Are We There Yet?

Don't Be Silent in the Face of InjusticeIn these remaining few more days of Black History Month and beyond, let us not forget the message of unity, love, and justice of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King. Dr. King was a servant leader, fully aware of the injustices, and yet was able to work towards justice in a spirit of love. He was truly a voice of conscience that rings beyond the grave. By his example I learned that while I must be aware of the goings on in the world, at the same time not let it steal the joy in the moment. Ignorance is not bliss and neither is anger or hate. We must be aware; be sensitive; speak out against injustice; be loving even to our enemies, be encouraging to those who are grieving or being persecuted, and most importantly, we must DO what WE can to change the world.

This week a Facebook post really got to me.  It was of a young African-American being harassed, beaten, restrained, and kicked.  He kept screaming, “Why are yall doing this to me?” He was being treated like an animal. Evidently he’d stepped off a bus and was immediately accosted by two police.  I was so visibly moved that I wrote the following FB post.

This made me cry for two reasons!!!! 1) Because this is still happening. 2) Because it’s a reminder of when one on my son’s on his Spring break from college had something similarly humiliating done to him! Handcuffed, made to get on the ground, cops being verbally abusive, and yes he was scared to death. Yes! And he was innocent, and NO he didn’t have his pants hanging, and NO he didn’t have on a hoodie, and NO, he doesn’t drink or smoke AND IT DIDNT MATTER! It’s hard for wounds to heal when the scab keeps getting ripped off! The only difference is he kept quiet. BUT, some caged birds have to scream though!!! If you scream though, it makes things worse, as you see in the video links below.

Why was this man being harassed for just stepping off of  a bus? Thankfully someone recorded it. Two other police come to the scene and one ends up putting his foot on the guys face while he’s on the ground and is kicking him in the face. And it appears like one is almost sitting on the guy’s head. The poor young man is screaming, “Why are you doing this to me?,” but to no avail. Bystanders are watching and walking by, but feel helpless to help.  This is the police; what can they do? Are we there yet? Watch the Video and You decide!!!!!! The language is foul, but so is the indignity put upon this young man.  Then I learn that this is routine for NYC if you are Black or Latino. They missed one young man who videoed it, but not this one, eight cops just arrest him for videoing the atrocityy.  Are we in a police state? Where are our freedoms?  What about due process, human rights, and human respect?

An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports.”

“We will have to repent in this generation, not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

It looked like something out of Dr. King’s era. I can only wonder if we are breeding an endless cycle of hatred. What came first the chicken or egg? I’m thinking about those kids being harassed day after day and wondering if they are going to grow up loving or hating whites. In some places those chickens will one day come home to roost if they ever get in a position to return the hate that has built up in them from so many years of being powerless. In other cases led by the example of numerous people of every color disgusted by the old guard and preaching and demonstrating love and peace, (like many Bahai’s and others I know), the system will slowly but surely be changed for the better. We are one human race and there is just one planet and one people. I have to keep in mind always that while there are many horrific examples of humans at their worst, but I’m happy to say, I do see so many examples of humans at their best too!  Thank you Dr. King for showing us how to love our enemies, to stand up for justice, and to not remain silent, yet we be guilty too.

Another message that matters from Barbara Talley

“Ouch” – BLACK ENOUGH? Remark About RGIII Hits the RACE Nerve.

one planetSo, just what does it mean to not be “black enough?”  While it was the most recent controversy between two high profile black men in sports that brings this question to the forefront, the questions of race and identity and what it means to be black have never been sufficiently addressed.  First of all, I’m not into sports, so the fact that RGIII is a celebrity, makes little difference to me. But the race and identity discussion does catch my attention, since I am African-American, I work in Diversity, and this question unfortunately hits too close to home.  As a mother, I’ve been dealing with this issue on behalf of my children for decades unabated. My fifteen year old daughter was outraged just a few months ago when she experienced this in her “magnet school” that lacks much diversity. A kid at her school told her she wasn’t black like the kids at a different school.  I too faced this same challenge as a child when my father took us from the north to the south while doing migrant work.  My sisters and I were often mocked and ridiculed by the other kids who said, “We talked proper.”  It didn’t stop there, many times in my career have I heard the ignorant comment, “You’re different!” What’s that supposed to mean? Although it was usually meant as a compliment, it left me with the same distaste as it did as a child.  I interpreted that comment as:”I’ve got this definition of what it is to be black, and you don’t fit it!”  Rather than the person admitting that perhaps their definition of blackness was flawed, instead I was the anomaly.  “I was different!”  So I got it from both sides, both black and white.

Who gets to define what “black enough” is: black people, white people or no one?  Before I go on, let me point out one thing.  Color is just an accident of climate.  People who live closer to the equator have become darker over the centuries than those who live in more cooler climates. Race does not define a person’s values, character, or identity.  There are those with good character and values and those without it in every ethnic group.  And finally, we are all members of one human race. There is no black race, white race, or brown race.  We are all humans and part of one race, one human family.  You are more apt to pick up traits from your environment and culture than from people who have the same “color”  as you. We all have different traits, yet we are predominantly the same:  “There are more than three million differences between your genome and anyone else’s. On the other hand, we are all 99.9 percent the same, DNA-wise.” 99.9% says it all. Race and color are cloaks for other things, racism, imperialism, and a convenient way to separate people to justify preferential treatment for some and disparate treatment for others.

I’m Barbara Talley, the poet who speaks and inspires.  To find out more about me check out my promo sheet or visit  my website.

Joseph P. Overton: Character for a Free Society | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty

One of Martin Luther King Jr’s most well-known quotes was, “Judge me not by the color of my skin, but by the content of my character.”  While doing some research on Martin Luther King Jr’s March on Washington, I came across an article in the NY Times article discussing the event and asking for support.  There was a list of people on the article supporting the march.  I decided to randomly google one of the names ‘L Joseph Overton’ and came across this wonderful article (which isn’t the same person).  An excerpt is below.

