Things I Loved and Hated About Going Back to School

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Now that September is here, 3 important things are returning to our lives: football season, hoodies, and school. My little brother is entering the 5th grade this year, and last week I had the opportunity to take him to a few stores for specific school supplies his new teacher requested. His teacher sent home a list that had everything on it from pencils to a USB flash drive. I remember needing a floppy disk when I was in the 5th grade (Jeez, I’m old.) Anyway, during the trip I thought back to my time as an elementary student. I reflected on some of the things I looked forward to as I prepared to go back to school, and the things I dreaded. I came up with 5 things, and I’m sure you all can relate.

1. School Shopping

School shopping was something I definitely looked forward to. It wasn’t the new folders, and binders that got me excited, (I could care less about the supplies I needed to succeed in the classroom) it of course was shopping for new clothes. My mom would take my sisters and I to 3 places for clothes: JC Penney’s,’ Burlington Coat factory, and Sears. Now, these places might not have the fanciest clothing, but whatever they had I made it work. I just wanted to look cool, and I would beg my mom for whatever I could find that would help me make the best impression on the first day. As I look back on some of my old pictures, it’s clear to me now that I really looked like a dork. I just thought I looked cool.

I would always get new shoes before I went back to school too. My mother never bought me Jordan’s or any other super expensive shoes. I never really complained though. As a child, I always thought I looked nice, and I was very appreciative. High school, however, was a totally different story, but I’ll save that for another time.

2. Old classmates

On the first day, I was always excited to see who would be in my class, and ask old classmates what they did over the summer. Classmates would share stories of their time in Florida, New York, trips to family reunions, pool parties, and BBQ’s. More than anything, it was just exciting to see familiar faces in anticipation of what the school year would bring.

There were a few kids in elementary that I couldn’t stand for one reason or another. I was never too excited about seeing them, but overall, I was happy to be there. I had a crush on couple girls in elementary too. They never knew about it, but I was happy to see them as I looked forward to another year of drooling and day dreaming about them.

3. Farewell to sleep

1 thing I’ve always treasured is sleep. After sleeping in every day for 2 months and a half, it’s quite difficult to get back into the routine of getting up at 7 AM for school. I love sleep. I wish I was sleep right now. Like a good woman, sometimes I wish I could hold on to my bed and pillows for hours and never let them go, but I digress. During the first few weeks of school, waking up early was beyond difficult, but it had to be done. Thankfully I still had the weekends, and as an educator today, I still feel the same.

4. Dreaded Homework

The number 1 thing I hated about going back to school (and school in general) is homework. In hindsight, homework helped me to better understand a concept in school at my own pace, but I still feel like it interfered with my TV/video game/outdoor play time at home. Math would always be the most time consuming, because I was terrible at it. I still am. Luckily I had my dad around who is a math wiz. If it wasn’t for him helping me with my math, I’d probably still be in elementary school.

5. New Experiences

Like I mentioned before, I looked forward to the new experiences the school year would bring. I knew that there would be field trips, pizza/holiday parties, field day, gym class, art, funny situations, and stressful times as well. Although the year would be long, I was ready for it. I have memories from elementary that I will never forget, and I feel thankful that I was able to grow in school with a very enriching environment.

I told my little brother today to make sure he enjoys every moment of 5th grade, because his life is going to change once he goes to middle school. The school environment will change, his interest will change, and he’ll find himself becoming more self-conscious about things that didn’t matter a year ago.

Grade school has its many ups and downs, but elementary school is definitely a time I think many people treasure. When my brother reaches my age, I hope he reflects on his time in elementary and feels the same way.

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7 Terribly-Awkward Moments from the 2013 MTV VMA’s

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If you didn’t watch the VMA’s last night I congratulate you for not wasting away precious moments of your life like I did. With the exception of Justin Timberlake’s performance, the other performances were disappointing as well as the winners. I think the remarks people made on Twitter about the show were more entertaining than the show itself. I hate to be so negative, and in hindsight I guess I shouldn’t have expected much from MTV, but I can’t help but be upset at last night’s foolery.

If you missed the show and still want to see it, I’m sure MTV will show a re-run at some point today. Below is a highlight of last night’s terribly-awkward VMA moments, that  made you scratch your head and wonder what else might be on TV.

