How “The Lion King” Relates to Black People

mytruesense:

An older post that is still relevant….If you like it, please share it.

Originally posted on MY TRUE SENSE:

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{Note: I released my third book entitled, “Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens,” on April 6, 2014. Check it out, and help me spread the word!}

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I know….I know…. you’re thinking “First this guy writes about the Wizard of Oz, then The Godfather, and now the Lion King? Brother Agyei Tyehimba is overly-fascinated with fiction movies. He’s crazy!” In truth, wise people (which we are or hope to be) can glean truth and insight from ANYthing which contains it. And this includes: music, art, speeches, cartoons, movies, etc.

Disney released the original Lion King movie in 1994. At the time, my oldest daughter Nubia was two years-old. We saw the movie in the theater and later purchased the movie on video.  I don’t exaggerate when I say that Nubia watched that movie almost every day. I did as well. And this had much to…

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Beware of Relationship Killers!

protect love

Based on the overwhelming popularity of “Chick Flicks,” romantic comedy movies, and romantic novels alone, we can agree that despite obstacles and mutual distrust, romantic relationships are still very important in our society.

While we have tons of television shows, websites, and magazines showing us how to find, nurture, and communicate love, less attention goes toward showing us how to protect our romantic relationships. It’s worth mentioning that anything we value we mustpreserve-love also be willing to defend. And because our romantic relationships (especially marriage or long-term coupling) are precious we absolutely must guard them against people who seek to sabotage them.

Yes, I used to term “sabotage!” Observe any barbershop, hair salon, church, or street discussion about relationships and this topic will inevitably emerge. Who would want to create distrust, tension or disaster in your relationships you ask? Strangers don’t know you or your significant other, so eliminate them as your primary suspects (although this is possible.)  Sadly enough, the main people who might want to ruin your blissful love are those you know well and even trust. The key culprits are family members, close friends, and co-workers.

Now you’re asking, “But why would my relatives, friends or co-workers want to destroy my relationship? Aren’t they happy that I”m in love?” Relationship killers are usually people who are bitter due to their own past (or present) experience of being in disappointing, dishonest, abusive or dead-end relationships. Perhaps the person they really loved and sacrificed for, slept with someone else…maybe even a friend or relative of theirs. The potential for relationship bitterness grows when the person in question has a long pattern of sad or hurtful dating experiences. You know the type. They can’t name one relationship that was loving and rewarding…every man or woman they ever dated stole from them, hit them, made them feel ugly and worthless, or cheated.

I’ve been involved in toxic relationships, but only a grand total of two. One woman cheated on me, and unfairly attempted to disrupt my financial health for years afterwards. The other was verbally and psychologically abusive, manipulative, and very selfish and controlling. However she expected me to be loving, nurturing and toxicpeopleemotionally accessible whenever she  demanded it, and wanted to have control of my finances as well! But I’d be lying if I said ALL of my relationships were toxic. In fact, some were healthy and satisfying. We simply grew apart or came to see we had different expectations or priorities.

So any person that has one toxic relationship after another is probably bad news. People like this blame all their relationship woes on their partners and fail to hold themselves accountable for any of the dysfunction. Such individuals will never experience happiness in the romantic realm until they first deal with and overcome their own demons and self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. Only then will they be able to freely love and be loved in return.

Not all relationship-killers operate from the standpoint of bitterness or past hurts however. The second category of people want to destroy or “throw salt” on your relationship simply because they are jealous of you, and/or the love you share with your partner.  It literally upsets them to know you are so in love, meanwhile they don’t have a mate at all or one as loving (or attractive, sexy, intelligent or successful) as yours. They find themselves privately asking, “What’s wrong with me? Why don’t’ I have someone who loves me, speaks to me and treats ME like that?” “Why does he/she have the type of relationship or mate I want?” “He or she is not better than ME!”

haters

Whether motivated by bitterness, insecurity or jealousy, these are some of the signs that your friend, relative, or co-worker might qualify as a relationship-killer:

