BLOOD OF JESUS (SHORT STORY)

Have you ever seen or met him? Have you ever seen his face? You know, him up there. He who sits up high and looks down low. The one who is always watching us, protecting over us. The one who makes sure we’re safe and secure in our humble abodes. The one who sheds blood for us. He who died for us, so that we could see another day. If not for him shedding this blood where would I be today? All of this is the reason why I make sure to thank him for all he has done for me. When no one believed in me you were there to believe in me. When no one cared for me, it was you who stood by me. And for this Jesus I love you.

From the moment he came into my life, there was never a dull moment in my life. He was first born to a virgin mother, who was unable to secure a birthing space. She gave birth to him in a cave; and in this cave is where he received his name. Little did I know through all the troubles in his life, he would eventually make his way to me. From that humble birth, to eating at the table with his faithful followers. From being looked at with reverence by anyone who crossed his path, to shedding blood before he died.

He lived, and because he lived I can appreciate all that I have been given in life. I can make it through today and tomorrow because of him. I can see him, wrapped in that cloth, being carried to his resting place. Thinking to myself wow, I can feel his presence. I can feel his spirit ascend into the air. Can you feel it? Do you know what it’s like to feel the spirit of Jesus? I close my eyes, and I can see his face. See his hands, with those two nail incisions through his wrist from which he was impaled. His disheveled hair, a sign of the stress he underwent before his death. The drained look in his face, a sign of his anguish.

Then I open my eyes, and tears begin to form. I think to myself, what pain he went through. The pain, what pain, such harsh and cruel pain. I could have never done it. He was so strong, so much stronger than myself. The way he was here one day, and gone tomorrow. It is so much I want to share with you, but yet there is no verbal feedback. I guess I’m not trying hard enough because I should be able to hear him. Wait a minute, listen closely, I hear him now. His voice is so soft, but yet still powerful. His presence is humble, yet regale in nature as well. Yes regale, that’s a good word to describe him, regale. It makes a lot of sense because he was the king.

That’s confusing because a king usually has a queen. What is a king without a queen? I never knew Jesus to have a queen. He should have had a queen; why such a great king with no queen. A queen should be your better half, but Jesus did have a better side. But I feel Jesus’s presence, how come I don’t feel his better half? Is it because his better half must be something higher than my abilities. Something that only comes with maturity and time? Something that is so high that it may never be attained? Or is Jesus’s better half in front of my face and I am just not looking hard enough?

I want to go back to the time aspect of his better half. Time scares a lot of people. But Jesus has all the time in the world. No amount of time can inhibit his potential. He is the only one who knows the time and the date of the end. No man has a better understanding of time than he. No man has as much time in this world than he. How can I attain that knowledge of time? Is it at all possible to reach such a plateau in life? My best guess is no; no one can achieve such heights. Because if such a human were able to reach this height, this understanding of time; he would replace Jesus. And that is not something I am willing to accept. Maybe as time go on, I will be more open to accepting this; or maybe not.

Excuse me for rambling on, but I want you to know. I want you all to know because he touched so many people. You all need to know how he fought. You all need to know how died. What good is it for one to live on earth and never come know him? Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty before him and many will come after; but none will touch me as much as he. None will wake me up in the morning with such a joyous feeling that can only be compared to the birth of a child. Many may guarantee me monetary wealth, but only he gave me the internal wealth I need which will make me feel true wealth. Wealth greater than the richest CEO, wealth greater than any lottery win, greater than any trust fund left by a well to do family member.

The wealth that Jesus has brought me can only be described as something everlasting. Something that can’t be stripped away from me. It is because of this immense wealth I love him so much. Love; love is a word that I have not yet used. It almost seems redundant to speak of love because so far, everything I have spoken of described love. But let me tell you in detail my love for Jesus. It’s the feeling you get, not like falling in love, but the feeling of pure satisfaction, but not infatuation. It’s the feeling of gratitude, respect, devotion, and esteem. There are days I cry because his love is so strong. But, these are not tears of hurt or pain, they are tears of joy.