1. Miley “Twerking is my Life” Cyrus

Have you ever watched someone embarrass themselves so bad that you genuinely felt bad for them and had to look away? That’s how I felt when I watched Miley Cyrus’ perform last night. You had a funny looking girl, with below average singing ability, wearing a weird teddy bear outfit, with a bunch of back up dancers wearing teddy bear costumes, and she was twerking on everybody and everything on stage. Her manager should be fired for A: letting her hang around and be influenced by black people, and B: allowing her to come out on stage and act a fool on national television. She sung her hit ( I suppose its a hit), “We Can’t Stop.” I really can’t tell you what the song was about. It was hard to focus on the lyrics, but I think it was about twerking. It was just an embarrassing thing to sit through. It just made you sit and say, “Wooooow. This is what America considers quality entertainment?” I’m sure her Dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, watched the performance. He probably cried himself to sleep.

2. The Miley, Robin, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick performance

It wasn’t enough that Miley Cyrus embarrassed herself during her own performance, but MTV had her ruin Robin Thicke’s performance as well. Instead of allowing Robin to perform the biggest song of the summer in my opinion, “Blurred Lines,” by himself, as well as “Give it 2 You,” with Lamar and 2 Chainz, they went into Thicke’s performance right after Mileys, so she was still on stage to embarrass herself and twerk. She even went up to Thicke to twerk and grind on him. He’s old enough to be her father. With the teddy bear back up dancers still on stage, other random props, and the strange assortment of performers on stage at one time turned the entire performance into a circus. It was bad enough to turn the channel.

3. The best Hip-Hop video goes to…..

I am not a fan of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. I can’t stand, “Thrift Shop,” and I’m assuming Ryan Lewis produces, but I really don’t know what he does beside take credit . So when they beat Drake, Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, and J Cole for best Hip-Hop video I wanted to throw something at the TV. The video for, “Can’t Hold Us,” although unique for its many set locations, is unimpressive in my opinion, but that’s the video that received the award. I think everyone was either surprised or pissed off by that win.

4. What’s the VMA’s without Yeezus?

Kanye “Sacrilegious” West performed the song, “Blood on the Leaves” from his new Yeezus album, which really isn’t that bad of a song, the problem last night was that he performed the song, in the dark. With the exception of a lit forest background, all you saw during the performance was a black shadowy figure hopping around on stage for 2 minutes. The audience only saw his face before and after the song. I thought to myself, “wow, Kanye is so crazy now that he doesn’t even want light shinned on him during his performances.” That’s a whole new level of crazy. Next he’ll be like Pootie Tang and won’t even rap with words.

At first I was upset about the awkward performance that Kanye probably didn’t even rehearse for, but then I remembered that Kanye doesn’t really care too much for MTV. They probably asked him to perform, and being the lovable jerk that he is, in his mind he said he was going to give the dumbest performance the world has ever seen. He succeeded.

5. Taylor “Kanye Should Have Never Allowed you to Finish” Swift

Speaking of Kanye West, is it just me, or did anyone else realize that the camera would cut to Taylor Swift every 2 minutes. I’m not a country music fan, so I will never understand the world’s obsession with her, but I was tired of seeing her after 20 minuets into the show. She won the award for best female video (not surprised) and I was really hoping that Kanye would go up on stage and interrupt her again.

6. Drizzy “I Love Leather Tank Tops” Drake

Oh Drake. I almost died laughing when he started his performance. It started with a close up of him singing his new song, “Hold on We’re Going Home,” in front of a sky blue backdrop with pretty soft clouds. It was too much for me to handle. It was perhaps the weakest thing I’ve ever seen Drake do, and Drake is notorious for being weak and engaging in soft activity. What’s even worse is that he still thinks he can sing. He struggled to carry many of the notes on the song. Drake redeemed himself a little by switching over to, “Started from the Bottom.” No matter how you feel about Drake, its hard not to love that song, and even  I got hype to it; however,  there was nothing he could do that would make the audience forget his embarrassing beginning.

