Archive for postive thinking

Reflections 20 Years After Pledging

Posted in Life Lessons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2010 by djvinceadams

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March 14, 2010 commemorated my 20th year as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.As the cliché goes, I can remember “crossing over” it as if it were yesterday. Like some people that pledge a Greek Letter Organization, and unlike others, I had no idea of what fraternity life on a Black College campus meant. Technically, I didn’t know anything about fraternities and sororities on any level.

I guess in an odd way, my first “real” introduction to fraternities was through the viewing of Spike Lee’s part satire, part musical, part drama, School Daze. I can remember leaving the theater in 1988 after seeing the movie my senior year of high school with one prevailing thought: “I will never pledge anything!!” For those who have never seen the movie there are a lot of sub-plots, but one of the main components of the story centers on the G-Phi-G pledgee known as Half-Pint. Half-Pint (played by Lee) had to follow the bizarre orders of the “big brothers” to pledge the fraternity, which would then open the proverbial “college golden gates” where cool points, hot women and status reside.

Anyone beyond the age of 16 knows that there is a contingency of people who do join groups, such as fraternities and sororities, to have a sense of belonging and gain some virtual level of appeal and prestige. When I hit the campus of Florida A&M University in August of 1988 I knew that if I were going to be known for anything, it wouldn’t be because of an affiliation with an organization. I think that its important to know this, because there often times lies a feeling that members of Greek organizations have a sense of entitlement or superiority. Although that does exist on some levels with some individuals; it certainly is not a global position.

Luckily it didn’t take long for me to develop a good reputation on campus based on my personal merits and from developing friendships with different guys who were members of fraternities I started to have a different sense of what membership could mean. I grew to the understanding that my joining the frat wasn’t defining my character; it was a transaction between the frat and me. I would give the Beta Nu Chapter of A-Phi-A service as a person, a character and a model on the campus and in the community and in return I would enter into a life-long relationship with some of the most helpful, entertaining and socially/culturally developed African American males as brothers.


2006 Reunion for Spring 1990 – Nubians of the Nu Dynasty, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. – Beta Nu Chapter (Florida A&M University)

#1 – David Wells #2 – Joel Johnson #3 – Patrick Scott #4 – Byron White #5 – Rich McCloud #6 – Derrick McCants #7 – Teddy Gilmore #8 – Reggie Wynn (not pictured) #9 – Robert Flakes #10 – Dr. Joseph Youngblood
#11 – David Askew Esq. #12 – Michael Bonds #13 – Michael Hargrett
#14 – Kwame Kilpatrick #15 – Vince Adams

Spring 1990 was actually the last of the pledge classes that “legally” participated in public hazing such as dressing in uniform, shaved heads, etc. before being a member of the fraternity/sorority. I could go into how fun/scary it was to pledge the fraternity that Spring, but that’s not the point of my sharing. I would really like to share that the time that I spent learning more about myself during the pledge process and more importantly after pledging has molded my resolve, my aspirations and my tenacity in a way that quite honestly would not have been there without those experiences.

Today, relationships I share with my pledge brothers (15 in all) and the Beta Nu Chapter are bonds that only the natural passing of life can break. 20 years later, to a great extent, I feel the same way about being known for my own merits. I still feel that the fraternity accentuates my character, it definitely doesn’t define it.

To all members of Greek Letter Organizations, I hope that my words in some part speak to you on the feelings and spirit that come from the experiences you’ve had. To people who have never pledged, I hope that I have shared a brief glimpse into my experience that may debunk some of the myths that are unfavorable as it relates to the attitude/mentality of those that have pledged.

20 years ago, I learned that “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” To my mother, my family and the life-lessons I learned with Alpha and FAMU, I owe everything.

Click to join the discussion with DJ Vince Adams on twitter! @DJVinceAdams

Peace and my blessings,
Vince Adams – Spr 90 BN – AΦA

Is Your Will Power “Broken”? Here’s Why…

Posted in Life Lessons with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2010 by djvinceadams

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Happy New Year and Happy New Decade!!!  I know that we are now officially several months past the New Year, but this is my first blog of 2010 and I thought that I would start by wishing everyone well. Some people have asked “hey, where is the new blog??” I enjoy blogging because it allows me to share my thoughts and opinions, but it’s always important to me that when I write its something sincere and heartfelt and not perfunctory. I’ve taken the last few months to clear my thoughts, read some books, travel a little (some for work, some for play) and now I’m back!!!

We’ve often times heard that the best way to start the New Year is with resolutions. Some people do them, some people don’t believe in them and some people don’t do them because they know they won’t stick to them. In th[e]is “goal oriented” world we live in, we’ve also heard that the best way to get rid of an old habit is to replace it with a new habit. Additionally, we’ve heard that the best way to start a new habit is to repeat it at least 21 days in a row and then it will integrate into your way of living. Cliché after cliché, we hear them, but for some reason resolutions, good habits and routines don’t always stick. Let’s find out why.

The key to moving your dreams and goals into being is to change your beliefs. It isn’t our will power, it is actually our belief systems that create the focus, discipline, conviction and drive that help us stay on point with accomplishing anything. Far too often people rely on sheer will to create long-term changes.  Whether its going back to college, losing weight, advancing your career or any goal, you will be far better served to take the time to establish new core beliefs about that goal as opposed to simply relying on will power to achieve a goal.

To illustrate, I’ll use something personal. I used to really dislike checking voice mail. I believed that it was a chore, I believed if anyone really needed me they would call back and other things that discouraged me from wanting to check my messages. I genuinely wanted to be more consistent in checking my messages and I tried (through will power) to check my voice mail on a frequent basis. It worked for a few days usually, but it didn’t take long before the messages piled up again. It wasn’t until I shifted my belief to “you could be losing money/opportunities by not checking your voice mail consistently”, that I then moved to a state of checking my voice mail typically every 48 hours (if not sooner), not out of habit, but out of a newly established belief that drives my actions. Now because of my beliefs it’s hard for me not to check my voice mail for the anxiety of potentially losing business.

Whether you want to lose weight, save money, start a business, commit to a relationship, leave a relationship or anything – you have to examine your core beliefs to make sure that they line up with your actions. For example, if you want to lose 20 lbs, but you have a core belief that, “I know some of what I eat is bad, but I could change it anytime if I wanted”, chances are the 20 lbs won’t go away (or may even increase). As a matter of fact, you may join the gym, go many times, but until the underlying core beliefs are changed, chances are you could possibly sabotage any progress made. However, if you adopt a new belief that says, “I owe it to myself to be in my best health and eating X or Y or Z sabotages my progress, so I have to limit X,Y,Z to once every two weeks in moderation or eliminate it to get my desired result”, you are now letting your beliefs take the lead.

In most cases, until we shift our beliefs, it is highly doubtful that any long-term change will come out of sheer will. This can be a liberating discovery to those who just thought that they couldn’t get through the routine of changing habits because of lack of will power. It’s not our habits or even our will that first needs to be addressed; the primary force is our core beliefs.

The trick is that the core belief has got to be a prevailing thought that holds more emotional weight with you than any other thoughts. For example, you may dislike working out, but if your core belief is, “my family needs me to be healthy” or “I refuse to go another summer not looking my best”.  Whichever belief holds your emotional attention the most is the one that guides your long-term actions/results. Just think of the smoker who has tried to stop for years, and then they get bad news from the doctor and don’t ever smoke again (and lose the compulsion to). Their habits didn’t have to change to create an instant change, their beliefs lead the way.

Don’t let the lack of accomplishments from prior goals or a feeling of weakness/inability stop you from making the changes that you want to make.  However, don’t let me oversimplify it either, exploring your inner core beliefs can be an emotional and involved process in itself. The difference is that failed attempts based on “will power” can now be eliminated and you can now begin to work on establishing new, supporting core beliefs that move you closer to the focus, discipline, conviction and drive you need to live your dreams.

I definitely hope this helps you move a step closer to your dreams and as I always say…
Much love, take care of one another and remember – “we all we got”…VA

A Fatherless Child at Christmas Time – The Glass is Half-Full…

Posted in Life Lessons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2009 by djvinceadams

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Not that long ago I thought about the last time that I ever saw my father.  Maybe the partial irony in that statement is that the last time that I saw my father was the first time that I saw my father.  I think that the thought arose because it was around the month of November when I was about 8 years old.  Prior to that time there wasn’t really much talk in my family about my father.  Some may see this as a bad thing, but for me (even as a little fella) it was as if I was the Immaculate Conception.  There was my Mom (who had me a month before her 18th birthday), Grandma, my aunt and myself – we were a team.

Some people may think “oh, how tragic that you didn’t know your father before the age of 8” or “its, such a shame that men abandon their responsibilities” or the other comments that may be said in regards to a father-less situation.  In reflecting upon those times, I think that it’s a blessing that I was born into a family that showed support, guidance and love and I cannot remember a time EVER that anyone in my family (Mom included) ever had a bad thing to say about my father or his absence in my life.  I think that the “matter of fact” nature that it had back then has really helped me not harbor any resentment or ill-will toward not knowing my father or having a relationship with him.

Back to that last/first time that I saw him, it was a cold night in Chicago and he picked me up from karate class and was introduced to me as “your father.”  I’ve had the same demeanor all my life, so even then I was like “hey, nice to meet you.”  No big smiles, no tears, no jumping up and down took place.  The amount of care and compassion that I received in my home, sans a father, never lead me to feel that I was not cared for fully.  We took a trip to Burger King and later while at my Mom’s house he asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  Anybody over the age of 30 can remember having a Sears or JC Penney catalog with all of your favorite toys circled in the catalog.  I pulled out my catalog and we made a list.  I eventually went to bed and that was the last memory that I have of my father.

For some, this may be a sad story, in my case, I to this day feel that it is not possible to miss what you never had unless you choose too.  Although it may have been the makings of a sad story, it’s a story of triumph to me.  I feel that I have matured through the years by being a very masculine, yet caring and secure person by the guidance of my immediate family and the various extended family, mentors, coaches and other people who have had a strong influence in me being the person that I am today.

I am sharing this story because during the holidays there are many people that spend far too much time focusing on what they don’t have as opposed to being grateful and cherishing the things (material and non-material) that they do have in their lives.  Also, there are many women who are raising boys/young men on their own and they are wondering can they do “enough” to raise their child to be a man.  In many instances, it still does take a village to raise a child, but in short the answer is “yes, you do have what it takes.”

