Saturday, January 22, 2005
Friday, January 21, 2005
I've been thinking about this post from Steven Barnes' blog. Particularly, this section
"this would easily relate to my sense that the negative programs run by America, and black America, pertaining to young black men are absolutely poisonous. That black immigrants who come from a culture in which there are role models and mythologies that support excellence, as opposed to young black men, who, faced with countless dehumanizing and emasculating images in the majority culture turn to the only powerful images they can find. In America, this happens to be Hip-Hop culture right now"
It reminded me of a previous post where I touched on the importance of role models to children. This seems like as good a time as any to talk some more about that.
Heroes give us something to aim for. An idea of what our limitations are, or should be. Children who grow up believing that there are no limitations in what they can accomplish therefore start out with a significant advantage over children who expact to achieve little. For now, even if you don't believe this accept it as my hypothesis.
Now, the image of black people in the American media is, with very few exceptions, limited to athletic, entertainment, criminal and/or sexual prowess. (sidenote: As for Africans, we're usually starving, exterminating each other or living in the jungle. However, we retain the same 'animal' sexuality) Don't believe me? Talk to someone from a foreign country whose only exposure to America has been through the media and ask them what they think about black people, or just observe them around black people.
Since these images are all children see, they expect little more of themselves. A good way to counteract this mental poisoning and expand their horizons is to show them as many images as possible of extraordinary people who look like them as possible. This was originally the idea that led Carter G. Woodson to create negro history week, the precursor to black history month. It's also a large part of the reason why African and Carribean immigrants tend to do comparatively well despite all the racism and idiocy we have to contend with. We have a larger pool of role models to draw on when creating our expectations.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
The second half of Ken Burns' Documentary: Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson aired today. I already knew who he was but this show definitely added a lot to what I knew about both the man and the boxer. Like most great people, his story was at once humbling, inspiring and saddening (the rhyming in unintentional, I promise). This was a man who, in an age where black men could be assaulted or killed for even daring to speak out of turn, lived his life with a fearlessness that would be remarkable even today. The fact that he was somewhat troubled and made several unwise decisions does little to overshadow the magnitude of his achievements or the strength of his character. I, for one, salute him and hope I can one day learn to live my life with the same fearlessness.
R.I.P Jack Johnson, a giant among men
Thursday, January 13, 2005
My current daily training regimen is my return to being a dedicated, slightly obsessive martial arts student. I figure that by putting it up here, I'll be a little bit more motivated to see it through.
For at least the first three months, I will be taking the advice I have received from all of my teachers and going back to basics. That means lots of stance work and single movement drills. Right now, its split up into two onw hour sessions. One in the morning and one at night
Morning: 7-8 am
I start by warming up. Usually with 40-50 jumping jacks. These are followed by a series of joint rotations. From there, immediate transition into stance work. There are a series of seven stances that are basics in the style of northern mantis I practise. I hold each one for ten breaths on each side. Every week an additional breath is added. Usually by the time I'm done with I'm warmed up enough for about 10-15 minutes of stretching. The primary focus of the stretches are my hips, back and legs. The rest of the time goes to mantis single movement drills.
This time is reserved for my dachengquan practise. Currently I am managing 35 minutes if standing meditation. Every week, I add on an additional 5 minutes. The rest of the time goes to movement drills
After 3 months, I'll look at how far I've come and see if any changes need to be made.
Wish me luck
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
This Christmas I set out to buy my little 12 year old cousin a present. An image of a black superhero. Watching him grow up in America has made me more aware of how important it is to see people who look like you do extraordinary things. As anyone who is familiar with the world of comics knows, black heroes are few and far between. As a comic book fan myself, this is one of my biggest issues with the industry. Thankfully, I've put in a fair amount of time and energy over the years into finding science fiction and comics with black creators and well written black characters so, since he has the good taste to be a fan of 'Static Shock', I got him the trade paperback. He loved it and I felt great for getting him to read more while simultaneously finding him a black hero image.
Sidenote: According to Static's creator, Dwayne Mcduffie, the show folded because they were unable to get any merchandising deals for a critically acclaimed award winning children's cartoon with consistently high ratings. Would anyone care to venture a guess why?
Saturday, January 01, 2005
Approach every class from a 'teach yourself' perspective. Look up alternate materials, review notes asap after class, make sure I maintain a solid understanding of the core concepts and any necessary mathematics.
Put in as much time as is necessary to make sure that I'm ready for qualifiers by the end of the semester.
Find an advisor. Ideally the professor doing solar cell research. I need the money and the experience.
Also, finish reading the Feynman lectures. Try to average a chapter a day.
Continue my daily martial arts regimen. I've been doing this for about a week. Sooner or later it'll end up on here. Probably some time this week.
Try and work out a weekly training routine with Master Wang, my current teacher. Ideally get into shape so I can compete in either Baltimore or Akron at the end of the year in forms, push hands and sparring.
Call my parents more. They worry about me and I miss them. I learned from my mother's cancer scare that it's impossible to predict how long they'll be around.
Pay more attention to people I care about. For some reason, I tend to take the people I care about for granted. Not out of malice, but becase I assume they'll always be there. They deserve a higher priority. Bu the end of this week, I'll be caught up on all the phone calls and emails I've been putting off.
Return to the version of me that couldn't care less about whether or not people like me. I'm happier and more genuine when I'm free to say what I'm thinking and not worry about other people's expectations. Plus I get more women.
Speaking of women. I need to start dating again. As soon as qualifiers are over I have some calls to make.
Recognise the worth of every moment
This seems loke a long list but a lot of the things on there are actually connected. Basically, if I treat myself and my family with the respect they deserve, the rest will fall into place.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE