Michelle Obama To Release, “Becoming” on November 13, 2018


In March of 2017, former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama announced a joint book deal to release both their memoirs through Penguin Random House in a deal reportedly valued at $65 million. The former President might have done well to have a joint agreement including Michelle because there may be more interest in her story than the first black man to serve as President of the United States. The title and release date has now been declared for Michelle’s book, “Becoming,” to be released worldwide, published simultaneously in 24 languages, on November 13, 2018.


Her memoir will share her experiences from growing up on Chicago’s South Side, being a mother of two, and serving as America’s first black First Lady. Michelle said, “Writing ‘Becoming’ has been a deeply personal experience. It has allowed me, for the very first time, the space to honestly reflect on the unexpected trajectory of my life. In this book, I talk about my roots and how a little girl from the South Side of Chicago found her voice and developed the strength to use it to empower others. I hope my journey inspires readers to find the courage to become whoever they aspire to be. I can’t wait to share my story.”


Michelle once famously said at the Democratic National Convention, “When they go low, we go high.” During campaigns with her husband and her two terms as First Lady. Michelle faced vicious and racist attacks but instead of succumbing, she blossomed. She was also the first First Lady since Lady Bird Johnson, not to be chosen as the Gallup Poll, “Most Admired Woman.” Her millions of fans across the world were at least slightly offset by those who despised her presence and color in the White House.


That Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama has an amazing story to tell is a given. She likely will continue to “go high,” but here’s wishing she goes low once or twice in describing those who deserve it.


When Teachers With Guns Meets Stand Your Ground Laws

The National Rifle Association (NRA) and President Donald Trump have come out united in their response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting which left 17 dead and several injured. Earning the $30 million the NRA gave him during the Presidential campaign. Trump cited the very same language that NRA Vice-President Wayne LaPierre spoke the day before, wanting to “harden schools,” and arm teachers with concealed weapons. Trump suggested as many as “40%” of teachers might be armed, possibly getting bonuses to carry while most teachers are using their own money to buy classroom supplies.

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In addition to all the immediate responses as to why the NRA/Trump plan is insane; teachers could be mistakenly killed by first responders who mistake an armed teacher for a shooter, teachers accidentally students in friendly fire, more accidental shootings, and teachers who handle workplace disputes with a readily available lethal remedy. There’s another reason people of color should be concerned about more guns in schools. It’s the existence in Florida and over half of America’s States, of Stand Your Ground Laws. Most of which were written and pushed by the NRA and enacted by Governor’s and state legislators, beholden to NRA campaign contributions. In those states, including Florida where the most recent school shooting took place, the teacher would be able to legally shoot someone who they believe threatens them, whether true or not.

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It is already well-documented that children of color are viewed differently in our schools. They are suspended and expelled disproportionately, they are charged with criminal offenses disproportionately. With teachers carrying weapons and the only criteria is that the teacher is afraid to discharge their gun, children of color will be shot and killed disproportionately as well.

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The NRA sponsored law is insidious in that the person claiming they are standing their ground is assumed to be telling the truth. The other person with a version of the incident is often dead, unable to tell their tale. Florida Governor Rick Scott (who refused to appear at the Town Hall following the Stoneman Douglas shooting) and the Republican legislature passed an amended Stand Your Ground bill further encouraging people to shoot first, but the bill was later found to be unconstitutional.

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I wanted to write that we must not be governed by gun laws, written by the NRA and implemented by their paid cronies, but that ship has already sailed. What we must do, is make a stand to protect teachers, students, and particularly students of color, and reject the foolish idea of arming teachers in schools. The only way that ends is with more shootings, more deaths, and more disparity.

An Open Letter To #NeverAgain. Make A Difference!


To the students, parents, administrators, and supporters of the #NeverAgain movement. I invite you to consider a few things as you decide how to move forward. The marches you’ve participated in, Listening Session with the President, protests at the Florida Capitol and the White House and the CNN Town Hall have all been very powerful. Yet already, people are looking to dictate to you your message, usurp it, or destroy the messengers to maintain the status quo. With that in mind, I offer a few suggestions that I hope will make your movement different than those who have come before you and quickly faded.


