As real life becomes more and more blurred by reality television and social media it is obvious that most people’s concept of reality versus perception is becoming more and more skewed. The government that we think is in our best interest has no interest in our well being at all. The people we idolize and think we look up to, such as actors and rappers and other entertainers, don’t lead the lives they portray on the screen. Most importantly the direction we think our world is going in is not nearly as positive and humanitarian as it should be considering the appalling distribution of wealth in America.
First let’s analyze our favorite group of people, celebrities. We all have this perception that our favorite entertainers lead such extravagant lives and there is no way they couldn’t be happy. Yet what is the true price of fame? The fact that you will no longer be able to do normal things such take a quick trip to the store without being bombarded by screaming fans, or that just about everyone that comes into your life is seeking some type of monetary gain from your success. May God bless the dead, but the number of celebrity suicides and entertainers who die before the age of 60 is absurd. Maybe living the “perfect” life is not all its cracked up to be. And the sad truth is that most of the time the life that they portray is far from reality. It may come as a surprise but your favorite rapper probably doesn’t own the cars and houses in his videos. He most likely does not sleep with the women that are flaunted in the scenes. Yet, we as a society buy into the narrative thinking that if we worked harder we can get that car or be with that girl. Only to ultimately find out that your favorite rapper is most likely in debt and might even partake in homosexual activites, but because that’s not the perception that society wants they must hide their reality.
The world of entertainment is not the only place where distortion of real life is constantly taking place. The American government is probably the most heinous culprit portraying this illusion. For instance the government constantly tries to convince the American people that Islamic terrorism is the most threatening thing our country faces today. However, they are reluctant to acknowledge the terror that is consistently spread by American neo-nazis and right wing radicals. These white people have been responsible for more deaths and attacks in this country than so called Muslim extremists and the current political climate has given them a foothold to gain ground an bring there ideals to the forefront.
The American government also wants you to believe in the good ole “American Dream” . The core principle that if you put your head down and work hard you too can one day achieve financial success. Well I hate to break it to you but this dream is a nightmare. According to Harvard professors and economists the wealthiest people in the nation, the top 1%, contain about 40% of our nation’s wealth. This being in great contrast to the fact that the bottom 80% contain less than 7% of America’s wealth. To put that in perspective let’s scale America’s census down to one hundred people. Based on the so called American dream if there were only 100 people the the top person would be wealthier than the bottom 80 people COMBINED. Yet they want you to believe that some way somehow you can make it into that top tier.
The conundrum of perception versus reality is something that has plagued man, and will continue to plague us for eternity. I suppose the only way to combat this problem is to stay informed of the world around you, and understand that every institution has a major incentive in mind that most likely does not align with your best interests. Maybe one day humanity will realize the error of its ways and adopt a more humanitarian approach, but until then my only advice is to keep it real.
As America continues to develop and thrive economically there is a major issue that is being brought into the light. GENTRIFICATION. Gentrification is defined as the process of renovation and revival of deteriorated urban neighborhoods by means of influx or more affluent residents. Now as far as I’m concerned the verdict is still out on whether or not this process is positive or negative for the communtity. Depending on the demographic a person represents they have strongly supported concerns or validations on this issue.
In theory gentrification is a concept designed to benefit all persons in a specific community. For whatever reason a particular area becomes more desirable and attractive to potential residents thus making the property value in that area rise significantly. The benefits of this action are obvious, noting that more business will occur in a newly renovated community resulting in more revenue in that state. However, the negative impacts of gentrification are much more subtle. In order for gentrification to occur it is only common sense that you have to remove the lower income residents that already reside in that area. The way that the government and the private sector goes about this is by increasing rent prices to an astronomical price that they know the current tenants will not be able to afford leaving them no choice but to relocate.
My main issue is that I do not understand why as a country we cannot come together and refurbish these impoverished communities without out relocating and destroying the vibrant culture that lives within them. When it comes to the private sector making a profit it seems as though the process of gentrification happens at the snap of the fingers. Yet, if there is not money to be made then investing in an underdeveloped community seems to be an after thought. This observation stems from the legendary but simplistic realization that separate is inherently not equal.
As the inevitable process of gentrification spreads throughout America it leaves one to ponder. Will the divide between those in the middle class and those considered to be upper class become greater and greater? If we do not make a stand to preserve the cultures that are represented in our lower income communities we risk losing the great benefits that diversity has afforded this country. There is no doubt that cities such as Harlem, Atlanta, Oakland, and San Francisco have made major contributions to the America that we live in today. So why is it that we will let our hunger for monetary gain stifle the creativity and innovation that has propelled us into the great country we are today. All in all I am not sure whether or not I am for or against gentrification. Yet, I do realize that the loss of culture that has been developed by the urban communities in question would far out weigh the gain that this country would receive from a few more condominiums.
“What is LOVE? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more.” What a classic song right, but in all seriousness how do we define love in this day and age? In a time where the ability to communicate with others, meet new people, and virtually explore any place in the world with internet access who can tell the difference between deep rooted love and fleeting infatuation. It is almost as though society has become so hooked on the thrill of being on cloud nine from an intimate encounter that we lack the moral fortitude to develop a strong and meaningful connection with someone.
Now I would hang my generation out to dry and say that we caused the deterioration of the traditional relationship, but its demise began long before millennials stepped on to the scene. You see, chauvinistic men who take their women for granted have been around since the beginning of time. Thus the rise of women’s empowerment was inevitable. Yet, now raises the predicament of neither party knowing what the other’s true intentions are. I’m all for strong independent women that don’t need a man to take care of them, but in the same sense most women don’t want a man who is not as educationally and financially secure and established as they are. And without that lack of dependency and the unwillingness to carry the burden it makes it very difficult for men to figure out where they fit into the picture.