I invite all of us to be more conscious of the words that we share with people in all aspects of our lives.  The loving nature and quite frankly, the respect that my family showed my father (although he wasn’t present) is something that has rubbed off on me to make me calm in the face of adversity and see the glass as half-full while many others may view the glass as half-empty (or just empty.)  The strength and communication that they’ve shared with me over the years has helped me show gratitude for what I do have as opposed to bemoaning or begrudging what I don’t have.

Energy is transferred among us, especially when it comes from a parent to a child. As we go into a new decade, don’t let disappointments and situations of the past hold you back like dead weight and stop you from accomplishing your life’s purpose.  Many people feel like they should be able to say whatever they feel, but the thing that distinguishes us from animals is the ability to think before we speak.  Moving forward into 2010 let’s move in a positive, uplifting manner that encourages others to be the best that they can be while exhibiting grace, character and maturity in the process.  Our families need us, our communities need us to walk as the example of what it is we would like to see the world become.

I share my Christmas story of being a fatherless child to say that there is an opportunity in every perceived threat.  There is potential strength in every perceived weakness.  Now more than any other time, we can’t look to anyone other than ourselves to create the social and emotional climate that we want to see in the world.  Let’s treat others as we would want to be treated, forgive ourselves for the mistakes of the past and look to make a better life not just for us, but for all that we come in contact with.

Spread love this holiday and challenge yourself to be a better person to others in the future where possible.  Also, allow yourself to forgive those who may have hurt you in a way either known or unknown to them.  This is your time and it will be what you make of it.

This is by no means meant to absolve absentee fathers in any regard.  Nor is it meant to invalidate the feelings that men or women have regarding anything missing or removed from their life.  What it is meant to do is share that your happiness/fulfillment or disappointment/anguish in life will be a direct result of where you channel your thoughts, feelings and energy.  As I’ve shared in earlier blogs, the “Strangest Secret” is 6 words – “man becomes what he thinks about.”   If you think about being abandoned, a victim or “wronged”, you will be.  If you think about being loved, fulfilled and “whole” those things in turn will come your way.

I invite you to turn as many of the half-empty glasses in your life to half-full, you will soon find that they are totally full and there is little else to worry about.

Much love, Happy Holidays, take care of one another and remember – “we all we got”…VA

Additional information

“The Strangest Secret” by Earl Nightingale – http://www.nightingale.com/AE_Article~i~22~article~StrangestSecret.aspx

I Think Someone Forgot Tomorrow Will Be Better…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2009 by djvinceadams

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bdpic

For me the great thing about writing a blog is that there are no deadlines.  I haven’t written in a few weeks and its given me the opportunity to sit back and observe a lot and then write something that I feel can be of value to those that take a minute to read what I’ve come up with.  Over this past month, I have observed quite a bit.  One thing that I have observed is that there are a lot of unhappy people in the world.  I’m not talking about depressed, just in a funk that seems to last day after day, after day (you get the idea.)

For a number of people things have turned from hope for a better day to the malaise and routine of going from day to day accepting what they feel is their fate (at least for the moment.)  It’s very easy while “stuck in the matrix” to lose faith that there is something better in store for you.  I, for one, would like to encourage everyone to continue to believe that there is a better place in life waiting for you.

It is amazing to me the number of people that are willing to offer discouraging words or people who say the first negative thing that comes to their mind without regard to respect for you as a person.  First, let me make a distinction, just because someone makes an observation or has an opinion that isn’t positive does not automatically make them or their statement negative.  What I am more so referring to is that there are people who offer rude and oftentimes unsolicited comments to people they know or even people that they don’t know.

With all of the negativity in the world and the less than ideal financial/social conditions that we’re living in it may be hard to keep a positive perspective in hopes of having a brighter “tomorrow.”  With that in mind, I would like to offer the following observations:

  • I think that somewhere out there is a person that forgot that they are a beautiful spirit.
  • I think that someone forgot that they are worthy.
  • I think that someone forgot that they do deserve better.
  • I think that someone forgot that with great power comes great responsibility.
  • I think that someone forgot that they owe it to themselves to do more with their God-given talents.
  • I think that someone forgot that their opinion of themselves is more important than the opinion that others may have of them.
  • I think that someone forgot that others often times wouldn’t know what pains them unless they share it.
  • I think that someone forgot how to dream and let the current conditions of their life today not be the parameters that they move in tomorrow.
  • I think that someone forgot that it’s better to give than to receive and didn’t remember that extending themselves positively to others can cure them of ills they may face.
  • I think that someone forgot that sacrificing for others doesn’t mean that you lose yourself and what’s important to you in moving toward a brighter future.
  • I think that someone forgot that thoughts are sown and reaped.  Therefore if thoughts of lack and limitation are sown then the actuality of abundance is almost certain to not come.
  • I think that someone forgot that loving yourself in a healthy way that’s respectful of others is necessary in creating an environment where they will receive love.
  • I think that someone forgot that loving others, as they would want others to love them is the foundation of the Golden Rule that creates reciprocity, only if they initiate the love they want to receive.
  • I think that someone forgot that God’s delays are not God’s denials and that this too shall pass if they are wise enough to grow from the lessons of the current conditions.
  • I think that someone forgot that forgiveness is a blessing that we all have the ability to give.  However, just because they forgive does not mean that they have to receive that person in their life back in the same capacity.  By not forgiving one actually brings more harm to themselves than the person/people they are against.
  • I think that someone forgot that the results experienced today are not just the results of yesterday’s decisions, they are the results of the accumulation of the last 5 years of decisions.  What should be done today to make 5 years from now a better day?
  • I think that someone forgot that there are times that “suffering breeds character, character breeds faith and in the end faith shall not disappoint.”
  • I think that someone forgot that tomorrow will be better than today by declaring I will be the difference maker and game changer needed to make it happen.

