I Value Black Life

 

 

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“Saying ‘I love me’ NEVER automatically means ‘Therefore I hate YOU.'”

Dr. Derrick-Lewis Noble


The racial tension in America has reached a new high. The killing of Michael Brown (an unarmed black youth) in Ferguson, Missouri by a white police officer sparked a media frenzy and further highlighted a condition that many would like to ignore. The distrust that some blacks have for law enforcement is rooted in a long history of injustice inflicted upon that community by those who took an oath to protect and serve. However, despite the many officers who have misused their badge to carry out their own agenda, there are still some who properly enforce the law. Nonetheless, that is not the premise of this blog. Today’s story goes deeper than that. It discusses an issues that lay within the black community and why it is so challenging to get everyone on one accord as it relates to unity and the ending of black-on-black crime.

Last week a friend and I (William Howard Bowman) began a social media campaign titled “I Value Black Life”. The two videos stemmed from the situation in Ferguson; but, they are also a result countless observations of blacks-on-black crime and a desire for those occurrences to stop. Our goal is to establish an atmosphere of change and renewed affirmation of self within the black community. In doing so we hope to generate a positive shift that will forever change how Black communities are perceived. Although we felt it would garner nationwide attention, neither of us were prepared for some of the backlash we would get for making such an affirmative challenge. We assumed that with all that is going on it would hit the spirit of every black person and be an easy campaign to promote. That was not the case. Many black were not so gung-ho about the idea. However, despite the negative comments and questions we have definitely received some solid support; which proves that a lot of us are anxious for change.

 

I would like to take time to share a few of the questions we were asked: “Why do you want us to say ‘I value black life’, shouldn’t we say ‘I value all life’?” It amazed us how it is assumed that we don’t care about everyone: as though we are trying to create some type of militia against the nation. Indeed we value all life but why is their apprehension about showing pride for ones race. Yet, in all fairness I gave it some attention. After pondering on it I paused on the thought of white supremacist groups and how their campaigns for white power/pride usually are associated with the annihilation of a race. From that vantage point I can see how one would be concerned that we were trying to create a new nation of radicals ready to wage war against the system (which ain’t a bad idea); but we are not.

“It is amazing how blacks always want to rally together after a white person kills one of them, but say nothing when one of their own does it.” That notion is a definite lie and I will be the first to say that blacks do come together and try to combat black-on-black crime, but it often doesn’t get the mass media attention it deserves. Efforts go unnoticed and whereas it may seem as though we don’t care, many of us actually do. Black cities across America rally and hold vigils promoting peace and unity within their communities. They write articles, create social media groups and try to make their voices heard. But, there is still a disconnect. Something is keeping us from coming completely together as one. What is it?

“I Value Black Life” is a very simple campaign that requires a minimum effort. In a world kevionwhere everyone posts pictures of themselves all we ask is for other blacks to join us by either making a video declaring why they value Black life, or post a selfie with the words ‘I Value Black Life’ emblazoned across it. Simple, right? Not for some. Unfortunately, it is hard for social justice issues to compete with pop culture, reality television, and the other vanities leading the current generation. In an era where black celebrities can reach billionaire status, and creating a sex-tape can make you an overnight sensation, the draw to march for equality just doesn’t have the same excitement. I am not mad just sharing an observation.

I would like to challenge my black peers on social media. If after reading this you realize that the things you post, share and comment on are doing a disservice to your community, think about stopping. If you notice that you have become a self-titled gossip columnist and your posts aid in humiliating black culture, think about stopping. Review what you promote and if you conclude that your messaging is furthering the negative way we are viewed as a people, consider changing what you support. I know it can be difficult because we all want a good laugh every now and then but even I had to check myself. I used to operate under the notion of “It’s only social media, what’s the big deal”. Now that I’ve reflected on the bigger picture, I must admit that I was guilty of falling into that same “as long as it ain’t about me” mindset that justifies our spread of malicious rumor and gossip. We must not forget that words can be as lethal a weapon as a gun, so be careful who you aim them at.

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By accepting the challenge of “I Value Black Life”, you are agreeing to uplift the black community and help promote positive images. It means that the messages you post on social media will elevate the black community and bring us together instead of tearing us apart. If you truly value Black life then you should be embarrassed by the behaviors of those who negatively represent our people. You will hold them accountable for their actions and not rally in support of their negligent behavior. If you value black life then the way you interact with you own should be healthy and affirming; instead of toxic and hostile. You won’t walk by and ignore, instead you will be elated by the presence of someone who understands what it means to be black; in whatever capacity that may mean for them; and not make them feel less than based upon zip-code.

