Who Do You Think You Are/No for an Answer

***This was written on January 13, 2016***
***In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day***

“And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highway or the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating ‘For Whites Only.’ We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’”
–“I Have a Dream,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)

Who do you think you are?
Strutting your stuff like you’re a super star
Look at you with all this pride and confidence –
Wearing them like a badge of honor,
Like they’ll protect you like a suit of armor.
What gives you the right to come in here,
Grinning from ear to ear,
Chanting your own custom-made cheer
As if your “moment of glory” is near?
Who do you think you are?
You honestly believe you’re going to go far?
Have you forgotten where you come from, where you live?
And you have the audacity to think you have something to give –
To provide, to supply, to offer to the world?
You want to “make the world a better place.”
What makes you so great?
Are you aware of the struggles you’d face,
Or are you hoping everything will fall in your lap by Amazing Grace?
You really think you can bring about change?
Do you think you’re smart enough?
Can you tell me you’ve got the right stuff –
The courage, the integrity, the discipline –
To change the world for the better?
You’re just a wannabe, trying to be under everyone’s radar.
Who do you think you are?

Who do I think I am?
Who do I think I am?
If you want the truth, here it is:
I just happen to be a person whom God blessed with a vision.
I couldn’t tell you why it was me to whom that dream was given,
But now I have the mission, and I’m driven to carry it out
Without being stiffen.
I refuse to be held down by limits and restrictions.
You really don’t see me as strong?
Then, where have you been looking all along?
I see strength everyday when I look in my mirror.
I know you don’t understand, so let me make it clearer.
My strength and power don’t come from pride, that’d be a sin.
It comes from my knowledge of where I’ve been –
Where I come from. The stuff I’m made of.
I come from a people you could not believe;
People whose actions were determined by their own minds and decisions.
Other folks saw us as cantankerous and as villains,
Itching with a cancer.
No, we weren’t that. We just couldn’t take no for an answer.
From the time we walked this country, bound and in chains; when those superior disregarded our health and our names; when we agreed we’d no longer be accepted as slaves,
We refused to take no for an answer.
To the time laws were enforced and powers continued demoting; we couldn’t eat at lunch counters and they kept us from voting; whether we had to march, have a sit-in or sit down, we were promoting
We refused to take no for an answer.
To the time folks demanded to see us one way, yet we made a vow to show them all we’re capable of anyhow. They said we’d never see a Black President – well look at us now!
We refused to take no for an answer.
Even to this day when our ears are met with the awful clatter of our young people being shot dead, we worked up the chatter; we let our country know – our world know that our Black lives matter!
We refused to take no for an answer!
You’re looking at a man who comes from a people
Known for climbing mountains of no’s (and hills and steeples) –
Whatever it took until the only answer we heard was “Yes!”
Often times, we’d create our own yesses!
So you ask me who I think I am?
I answer, I’m a man,
A man who knows where he’s been.
I’m not an angel from above,
Followed by the peace symbol of a dove.
I don’t have an IQ of 163.
I can’t defy the laws of gravity.
I don’t have great speed or riches,
Nor can I heal your wounds with stitches.
I’m no athlete, I’m no dancer;
But I’m a man who doesn’t take no for an answer.

(c) January 2016, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

MOVIE REVIEWS: Pocahontas (Mike Gabriel and Eric Goldberg, 1995)


Here’s some trivia for you: there was a moment in the early ’90s when the Walt Disney Animation Studios was in the process of producing 2 movies. One of them was supposed to be the picture that everyone would care about. It would be the film everyone in the world would love and go crazy over. The other was the “B Movie,” the film that no one would care about. Even some of the animators and designers on this “B Movie” found moments where they wanted to work on the other picture. Who knew that the “B Movie” would be the film everyone raved about? What was that movie? Why, it was The Lion King of course! And we all know what a success that film was, and still is! It was the highest grossing animated film and movie period for Disney at the time, and it is still the highest grossing traditionally animated movie of all time, making over $987 million all over the world! So, then, if that was the “B Movie,” what was the film that everyone was supposed to care about? THIS film, of course! Yeah, how about that! Disney thought Pocahontas was going to beat out The Lion King! While it certainly wasn’t a financial or critical failure upon its release, this film definitely wasn’t the commercial success Disney was hoping for, and it wasn’t as successful as the earlier films in the Disney Renaissance either. Why? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.

ANIMATION: This is one of the best elements of the movie. The look of the film and the design of the landscapes are beautiful! Virginia looks amazing! It’s something straight out of a painting! It’s just gorgeous to look at! The design of the people is also very unique for Disney. They look a lot more realistic. The eyes aren’t as big, and we don’t even see their outlines. Sometimes they look awkward, but most of the time they look rather nice.
Pocahontas - Virginia

SONGS/MUSIC: Fortunately, we get Alan Menken back in this flick! His score, melodies, and orchestrations do not disappoint; they hardly ever did around this time. Instead of getting lyricist Tim Rice again, we have Stephen Schwartz. His lyrics…aren’t the best. They’re very obvious. They clearly express the obvious messages and show us the obvious villains. In all honesty, though, I don’t think that’s Schwartz’s fault. You’ll have to keep reading this review to find out why I say that, but let’s just focus on the songs themselves for now.
1) The Virginia Company/(Reprise): Oh yeah, that was a thing. Man, is that forgettable!

2) Steady as the Beating Drum/(Reprise): This song was in the movie, too? Wow, that’s forgettable!

3) Just Around the Riverbend: Here we go! This is a memorable song. I say that mainly because of the melody. The song does gives us some character development. We learn what kind of person Pocahontas is. I do have to ask, though, didn’t we already get an understanding of that from frame one? From the moment we saw Pocahontas, didn’t we know what kind of person she’d be? Did this song add anything to how we perceived her character? Either way, it’s a nice song. It’s not the best, but it’s nice.

