Thoughtful Thursday

From the time a relatively small, largely unknown, and assuredly unelected group bestowed leadership roles to themselves and began calling the long-festering rage and resentment in Black communities the #BlackLivesMatter movement I’ve looked hard for a way to find something laudable in their actions. Because, in our race, calling into question anything that suddenly becomes the flavor of the moment leaves one open to accusations of being a sell-out, a traitor, a clueless self-hater, and all kinds of other shit. But the truth is, when I reflect on what this so-called “Grass Roots” movement has morphed into I don’t see anything consequential or useful about it. I see a bunch of kids running around reveling in photo ops and creating false litmus tests that distract us from our most pressing issues and the real solutions we should all be working toward.

I will say this; I remember what it’s like to be young, to care, but not understand that idealism without measurable goals is ultimately a waste of time. This particular incarnation of idealism ignores and disrespects those who have led longer, fuller lives and endured far more than a twenty-year old has. It stiff-arms reasonable objections, like don’t start fires and break windows in Black communities, don’t block traffic and lay your dumb asses down in subway stations at rush hour, and don’t insist that you and you alone are setting America’s Black Agenda.  We did the same things when we were your age. We were just as outraged, and just as misguided. #BlackLivesMatter is not some new phenomena; it is history repeating itself, an unlearned lesson.

Other Black people can speak for themselves but what bothers me as a Black man who came up on these DC streets, who has lived the entire pathological spectrum that goes with that is; you don’t represent me. I don’t need you picking fights with the police and petitioning White people. I don’t need you semantically constructing boxes and calling people racist if they say #EveryLifeMatters. Who does that help? Every life does matter. You make yourselves feel better by making other people feel worse? Is that the game? That’s useless to me. I don’t need you talking to Hilary Clinton on my behalf. I don’t need, want, or place any value on her “apologizing.” I don’t need you to regurgitate the obvious. Do the police police our communities as if they were an occupying force? Yes. That’s not news. Is the justice system rigged? Yes. When has it not been? You haven’t unearthed any hidden truths. You must be new here. This is the way things are. And since the #BlackLivesMatter movement is incapable of intellectually defining goals and metrics for changing these things, this is the way things are going to be. And guess what? For millions of Black people in America’s core cities, the medicine you are peddling completely overlooks the most pressing issues we face.

It is obvious we have intractable problems in our communities. But the #BlackLivesMatter movement is a sideshow and a distraction. Because Black lives really do matter. Every single black life is precious. And we, Black people, are the guardians of those lives. We are distracted when we play historical blame games with people who don’t look like us, who, by choice or ignorance, do not know our contemporary experience. Stop talking to them. They are not the solution for what ails us. We are. And we need to be distinct and very clear about what ails us. The surge in violence in our neighborhoods is our most urgent issue. We are killing each other and it must be acknowledged by us and between us. It is an undeniable fact that defies rationalization. Our babies are in the line of fire, our sons are bleeding on the concrete, and our women are not exempt. It has to stop. And we have to find our own solutions, together. If you really want change as opposed to press coverage, our neighborhoods are where you should be, being positive role models and examples, doing measurable things, interacting as opposed to inciting, cleaning and painting as opposed to chanting and posturing. Cause, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”

And the power of social media that you have harnessed? Use it for something other than validation. Direct it to us. #StopShooting DC  #StopShootingBaltimore  #StopShootingChicago. We need a murder free September. Can you help with that? Cause #BlackLivesMatter.

By J. Francis Black

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When relationships end with significant others or friends, we are often left wondering how to pick up the pieces. We turn to friends and family who offer kind messages and sage advice on how to move on with our lives, but there are overlooked lessons we forget about as we process our breakups. Below are key lessons about failed relationships that no one will tell you about.

1.Over analysis is the enemy of progress.

When a relationship ends, we may spend countless hours dissecting countless situations in an attempt to discover what went wrong. Our minds act like detectives, revisiting scenes and hypothetical situations to find clues and witnesses that attest to what caused the relationship’s end. We recruit friends to become therapists, as we relentlessly analyze our feelings about the one who is no longer a part of our lives. The hours we spend examining and re-examining the past are part of the healing process, but overdoing it can prevent us from living in the present and moving toward the future. Instead of spending hours trying to understand why a relationship ended, we can spend some of that time better understanding who we are without that person in our lives.

2. Treat yourself how you want others to treat you.

If we leave a failed relationship feeling demoralized, disheartened and undervalued, we may also question if anyone will ever love and value our qualities, quirks and specialness (of course the answer to that is yes, someone will). Rather than looking to others to validate what makes us lovable and unique, we have to look in the mirror and start with ourselves. Treating ourselves the way we want others treat us means that we give ourselves compassion, love, patience and care. It also means that we create moments and experiences where we are able to shine and be our best selves.

