FROM THE HEART GREETING CARDS

Company Description

From the Heart is a greeting card company that makes homemade cards for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and any other special occasions. Our cards are crafted individually with care and detail. The motivation and inspiration of the company is the legacy of the late Eva Tolliver, who was the pillar of love, care, and home in our family. The goal of our company is to promote those values through the cards we make. From the Heart will be a mobile business that takes the orders for the cards and delivers them to the customers. This is a sole proprietorship because it makes it easier to keep track of everything and to know what exactly is going on in my business.

Industry Analysis

Industry description. From the Heart falls under the greeting card industry which consists of holiday cards, and everyday cards.

Key trends. Although the greeting card industry has declined since the technology era started, they have constant revenue that at the moment is neither increasing nor decreasing. Their main target is older people, because they are the pre-technology generation which makes them least likely to switch over to the digital means of greeting cards. They also target women. 80% of greeting cards are purchased by women, which mean 4 out of every 5 cards that are sold are sold to women. The best places for business are Small towns, churches, active adult communities, anywhere that isn’t consumed with technology. Overall, 7 billion greeting cards are purchased every year. 9/10 households buy greeting cards each year and on average, a household buys 30 individual greeting cards a year. As of 07-12, the annual growth of the industry is -6.0%. Typically greeting cards cost between 2 to 4 dollars each depending on the type of greeting card it is. The top 5 businesses in the greeting card industry are Hallmark Cards, American Greeting, Taylor Corporation, CSS Industries, and Russ Berrie & Company.

SWOT analysis. Some strengths that From the Heart has is that we have people within the company that have great creative and design skills for the cards, we also have an ex-business owner and a business school graduate advising us through the process. Along with the skills I have acquired through intro to business and basic business services we will have a well-organized business and a great well put together product. Some of our weaknesses are the fact that this is the first time that I will be running a business. Another weakness is the fact that members of my family will be working with me. That might cause some conflict within the business. One way to fix this weakness is to establish that we are running a business and that we have to be professional. As for the lack of experience, through this project, I will be acquiring the skills that I need to run a business. Some great opportunities that are available to my company are the fact that the church I attend is about 60% women that range from their 20’s to their 80’s. Also, the people my mom works with are mostly women with families. Another good opportunity is the location of my business. Buckeye has its own active adult community, which is for adults over the age of 50 years old. That is good for my business because people over the age of 50 are more likely to purchase a handmade card than to use digital means of greeting cards. Also, the holidays are coming up so people will be looking for quality Christmas and seasonal cards. Some threats that my company has is that Wal*Mart, Fry’s, Walgreens, Dollar Tree, and other stores in Buckeye sell greeting cards from major businesses such as Hallmark, and since I am a new business I may have a hard time getting sales when I start.

Target Market

From the Heart’s major demographic are mostly women between the ages of 25 and 70 that are working and middle class, with a household size of two to six, and has close family ties and good friendships. Studies have shown that about 80% of all greeting card sales are to women, even male themed cards are generally purchased by women. Also, older people, 50+, are more likely to purchase a tangible card than to send an e-card.

Competitive Analysis

Locally, my major competitions are Wal*Mart, Walgreens, Dollar Tree, and Fry’s. Some strengths that all of these places have are that they are all credible. They have been in business for a while and all of these stores are household names. Also, they have a very wide variety of professionally made greeting cards available to their customers. Some of their weaknesses are they don’t offer homemade cards nor do they offer custom made cards. Also, greeting cards isn’t their main product. Some barriers I may come across are the fact that people may prefer to purchase greeting cards from local stores.

Marketing Strategy

Product. The product that I will be selling is custom, homemade greeting cards, such as birthday, anniversary, and holiday cards.  Based on the surveys that I took, my company will have a delivery service where the customer puts in an order and they will be dropped off to them. There will be an option to pick up their order, but mainly delivery is what my company will do.

Price. According to my surveys, most people will pay anywhere from two to eight dollars for a card depending on the quality of the card. From that I have concluded that for smaller cards, cards to put gift cards in, would be $1.00 if they are print, and $1.75 if they are handmade. Regular sized handmade cards will be $3.00 if they want it plain with nothing on the inside and $4.00 – $4.75 if they want a message on the inside of their card. The price will vary for the length of the message.

Promotion. I plan to promote my company through social media, flyers, a commercial that will be posted on different social media websites as well as on the company website, and most importantly through word of mouth.