“The world needs more men who do not have a price at which they can be bought; who do not borrow from integrity to pay for expediency; who have their priorities straight and in proper order; whose handshake is an ironclad contract; who are not afraid of taking risks to advance what is right; and who are honest in small matters as they are in large ones.

The world needs more men whose ambitions are big enough to include others; who know how to win with grace and lose with dignity; who do not believe that shrewdness and cunning and ruthlessness are the three keys to success; who still have friends they made twenty years ago; who put principle and consistency above politics or personal advancement; and who are not afraid to go against the grain of popular opinion.

The world needs more men who do not forsake what is right just to get consensus because it makes them look good; who know how important it is to lead by example, not by barking orders; who would not have you do something they would not do themselves; who work to turn even the most adverse circumstances into opportunities to learn and improve; and who love even those who have done some injustice or unfairness to them. The world, in other words, needs more true leaders. More to the point, the world needs more Joe Overtons.”

via Joseph P. Overton: Character for a Free Society | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty.

What do you know about Martin?

Original Poem, (c) All Rights Reserved

What do you know about Martin?

There was so much more to him than his dream

He spent his life waking up the consciousness of both black and white people

And those descendants from both sides who were stuck in-between


What do you know about Martin?

Did you know how courageous he was, how he stood firm and did not run

In the face of dogs, police, and angry mobs, he practiced what he preached

For he believed that love was more powerful than a hateful heart and a smoking gun


What do you know about Martin?

Of course you probably knew he was a master of speech and oration

He had degrees from Morehouse, Boston University, and Crozier Seminary College

And in 1955, he received a PHD, to show how much he valued education


What do you know about Martin?

What has his legacy taught or inspired you to do?

Are you one of the proud or one of those wondering, what is the big deal?

Are you aware of how his mere living has changed life so dramatically for you?


What do you know about Martin?

Were you aware that he was only 26 when elected first president of the MIA

It was the Montgomery Improvement Association that helped organize the busing boycott

That plucked both he and Rosa Parks from obscurity and sent them both on their fateful way


What do you know about Martin?

Did you know that it was his ability to lead and inspire that gained him a prominent role

In December 1956 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Alabama’s bus segregation laws

But it was Martin who helped motivate the people of Montgomery to keep on walking for a full year prior to that in the rain, sleet, and the cold


What did you learn from Martin?

How much or how little does it take to provoke you?

Does it take something that is life threatening to make you respond with violence?

Or will you go off if someone looks at you wrong or steps on your shoe?


It was during this ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’ in 1963

That Martin Luther King gave his famous, I have a dream speech

And it is these prophetic words that even 40 years later we reflect back on

For although many have sacrificed their lives, this dream is still beyond our reach


Black and White, Jews, and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics

All are still fighting each other, still fighting to be equal and free

We’ve figured out the part of holding hands and singing the song

But there is still too much injustice, hatred, and disunity


So when you echo the dream of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr

What do you really know about this man and his contributions?

How many strides that he fought for are we in danger of losing?

How many new battles have we stood up for and won?


Martin Luther King put everything on the line for freedom

Even when bombs where thrown into his home with his young baby and new wife

He said if we won’t stand for something we would die for anything

And that is how this great man lived his entire life


And then one day he talked of seeing the mountaintop

And told his brethren he would have to go alone

And at the age of 39, in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated

And God called his faithful and weary servant home


So what do you know about Martin

Do you know all that he did for you?

He said we all can be leaders, because we all can serve

So what kind of service can we expect now from you?


(c) 2007-2010, Barbara S. Talley. ‘What Do You Know About Martin’ is from the upcoming book, Just The Right Words: Special Occasion Poetry, to be Released in 2010.   Barbara is a keynote speaker, workshop leader, and author of six books.   Do not reproduce without express written permission from the author.  To contact Barbara, phone 301.428-4831 or www.thepoetspeaks.com

4th of My Fave Five Dr. King Quotes: On Service

Service (Grace and Love)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday has become synonymous with a ‘Day of Service.’  We are encouraged to not have a day off, but a day on.  It’s hard to feel hopeless when you have the right perspective and are helping other people.  That brings me to my third favorite quote of Dr. King, Service.

Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

One of the most important services we can offer is to teach, protect, and guide the innocent children and youth.  In the early 90’s, I volunteered with the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday Commission working to work on youth leadership programs.  One year we took the youth to Little Rock, Arkansas to visit Central High School and to teach them, among other things, about the courage of the Little Rock Nine.

What Has History Taught Us?

Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. King, was Chairperson of the Commission at that time and the thing I remember most about her is that she loved children and dedicated a great deal of her time to encouraging them.  Their son, Dexter Scott King, when reflecting on the importance of history and youth wrote:

To most young people history is just that, with no relevance to the present or future.  With our new technologies and new-found freedoms, what can we learn from a civil rights movement that took place before this generation was born?  If you cannot understand and respect the lessons which our ancestors learned through hard struggle, then we are condemned to relive those same struggles over and over again.  If history has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that.”

February will be here before you know it and with it come Black History Month.  Please take advantage of the opportunities and programs organized to help us remember the lessons and leaders of the past who have contributed so much to our current freedoms, successes, and opportunities.  Click to read my 5th favorite Dr. Martin Luther King quote on Unity http://wp.me/ppImQ-eJ

Barbara Talley is a keynote speaker, author, poet, and trainer who can be reached at www.thepoetspeaks.com.  Still looking for a keynote speaker for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, or Administrative Professional Day, phone Barbara at 301-428-4831.