You’re probably wondering why Jesus has played such an important part in my life. Well because he wasn’t just there for me, he save me. He saved me because it could have been me. It could have been me who landed on those nails; it could have been my blood, yet is wasn’t. It was the blood of Jesus that was impaled with those nails. Jesus, I feel so helpless for not being able to help you. I wanted to help you, but there was nothing I could do. So as I look up toward Jesus, I say to him will you forgive me. Will you forgive me, and not judge my coward behavior?
I can only hope that he will find it in his heart to do so. So I look up high on my shelf at this urn. The urn which holds the remains of the one whose blood was shed on that nailbed to keep me from shedding blood. I say to you Jesus, my beautiful, my brave, my loyal, and my honorable tabby cat; thank you. Thank you Jesus, I would have rather it have been my foot than your life. But you stepped in front, you gave your life so they I could go on. In time, I’ll learn to move on, but never forget. And as I make my journey through life, hopefully we’ll see each other again Jesus. You were more than a tabby cat, you were a friend, family, and the one I love. And for this I am deeply greatful. May you rest in peace, until we meet again.

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OFF THE BLOCK: Why Black People Should Travel

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“Why we need to leave the block.”

As a Black man, I wish I could take my views of the world and place them into the minds of so many other young Black males. I am always trying to broaden my horizons as well as understanding other groups. I love Black culture, but I also love learning new cultures as well. I think there is a problem that permeates within our community that makes us not want to leave the block. I live in Harlem, New York, and the same faces I seen on a daily bases hanging on the street corner. I would like to ask these guys one day, “Have you ever been off the block?” “Have you ever even been to Times Square?” “Have you been to The MET?”

And for those of you that don’t know what the MET stands for, it is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City’s Upper East Side neighborhood. Working there as an Usher for concerts and performances, I love eying the many sculptures and art pieces that have been sent from around the world by various countries. Such as the Egyptian antiquities sent from places like Alexandria and Cairo, even the stone carved sculptures of the Medieval Period of European history, as well Mesopotamia in the Middle East and the Native American artifacts of this country.

I would just love to put other Black men in the know. To know that you are missing out on so many great things in life. You say why Black men? Well, we have this tendency to only see what is on the block. We can’t for some reason see past the block. And a lot of times, we don’t know of anything past the block. For example, my oldest sister is who introduced me to eating sushi with chopsticks. Starting with the food, and has opened my mind to what else is there to know about the Japanese culture. But see, cultural understanding didn’t start with my sister, it came from my mother.

As a child growing up in a traditional Black family, we ate soul food on a daily basis. But it was my mother who said, “Hey, it’s Chinese food Friday, Gyro Saturday, or how about Mexican food Sunday.” So I wanted to take myself to another place mentally from my childhood experiences. She also put us in schools where her children would get a more universal experience. Our cable television was used to challenge us as well: History Channel, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, and even Jeopardy quiz show of random information. we frequented the library where we were asked about anything interesting that we wanted to do or learn. So from my childhood, I was so intrigued to know more.

Another reason I want Black men to leave the block, is to get a passport. I am currently working on getting myself a passport as well. We need to travel, and I’m not talking Las Vegas or Miami. I’m talking Sydney, Australia; Tokyo,Japan; Moscow, Russia; Berlin, Germany; or Cairo, Egypt. Why international? Well because for so long, Black people have been told that you’ll experience hatred and rejection from outside the country. But the most oppression has come via United States. Why do we believe in the hype that we are so hated. Not only is this not true, but internationally, people know, understand, and respect our will to fight through our struggles here in America.

As for me, if anyone says this particular group hates you, I make it my business to open the dialect with that group. Because if they do, I’ll be able to breakdown where they got it from. For example, I was watching television where a man in Russia said he didn’t like Black people. When asked why considering you have and may never come in contact with Black people. He stated, That’s what he sees on TV and in the movies. So I went, ahhh, he just gave me enough information to make my decision. That is why it’s our job to travel and show people we are not what people have been told. Because if not, we will continue to believe thoughts and ideologies about us that were not pushed nor created by us. Putting yourself in the know is crucial in our lives moving forward.

Fear: The Black Community and Our Fear of God

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“What really scares us?”