  • They act inhospitable or unnecessarily hostile with your mate: They may fail to acknowledge his or her presence, speak to your mate sarcastically or not at all, or they may directly insult them in any number of ways.
  • They accuse your love interest of being dishonest or unfaithful without evidence to suggest the charge. Sometimes this will come indirectly in the guise of “I know you think the world of this guy/girl, but none of these men or women are faithful, you know.”
  • They confront you with a barrage of negative questions designed to make you distrust or doubt the integrity or intentions of your partner: “When is he finally going to propose to you? What’s taking him so long?” “Yeah that was a nice gift she gave or poem she wrote, but don’t you think he/she does that with everybody?” “I know you say you love him, but are you REALLY happy with him?” “If he/she REALLY loved you, they would have bought you this, took you there, or gave you this much money.” “She’s always busy. Are you sure she’s really going or doing what they told you?”
  • They will try to make you feel guilty for spending quality time with your mate and not enough time with them…even though they do the same thing when they’re in a relationship! Let’s keep it real…
  • They will compare him or her negatively to your former love and even suggest your ex was better for you and that you should go back to them.
  • Without having the inside information to make such an assessment, they may suggest that your love is more sincere, demonstrative and reliable than your mate’s and that you “deserve better.”
  • They will plead for you to hang out with them more, which in normal circumstances, would be completely understandable. But a relationship-killer has ulterior motives. They either want to take up all of your leisure time in an effort to cause problems with your partner, infect you with distrust in him/her, or they will make repeated efforts to “hook you up” with other people at the club or bar/lounge.

Any trustworthy friend, co-worker or relative that cares about you should be protective of your feelings and happiness. There are times when any one of these people might make accurate and sincere observations about your relationship, but this should be based on accurate information. When they become too pushy in their efforts or overly negative without good cause, you should beware of ulterior motives.

Thankfully, there are ways you can deal with a relationship-killer who has malicious and unreasonable suspicions or intentions concerning your relationship:

  1. Develop an open and honest line of communication with your mate.
  2. Trust your own understanding of your mate, how he/she makes you feel, and your own relationship instincts.
  3. Be discrete about what information you share with people.
  4. Be balanced. Create quality time for your love interest and your friends and other important people in your life.
  5. Truly strive to know your partner and resist the temptation to see him or her as perfect. You cannot do this until you have observed them when they are angry, sad, happy, tired, disappointed, and grumpy. When you truly know and understand the person you’re dealing with, no outside opinions can misguide you in the first place.
  6. Always remind yourself of the person giving you all of this “advice.” Are they involved in a loving and honest relationship, have they ever been in one, and if not, are they qualified to advise you about yours?
  7.  Identify the people in your circle that truly love and care about you when things are great and when things are shaky. Remember the people who tend to practice what they preach and tend to be level-headed in their own lives. Identify those who are honest with you and offer reasonable advice. These are usually the people whose observations are the most sincere and relevant to you.
  8. Remind yourself that you are entitled to have a healthy romantic relationship if you so choose, and that if your relationship ends, it will be the choice and input of yourself and your partner, not outside forces.

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Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” 

Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com

What Will It Take, Black People?

atrocities

Everyday on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, blogs, and news programs we see them: blatant atrocities perpetrated against Black people. Whether we’re talking murder or assault of our people at the hands of white “vigilantes,” or police officers, drugs, diseases, unfair criminal justice proceedings, rampant poverty, etc., we have no scarcity of oppressive acts committed against us at the hands of the U.S. government, its agencies, or its “patriots.”

Earnest activists and social commentators (including myself) repeatedly expose and discuss such atrocities using every means possible. We do this to raise consciousness and spark righteous indignation among our people in hopes that we will organize and challenge our oppression strategically, consistently, collectively, and effectively.

Our betrayal, death, poverty, dysfunction and political impotence brings wicked smiles of satisfaction to the thin lips of white supremacists, helps to keep white people in power, increases media consumption and keeps the corporate checks coming. These things we (should) know by now. But what impact do such attacks on our minds, bodies and souls have on Black people in this country?