7. The Failed N’Sync Reunion

I had a friend tell me prior to Sunday that not only would Justin Timberlake be performing at the VMA’S Sunday, but that he would be reuniting with the members of N’Sync for a reunion. Now, I’m not a fan of N’Sync, I’m barely a fan of Timberlake, but I figured it would be interesting to see. Justin performed all over the arena for almost 15 minutes. He reunited with the overweight and out of shaped members of N’Sync for no more than 20 seconds of that performance. They struggled to perform a snippet from their hit, “Bye Bye Bye,” and before you blinked twice they were off the stage. It was hilarious. Everyone thought they were going to give a real performance. I don’t know what that was. Justin basically had them up on stage as props. Although the reunion was a shame, I’m sure they needed the money. Hopefully MTV or Justin paid them well for showing up.

The VMA’s didn’t even have a real host this year. The only thing close to it was Kevin Heart who came on stage twice to give a few simi-funny jokes and declare that he was not the host.

Overall it was a pathetic award show, and if this is the type of entertainment to look forward to in future VMA shows, then this was the last year I will be watching.

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What Kendrick Lamar’s Verse did for Hip-Hop

As every Hip-hop fan should know, last Tuesday, Hip-Hop artist, Big Sean, almost caused YouTube  and Twitter to crash when he released his song “Control,” featuring rappers Kendrick Lamar and J Electronica. Unfortunately for Sean and Electronica, it wasn’t their verses that caused any commotion. Kendrick Lamar (a rapper with only one major label CD ) not only declared in his verse that he was one of the best rappers, placing himself as one of the top 5 rappers alive along with Jay Z, Nas, Eminem,  and Andre 3000,  but also called out the names of other currently successful rappers and said his mission is to destroy them lyrically. If you need to be refreshed on what he said, the few lines go like this:

“I’m usually homeboys with the same n**gas I’m rhymin’ wit

But this is hip hop and them n**gas should know what time it is

And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale

Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake

Big Sean, Jay Electron’, Tyler, Mac Miller

I got love for you all but I’m tryna murder you n**gas

Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you n**gas

They dont wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you n**gas.”

Those few lines were so funny to me that I had to rewind it and listen to it twice. Especially the last line, “they don’t wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you n**gas!” You have to admit that was a pretty good line. It was surprising Kendrick took it that far, but I liked it.  What saddens me was the hip-hop communities response to it. Fans and rappers alike were acting like this was the best rap verse ever said in the history of the genre. People were saying that Kendrick was the new Tupac, and speaking all kinds of blasphemies that just made me shake my head. I hate that whenever someone puts out 1 good album or 1 good song the younger generation immediately wants to compare them to Tupac and Biggie, but I digress. The verse, although great, was a little overhyped and overrated due to his name dropping and the response people hoped it would create. Many people thought it was a diss towards the rappers mentioned, but anybody with sense would quickly realize that it wasn’t really a diss record, but more of a friendly reminder to his fellow rappers that the music game is, and will always be, a competition.

Many assumed that the rappers Kendrick mentioned would retaliate and make an equally great song talking about him. Hip-hop fans love a great rap battle. But besides a few tweets from these rappers, all the hip-hop community has received is a bunch of response records from rappers  Kendrick  didn’t even mention in his verse. Rappers like: Joel Ortiz from Slaughter House, Papoose, B.O.B., Astro who lost on “The X Factor,” Joe Budden, Lupe Fiasco and a bunch of other randoms.  Even a NBA player, Iman Shumpert, who plays for the Knicks made a response record.

Kendrick also mentioned in “Control,” that he was the King of New York, which I can understand would be an insult to some New York rappers considering that Kendrick is from California.  I guess that is a  reasonable excuse for a random New York rapper to respond to “Control,” but because Kendrick didn’t mention them, nobody really cares to hear what they  have to say, even if it is dope. People want to hear the rappers mentioned in “Control.”  Unfortunately, even though it hasn’t been a full week yet, I seriously doubt that Drake, J Cole, Meek Mill, and whoever else Kendrick mentioned will make a serious response record. The genre is drifting away from being competitive. Now it’s simply about rapping about whatever will sell, on whomever record.