4) Listen With Your Heart I & II: Eh…it’s OK. It has a nice and memorable melody, but that’s not enough to make a good song – especially in a musical! And, honestly, I don’t know what it adds. Is the movie any better for having this song? Would you lose anything if you removed this number from the film? Probably not.

5) Mine, Mine, Mine: What makes this film sort of unique is that it has 2 villain songs. This is one of them. Of course we knew that Ratcliffe wanted gold, but he also seeks other riches and glory. He wants fame and attention. He wants to be noticed by everyone in his country. The other men are both looking for gold and they’re just doing their job. They don’t have much motivation whereas Governor Ratcliffe does. The song works.

6) Colors of the Wind: This is the film’s Number One song. It’s probably the best song in the film as well. Not only do we all remember the lyrics and the music, but the song also conveys one of the themes of the film, that we all need to have love and respect for everything and everyone that has life. I think it’s hard to make a song like this subtle, but it could have been less obvious than it was in its message. But, that’s OK. The song is still really good, and it’s not the most unsubtle song in the movie…P.S., you all know you can’t paint with the colors of the wind, right? Wind has no colors. Leaves have color, though…Just saying.

7) If I Never Knew You: I’m not too familiar with this song, and I don’t know how many people are. It was a number that was in the original draft of the film, but it was cut when they saw children didn’t respond well to it…And I can see why. What in the crud does it add? I feel like this song is here for the same reason we had “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” in The Lion King…because Disney movies have love songs! As someone who’s more familiar with the original cut of the film, I can say that this movie loses absolutely nothing by not having this song!

8) Savages, Parts 1 & 2: This is the other villain song in the film. I sort of have mixed feelings about this song. On one hand, the lyrics could not be anymore obvious. Remember how I said “Colors of the Wind” could have been more subtle? Well this song couldn’t be any less unsubtle! Listen to these words: “What did you expect?…This is what happens when races are diverse.” “Their skin’s a Hellish red…” “Beneath their milky hide, there’s emptiness inside. I wonder if they even bleed.” Yeah…Actually, what surprises me is that people claim that this song promotes racism. Really? You can listen to these lyrics and tell what the message is! It’s so obviously showing that this is where hatred brought these two groups of people. Now, despite the obvious message and lyrics, I do enjoy this song. I like seeing where hate brought them; to some degree, hate is the real villain here, not Ratcliffe. I like how these two groups who think they are so different from each other are actually the same – you see it in this song. Even though they’re singing about hate, they’re singing the same things, almost word for word. And, of course, I love hearing them chant “savages!” It’s so much fun! My sister and I chant this phrase to each other all the time! We even chant other words that sound like “savages” in the same rhythm! Next time you eat breakfast, demand for “Sausages! Sausages!” It’s so much fun! The song does get you excited for the battle and adventure the two groups are planning on having. It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s rhythmic, it’s savages…Savages! Savages!

ROMANCE: OK, we all know the romance between Pocahontas and John Smith was fabricated for the movie, it didn’t really happen in real life. Let’s excuse that for now and look at what the movie gave us. I know that may be difficult for some people, but trust me, we’ll get to that aspect of the film later. The romance as a whole, I think, is OK. It’s not the best, but it does actually come from something. Rather than seeing John Smith and immediately falling in love with him, Pocahontas was stunned by how different he was from her. She had never seen anyone who looked like him before. Knowing how curious she is, one could conclude that she probably wanted to learn more about this person. “Why does he look so different? Are there others who look like him? Why haven’t I seen people like this before? Where is he from?” That’s where her interest in him came from. After spending time with him, then a romance developed. Part of what made this romance stupid is that it developed in, what, a day or two? But, to be fair, they do talk about their problems and they do try to help one another. One can see how a romance could spark from this. It’s not the best Disney romance, but it’s not the worst either.
Pocahontas - Romance