This campaign is 100% about unity. It is about promoting self-awareness and self-love within the black community so a decrease in black-on-black crimes will arise. I Value Black Life is about reminding black people of the sacrifices made by our elders. The lives that were lost in the fight so that we could have the opportunities we do. Killing each other was not in Malcolm or Martin’s plan and in continuing to do so we are destroying a legacy. We ask that you join us and help promote this very affirming initiative.

Type the hashtag #ivalueblacklife on Facebook and Instagram to see what others have posted.

“I Value Black Life” T-Shirts also available for purchase. Click here to order.

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Should it Matter Who Pulls the Trigger?

I have a question that I am certain cannot be easily answered or resolved. However, I am going to ask anyway: “What’s the difference between black youth killing black youth and white cops killing black youth?” I know that may ruffle some feathers but it is really something I want to know.

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Yes, both are tragic, yet only one gets the Black community in an uproar. I know that I will get a lot of slack for saying this but I constantly hear about black-on-black shootings (none of it makes the major headlines) and it amazes me how it has become the norm. Yet, when anyone non-black does the deed it is time to rally, riot, and ‘come together’. Understand that I am devastated by the loss of innocent life (Michael, Ezell, and the many others) caused by overzealous cops; but I am also tired of hearing sirens and helicopters –in my own neighborhood- chasing down black youth who have just murdered one of their own.

I am an avid viewer of The First 48 and many of the crimes shown are of young black men killing their blackpeers -some of whom they grew up with- for senseless reasons. As I watch the detectives piece together the crime it saddens me to see how close some of the culprits were with their victims. “Yeah, he and I used to play in the schoolyard together.” or “His mom took me in when I was little but the drug hustle tore us apart.” are some of the quotes I recall hearing from the ones who pulled the trigger. What has created this climate within the Black community? When did the tide change and what can be done to get it back on track?

White cops killing Black youth: Tragic. Black youth killing Black youth: Tragic. Black communities settling on one and being radical on the other: Tragic.

A friend and I shared a meal last night and he was able to attend a rally in Leimert Park -a section of South Los Angeles- for Michael Brown. I could not make it due to work but was interested in hearing how it went. He shared that it was mildly organized with good intentions. However, there was one thing he shared that raised my eyebrow. He stated that a young college student got on the microphone and exclaimed “We need our elders to guide us on what to do?” I was taken aback by that statement. I was unclear on what type of ‘guidance’ is needed. But, on the other hand I can empathize with what he is saying. There is no present day Martin, Malcolm, Bayard, or Medgar (at least not to my knowledge) that can muster the people together in a sustained, focused manner.

The Rodney King experience pulled us together…for a moment. Travon Martin pulled us together…for a moment. Michael Brown and Ezell Ford have pulled us together, again. What needs to occur is that we get together and stay together. We cannot let the smoke clear until we are certain that a change has come. We need to unite on all fronts and make a stand against a machine that has been working against us for decades. We need to create a beacon that will sound a reminder enforcing love, unity, and community. The senseless murdering of our own needs to come to a swift end; and the work of establishing ourselves as an organized force for change needs to begin.

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The season of being content with the way things needs to cease. It is not going to happen overnight. It may not even happen in my lifetime. But, we need to give our kids an opportunity to live safe in their own community and not fear faces that look like theirs. Racism and prejudice will always be present, but killing ourselves does not have to be. Yes…RALLY…PROTEST…MAKE NOISE…but we must also come together as one for the purposes of changing the scope of our own landscape. We need to instill the value of life into the minds of our youth. We need to teach them how to ‘fight’ with their minds and not guns. We need to remind them of where we came from and challenge them to progress us forward. My prayers are definitely with the families of the victims, but they are also with the youth who have no idea how to get off the misguided path they are currently on.

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Spotlight: Derek Chase

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NameDerek Chase

Location: North Hollywood, CA

Company: The Chase LA


What inspired you to create a clothing line? There was definitely a need for interesting well made clothes at an affordable price.

How would you define your style of fashion? All over the place (laughs). My style goes from Jordan’s and a SnapBack to tapered slacks, mesh shirt and wingtip shoes. Hence why The Chase LA is so diverse in look and anyone can find an item they would love to wear. My line represents style and spontaneity while pushing the envelope to inspire change. The Chase LA is more than just a clothing line it is a movement and a constant reminder you should never stop chasing your dreams. Whatever they may be.