Much love and take care of one another – “we all we got”…VA

Are You Where You Wanna Be? – How To Get Out of a Rut…

Posted in Life Lessons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2009 by djvinceadams

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stuck


I haven’t written a blog in a few weeks.  I fortunately have been busy and traveling as well.  Additionally, I’ve been spending some time assessing where things are in my life and getting ready for a great 2010.  As I make the assessment of where I am and where I want to be I have made some decisions that I think will help to solidify the position of where I see myself going.  However, when I generally observe where the nation is headed or just take the temperature of people at-large it seems like there is a serious case of the “blahs” going around or in general people are stuck in a rut.

One of the decisions that I made was to get back to reading and listening to some of the personal development material that I have amassed over the years.  As I contemplated what to share in my next blog I thought that I would give 5 quick-tips to help people move to that next place in life and get out of a rut in the event that they were stuck in one.  Of course with this being a blog there is no way that I could cover an entire book’s worth of information in this space.  However, these points can hopefully assist in moving a person from where they are to where they want to be.

The interesting thing is that there will be those that feel that what I’m sharing is common sense.  With that being said, I would say that there is a tremendous difference between knowing and doing (very much akin to physically unhealthy people who neglect what they know about living a healthy lifestyle.)  Taking action on these points will create the new progress to take you to new places physically and just as importantly emotionally.

Tip #1 – Maintain a Persistent State of Grace

I think that it can be said that many people in 2009 are in the most stagnant and some even in the worst places in their lives.  However, life does have its cycles and although the current time may be a down swing, there is always something to be thankful for.  Regardless of your religious beliefs, there is an opportunity to look at the positive aspects of our lives and focus on what is going right more than what needs improvement and be thankful for those positive aspects.  The precursor to a new blessing is acknowledging the one that is currently with us.

There’s a saying that “you never miss your water until your well runs dry.”  Whether it’s the love of a parent, love of a significant other, love of a child, gainful employment, shelter, food – there is always something to be thankful for.  Maintain a persistent state of grace and when things seem rough refocus your energy on what’s right in your life as you identify what you would like to improve.

Tip #2 – Let Go Of Disappointment/Frustration

There’s another saying that states “This Too Shall Pass.”  Think back to one year ago.  Can you remember what your biggest issue was in your life at that time?  In many cases people will remember what that issue was and then quickly consider it old news because it is no longer an issue.  In some cases it will take more than a quick minute to remember before you say “oh yeah, I forgot all about dealing with that.”  In probably a smaller number of cases there may be some individuals still addressing that problem.  At any rate, the overwhelming majority of people have moved on from last year’s issue.  In turn, that also could represent that the major issue you are facing today could soon be rectified and will merely be a memory a year from today.  Have faith that this moment of frustration is temporary and that a solution will come soon.

Additionally, try to spend as little time as possible focusing on the undesirable aspects of your life.  This would include spending hours of your day recounting and reliving your frustration of your experiences from a negative position.  Rather than recounting frustrations, continually project the desire to have a new and better situation replace the one that you are currently dealing with.  For example, in sharing a situation about a negative work experience, speak more from the position of “I look forward to moving on to a better situation” as opposed to 3-hours of “this place sucks!!”  It may seem like semantics, but your subconscious mind moves you closer to the things you dwell upon and the more you dwell on the “job that sucks” the more it hangs around.  [There are many books including Dr. Joseph Murphy’s “The Power of the Subconscious Mind” that discuss more of how to use your subconscious thoughts to your benefit.]

Tip #3 – Identify A New Direction

The one positive thing about experiencing what you don’t like is that it gives you a frame of reference for what it is you would prefer.  If you are dissatisfied with your job, major in college, relationship, the number staring at you on the scale, the good news is that all of those things can be changed.  Unfortunately, no one is going to be able to change those things other than you.  Its amazing the amount of time that people spend stuck in unsatisfying relationships, jobs, and other positions in life as though they don’t have an opportunity to do anything about it.

I think the faster that a person realizes that they are not stuck and although change is challenging, it can be rewarding if done properly, the faster they are to apply long-lasting change.   Fear has a way of immobilizing a person from making a change.  There has to be a way to transfer the fear of doing something different to the realization of what would eventually happen if you remain in that stagnant state.  Identifying the new direction again can be as simple as saying that you want the opposite of whatever the state you’re in that could be causing you frustration today.

Tip #4 – Make a Choice and Act on It

Another “amazing” thing are the number of people who instinctively do Tips #1 – #3 and then when it comes time to make a choice, they freeze or “excuse” their way out of COMMITTING to the new direction that they have identified.  Most people don’t realize that if you apply yourself in a particular discipline that you can absolutely change your life in 24-36 months.  I think its safe to say that 100% of the people reading this have lived more than enough to say that 2-3 years is not a long time to devote to a major life change.  The problem is that some people don’t believe this could apply to them and there are others who are too lazy (frankly) to move out of their comfort zone of leisure, routine or other circumstances to carve out the time to apply positive and progressive change in their life.  We’re all given 24 hours in a day and its how those hours are spent for the next 24-36 months that will identify who will be the proverbial winners and losers, who will be happy and who will be frustrated.

