Frolic across the tear laden tissue skewed haphazardly about the desires of her heart I try not.

Far from being a man is the one who cares not for her feelings but only for that feeling he gets when they’re feeling…

Too much to loose she has when she lets him savor her sweet nectar… but she lets him because she thinks she has to.

Afraid of being alone she gives him her treasure, hoping and praying, convincing herself that this will keep him, this time it’s different, he is different, this time is the last time.

Sorry, but this time is now “last time” cuz the next time you’ll be thinking of the last time hoping that that time won’t lead to another next time looking at last time…

Another notch on your belt has been etched by the acid of another passionless romance. Who’s to blame?


Robert Griffin III. There are many roles that fit the mold of presumably, one of the best college quarterbacks to come out in years. He can be described as a Heisman trophy winner, soon to be husband (with a white woman, plays into public scrutiny), son of a two-parent household, exemplary teammate, and is of “bad character?” Does that even sound right? There were unanimous reports of some NFL scouts accusing RGIII of being selfish and not having the greatest character. When these reports were released, I instantly thought back to the first black heavyweight world-boxing champion, Jack Johnson. When you hear comments like that and see the confusion of most analysts from such comments, you cannot help but to see race as the central issue. Many analysts play around this, and will say absurd things like, “Race is definitely not the case.” This only ignores the elephant in the room and does a disservice to society at large. Jack Johnson was braggadocios, married white women, was rich, laughed and smiled in interviews, beat white men in the ring to claim the title, and was a black man born in the great state of Texas. White society at large hated Jack Johnson, and since Jack Johnson, has implemented policies and generalized mannerisms to combat this.  Even when you are sound in physical ability and character, it is not good enough. You will still be criticized and questioned in your demeanor and character. There is a fear of the potential of Robert Griffin III due to the fact he may do it all. He may become one of the greatest quarterbacks in the NFL, and afterwards, go on to have a career in politics by utilizing his degree in political science. When you are a black man in America who possesses human and social capital, you become unstoppable and feared incredibly at the same time. There’s a fear that daughters of white men will love RGIII as a man (not just as a physical sexual specimen or mandingo), that he could voice his opinions on social issues due to his high cognitive abilities, or that he needs to be compared to top quarterbacks or white quarterbacks I should say such as Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers instead of Michael Vick or Cam Newton (black quarterbacks). All this meanwhile,  former top pick quarterback Ryan Leaf is indicted on charges of breaking entry into homes in Montana and steals medications. Although, many sports news outlets make time to run segments on RGIII’s bad character…

The Instagram epidemic (a mentality) is a continued and unfortunate trend that I see amongst my peers and those alike, the idea of class warfare being translated into the realm of social media is scary. Instagram is only an example of this type of starvation for gratification through the verbal demonization of other people’s stake in the social media climate. People like entitlement so much, reality is viewed in disillusion.

To update you, Instagram was the 2011 iOS (Apple) app of the year.  The app essentially allows for a person to take pictures with prefixed color and photo enhancement settings. It also allows for a community of iPhone users to follow a person, very similar to Twitter. You may have noticed a key detail from this information; Instagram was originally for iPhone users in the beginning. Recently, they have released a version that is for Android users. Twitter world was met with much happiness and an overwhelming amount of anger. The anger stemmed from mostly iPhone users who now felt their beloved app was convoluted by “poor” and “plentiful” Android users. The iPhone tends to be a more expensive phone because of the hardware and demand. The Android phone is more diverse since it is software based and not constrained to one hardware maker. Nonetheless, both phones are excellent communication devices for any type of buyer. Android phones actually can cost as much or more than an iPhone depending on the model. Android devices also provide options to multiple service providers that may not be the industry best such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile. Thus, the “poor” Android faithful sentiment. The amount of stereotypes and generalizations around this is problematic as you can see.