When I think about my life growing up in the Black church, I have always wanted to know why we believed so heavily. You’re taught your whole life to never question God. But how does one fully believe in something unless they are willing to challenge their belief? Whether raised under the belief or not, you believe in something because someone tells you not out of choice. Meaning my grandparents are Christian, but why my parents? When you ask the question why, some people are lost because they have no reason why they believe in something.

Well then, why as Black people are we so wrapped in Christianity? Or better yet, why are we so afraid at the idea of challenging God? And, why do we fear the idea of him not existing? We believe in God like everyone else because you were born into the religion. Which is the most obvious reason why someone has a religious belief. If your mother and father are both Christian, you’re going to lean toward Christianity because it’s what you were raised under. It’s hard to connect to Islam or Judaism because you only know Christianity.

But as a person in each of these religions, shouldn’t you know something about the other? How do you say that as a Christian my job is to show you how Christ worked for me, yet you’re not willing to understand the person’s belief you’re trying to connect with. Now this can mean the same for any other religion as well. Meaning, since when has a Christian done anything for a Jew or Muslim that is of the Christian way without a Jew or Muslim having to jeopardize their way of life.

So there you have it, follow not only what you’re born under, but don’t truly connect to others. But what’s the other reason Black people are so wrapped in Christianity? Well, look at the fear aspect of even challenging God. Where does that come from? Oh, now that’s a lot more historical. Black people as Christians and everyone else is different in the sense of our fear of challenging comes out of subjugation. There was an interesting scene in the movie, “12 Years A Slave.” When Michael Fasbender’s character says obey your master, and that is law.

The idea that challenging God is the same as challenging your master during slavery. We are one the only group of people where the biblical text was used psychologically to keep us in line. I don’t know much about biblical history, but American history if we got out of line during slavery you could be lashed or even killed. Knowing that God’s punishment is more severe because he sits atop of the slave master, their’s no secret why we could be kept in line for so long. It’s the reason why when I hear elderly Black men and women talk about their fear of God, it is nearly 100% correlated with the subjugation.

Which brings me to why we fear his non-existence. Black people’s history in America has been so grave, that we can’t possibly imagine a God not existing. How could there be no punishment for our historical relationship in America? You mean to tell me we could be treated the way we have been treated and that’s it, it is what it is? The idea that it’s just a big oh well, and man can systematically do that and get away with no one to answer to could lead to some serious problems. Can you imagine 100% proof of God’s non-existence, problems that would take place in society.

Because that would mean man not only is given free will, but after making a decision concerning others lives there is no repercussion. Meaning someone could destroy lives and go oh well move on with no recourse. So maybe religion is a good thing that even if people don’t believe, it’s what keeps chaos from taking place. Black people can’t stomach this is it. I’m not saying we would cease to exist, but their would be a lot of social issues. In the end, Black people are going to continue to stay wrapped within the Christian faith, but the division that’s causing a lot of the young Black males and females to leave the church is jeopardizing that faith base.

Up All Night: Why We Waste Our 20’s

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“What have you done with your 20’s?”

We Are Young is such a great song by the group FUN. It has so many meanings, but one sticks out to me. How much time we actually waste in our 20’s as we come through this decade is what I have gotten out of this song. It’s right in the chorus of this song, “So if by the time, the bar closes, and you feel like falling down, I’ll carry, you home, tonight.” That line brings up so many memories for so many young people who spend their 20’s bar hopping and hooking up. In your early 20’s, you are typically a college student. Study and attend classes four days out of the week, maybe hold down a part time job. Then from Thursday through Sunday, you party it up. Because then again, C’s get degrees.

Once out of school, you get a day job, working five days per week, eight hours per day. On Friday, you go out with friends, and lounge on Saturday because you’re too hung over from the night before. Hell, you might even go out Saturday night because when you’re young, whose thinking about church Sunday morning. Then Sunday night, hopefully your weekend hangover is wrapping up for the daily grind come Monday morning. Then, as you are nearing the end of your 20’s, life sinks into your brain. You go, what the hell did I do this entire decade.