Hex Murda recently wrote a piece about the Kendrick Lamar verse, and he had me rolling because he mentioned that now a days there are so many rappers rapping on each others’ records that you don’t even know whose record it is anymore. How many rap songs are on the radio right now that don’t feature Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Future, Rick Ross, and DJ Khalid?….I’ll wait.  Everybody wants to be best friends nowadays, rapping on each others’ records, and nobody’s really striving to be competitive. It still baffles me that  Drake had the nerve to come out with a song called, “No New Friends,” featuring a bunch of rappers that met each other two years ago. It just goes to show you what rappers are REALLY striving to become great and help the genre grow and  those who just want a paycheck and will rap about anything on anybody’s record as long as the moneys right.

Kendrick, although very far from being considered “the best” in my book, is making a strong effort to set his self apart and hopefully over time develop into one of the greatest MC’s. That’s what his verse on “Control,” says to me. I feel like if you’re not in the music industry to strive for greatness, to become one of  the best, the artist people one day  look up to, like Michael Jackson, Tupac, or Whitney Houston, then what are you really doing this for?

Kendrick didn’t write the best verse of all time on, “Control,” but he definitely killed Big Sean on his own song and had the world talking. I hope he continues to grow on each song he does and push all these sub-par rappers to be better than what they are and bring some competitiveness back to the culture.

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7 Annoying types of Instagramers

I love wasting my time scrolling through random pictures just like the next person, but there are certain types of instagramers who habitually (love that word) abuse the social network with their foolery. I think everyone, including myself, is guilty of annoying people with pointless photos every so often, but there are some who just can’t get enough. There are other hilarious instagram lists floating around the internet, but here is my list of the top 7 most annoying Instagramers.

1. The Basic Food Lover

If you proudly and constantly take pictures of your home cooked spaghetti, Hamburger Helper, hot dogs on a grill, fried chicken, Craft mac and cheese, or any other basic food as if you prepared a $40 dish at a Wolfgang Punk restaurant, than you fall into the category of the annoying basic food lover. I’m sorry, but the fact that you can cook noodles or can BBQ a hot dog is nothing to be proud about. I don’t want to see your Grandmama’s left over soul food slopped together over a paper plate. These pictures are unattractive, uninteresting, and if anything embarrassing. Unless you are a professional chef, taking pictures of your home cooked dinners all the time is tasteless. So chill out. Also, taking pictures of expensive plates of food at restaurants can be annoying too. It doesn’t necessarily show that you have money, it actually shows the opposite. People with real money don’t need to prove to anyone that they can afford to eat at Benihana’s or Ruth’s Chris. It’s nothing. It’s the equivalent of broke person taking pictures of McDoubles and value fries.

2. The Celebrity Stalker

This individual not only follows a multitude of celebrities that don’t know they exist, but they comment and like every picture they take no matter how pointless or unimaginative. To be honest, I’m actually guilty of this. I follow a few celebrities. They could post a picture of a piece of dirty trash blowing in the wind and there’s an 85% chance that I’ll double tap on it. The groupie comes out of us all when we see a celebrity we love connecting to the world and doing things us common folk do. We can’t help but like it. Just don’t let it get out of hand. I try my hardest not to.

3. Pics with Captions Lover

Let’s be honest. Many of the pictures people steal from Google and then add funny captions to can be hilarious, especially if you can relate to them, but it gets out of hand when people begin to flood Instagram with them and then Instagram becomes Tumblr. The individual is not even taking pictures anymore, their just stealing them or regraming (re-posting pictures). If it wasn’t for your profile picture, people would soon forget that you were a real person.

4. The Selfie Lover

Oh Lord! This one goes out to all my conceited, taking picture of themselves every 3 hours, living off double taps like vampires live off blood individuals who flood our Instragrams with ugly pictures of themselves. Now, it’s important to take a few selfies (pictures of yourself) every once and a while to show off a nice outfit or while you’re at an event to show the people how you’re living, but the selfie lover takes pictures of themselves when they wake up #morningflow #blessed, when they go to the bathroom #urineflow, in the car on their way to work #workflow, when they go to church #churchflow #living4Jesusflow, and then later on after church when they go to the club #turnup #justthrewupmyselfflow. It’s ridiculous. Listen selfie lover. No self-respecting person wants to look at pictures of you making ugly faces all day. You crave attention and want people to adore you with comments and double taps.