While re-reading Tony Robbins book “Awaken The Giant Within” he discusses how many people are in emotional and psychological pain over their present life conditions.  In response to this he says that everyone has the ability to make choices to either focus on their conditions or implement choices that can effectively give them new life conditions.  Therefore, if you’re not happy with your current “conditions”, will you continue to give them your focus and energy or will you make choices that will move you to a new condition that you can feel better about?

Tip #5 – Believe In Your Commitment and Maintain The Courage of Your Convictions with a Positive Attitude

It’s unfortunate how many people allow the opinions and feedback of others to alter the excellent plans that they lay out and begin to implement for themselves.  There will always be opinions offered on things, sometimes it will be presented from a fearful position, sometimes a loving position and sometimes from the “hater” that doesn’t want to see you do something that they either can’t do or don’t have the heart to go for themselves.  At any rate, there is no accomplishment that can properly be achieved without being backed by sustained belief.  Before anything is accomplished physically it has to be completed and accomplished mentally.  Don’t let anybody or anything get you “off of your square.”  Many people discount their past accomplishments (big and small) and don’t take the opportunity to focus on these prior wins as momentum which can be used for accomplishing newer and bigger goals.  Don’t discount those wins and more importantly stay the course in the face of adversity, weariness or discontent.

A mentor of mine once explained to me that many people don’t accomplish the goals that they set out to achieve because they haven’t properly identified “WHY” they want to accomplish their goals.  He shared that in order for any life change to take effect and to “stick” that your “why has got to be big enough to cry.” Simply meaning that if you don’t come up with a substantive and meaningful reason to continue on the path of moving out of your rut, chances are you won’t accomplish life-long change. Therefore you need to establish a motive for the change that doesn’t allow you to quit.

_____

Again, these tips are simply meant to be a framework to start the gears of change.  I have said before that the people who go the furthest are students of life and they read, study and apply themselves in their chosen area of aptitude/change to learn what is needed to be successful.  If you are looking to make a change in your life I invite you to devote at least 30 minutes of “would be recreation/leisure time” to learning/doing something to move closer to your “new direction.” If you’re in a bad relationship read books on healthy relationships to get a clear understanding of where you are and what you want.  If you’re in an undesirable job, spend time on the net researching better jobs or developing new skills.  If you’re not happy with your “body image” get a gym membership or at home dvd/workout system.  Again, excuses are always available to continue to do the same thing.  However, we know that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

In the end, we as individuals are the ones that are responsible for the path that we’re on and we all have the same access to opportunity.  Only a few will take that course.  You’ll just have to ask yourself if you’re in enough “pain” to give up the excuses and take a new direction and make the choices required to move out of the rut to a new and better place.  You and only you can make that determination.

It is my desire that this entry comes to someone at a point where they don’t know what to do next or need to hear something to create the momentum to initiate a positive change in their life.  If you’re at a point where these tips don’t apply, consider yourself lucky and feel free to pass them to someone who may be in a rut, have the blahs or at a crossroads.

Much love and take care of one another – “we all we got”…VA

Additional information

“The Strangest Secret” http://www.nightingale.com/AE_Article~i~22~article~StrangestSecret.aspx

Bamboozled – Why Is It Cool To Be Dumb in 2009?

Posted in Life Lessons, Music Industry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2009 by djvinceadams

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Bamboozled Cropped

I often times post questions on my status-line in my Facebook account.  One of my recent questions was about movies and the answers brought me to think about how the landscape of Black movies is totally different in 2009 than it was in 1999.  That thought quickly lead me to reflect on the email that I recently read from Andreas Hale who was relieved of his duties as the Executive Editor of Music for Black Entertainment Television (BET.)  In the email Hale expresses the resistance that he was met with by BET Executives in bringing about a “positive” change within the programming of the station.  These thoughts then lead me to revisit thoughts that I frequently have regarding the lack of creativity and skill that is attacking Black music today.

In 2000 Spike Lee released a movie “Bamboozled” which was a satire about the effects of essentially turning Black entertainment into a literal “coon show.”  Although the movie was met with mixed reviews, in my opinion the movie has been prophetic when we look at the state of where Black mainstream media/entertainment is today.  A good friend of mine, Andrea, has expressed that “instead of art imitating life, life starts to imitate art and they [some individuals in the African-American community] believe that whatever these ‘artists’ talk about is real and try to live those things.”

I have a question for everybody 21 years old and older.  Regardless of how much you do or don’t like the current state of Black entertainment, do you feel that Black radio, Black television and Black movies were more provocative, mentally-engaging and intelligent 15-20 years ago and are we at an all-time low when it comes to Black entertainment? I think that it’s fair to guess that I am of the opinion that we are at an all-time low when it comes to the level of creativity and quality of Black entertainment.

I could get into the financial aspects of how the record labels and tv/movie executives only put money behind projects that they feel will produce revenue, but that’s a given at this time.  Additionally, I could say that there is a type of systematic racism that is taking place by “the powers that be”, but I feel that would be absolving the listening/watching/buying public from the role that they play in the caliber of entertainment that is being produced today.