CHARACTERS: Eh…let’s just get into it.
1) Nakoma and Kocoum – Let’s start with Nakoma, Pocahontas’ best friend. She’s probably the most developed character in the movie, at least as far as personality is concerned. She’s not bland or boring; she’s amusing and fun. She supports our main character. She doesn’t get in the way of the action, and she’s not annoying. I like Nakoma.
Pocahontas - Nakoma
Kocoum, however, is another story. This is the man Pocahontas is supposed to marry. He’s not annoying or anything, but he is boring as tare! He’s not even bland! Bland is just a boring stereotype. He’s not a stereotype (which, don’t get me wrong, is bad); he has absolutely no personality. If you read my Lion King review, you’ll remember I said we cried for Mufasa when he died because we really got to know him. He was incredibly relatable and loveable. We got a sense of who he was. Kocoum could not be any more different. Who is this guy? What does he like? What does he like to do? What motivates him? We’re not able to answer those questions, thus we don’t cry when he dies. We may be shocked, and maybe we feel bad, but we’re certainly not sad because we don’t know anything about him…So, then…why do I still like him? Because he fights with the spirit of…A BEAR!…If you watch Nostalgia Critic (Doug Walker, 2007-Present), you know why that’s funny.
Pocahontas - Kocoum
2) Meeko – I can’t stand this creature! He is annoying as crud! I hate how he keeps bothering Percy. I hate how he takes John Smith’s things. I hate how he gets in the way of what’s happening. I cannot stand him. The other animals are annoying, but they’re more annoying when Meeko’s around. I cannot stand this raccoon.
Pocahontas - Meeko
3) Governor Ratcliffe – I already talked about Ratcliffe earlier, and there’s not too much else to say. To be honest, though, I do feel sorry for him. This villain isn’t just evil for the sake of being evil. Yes, he wanted money and fame, but at the same time his motivation stemmed from a misunderstanding. I think he was so blinded by fame that he tricked himself into believing the Native-Americans were evil savages. I honestly do feel bad for him toward the end of the movie when he was gagged and tied up. If it weren’t for his misunderstanding, none of that would have happened. Does that mean he’s a great, complex villain or character? No, he’s pretty bland. But, again, he’s not the worst villain or the worst character. He does have some heart to him. He does have some development; it’s just not a lot, nor is it that interesting.
Pocahontas - Governor Ratcliffe
4) John Smith – I kind of laugh at how amazing this character is supposed to be. You know how a film can really push or talk up a character’s awesomeness? That’s John Smith in this film. Think about it: he flawlessly jumps off a boat, saves a man’s life, and returns to the boat in less than a minute without a scratch on him. When he was climbing a mountain and he tripped, he spontaneously found a rope to save him. This guy is unbelievable. He is a little sympathetic, and he does have his own sort of story arc. However, John Smith is so bland, there’s not a lot to say about him. I don’t like him, I don’t dislike him. If he actually had a character and not just awesome actions, I’d like him more. Although, I will say he does kind of mirror the modern stereotypical pretty White guy, doesn’t he? He comes in, he saves the day, he’s awesome, he’s good looking, but he may say something offensive that he didn’t know was offensive. The only thing that was missing from this stereotype was John Smith saying, “I’m not a racist, but…”
Pocahontas - John Smith
5) Pocahontas – I wanted to save Pocahontas for last. Not because I don’t like her or anything – on the contrary, I really do like her. Yeah she’s bland and has no character or personality, but I like her for her actions. I know that’s weird, seeing as how I just bashed John Smith, but I do like Pocahontas’ actions. It’s hard for me to explain this without talking about Ariel from The Little Mermaid. If you read my review of that film, you know I dislike Ariel with a passion. This is weird seeing how Pocahontas has no personality and Ariel does; but I don’t like Ariel’s personality. Ariel whines and complains about what she doesn’t have. Her actions are stemmed from selfish ambitions – she wants to be human. She wants a man. When she does something to get what she wants, she often hurts other people in the process. She doesn’t care that she’s causing pain for the people around her, either. She never apologized to them or did anything to make up for the pain she caused them. So long as she got what she wanted, who cares how she got there? Pocahontas’ actions, on the other hand, stemmed from a selfless, mature, and courageous ambition. She wanted to bring two different cultures together and tare down the wall of hate that stood between them. Yes, one person died as a result of her actions, but how many more people would have died if she didn’t take a stand? Again, I’m not saying Pocahontas is a good character in terms of development and interest; she’s not. But in terms of morals, ethics, and strength, I do like her. Yeah, there are moments with her when the movie is forcing her to look incredible and strong (Why did her introduction consist of her standing on a mountain waiting for wind and leaves? Why was she there to begin with?), but I can’t get over how ethical she is. She’s not the strongest, but I do love her!…P.S. What’s up with her design?!? Seriously! She’s 14-years-old, and she has a look that’ll excite a grown man! What in the world?!?
Pocahontas - Her

STORY: The only thing that could be weaker than the characters is the story. It is stale. It is boring. You know where it’s going to go. But let’s pretend for a minute you’re able to get past that, like I am. Is still a stupid story? Yes. Yes it is. Why? Because this film, which is based on a true story, has a number of moments that could not happen in real life. I didn’t say these moments didn’t happen in real life, I said they couldn’t happen in real life. We know that Pocahontas was 12-years-old and not 14 when these events took place. We know Pocahontas and John Smith did not share a romance. We know the historical inaccuracies of the film. However, logic dictates that these things could have happened. By logic, she could have been 14-years-old when the English settled in Virginia. By logic, she very well could have fallen in love with John Smith. These things could have happened. What CAN’T happen is your grandmother’s spirit lives in a willow tree, and two people who speak two different languages can suddenly understand each other because the plot dictates! No. That can’t happen. I understand we have to expect a certain something from Disney, but we’re trying to honor someone who really existed here! We’re trying to depict something that really happened! When you throw in a talking, magical tree and magical, colorful leaves that conflict with the wind (No, really, pay attention to how the leaves blow in this movie – that can’t be the wind moving them!), it throws the story off.
Also, remember how I said the lyrics of the song could be very, very obvious, but I didn’t blame Schwartz for that? I blame the script. Schwartz was probably writing to match the tone of the script. Listen to the dialogue in the script, and tell me it’s not obvious! Tell me you don’t immediately know what the filmmakers are doing! Tell me you don’t already know what the moral is supposed to be! When Ratcliffe tells John Smith, “This is MY land! I make the laws here,” don’t you kind of groan? When Pocahontas and John Smith are talking about the concept of “savages,” don’t you realize what the rest of the movie is going to be…if you didn’t realize it already? Didn’t you pray this film would do something different when Pocahontas’ father told her she was going to marry someone she didn’t really love and he said, “This is the path for you?” C’mon, film. You are not subtle at all! Fix yourself!
I know a lot of people take issue with the historical inaccuracies in this film. I can understand why. It is sort of insulting to the actual people involved and the events that took place. It does not educate children at all about what really happened in the early days of this country. I can understand and sympathize with why people take such issues with the inaccuracies of this film. So, then, why doesn’t that bother me so much? Well, there are 2 reasons. First of all, no movie based on something – especially a true story – is going to 100% accurate of everything that happened. The filmmakers weren’t present to totally represent what happened. Even the film that has come the closest to representing a real life event didn’t get everything right. Maybe they added a character, removed a character, changed the events, or had someone say something they did not say. Second of all, are we really going to look to Disney and Hollywood to educate our children? I know they should have taken this as an opportunity to honestly tell a story and teach history to children. However, education is not up to entertainers and movie executives. If we’re not the ones influencing and educating our children, that’s the real tragedy. If children think they know the story of the Indian princess because of this movie, that is our fault. Let’s take care of our children.
Pocahontas - Story

