Only For A Limited Time

For one month out of a 12-month calendar year, the African American Community comes together to celebrate more than bhm400 years of achievements and strides made by our ancestors. In my youth, since I was so disconnected from my history, I felt like it was fitting for my people to learn of our rich and sordid pasts. I can remember being in the 9th grade getting upset that we no longer celebrated Black History month like we did in elementary and middle school. My friends and I would cause a ruckus when we did not hear of the great contributions of the people that fought for our civil liberties as African- Americans to be in desegregated classrooms and diners.

As I grew and began to learn of my ancestors, I began to question my motives.

My first question was: How can we fit 400+ years of achievements into a 28-day month without missing some great details?

My second inquiry was: Why is this one month the only month that my culture comes together to celebrate each other?

The second inquiry was the most pressing. For one month, there is minimal fights, thefts and deaths that take place in the urban community but the other eleven are  saturated with hate and fatalities. For one month my community is more loving and gracious for each other but as soon as March 1st arrives we are back to our same shenanigans of self-hate and more thancommunity degradation.

Why can’t we celebrate our ancestors all year round?  If our pride and love is only offered for a limited time, how will we move forward to accomplish more goals? Do we celebrate Black History month because we need to be reminded that we were more in unison with each other when we were enslaved?

I think that it would behoove us as a society to begin to embrace each other every day of the year to create a  new foundation of honor and respect for one another.  Until we begin the process of daily encouragement and education we will continue to be forced to look upon our former glory as we forfeit the potential of having a brilliant latter that our children and grandchildren can  look upon and embrace.

*Images found on http://www.google.com


Paint It Black (A Poem)

You never know

who loves you

Until you paint it black

A big black


Full of black love

The block won’t be right

Not til you paint it


The struggle will go unnoticed

until you paint it


Though white washed

and placed in this

Unrealistic world


Unrealistic goals

Forced to become an animal

Constantly in and out the


Paint it


We will remember the color

No one will forget

The sidewalkthe futre

that was painted




The one’s you


You protected and

that’s why I take my


and paint my paper

With the colors of my neighborhood

Praying that the reader is


with the


Feel and

Taste of


* Image found on http://www.google.com

The Green Grass Grew All Around

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Anaïs Nin

There are so many beautiful trees in my neighborhood. Big beautiful oak trees line the side walks giving homes to various birds and squirrels that run through the shrubbery and yards. When you are nice and still,you are serenaded with the sweet sound of oakrustling  leaves,as the wind creates a lovely symphony.

If you sit long enough, you tend to forget that you are living in public housing.

For the 10 years that I have lived in my neighborhood, I spent the first 7 trying to hustle and get out of this place. I knew that my life would be so much better after I moved away,that I began to judge myself on my progress. I would compare myself to others success, striving hard to match what they were doing, that I lost sight of what really meant the most to me.  The lust to please others impaired my sight to be an individual, I felt that my environment was more important than the development of my character.

It is not where you live, it is how you live.

Our disparities are merely rocks in our lives. In his  book, Grow the Tree You Got,  Mr. Tom Sturges says that though rocks present a hindrance in a tree’s life, it also serves as  a great source of  growth:

tree“Despite the enormity of the challenge, rocks are key to a tree’s ultimate survival because they retain moisture and water with greater efficiency than the soil. Without them, the tree would have less of a chance to grow and thrive. By overcoming them, the tree makes itself that much stronger.” -Tom Sturges 

When the trees in my neighborhood were planted, I am sure that they didn’t expect to live some of their most glorious years unappreciated and taken for granted. Though they are in the midst of a seemingly hopeless situation,they have not stopped being trees and providing clean oxygen and cool shade. They stand tall  in the face of adversity and used those rocks as a positive source. They overcome the litter and pollution and courageously give us a source of inspiration.

In the past three years I have begun to take pride in the community that I am currently a resident of. There will be  threats in any community that I belong to and I will be forced to make a choice of whether I am going to be a part or not.  A better community will not mean a better me-that is determined by the choices that I continue to make that lead to the betterment of myself.

Where we live and what we have have little to do with who we truly are. We do not have to be  millionaires to help our communities, all we must do is lend our talents and strengths to make our neighborhoods better. We can no longer wait for the perfect conditions to make better choices, with each positive decision we make a move forward into our positive life. Let us embrace our imperfections and use them to begin a dialogue that can help others and most importantly, ourselves.


Dear Black People ( A Sincere Letter)

Dearly Beloved:

I write this with the hope that as a community we can come together and agree that things must get better. Hopefully, we can stop marching and protesting long enough to come to grips with what is really going on in our surroundings and our children. Please let us take time to consider our place in this land that we call America.

It is true that our ancestors were placed in slavery and subjected to cruelties that have us in angst, but we must take responsibility for what is going on in our communities now.Though our forefathers were treated worse than animals, they teach onestill fought for our liberties to read, write and learn. The zeal that they possessed for our generation was endangered daily by the hatred of others who didn’t want our communities to advance.

Now that we have been given the opportunity to succeed like our counterparts, some of us have become lackadaisical about our communities, children and ourselves. We have gotten our degrees and our money and have abandoned our neighborhoods, leaving those less fortunate to fend for themselves. We have gotten our cars and “bling” and have sent our kids to “better” schools with “better” opportunities. We look down upon those that live in public housing and have labeled them hood rats, as we shake our heads at the way they choose to raise their children. We laugh and exhort negative images that depict us as money hungry opportunist that will kill our brother for the almighty dollar. We say we hate white people, but continue to bleach our skin and put blonde in our hair. We scream out “I can’t breathe”, but refuse to share oxygen with people who may not have the same amount of money as we do. We celebrate hate music that repetitively uses the word “nigga”, “bitches” and “hoes”.