  1. Define yourselves: The media on all sides will attempt to define you for their own purposes and it’s important that you don’t become their labels. The sooner you can define yourselves in writing, stating your goals and establishing a structure. You will be better able to keep the focus on what you truly want to accomplish rather than having to pay attention to all the distractions caused by people saying who you are. The first claims that many of you were “actors” or “paid sympathizers” were laughable and immediately brushed away. Your detractors will be back and keep attempting to define you as something they can dismiss. Define yourselves and stay on message. A million-people speaking with a million voices is just noise. A million-people speaking with one voice is the beginning of a movement to be reckoned with.
  2. Learn your issues: The legislators and the gun lobby have been debating gun issues for years and have well-honed answers to the questions they are accustomed to being asked. They depend on you not recognizing when they change the subject when they deflect and fail to provide a straight answer. One of the questions to the NRA Spokesperson at the Town Hall related to the ability of an 18-year-old to possess an AR-15 or any type of assault weapon. The answer provided had to do with the right of someone old enough to vote or go to war to own a rifle. The need for an 18-year-old or anyone to own an assault rifle was never responded to. You must take control of the conversation and stay on point but you have to know all the issues to do so. What is unique about your movement is that politicians and industry groups find it hard to look you in the eye and explain why their profits are more important than your lives.
  3. Register voters: The only thing most of the politicians will respond to is whether or not you impact their ability to stay in office. They know the NRA can withhold funding or back another candidate and, in many cases, ensure their defeat. Until you possess that same type of power, you are not a threat, merely a nuisance. Start registering voters right now. Make it your first priority as some among you are already eligible to vote for the first time and others become eligible daily. Look at the restrictions in your state making it harder not only for minorities to vote but students and youth as well. The larger voting bloc you represent, the more power you’ll wield and the more you’ll be able to accomplish.
  4. Smiling faces: Everyone that reaches out their hand will not be your friend. Some will want to control you, some weaken you, others destroy you. You will be offered support, money, and advice. While you may well need all of the above, what will be the cost? Pick your friends wisely, they are there for a reason, possibly a mutually advantageously one, but a reason all the same.
  5. Keep your eye on the prize: Once you’ve defined your goals, never forget what they are. There will be opportunities to get caught up in organizational and power struggles, the lure of new goals, and the pull in different directions. Remember your goals and the reasons you chose them. Stay true to your mission and continually remind your members of what that message is.
  6. Plan for the next time: While #NeverAgain is a wonderful goal, until laws and behavior change, there will be an again, and again, and again. It will not mean you have failed, but that your job is not yet done. Be prepared to assist new communities. Show them how you made it through and how they can too. Point out the laws that need changing. Make yourselves heard. Require politicians to face you in public settings, and continue to register new voters, ultimately voting out those who choose to support the NRA and their own needs over the lives of youth.


You will constantly be offered “thoughts and prayers,” which have never proved enough in the past and mean nothing now. Demand action, register voters, then take action. Until #NeverAgain is more than just a hashtag but a reality.

An Open Letter To The #NeverAgain Movement. Make A Difference!

To the students, parents, administrators, and supporters of the #NeverAgain movement. I invite you to consider a few things as you decide how to move forward. The marches you’ve participated in, Listening Session with the President, protests at the Florida Capitol and the White House and the CNN Town Hall have all been very powerful. Yet already, people are looking to dictate to you your message, usurp it, or destroy the messengers to maintain the status quo. With that in mind, I offer a few suggestions that I hope will make your movement different than those who have come before you and quickly faded.

a a a a a a a a #neverd

  1. Define yourselves: The media on all sides will attempt to define you for their own purposes and it’s important that you don’t become their labels. The sooner you can define yourselves in writing, stating your goals and establishing a structure. You will be better able to keep the focus on what you truly want to accomplish rather than having to pay attention to all the distractions caused by people saying who you are. The first claims that many of you were “actors” or “paid sympathizers” were laughable and immediately brushed away. Your detractors will be back and keep attempting to define you as something they can dismiss. Define yourselves and stay on message. A million-people speaking with a million voices is just noise. A million-people speaking with one voice is the beginning of a movement to be reckoned with.
  2. Learn your issues: The legislators and the gun lobby have been debating gun issues for years and have well-honed answers to the questions they are accustomed to being asked. They depend on you not recognizing when they change the subject when they deflect and fail to provide a straight answer. One of the questions to the NRA Spokesperson at the Town Hall related to the ability of an 18-year-old to possess an AR-15 or any type of assault weapon. The answer provided had to do with the right of someone old enough to vote or go to war to own a rifle. The need for an 18-year-old or anyone to own an assault rifle was never responded to. You must take control of the conversation and stay on point but you have to know all the issues to do so. What is unique about your movement is that politicians and industry groups find it hard to look you in the eye and explain why their profits are more important than your lives.
  3. Register voters: The only thing most of the politicians will respond to is whether or not you impact their ability to stay in office. They know the NRA can withhold funding or back another candidate and, in many cases, ensure their defeat. Until you possess that same type of power, you are not a threat, merely a nuisance. Start registering voters right now. Make it your first priority as some among you are already eligible to vote for the first time and others become eligible daily. Look at the restrictions in your state making it harder not only for minorities to vote but students and youth as well. The larger voting bloc you represent, the more power you’ll wield and the more you’ll be able to accomplish.
  4. Smiling faces: Everyone that reaches out their hand will not be your friend. Some will want to control you, some weaken you, others destroy you. You will be offered support, money, and advice. While you may well need all of the above, what will be the cost? Pick your friends wisely, they are there for a reason, possibly a mutually advantageously one, but a reason all the same.
  5. Keep your eye on the prize: Once you’ve defined your goals, never forget what they are. There will be opportunities to get caught up in organizational and power struggles, the lure of new goals, and the pull in different directions. Remember your goals and the reasons you chose them. Stay true to your mission and continually remind your members of what that message is.
  6. Plan for the next time: While #NeverAgain is a wonderful goal, until laws and behavior change, there will be an again, and again, and again. It will not mean you have failed, but that your job is not yet done. Be prepared to assist new communities. Show them how you made it through and how they can too. Point out the laws that need changing. Make yourselves heard. Require politicians to face you in public settings, and continue to register new voters, ultimately voting out those who choose to support the NRA and their own needs over the lives of youth.