CONCLUSION: I do think this is a stupid movie. Hopefully children, and especially adults, can watch this movie and know that a great deal of it is fantasized. However, I still find myself liking this film. The animation is wonderful. The songs are memorable. Pocahontas is a good role model. This flick could have been much better, of course, but it is not Disney’s worst; and, in my opinion, it’s not the worst film the Disney Renaissance had to offer. I still enjoy the film, it’s visuals, and it’s morals. In fact, this film may be apologizing for the racist Indians from Peter Pan (Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske, 1953). I can’t declare it a good movie, but it’s good enough to kill time.
Pocahontas - Conclusion

Thank You

***This was written on February 1, 2014***

“History ain’t important. It don’t mean nothin’.”
They say,
“What they did lives in the past, but now we’re doin’ somethin’.”
So they claim.
“Why wine and dine about the events from long behind? Stop the clatter, they don’t matter. Move on.”
They exclaim.
But if I may,
I’d like to offer a counter argument.
Take a look around, tell me what you see.
How does the world look staring back at thee?
Yeah, you heard me.
F.Y.I., everything here exists because a long time ago, someone put in work.
Whether it be scientific discoveries, inventions so we could live more comfortably, diverse relations, artistic creations, or changes in our communities,
Someone put in work.
No matter what’s in front of you, you see our modern culture.
You think we woke up one day with these changes at our door,
Or that we’ve had these in our hands forever?
Someone put in work.
Whether it was a father or mother, a sister or brother,
Someone contributed sweat and tears in all the years of the struggle –
All the years, dark years…
They were discouraged from dreaming,
Blocked from advancing,
Denied opportunities,
Even their joy was stolen – there was no singing or dancing.
But there was marching and protesting.
There were demonstrations and movements
And riots and boycotts
And sit-ins and sit downs
And whatever else was necessary to bring about
That 6-letter C-word. Change.
In a world so strange when a group of people felt estranged from a culture and society that preferred a wide range between them and opportunity, this group of people found the strength and power to rearrange their situation, and command and demand for change.
And now we’re living their change.
Today their legacy exists through us.
So to history, and to those who fought for us,
I offer up, not “forget you,” but “thank you.”
Thank you for the long nights of marches instead of dreaming.
Thank you for the long fights, which brought about your fears, tears, and screamings.
Thank you for continuing to work so we could live better.
Thank you for the stories of your struggle, your addressed love letter.
You are not forgotten, but appreciated.
To our sisters and brothers in the struggle,
Thank you.

(c) February 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Once Upon a Time…

***This was written on January 17, 2011***

“He who doesn’t learn from his past is doomed to repeat it.” –George Santayana
“He who doesn’t know his past doesn’t have a future.”

Once upon a time, there lived children who couldn’t attend nice schools. It wasn’t because they couldn’t afford it or because they were stupid; the nice schools were for the White students which Black students were prohibited from attending. One day, the law permitted nine Black students in Little Rock, Arkansas to attend an all-White school. Greeted by angry and violent mobs, facing threats every day, and dealing with many forms of abuse, these students, the Little Rock 9, made history by integrating a school.

Once upon a time, a 14-year-old young man from Chicago traveled to Money, Mississippi to visit his relatives. While in the general store with his cousin, he whistled at a White woman. The woman’s husband and a friend of his murdered the young man. They lynched him, shot him, beat him, and drowned him. There was never any justice brought to this murder. The mother of the boy declared she’d have an open casket funeral, allowing the world to see what was done to her son, Emmitt Till.

Once upon a time, a Black woman leaves work and rides the bus home. A White man, soon after, demands her seat. After she refuses, she is taken away to jail. This courageous woman, Rosa Parks, later stated that she was tired of the way things were and demanded a change.

Once upon a time, a young Black African was kidnapped from his homeland and taken to be a slave in the United States of America. He remembered what freedom was like, and endeavored to have freedom many times after that. The slave, Kunta Kinte, ran until bounty hunters cut his foot off to keep him from running.

Once upon a time, a group of men burned the houses and churches of many Black Americans. Riding on horses, the Ku Klux Klan became one of the most notorious groups in the USA, and still lives today.

Once upon a time, a group of college students demonstrated a nonviolence act by sitting at segregated lunch counters in cafes.

Once upon a time, a secret passage called the Underground Railroad helped lead slaves to freedom.

Once upon a time, Blacks were chased by wild dogs released by the police, and sprayed with violent water hoses.

Once upon a time, the best job Blacks received were those working as servants in rich houses which belonged to White people.

Once upon a time, Blacks went jail for being seen walking down the street.

Once upon a time, there were racially segregated bathrooms, water fountains, and restaurants.

Once upon a time, Blacks had to sit in the back of a train.

Once upon a time, Blacks had to travel with their freedom papers.

Once upon a time, Blacks were seen as country bammers or hoods and pimps on TV and in movies.

Once upon a time, Blacks were beaten for trying to taste freedom.

Once upon a time, Blacks were sold from their families.

Once upon a time, Blacks performed to segregated White audiences.

Once upon a time, Blacks weren’t allowed to read or write.

Once upon a time, Blacks were lynched.

Once upon a time, Blacks and Whites could not be friends.

Once upon a time, Blacks fought in wars only to come home and receive discrimination.