And why are we so shocked when we hear of such acts? Why do we act as if bloodied Black corpses, biological warfare, racist legislation, and corporate plunder/exploitation are somehow new or novel occurrences?

Has anyone reviewed the last 200 years of United States history as it relates to Black people? When will we recognize that “Life ain’t been no crystal stair” for our people? Or more pointedly, what will it take Black people, for us to in the words of brother Malcolm X, “Wake up, Clean up, and Stand up?” We don’t need another article, book, documentary or news program to convince us of the adversarial relationship we have with the United States government. Police brutality, which is simply the modern-day form of lynching is not new, nor are any of the contemporary tragedies we encounter. The only thing new is perhaps, the manner in which we relay the news or our seeming inability to confront such issues!

The great Frederick Douglass reminded us that “the limits of tyrants are prescribed by those whom they oppress.” In other words, “The more torture and brutality you accept, the more you’ll receive.” And make no mistake, we’ve been on the receiving end for centuries. News flash people: Chattel slavery, the assassination of our leaders, the Tuskegee Experiment, chain gangs, sharecropping, erasure of Black history and ingenuity, mass incarceration, gentrification, job discrimination, character smearing, surveillance and destruction of our organizations, police brutality, genocide, anti-African imperialism, gender and capitalist exploitation, propaganda…targeted to Black people…all of these things are OLD NEWS!!

We cannot depend on compromised establishment “negro leaders” or media puppets to do the work we so desperately need. That is work for the conscious, committed, and competent among us. Stop getting (temporarily) upset and disturbed by news of Ebola, police brutality, discrimination, gentrification or any other setbacks. Be PERMANENTLY UPSET AND RIGHTEOUSLY INDIGNANT! See such things not as occasional incidents, but as parts of an ongoing pattern of brutality and inhumanity as old as the United States itself! Organize, agitate, resist, unify, and fight for your right to exist peacefully and powerfully. Do this using whatever skill-set or talent you have (scholarship, music, acting, poetry, leadership, institution-building, organizing, writing, etc.). But do SOMETHING.

As Frederick Douglass noted in 1857, we will continue to receive all the punishment, torture, deprivation and misery we are willing to accommodate. Let’s do less reporting of news and more making of news, by becoming active agents of our liberation and empowerment. Here’s my manifesto for starters. Use mine, someone else’s or develop your own and IMPLEMENT IT! If you pray, let it be a revolutionary prayer. If you invoke your ancestors’ spirits, ask them to guide you in fighting back and organizing. If you don’t know, learn. If you do know, teach and implement. And if we insist on posting every atrocity under the sun, do it with commentary that puts such incidents into a sociopolitical perspective that calls for action! And let me not forget, woe to those of you who defend our torture and agony for personal recognition or blood money.

WHAT WILL IT TAKE, BLACK PEOPLE?

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Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” 

Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.