a a a a a a a a #neverr

You will constantly be offered “thoughts and prayers,” which have never proved enough in the past and mean nothing now. Demand action, register voters, then take action. Until #NeverAgain is more than just a hashtag but a reality.

Why HBCUs Are Like Wakanda, And Why We Need To Fight For Them!


Even more important than the fictional Wakanda sitting on a mountain of Vibranium, and having technology surpassing the rest of the world. It was a safe haven, where colonialism had taken no toll. Blackness was considered a gift and not a curse. Education was valued and excellence the norm. I submit that in America, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have served that purpose when the fictional Wakanda would not do.

I came to Fisk University from Minneapolis, MN where the high school I attended and the neighborhood I lived in were about 15% black. I crossed back and forth, in and out of worlds between my black church, white school, black family, white and black friends, being taught European history with the exception of one week when Toussaint L’Ouverture was taught every year along with singing the first two verses of the Negro National Anthem.

When I went off to Fisk and my mother and I landed in Nashville, we ate at a restaurant where the white waitress greeted us with what seemed the most exaggerated Southern accent I’ve ever heard, “Can I help, y’all?” That waitress was the last white person I saw for a month save for two white students at Fisk (hey Shawn and Snow) and several professors.


While Fisk was in the heart of the black community. It was still only a few miles from downtown in one direction and the younger Vanderbilt University in another. A mile down a different road was Tennessee State University which even then was fighting to save its identity and being forced to merge with a predominantly white institution, another State school.

At Fisk, my experience was being duplicated at more than a hundred other institutions in the nation. I was able to discover my identity rather than constantly adapting to multiple environments. Black history was expanded to include the Harlem Renaissance and Reconstruction and more than one black hero was allowed. We learned not only the politics of Martin but of Malcolm as well, and about the Freedom Riders including Fiskites Diane Nash and John Lewis. I needed only walk a block to buy a bean pie from a Muslim restaurant.


Because I played basketball, I was able to visit dozens of other HBCU campuses; Morehouse, Clark, Morris Brown, Alabama State, Miles, FAMU, Knoxville College, Lane, Stillman, Talladega, and Savannah State among others. They were all magnificent in their own ways and even with rivals, there was a commonality we understood and acknowledged. Some of those schools are no longer with us and others barely surviving.

When I came to Fisk at age 17, still in search of who I was. Many around me had no such uncertainty. They came knowing they wanted to be doctors, dentists, lawyers, teachers, musical artists, and scientists. They and I were given the support and encouragement to achieve our dreams and the respite from having to deal with racial identity on a daily basis. A disproportionate number of our leaders come from HBCUs which is not by accident but by design


The other benefit of attending an HBCU is that when you leave, there is a community of elders throughout the country, still extending a helping hand because you have had that same tribal experience. In the movie, one Wakandan could recognize another by exposing the underside of their lip. Fellow HBCU members recognize each other through their common experiences and histories. A loyalty exists that if you never attended an HBCU, you just wouldn’t understand. I was saying, “Fisk Forever,” long before I heard, “Wakanda Forever,” in the Black Panther movie. Because of my HBCU experience, I could identify with its meaning.


With Wakanda and its valuable resources now exposed to the world, it will come under attack from other nations and other forces in its fictional universe. HBCUs are under a real attack from a President and administration that wishes them ill, developers who want their land, and people who fail to understand the importance and relevance of HBCUs. We must fight for their continued existence in the same manner as Wakandans would fight for their nation. We need HBCUs now, more than ever before. Whatever your weapon be whether giving financially, volunteering, votes, or making your voice heard when the time comes. Fight for your HBCUs as if your children’s future depends on it. Their future just might.

Black Panther Movie Review: The Biggest, Bestest, Baddest, and Blackest Movie Ever!


My son saw the Black Panther movie at a special showing his organization put on, the night before the nationwide opening on February 16th which is when I went. I babysat his two children while he and his wife attended, garbed in African attire as was everyone else at the sold out showing. When he returned, he refused to tell me anything about the film, knowing I’d be seeing it the next morning. He described the spectacle and experience of the event. The only word he used to describe the movie itself was, “awesome!”