We have become a walking oxymoron. We say, “black lives matter” but we refuse to participate in our school systems. We say “black lives matter” but we constantly pollute our communities by leaving trash in our streets and on our sidewalks. We say “black lives matter” but as soon as we get enough money we leave our communities desolate to uphold a community that did not want us not too long ago.

Racism is apart of America, just like apple pie, but we cannot place all of our misfortune on this. Now that we are free to learn, read, and write what are we doing to  enrich and better ourselves and our community? What are we implementing in our neighborhoods to ensure that each and every child receives a quality education?

We can no longer be reactive to the loss of our fellow brothers and sisters, because we will stay in the same dysfunction. We must be proactive! We must take responsibility for our neighbors and their children. We must change our thinking from every man for himself to all for one and one for all. We must begin to love who we are and embrace who we can be.

read a bookOur communities may not be where we want them to be, but depending and waiting on the government is certainly not going to change anything. We must first  be the change. We must first believe that we are worth clean streets and great schools. We must believe that our children are as good as anyone else and that they deserve a better life.

Let us begin to celebrate academic achievement instead of athletic prowess. Let us initiate programs that teach our communities about restoring or developing credit. Let us provide more innovative ways to reach our children so we can instill a love of education within them. Let us not cast aside those that are less educated than we would like them to be; instead let us provide informative programs for parents who may remedial. Let us focus on the character of a person instead of their economic clout or lack thereof. Let us really mean it when we say “black lives matter” and begin to take responsibility for each other.


With love and sincerity,

Helen R. Ladson

* Images found on http://www.google.com 

Taking Responsibility: Solutions for Situations Issues Series Part III of III

“We do not need to attend classroom training programs  for everything. Observation opens the windows of knowledge around us”
Sukant Ratnakar

The first time I read the article  “What Is A Black Life Really Worth” in the Final Call, I began to write the Taking Responsibility series in hopes to bring awareness in urban communities.  I wanted to present the pride and prejudice that has engulfed our surroundings leaving the residents dazed and confused. As marches and riots persist in various areas around the United States, it seems as if a black life is only important if someone of another race takes it.

With triumphs such as having  a black president in the office  and Oprah Winfrey owning her OWN Network you would think  that there  would be a decline in the deaths of  African Americans (at least by the hands of other African Americans).

public enemy  Oh, but hip-hop and the media  are  another animal.

Now, calm down my urbanites! I love me some hip-hop, but we have to talk about    this.

Since its arrival in the early 80’s, hip-hop began  as the voice of urban  communities, keeping  listeners  abreast on the issues that effected the neighborhood.  This platform has provided an image and voice that seems to have had evolved into a negative impact on the partakers  and  has spawned a wide-spread consensus of drugs, promiscuity and death in the last twenty years. This genre has proven to be the most powerful weapon in the history of music and has been able to triumph over the limitations of race,  religion and economic status. Though it was once considered a passing fad, hip-hop has become a force to be reckoned with and (after viewing the Hip-Hop Awards on BET) it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon.

Reality television has become the epitome of foolishness and defeat for the urban community. With shows such as:  Love & Hip Hop, The Sisterhood of Hip-Hop, Exes of Atlanta, and Tiny and Shekinah’s Weave Trip it is easy to see why black women are considered aloof and lil kimunstable. These shows may be a form of entertainment, but not many people realize how fake reality television really is.  Many viewers emulate the attitudes of the reality stars and lust after their exciting lives by stirring up drama in their  neighborhoods and end up serving jail time as a reality.

In the past five years we have been choked with racially driven movies: The Help. The Butler. Django. 100 Years A Slave (sarcasm intended). Depiction after depiction of the inferior minority overcoming the bite of injustice. These movies are supposed  to arouse a sense of triumph, displaying how the quality of life has improved  for urban communities since the Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964, but it seems to cultivate more hate and tension between races and within them.

Though it is easy to blame music and media for the steady decline of our community, that would only relinquish the power that we hold as individuals and as a unit. We sell ourselves short because we may be on government assistance, lack “formal” education, or simply live in the projects , but some of our greatest leaders experienced these same situations.In fact, these disparities are the reason why most civil rights activist take a stand.

d is silent  The plight of the urban community is being aware of the past (i.e slavery, segregation,the civil    rights movement) but unable to use it as a launching pad for better decisions versus wallowing  in defeat. Instead of blaming the past for why we are not getting ahead, we can observe what is  not working for our community.

With the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown the urban community is in angst, raging  against itself. We cry and march in memory of these young men, but we still fight and degrade  one another daily. We listen to music fueled with hate, we intimidate and taunt  our neighbors  and call them ‘haters’. We judge those that are well versed and call them names like uppity or  stuck up. We treat those that live in government housing as animals, and some of us even play  along and assume the role of beasts. We throw trash in our streets and tear down our community.

Yet, we want better.

We want the good life; money, cars, clothes to appease our lust for the lifestyle of the rich and famous. We dress up as our favorite characters and dream about a life without stress. We have become a walking, talking oxymoron, leaving a bittersweet taste for the future.

Today, in the park, a young man was cut  in a fight. He was lacerated on the left side but the wound wasn’t deep enough to penetrate his heart. The young man ran home and got his mother to help avenge him. You could hear the mother coming up the side walk inquiring about the assailant, the people she asked laughed at her and did not tell her where the young man had hidden himself. But, had it had been someone of a different race, you couldn’t beat Al Sharpton away from this town.

Violence is violence. Death is death. No matter the victim or opponent.

We must take ownership for our actions, children and community because they are our responsibility.


 All images were found on http://www.google.com