Price. The location of my company will be my home. That is where all of the production of the product will take place as well as where cards will be picked up from if a customer chooses to pick up cards instead of having them delivered.

Operations

Since my business provides custom made cards, the amount of orders I have will affect how much time is spent on the production of the product. The process of producing the cards will consist of designing the paper that the card will be made from and forming it into a card. It also consists of creating the envelope that the card comes with. I will have a whole room dedicated to my business where I would be able produce the cards, organize orders, and keep everything together in one place. The technologies that will be used in my business are cell phones, so that customers can and contact me, the internet so that I can manage my company’s website and so that I can utilize social media and computers so that I can create the print cards from publisher. The process that will take place so that my product is delivered is discussing a time frame that they need the cards by so that I will be able to mail the cards to them in a timely manner. They will have the option to either have the cards sent to them, or to have the card sent directly to the person that they will be giving the card to.

Management and Organization 

In this business, I will be the key participant because I am a sole proprietorship. As of right now the human resources that are available to me are Kazeem Balogun, who has artistic skills and ability to create hand drawn designs, and Asanti Behe, who has skills in digital design as well as being able to create hand drawn designs. These two will be a part of my employee pool and will be helping me in the card production process. A couple of other human resources that are available to me is Ivy Balogun, with her degree in business science, she will be my marketing advisor, advising me in my decision making when it comes to my business and what will benefit me and the customers, and Luqman Balogun, who has owned his own businesses in the past, will be able to give insightful advice on money matters as my financial advisor. As discussed with the employee pool, they each get 10% of all sales. Through discussion we all concluded that both of them decided to donate their portion of their earnings to Mount Pleasant Church’s youth group G-Next.

Long Term Development

During the first three years of my business, I see us developing a strong clientele and projecting our business to other cities outside of buckeye such as Tonopah, Avondale and Goodyear. Five years from now I see us with more employees, a website where people can put their orders in for their cards, more commercials that can be put on the website and other social media sites, more profits and smoother production process. The strategy I have to have a strong clientele is to provide great service and product so that people will keep coming back for more. To have a better website and more commercials I will get feedback from the customers so that we can know what is and isn’t effective so that we can make improvements to them. As our company grows we will need to have more employees so that we can keep up with the demands of the customers.

Financial 

One of my expected investors is Ivy Balogun. We discussed that she would fund the startup cost, therefore the expected amount to be invested is $20.00. For from the Heart to get started the estimated cost is $20.00. That will be for supplies, and materials that will be needed to make the cards.

 

 

 

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Seriously Funny

What is satire? Molly Irvins said, “Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. One kind will make you chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity—like what Garrison Keillor does. The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule—that’s what I do.” Based on what Molly Irvins said, satire can be funny and all jokes but on the flip side, satire can have such a serious undertone that it comes off as ridicule. Satire is a literary term that has to be closely examined to be truly understood.

The dictionary definition of satire is the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule or the like in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc. satire is often confused with the term irony, but there are some major differences between the two. Irony is the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning. For example, saying, “oh how nice!” when you find out you have to work late on your anniversary. Satire, on the other hand, uses irony along with sarcasm and parody to scorn or expose human folly. Satire, the general term, emphasizes the weakness more than the weak person.

Most people do not realize it, but parodies are the most common form of displaying satire. It takes the serious matter and makes it funny to convey the message of the human error, and the corrupt thinking of society that people have seemed to overlook. Weird Al Yankovic has built his career off of his satirical parodies. One of his popular parodies was Amish paradise. First thing you notice from the song is the obvious Socratic irony because he used the track for Coolio’s popular rap song Gangster Paradise. Due to the fact that tune of the song was so familiar as being Gangster Paradise and he flipped it to be Amish paradise, which is the absolute opposite of a gangster, the irony was the strongest point in the parody. The sarcasm of the song is very critical because his point of view in the song is how great it is to be Amish, but you can clearly tell from the lyrics that there is a sense of mockery. For example, he says, “As I walk through the valley where I harvest my grain, I take a look at my wife and realize she’s very plain, but that’s just perfect for an Amish like me, you know I shun fancy things like electricity…” through the sarcasm he’s telling everyone, “Hey! There are people out there that are living like this!” He is exposing this community of people that live as though they are stuck in the 1800’s, but he does it in such a way that people get a good laugh out of it. In doing that he further developed Molly Irvins’ statement when she said, “One kind will make you chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity…”