The whole time you spent hooking up with random people and partying. But you never ceased the moments to pursue your career endeavors. Ten years is a long time, but from 19-29 years of age it goes by fast. This is why at the age of 20 I spent the next four years figuring out my three important keys to success in my life: what do I love, am I good at it, and can I sustain myself financially down the road. So at the age of 24 years, I decided I love writing/film making/producing; mainly screenwriting and novels, would be my career goals. So here I am at age 29 years old the end of this month, having spent the past nearly six years learning, working my craft.

Now I am in the process of building my audience: posting my daily blog post, pre-production for my next short film, and as well as finishing up my first novel and first book of short stories. All the while holding down multiple part-time gigs to support myself along the way. I look at my life and go, what did I do with my 20’s. I look at my crappy apartment and cheap clothing so monetary expenses can go toward more productive goals. I think to myself, “Wow, you should have just partied with everyone else.” “Because financially they are ahead of you.” True, but also false as well.

Having spent the greater portion of this decade putting in what is know as my 10,000 hours, my writing slowly paying off. Don’t get me wrong nothing is guaranteed, but the work is being put in in preparation of. I think to myself why aren’t more people in their 20’s putting in the time to pursue their career interests. Then it dawned on me that they don’t have any. Some would say that is a lack of drive and ambition, but not necessarily in your 20’s. Yes athletes and some entertainers who are 22 and 23 year old global brands are not the norm. Because they have usually spent from elementary school until their 20’s on their craft.

And that is what it all boils down to, purpose. There was a very well known book called, “Purpose Driven Life.” What is your purpose driven life? A lot of young people don’t know their purpose driven life. At the age of 24 years, I decided I would be a storyteller. I wrote down ideas and I am currently in the execution process of these ideas. Starting with my first novel, book of short stories, and my first short film that I wrote, directed, and produced; which I uploaded on YouTube. Scary thing about purpose, is that some people will live their entire lives not knowing their purpose on earth.

Why me at my age? Why did I figure this out so young? I don’t have life figured out, but I know to a great enough degree regarding my career. Is it chemical, how ones brain is wired? Or better yet, maybe it’s divine intervention. There are so many reasons that bring us to purpose, but my reason for coming to writing initially was internal. Writing was an escape from personal issues I faced. Started at age 22, and only did it become a viable career path once I hit 24/25 years of age.

So in the end, we don’t maliciously waste our 20’s, it’s a time you don’t know much about yourself. Your self awareness is not strong, so you can’t see your full self worth. I saw my worth and potential at such a young age, which is why I started before everyone else. But hopefully everyone else will as well. Because if your life revolves around living just for Friday and dreading to wake up Monday morning, you are not living a full life.

HUSTLING (SHORT STORY)

I answer to no one is the motto that I live by. You either work for yourself or you work for someone else. You either building yourself into somebody, or building up someone else’s foundation at your own expense. Well, I bet you’re wondering which category I fall under. I fall into building me, doing what I want to do, and not adhering to nobody. Who cut my checks, I do, that’s who. Who tell me when to wake up, I do. Nobody dictates to me unless I say they can. I bet you’re wondering how I came to have such a radical mind frame. It goes all the way back to when I was a small child growing up in a poor community.

At the age of eight years old, my mother and I were at a shoe store. She had just gotten paid and wanted to buy me new gym shoes. Only one problem, the ones I wanted she couldn’t afford, so I had to get the cheap pair. I couldn’t understand at such a young age why she wasn’t able to afford the shoes that I wanted. She told me her job only paid her so much money, so she had to make do with what she had. This was the defining moment for me, as I watched another kid walk in the store with their mother and buy the shoes that I wanted. Watching the young child have something I couldn’t have made me infuriated. So infuriated I made my mind up that I wouldn’t be my mother. The hell with a job, I wanted to be self-made.

In an attempt to be more self-sufficient, I decided to take a sheet of paper and crayons from my backpack. I proceeded to draw out a plan for what I wanted to do with my life in the future. This would consist of a list of things I promised to myself I would accomplish by the time I was my mother’s age. The only problem for me is that I didn’t know where to start. I never knew anything about being self-sufficient, so how was I going to go out on my own. I mean come on, I was only eight years old, what did I know about making money. So I did what I thought would be the appropriate steps to becoming successful.

