for over a decade, is learning ideas, attitudes and behavior adults have in their infancy. In other words, I see nine year old girls learning to play the "make a boy jealous" game that eventually becomes a fully functioning operating system I see thirty something year old's use every day. Some things don't change, people just get older and continue doing the same thing. And the same way jealousy games may not change among females, some male's level of sophistication to appropriately respond to these games doesn't change either. I can't tell you how many times I've had to talk a ten year old boy down from an emotional ledge because some little girl was playing with his emotions. His reaction is no different than seeing emotionally unstable men committing social media seppuku because of what some female is, or isn't, posting on Facebook. Some of us simply never matured intellectually or emotionally; we're just older versions of the same child.
Because my Ole Earth was a Psychologist/Sociologist I've been orientated to analyze human behavior my entire life, literally. Normal family outings were going to places just to people watch; my Ole Earth would find a public place to sit with some of my siblings and I and we would discuss what we see in people's body language, style of dress and etc. One of the games she would also play with us was the book of questions -which I discovered later in life was a psychology book, not a game at all. This kind of investment into my growth and development as a child, coupled with the cultural contributions of my Ole Dad, has helped in my successful transition from boy to man. Some males never had a mother invested in them in this way nor did they have a father around to teach him what it means to be a man. Because of this, some of us have manufactured our idea of manhood 'a la carte' and the emotions and intellect surrounding this lacking remain raw, immature and underdeveloped. This is not an excuse, it's an assessment of what I've witnessed in its infancy and what it has the potential to become when it's not responsibly addressed as an adult. Ladies, young boys may destroy toys when they don't get their way. The same boy who doesn't get his way as a grown male, will destroy you. There's a lot of truth in what Drake says about these days.
Like with any group or society of people, some of its members are going to be emotionally and intellectual immature. One of the challenges I've dealt with over the years are these same boys/girls, not yet men/women, referring to themselves as Gods/Earths. Thankfully this doesn't reflect the overall consciousness of Five Percenters I know, yet there are some of us who are like that -sometimes for reasons only known to them. This is the reason I wrote the book Explorations of God/Earth Mental Health; to empower my peers to recognize and address it. Because one of our cultural motto's is "Peace" or Positive Education Always Corrects Errors, we've always encouraged each other to grow and develop beyond whatever circumstance we've come from or are presently in. For any of us who are sincerely striving to elevate their consciousness and condition, it's a journey that involves removing the negative residue that comes along with seeing and believing ourselves to be inferior. All of us who have taken this step to gain KOS [Knowledge of Self] started out emotionally and intellectually immature. On many levels we're rewiring ourselves emotionally and intellectually and that takes work, sometimes a lifetime. Nothing happens over night, except the night -especially not the growth and development process.
In closing, I want to reiterate the importance of us men getting ourselves together. This is not to minimize the responsibility of grown females who need to grow up either. There are women I know who are successfully speaking from this perspective. As men, we can start getting ourselves together by being more vulnerable with one another by speaking honestly about our upbringing and emotions. I'm not talking about ranting, posturing or posting inappropriate stuff on social media under the guise of "keeping sh#t real"; that's immature and messy. I'm talking about investing the time to really examine the who, what, when, where, how and why we think/behave the way we do with each other and the opposite sex. That is one of the most integral parts of KOS. Females share and are vulnerable with each other all the time. That female-to-female Educator and Student relationship directly, or indirectly, has remained pretty much intact since we've been in this country. Males are the one's usually holding stuff in and back from one another. Some of us males were grown up before we had an open conversation with men about hurt, lost, frustration, insecurities, inadequacies, embarrassing situations and etc. Even though some of us aren't sharing these things with each other in a healthy way, it always come out in the most unhealthy of ways -whether that's throwing tantrums or shade, being abusive, gossiping, broadcasting how great we are, taking serial selfies, being a whore or etc. Additionally, there are some things we've experienced as boys that we decided to take with us to our grave. Part of the emotional frustration or indifference you see us express is us trying to live with that lifelong decision. So ladies, when some grown males tell you, "It's not you, it's me", believe it! Also believe the likelihood that they haven't said or done anything about it for over twenty something years and don't plan on saying or doing anything about it after telling you that. We got work to do in order to help get our families/communities back in order and emotional instability and intellectual immaturity won't get us there. As civilized men who advocate righteousness, as Five Percenters and definitely as Gods, we must expect more from ourselves, and each other, to get that job done.