Emmy Awards Aside There’s a Tic Toc Feeling in the Air Beyond the Red Carpet Fashions, Around Civic Implosion

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Social Commentary

Another Emmy Awards Gala is in the books and there’re many who’re left holding the bag. The ‘Swag Bag’ that is. In each category there’re a few nominees but only one gets to take home the statue prize. Everyone else at least gets to leave with swag merch that might help them savor the evening.

Among the winners is Jharrel Jerome for lead actor in a limited series category as Korey Wise in the Netflix acclaimed When They See Us. The film tells the story of five Harlem boys who served time after being falsely accused for a crime. The film covers the youthful days and adult journeys of the boys’ life.

Jerome was the only actor to have played both the boyhood and adult roles of a character in the film. He told Hollywood media that he spent time with Wise trying to walk in his shoes. His main takeaway was how Wise spent years behind bars trying to be a better person, even if the media story was the opposite.

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That’s something many can relate to in trying to live their best life or be a better nation. It’s sometimes a toggle back and forth between growing up as a child and adulting-up as a citizen. So Emmy Awards aside for young and old, there’s a kind of tic toc feeling in the air beyond the red carpet fashions, around civic implosion.

As citizens, the current climate in national public affairs is creating its own tic toc, around what seems like a gradual slide from Democracy to ‘Shamocracy.’ It seems as if the political, ethical and civic standards we’re admired for around the world are now being viewed as a sham!

One of the things from America’s history (younger days) and current state of affair (adult ways) that might be holding us back is Ideology. The Founders described in the Constitution’s Preamble “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union.” That was a statement of Ideals not Ideology.

Another thing from America’s history and the current state of affair that might be holding us back is money. The original fights around money was about the size of government and who’d pay for social services. The fight today is about who gets more of it in terms of give-backs for political/social appeal.

In a recent interview Oprah shared why she’s not running for office. But she explained it less as a knock and more as an ‘aha moment.’ She felt candidates should spend more time telling us what they bring and less time on the other person’s ills. Another way of saying it is they should bring a sense of discovery.

Maybe something people admire most in Oprah isn’t just her business acumen but also her integrity. That starts with being true with self. She’s true with self in not trying to run for office when that’s not her. She’s also true with fans about what she went through as a teenager before becoming a global icon.

People world over admire America for its ‘dream factory’ and biz acumen. But this will get overshadowed if our national integrity seems to be slip-sliding away. That may be something the first U.S. president George Washington had back-of-mind when he made a stirring point in his 1796 farewell address.

He said, “The common and continual mischiefs of [party] are sufficient to make it in the interest of duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.” Well if we replace party with Executive Branch, you get the sense his words have broader meaning today. He might see the current state of affair as a sham.

Tracks: Skip Marley ft Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley – That’s Not True  – https://youtu.be/Z1NPpxU_BQQ

Sting and shaggy – Just One Lifetime – https://youtu.be/DNobqcfLb2Y

Ava DuVernay Works to Bring Closure for Five Harlem Men and Exposure to The Injustice That Was Handed Them

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Social Commentary

It was the Spring of 1989 when their lives made headlines. Five boys from Harlem who became known as the ‘Central Park Five’ were accused of a brutal crime. The story was branded as a ‘park wilding’ with them being taken in for questioning. But the story was a big cover-up for political gain.

Fast-forward to present day, as the woke film director Ava DuVernay works to bring closure and exposure to the injustice that was handed them. Even after DNA evidence came back without a match to any of them, the prosecuting attorneys still went ahead to frame the story in a way opposite to the facts.

So DuVernay with the support of Oprah Winfrey as an executive producer, decided to produce the Netflix special ‘When They See Us’ to tell the true story. Her approach was one of looking at the criminal justice system from four angles: policing, prosecution, parole and the prison industrial complex.

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She got high praise from Tyler Perry, Levar Burton and others for the project’s cinematic depth. Her social justice work aims to open eyes, inform minds and touch hearts to inspire broader change. This project fits that mold and begs the question, “What if the ‘Black to America’ story were told with similar gusto?

This summer commemorates 400 years of that journey which began around August 1619 at Jamestown Virginia. The upcoming ‘America in Color’ Report presents a new way to see history, family, culture, country and social issues with a better picture quality for a higher level of citizenship.

One way to unpack the 400-year journey is by the 7 phases, 3 communities and 2 questions that overlap the story. Parts of the story call for celebration, parts describe periods of determination and parts of the story include racial oppression. It’s a story of ‘strong citizens’ and their ‘citizen shining moments.’

Many Americans know a more recent idea of strong citizens which got its start after Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012. As elected officials visited some affected areas in New Jersey, a sentiment began to surface. The point of pulling together to recover and rebuild was later phrased as ‘Jersey Strong.’

This caught-on in other areas across the country, including after the Boston marathon explosion where we heard ‘Boston Strong.’ The idea of strong citizens may have started during some of the darkest times in the ‘Black to America’ journey. But it also shows up today as a ‘Hometown Strong’ feeling.

So having an ‘America in Color’ perspective means seeing the larger storyline with a similar kind of truth-telling to better understand American history from five angles: Justice, Political, Education, Immigration & Tax systems. This helps to give a better picture quality for seeing social issues more clearly.

