Jamila’s Joints

Our good friend, Jamila Farwell, is a Los Angeles native about town, and is offering up her very unique perspective on different things each week. Read further to see what Jamila thinks about her choice to rent the film 50/50 this week.

So you want to see a comedy about cancer? It seems like an impossible feat but Will Reiser handles the subject matter with care and dexterity. The script, based on his own bout with the big C, is both funny and heartfelt. We journey with Adam, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt (Inception) as he is first diagnosed and then seeks treatment for a rare form of cancer.

Levitt delivers an admirable performance as a young man facing the possibility that he could die from this potentially fatal disease, his chance of survival is literally 50/50. Adam’s best friend, Kyle, played by Seth Rogen provides most of the comic relief in the film and delivers it well. He is fumbling, oafish and inconsiderate so much so that we wonder how much he really cares that his best friend could die.

Adam’s girlfriend, Rachael, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help) is a bit empty. She struggles to provide the emotional support that Adam needs but proves ill-equipped for the role of caretaker.

Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air) plays Adam’s therapist and while her character is sweet and likable she takes some missteps are less than believable. Anjelica Huston (The Royal Tenenbaums) plays the worried and annoying mother. Considering what a talent she is it’s a shame that Resier doesn’t give her more to work with.

Overall, 50/50 is certainly worth a DVD rental. It will make you laugh and cry (not TOO much) all while attempting to tackle some of life’s bigger questions about mortality, friendship and love.

Director:    Jonathan Levine
Writer:    Will Reiser


The Ascendancy of Black America (Part Four of Four)

I believe that the sun shines brightly on the African American future, just as I ultimately believe that this country’s best days are still ahead of it. I believe in the cliche that the future is what you make it. I believe in the power of belief itself, and that faith in a righteous cause is in time rewarded. Those black American’s who will accept it have before them a righteous cause in which to believe. It is the cause of black nationalism but it is also the cause of black patriotism. It is the reclamation of black culture from the hands of degenerate cultural influences and amoral corporate interests. It is the understanding that, whether we originally chose it or not we have 400 hundred years of blood and sweat invested in this country and are only now coming to understand that we have both the right and the ability to lead it. Barack Obama, whether he remains in office but another one and a half years or another five and a half years, will not be president forever. Let his ascendency not be the end of The Ascendancy of Black America. Let it be but another great step forward on the way to the promised land that King saw long before.

The dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. is the vision that has propelled black America to this fateful moment in time, just as it has guided America towards the fuller realization of the spirit of freedom and equality contained in her founding documents. King’s dream that one day “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers” calls us to remember that even as black Americans our ultimate allegiance in this world is to the human race as a whole, recognizing that in God we are one human family. This was the vision of Dr. King and this is the conclusion drawn by our founding ideals as illuminated in the simple words that “all men are created equal.” The election of President Obama was indeed striking proof of the power of these ideals as they have matured and developed throughout our collective American experience, culminating in in the compelling story of a single man who found himself poised to scale the heights of history in an election which justified the faith that her citizens and the world have placed in America as the single greatest beacon of freedom and opportunity on earth. It was therefore easy to think, for a brief moment, that we had come to the promised land that King prophesied from his mountain top. But we have a long way to go before we come to that place.  For King did not pursue a primarily political agenda; though he fought segregation, though he tried to see to it that all Americans, black and white, could have jobs if they were willing to work, and though he strove to turn America away from rash wars waged over seas, he had a higher cause than politics for which he struggled. Neither was his aim primarily social, for although he persevered in the effort to bridge the gaps between whites and blacks and more broadly all people everywhere, he had a higher calling than even this. Martin Luther King, Jr. waged a spiritual battle, against sin itself if you will. He wanted to remind people that there is only one truth, one power and one moral absolute at the end of the day and that is that of love. He wished to return love to the center of America’s consciousness, and to rally the righteous behind it’s banner. But as he said:

“In speaking of love at this point, we are not referring to some sentimental emotion. It would be nonsense to urge men to love their oppressors in an affectionate sense. “Love” in this connection means understanding good will…we speak of a love which is expressed in the Greek word agape. Agape means nothing sentimental or basically affectionate; it means understanding, redeeming good will for all men, an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. It is the love of God working in the lives of men. When we love on the agape level we love men not because we like them, not because their attitudes and ways appeal to us, but because God loves them. Here we rise to the position of loving the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed he does.”

Earlier in this series I briefly mentioned my white Grandfather, saying that he felt my father had committed a disgrace by marrying my mother. But I should clarify, it was not that he himself felt disgraced but rather that he felt, even in the mid-eighties, that the world would see it that way and that my father had committed a grave error by doing what he did. Nevertheless, and though my grandparents may have felt once upon a time that the reality of segregation was something that had to be accepted, I do know that that my Grandfather told my father once once with respect to black people that “they’re smarter than we are. They have to be to survive.” But though the cleverness of black people may derive in large measure from the direness of our historical circumstance, the wisdom of black people has been the hard understanding that in spite of all our wounds, and though they have been received at the hands of a people different from us, there is nevertheless reason to love our oppressors just as there is reason for us, in spite of our long tragedies, to love ourselves.

Now then is the time for us to call upon the instruments of our love, our spirit, our wisdom and our righteousness, to move the world forward. Love has overcome the divide between white and black, so too can understanding defeat the chasm between liberalism and conservatism that was truly the promise of the Obama candidacy. (Martin Luther King, Jr. loved George Wallace and Bull Connor, never disparaging them personally, so do you think we might somehow be righteous enough to do the same for Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin?) Love gave us music and literature and poetry to inspire Americans and people around he world for generations, so too can it inspire artistry and intellect in our own time to beat back the relentless waves of materialism, sexual gratuitousness, cynicism and moral relativism running rampant in our culture and our American society at large. Websites like Black Is are a part of the movement to reclaim our black nobility, our intellectual honesty, and to assert ourselves at the helm of American society. Every poem and every song that a child writes in the name of love and the honor of black women is a step in this direction, a declaration against the false Rap, Hip-Hop and BET culture that says we are better than what you are telling us we are. (Shout out to my girls Watoto from the Nile for really keeping it real. Google it if you don’t know.) Let us understand then that we do not need BET or big record labels to be the arbiters of our cultural expression. You can start a blog, a YouTube channel, a website and communicate a higher level of cultural consciousness to our people in whatever way you are gifted to do so. You can speak out in your church about our moral complacency and urge the people of your community to recognize that they do not have to accept Roc-A-Fella and Bad Boy records as the standard of black art and culture, not even in this time. If you have children, play for them your old Sam Cooke albums, your Motown records. Add some Miles Davis and some Duke Ellington if you have it, and you can always find some Ella Fitzgerald and some Billie Holiday if you look. And by all means, let them hear some Tupac too: let them hear “Mama’s Just a Little Girl,” “Changes,” I Ain’t Mad at You,” and and the many thoughtful and provocative RAP songs that have been and still are being made in some circles. Progress is about winning the future, not living in the past. But we cannot win the future without knowing our past. Soon black people who know their history and who understand their true importance and necessity in America will join hands and stand firm to change the cultural equation, in and beyond black America. We can only live with our ethnic hypocrisy for so long. Every time we look in the mirror, we see a man or a woman, a boy or a girl, who should be a priest of grace and righteousness, but the face we paint before the world is something less. But we are, we are meant to be, a holy tribe with a commission to do right. The opportunity to do so is coming and has come. Black America will take a stand before it has gone.


Fellas, Lets Talk.

Fellas, we need to talk. Although we live in a time where women believe in equality by no means does that imply you can forget how to treat your girlfriend and how to carry yourself as a man. Here are a few guidelines:

1. Do not have a girlfriend if you cannot maintain her. Now I’m not saying you have to spend mad money on her and buy her everything she wants. However, it is your responsibility for AT LEAST the first six months of DATING to pay for your dates . This includes but is not limited to gas for your car, movies, dinner, clothes, bus fare, and or anything else that is relevant to the relationship.

2. Make the effort. Just because you have a girlfriend does not mean you can slack on being the man you made her think you were. In any relationship communication should be, for the most part, 50/50. Nevertheless, do not make her regret the decision she made to be with you by participating in random disappearing acts for more than 2 days at a time.

3. Watch your company. If you’re going to your girls’ house it’s cool to bring some of your homeboys, within reason, as she would bring some homegirls. Conversely, this does not mean you can bring a girl who is NOT blood related to her house. Not only is that disrespectful, it also leaves your girl wondering: what kind of girls do you kick it with? No girl, who has values or morals, will agree to go to your girls’ house (especially if you two are just getting together), and if you know one who will…. Go ahead and question their logic and I can promise you that she will have an ulterior motive. She was also wonder if you even refer to her as your girlfriend?