In observing the anger on Twitter, I could not see nothing but a fight for class that many people do not even fight for in their realities of life. Instead, just like the ease of daily vulgarity via the Internet, people take to the net for their lack of self-progression in dealing with situations within themselves. People are dealing with the glim realities of life everyday that deserve a voice or effort put into them (Chicago violence, financial burdens, shit that just stresses you out, loss of family member or friend, your children’s schools, policies, etc.). The problem arises from this “sticking of the nose” in the air of your peers when exclusivity is warranted. To take this further as it relates to class and race, most of my peers and followers are people of color. It attributes to this growing problem of energy being put into deductive behaviors in communities instead of reductive ideas. My identifying group and any for that matter, cannot afford to keep up such a demeanor. The developers of such an app are riding on more wealth and white privilege than ever, while I see the majority of my followers squabble amongst each other. This has happened historically repeatedly through policies that have created social norms that can be harmful in communities of color. When you point this out, people will say that the community did it to themselves, and thus, exit their blame. Dividing yourself within your own identifying group can be harmful, especially when it comes to materialistic things such as Instagram. There is no need for an ethnocentric mantra to be implemented here or anywhere. The people who get it did not get upset; instead they concentrated their efforts in something of relevance and had another day. This should translate to all things by retaining in a state of humility.

You know it’s not too often that one is afforded the opportunity such as mine. I recently finished my degree and joined the masses of the unemployed for a short period of time. We all know the current state of our economy isn’t the greatest but it is on a long road to recovery. Opportunities for employment are bleak. So much so that it can be pretty discouraging when looking for a job. A lot of my contemporaries are currently experiencing the bite of this economy and opting to go back to school. The last thing I want to do right now is go back to school. I value the privilege of education and plan to go back but I need some time first.

This whole school thing really strikes a nerve with me. I hate it when people adopt this attitude like something is due to them because they went and got a college degree. What makes them think that type of outlook is acceptable…… I’ll tell you.

So many of us have been brainwashed to subscribe to this cookie cutter process of success. In my OPINION (that is what this blog is all about) following or trying to recreate the process or experience that others have had is probably the quickest way to limit yourself. America is one of the few places where different is often times more successful than safe, tried, proven, or expected. We (anyone looking to make a mark on society) can’t be afraid to be the one people talk about. There is nothing wrong with being different or choosing to find success by your own methods. I find it funny that people are so quick to talk about how society celebrates individualism and that being different is cool and encouraged…. That is a damn lie! People who are different are almost always ridiculed by their peers for doing whatever it is that they do. We’re so quick to judge!

What would our world be like if we encouraged people to think outside the realm of what “society…” has decided is normal? I’ll tell you what it’d be like. IT WOULD BE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL F*#%!^$ PLACE THAT ANYONE COULD EVER BEGIN TO DREAM OF. A true living fairy tail. Fairy tails in my opinion are only exaggerated ideas of a reality that people wish they could exist in. If you go through and remove all the magic and fairies from your favorite imaginary place you’ll find that it would be a pretty awesome place to live LoL!! A place where love and truth is always the answer and evil only exists in small isolated instances that are always triumphed by the righteous! …… keep imagining lol!!

I’ve noticed three prominent areas of ignorance exhibited by people. Ignorance is often characterized as “not knowing or unaware.” It is also perceived as this notion of a person as being, “Willingly delusional.”  Essentially, people don’t want to accept the realities of life or simply WANT to fulfill this ignorant character to fit in with their peers. This type of behavior stumps people from meeting new people, gaining new opportunities, and worst of all, it stops the inner progression within folks. The 3 Levels of Ignorant Folks…

 I.    The Overly Privileged People Who Can’t Find it in Themselves to Realize their Privilege

As a young black male professional working in the heart of the third largest city in the United States, I have met people who are great people, but their lack of experiences with the “struggle” and their abundance of a supportive system makes them ignorant to a certain degree. Some of them don’t realize that the places they visit on extravagant vacations or things they buy, some people cannot be a part of that discussion. Those types of people often have this automatic inclusion thought process of, “If I can do this, than everyone can.” This sentiment is not just materialistic by any means, but even things such as a two-parent household or mentors within their community aid to this argument. They often build up this pressure towards less privileged people to meet them on their level or that they should want what they have. I have often been hit with the, “OMG, I’m sorry that you don’t have a newer model car!” gaze. When in theory, conversations should be built around shared experiences and differentiating opinions, this is such an attribute when talking with anyone and learning about them.