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What is the most exciting part of what you do? Getting positive feedback from customers. I love receiving ‘thank you’ emails and/or text messages from people wearing my creations. I also enjoy seeing how other people rock my clothes. It is always flattering when someone takes one of my items and adds their own personal flare to it.

What audience does your line cater to most? My line caters to the confident dude with swag who wants to stand out. I create eye-catching garments that command attention. If you are poised and ready for the world, grab a Chase LA creation and storm the city.

What was been your biggest challenge in launching your line? Just about everything has been a challenge (chuckles). I was completely green when I entered the world of fashion design and had no idea of what to do; where to start; or what to expect. To be honest, the hardest part was learning how to get out of my own way. It also took me a minute to gain enough confidence to actually put my ideas out there.

Which celebrity would you most love to style and why? Kanye West. He is my idea of fashion. Kanye embodies what The Chase LA is all about; strong, confident, risky and a little cocky.

What has been one your proudest moments in terms of your clothing line? Watching it all come together and hearing my mom and dad say they are proud of me has definitely been the icing on the cake.

What is one fun fact about you that no one would assume? People would never believe how much I love food. I could eat all day while watching Law and Order reruns.

Where can people find your items? The Chase L.A (click here)

What’s next for The Chase LA? Everything! I am now pushing to get into retail stores; style celebrities; and collaborate with other fashion entrepreneurs.

Any final thoughts or comments? Never give up. You can really do anything if you put in the work and just try.

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Spotlight: William Scales

Name: William Scales

Location: Lynwood, Ca

Company: Mr. Scales Productions

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Tell us more about your company? Mr. Scales Productions was started in the beginning of 2012 with it’s first release of the Christian film “The Waiting Room”. The company is designed for all types of filming needs. Also,its a company that create short films, feature films and web series for the upcoming actors and actress that really get overlooked for chances to showcase there talents on film.

What is the most exciting part of what you do? The most exciting part of my job is the ability to be creative. Having a gift to have a vision in your head and then watch it play out on film and people love it, is the greatest and most exciting feeling in the world.

What has been some of your biggest challenges? The biggest challenges that most film makers have is funding. Funding is the key to many things needed on set, such as, locations, catering, equipment, permits and paying the cast. Also taking time away to separate your business lie from your personal life. Sometimes the two do not mix and it can cause many issues.

What are your thoughts on Black Hollywood and the shortage of mainstream Black films? Black Hollywood seems to decrease every year. My take on this issue is that, our people need to really stick together and support one another. Especially the new and upcoming. We have to support each other and that is the key word….SUPPORT!

What audience do your productions cater to most? Anyone that wants to see a great project with great acting. In our everyday lives, we need a release from the world we live in. The film might reach you or your story. In life, everyone needs to either laugh, cry or just spend some family time watching TV.

Do you currently have anything in production; if ‘yes’ please tell us about it? I have a upcoming web series called “What Men Want”. Directed by William Scales and Co-Writers William Scales and Danielle Foster. It will be available on youtube. This series is starring Tray Mcvay, Reyna Joy Banks, Nelson Brown, Pia Days, Jermaine Jacox, Rhonda Morman, Aaron McCarter, Ajia Mumms and Rayshawn Chism. It’s a series hat tells what 4 men go through in life. The issues men deal with such as marriage, dating, career and fatherhood from a man’s point of view. It’s pretty rare we get the men side of things so, if you ever wanted to really know what men want, this is the series to watch.

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Which celebrity would you most love to work with and why? Denzel Washington. He has an amazing spirit and leave it on film every time. He makes you believe who he is portraying. The man can do just about anything.

As it relates to filmmaking what has been your proudest moment? Earlier this year, I won Best Film in the Jamaica Film Festival for my feature film “Life After Divorce”. I really didn’t expect to win and at a point of life, I think it certified that this is what I was born to do.

What is one fun fact about you that no one would assume? I love long drives. Observing Life is such great thing and most of the time, it puts me in a great spirit. Just some oldies and the road is all I need.

What’s next for Mr. Scales Productions? The company will be releasing 2 more web series entitled “Uncle Lewis” starring Clark Lewis and “Big Men Living” starring Nelson Brown & Rayshawn Chism. Also we will be releasing another Christian feature film entitled “The Potters House” starring Andre Jefferson, Rayshawn Chism and Danielle Foster and next year, the stage play entitled “The Curse Is Broken”

Any final thoughts or comments? We are running a gofundme campaign for What Men Want. The project still needs help in finishing the last few episodes and for post production and festival entries. This is something you really should support. Anything Helps! Go to www.gofundme.com/whatmenwant