Now ladies before you slay me I realize that this situation has mostly been brought upon by the choices of men. Typically a man who is established with a considerable amount of money wants one of two things. He either wants a loyal trustworthy woman that he can occasionally step out on without any backlash from her because he is in a dominant position, or he wants the freedom to frolick amongst the lands of the promiscuous women without any attachment or commitment. Don’t get me wrong neither one of these situations are ideal for a lady, but unless you’re a stripper or a sugar baby you will most likely end up with the first option. Which brings me to the most important reason as to why love is lost in 2017. There is no longer any accountability, transparency, or honesty when it comes to dating in the world.
Now days you can be steadily courting someone for months and still not know if you all are dating, talking, or just kickin’ it. Mind you I still have yet to determine what the difference is between the three and it just adds to the complexity of the situation. Also the word exclusive has become so broadly defined that we might as well be using the term inclusive instead. No one has the patience anymore to actively pursue someone they are attracted to after the first rejection. Quite frankly I don’t blame them because if you are not open to meeting a new person and getting to know what they’re about then they shouldn’t waste their time on you. It just seems as though all the guys are searching for a quick hit, and all the ladies are looking for a come up. So before we start projecting all of our wants that we desire from a potential partner maybe we should take a deep look inside and ask ourselves are we the type of person that somebody should aspire to date?
Today I will be ushering in the new year with mixed emotions. Don’t get me wrong I am ecstatic about going to see my hometown Atlanta Falcons play their arch rival the New Orleans Saints. Yet, as they enter onto the field to play the final game that they will ever play in the historical Georgia Dome, I will have no choice but to reminisce about all the great memories I’ve had in that place. I mean for goodness sake this is the place in which I walked across the stage to receive my high school diploma. The place in which I celebrated numerous friends’ birthdays. The place in which I got to see my Falcons do the “Dirty Bird” celebration dance after each touchdown. So as the city of at Atlanta begins the process of doing away with the old and bringing in the new, it is all too bitter sweet. Bitter because I know that the Georgia Dome will dearly missed, but oh so sweet because the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium is in a league of its own. You can’t go wrong with seating for up to 80,000 fans, a retractable roof that can open and close within minutes, and a 58 foot high-360 degree halo video board for replays and promotions. So I guess it’s goodbye dome and hello stadium! But on this last and final game day in the Georgia Dome I will definitely be there to help my Falcons RISE UP! Check out what the new stadium will be like…
The stage is set and we are all preparing for what seems like round two of last year’s epic gladiator battle between the University of Alabama and Clemson University. It comes as no surprise that the Crimson Tide have forged their way to the title game for the third year in a row easily defeating the Washington Huskies. Yet I don’t think that anyone could have predicted the Tigers rolling through Ohio State in such dominant fashion. Especially not Urban Meyer, coach of the Buckeyes,who for the first time in his 15 seasons as a head coach led a team to a scoreless defeat. Thus with the same two opponents going head to head for the second year in a row spectators are curious to know will history repeat itself? Although last year Clemson did put up a valiant effort, their star quarterback and fast paced tempo seemed to be no match for Alabama’s brute force. With two coaches doing all they can to wield their respective programs into the annals of history only time will tell who will be crowned this year’s College National Football Champion.
It is said that pressure does two things. It either busts pipes or creates diamonds, and the line between the two is so fine that we often push ourselves to the limit trying to become a diamond not realizing how close we are to exploding. I bet every individual can identify with wanting to achieve a goal or desiring to be successful, but not even knowing where the desire for that thing came from. Well it comes from the outside influences such your parents and family, or maybe your friends and peers, or maybe a coach or mentor. Although each one of these external influences mean well and have they the best intentions, they unknowingly exert on you a pressure to perform. A pressure to be the best. A pressure to live up to expectations that may not even be that of your own.
The trailer above is from a Netflix documentary that chronicles the life of some young high school athletes who participate in a very competitive basketball circuit known as AAU. And when I say competitive I mean COMPETITIVE. As in these young men dedicate their lives to basketball, and they train as hard as Olympic athletes for the opportunity to receive a scholarship from any one of the country’s elite collegiate programs. From the time these athletes are 11 or 12 years old all they know is basketball. The friends they obtain are from basketball, they play year round as if they were on a professional schedule, and in some cases they even push their bodies through grueling training regiments that can be detrimental to their health. Yet if you were to ask one of them about it they would most likely tell you that they love it, because that’s all they know. It’s not until they get older that they realize how much they’re talents have been exploited for other’s benefit, and how some of their opportunities have been stifled due to the lack of a well rounded skill set.
Too often in society we do this to our youth. We paint a jaded picture for them, and tell them early on that it is this or nothing at all. We put the stigma on them that if they don’t find success in this area then success will elude them their entire lives. Our focus is so heavily based on producing diamonds that we forget about all the pipes we busts. If a child has goals then by all means help them, guide them, and impart on them the things required to achieve that goal. But for heavens sake please do not waste their youth selling them your dreams. Out of nearly 600,000 men’s high school basketball players only 3% will receive a scholarship to play basketball. Which is about 18,000, and out of that 18,000 only .03% are likely to play professionally. Forgive me if my math is a little off but that’s about 6 players. Out of 600,000 players only 6 will do this for a living. Diamonds are formed when an pressure is applied EQUALLY around in the CORRECT environment. So please do today’s youth a favor and make diamonds don’t bust pipes.
Life is about making the most of your opportunities, and taking a chance. Always remember nothing ventured, nothing gained! What opportunities are you going to capitalize on today?