What’s sad is when someone tries to take a sexy selfie at their house and the background is dirty. It’s really difficult to appear sexy when people can see your dirty draws and baby diapers on the bedroom floor.

What’s really sad is the male selfie lover. We all know a few. A couple ugly girls told him he was cute and now he can’t stop uploading pictures of himself in the bathroom or in the car biting his lip. Get over yourself. It makes me real uncomfortable. While it’s important to love yourself, people take it too far. As long as overly eager males and females keep double tapping on their pictures, the selfie lover will continue to bombard us with their faces.

5. The Hash Tag addict

The previous Instagramer brings me to the hash tag addict. This individual places a million and one hash tags after their pictures all the time in order to gain a wider audience and attract followers and double taps. This individual is quite similar to the selfie lover. Majority of the time, this person will even add hash tags to their pictures that don’t even make sense to attract all sorts of people. I’ve seen people take pictures of Nike sneakers for example and include hash tags like: #Nikelover #Nike #turnup #ilovethis #Capricornseason #Detroit #Westside #Kush #igot5onit #imighthave10onitifigetmycheck #nonewfriends. It’s hilariously sad.

6. The Throwback Thursday/Follow back Friday addict

When Thursday comes along this individual floods your Instagram with pictures of them in Jersey dresses, FUBU outfits, baby pictures, prom pictures, and any other picture of them looking foolish from back in the day. When Friday comes along, most likely the same individual floods your instagram with pictures of their funny looking friends suggesting that you should follow this individual. For the addict, Thursday and Friday are like Instagram holidays. They can’t wait to upload and regram tons of random pictures. You just have to endure it. Saturday will be here before you know it.

7. The Note Taker

This last one goes out to the individual who feels like their clever statements or thoughts don’t get enough retweets on Twitter, so they decide to post them as notes on Instagram. The notes vary from quotes of wisdom to desperate pleas to “hit me up” or “call me cuz I’m lonely.”Instagram, if I’m not mistaking, should be for the uploading of pictures. Save your messages for Twitter or your Facebook status. Instagram should be a place where I can escape people’s random thoughts and philosophies on life and relationships.

I’m sure this list made you think of some annoying people who flood your Facebook and Twitter timelines with nonsense. Sadly every social network is contaminated. The masses, however, will continue to remain a part of them, because underneath the foolery, there are still plenty of people who use these networks for their intended purpose: to connect with people, keep in touch, and for entertainment. I don’t think anyone expected them to become such a huge part of our lives, but the networks are here to stay and will continue to grow. Let’s just hope we all can stop annoying each other so much with our content in the process.

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5 Things I Wish I Did Before I Graduated from College by B.A. McCain

 Graduation season is here and I’m extremely proud of all of my friends and associates who have finally walked across the stage (or platform.) Whether it’s a masters or undergraduate degree, every graduate has worked hard for the honor to wear their schools cap and gown. Their future is uncertain, but with a degree they now have a solid foundation to build on towards greater success.  I received my undergraduate degree from Eastern Michigan University in 2010, and around this time of year I often reflect on my time as an undergraduate student.  I’m proud to say that I had an enriching experience, but I often regret  that I didn’t take full advantage of the time and opportunities that were available. The list below consist of the top 5 things I wish I had done while still an undergraduate student. Feel free to comment and list anything you wished you could of also done as a undergraduate.

 

  •          1.    Joined an Organization

I’ll be honest; I was extremely lazy during my undergrad years. All I wanted to do was go to class, turn in my work, and then go back to my apartment to sleep and hang out with friends. Unfortunately, this lack of interest allowed me to stroll through the years unaware of the various low profile organizations on campus that were helping to shape students into better leaders, professionals, and into more well-rounded adults. I regret that I didn’t join an African American organization such as: the Black Student Union, Society of African American Studies, and B.L.A.C.K.: an organization created to help unify young black people with other cultures on the campus. I also regret not joining the M.A.R.S. Program: a professional development program designed to serve minority students enrolled in teacher preparation programs. All of these organizations would have helped prepared me professionally, allowed me to network, and surround me with young positive socially aware African Americans.  In today’s society, those individuals are difficult to come by.

