Real Men Doing Real Work

L.I.F.E. PRINCIPLE # 4: Be a leader who associates with winners not losers.

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As a youngster, I became enthralled with the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  And as I matriculated to and through college, I found myself making frequent visits to the John C. Hodges Library’s audio-visual department to watch, and re-watch, Eye on the Prize documentaries. To me, Dr. King was the ultimate leader – my hero – for he led a movement that laid the groundwork for Black Americans, and other persons of color, to gain equal rights and protections under the law.

Dr. King is the reason I decided to pursue degrees in Social Work. Like him, I wanted to help people help themselves. But as mobilizing forces seek to convince young people that their future is bleak, I’m calling on Real Men like yourselves to do more to help them become the kind of leaders that articulate more hopeful narratives about their futures. In the words of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, we must keep “hope alive” through our righteous words and deeds.

As a Huddle Group, you must show young people what it means to be leaders in their homes, schools, workplaces and communities. They must know that leadership in these arenas is not predicated on one’s racial/ethnic identity, or political party affiliation. It is based on doing the right thing relative to fairness, equity and justice.

What our young people must understand is they live in a country where citizens have inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. From these inalienable rights come values. At times, our self-righteousness as human beings causes us to impose our emerging values on individuals and groups that nurture. learn, work, lead and even pray differently than us. But we’re only right some of the time. For this reason, we, both the young and the old, have no right to tell other people how to live their lives. We can provide a gentle nudge, or two, but we should never get them to do our bidding through coercion. True leaders are quick to acknowledge this fact, opting instead to humbly work with like-minded people in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities to maintain bonds of peace, havens of tranquility.

Your Huddle Group should develop lesson plans that require young people to study the lives of leaders both past and present, from all racial/ethnic groups, both genders. After this study has been completed, they should be asked if they consider themselves to be leaders. The introverts will undoubtedly say no, the extroverts yes. But then you’ll have to reel them back in, asking follow-up questions about how they’re leading. Most will probably give you examples of how they’re leading positively. But when you dig a little deeper, they, and you, will discover they’re nowhere near being the righteous leaders we need them to be. Their lack of growth in this area should be attributed to their peer influences.

Believe it or not, the peer dynamics that we see in their world are driven by common goals, similar objectives. Achievers, young people who are living independently fearless and empowered, want to be successful by establishing educational and vocational foundations that allow them to maintain positive relationships while simultaneously imprinting their legacies on the society at large. The Slackers, on the other hand, have a difficult time envisioning their success, resulting from their preoccupation with the here rather than the there.

For this reason, they risk not graduating from high school and college to secure employment that pays a livable wage.

For this reason, they risk not developing marital relationships that withstand the test of time.

For this reason, they risk bearing children out of wedlock, thus robbing the born children of opportunities to bear witness to marriage done right.

Getting young people to embrace the leader within should be the primary objective of your Huddle Group’s efforts. My TRIO Upward Bound staff and I accomplished this by offering a series of life skills workshops (on Saturdays) that forced our scholars to get in touch with their selfless selves. They were then encouraged to become Servant Leaders by helping each other achieve the program’s B or better standard in all of their classes. While my staff and I went to great lengths to ensure our scholars were successful as individuals, I took more pride in letting our scholars know when the program’s collective GPA was B or better. The latter just meant that the vast majority of our scholars were handling their business in the classroom.

When I attended Body of Christ Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, I had the honor of serving as one of the co-chairs of the church’s Warriors Rites of Passage Program. This program was our Iron Man Ministry’s outreach to boys between the ages of 10 and 14, and our goal was to mold boys into men.

Through bi-weekly Saturday meetings – which lasted about two hours – we men shared our hearts for God and L.I.F.E., taking our young charges under our wings, and helping them develop a leadership mindset. Most of the boys we worked with didn’t know the first thing about being leaders. They were immature and undisciplined. But through our instruction and guidance, they seemingly gave more credence to the incessant tugging of their consciences, which told them to do right by themselves and others when they wanted to do wrong.

Visit any school in America, and you will hear school administrators and teachers talk about student involvement in service learning projects. When young people are involved in service learning projects, they learn invaluable lessons from the giving of their time, talent and treasure. Consequently, because learning is a lifelong process, it is important that your Huddle Group commit itself to developing Servant Leaders during constituent engagements. Your Huddle Group must convince them that leadership is the highest calling, and, consequently, they must adhere to a moral code governed by their love for God and neighbors.

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From Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS: Unleashing Your Inner C.O.A.C.H. 
Part Two: Real Men Doing Real Work
Click here to purchase Part One only.
Copyright 2016 Jeffery A. Faulkerson.  All rights reserved.

Why #HillaryClintonMatters

hillary-clintonOn Tuesday, November 8th, Americans of all hues will be going to the polls to elect the 45th President of the United States.  For some people, namely those high school and college students who turned 18 in the months leading up to the election, it will be their first time voting.  For the older, more seasoned, generations, it will be the umpteenth. One thing is for certain, whoever wins this election is going to discover that President Barack Obama is a hard act to follow.

Say what you want about President Obama, the fact still remains that he will go down as one of the most popular and successful presidents in modern American history.  The fact that he is a bi-racial American (half Black, half White) will be remembered as nothing more than a side note. What will be remembered is the dignity and grace that he displayed while in office.

I don’t know about you, but when I go to the polls to cast my vote, I want to know that the candidates listed on the ballot are committed to representing the American people with this same dignity and grace.  On the ballot this year are Republican nominee Donald J. Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Both strong candidates in the minds of their bases, but the environment in which they operate has been poisoned in a way that benefits one candidate more than the other.