II.   The People Who Were Never Given the Resources, Had Poor Environmental Conditions, and Lacked Positive Role Models

For some folks, you cannot fault them for the way they think about things. Some people had non-existent support systems, horrid environmental conditions, and few resources or people they could turn to in their communities for mentorship. If your entire world is engulfed in this kind of infrastructure, how can privileged people expect things from you that are outside of the structure that they have lived and you have never experienced? It takes time, patience, and striving for policy changes to change environmental conditions. Also, people tend to get comfortable in their surroundings, and begin this climbing of the latter within that setting whether mentally or physically and become stuck. This can be problematic for people who want to change, but there is no casual link between the words and action of that change. Examples can include becoming a part of a gang, never wanting to leave college and enter the workforce, or even prolonging a dream of being a rapper that self destruct your human capital. Hoop Dreams is another prime example that is self-explanatory.

III.  The People who realize their ignorance, and choose to ignore it to fit in

 This is probably my least favorite type of ignorance that people take on. Sometimes people partake in ill actions or speak in a way that is degrading of other people, but they know the effects it has on others (they create negative and unsafe environments physically, emotionally, and mentally). People often make these ridiculous statements like, “I’m an asshole or a bitch!” or say something idiotic like, “I’m just speaking my mind” as failed attempts to justify demeaning behavior and actions. This bothers me because the people who say these things know what they are saying, and often times pick a group of people to demonize. An example would be a duo of openly gay rappers at my alma mater who have gained much success from their talents (school spread & YouTube notoriety, radio appearances, etc.). Male rappers who fit a heteronormative identity criticized these young men and their sexuality to defend their hurt emotions and lack of instant success. They believed their masculinity was jeopardized further because women enjoyed their music predominantly, and many men denied their enjoyment of their music in fear of their masculinity being in a vulnerable state. A lot of people do this kind of bashing. It just goes to show the refusal of people to become vulnerable to find an emotional pillar of acceptance of themselves and others to rectify progressive change. People are often scared to be individuals; they become entrapped by generalizations surrounding their identity instead of forming their own. People will try to show this reluctance of vulnerability through channels such as social media sites (i.e. Twitter & Facebook). It is an easy playground for people to be the “bully” without any accountable measure, and the often-lame duck excuse is that, “its just Facebook or Twitter.” The problem spills out of control with individuals who suffer the brunt of these attack, and have no voice and are often paralyzed mentally and emotionally. People commit suicide, enter severe depression, or become socially uncomfortable in any setting (online or physical world). The ignorance must stop, or we are inevitably, doomed.

I end by saying, “We have to do better in 2012…” Thank you.

-Vernon L. Johnson, MPH

(Jump Man = Dead Man) Is Jordan socially irresponsible?

I am having the hardest time understanding the logic, or rather the lack there of; when I start to think about the violence committed over a pair of shoes. What the hell is wrong with these people? Granted, lets take into account that I am in no way a viable source of information when it comes to the dynamics of the world in which a Sneaker Head exists. But any sensible human being should be able to discern the true level of ridiculousness surrounding this product!!

I refuse to try to wrap my head around peoples’ excitement for any newly released product because Apple, Inc. has successfully built a cult and I am about 2 products from becoming a full fledged member! My point of inquiry in this whole sneaker thing is: “Where does Michael Jordan stand on this issue?” How does it feel to put your name on a product that people are killing and starting riots over?

This beast of a consumer that seeks the newly released shoe, (that is only released once a year in a limited supply, almost asking for problems with that whole supply and demand thing we all study) is hell bent on getting what they want. I honestly believe that my lack of understanding stems from an equal lack of interest.

But when we bring up the the topic of social responsibility the definition really depends upon how someone feel about it. Everyone is going to have an opinion, and this is fine, this blog encourages it LoL!! As a public figure, role model to the masses and an icon in every sense of the word I believe MJ has a responsibility to actively speak out about the violence that this product has brought about. Those who are as influential as he know the power a few of their words can have. So open your mouth! If President Obama released a line of dress socks and there were riots and muggins at Brooks Brothers and Jos. A Bank stores don’t you think people would want him to say something about it….?

Any way it’s just a thought. I can assure you that I wont be breaking my neck for a pair of sneakers….. EVER! But to those who do I wish you the best of luck in your dangerous plight to acquire this shoe you treasure so dearly. In the mean time I’ll stick to the Nike products that work well for me: Cole Haan, nike running shoes and flip flops lol.