To further develop the concept of the more humorous side of satire is the children’s movie Shrek.  In the movie Shrek, the ogre is the hero of his fairy tale. Ogres are supposed to be the “bad guys”, but in this movie, he is the good guy and he shakes the whole foundation of a fairy tale. Some other satirical points in the movie were the fact that Princess Fiona was not a typical “damsel in distress” she was strong, intelligent, and independent. Also, the fact that Shrek accepted her in her ogre state, was a great form of satire as well as the fact that she picked Shrek over prince charming shook the whole princess theme. The whole movie ridicules society because people try to model their lives after some fairy tale dream that they have, but that is not the way the world works. It shows us that today’s woman is not helpless, that the underdog does succeed if they would just put themselves out there and try, and that the real “prince charming” is the person that will accept you for who you are no matter what.

Just like Molly Irvins said in her quote, there are kinds of satire that holds people to public contempt and ridicule. A satirical example of that is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. For example, when Huck said, “By and By they fetched the nigger in and had prayers, and everybody was off to bed,” it pointed out the fact that Miss Watson was trying to become a better Christian, yet she still owned slaves which is completely contradictory of the religion. Another example of satire in the book is the fact that Pap was so outraged at the thought of a black man voting, even though that black man was a great deal more educated than him. The book in its self is an accurate depiction of how society was during the times of slavery. Through his satire, he exposed all of the human follies of that time, but not in a way that is funny in a conventional way.

Satire takes serious issues, problems in society, and human error, and exposes them in a way that causes a person to really sit down and evaluate how silly things are in the world. In a sense, satire simplifies these follies in such a way that causes it to be embarrassing to the target or to be looked at as ridicule.

 

 

 

 

Internalized Racism and Colorism

…My light-blue eyes were going to hypnotize them…then they would understand why I had never picked up a southern accent, or spoke the common slang, and why I had to be forced to eat pigs’ tail and snouts. Because I was really white and because a cruel fairy stepmother, who was understandably jealous of my beauty, had turned me into a too-big negro girl, with nappy black hair, broad feet and a space between her teeth that would hold a number-two pencil.” (Angelou, 1970). This excerpt came from part of Maya Angelou’s biography. Many people would read this and wonder why someone who was as beautiful, creative, and inspirational as Ms. Angelou would feel this way about herself but it is something that has been happening, especially in the black community for centuries. Internalized racism and colorism hand in handedly effect many aspects of our everyday lives no matter what your race is. This is a topic that hits close to home for me, especially because I am a product of a Light skinned dark skinned couple as well as a multi-cultural family. Also through reading many psychological studies and watching documentaries on the subject, I know that I am credible to inform you on this topic. internalized racism and colorism is something that affects us all whether we realize it or not, and it is not just something that happens in the black community although that is the particular group that I will be outlining in this speech today. Internalized racism and colorism are not two different races discriminating against each other, therefore it tends to be overlooked, but events in the past that created division within different ethnic groups still affect us today in how we feel about other people within our groups and how we feel about ourselves.

 

Before I get into the cause and the effects of colorism and internalized racism let me explain to you what exactly these two issues are and how they intermingle with each other. Colorism is prejudice or discrimination based on the relative lightness or darkness of the skin; generally, happens within one’s own ethnic group (Dark Girls, 2011). Internalized racism is when you are racist against your own race and even against yourself; also known as internalized oppression, internal colonization and the colonized mind. Although internalized racism is the big issue, colorism is what makes internalized racism a problem. Because of skin tones, people are judged on whether they are good looking, smart, and able or not within an ethnic group.

 