Everyone knows Hillary Clinton is the first woman to be nominated by either one of this nation’s two major political parties.  And judging from the way she has been attacked by the GOP these past eight years, you can almost sense they want her to be the last, at least from the Democratic Party ranks.

First, they accused her of not doing enough to protect the American embassy in Benghazi.

Then, they accused her of not being for women because of the way she lashed out at the women who claimed to have sexual relations with Bill Clinton, her husband and the 42nd United States president.

Now, it’s all about the 33,000 emails that were sent on her private server.  Reportedly, some of those emails contained classified information that could have been intercepted, or retrieved, by foreign governments and opportunistic hackers.

If you know the answer to two plus two, you can see how Hillary Clinton has been unjustly set up to fail.  Most people think this mistreatment is textbook Politics 101, but I beg to differ. Because her husband’s presidency was riddled with scandal, the most notable being the Monica Lewinsky affair, the GOP considered Hillary an easy target.  But because African Americans, Hispanics, young Americans, women, and members of the LBGTQ community usually lean Democrat during local, state and national elections, the GOP felt they had to go further by making it more difficult for all Americans to exercise the voting franchise. This, my friends, is known as voter suppression.

I’m here to tell you why #HillaryClintonMatters.

Hillary has already apologized for using a private server to send and receive work-related emails.  And FBI Director James Comey exonerated her from wrongdoing earlier this year, in July.  Yes, Donald J. Trump and other Republican legislators thought they could use news that something incriminating may be found in emails Huma Abedin, Hillary closest advisor, sent and received from Hillary.  But what irks me most is the double standard here.

Republicans George W. Bush and Dick Cheney (and Karl Rove, to a larger extent) deleted 22 million emails after UN Inspectors determined that there were never any Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.  So, the Bush Administration put our troops in harms way for no legitimate reason, other than to finish a fight that President George H. W. Bush started, which was to charge, prosecute and convict Iraqi President Sadaam Hussein for crimes against humanity.

Think about the number of American and Iraqi lives that were lost during the Iraq War just to capture one man.

Now, compare the deletion of 22 million emails to the information coming out of the Hillary Clinton Investigation.

Democratic leaders could have put their Republican counterparts in check if they had done then what Republican leaders are now doing to them, Hillary, their nominee.  Many of them knew the Bush Administration deleted the 22 million emails to prevent its leaders from being charged with war crimes by an international court.  But they opted to look the other way because their condemnation of this Republican administration would set a precedence that would make it more difficult to reach across the aisle, get things done.

Seeing that Democratic leaders missed their golden opportunity to pounce, and changing demographics that show the Republican Party will be hard pressed in the future to win local, state and national elections, the Republican Party implemented plans to “rig” the American electoral process.

First came the Republican-controlled U.S. Supreme Court striking down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had required nine states and a number of individual counties with long histories of voter discrimination to clear any new election law changes with the feds.

And with Section 5 struck down, Republican-controlled states instituted Voter ID laws that portended to be a remedy to rampant voter fraud.  The Washington Post, however, reported on August 13, 2012 (The Post’s View: The Truth About Voter Fraud) that the “Republican National Lawyers Association — devoted to promoting ‘open, fair and honest elections’ — frequently cites the figure of 375 cases of voter impersonation fraud. But News21, a national investigative reporting project funded by the Carnegie-Knight Initiative, investigated each of those cases and found that not one showed evidence of impersonation fraud.”

What the aforementioned actions show is the Republican Party is not about promoting “open, fair and honest” elections.  It’s about conditioning us, the American voters, not to exercise our voting rights on November 8th.  They know Hillary Rodham Clinton is the most qualified person for the job, and that’s why they are doing everything they can to demean and discredit her.  The fact that they are hell-bent on criminalizing her as well is an act of desperation, and a clear sign that they view Donald J. Trump as a flawed candidate, unable to win an “open, fair and honest” election.

What impresses me most about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party is they epitomize what it means to lead with dignity and grace.  The same cannot be said about Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party.

Trump talks about a rigged election, but he never admits that it is the Republican Party that has done the rigging.

Trump talks about the media giving preferential coverage to Hillary, but he never admits that the media is doing its job by covering the outlandish things he says and does, and has been accused of doing.

And Trump talks about making America great again, but he never offers hopeful plans that promote more unity and less division.

#HillaryClintonMatters because she takes pride in leading in a dignified ani-voted-todayd graceful manner.  She understands that leadership is not just about telling others what and when to do something.  It’s about being that one shining light leading the hopeless out of the darkness of doom and despair.  Hillary has led us, the American people, for over 30 years, giving freely of her time, talent and treasure. In short, she has been, and continues to be, a true servant-leader, one that has the domestic and international street credibility that we need to build upon America’s greatness.

If we, the American people, don’t elect Hillary Rodham Clinton to office on Tuesday, November 8th, shame on us.

 

“On Homecomings” by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Originally published in The Atlantic, May 9, 2016.

In the summCoates Headshoter of 2001, my family and I moved into the Prospect-Lefferts Garden neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. I was 25. My partner was 24. Our son was 11 months. Prospect-Lefferts Garden is a lovely neighborhood marked by quiet streets and some of the most beautiful architecture in the city. There are several blocks lined with perfectly preserved limestones and brownstones. There is a strong sense of community. Block parties are a tradition. And for those of us who fear the suburbs, Flatbush Avenue hums at the neighborhood’s border. When we moved into the neighborhood, it was predominantly black. A haircut was a two-minute walk away. Great jerk chicken was everywhere. My best friend from college lived on the same block. On Friday evenings you could find us out on his stoop with Jack and Coke in hand (which we drank that back then), watching the world go by.

Click here to read the rest of the story.