4. Stay respectful. You’re the man in the relationship (hypothetically) it is your job to be a gentleman. If you’re mad or frustrated for whatever reason, especially with her, by no means should you ever call her out of her name. Nor should you refuse to meet her wishes if she asks you to leave, you need to leave. You two can have a civilized and mature conversation about whatever the situation is when you are both calm. & even if she wants to have the conversation when both of you or one of you are mad, step away she’ll thank you & you’ll thank me later.

It’s becoming more difficult for women to find “good” men out there because of the expectation set out for us by media today. If you happen to grab one of those “good” girls you’re are lucky, don’t let her slip through your finger because you were too busy focusing on the quick fix media sets out for you. Please remember that I am 19 years old and all of these guidelines are developed from conversations I’ve had recently with my girls.

There’s Always a Victim

The other day I was in my Spanish class and my teacher told us a story of something that happened to her when she was in her early twenties  and how it changed her life.As an undergraduate, she was party girl who skipped class to party or go to work. When she was about 23 her close friend was killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver and that made her turn her life around and made her focus on school again. The overall point of her story was that she believes in us.

However, she went on to bash Americans and say that we don’t know how it is to struggle and we don’t appreciate what we have because at least we are able put food on the table for our families and ourselves. She insinuated that people who come to America on a Visa to get an education are more studious and take school more seriously. Now if we manage to look past the ignorance in parts of her argument it appears she has a valid point. America hasn’t been the victim of what most countries have been through; if anything America is the perpetrator.

All of this got me thinking: Can there be a world where no one is a victim? How could our world possibly rotate without someone being a victim of something? What role would social workers, counselors, lawyers or presidents play without victims? You may think no one deserves to be a victim. In the end, life’s foundation is what you think you deserve in life. You put energy out to the world and you can’t receive anything great if your mind is blocked with the “should haves” “could haves” “not suppose to” and hoping something does or doesn’t happen. We all have to put some kind of work into what we feel we deserve in life whether it’s a sticker for doing a good job, or a vacation to reward yourself for all your hard work. Along with all this hard work, someone usually is stepped over or on.

We need to see and/or experience how it is to be the victim to know what we do and do not want for ourselves or our families and loved ones. We can’t all be successful in everything we do, and often times we fall victim for someone else to succeed.

Will we let that stop us?

It Still Takes A Village to Raise A Child

Recently I was going through my timeline on Twitter and a friend retweeted this tweet: “We as men are quick to call women bitches, sluts, and hoes, but as men we are really to blame. When we lie to women, make them love us, and share a part of themselves they can never get back, then we take that love, abuse it, and use them until there is no more love in them. What happened to providing for your woman, respecting your woman, loving your woman, protecting our women?” (courtesy of –@NoelGoesSoHard ). This got me thinking: whose fault is it that men aren’t providing, respecting, loving, and protecting the woman they want to be with? Sure we can blame it on music – rappers degrade women therefore brain washing younger men to believe that women worth anything more than sex. However we must remember as humans first and women second, that we all deserve to be loved and to love. However we have to have something worth loving. You must bring something to the table other than being a pretty face and a sexual fantasy for a guy and more importantly for yourself. We need to STOP supporting movies that do not provide strong positive message for young men. Parents, family, friends and society need to act like parents and teach their children male or female morals, values, how we should be treated and how we should treat other people. It takes a village to raise a child.

Drake is… a fraud?!

Watch this video:

Now ponder this question: Does Drake lose credibility as an artist because he’s unable to freestyle?

I’ll admit I was a Drake fan and I was let down when I saw this video. Granted, all rappers can’t freestyle. But all rappers don’t go on Flex’s show fronting like they can.

On a funnier note, you can’t see the original without seeing the spoof:

Hay girl signing off.

Black is Undefeated.

It is important to understand while we have to dig the image of being black from under the pile of dog shit it’s buried in, we can do so without degrading other ethnicities. People need to work together despite their ethnicity to better society.
We as black people got in the hole we are in because everyone thought it was ok to degrade black people to uplift themselves. We, along with every other ethnicity, have been suppressed by white people and now we have to dig ourselves out of the grave that was started by them but finished by us. We have been given this negative façade BUT it was continued and got to this extent because we let it. We were banned from getting a formal education during the slavery era. We aren’t banned now so why aren’t more black women and men getting an education? Money? I’m not rolling in bills but you have to sacrifice to what you want even if it means taking out over $100,000 in loans to get educated. People sacrificed their lives so we can eat what we want, live where we want, and now it’s like we are throwing it in their faces. They gave their lives for opportunity; let us take every opportunity possible to uplift the image of black. Black is strong. Black is persistent. Black is undefeated.