With this in mind, let’s take a trip into the past so that we can better understand where this issue began. 1712 a British slave owner that owned slaves in the West Indies by the name of Willie lynch came to the colony Virginia to give a speech about his methods of slave control. In his speech he says the following, “I have a full proof method for controlling your black slaves…It will control your slaves for at least 300 years…I have outlined a number of differences among the slaves; and I take these differences and make them bigger…I use fear, distrust, and envy for control purposes.” He continues to say that you have to put the men against the women, the young against the old and finally the light against the dark. That is where the terms “House Slave” and “Field slave” were developed. The lighter skinned slaves were allowed to work in the house as maids or butlers and nannies for the children, where the darker skinned slaves worked in the fields picking cotton, tending to live stock, and manual labor. This also brought along concepts like the snow and blow test which says that if your skin is as white as snow and your hair blows in the wind then you are more beautiful and intelligent, and the paper bag test that says that if you are lighter than the brown paper bag that you are smart and beautiful and better. While this was going on in black America black Latinos were having their own set of issues. Haitians and Dominicans share the same island but they are definitely a people divided. After watching a documentary called black in Latin America I learned that Dominicans, although they are a rainbow of tans & blacks they denounce their “Blackness”. They don’t consider themselves to be white but they don’t see themselves as black either. They claim Spain as their motherland although they are descendants of Africa and they speak Spanish. Haitians on the other hand embrace their blackness and the African culture. They come from many different West African countries so they infuse parts of the different cultures into their own, they also speak creole which is an 18th century French with influences of West African languages. Dominicans hate Haitians because they feel superior to them. They rejected everything about Haitians and their culture. Dominicans treated Haitians much like how the whites treated the blacks in early America.

As a result, the question that we are now left with is, what does this mean for us now in our present and in our future. Today in black America, there is always a constant battle of light skin vs dark skin. People are claiming team dark skin or team light skin and a lot of darker skinned people are left feeling insecure about themselves where a lot of lighter skinned people feel isolated and unable to fit in to black culture. In 1940, Kenneth Clark conducted a doll experiment. In this experiment, he used four identical dolls. The only difference between them were the skin tones. These were used to test racial perception. Most of the black children preferred the white doll and assigned positive characteristics. In a psychological study in journal of men’s study, they found that black males that are seen as lacking intellectual skills and that they are more likely to be accepted for appearing dumb. They also found that educated black men learned to act as if they aren’t educated in order to be accepted by their black peers. In another article by ben hooks, he found that mass media images promote race disempowerment. For example, Kanye west’s debut album, “the college dropout” suggests that college education is over-rated and getting a degree is worthless. On television, you would always see that the lighter girls were the ones that were always chosen first and the darker girls are left as a second option. With messages like these it is easy for internalized racism and colorism to continue to flourish.

Overall the past and the present dictates the future as far as internalized racism goes. It seems to be an issue that isn’t going away anytime soon and the worst part is that it isn’t just happening in America, it’s a worldwide issue. Willie lynch said that his methods would control slaves for at least 300 years. For 346 years blacks had no basic rights, and even after the civil rights movement the concepts still carried on. It makes you wonder how much longer this form of racism will continue on, or if it will ever end. Maybe one day we will all accept each other and really united in America.

Lost in My Thoughts

Lost in my thoughts I’m so lost in this walk,

It is as though every step I take a little piece of me breaks off

And I stand and wonder who this girl is that is traveling this journey

It’s not really me but society has become my reality,

I no longer differentiate, and that is why it is so hard for me to collate

The right words so that I can be heard…

There is so much going on in this world and I have a voice to speak

But I find myself becoming meek, when the times call for me to be bold

And each day I grow cold to the heart

Forgetting my art

Running away from what is hard

When the world is screaming MOON WHERE ART THOU…

Then I begin to wonder how I got here…

This shell of the woman that I haven’t even become yet

I don’t know what is so hard to get

I’m scared…

The world I live in…so full of sin and I fear that I am stuck within

No matter how hard I run towards salvation my soul there is no savin

And I will be lost among the ones that are hopeless and faithless

And I will just be left being less, less than I was supposed to be

Less than the real me

The me that he sees

No one will ever meet her….

Lost is what I am and I run as hard as I can

Trying TRYING to reach his hand

I see it being held out to me

And even though I run til my feet bleed, lungs burn and tears roll down my face

I just don’t quite make

The cut… and that painful feeling in my gut that says stop trying you won’t make it

I can’t take it!

I just wanna cry

I just wanna hide

I just wanna wake up and be in the sky

But I can’t because my voice means something to someone

Somewhere, they are waiting for me to be me

The me that he sees

The me that I have been running from

They call for me like a light in the darkness

As a beacon of hope faith love

They call for me

Lost in my thoughts…I’m not lost on this walk.