The bottom-line is that it would appear that media outlets (tv networks, record labels, etc.) are developing and marketing media for the “lowest common intellect denominator” among African-Americans.  Of course there has always been “mindless entertainment” throughout the history of media, but the difference today is that “mindless” is now the new mainstream where it used to be more underground.  “Mindless” is the new rule where it used to be the exception.

I think that somewhere along the timeline that parents and adults forgot that entertainment is at times mindless fun, but at other times it is art.  There was a time that there was a fair balance of entertainment that inspired creativity on a higher level, inspired thought on a higher level and added a sense of “beautiful escape” from the world that we’re living in.  The caliber of entertainment today is so marginal, so beyond mediocre, at times so horrible that it doesn’t inspire it actually relegates the viewer or listener to a lower level of being.

The reason that I single out parents and adults is that there should be a certain level of maturity in this group of people that work out of a conscious position to expose themselves and their children to more than what the media executives are offering.  There was a time that if you wanted to let the TV/radio/movies raise your child that there were some options (does anyone remember “Teen Summit” on BET) that attracted younger minds and discussed/approached issues that inspired greater esteem and elevated the viewers’/listeners’ thought as it related to handling life from a more mature perspective.

I really don’t think that people in general realize what effect this “entertainment environment” has on young children.  Actually there are many people that are 20+ that don’t understand that much of their “socially accepted behavior” comes from the influences of the movies, music and television that they are watching.  Again, it would be very easy to point the finger at “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”, Tyler Perry’s tv shows and movies and recording artists like Gucci Mane and Soulja Boy (who make music of no socially redeeming value) and say that they are THE REASON that everything is the way that is today.  Once again, that in my eyes would be absolving US of the role that we play.

I think that through the history of time there has been controversial music and entertainment that created a stir.  I can remember DJing in college playing Luke records and other music from Florida that was 50 times more lewd and outrageous than the music that I play today in the clubs.  However, I think that there is a huge difference today in the people that attended the parties that I DJ’ed in college 20 years ago and the parties that I DJ in the clubs now in 2009.  It appears to me that the party-goer of 1989 had interest and likes beyond “party music” which allowed them to go out and have a good time and leave the party behind.  The party-goer of 2009 in many instance look to imitate the lifestyle of the music/musicians and the music itself and many of them practically identify and live within the vein of party music virtually 24/7.

That’s not to say that 20 years ago there weren’t fads and things that people did outside of the club that were representative of club life.  There were “high-top” fades like Big Daddy Kane or Kid from Kid ‘N Play.  There were gold ropes like LL Cool J and Rakim.  As much as people were trying to look like a rapper or party like a “rock star”, they weren’t looking to emulate that in their actual lives.  Although there were people who did, again, they were the exception, not the rule.

Of course it’s easy for me to sound like I’m casting aspersions on the party-goer of today or the people that are fans of today’s “pop culture”, that is not what I’m looking to do at all.  My only point in this submission is to identify that there is a growing “pop culture” in the music, TV and movies today that is very dumbed down, unintelligent, if not “coon-like” that is becoming a way of life not only for the reality TV stars, rappers, “wanna-be” singers and the less than engaging movies that are being created, but for the people that are entertained by this media.  In many communities and social circles it has literally become cool to not care about one another, to not have a positive presentation of yourself by appearance or by the way you speak and it is cool to “not care” about much of anything.   Without creating a balance in the things that are being presented as entertainment, we will have a more difficult time restoring entertainment (and our communities) to a place that moves us to higher states of creativity, intelligence and consciousness.

As much as the TV, movies, music on the radio or even the music that the DJ plays at the club contributes to this – morality, virtue and ideals start in the home and its my opinion that we in our everyday lives need to be each others heroes and role models.  I think that the continued domination of mindless music, sex/drug music and less than intelligent TV/movies will continue to be that way until WE as individuals begin to want and gravitate to entertainment that is more in the “art/creativity/intelligent” category than programming that is a perpetual “guilty pleasure” with no intelligent or redeeming value.

That does not mean that I am taking a shot at an entire group of people or an entire time period.  I’m very proud of my frat brothers from Rainforest Films that produce high quality movies such as “Stomp the Yard” and “This Christmas.”  I applaud artists like John Legend and Alicia Keys for always bringing a positive, showing class and a talented presence in their music and on television.  I am stating that there used to be a balance of positive imagery and “guilty pleasure” imagery and I am of the opinion that balance is broken.  Just as important, I feel that the people who do not try to imitate this lifestyle, who see these “Stank Leg-isms” as pretty meaningless are themselves turning a blind eye to the disparity that exists in today’s music.  Understanding and consciousness are the things that will help re-establish the balance in Black “pop culture.”

In the past there was a balance: for every “N.W.A.” there was a “Public Enemy”, for every “Ice-T” there was a “Heavy D”, for every “Geto Boys” there was “A Tribe Called Quest”, for every “Friday” movie there was a “X” or “Do The Right Thing” and I can’t count the numerous TV shows including “A Different World”, “Living Single”, “NY Undercover”, “Roc”, “Soul Food” and “227” that were entertaining, good for the family and produced in a way that didn’t consistently have buffoon-characters “jive talking” ever episode.  I’m not calling for an elimination of anything from today, just restoring the balance that used to exist.

