My father taught me many years ago how to win but, more importantly, how winner’s lose. I had to have this conversation with my 9 year old daughter years during a math competition. Though she placed high in during math competition, there was a child that was steadily crying because she did not place well in order to get an invitation. Because she was crying and everyone was so consoling of her pain, the judge arbitrarily gave her an invitation as well. As I was speaking with my daughter, she said to me, “Daddy, what is the point of having a competition if they are going to give away invitations.” In total agreement with her, I clearly stated that crying is not a problem( we all cry) but it should not be a catalyst for expectations either.
As I ended our conversation, I said,
“We win like champions and lose like champions. “
Therefore, if you do not earn a spot because of the work, then you will not get a spot because of tears. Because children that do not learn how to handle defeat grow into self-entitled adults with no firm idea of discipline.
There comes a time in your life where you have to stop squeezing into spaces that you have outgrown.
Contortion—fitting in— is a dehumanizing rendering of the soul that never bothers to consider whether joy is a viable outcome in the presentation.
In that instance, the only thing that matters is that you are a part of the group. No one is benefitting, neither you or the group. When you can’t come to a space with authenticity, you spiritually and holistically don’t enter the space. What actually happens is that you become a spectator within a participation activity. Therein you can’t receive and no one can receive from you, you are essential just benumbed air within the room.
When I was a young boy we would play this game call the Hokey Pokey. You would sing this song that went something like this: “You put your whole self in, you put your whole self out, that’s what it all about!” See in the Hookey Pookey space authenticity was a key component for participation. The only way you could come to the space was to come with your whole-self.
In a world where authenticity and honesty are a rarity, the need to “fit in” becomes a survival skill. Nevertheless, those who have chosen to stay on the path of being true to themselves will eventually see the fruit of their labor come to pass. I remember when The Roots came out in the early 90’ with Organix. I heard Black Thought on Teen Summit on BET and thought he was one of the premier emcees in Hip Hop. The Roots dropped subsequent albums and he skills continually flamed throughout each album. But, you rarely heard him on other high-profile emcee projects. But Questlove, one of his bandmates in the group ,made a statement that he gathered from a conversation with Jay-Z. Jay-Z told him that most big named rappers would never jump on a track with Black Thought because they knew that they were going to get outshined because Black Thought was such a monster on the mic.
With that said, you still never saw Black Thought contort to fit into a box. He just blew up his box with the ultimate freestyle with Funk Master Flex. After that midnight maraud, he forever cemented his name as one of the premier emcees in the game of Hip Hop.
He stayed authentic and always brought his whole self to the space.
So stay authentic and bring all your dopiness to the space; we need it and you.
Currently, I am reading Don’t Cry For Me by Daniel Black. This is novel about a father who is currently on his death bed journaling or writing letters to his queer/gay son in the form of an apology. It is written with the complexity of the father coming to “grips” with his son’s sexuality. Intentionally, I use that word “grips” in a sense of formation that has reshaped the father’s love. This book is firmly about fatherhood in a radical form. Radical in the root form of going back the basics of the father retrieving or at least trying to retrieve lost time.
It is not the typical how to book, but it is the narration of a father cultivating his love for his son through his cultural awareness of his own failures and success. His intentions from the beginning were well intended but in retrospect they were harmful to the growth of his son. Rather, he approved or disapproved, of his son’s sexuality, it was eventually outmaneuvered by his capacity to love his son’s enfleshment—his sexuality. Ultimately, this is what Dr. Black is getting at through this novel: that fatherhood has the potential to love with no boundaries.
Honestly, the novel is an imaginative critique of masculinity in the shape of fatherhood. What does fatherhood resemble in the lives of men who are broken? What does fatherhood mean in a man who has no concept of tenderness? What is love in a world where sacrifice is considered love? Dr. Black is performing these great “improvisational linguistics” as he tells this beautiful story of Black life transforming Black masculinity.
There is more but I will let you figure it out as you read…
A riot is the [voice] language of the unheard. Why would King make such a flaming statement? It is a statement laced with truth yet sacrificing itself on the alter of critique. Often truth can be so enlightening that awakes the very darkness that lies dormant within us. We all have had moments when our voices have been silenced for one reason or another. Sometimes causing us to restructure our very essence in order to live peaceably within our everyday space.
SILENCE IS SLOW.
Being unheard moves one to silence in a way that “feels un-natural.” I am not speaking of natural in a sense of nature but in a sense of undoing. When you have been silenced because you feel like you are unheard it starts an explosion that is going to erupt or irrupt.
SILENCE IS slow.
It feels like stress but it is an un-doing. What is being produced is the skill to hear and see more because now you are forced into the posture as the watcher. Speech is secondary within this skillset but seeing and hearing becomes the optimum resources. When you are not use to being silent it appears to manifest as stress. Yet it is not stress, it is just an unfamiliar space. Being unheard, or, in similar fashion, being ignored, makes one feel as if they have been silenced. This silence or un-doing awakens the body because other senses are forced to sharpen their appeal.
SILENCE is slow.
A riot is the [voice] language of the unheard and a riot happens with excessive speed. If you do not control the outcome of the silence it will lead to a riot. Once that riot jumps off the outcome may have catastrophic outcomes. It is too late to try to tame the riot after it has started.
silence is slow
I am convinced every PhD student has quit at least once, if not once a day…
I started a PhD program around 2018 with the expectation that the world would open up for the young Black brother from the south exploring theological terrains. It was a quest that was far beyond anything that I would have imagined. The fear of being looked upon as being the dummy in the room was a real thing; the fear of your work being rejected; and, the fear of failing. All of these things were normal occurrences as I talked with my colleagues and fellow PhD classmates— “We all had our moments where we felt insufficient.
The obtaining of a PhD is the art of crafting a masterpiece that you have yet to fully grasped its intention.
The obstacles that evolve become opportunities to excavate the archive known as your soul. I am not sure if one obtains or completes a PhD as much as they craft an experience that is symbolized by a degree and a transcript.
I am convinced every PhD student has quit at least once, if not once a day…