Once upon a time, Blacks could not vote even after the amendment had been passed.

Once upon a time, Blacks were labeled as “monkeys” and “niggers.”

Once upon a time, a six-year0old boy and his brother went to the mall with their aunt. The boys met a White girl, who was also 6, and her younger brother. The four children played for a while and had fun. Moments later, the six-year-old boy suggested that the group of kids partake in a fun activity. The White boy looked at the six-year-old boy, Benjamin Isaiah Black, and replied, “No, you’re Black,” and walked away.

We as a nation must never forget what was. We must take time to remember our history. Our future determines what we do now; what we do now is reluctant to our past. Therefore, may we never forget how things used to be. Let us always remember that history, and may we always praise God for how far we’ve come since then. Let us use it as a motivational tool so that we can continue to fight for change and move as far away from these times as possible.

(c) January 2011, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Satire Commercial: Black History, Our History

***This was written on February 5, 2010***


Hey, Henry, how do you think you did on the test in there?
I probably failed it.
Jeez, I’m sorry.
Don’t sweat it. I don’t care much for Black History anyway.


Attention staff and students: The state has decided that history and social studies is no longer a criteria for students. Students, you don’t have to take anymore social studies classes.

(STUDENTS rejoice and cheer)


“Black History is American History.”
“American History is World History.”
“World History is Our History.”
“The person who doesn’t know their past has no future.”

(c) February 2010, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.


***This was written on February 1, 2010***

One of my most favorite times of the year!
It has come back again to fill my heart with joy!
We’ve allowed this time to be overlooked and mean little significance
That must change; this is the most important time of the year
A celebration has come! It’s time for us to celebrate!
It can be as big of a celebration as we desire
Festivals, block party, a dance, a small party, etc.
Let’s go!
We are celebrating a people who changed and changes the world around us
This is a party for every person, every gender, race, color, creed, religion, etc.
Everyone is invited! Happy Black History Month, everybody!

(C) February 2010, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

What if They Didn’t?

***This was written on January 9, 2010***
***This is dedicated to YEPAW 365***

What if he didn’t?
What if Martin Luther King never had the dream –
The dream that is a reality today?
If he didn’t listen to God’s Voice telling him to speak against the calamity, brother against another and family against family
Would we have to live with the insanity that took place long ago?
MLK wanted peace, justice, and equality
He didn’t benefit himself, but endeavored to help you and me
What if he had thought of himself and quit?
Could you imagine what’d happen if he stepped back, looked at his struggling life, and said, “I’m tired of it!”?
See, we’re living the dream that he dreamt
He was killed before he had that chance
Today he looks down from Heaven and can rejoice and dance
We have an African-American President of the USA
Dr. King risked his life so that this would happen
But what if he didn’t?
What if one too many times he went to jail?
Or how about receiving death threats by the phone and in his mail?
I bet y’all didn’t know he was stabbed once!
I guess God wasn’t done with him yet, though.
But if he had passed, where would we be?
Back to segregated bathrooms and water fountains?
Riding buses, sitting way in the back
Or being denied service in public restaurants because we’re Black?
If Martin didn’t hear the Voice of Jesus saying still to fight on,
If he didn’t care about singing a symphonic song
Looking past color, heritage, and race,
But seeing God’s Grace when he looked at another person’s face,
Where would we be today?
What if he didn’t?

What if she didn’t?
What if Rosa Parks refused to deny the abuse given to her due to the color of her skin?
What if she didn’t take a stand, or rather take a seat on the message of hate echoing in the streets?
Let me give you a scene scenario
Of a real even that took place almost 55 years ago:
This lady gets off work and rides home on the bus
Now if it isn’t enough that she’s worked hard all day, she has to deal with the stuff that’s inevitably coming her way
A man wants her seat
Her well-deserved seat that she took first
Because she was tired of society’s celebration of segregation in the nation, she looked him in the eye and replied,
“No”?! In racist 1955 Montgomery, Alabama? Dat ain’t heard of!
My question to you is this:
What if she got up?
Gave up her seat,
Her voice,
What if she made movement to her feet and made no choice to express herself and demand respect?
If she didn’t suspect that someone ought to correct this,
Would we walk together today in Jesus
Or would Blacks still have to sit in the back of the bus?
Rosa Parks’ story is one, not of violence, but a woman’s refusal to join the silence
Being right wasn’t popular, nor encouraged
But she chose to make her voice known anyway
What if she didn’t?

What if we don’t?
What if we don’t take these lessons and others given to us by great people from long ago?
What if we continue to sweep our history and our past under the rug;
Then what will our future look like?
There’s a feeling I gotta get off my chest. Please let them nest, or I should say rest on you.
People fought long and hard for us to get the best education
Yet we act as though we don’t care for it and people talk down to our generation
We text and spend time in front of the TV and computer
But we think twice before we put our nose in a good book
What if we don’t let the world know that we are anything but hopeless?
We are smart and wise with the look of courage in our eyes;
We’re able and strong, singing Jesus as our song
We aren’t scared, but brave and we have come to save
The world from disaster and live for our Master
What if we don’t make this message heard?
What if we don’t stress doing right and not wrong?
Fights occur and deaths take place everyday
Parents kneel over their children’s bodies. “Let them live!” they pray
We don’t like being called a certain name, yet we answer to the wrong one.
Instead of controlling ourselves, we speak against others, not watching our tongues
And so some talk about us and won’t stay in the room when they see us come
We destroy with our mouths and hands
When we don’t do this, we support others who do
What if we don’t change this?
What if we don’t declare that there is a Lover Named Jesus?
Nowadays we say one thing but live another
I show you how I treat me based on what I say about my brother
We must not fool those we’ve schooled saying Jesus is cool
Let me work on me before I go to fix you
Where would we be if there was no God?
What if people walk away from us, believing we’re frauds
Based on how we live and what we say?
We must put our foot down and make a change today!
Because God told me to, I’m going to make a difference!
He will use me like He used people before
I know because I was told so from the Lord
The world won’t be the same because I’m here
Give a listen with your ear as I make this clear:
I’m tired of the world’s sins, and it’s got to flee
I’m going to do something about it, and hope you’ll join me
Think of your children and your legacy
What if we don’t do something now and take a stand?
What if freedom and equality we don’t demand?
We may not reap the reward
But we will be blessed abundantly by our Lord.
People before us set the foundation
So now their work must be continued by this generation.
But if we don’t…
Naw, let’s not think about that. Let’s just do something!
Let’s take a cue from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Have a dream,
Declare the dream,
Press toward the dream,
Demand the dream,
Live the dream!!