As I’ve said in other writings, if you have cousins, nephews, nieces, students or children continue to be a positive influence for them by not only being an example of how to live a balanced life, but also expose them to quality/intelligent/creative entertainment (from the past and present) that lets them know that there is a difference and that allows them to become an agent for change in the caliber of entertainment that’s being offered.  I know that for me personally, as a DJ, that I will play classic feel good music in the middle of a party to show people that there was a time music held a different feel and was made in a way that can stand the test of time.

I think that what’s happening right now in the first decade of the 21st century with Black entertainment is simply a phase.  I think that things go in cycles and that there will be a better day soon when we see more of a balance in “pop culture” that represents a higher standard of living and deeper grade of thinking.  For now the true change must be ignited from the inside (the people) to the outside (the media.)  It can definitely be agreed that companies have a large influence on how people think, but we can’t be so lazy that we just throw our hands in the air and say “there’s nothing we can do about it.”  It is possible for all of us to be agents for change and if we took a fraction of the awareness, the gumption and the initiative that our ancestors did to erect change then we would begin to turn the tide in a better direction.

As an answer to “Why is it cool to be dumb in 2009?”, I think that it has become a social norm in many African-American communities to live down to the example that’s being presented in much of our entertainment.  Moving to a better, more elevated way of thinking starts with everyone in their everyday life looking to affect change positively for not only themselves, but for the peers and younger people that they may influence.  Not only is it cool to be “dumb,” but it has become cool to not care.

Let’s make a change to care and display a positive alternative for people that allows us to continue to advance as a people and not take the years of social progress from the 1860’s, to the 1960’s, to the election of an African-American President and essentially relegate ourselves to a place where we are essentially out of control.  Originally the control was taken from us, this time we are consciously giving it away and that in essence is “dumb.”  Don’t be Bamboozled, we have a lot of power, let’s put it to good use.

Much love and take care of one another – “we all we got”…VA

Additional Info:

Andreas Hale Letter Re: Conditions at BET: http://www.bvblackspin.com/2009/09/08/bet-ex-employee-e-mail/

Top 25: Black TV Shows of All-time (ranked by Ebony Magazine 2007)

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1077/is_12_62/ai_n27391446/?tag=content;col1

Be Careful What You Wish For…What’s On Your List??

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2009 by djvinceadams

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candle wish

Quick Addendum: I would like to thank “Kim” for her early comment.  I am personally not a fan of using lists today.  However, I do believe that its a big part of many people’s approach to moving forward with a relationship that I would address some aspects of designing how to look for your ideal match.  Regardless of a “physical” list or not, everybody has basic qualities that they are looking for and that overall is what is being addressed.  Thanks and enjoy…VA

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since the last blog and believe it or not, it takes a lot of thought and consideration to decide what I would like to share with people related to whatever subject I’m writing about. It has really been interesting sharing my thoughts and ideas regarding life, but it seems that the topic of relationships is definitely one that people are interested in getting more information about.  So, as the old saying goes – ask and you shall receive.

I mentioned in the last blog that I was going to come out with a two-part blog series addressing “The Art of Dating” and “The Art of The Breakup.”  I have given that idea a lot of thought and I’ve determined that there is a step that is missing with regard to moving into a relationship or even being open to a relationship and that is the proverbial “wish list of wants” that people have when deciding who they would like to date.  The list, the damn list – LOL.  Why do I call it “the damn list?”  I think that my list has gotten me in trouble in the past and if you think about your past list(s) you may say that yours has lead you down the wrong path a time or three as well.

I can say that in all of my unsuccessful relationships that I have for the most part (if not completely) gotten what it is that I asked for in the person that I was dating.  The problems/issues in the relationships weren’t necessarily in the items that were “checked off” as completed or attained on the proverbial list.  The problem was in the items that I did not specify that I really should have paid more attention to.

HOWEVER, and this is a big however, I am moving more to the position that the list can be a recipe for disaster when it is not developed in the proper way.  Let’s look at the attributes that you may find on a woman’s list.  Now, before we go into the women vs. men thing, I am speaking to each sex equally here – there is no fault, no bearer of ill-doing, etc.  I think it could be said that although men have their “virtual list” of what they want in a woman that it is probably more likely that a woman would have the list committed to writing.  With that being the case, let’s look at 10 qualities that a woman may have on her list for the sake of discussion:

  1. Believes in God
  2. Educated (at least a college degree)
  3. Earns a good-living (at least $XX,000)
  4. Doesn’t have kids
  5. Loves me unconditionally
  6. Is at least 5” taller than me
  7. Has a good relationship with his mother (however, isn’t a Mama’s Boy)
  8. Loves to travel
  9. Will respect me and my family
  10. Will be honest and communicate openly with me

Now, this list was drawn up randomly, but it does encompass many of the things that we “hear” that women would like in a man if not many, many more.  Although this list has 10 qualities it is possible for these physical and virtual lists to have more than 25 items on it and can actually be upwards of 50 items.  Some people may be reading this and presuming that it is absolutely impossible to get all of the qualities on the list or that you have to “settle” for only 80% of your needs being met and 20% of the qualities are things you’ll just have to live without because you can’t have it all, right?  More importantly, some people make “80%” lists and leave off very important qualities with the thought that you can’t have it all.  We’ve all heard about the 80/20 rule and I’m not going to talk about that either.