There are also numerous Christian organizations on campus that would have helped strengthen me more spiritually during a time when temptation was in every direction. Campus Crusade for Christ and Christian Challenge are just two of many Christian organizations on campus with the commitment of teaching students about Christ and helping them to understand their responsibilities as a Christian.

 If someone approached me as an undergrad and told me about these organizations (especially the Christian organizations) I probably would have passed on them or made up some excuse as to why I didn’t have time to become a member, but now that I’m older I understand the benefits these organizations could have provided.

 College should be a fun experience, but more importantly it should be seen as a time to shape yourself into the intelligent, resourceful, and successful adult you wish to be once you graduate.

 

  •            2.     Spent Refund Money on a Vacation

The financial aid refund check is what every money borrowing college student looks forward to each semester.  “Money Ain’t a Thing,” by Jermaine Dupri and Jay-Z would play in my head as soon as I found out my refund check had finally gone into my checking account. Although students will have to one day pay all of that money back, it’s still seen as a temporary blessing from the government. Many  students, such as myself, used most of their refund to help pay rent for their apartments, but everyone puts a little money to the side so they can buy something expensive they will probably regret later. I’ve heard of people buying all types of ignorant stuff: $400 Louis Vuitton belts, $350 pairs of jeans, gallons of liquor, and many other pointless items. Hell, I’ve even bought a $200 watch.  But the greatest thing I’ve heard someone do with their refund check is buy a plane ticket and take a random vacation. Now, that might seem ordinary to some, but personally I’ve never thought to do that.  In hindsight I believe I was thinking too small. I was satisfied with a few materials things, but these things lose value once you buy them and get old. I should have invested my refund in a vacation filled with experiences no one could ever take away from me. I could have gone to Mardi Gras, Miami, or Cancun. I know it’s not too late to go to these places, but to do them as an undergrad would have made my overall experience just a little more special.

 

  •           3. Built a Better Relationship With My Professor’s

I didn’t fully realize the importance of networking until much later in my undergrad. Outside of the classroom, many of my professors were professional writers, novelist, editors, and businessmen/women. Instead of running in and out of the classroom, I should have spent more time after class conversing with my professors about how to approach the assignments or asking for advice on how to become more successful in the class. Even if I didn’t need help, it would have been a positive to reach out to them to build a rapport. Your professors are some of the best individuals to turn to when you need a reference or a letter of recommendation later on in life. To go even further, they may even be able to help you get a job. My advice to anyone in school would be to make yourself known in the classroom— just don’t be a number. Go out of your way to show your professor you care about your education and they will go out of their way to help you later on.

  •            4. Became a Professional DJ

Don’t take me too seriously with this one. This is just one of the many fantasizes I wish I could of lived out as an undergrad. I have no real important message behind this, DJ’ing just seems like a really dope thing to do. Also, I think DJ Book or DJ B.A. would have sounded cool (don’t laugh at me.)When I threw parties at my apartment, I would usually be in charge of music, and usually I would pass out before the party was over. So in hindsight it was probably best I didn’t become one.

 

  •           5.  Planned to Take a Break

Take my advice. Whatever your plan on doing after graduation, make sure you spend some  time to rest, travel, and think long and hard about it before you execute that plan. Like many students, I planned to rush back into school after graduation. At the time I thought it was a good plan, but I soon realized my brain needed a little more time to rest.  College is stressful, and hopping from one stressful situation to another without efficient time to recuperate made things difficult for me in the beginning when I started taking classes again.

 Having a plan for after graduation is extremely important, but make sure you’ve thought your plan over and you realize what the consequences may be.

 

 I’m no expert on college life, but hopefully some of my regrets will help motivate those in school to take full advantage of the time they have. You can definitely still take advantage of certain opportunities as a graduate student, but your years as an undergrad are an important time for learning, growth, and the transition into adulthood. Don’t let that time be wasted.  Your school has all of the resources you need to help you become the great success you dream to be. Have fun, but make sure you are always mindful of your purpose and that you don’t waste your time. Those 4 to 5 years will fly by before you know it.