Safe Shopping Sneaker Heads!!


Posted: January 5, 2012 in Fashion, Simple Pleasures, Social Issues, Vincent G. Hardy, Jr

“Autoethnography and autobiography signal the strained ability and the necessary reflection that marginalized groups must engage to find and redefine our identities” (Alexander, 2006, p. xx).

“The fact that we are Black men marks our racialized and gendered presence in the classroom. Our Blackness signals ancestral ties that for me, demand recognition as a struggle against invisibility” (Alexander, 2010, p. 366).

In her Southern yet Midwestern drawl, lets just say her oddly amalgamated Midwest-Southern accent, the professor asked: LaCharles, what does it mean to be a successful Black student? My body jerked as if I had just been awakened from a nightmare—I gulped, glanced out the corner of my eyes seeing all those damn White eyes on my body. They were waiting for me to respond, just like a bunch of tourists intently waiting for my “exotic” body to respond, as if they were doing a cultural study on my Black body. Or, where they? I swallowed (this time, longer) again as if I am fixing my mouth to speak—I’m not, I am quite amused by their nonverbal gestures as they patiently wait (hope) that I speak—I can see their privileged bodies scoot to the edge of their seats, as if they were watching a spectator sport, and my Black body was the spectacle. In that moment, I felt like George Yancy in Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race (2008), that my body “has always already committed a criminal deed [his emphasis]” (p. 5). I didn’t respond, I remained silent, to be honest, afraid to speak. Not only afraid to speak for myself but more importantly, other Black men. However, I still wonder, was that a moment where I should have spoken up? What were the repercussions for not speaking up? By not speaking up, did I allow the stereotype of Black males “not excelling” in college discipline my body? Then, I asked, what is success to me? As an outsider-within or betweener (Diversi & Moreira, 2009) I asked in dialogue with myself, if I told them what success meant (to me) would they (and by default, me) assume that this is how all Black men define success? More emotionally, if I defined it, I wanted to know—would they leave my Black body alone.  

In this story, I attempt to use authoethnography, namely a personal narrative approach, meshing the academic and personal (Ellis & Bochner, 2000) to voice my experiences as a Black male student at a predominantly White institution. I enter this space at multiple intersections, as a Black, male, student, teacher, son, uncle, and brother. To be reflexive, all of these identity locations will (without a doubt) inform, in some way (good or bad), my story—our story. This story reflects on my experiences as a Black male student in the classroom; it is my attempt to speak up and talk back (hooks, 1989) to systems of domination. More importantly, I seek to reflexively mark how my body constantly resists educational spaces that labor to both disparage and deny my lived experiences. As Natasha Tarpley notes in Testimony: Young African-Americans on Self-Discovery and Black Identity (1995), “in the classroom, Black students often find themselves fighting battles similar to those waged against Black people on the streets” (p. 3). She further states, “the same forces that work to silence and render invisible Black people outside the classroom are also represented in our educational system” (Tarpley, 1995, p. 3). Just like my Black body is Otherized outside of academy, this is also the case within the academy. What happens to Black bodies in the classroom? It follows something like this:

Its now the third week of class, I am excited yet nervous because the topic for today’s discussion are about stereotypes of African Americans—the instructor usually uttered this with seemingly over-jubilation. I never understood—at least not until later. She would say, class be sure to read the readings for next week, as we will talk about stereotypes within the African American community. She glances over at me and the two other Black students in the class, I force myself to smile—a smile that says: Oh shit my dude, prepare to be the spectacle and spokesperson. The other two Black students who happen to be men, we synchronically looked over at each other, our eyes locked. We knew what was coming—the question was, how to prepare? I set in my chair, which had monstrous amounts of bubble gum underneath, shitty. I set as she began to lecture, still thinking about why she was so excited to lecture about this topic. Was this her version of incorporating diversity in the classroom? If so, I am not sure how—none of the readings were by scholars of color—all were by White scholars talking about Blacks. I was worried. I didn’t know why yet, I hadn’t gotten that far. Yo, LaCharles, Marcus, one of the Black students exclaimed, what the hell is she talking about? I responded in my seemingly academic yet sarcastic façade, she is attempting to add diversity to the classroom! Do you think its working? I don’t. He responded, hell naw man, she is only painting Black men out to be criminals, gangstas, and low-lifes. What about you, Daniel, and me? We aren’t any of those. I, of course, responded, I know brother, we aren’t but to them we are. I am reminded of “Br(other) in the Classroom: Testimony, Reflection, and Cultural Negotiation” (2010) by Bryant Keith Alexander, where he discuss the “brother” as cultural references that unite Blacks to collectivize their efforts around common experiences and oppressions.