 

My next door neighbors owned a rake and the fall season was rapidly approaching. From watching how irritated people were about raking leaves, I decided to make money this way. That’s when I went next door and asked the neighbors could I use their rake to make a little extra money in the neighborhood. They were more than happy to help me because no other kid my age was thinking about earning an income. All the other kids in my neighborhood accepted their economic position. Not me, I wanted more; working for someone else or asking someone else for money was not for me.

Once I had my rake, I went back into my house and took out a new sheet of paper and crayons. Only this time, I would create some method of getting my name out there. If people didn’t know there was a yard cleaner in their neighborhood, then how could I make money? With my crayons, I designed an advertisement so potential customers could be brought to me instead of me going door to door. The first problem with this type of advertising is that I only had a few sheets of paper. The other issue is that my community was poor. Who, in a poor community, would pay for something they could do for free. Then I realized something, the neighboring community was a middle class neighborhood.

People in the middle class community did a lot of their own yard work, but at times couldn’t find the time to clean themselves. This is where I come into the picture. With this rake in my hand, I left my mother’s house and walked about half an hour away to the other community. As I entered this community, I thought these people were rich. They had homes by the likes of which I never seen before. Two car garages, bicycles parked on the front lawn, and house doors were even partially open. So what did I do, I took it upon myself to approach one of these houses. I almost didn’t see the police squad car behind me, as I slipped one of my advertisements into the open house door.

As I turned around, the police officer asked me what I was doing. “Oh, I’m trying to make a little extra money, so I gave the people of this house one of my flyers.” Thinking the police would understand my hustle mentality, he grab me aggressively by the wrist, and walked me to his squad car. Next thing I knew the police had placed me in the back seat of the squad car. The neighbors of the house had exited the premises. They must have saw the squad car because the husband, wife, and children were all out in the front. I saw the police conversing with them, as the husband shook the officer’s hand. The officer walked away, holding my flyer and proceeding toward the car. For a moment, I thought the man had told the police officer he was impressed by my flyer. I thought my take charge, straight forward aggressive attempt to pitch myself had worked.

Well, it didn’t work, as a matter of fact the police officer entered on the drivers’ side of the car. He started the engine and drove away, as the family standing out front stared into the back seat. They looked at me with different emotions in their eyes: the husband and wife looked disappointed, but the kids looked confused. I don’t see why the family was so irritated, I was merely trying to make a living for myself. As the police officer drove the squad car, he asked me where I lived. I told him my address, as he drove in the direction which I came to the middle class neighborhood. At first, the feeling of riding in the car with the police made me feel like a tough guy. Really, it did, I felt like a real badass.

As the police squad car pulled in front of my house, my mother was sitting on the porch. When the police officer exited the car with me in the seat, my mother quickly left the porch. She made her way to me asking the officer what happened. Once she found out what I was doing, I thought she would be happy; but I was wrong, yet again. She was beyond infuriated, while informing the officer it would never happen again. As the officer drove away, she grabbed me by the ear, pulling me toward the house. Once on the inside, she grabbed her belt, giving me a really good butt whooping. But it didn’t matter because I was more determined than ever to be my own boss.

This setback didn’t deter me from trying because I was on to my next business venture. This job would be more permanent, but a path I regret until this day. There were some hustlers in the neighborhood who needed some help. Once I found out what they needed help doing, it terrified me. I remember my mother telling me to stay away from these guys. She said that hanging around these guys led to death or prison. But from what I knew about life, we all die at some point in time, so I did it. I decided that getting paid by the neighborhood hustlers was way better than asking for money; and a lot better than being broke.

So, here I was, my first day as a hustler like the big boys. I wasn’t able to sell like the men were able to, so they allowed me to hold their product. At the end of the day, they would slip me a few bills in my hand. This was the fastest money I’ve ever made up until this point. I wasn’t asking my mother for anything, and business was doing well for the hustlers. As time progressed, I took on more responsibilities in the streets. The hustlers trusted me enough to allow me to go out on my own. This is what I had been waiting for; real money.