(c) January 2010, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Journal Entry: Hale Farm Trip

***This was written on April 4, 2009***

Dear Journal,
Have you ever experienced the life of a sheltered child? In case you haven’t, allow me to tell you how they live: A sheltered child lives in a home where the entire world is much like his or her home. If he or she lives with both of their parents, then all child must live with their parents too. If he/she lives in a Christian home, then all children must live in Christian homes. Now, obviously, not all of the other children in the world are the same color, speak the same language, or attend the same church as the sheltered child; the sheltered child is not ignorant of everything! But when this child hears of these violent acts that the entire country or world takes part in, these things called wars, he or she won’t understand why they have come to existence if they grew up in a home where wars do not exist. When we as sheltered kids hear about other kids our own age getting high or drinking, we say to ourselves, “That’s devastating! How could they? That’s awful!” But it’s one thing to hear that a 15-year-old child smokes marijuana, but it’s another to see your 15-year-old friend smoking it. Today, I learned that that same lesson is true for so many other things…including slavery. It’s one thing read about slavery or watch movies and TV specials about it, but it’s another thing to live the life of a runaway slave.
YEPAW 365 went to Hale Farm Village out in Bath, Ohio earlier this evening. When we got our permission slips about a month ago, they read that we would be attending A Fugitives’ Path – Escape on the Underground Railroad. I thought that we were simply going to get a talk about slaves and the path that they took to get to freedom, so you can imagine my surprise when we were told that we would travel the journey of a runaway. The first thing that really stood out to me was that we were stamped on our hands to remind us that we were slaves. Journal, can you imagine what that’s like? I can’t even explain how hard that is to cope with. How would you feel if you were stamped to remind you that you are the scum of the earth, and that you have absolutely no rights, no personality, no freedom; NOTHING! Today, we as humans don’t want to get out of bed simply because we want 2 more hours of relaxation or because we don’t want to do a small amount of work! Now for those that work hard, like my Mom and Dad, I can understand their not wanting to get out of bed or take a day to themselves. But what about those of us who don’t work 10 hour long work days with no or few small breaks in between? What about those of us whose only work is to get an excellent education, and be the best that we can be?!? WHAT ABOUT US?!? To say, “I don’t want to read because there’s too many words!”, or “I won’t study for this test because I don’t feel like it!”, or maybe even “I’ll take the ‘F’, I don’t feel like doing this assignment!” is…is…I can’t even find a word in the English dictionary to define how awful, mind boggling, and terrible that is! But more than that, it’s sad. For a person to completely refuse a challenge just because it seems too hard for them, or simply because they don’t feel like it, is sad! Is that the upcoming generation that I have to look forward to? Is that the future of America that the world has to look forward to? Especially we as African-American people – we fought and ran and died for the things we didn’t have! People like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, and many other unnoted people risked their lives so that their people could have an education, rights, freedom, equality, dignity, and pride today! Are we really willing to throw all of that away simply because we have become lazy?!?
We then traveled to a barn where we were prepared to be sold. As we faced the back wall with our heads down and on eyes on the floor, we were given instructions on how to talk to those who were superior over us; namely, the White Americans. We as Black—wait, I’m sorry…We as “Colored”, “Negroes”, or “Darkies”, as many of the slave holders and bounty hunters put it, could not look a White person in the eye. We were not to address them by their names, only “Sir” or “Ma’am”. We were not to talk to a White person, unless they asked us a question in which case we were only allowed to give a quick “Yes sir” or “No sir” answer. After the slaveholder told us this, we lined up facing a chain; men on one side and women on the other….Even recalling the incident now brings me depression…The slaveholder’s friend came in to buy us all. As I heard them refer to me as “buck”, “property”, and a “darkie”, I wanted to turn to them and say, “EXCUSE ME!!! What was that word you used?!?” I know that the men were actors, and I thank God that I’m not violent; one of the actors would be in the Intensive Care right now! Some of my fellow participants had to open their mouths to get their teeth checked, one was brought up to the auction stand to be examined, and I can only imagine who else was checked and how they were being examined. We bent down, picked up our own chains, and were led out the barn by our new owner.
Now, technically, we hadn’t been sold to a new owner. Apparently the slaveholder and his friend had some history together, concerning the friend’s farm. The friend ensured the slaveholder that he would take us and pay him back $14,000 later – that would be the one thing I picked up on this adventure that I never knew before: I never knew people paid thousands of dollars for slaves! Hundreds, sure. Thousands, really? Anyway, the friend let us go and told us where to go next. We went to the stable of a young lady. This began the path of the Underground Railroad.
The lady led us into her stable and quickly shut the door so that we would not be seen by any unwanted people. A while after she began giving us instructions, two bounty hunters knocked on her door. Now, of course, if she had answered them from where she was, the bounty hunters would have seen us and we would have been on our way back into slavery. So what did we do? We ducked so that they would not see us, and we hushed so that they would not hear us. The young lady went outside and into the house to ensure the men that there were no slaves in the whereabouts of her place. They left, and we went to our next destination. We traveled to another young lady’s house where she led us to her living room. While she was trying to do her “Christian duties” as she put it, her sister was trying not to get caught with a room full of slaves. She threatened to call the sheriff or send us back to where we came from, but instead she gave us the directions to a white church up the road. The pastor of the church had been away for 2 days and had his assistant read us his letter which included the instructions of what to do with any runaway slaves that passed through.