DuVernay said in a recent Oprah chat that she changed the name of the project from ‘Central Park Five’ because she wanted to present a new take for how the story is told. Well, ‘America in Color’ is a new name for how the ‘strong citizens’ story is told and #WhenWeShowThem represents what it means to survive and even thrive no matter the personal/social challenge.

Tracks: Mary J. Blige ft Nas – Thrive  – https://youtu.be/98YJEr9NaXc

Koryn Hawthorne ft Lecrae – Unstoppable – https://youtu.be/us7hvF6lsoc

Ava DuVernay & Lin-Manuel Miranda Speak on Winning a Game but not Losing Our Civil Liberties – #HometownChat

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#HometownChat – “Smart Community, Special Service, Civic Dreams”

“Hey Martellus Bennett, Patriots just won the Superbowl, what are you doing next?” That question might remind us of those past ads for Disney. Bennett’s not planning to do the usual stuff. He’d probably love to hear Ava DuVernay or Lin-Manuel Miranda speak on winning a game but not losing our civil liberties.

While Monday morning quarterbacks broke down the game, other folks were happy seeing the Obama’s back in town. During their two-week vacation there was even a sighting of BO’s look-alike ‘cool Barry’ with his cap turned backward. They returned just in time to settle into Washington’s business as ‘Reality TV.’

What we’re seeing these days is just a new look of some old ways. That’s what a doctor might say when examining a patient or a historian might say when examining the political, social and economic system. We’ve gone from slavery to Jim Crow to an emerging system condition that could be called John Crow.

It’s called John Crow because of a certain far-away bird that takes advantage of the death, misery and ‘lost way’ of animals. This system has a new set of ‘isms’ (along with WMDs – Weapons of Mass Dah) to benefit from death, misery and lower socio-economic status. So to #LetThePeopleKnow when it’s a John Crow is to:

  1. Check the system for signs of ‘Vulture-ism.’
  2. Churn (agitate) the establishment for the acts of ‘sham-ism.’
  3. Challenge the laws against rounds of social schism.
  4. Cheer the people to avoid the pitfalls of fake realism.

Executive Orders recently issued by the Republican Administration appear to have a negative impact on the everyday citizen. Vulture-ism is seen when perks for Wall Street dig potholes on the roads for Main Street. It’s when concerns for poverty and income inequality are stunted by policies of ‘purge & reward.’ We’ve got to save our streets from being attacked by a ‘republic of vultures.’ (Is it just coincidence that Trump’s middle name is John?)

Even the idea of possibly taking Iraq’s oil to pay for U.S. troop deployment in the Middle East is like a John Crow beast preying on the least. The thing to watchout for is whether the shifting administration policies are really about ‘Make America Great Again’ or adding more power and prime rib to their plate.

These efforts to undermine & override are not being overlooked by ‘people in the know.’ Maybe that’s why Nancy Pelosi made the statement that Trump Advisor Steve Bannon is a shot-caller for white supremacy. Howard Stern saying he feels Trump ran for president to get more money for hosting The Apprentice.

By putting those two thoughts out there some political observers have concluded that we’ve got to callout the administration for the acts of sham-ism. A ‘sham’ is a thing that is not what it’s advertised to be. There’s reason the establishment has more explaining to do on their proposed policies and procedures.

In his letter written while in a Birmingham jail Dr. King outlined the issues of his time. He challenged those who questioned his non-violent protests against laws that protected Jim Crow but oppressed, suppressed or distressed John & Jane Doe. King was saying ‘Yo, that’s some social schism.’

Fast-forward to John Crow today with policies that threaten 1st Amendment rights to a free press and religion but protect 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms. The administration wants weak vetting on cabinet picks but extreme vetting on immigrant visas. We find them shutting down Obamacare signups while saying a replacement won’t be ready until 2018. Does that mean they’d rather have people die, denying them insurance while delaying them any chance for a supposedly better plan? Yo, that’s some social schism right there.

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So DuVernay and Miranda are doing their part to rally the people against losing touch with realism. She recently quoted James Baldwin who said A civilization isn’t destroyed by wicked people. It is not necessary that people be wicked. Only that they be spineless. Another philosopher once said Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (Is there a ‘true dat’ or amen?)

These notes are reminders to take off any ‘blinders’ that cause citizens to be tone-deaf, street dumb or side-eye blind. They might even suggest it’s a time to have ‘antennas up’ to get the reception and record straight. Smart community understands the past in order to better relate it to what just happened last.

When an Ohio minister says a ‘Chicago gang wants to work with Trump’ it makes people say, really? Then 24 hours later he walks it back, saying he miss-spoke as he was still tired from the recent campaign. He’s not the first minister with the campaign ‘trying to keep it real’ but showing straight-up fake realism.

The job of media, Congressional leaders, constitutional experts and engaged citizens is to keep the ducks in order. Some have committed to doing their part to fight the power as well as ‘floss Trump’s tweets’ (and the rest of his team) because the words in-and-out of their mouths can affect America’s future well-being.

‘Alternative facts’ is the new WMD in the John Crow system used as a cover for miss-information. We’ve been here before in Jim Crow times. So as we rise, let’s not be weary but stay true to realism. We’ll know if what we’re seeing will lead us to a place of more ‘still waters’ or towards a storm of some rough waters.

Groove-tracks: Isley Brothers – Fight the Power – https://youtu.be/KdJ0uv6oMRU

Solange – Rise/Weary – https://youtu.be/mKwxz23H5UY