8 Jewels of Wisdom

jewels
Famous people and common folk alike often compare life to a roller-coaster ride: It has ups and downs and frequently occurs at neck-breaking speed, leaving us feeling reckless and out of control.
Regardless of our intelligence, age, or past accomplishments, life will sometimes have us feeling lost and despaired. However wisdom (accurate knowledge plus the ability to apply it successfully) can help us maintain balance – or at least recover quickly – through the most turbulent times.
What follows are a few powerful words of wisdom that can serve us well, particularly if we apply them to our lives:
1. “Mind your business”: We often use this expression in frustration, and at these moments; we are basically advising people to stay out of our affairs. But the saying goes deeper than that. Rather than being an insult or warning, it simply reminds us to pay close attention to our own affairs so that we can be successful.
2. “It is better to light a candle than it is to curse the darkness.” This Chinese proverb encourages us to focus on solving our problems rather than complaining or getting stuck in frustration mode.
3. “Charity begins at home.” A reminder that we take care of the issues and people closest to us, as we seek to make an impact on the larger community or world in which we live.
4. “A jack of all trades is a master of none.” Most of us are complex people with several interests and skills. We are curious about various things. This is fine. However, scattered energy is not as powerful as focused energy. Even in our world of multitasking, we gain more proficiency, productivity and success when we concentrate on developing mastery of one thing rather than squandering our time and effort in several different directions.
5. “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” More than just a clever play on words, this speaks to the power of making choices and defending or honoring them. Neutrality has its place, but the practice of forming informed opinions involves research and reflection…practices that also guard us against being duped or misled.
6. “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” We might debate the accuracy of inventor Thomas Edison, but the point is clear. Consistently high-caliber performance and extraordinary outcomes are not simply a matter of  having an occasional epiphany; more often than not, and almost without exception, such things stem from constant work (study, practice). Identity any entertainer, athlete,or person successful or acclaimed at anything, and you will discover that they’ve invested thousands of hours practicing and/or studying in private. Even those we deem highly creative or innovative spend vast amounts of time reflecting on problems and experimenting with various ideas and techniques.
7. “It takes a village to raise a child.” This proverb from ancient Ghana is timeless, which explains its overuse. It reminds us that the proper preparation and development of children or any worthwhile project usually requires a collaborative effort. Interestingly, the inverse is also true: It takes a village to destroy a child as well, which reminds us to build strong, viable communities.
8. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Dr. King’s insightful statement reminds us to think universally/globally, not just on the micro or local level. If oppression is wrong when practiced against one segment of the population, it is equally unjust and inhumane when applied to others as well. In fighting cites/practices of oppression, we must remember to see linkages and intersections beyond the struggles we immediately identify. Not only should we guard against isolating social justice struggles, but King reminds us to guard against becoming oppressive ourselves. Various historical examples demonstrate how revolutionary figures overthrow oppressive regimes only to become oppressive dictators themselves.
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Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” 

Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.

The Secret of Making Miracles

 thegreatescape4
Religions create complicated (and sometimes counterintuitive mythology) to describe it. Societies on the verge of technological advancement believed they could use a combination of science and magic to realize it. In contemporary times, Hollywood’s powerful science fiction brand spins fanciful tales about it to the tune of billions of dollars every year.
Whether we’re discussing the Holy Grail, massive wealth, immortality, or our fascination with superheroic powers/characters, it seems we repeatedly miss the point entirely. Miracles ARE possible! But this point is forever lost on those who cannot decode or make sense of the countless mythology, allegories, and tall-tales that bear the clues.
The 2011 movie “Limitless,” starring Robert De Nero and Bradley Cooper, provides fertile ground for our discussion. It explores the pitfalls and triumphs the protagonist experiences once he takes (and struggles to maintain access to) a pill.
Of course, this is no ordinary narcotic. ” NZT” enables its user to use 100% of his/her brain capacity. For example, Cooper’s character writes a best-selling novel in a couple of days, seduces the women of his choice, becomes a wealthy Wall Street mogul, learns several languages with ease, and even becomes an aspiring presidential candidate.
But even sensational Hollywood movies include negative consequences and cautionary tales in their storylines: withdrawal symptoms include paralyzing headaches, unaccounted for lapses of time, and death.
What most  religious traditions, mythological systems, and science fiction tales lead us to believe is that the road to miracle-making and superhuman feats involve divinity, drugs, exposure to radiation, or biological mutation.
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What we rarely learn is that a masterful and powerful energy force (obviously superior to us, despite what the atheists say) has given us the magic pill and potential to peform superhuman tasks and think at genius level. Our brain, more specifically, a disciplined and fine-tuned mind, supplemented with unwavering faith and preparation is the elixir and secret we’ve searched for throughout the ages.
The experiences of Black people in this country clearly demonstrate this. Pore through the pages of our rich history and you’ll rediscover superheroes, miracle-makers, and master magicians.
Learn about Imhotep, the world’s first physician and master architect whose writings are still used today by doctors some 5000 years later; Note how members of Ancient Ghana established Timbuktu as a world center of learning and commerce; how an enslaved woman who could not read or write successfully led her people out of bondage several times, braving darkness, wilderness and ruthless slave patrols; think about how
A former addict, house burglar and hustler emerged from 6 years of incarceration to eventually become a great libera,tion theorist and organizer known all over the world.
Consider that all of these individuals suffered deprivation and discrimination we cannot imagine. Yet they and others like them, “mutated” into real-life superheroes unrivaled by any comic book story.
Societal gatekeepers set themselves up as the arbitrators of truth, success and style. They use religion, mythology, scholarship and the media to hypnotize us into believing that only “special” “divine” or “exceptional” people are capable of brillance or achievement. We are taught that only certain people are “born” to lead, fight for justice or accomplish great things.
Yet our very history teaches us what few institutions, movies or belief systems dare to: The secret to making miracles involves determination, vision, discipline, faith, and hard work. Everyone is capable of calling upon such power and amassing such accomplishments, even amidst the concrete realities of racial, class and gender oppression.
In short, we are all potentially “LIMITLESS” if we choose to identify, develop and use our own special powers. Of course you are free to sit around and wait for the so-called “natural-born leaders to solve your problems and advocate for you. But then that would literally be more fictitious than anything Hollywood could ever create, now wouldn’t it?
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Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” 

Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com. 

15 Powerful and Educational Movie Clips

Originally posted on MY TRUE SENSE:

Note: In reviewing this post, I realized how male-centered it is. Everyone of the characters speaking is male. I apologize for this, and will do better in future posts. Like most men, I consciously and subconsciously reference and privilege fellow men. I’m working on this.

I look for motivation, references, and lessons in all types of places. Truth exists almost everywhere we look. Movies often contain very powerful and transformative ideas. I present here 15 of my favorite.

1. Yoda Schooling Luke Skywalker  on  belief and the “Force”(Star Wars)

2. Morpheus explaining to Neo who the enemy is (The Matrix)

3. Uncle Ben explains to nephew Peter the relationship between power and responsibility (Spider Man)

4. Charlie Chaplin’s speech  (“The Great Dictator”)

5. The Revolutionary speech (V for Vendetta)

6. Confronting Abuse and Guilt (Good Will Hunting)

7. “The Minister” confronting his killer (Belly)

8. Neo discovers and uses his…

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Mumia Abu Jamal Speaks on “The ISIS Crisis: A U.S. Creation”

Originally posted on United States Hypocrisy:

The following is the latest commentary from America’s most well-known political prisoner worldwide, Mumia Abu Jamal. All credit goes to Mumia as well as to Noelle Hanrahan for regularly recording these radio commentaries, which are available online at PrisonRadio.org.

The Isis Crisis: A U.S. Creation (2:43) by Mumia Abu-Jamal

When the ISIS group cracked the news several weeks ago, it stunned millions of Americans who wondered, “Where did this come from?”

The media, performing their function of servant to the corporate state, just as they did in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003, simply distributed audio from the Pentagon and politicians.

Few went deeper.

One had to search hard to find the truth – that ISIS was armed, paid and equipped by the U.S. And moreover that ISIS, like al-Qaeda, was a tool of U.S. Grand Strategy, a strategy designed decades ago to win the grand prize…

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Measuring the Effectiveness of our Organizations

report-card

Creating or joining a Black organization is one thing. Leading one is another; Leading one effectively is another matter altogether. An important part of the process involves evaluation. By this I refer to an accurate way of determining if we are leading effectively. Without a reliable evaluation method, we have no way of determining where our organizations stand or if they are successful.

This article will attempt to create a very basic form of leadership evaluation using questions in various themes. A more thorough method would involve scoring each section and would establish a range of scores representing poor, average, good and exceptional designations (this method is, as I explained, basic and leaves room for elaboration and expansion). However I do believe this battery of questions can help us evaluate and improve our organizations.

VISION/MISSION: A measurement of how successful we are in communicating our organization purpose and objectives

1. Do we have a clear vision of our purpose and the people we serve?

2. Do we have a clear sense of how we fulfill our purpose?

3. Are both of these clearly worded, written and distributed/taught to our members?

4. Do our members demonstrate an accurate knowledge of the vision and mission?

INTEGRITY: A measurement of the extent to which what our organization does aligns with its stated objectives/values.