Now my son knows his superheroes and the entire Marvel Universe. He grew up reading the comics, watching the cartoons, discussing them with his father who had read the comics in his youth. He doesn’t throw out the phrase “awesome” lightly. He could and has dissected a movie, describing how it strayed from the original characterizations and where the filmmaker sold out for a joke or took a short cut to achieve an end. We’ve disagreed on movies before but not this time, other than “awesome” vastly understates the magnificence of this film and its potential for transforming the way people look at films forever. The film was all that I hoped for, more in fact. It was more than I ever imagined it could be. This was the best movie I’ve ever seen and had the later shows not already been sold out, I’d have watched it again on the spot.


Let me start by saying what the movie is not. It isn’t a film whose primary purpose is to advance the overall agenda of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) which has been building towards the Avengers: Infinity War for the last ten years. The movie is completely stand alone and while it references the death of Wakanda’s King T’Chaka which took place in Captain America: Civil War. It was only referred to in the context of this film and wasn’t promoting an outside agenda.


It was not apologetic for Africa, for blackness, and in no way suggested that Wakanda was inferior to any nation in the world. It highlighted the greatness of Wakanda, and while the moral struggles were a huge theme in the film. There were heroes throughout the film, black heroes not imbued with super powers who did the right thing when required, willing to sacrifice themselves for a greater cause. And it gave as much credit to #BlackGirlMagic as anything I’ve ever seen. None of the women had super powers yet they risked all for what they believed in. Your daughters will leave the theatre wanting to be like them!


The film was as African a thing as can be found outside of Africa itself. While a few scenes were set in London, South Korea, and Oakland, CA. Even those scenes were about Africa. Of the two major white characters, one disappeared in the middle of the film and the other was introduced as a “colonizer.” The settings were amazing, I’ve never seen a superhero film that I thought of in terms of Academy Awards other than those related to technology, and yet I can see this nominated for Best Picture, Best Soundtrack, Best and Supporting Actors, and more. There were a couple times I found tears rolling down my face because the majesty of a continent and its people were being portrayed as never before.


I had some fears before seeing the film that we were being set up for watching the brilliance of Wakanda and all it represents to those who have never heard Africa spoken of in other than negative terms; demolished in the next Marvel movie in less than three months. The Avengers: Infinity War film comes out May 4th and may well destroy the very nation which took my entire lifetime to come to fruition. Maybe it’s just too much for the existing power structure to allow for the greatest country in the world to be a small nation in Africa instead of the United States? For the next 76 days, Wakanda represents the best of what Earth has to offer. Let’s hope it survives. Now it’s time to have a conversation with my son that’s been a lifetime in coming.

https://medium.com/the-aambc-journal/black-panther-are-we-being-set-up-for-the-destruction-of-wakanda-spoilers-2a3deea8e188

Black Panther: Are We Being Set Up For The Destruction Of Wakanda? (Spoilers)


As the opening of the Black Panther movie arrives amidst special showings with red carpets, elaborate African attire, and massive ticket sales. I issue a warning; what Disney and Marvel Studios giveth, they can take away.


As essential as the allure of the character the Black Panther is, the Kingdom of Wakanda, the fictional African city from which he hails, is just as meaningful to many of those attending. Wakanda is a hidden African city, never conquered by Europeans, with the world’s only source of Vibranium and more technologically advanced that the rest of the world. It is alleged the source of the Vibranium is a meteor strike and that the meteor contained the Soul Gem, one of the Infinity Stones integral to the plot of Avengers: Infinity War coming out in May 4, 2018.


While we are basking in the glory of Wakanda in the Black Panther film, imagining what could have been had it not been for the raping of the continent by those desiring its resources. The future of Wakanda may be bleak when Avengers: Infinity War villain Thanos, come to collect the Soul Gem, despite all the heroes assembled to stop him.


One constant in the Avengers movies to date is that the cities in which they’v done battle do not fare well. New York City was greatly damaged, and Sokovia was destroyed when dropped from the sky. In the most recent Thor movie, Asgard, home of the Norse gods was obliterated at a whim of the director or a writer’s plot twist. We must remember that the fate of Wakanda is being determined by Disney and Marvel Studios and not by the people lining up to celebrate Wakanda and its majesty. It will be profits and not pride that determine the fate of Wakanda.


Surely, the character will survive and go on to star in Infinity Wars part II, and the Black Panther sequels. But what of Wakanda? Will it suffer the fate of Asgard and Sokovia? Will it’s legacy have lasted from February 16th to May 4th, to see Thanos destroy what took generations to produce. In Avengers: Infinity War, the fate of the universe is at stake. There will be casualties. Pray Wakanda won’t be among them.