The pastor’s assistant sent us further up the road to another woman who led us to her cellar, or, as we would say today, the basement. The experience at her house was even more frightening than the first. She and her friend discussed a freed Black servant working in their house who had been missing, along with her child, for about two days. They feared that since the woman and her son didn’t carry their freedom papers they could have been taken by the racists Whites. As the two women were talking, a knock on the door upstairs occurred. One of the women went upstairs to see who it was while the other stayed with us. It was another bounty hunter looking for 20 runaway slaves. He got impatient and barged his way into the house, and began shooting trying to find any runaways that may have been hiding. The other lady with us quickly led us out the back door in the cellar and we walked until we reached the house of Quakers. I was glad to be away from the gunshots and out of harm’s way, but little did I know that more danger was waiting for me just around the corner. We were brought in the living room of the house, right inside of the front door. As the two Quakers talked to us, there was another knock at the door. It was another bounty hunter, only this bounty hunter was a lot less patient than the other ones we had escaped from. This bounty hunter barged his way into the house before he and the first Quaker had ten seconds of conversation. As we tried to run to another room, we were greeted by another bounty hunter waiting for us. They led us outside, put us in a single-file line, and made us walk back to the barn where we started. From there, they led us back to the main building on the farm, where we YEPAW 365 participants arrived.
There are so many things that I can say about this experience. Throughout the journey we traveled, I had a young man at my side, a young man whose name I can’t remember. Whenever we were staring danger in the eye, he held on tight to me so I would not let him go. I held on to him so that he knew I was there for him. I can only imagine the number of men, whether they reached freedom or not, who traveled the Underground Railroad with their wives and children. If anything were to happen to that boy with me, I had to be prepared to say, “Don’t mess with him! Don’t take him, take me! Don’t touch the boy!” How many fathers and husbands would have done that for their families during slavery? I even remember discussing during my African-American Studies class that enslaved men would buy their wives’ freedom first so that they and their children could be free. Considering that, how many Black men would do that for their families today? Why are there so many men, not just Black men, that run from their responsibilities instead of being fathers to their children and husbands to their women? Because they’re afraid of responsibility?! Because they’re afraid of the road that lies ahead for them?! I can appreciate the doubt and worry that a father may have before his child is born; every father, no matter what time period it is, has those feelings. But be a man and take care of your family! Man up! What does that mean? As Byron Hurt discussed at the Black Male Summit last night, people say “Man up!” to show the stereotypical masculinity in a male. Men can’t cry, show affection, or be vulnerable. But in my mind, a real man, and I stress “real”, takes care of his responsibility. It’s alright for him to be scared and to admit that he’s scared, but he must also stay strong and be the man of God that he is called to be! Enslaved men understood that, but men today can’t seem to find the courage or take the responsibility to be the men that this world needs! Why?
I’m not entirely sure if this next note would fit into what I experienced today, but I did notice something that I found interesting; two things in fact. The first thing I noticed was this: Film artist Byron Hurt showed last night’s audience of the Black Male Summit an excerpt from one of his documentaries where he asked women how they could dance to hip-hop music that called them out of their names. The women replied, “He’s [the artist of the song] not talking to me!” Bryon Hurt asked the audience if people would say the same statement if former President George W. Bush got on television and called Black people the N-Word. As I stated earlier, we were called “Colored”, “Negroes”, “Blacks”, and “Darkies”. I wasn’t offended when I heard people address me as Colored, a Negro, or Black. But when I was referred to as a “Darkie”, my heart started beating a little bit faster. Darkie?! Is that what comes to your mind when you look at me?!? Despite my outward appearance and skin color; considering my talents, abilities, identity, intelligence, the only thing you see me as is a “Darkie”?!? Really?
The second thing I thought of in the language was the N-Word. Although the bounty hunters and slaveholders addressed us as “Negroes”, I knew that was only used to soften the real language that was used in the 16, 17, and 1800’s. As I heard these words being used toward me, I was mad and I could feel the hate inside me build up! (NOTE TO SELF: Go back over Matthew 22:39 ten times a day) I had NEVER been insulted like this! My question is this: How did we go from being insulted by these powerful words to using them in our everyday talk to define a certain group of people? Why did we African-Americans take this word, N****R, and try to sound call by calling each other a N***A?! I am NOT anybody’s N****R or N***A!!! I don’t understand how this powerful, hateful, evil word could be turned from a label to a title that people are proud to wear! How did we let this happen? Why did we let this happen?!
I’m sure that if I were to think about it, I could relate a lot of things I experienced today with a lot of problems facing the African-American community. I will end, though, saying this: I already knew a lot of the things that were briefly discussed and the things we experienced today. But to actually experience having to fear, worry, and run for, not only my life but someone else’s as well, was something that I will not forget. The experience made me want to cry, and I wish that I did. I became sad, angry, depressed, fearful, worried, and confused all at the same time. But I do have a new level of respect for slaves. We speak of slaves all the time; people are always talking about slavery and the Underground Railroad. But until you’ve actually lived the life that a runaway slave had to live, you cannot complain about your troubles, give up at the first sign of trouble, or become lazy. While slavery was one of the worst things that America had to deal with for several centuries, I believe it brought out the best in African-Americans. It brought out our determination to reach freedom, our commitment to our families (when we weren’t sold apart from each other), our courage and perseverance to continue the journey, and the Joy, Faith, and Hope that we might be able to live a better life. I’m still in shock about the whole experience; I’m going to get ready to go to bed. Good night, Journal. BOOYIKA!