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Even In The Midst of Positivity, Someone Always Looks For The Negative: A Reflection of MLK Day by B.A. McCain

I had a feeling that this would happen today, and sure enough someone proved me right. Someone was able to find negativity in a day that was supposed to be so positive. Today is Martin Luther King Jr day 2011, a day where African-Americans, even if it’s for a moment, take time to recognize one of the greatest social leaders, if not the greatest, in this country’s history. King possessed strength and a determination that I think we may never see in a man for the rest of this planets existence. He truly cared for the advancement of not only blacks, but for people of all colors. He gave the world inspiration and hope. His words touched souls. Today we recognize his life as a holiday, and although we should walk more in his footsteps every day, it’s good that we continue to keep his memory alive.  I knew people from all over, online friends especially, would be commenting on the works of Dr. King, reciting quotes, and maintaining a positive attitude as a way to commemorate his life, however; in the mist of this positivity I knew at least some self-righteous individual would see all of this positivity floating around the internet and find something negative about it. A Facebook friend of mine, a young lady, made a status that really got to me. The exact quote said,

“Why does everybody wanna put up prominent quotes and deep thoughts and positive keep yo head up lets be brothers and sisters statuses up just cuz its MLK day ummm whats wrong wit any other day? or thats right black history month is coming up so i guess there will be more lol”-Anonymous young lady

We all can agree, African-Americans especially, that we should practice showing love to our fellow-man and have a desire to spread wisdom every day; however, that is not the world we live in. African-Americans have been led astray for a while now and we no longer have someone to lead us in a positive direction. We went from working together for change to everyone for themselves. We tend to forget the about the struggle as we get caught up in the pressures and struggles of today’s world, but just a moment to reflect on him is enough to keep his dream in sight, although far in the distance. God teaches us to have faith, and as long as we keep King and his dream alive there will always be hope and the possibility of a better future. Kings generation didn’t initially see his vision of change as being attainable too, but things still changed. We might not possess the strength he hoped this generation would have, and I’m the first to admit that we are somewhat of a disappointment, but I know God didn’t allow his struggle to be in vain.

Today is a day of positivity, and although it’s sad that it’s not shown more often, we should appreciate it whenever it’s shown. People like this young lady love to complain about the current state of the race, but if you’re not personally doing anything for our advancement then you should be quite and put up a positive quote like everyone else. It’s the least you can do. The black race however is filled with so many convoluted mindsets that it cements us in the current position were in now. This girl might not have meant to portray herself as self-righteous, but it’s the vibe I  get from her and a lot of blacks who constantly talk about others but aren’t doing anything themselves. I’ll be the first to tell you that currently I’m not doing anything to uplift my race. I want to at some point in my life, but right now I’m struggling just to uplift myself. But until I do something for my community or for other black people I have no right to judge others who aren’t. Everyone is guilty of showing a little self-righteousness at times, even I, but it’s something we have to correct and work at.

So for just one day, this day, reflect on this man and his strength to better a nation, even if it’s just a simple quote on Twitter or Facebook. Put away your attitudes and self-righteousness and just join together in this day of love, friendship and hope. It won’t be easy, but if possible work hard to incorporate a little bit of this sense into your everyday life. Mentally African-American’s are so far apart from one another, and even if we’re not always on the same page, refrain from putting one another down and simply be positive. We’re far from the dream, but we will never reach it if we’re not on one accord.

 

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Love, Honesty, and Faith: A review of Michelle Andrea Bowen’s novel “Church Folk,” by B.A. McCain

Recently I came across a Christian novel that brings together the elements of love, humor, scandal and good judgment as the reader is taken into the world of the African American church. “Church Folk,” written by Michelle Andrea Bowen, focuses on a young Reverend named Theophilus Henry Simmons and his new wife Essie Lane. Together Theophilus and Essie strive to hold on to their Christian faith as well as their relationship despite the negativity around them. The novel takes place in the 1960’s south during a time where African Americans found power and social status within the black church when they could not achieve it elsewhere.

Although he is fresh from seminary school, Theophilus is a promising young Reverend who is filled with potential and a sincere Christian spirit. His dashing good looks attract many admirers from the woman of the church community, but as the new anointed pastor of Hope United church in Memphis his main goal is to service his new church family and carry out the will of God.