3. Don’t fall into the blame game trap.

When we end a relationship with someone, we may try to assign blame by pointing fingers at ourselves or the other person involved. When we blame the other person, we can find ourselves getting angry or feeling justified for our own mistakes and transgressions. When the finger is pointed at ourselves, we feel guilt and shame, wondering if it was our own doing that caused the breakup. Yet, each perspective prevents us from understanding the key factors that contributed to a relationship ending, and from learning important lesson that can be used to strengthen current and future relationships.

Picture of Visto HLKThere are so many talented and deserving of attention music artists in the DC area that it would take years to write about even a third of them. We’d like to, but then again if you follow OnStage on social media you know we do more talking about articles that should be written than actual writing cause just like pimping, writing ain’t easy. That shit is work! But there is one artist we feel compelled to say something about because we admire his combination of talent, persona, and dedication to his craft.

It’s obvious Visto had been on his grind for a while prior to our catching notice of him shortly before he released the attention grabbing video for “How That Pxssy Taste.” Before we heard it we thought it was probably a case of an artist masking lyrical dullness with sensationalism. We paid more attention to the mechanics of the social media team working to give the video a deft build up. Surprise! The track was a complete departure from everything else we were hearing from local artists. And it revealed a mature artist with texturized range in his voice. Then “Before Euphoria” showed how capable Visto was of blending genres. And he had features on that mixtape by Kaye Trill, Phil Da Phuture, Kyonte, Black Cobain, and producers like Mark Henry and Sunny Norway. So we were hooked.

When we asked Melisa Kim about Visto’s trajectory and what it would take for him to get to the next level, this was her response:
Visto is where he is because his humility allows him to listen, his grind and hunger make him apply, and his art allows him to transcend. I didn’t start working with him because of his music; I was interested in his work ethic and vision. I could hear the potential in his music and recognized that his sound and look (or what he wanted it to be) wasn’t just restricted to a niche within hip hop. I’m really proud of the leaps and bounds he’s taken over the last year in his artistic and personal growth, which are manifesting externally into career opportunities and milestones. For him to get to the next level, he needs to do what he’s doing now: not get comfortable and continuously evolve. Also, he has to be able to filter out all the “noise” that comes with notoriety. People don’t seem to realize that artists’ lives can change very rapidly, and few are emotionally equipped to handle the changes, both positive and negative. It takes a very special person to make it to certain levels and not become lost in themselves or to the industry.”

That response is why this is a #ThoughtfulThursday article entry. It’s something to think about. Because what we see in Visto we see in some other artists but we don’t see in most. That may be difficult to understand, but here are the basics… First of all he’s grounded. He knows what he wants to achieve and from all appearances has dedicated himself to it. In the time we’ve watched him his artistic evolution has been a very visible thing. The difference between the first time we saw him perform (and he was very polished then) and the most recent is light years. He owns the stage. But he hasn’t become “lost” in himself. To the contrary he is what industry people find most appealing about an artist; he is humble, thankful, and dedicated to creating opportunities for the people around him as well. He “gets it.”

If you are a relatively talented local artist and you don’t “get” the value and virtue of staying grounded and humble you aren’t going to make it. Not in the music industry of today. A success isn’t guaranteed for anybody in any case, but trust this; folks have seen thousands of talented promising young artists. You aren’t special unless you are. As much as his music and his stage performances do, what catches our eye about Visto is seeing him standing in the crowd at another artist’s show, not just showing support but genuinely enjoying the show. And with the Hippie Life Krew he is part of a mutually supportive and beneficial ecosystem that seemingly assigns equal import to all the roles, functions and facets. That’s what’s up today. And they know how to use social media for the purpose of advancing the art. That’s how you grow a fan base and an audience. In the new music industry model that’s a key ingredient for success.

The last time we spoke to Visto a host at The Fillmore introduced him to the crowd as an “Up and coming young artist.” We told him the guy was wrong. Not "up and coming"… Up!


It could be simple

...a perfect date...water and you and smiles and slow blinking eye lashes and cotton mouths and conversations at the speed of red

...a perfect love...holding hands until our entire bodies turn gold and water and hearts beating outside of our skin and fire and forehead kisses and sex...conversations still rare and red

...a perfect life...Paris, sex in Italy, Bali, Egypt, Chicago, New York, Greece, sex on personalized islands in Maldives, palaces to crash in, in India, one plane for you, and one for me, and a city with our name on it, creating, and conversations still

...a perfect life love, and a back yard in every house, big enough for the kids to play, and colors everywhere, and potency, and pay checks to sign, and hair to braid, and basquiat's skull hanging up in the family room and conversations in the white room

...cause this is all, too perfect    



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