The folllowing urban parable shares a conversation that I had with my Grandpops circa 1993, and is sponsored by a few cool Black men bloggers. The names of these noble men are located on the scroll down.
I just walked out of my graduation ceremony feeling kind of like a big deal. I just completed barber school - which was an important pre-requisite for any aspiring barber in Queens at the time. Initially, I wanted to be the Best Black barber on Linden Blvd. The competition in the area was stiff so you always had to be on your 'A' game - after all, bad news spreads fast in the hood. We worked hard to petition the city to release a small storefront that once operated as a drug house, and we were successful in our ambition. A few days before our grand opening, I decided to have a talk with Grandpops about my new venture. In sharing my ambition, I would be given a piece of advice that would shape the way that I look at life:
"Yo Pops, I'm gonna be the best Black barber in Queens. I'm ready to open up shop in just a few days."
"Hey now! Well alright. But why must you be the best Black barber in Queens?"
"Well Pops, I gotta cater to my peoples. I want to be the best. You always told me to strive for the best"
"Well son guess what? If you want to be the best, you can't simply be the Best Black barber in Queens, can you?"
Pops always had a way of delivering a message by simply asking a question. Shrewd huh? And if you have never said "Hey NOW!" to one of your elders, I suggest that you do so immediately. You might be surprised at what comes back at ya.
Well, this urban parable is a by product of my message today. And here it is...
These are a few of my FAVORITE blogs - that just happen to be written by Black men.
1. Naked With Socks On by Anslem Samuel. One of my favorite relationship blogs, by one of my favorite bloggers, Anslem shares his views on relationships and love without mercy, often with a twist of wit and humor. I relate to Anslem as the "cool Nerd growing up in NYC" and several of his stories take me right back to the block. But Anslem is also a steward of the written word and is one a mission to be more than just a "typical" blogger. Check him out.
2. Very Smart Brothas by Panama Jackson and The Champ. Panama and The Champ are my favorite "generalist" bloggers - I think these guys could hold their own "60 minutes" program for young, Black hipsters. They are indeed Very Smart. I found their blog several years ago - after a few hours of digging into their content, it became very apparent to me that these guys are uniquely talented. Without question, these guys are engaging... and always full of fresh perspectives.
3. Daily Mathematics by Combat Jack. Combat Jack is a man that takes advantage of every second that life has blessed him with - a "heavyweights" in every sense. An attorney and gifted storyteller, Combat is a walking memory stick; in sharing experiences fom his days reppin' Def Jam he brings life to an era that was truly one of the most important to the hip hop culture. If you enjoy the sounds of Biggie, Faith Evans, Nas and others, you can only appreciate the role Combat played in establishing their careers. He has also penned a book and currently has his own radio show in NYC for "interNETS only". As a young blogger trying to find my way in this viral world, Combat inspires me.
4. Single Black Male (written by a group of cool Black writers). Get to know each of these bloggers. These brothas persona the spirit of swag and intelligence. As most Black nerds can only assimilate aspects of the urban lifestyle, SBM delivers a collection of anecdotes and messages that keeps the Black male thinker on point.
5. Monroe Anderson, by Monroe Anderson. I aspire to live a life like Monroe. The award winning journalist and Chicago native is a member of the infamous Trotter Group, he has also an author. Monroe has worked with major news stations as well as on the radio. His personality is one that reminds me that we all share a gift - and it is a blessing to us all that Monroe puts forth his energy to deliver this to us all effortlessly. One of my favorite articles written by Monroe shared the visions of Dr. Martin Luther King and parallelled those with President Obama's potential legacy. This article was one that influenced me to write. Today, Monroe continues to inspires me to write with purpose.
6. Gary Hardwick. Funny story with this one... I love scouring the 'net for editorials and ran across an extremely hard hitting article by Gary (here it is). I was not too familiar with Gary, but thought he would be a great contributor to another blog of mine's, so without hesitation I sent him a messge with an offer. All sounds good huh? Not quite... I didn't do my homework. Not only is Gary an award winning writer, he is also a Novelist, Screenwriter, Director, Attorney, Father, Husband, friend and cynic. Silly me, I apologized (in writing) to Gary for "half steppin" and not doing my homework - and he kindly responded by sending me an autographed copy of his latest book, which I am really enjoying right now.
6. AnythingUrban, by The ManChild Swagga. I love me some me... altho I know that I don't quite measure up to these guys. But then again, I do love me some me.
Who are some of your favorites?
Bonus: One of my favorite Poets is Amini Baraka. I personally consider Baraka to be the Van Gogh of poetry and one of the forefathers of what we call rap - the rap that spawned groups like Public Enemy, KRS-One, Immortal Tech, Pac and Dead Prez - not that "other" rap; I admire his ability to speak out against oppression in a time when the cards were clearly stacked against him... he did this with a strong message that was not only intellectual, but also poetic.
Ka'Ba by Amiri Baraka
"A closed window looks down
on a dirty courtyard, and Black people
call across or scream across or walk across
defying physics in the stream of their will.
Our world is full of sound
Our world is more lovely than anyone's
tho we suffer, and kill each other
and sometimes fail to walk the air.
We are beautiful people
With African imaginations
full of masks and dances and swelling chants
with African eyes, and noses, and arms
tho we sprawl in gray chains in a place
full of winters, when what we want is sun.
We have been captured,
and we labor to make our getaway, into
the ancient image; into a new
Correspondence with ourselves
and our Black family. We need magic
now we need the spells, to raise up
return, destroy,and create. What will be
the sacred word?