(c) April 2009, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

African-American Inventors

***This was compiled on August 9, 2008***

BENJAMIN BANNEKER—Clocks and almanac (1791)
GARRETT A. MORGAN—Traffic light (1923); Gas Mask (1914)
ALFRED L. CARLLE—Ice cream scooper (1897)
FREDERICK M. JONES—Air conditioning unit (1949)
W.H. RICHARDSON—Baby Buggy (1899)
HENRY T. SAMPSON—Cell phone (1971)
G.T. SAMPSON—Clothes dryer (1862)
O. DORSEY—Door knob and door stop (1878)
T.A. CARRINGTON—Stove (1876)
JOHN W. REED—Rolling pin (1864)
J. STANDARD—Refrigerator (1891)
J.L. LOVE—Pencil sharper (1897)
L.A. BURR—Lawn mower (1889)
F.J. LOUDIN—Key chain (1894)
ROBERT F. FLEMING, JR.—Guitar (1886)
T. GRANT—Golf tee (1899)
JOSEPH HUNGER DICKENSON—Record player arm (1819)
J. THOMAS WHITE—Lemon squeezer (1893)
SARAH BOONE—Ironing board (1887)
MICHAEL C. HARVEY—Lantern (1884)
J. RICKS—Horse shoe (1885)
W.B. PURVIS—Fountain pen (1890)
LYDIA NEWMAN—Hairbrush (1898)
ALEXANDER MILES—Elevator (1867)
M.A. CHERRY—Tricycle (1886)
ELIJAH McCOY—Lubricating cup (1895)
T. MARSHALL—Fire extinguisher (1872)
LAWRENCE P. RAY—Dust pan (1897)
J.W. SMITH—Lawn sprinkler (1897)
FREDERICK M. JONES—Thermostat control (1960)
EDMOND BERGER—Spark plug (1839)
MADAME C.J. WALKER—Straightening comb (1905)
LEWIS HOWARD LATIMER—Electric light (1881)

(c) August 2008, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Journal Entry: Independence Day

***This was written on July 4, 2008***

Dear Journal,
Good morning, and Happy Independence Day! The USA has been an independent country for 232 years! Listed below are some famous speeches, quotes, and songs that shaped the United States of America.

“Four scores and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a part of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”
–Abraham Lincoln, “The Gettysburg Address”

“This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, pray together, go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, ‘My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.’ And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have A Dream”

“O, say, can you see by the dawn’s early light/What so proudly we hail’d by the twilight’s last gleaming/Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight/O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming/And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air/Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there/O, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave/O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave//On the shore dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep/Where the foes haughty host in dread silence reposes/What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep/As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses/Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam/In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream/‘Tis the star-spangled banner: O long may it wave/O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave//And where is that band who so vauntingly swore/That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion/A home and a country should leave us no more?/Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution/No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave/And the star-spangled banner in the triumph doth wave/O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave//O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand/Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!/Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land/Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!/Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,/And this be our motto, “In God is our trust”/And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave/O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
–Francis Scott Key, “Star-Spangled Banner”

“Every kind of service necessary to public good becomes honorable by being necessary.” “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
–Nathan Hale
“No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.”
–Booker T. Washington

“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; It is better be alone than in bad company.” “It is impossible to govern a nation without God and the Bible.”
–George Washington

“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
–John F. Kennedy
“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”
–Benjamin Franklin

“The colour of the skin is in no way connected with strength of the mind or intellectual powers.” “I am of African race, and in the colour which is natural to them of the deepest dye; and it is under a sense of the most profound gratitude to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.”
–Benjamin Banneker

“Lift every voice and sing, till Earth and Heaven ring/Ring with the harmonies of liberty/Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies/Let it resound loud as the rolling sea/Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us/Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us/Facing the rising sun of our new day begun/Let us march on till victory is won//Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod/Felt in the days when hope unborn has died/Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet/Come to the place for which our fathers sighed/We have come over a way that with tears has been watered/We have come treading our past through the blood of the slaughtered/Out of the gloomy past, till now we stand at last/Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast//God of our weary years, God of our silent tears/Thou who has brought us thus far on the way/Thou who hast by Thy might, lead us into the light/Keep us forever in the path we pray/Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee/Lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee/Shadowed beneath Thy Hand, may we forever stand/True to our God, true to our native land.”
–James Weldon Johnson, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”

“Well children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the Negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the White men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about? That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could ever lead me! And ain’t I a woman?”
–Sojourner Truth

“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”
–Malcolm X

“A man should never neglect his family for business.”
–Walt Disney

“O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain/For purple mountains majesties above the fruited plains/America! America! God shed His Grace on thee/And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”
–Katherine Lee Bates, “America the Beautiful”

“Though I know that this country is not perfect, I am thankful to Jesus Christ that I live in a country with so much history and where I am able to publicly exercise my faith in Jesus Christ!”
–Benjamin Isaiah Black

A’ight, man, I gotta go get ready to go eat some barbeque, spend time with my family, and celebrate the United States of America. See ya later, man, and again, Happy Independence Day! God Bless. Jesus Christ Loves. Peace. BOOYIKA!, BOOYIKA!, BOOYIKA!, BOOYIKA!, Whoo!

(c) July 2008, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.