The other Black student, Daniel, a transfer from Washington University in St. Louis raises his hand, the teacher visually acknowledges him yet chose not to call on him. The exchange between us:

Marcus: G, did she just ignore him?

Me: Yes, it appears she did, maybe she has more to get to in the lecture and she just don’t have time. At least this is what I am hoping.

Marcus: Man it don’t matta—that was bogus as hell.

Daniel: Just chill a bit, maybe she will come back to me. Don’t sweat it.

She didn’t call on Daniel. However, she called on two of the White students in class. One stood up, tall, blonde hair, green eyes…he said but aren’t stereotypes based off reality, and in essence, true? You could hear a pen drop, dead silence. In this moment my pours began to sweat, I could physically feel my body tense up. I thought to myself, please don’t let this woman confirm his racist statement. She failed me and every other Black person both within and outside of that classroom. She said, this is true but only to a certain extent. I SCREAMED internally, “to a certain extent!!” I cried but didn’t shed tears. I hurt but didn’t show the wounds. In that moment, our heads dropped…yet again, we were rendered voiceless. Marginalized. Subordinated. Silenced would be an understatement. Why did I feel hopeless in this moment? Should I have stood up? What if I was afraid of being disciplined? Actually, scratch that, I was afraid of being disciplined.


I needed comfort—I couldn’t show or express this hurt to Marcus or Daniel, I had to perform a “cool pose” identity. I didn’t want them to see me vulnerable, didn’t need my manhood questioned in this already painful moment. That’s the last thing I needed.

Hopeless. Alone. Why didn’t they feel the same way? Or, did they? Maybe they, like me, were also struggling to maintain a hypermasculine “cool” identity.

This questioning marked a moment where I began to question hegemonic gender constructions; those that said men were not allowed to express emotions. In that moment, I didn’t want to be called a sissy, fag, or a punk for allowing myself to be vulnerable. It was here where the study of Black masculinity interested me as an undergraduate—I entered hoping to learn about myself in relation to others, but myself in relation to….myself. Like, Bryant Keith Alexander (2006), and so many other Black men, I performed the “expected Bad Black Man” both within and especially outside of the classroom. As he notes it is a performance “that perpetuates the expectations while it services their (and my) desire” (p. 81). My desire to maintain my (our and their) cultural membership. Similarly, Ronald Jackson (2006) notes, “a negotiation of masculinity ensues when perceptions of an individual’s masculinity prompt that individual to reconsider the meanings attached to his masculinity or else maintain and defend his perception” (p. 86). I couldn’t. I found myself vacillating between what others (society’s standards) wanted me to be and what my body, mind, and intellect wanted me to be. I was between and betwixt. As Hip-Hop artist, Lauryn Hill, states, “I was tired of frontin’.” I reconsidered and redefined what masculinity meant to/for me and by extension, success, especially from a (intra)cultural standpoint.

Knock. Knock. The sound of the door as I checked to see if my professor was in her office. I spent the entire night recounting the first and third day of class. I wanted to talk about both days. Come in, she exclaimed. How may I help you LaCharles? My palms begin to sweat, my body tensed up—hands shaking, I responded, I would like to talk about the first and third day of class. Oh ok, do you need me clarify some material? Uh no, I responded. Actually I would like to first talk about how I felt as a student on the first day in your class and second about how you made Daniel, Marcus, and I feel in class during the discussion on stereotypes. She breathed deeply as if she knew this was coming. Did she? Maybe. She said, can this wait, I teach in 15 minutes. Hesitantly…I said yes… wondering if she was trying to push off the conversation. I also breathed a sigh of relief? Why?  Great, lets schedule for this evening at 4:30. Um, ok, I will see you soon, I muttered.