Self-discovery is what I see

Time to step in to the true me…

Because this little light of mine

No matter how surrounded by darkness it is

I shall let it shine

Because what is within me is divine

Is God, Is me

I am a part of the heavenly family tree

And the roots are so deep

That no matter where I run, walk, stumble, or fall

They will be there guiding me

Lighting the path leading me back to him

Back to the palace

Back to the place that he called me to

Back in his arms where I feel strong

And my light grows

Because I was never lost in this walk to begin with…

 

I Had a Dream

I had a dream, and I woke up screaming, gasping for air, choking, with a sharp pain in my chest, strikes on my back, bruise marks on my wrist and ankles. My body was on fire, my stomach was empty my mind was restricted, my eyes brimming with tears, my lungs full of water, my spirit broken, and as I stumble to the bathroom and turn on the light, there I am, in the mirror, perfectly fine. No evidence of the torture that my body, mind and spirit endured. Then I turned on the water, brushed my teeth and started my day…I had a dream.

I was sleeping, oh I was sleeping, I was falsely under the impression that the American dream was also for me. I believed that for the simple fact that my birth took place on American soil, I was an American so I shared the dream too. I once believed that equality, fairness, unity, and progression were entitled to me. I believed that if I just worked hard, everything I want, education, promotion, comfort, peace and contentment would be at my fingertips. I believed that if I just stayed in school, stayed out of trouble, stayed away from the wrong crowd, and obeyed the laws set in place, then things should be a breeze, there shouldn’t be any hiccups. I was asleep, and let me tell you I was dreaming good.

I started to wake up, I had to get the crust out of my eyes. I started to see the way teachers would look at me when I had my hand raised for every question, I started to catch onto the snide remarks of my “friends” for reasons why I had to give up a turn, or go last, I started to understand why I was rejected. I was waking up. I didn’t say much about it, but I noticed that adults would be surprised at my vocabulary choice. I started to see the patterns of not being chosen for better opportunities even though I was just as smart if not smarter or just as good if not better. I could recall a teacher asking me in the fourth grade, “Did your dad grow up in a house or a hut”. I recall the lady at the front desk of my high school asking if my parents were divorced.  It began to make sense that I was not fitting in, the things that I earned, honors classes, nominations, awards and recognition were all dominated by people that hated my roots. I was getting the crust out of my eyes so I could see the way the world really saw me.

I am awake. The American dream isn’t mine. It was never mine. I see things today that I only read about in history books, I experience things today that I only heard about from grandma and mama. When I watch the news, I see yet another face of a black child gunned down in the streets like dogs. I see no justice for them. Tell me, how am I supposed to feel when people who thought just like me, stay in school, stay out of trouble, don’t hang around the wrong crowds, obey the laws, are killed for looking suspicious.  I am awake and I can see that me being black and a woman is considered a double whammy. I notice the bold statements that are made eluding to a false pretense that we are inadequate in all areas of life, education, family, relationships, careers. I am awake and seeing that in all honesty it’s not just people from other races…it’s my own people too…I am wide awake

I stand in the mirror. Looking at myself, and I see all of my reflections. Me, with Ankara clothing, head tie and gold jewelry complimenting my coco brown skin, me with ripped and dirty clothing, with my hands calloused and whip marks all over, me with a nuce around my neck, me with sweat and scorch marks on my skin, me drenched in water from a fire hose, me in all black with my fist held up high, me in an orange jumpsuit and hand cuffs, me in business attire, me in a black hoodie and jeans holding an Arizona and skittles with a bullet wound in my chest. I look at all of me, and I ponder my favorite poem, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun, or does it fester like a sore and then run…I looked at all of me, all of my reflections, all of my history, all of what made me the person I am today, this is what a dream deferred looks like. A dream of democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity, equity and freedom is what we want…but it was never presented to us as an option.

I had a dream that the American dream was for me. My father did not come to this country for anything less than a better life for me and my brother. I will accept nothing less than a better life for me and my brother. I will fight, I will scream I will shout I will cry until the dream that was not offered to me is mine. I will no longer accept a deferment I must have it now. Our time is now. My time is now. I look at myself again the torture my mind, body and spirit endured now fuel for me to start the day. I’m awake, but ingrained in my veins is a dream that I am suited up to claim.

I have a dream, that one day, my voices are heard. All of them. From the royalty and freedom of my African soul, to the beaten and tattered slave soul. My civil rights soul will shout freedom as present day me continues to feed the fire. What happens to a dream encouraged? It is burns bright like the sun, like the burning bush, it is motivation to run, run toward the fight and not give up until you have won.

 

I am awake, now, I must wake up my brothers and sisters.