1. Do our group meetings, programs/events, decisions, expenditures, and issues we raise/address coincide with, reinforce and advocate our stated vision purpose, and the people we serve?

2. What is our membership’s opinion on the previous question?

3. Are leaders taught to make organizational decisions based on the organization’s vision and mission?

TRAINING: A measurement of how successful we are in building leadership capacity within our organization.

1. Does our group have a formal process for identifying and grooming/mentoring new leadership and building leadership capacity?

2. Does this process work? Do the people we train demonstrate they have the skills, habits and knowledge needed to effectively lead the group?

3. Do we provide hands-on opportunities for such people to grow into effective leaders?

4. Is our training both theoretical and practical?

5. Do we delegate responsibility in ways that develop important leadership skills and experience?

ARCHIVES: Measuring how effective we are in recording, storing, and using our organization’s history.

1. Does our organization have a historian or archivist responsible for recording and storing events and documents?

2. Do we have a way of determining what material is relevant to record and keep?

3. Do we make audiovisual recordings of our programs, speakers and events?

4. Do we use various means of storing important recordings, documents, and photographs (physical file cabinets, online storage)?

5. Does our membership have access to our historical documents?

6. Do we have a system of backing up our files?

7.  Are the files and materials we record stored safely?

8. Do we actually use these files in our meetings or leadership training?

9. How organized and easy to search our the files we keep?

OUTREACH: A measurement of how well our organization communicates with other organizations and people

1. Do people in our community whom we serve, know we exist and what services we provide?

2. Are the fliers, articles, advertisements, social media posts, etc. we create to announce our events distributed at least two weeks prior to the event?

3. Do we set clear goals for attendance at our meetings and events?

4. Do we have a standard for determining what makes an event “well” or poorly attended?

5. Do the same people attend our meetings or events, or do we notice a significant number of new faces?

6. Do we rely only on the officers of our organization to do outreach, or do we involve lay members in this process as well?

7. Do we do outreach in our larger community to develop relationships with like-minded groups and people?

GENERAL BODY MEETINGS

1. Do our meetings occur in the same place, time and location, or do these variables change often?

2. Do our meetings start and end when they are supposed to?

3. Are the meetings we convene fun, informative and inspiring?

4. Do we disseminate or post written agendas for each meeting to our members? Do we follow the agenda, or do our meetings often steer off into other matters?

5. Are members given time to voice their opinions or ideas?

6. Is there always a secretary present to record minutes of our meetings?

7. Are meeting minutes posted online, in our office or in a newsletter for members who missed meetings?

8. Do we use our meetings to resolve issues, raise issues, debate ideas, and solicit assistance?

9. If we decide on doing something as an organization, we we set a specific timetable for when tasks should be completed? Do we determine specific people responsible for completing tasks?

10. Can members critique decisions or actions of the organization without being ostracized?

11. Are criticisms or ideas from members actually considered and/or implemented by the leadership?

12. Do leaders debrief after general body meetings?

CHARACTER/PERSONAL INTEGRITY

1. Do organization leaders do what they say, when they say they will?

2. Do leaders submit paperwork or complete important tasks in a timely manner?

3. When leaders communicate with outside people, do they promptly follow-up with those people via phone or email?

4. Are leaders accessible by members (office hours, phone, email, social media)?

5. Do leaders respond to phone calls or emails within one to two business days?

PROGRAMMING

1. Does our organization do events that inform and inspire members?

2. Does our programming reflect the vision and mission of our organization?

3. Do our events duplicate those of other organizations?

4. Do we use our events to promote our organization, recruit new members and solicit assistance?

5. Do our events draw good attendance?

6. Does our programming meet the needs of our membership?

7. Do we use our resources (financial and otherwise) to protect and advocate for the vulnerable and voiceless members of our larger community?

MORALE: A measurement of how well we inspire pride and positive feelings about our organization from its members.