In the meantime, I went to pick up some lunch, hoping to calm down. That was a failed attempt. An hour or so passed, its 4:15, lets try this again.

It is always so quiet in this building. I exclaim, as I walk through the Life Science building in route to the professor’s office. Looking at signs that read: “BANY’s Lab,” “Cognitive and Neuro Lab,” and “School of Medicine’s Physiology Lab.” Knock…knock…me gently tapping the door. It’s me, LaCharles, I murmured, as if she doesn’t know its me already. Oh, come on in, LaCharles.

The Professor: So, remind me again, what are we going to talk about? I forgot.

Me: I responded, nervous as hell, well, I would like to talk about how you made me feel in class doing the first week of class. The day we talked about success and academic motivation.

The Professor: Ok, what about it? How did you feel? Is it something I said?

Me: Well, yes, but its also the way you said it and the context of which it was said in. I felt that when you asked me: LaCharles, what does it mean to be a successful Black student? That some how I was not suppose to be successful and that for some reason my definition of success is different than the rest of the students. Which it is but that’s beside the point. Also, I felt that you chose me to be the spokesperson for all Black students, which made me feel a little uncomfortable. Tokenism.  I can’t be, while we might share a similar racial identity, we are also diverse and have different experiences and I felt you assumed that we didn’t. Lastly, by choosing me to define what success meant for Blacks, you were basically implying that somehow it couldn’t be the same as Whites. Why? Do you see where I am coming from?

The Professor: Sorta. First off, I understand where you are coming from but I didn’t mean to make you feel this way. I simply thought that you had a different perspective. Second, I wasn’t trying to paint you out to be a spokesperson….

Me: But you did, professor. And by doing so, all of the other White students were on the edge of their seats waiting for me to give the “Black perspective.”

The Professor: I am not sure what you want me to do….or say…

Me: Nevermind. Excuse me, I have to go.

Angered by her passive-aggressiveness and refusal to own up to her behavior and, frankly, privilege, I had to leave the office. I’d prefer her jettison these damn microaggressions. Also I wish she would stop trying to deny or excuse her actions, intent and outcome are different.  I felt myself becoming increasingly more intolerant of her avoidance, nicely-covered “I don’t give a fuck” attitude, and lack of respect about my feelings. Nowhere in our dialogue, more like, monologue, was there an “I’m sorry” or something to show that she cared. I wondered, did I shut down dialogue by leaving? Maybe, but would you have set through such dismal behavior? Should I not have been angry? Perhaps, but I was. In that moment, none of that mattered. I was already regretting having to see her in class next week.

As I recounted this story, one in which I will never forget, I remember how hopeless I felt as a student, especially as a Black male where there are more Black men in prison than there are in college (Justice Policy Institute, 2011). How does this moment define and/or (re)define me in relation to dominant discourse of and about Black students? I ask, as a critical scholar, how are my experiences similar to and/or different than other Black male students? How do I resist and redefine my identity as a student to an educational approach that is not culturally democratic (Ramirez & Castaneda, 1974)? For me, this resistance is through speaking up and through performances of resistance (Young, 2010), or, what Critical Race Theorist call counter-storytelling (Solorzano & Yosso, 2002) and what Communication scholars, Stacy Holman Jones (2005), Bryant Keith Alexander (2006) and Robin Boylorn (2011) refer to as autoethnographic storytelling. However, no matter how much I resist dominant discourse and canonical ways of knowledge production—I am very much implicated in this system as a student—yet, now I strategically oscillate to and fro, between and betwixt, my identity as a Black-student-teacher. As a student, I often felt that my ways of learning, knowing, and engagement in the classroom were restricted and unwelcomed. Rather, because of my particular approach to knowledge production and because my lived experiences resisted and challenged canons of education my body and experiences are labeled as “at-risk.” As an undergraduate student I struggled with this term and now as a graduate student and teacher, I continue to struggle.

Note: This piece is a re-worked/edited version of a seminar paper entitled “Leave My Black Body Alone: Negotiating, (Re)sisting, and Becoming in the Academy” for my Communication, Culture, and Pedagogy class.


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