So what exactly am I talking about?  Let’s presume that you can attain 100% of what you wanted on your list.  I personally believe in the “ask and you shall receive” law of the universe that allows you to attract what it is you say/think that you want.  Although it’s a challenge, let’s again presume that you attained your goal of having your ideal list of qualities in a potential boyfriend/girlfriend.  Does that really, really make you happy? Let me ask this in a different way – have you ever really wanted a job, vacation, car or anything that was a goal and found that you were very underwhelmed, maybe even very discontent once you received it.  If you’re over the age of 18 I am willing to guess that you’ve experienced this at least 3 times in life, if not many more.

So, if I believe in lists, believe that you can essentially get what you want on the list and believe that the attainment can be unfufilling – what’s the catch?  The catch is actually a two-parter:

  1. As I’ve stated in other blogs, but it definitely needs to be addressed within this topic – another person cannot make you happy.  If you are not happy with yourself and by yourself the chances of something/someone making you happy are close to slim and/or none.
  2. The missing piece of the puzzle is this – you have to begin your “Wish List” with the end in mind. You have to ask yourself what feeling is it that you want to have once your have attained your mate and what qualities/items on your list should be connected to that end position.

Let me offer some examples.  Let’s say that you are a man who on the surface feels that you want a woman who is respectable, classy and handles herself “well” in public.  Along with those qualities you feel that it’s important that due to your “status” that your ideal mate should have a college degree. It’s possible that you can date a woman who has these qualities along with other qualities that are important to you.  However, there is a possibility that there is a woman with a college degree that you find very classy in public and you find her to be very “unadventurous” away from formal settings in a way that could be a turn-off.  On the other hand there could be a woman that doesn’t have a college degree, who is very classy in the situations that you find class is needed, however she’s adventurous and the life of the party when the time is right.  The question is, is that guy not going to pursue a relationship with the woman because she doesn’t have a college degree?

The answer to that question should lie in what is his ultimate desire (or end result) for starting a relationship.  If the ultimate desire is to be in a fun, progressive and fulfilling relationship then what place does the college degree have on the list.  This may sound like very elementary thinking, but ask yourself how many relationships you know of or have been a part of that “looked good on paper”, but were unfulfilling for the people in it or even miserable on one or both people’s parts.  That’s the importance of crafting your list from the right place.  This is also akin to the point I’ve made in previous blogs that it’s important to ask the right questions more so than focus on the answers. The end result of what you want from the relationship is the question, the items on the list are the answers.  If you don’t focus on the end result, you’ll come up with a bogus list of unsatisfactory qualities.

Another example is that there may be a “successful” woman whose end result is that she would like to be in a progressive, fulfilling and exciting relationship.  It may show up on her list that she wants a partner who makes as much, if not more money than her because men in the past have been “intimidated” by her earnings/success.  It’s possible that by focusing on the earnings of the guy that she’s missing a bigger picture.  Wouldn’t it be a better approach to want a guy who was taking care of himself financially and was secure with his earnings, as well as hers versus specifying what his earning power was?  Now, if her end desire is to build a “power couple” dynasty that will buy up the world, then her mate’s earnings make a difference.  If she wants to simply be in fulfilling relationship then maybe the focus should shift to his security rather than his earning power.  Isn’t it true that there are men who are insecure regardless of how much money they make??

There are two big caveats for this train of thought though.  It is always possible that there are multiple “end results” that you would want to achieve in your relationship.  Whatever the reasons are a person should just make sure that the items on the list are related to the end desired result for the relationship.  The second caveat is that there are always “deal breakers” for everybody.  I won’t go into what “deal breakers” are because they vary from person to person.  Its just possible that regardless of how the individual list items add up that there can be a factor that makes the situation something that you would choose not to pursue.

Another aspect of developing your wish list is that the list is a “living document.”  There are many times that people set their list in stone from relationship to relationship and they become so committed to their “ideal” of what they want in a person that they don’t allow for modification or adjustments to their list.  Different situations/relationships should call for some amount of human “factoring” that may re-sort the order of importance or weight of qualities from relationship to relationship.  Also, as we achieve some of these qualities in a partner in a relationship, the list should be reevaluated to insure that those attained qualities (or at least how they were presented in that relationship) held the level of importance they initially seemed to have.

The bottom line for all of these considerations is that we really shouldn’t “block our blessings” by “majoring in minors.”  Don’t get caught up on individual “nice to have” items that could prevent you from finding a close alignment with someone more suited for you.  Additionally, don’t focus on items that ultimately may lead to you being in an unsatisfied, unfulfilling relationship by paying more attention to fringe “list items” rather than your core needs.

As with all of my blogs (especially on relationships) the focus here is on you internally and not what other people do to you or for you.  If you properly align your “Wish List” with your needs, the chances of you achieving your true end result grow exponentially as opposed to throwing a bunch of non-tangential qualities on a sheet of paper and thinking the attainment of this collection of “things” will lead to your happiness.  You and your God are the source of your happiness, craft the life and associations that compliment your self-happiness and the rest will work itself out.

How many movies have we seen where the girl leaves the “perfect guy” (the list guy) for the guy that captured the essence of what she REALLY wanted in a man?  I would strongly suggest that you give some serious thought to your core values/desires to create a collection of qualities that speaks to what matters to you in the essence of a mate and not just superficial “nice to have” qualities.  Again, those qualities should ultimately be essential to the desired result.  Before you make a wish and blow out the candle, be careful what you wish for – you just may get it.

Much love and take care of one another – “we all we got”…VA