1. Does our organization do a good job of promoting the benefits of joining our group?

2. Do we use promotional materials to instill a sense of pride and belonging (t-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers)?

3. Does the leadership officially recognize and publicly celebrate the achievements and contributions of individual members?

4. Do we create events that provide opportunities for our members to meet, encourage, and fellowship with each other?

These are just a few categories we need to consider in evaluating our organizations. Hopefully you find this information helpful. Our organizations must strive for excellence and effectiveness because so many people depend on them.

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 Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-SpanNY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.” 

Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at truself143@gmail.com.

Beware! The Dangers of Fundamentalism

There is a dangerous way of thinking that lay dormant for years but is re-emerging within the United States among white people and within the Black community as well. It is called “Fundamentalism,” and I will use this article to critique it and hopefully persuade my brothers and sisters seeking freedom and justice to dissociate with it immediately.

What is Fundamentalism?

According to Wikipedia, fundamentalism describes “strict adherence to orthodox theological doctrines.” But the term has also come to describe the strict or overly-rigid interpretation and adherence to just about any religious, political or social doctrine or belief system.

This last point is important, for the corporate media far too often isolates Muslim Jihadists (like those involved in the Iraqi-based “ISIS” group for example) as fundamentalists.  While the Isis movement is in fact fundamentalist, our obsession with their form of it sometimes causes us to forget that right here in the United States, we have various forms of fundamentalist groups and ideologies. To be specific, we are also surrounded by the teachings and practices of Christian fundamentalism, Conservative (political) fundamentalism, and yes, even Black Nationalist fundamentalism.

Examples of fundamentalism include but are not limited to:

  • Teaching that all things in a religious book are infallible (even on non-religious matters) and happened literally. Also, a refusal to recognize the allegorical or metaphorical nature of religious stories.
  • teaching that one’s lifestyle or beliefs, because it differs from that of the group, automatically condemns such people to death, unhappiness or damnation.
  • Believing that people who disagree with your principles should be physically harmed or killed.
  • Insisting there is only one way to enlightenment or salvation, and that only your organization, place of worship, or ideology teaches or practices it.
  • Refusing to even  discuss alternative perspectives or conclusions.

Fundamentalism – as should be self-evident -is dangerous and divisive. What any person believes is just that – a belief, no more, no less.

Once any belief is deemed immutable law or the only acceptable way of perceiving or behaving, we are delluding ourselves: Beliefs are valid or invalid, but making any of them inflexible facts/laws above critique or analysis only leads to cults. Jim Jones and David Koresh illustrate the folly of such thinking.

Our efforts to avoid fundamentalist thinking  and instead adopt reasonable thinking, doesn’t imply that we simply accept any or every idea at face value; On the contrary, progressive-minded people must  begin to understand that EVERY idea or belief is up for critique in the marketptlace of ideas. Reasonable folk don’t purchase cars, houses or anything else of value hastily or without investigation. This is a practice that serves us well with respect to assimilating ideas as well. People (Black Nationalists included) that adopt fundamentalist thinking or approaches do our struggle for dignity, empowerment and liberation a great disservice by squashing free-thinking and broad-minded thinking.

A Sankofa Call for Real Black Leadership

Originally posted on MY TRUE SENSE:

sankofa

If you read my previous article entitled. “A Sankofa Call to Black Student Unions,” you already know where this article is headed.

There are some who believe different economic and political terrain forges different politics and therefore, leadership. Using this logic, it is impractical to expect race-conscious, mass movement leadership like that of Dr, King, Marcus Garvey, or the Huey and Bobby. “Those were different times, those days are gone,” such people say with a touch of melancholy nostalgia in their voices.

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THe Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and “ Negro World ” newspaper, visionary behind the “Black Star” Shipping Line, and one of our greatest advocates for self-reliance and race solidarity.

Yet this issue like most is a matter of perspective. Certainly Garvey’s rise to prominence first in Harlem then throughout the world, owes much to the large immigration of West Indians to Harlem, 750,000…

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