Lebron James and Dak Prescott Set out to Raise their Impact in the Game and Voice off the Field

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Social Commentary – Common Reasoning

The dust might have settled on news that Lebron James is leaving Cleveland and going to LA. But long before announcing that move, ground was broken for the building of a new school. With the arrival of opening day for the I Promise public school, James hasn’t forgotten that he’s just a kid from Akron.

While NBA basketball is in its off-season NFL football is in its pre-season. The rookies get their feet wet and work thru the early jitters while veterans like Dak Prescott work thru some of the normal drills. Pros like James and Prescott are always looking to raise their impact in the game and voice off the field.

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So it’s not surprising that both would sound-off on matters of social injustice. Prescott’s take on the NFL player protests seems to line-up with those who see it as a distraction where the kneeling has been over-played. He feels it’s time to move-on with the business of scoring touchdowns and winning games.

James says he has become more outspoken since the Trayvon Martin tragedy. This hit close to home because he has two boys. But he’s even more disturbed by how Sports has been used recently by some as a divisive force. He prefers it to be a way to unite and celebrate as a positive force.

One way to look at this ongoing challenge is whether we’re dealing with ‘America Turned-up or America Turned-out.’ The things that James is doing to support and empower his community represent America turned-up. The excitement about his move to the Lakers is certainly going to have fans turned-up.

There’s another side to America we’re seeing lately that feels like America turned-out. Consider the news story of a neighbor calling police on actor Ving Rhames saying he’s an intruder when Rhames was in his own house. It’s a reminder of the cultural perception of ‘white is always right and black is always whack.’

On a deeper level, it’s a hint of what could be happening when we see a mound of dirt around a tree that’s not growing or appears to be dying. At first it might look like a big ants nest. However upon closer inspection by turning over the soil, there’s a whole bunch of insects and worms crawling underneath.

That kind of ‘America turned-out’ might be revealing an underside that’s been underground and has been tuned-over in a divisive social climate. As someone on social media put it, it’s like calling 911 has become customer service for people’s fear, hatred and bigotry. That’s the stuff that’s crawling underneath socially.

James, Prescott and others in pro sports set out to be not just players in the game but also impact players off the field. For them it’s about giving youth the chance to realize their full potential. It’s about helping folks stay on the straight and narrow as opposed to getting caught-up in the crazy of tomorrow.

There’ve been so many stories across the country of people being reported to police for strange reasons. From college campuses to gated communities the social insects & worms have been turned-out. So when we say ‘This is America’ do you see it as America turned-up or America turned-out? It’s a no brainer!

Tracks: DJ Khaled ft Justin Bieber, Quavo & Chance the Rapper – No Brainer – https://youtu.be/kxloC1MKTpg

Rudimental & Major Lazer – Let me Live – https://youtu.be/L08uxunfLi4

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Solange Knowles & ‘Chance the Rapper’ Used Their Awards Appearance for a Greater Cause – #HometownChat

Hot Shot (Old-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
– Oprah Winfrey, TV Host & Entertainment Mogul

Hot Shot (New-School): “Real Talk with Industry Players and Biz Leaders”
– Kevin Hart, Comedian & Actor

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

It was another sunny day in LA as Red Carpet watchers came out for the pre-show. So it was in England as well, as Solange Knowles performed a music set for concert goers. Then she got on a plane headed for LA. Knowles & Chance the Rapper used their BET Awards appearance for a greater cause.

She was there to honor a social activist; he was there to receive the Humanitarian Award. After receiving her own award earlier in the show, Knowles embraced the work of those working to address issues of brutality and criminal justice. Meanwhile, Chance is no stranger on empowering kids on the block.

He was almost brought to tears by a surprise clip from former First Lady Michelle Obama praising him for his work. With the lead-up to the Essence Festival and Independence Day celebrations underway, there’re many getting ready to get their groove on. Others are also considering the issues of the day.

For some, these times feel like there’s a kind of fog over the country’s social/political optics. Whether it’s in cases of laws being enacted or rights being revoked, it’s not clear how long it’ll take for this fog to burn off. How can we get through the fog? What does the fog look like? Well here are some things to consider.

  1. When vision is low, turbulence is high.
  2. When clouds are in the way, civic instruments have a role to play.
  3. When sunshine is blocked, social/civic development gets cooled.
  4. When haze is in the air, proceed with caution or move to higher ground where things are clear.

The healthcare debate and criminal justice matters have taken center stage in recent days. There’ve been a series of court rulings and proposed Senate legislation that have communities wondering ‘what are we, worst-in-class citizens?’ Some are even thinking out loud ‘how could anyone be so mean?’

An often quoted word of inspiration says ‘where there’s no vision, the people perish.’ This might also be modified to suggest where there’s no vision, no sense of common purpose, no justice, the people perish. What we see in the back-and-forth is that when vision is low turbulence is high in matters of public affairs.

As an example, the turbulence on a flight can happen during the first 10 minutes of takeoff or later at higher altitude. Low lying clouds have a way of making the early part of the ride bumpy. In the case of higher altitude, it’s usually due to a phenomenon called ‘air pockets.’ This is like a pothole in the sky.

When clouds are in the way a pilot has to use on-board instruments to help see through the fog. In the case of our country’s optics, that’s what the Special Prosecutor role headed by Robert Mueller is all about. But there’re other civic instruments and institutions that as citizens we get to add our say.

We look back on our history and see those moments when ‘America was born, died and came back from the dead.’ This is seen from the events leading up to America’s Independence to the Civil War period to the age of Civil Rights. They’re times when the light of progress came through after dark days of pain.

Solange and Chance are helping us get through the fog or dampness in the air by letting their light shine through. Just like when the sun is shining it warms the air, when the light comes through, our social and civic development grows. But when the light is blocked our social/civic development gets cooled.

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They also know when haze or ‘air pockets’ are in the path, to proceed with caution or move to higher ground where things are clear. When vision is high it points us towards that higher ground. In a sense that’s what can be achieved through the collective efforts of ‘Community 3.0, Vision100 and the United Streets of America.’

So where do we find ourselves on issues of the moment? Some of the concerns have been around for a while. It feels like same old stuff, different day. Maybe we’re at the crossroads of belief and relief. We’re trying to believe there’s room enough for fresh change while hoping for some relief from the confusion.

When it comes to technological change we’re in a phase known as ‘the Internet of things.’ This is where more of our electronic devices and home appliances are connected to the Internet. This way there’s more we can do to measure and manage the efficiency in our daily lives by being more connected.

To advance our effectiveness in social change, there needs to be a mindset that a “Community of things’ will move us from the ‘politics of things’ to the ‘common purpose of things.’ How we get there might seem a bit fuzzy. But it could mean connecting ‘Mission Ready Blocks’ (MRBs) with ‘Mission Rocking Beats.’

Abraham Lincoln once said Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character give him power. Martin Luther King Jr. is quoted as saying Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice and suffering; the tireless exertions and passionate concerns of dedicated individuals.

Where we are today fits those quotes. Those in power show us their true character. What they propose assumes that anything goes. Lincoln and King would have us know we must fight for opportunity and against injustice. These things we can do in the meantime until sunshine comes after dark days are gone.

Block Talkback: These days should we fight for something (like healthcare for more citizens) or fight against something (like brutality and social injustice)?

Groove-tracks: Baby Cham ft Alicia Keys – Ghetto Story – https://youtu.be/loPRsrqrDXc

TLC – It’s Sunny –  https://youtu.be/EolE4i0UmWw