During a series of church revivals in Mississippi, Theophilus visits a place called “Pompey’s Rib Joint.” With a juke joint atmosphere, you wouldn’t expect to see a Reverend there, but Theophilus comes simply to relax and enjoy himself like a regular person. It is at Pompey’s where he meets the love of his life, the beautiful Ms. Essie Lane. Essie is a devoted Christian and no-nonsense having cook at Pompey’s. She is resistant to Theophilus charm at first, but after a while of courting and God’s blessing Theophilus and Essie fall in love.

Theophilus and Essie struggle to deal with the different personalities and issues that arise in the church, and the connected churches of the Gospel United church organization. When a huge scandal involving bishops, pastors and a brothel is discovered at the Triennial General Conference, it is up to Theophilus to bring evil to the light, and expose these so-called men of God. Theophilus is apprehensive as first when accepting this responsibly, but eventually he realizes that everyone will be faced with a difficult challenge at some point in their life, and taking on that challenge, despite your fears, is a true act of faith in God.

Among the many elements in the novel, the element of love has the greatest impact. This element has a unique presence that is not often seen in Christian literature, but for once it gives an honest and pure look at a couple embracing the love that God has blessed them to find. Theophilus and Essie are a strong couple that are not shy in exploring the spiritual and the physical aspects of love. Although this novel revolves around preachers, bishops and the happenings of church life, Bowen shows that despite the spiritual mortality of these individuals, they are still human. Men and woman have certain desires for one another, it’s natural, and Bowen makes it a natural part of the novel. Theophilus keeps his relationship with Essie respectable while he courts her as any man should do, Christian or not, and once married they share a strong and passionate relationship with one another. It’s the type of relationship God wanted for a married man and woman.

In order for relationships to grow, in-order for there to be peace in our lives, and for us to draw closer to God, we must have love within us and we cannot be afraid to show it to one another. Love is the most important thing we have to give in this life, and as we become involved with our significant others we can look at Theolphilus and Essie as the example of how a married couple should be: a couple that stays close to God, respects one another, and never lets go of the passion that brought the two together.

One thing I loved about this novel was its honesty. Although “Church Folk” is Christian fiction, it gives a pretty good representation of some of the personalities and events seen in the black church. I’ve been going to a black church all of my life and over the course of 23 years I’ve encountered plenty of good warmhearted Christians as well as two-faced individuals who will smile in your face and talk about you when you walk away. I’ve been to countless revivals, conferences, conventions, meetings and services. I constantly hear gossip and know of church scandals on the same caliber as this novels scandal. Most importantly, like many of the church goers in this novel, I’ve seen many people who are involved in the church for the wrong reasons. Some individual’s desire positions of power, some go to find a mate, and some see it as just a sociable function. We are suppose to go to church with a loving spirit with serving and praising the lord as our only objective, however many of us seem to forget that.

This novel draws attention to the fact that the Devil and his influence can be found everywhere, and the church is no exception. A person who doesn’t regularly attend church might read this novel or this article and say, “see! That’s why I don’t go to church, cause it’s stuff like this going on!” If this is your reaction then your perception of church is wrong. If you claim to be a Christian, church helps you to gain a better understanding of your faith by teaching how to love others, forgive those who hurt you and how to understand and apply the teachings of Christ into your everyday life. Some feel they don’t need church to be a good Christian, but the road of life will become difficult to travel on if you don’t fully understand what God expects from you. Church helps you with that understanding. Most importantly, when attending church you must keep in mind that you do not attended church for anyone else but you and for your own salvation. Not everyone in church is on the same page spiritually, and some may not even be there for spiritual reasons, but you must learn to look pass that and gather the necessary inspiration needed to strengthen your own faith and lead a better life. Don’t allow the Devil to derail you from your spiritual path, and if he attempts to be brave enough to stand up for what you know is right.

Beyond the laughs, scandals, ridiculous country names and unique personalities this novel gives a deeper message that no matter what evil comes your way, love and a deep faith in God will always help you overcome it. I encourage everyone, Christian or not, to pick up this novel and enjoy the interesting life of Church Folk.

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