Fight or Flight: Are You A Coward To Run

Should you question someone’s bravery if they run away in a time of crisis? What if you are witnessing an elderly woman being mugged? Do you involve yourself or do you keep walking? Not an easy decision especially if the person is armed and dangerous. Like come on now, how can expect people to put their lives on the line for complete strangers. It’s easier said than actually done. But what about in other cases. What about the case of a bank robbery or a mass shooting? Or even something more sinister like a high level terrorist attack.

There have been some times I have observed a fight or flight moment in our society. And when I say observed I mean pawed over a situation that took place in society I heard about. Case in point, some of these theater shootings. There were guys who took bullets for their girlfriends, but one man even left his crying baby and wife. People ridiculed him for leaving his family. And if that wasn’t enough, a random teenager came to his wife’s aid, even getting shot himself in the process.

We as a society are so quick to attack, but how many people wouldn’t do this. I’m willing to bet you that the main people who judged the man leaving his family would have done the same. So when we look in the world, how does one become the stand and fight or flight & run away. I think it all depends on the situation.  In the case of a major terrorist attack, everyone is in the process of flight, except a few chosen individuals. I don’t think these people who fight are the bravest people, you just don’t know what you’ll do until the time comes.

There were people for instance in New York’s City’s World Trade Center attacks, who would have never thought they would risk their lives for others, died assisting people from the twin towers. So does that mean the person is less admirable because under normal circumstances they may have run to save themselves. No, it’s a fight or flight situation. Heroism is not like the movies, it’s almost like a knee jerk reaction for people to jump into action and come to others aid. As much as we have our differences as people, we are quick to assist each other because humanity kicks in.

But does that mean those who flight are any less human? No, they are not. That is a human response to fear as well. So ultimately, what is it that makes some people stay and help and others maintain their self-preservation? My best guess is there must be something that triggers in each individual man or woman which forces us to respond to a crisis. I don’t see it as who is less or more heroic, but a chemical reaction in our brains. In the end, I admire people who throw themselves into the situation, yet not knowing what the outcome might be. But I also understand those who run away to save themselves because it triggers fear that we all internally have.

 

SEX: Tell Or Someone Will

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“Better you than their friends.”

Why do parents insist on not being up front with their children regarding sex? They act as if they don’t converse about it, maybe their children won’t lose their virginity. Since when has that ever worked. As a parent our job is to talk to your children. The only problem today is that you have to talk to your child at even a younger age than previous generations. As a matter of fact, past generations didn’t even entertain the idea of their child having sex. I guess the more time progress, the more open we become.

But, there are still so many parents that don’t talk. We’ve all grown up or have been the person who goes, “I can’t talk to my parents about sex.” “They would lose it if I asked a question about sex.” Well, what about the emotions that still run deep. Males and females still have emotions as they come through puberty. You would think parents could connect, being they were adolescence. On the other hand, that may be a reason that parents can’t talk. They think back to when they were young. The thoughts that went through minds and the emotions in their hearts.

Yet, this actually is a more logical reason to have a discussion. How can you not teach your kid the realities of life? “Well, if I tell them, I am almost promoting it.” “I am in a way opening the door for them to engage.” These are the responses from parents as to why they can;t have the conversation. On the other hand, let’s say you’re right, talking to them anyways would lower the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STD). People with less education about STD’s are more likely to get and STD.

Well a more conservative parent says, “That’s why you wait until you’re married.” “Sex is for marriage, so you can’t get an STD when you’re married.” WRONG! As a matter of fact, married men and women have been diagnosed and continue to get diagnosed today and treated for STD’s. Well, isn’t marriage suppose to protect you from an STD. No, and the reason being is that if you never talk about sex, how do you bring up your significant others’ sexual history? Your parents didn’t talk, you never talked, now you don’t talk to your spouse.

So as you can see, having these type of conversations are very important. Especially if their friends are already talking to them. The friends will give them the misleading information which can lead to far more serious outcomes. Because they are going to find out, rather you tell them or not. It’s going to come from the person who brought them into this world. Or they are going to get outside advice. Which in turn you better hope that information is something they can grab hold on to.