 

The Evolution of a Negus

Here in America they called us niggers

N I G G E R S

Ignorant, incompetent, uneducated, unable, to be worthy of rights of a man

Basic rights every man should have we were stripped of when we were taken from the motherland

The true land of the free and home of the brave…they tried to break us down, had us bound

Not just physically but mentally, letting us be lynched in our thinking, because dividing us buy age, complexion, and gender was the nuce that that they handed us…and we were to ignorant, incompetent, uneducated, and unable to realize that we were the ones that put the thing around our necks and just left it there….

Here in America we call each other Niggas

N I G G A S

But why? What’s the difference? Nigger nigga? A black individual? We made nigga familiar, a term of endearment just as I would say my mother, my brother, my sister…. My Nigga!

We made nigga exclusive, you can only say it if you are a part of the club…right? We made it something that others want to be… but Pac said it best

The only difference between a Nigger and a nigga is a nigger had slavery chains around their necks

A nigga has a gold chain around his neck

But the thing we can’t see is that once again that gold chain is modern day nuce that we choose to wear

Still being lynched in 2015 I see… team dark skin team light skin, the young disrespecting the old, the old not understanding the young, the men not appreciating the women, the woman disrespecting the man, a lack of trust on both sides…men being snatched from their children and wives, murdered, arrested, or occupied by the shiny pipe dream that they gotta be separated from them to make it in America but that is actually when a black man is the strongest…

Yeeahh they are still lynching and I’m not talking about strange fruit…that mental lynching can be a killer…

In Africa…In Ethiopia…In Amharic…they call us Negus

N E G U S

Just like Kendrick said N E G U S! Kings, rulers, emperors…

Surly not to be confused with niggers or niggas or even Negros but Negus…

Above the nuce and shackles and gold chains

Above the physical and mental lynching

Why? Because we, once upon a time, were running things

Never bowing down but being bowed down to…

 

Today in America what would you choose to be?

Are you gunna be a nigger with slave chains?

A Nigga with a gold chain

Or a Negus with a throne, a kingdom, an empire, a voice…

It’s all in you…

 

 

 

What today?

I love to write. I love to hear confirmation that my writing is good, great, inspiring. I love the feeling that I get when I realize that people want to hear what I have to say. It’s like what I would assume what being high feels like. Something like euphoria it makes me want to write more so that I can share more, but lately that isn’t what I want. I want to be selfish and keep my writing to myself. I want to close my mind off to the public and only a select few are allowed to get a peek through the cracks of my mind. I had actually gotten to a point that I didn’t want to write period…

I can’t do that to myself! Writing is my only identity. If I put down that pen no one will remember me. I will just be another easily forgotten person and I know that as a fact. I mean…look at me now. The only thing about be I know with no doubts is that I am a writer. It hurts when I don’t write. I get headaches when I can’t get the words in my head out. Part of me feels that, that is God’s way of telling me not to give up on this that I have to keep writing no matter what, and who am I not to do just that?

It is hard though. Battling the thoughts in my head that are telling me that my writing isn’t good enough, that no one is impacted, that there are people that are way better at this than me and that I should just shut up and not share. I try to combat these voices but it isn’t easy. There is a mental fight that I have with myself just to be able to open my mouth and speak up…but I do truly wonder if anyone really hears me when I do speak up, are they listening, will something change, or will it just be nice words on paper. That is enough to make me afraid to put my pen to paper. But like I said…I love to write.

Black Horror Story

People would opt to believe in fairy tales and the paranormal before they would believe of the mass mistreatment of black people.

They try to pacify us with small victories and wonder why we still won’t shut up. They make statements like “look at your last president, he was black, America is not racist”, however, that is 1 out of now 45 presidents over the course of 228 years. That means .02% of the highest position to hold in the United States of America was held by a minority…

This country was built on the backs of our ancestors, the trees were watered by our sweat and tears only for our bodies to become adornments for the very same tree. Our families were ripped apart, our men were emasculated, homes broken, barely given enough money to keep the family afloat, yet we are the monsters. We are the scary thing that goes bump in the night.

They say we all act like victims, yet they won’t acknowledge why we feel that way. We are told to shut up as if our voices bother them as if they can’t handle the voices that call them on their shit. They want our strength, our work ethic, our music, our inventions, our hair, our clothes, our walk, our talk, our skin, our features, but they want it all without acknowledging us as the creators, they want it all but they don’t want us…

Why is that you ask? It’s because somewhere along the line of history someone felt threatened by darker people that ruled nations and created things never seen before. So instead of learning from them, they stole from them and put their name on it. since then, its been the same story over and over again consistently throughout history.

Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is insanity, and I can tell you right now, my people are tired of feeling crazy for being aware of the way we are treated and how we have been treated from the moment our ancestors stepped foot in this country.

The black experience in America is not a fairy tale from a far off land. It is an ongoing horror story, and we all know that black folks hardly make it to the end of a horror film…

– The Moon Owl

Are You Proud to be an American?

What is an American? Does anyone really know? We call ourselves Americans but there is a deeper conflict going on with the term “American” that has not been addressed. One day, as I scrolled through my Facebook page, I saw a post by a past coworker that said, “My generation grew up reciting the pledge every morning in school with my hand over my heart. They no longer do that for the fear of offending someone. Will it kill you to say the pledge? If you love Mexico so much why in the hell are you here?” He continued on to say, “Well whatever, the other Americans got it” when a mutual friend said that his statement was harsh.  Just in that statement alone he expressed the feelings that most Americans have toward people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds in America. In an article called, What Does It Mean to be an American, the writer states,

“To be considered an American, a person did not have to be any national, linguistic, religious, or ethnic background. All he [or she] had to do was to commit himself [or herself] to the political ideology centered on the abstract ideals of liberty, equality, and republicanism. Thus, the universalist ideological character of American nationality meant that it was open to anyone who willed to become an American” (Song, 2009).

This definition hits on the whole meaning of being an American. Collectively we believe the same ideals to press forward and live in harmony with one another. The problem with that is the fact that people think the way that my ex co-worker thinks. The reason behind this thinking is that there are Americans that feel that they are more entitled to the title “American” when regarding people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. They feel that the people that are not from America, or are descendants of someone that is not from America do not deserve to be an American if they do not forsake their previous country. The government should be conscious of the fact that the true definition of an American needs to be modernized to fit all the American demographics.

This is a very delicate topic because some people will regard this as a “racism” paper or a “Black versus White” thing but this topic goes farther than that because America is my home. It is the only place I know. I was born here and raised here. I am an American. Nigeria is my father’s home. It is the place he knows. He was born and raised there. He is an American. There are many families in America like mine, multi-cultural, and like me, many children of parents from different countries embrace their parents’ culture as their own just as they embrace American culture in their daily lives, they have pride in their background. Per the Dictionary, “an American is a person born, raised, or living in the United States.” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.)  Under this definition, my father and I are Americans because I was born and raised here and he is currently living here legally. Even though this confirms our status there are still people that make negative stereotypes about Africans and hit us with statements such as, “go back to your country!” and, “you don’t belong here!”. My only response to such statements is, “who are you to tell me where I need to be and where I need to go?”

The next definition states that an American is marked generally by reddish to brown skin, black hair, dark eyes, and prominent cheekbones (pertaining to Indians of north and South Americans) (Dictionary.com ,n.d.). This definition reaffirms my stance on the fact that people’s thinking is distorted in America because the main people making individuals of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds feel inferior do not in any way shape or form fit into this category. Nobel Prize winning author Tony Morrison once said, “In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate”. Per an article in the Huffington Post America is starting to truly live up to the “melting pot” reputation because there are more and more people that are biracial and multicultural in America than before. Now-a- days, the average American is of a tinted complexion. They even said that per the 2010 census, the data showed that, “whites would no longer be the Majority in the country by 2043” (Cadet, 2013). That is just a mere 29 years from now and when that time come what will those people be told that they aren’t Americans?

There are some people that believe that this is not an issue in our country and say something along the lines of, “The federal government should not have to modernize the definition of an American because everyone knows their background and if someone wants to alter it, it is a personal dilemma not federal.” This view on the situation may seem to be more appealing to agree with and easier to deal with but, there are some personal dilemmas that need federal attention. Not everybody knows their background and those tend to be the Americans that make the Americans that do know their background feel unwelcomed, and un-American. Those small things are what snowballs into hate crimes which will inevitably end up in a federal court. With a simple clarification to the definition, all of that could be avoided.

With all that has been provided my only question is could this issue be one of the reasons why the United States is not as “United” as other countries perceive us to be? If you really think about it, there is no way that we can rise up and support and or attack other countries if we cannot even resolve simple issues within our own country such as who belongs here and who doesn’t. If any of us traveled to a different country they would call us “Americans” not Black, White, Hispanic, Latino or anything like that. To them we are Americans and We represent power and if this is our kryptonite, we will always lose.