Interests vs. Enhancements (Part I)

With so many people, places and things vying for our attention, we’ve got to make calculated choices.  “How should I spend my time and energy?”… “To whom should I give the gift of my attention?”…  Over the next couple of months we are going to tackle how to answer questions like these. It all comes down to what I call Interest vs. Enhancement.  There is a distinction between the two and you’ll need know the difference if you are going to sustain any level of success.  Interests can arouse your curiosity, but enhancements (be they people, places or things) raise your value and effectiveness.  Each of us must come to grips with this one reality – Not everything that interests us will enhance us.  One of the best ways to get a handle on what interest you as a pose to what will enhance you, is to conduct a thorough interview of your interests.

Here are a few things to consider during your “interest interview” process:

1) An interest is only worth pursuing if it adds value to the people and work you cherish most.  If you are having trouble identifying what you value most, take a look at what you do with your time. Make a list if all of the activities you engage in, I mean all of them! This list will tell you where and with whom you currently place the most value. If you are not pleased with any particular item on that list, it’s a clear indication that the item is an interest which depletes rather than adds to your life.

2) If you find you are indifferent with the items on the list, it is likely you have hit a “value wall”.  Value walls form from having too many interests and not enough focus. You’ll need to eliminate some of the busy items from your life and limit your focus to one or two areas. Then engage those one or two interests long enough to discover whether or not they are worth sticking to. If they are, refine them, if they are not, delete them! The more you scatter your time and energy, the longer it will take to discover what you value most and the less effective you’ll be in life.

3) Interests are only as good as the role they’ll have in  raising your family, reviving your relationships, replenishing your work, or regenerating your mind, will and emotions.  Any interest you partake in that does neither of these things will make you an easy target for depression, resentment and feelings of hopelessness.  In addition, they will fossilize the gifts and talents you posses because you have not created an environment conducive to maximizing what you have the potential to be great at being and doing.

It doesn’t take long to conduct a thorough interview of your interests. Doing so will help you regain the perspective you need to live a full and purposeful life, in a world full of sometimes disastrous options.  After all, time is precious and it’s best you make any interest you have count for more than the moment.


(via The Great Defender of www.takecareandlive.com)

A Fight at the Beach

I recently turned 19 and in celebration I had a bonfire at Dockweiler beach. About 15 of my closest friends came to celebrate and of course I was joined by a portion of my large family. My little cousins (the oldest being 7 and the youngest 2), my older cousins, aunt, uncle, and even my grandmother attended. Needless to say we were enjoying ourselves in celebration of my 19 years alive and healthy.

My mom’s side of the family is from Belize and my dad’s side is from Mississippi. My family doesn’t play into the stereotypes that exist about black families:  we don’t drinks, gang bang, fight, or smoke. With this being said of course we were completely caught off guard when we heard yelling and screaming while we were playing in the sand. When I turned around I immediately covered my mouth in awe because the sight was heart breaking. There it was a young black male and a young Latino FIGHTING in the middle of the beach. I was stunned! As I watched it felt like my family was fighting each other.

As Blacks and Latinos we are both offered the short end of the stick in America and the last thing we need to do is fight each other. We should work together to be offered the same end of the stick that other people are offered. Black is working together for a common goal. Black is setting a positive remodel for kids to look up to. Black is NOT senseless fighting and unnecessary embarrassment.

Black Is… What I Say it Is.

Black is a part of my culture. I am multiracial; both my parents are mixed with black. Mom is black, white and hispanic. Dad is black and white. According to the “One-drop Rule” embedded in our psyche during times of slavery, I am black. These genetics make up my race, and my race is one aspect of my culture. The fact that I have family reunions, enjoy fried chicken and drive with my music bumpin’ has less to do with the color of my skin than it does my cultural experiences. My culture is also defined by my age, family, spirituality, geography, gender and economic status.

Certain people assume that if you are black then you look, think and behave like all other people that look like you. Due to a lack of education, people of all races begin to believe these stereotypes and perpetuate them. There’s an old saying that goes “if you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything.” People who are not grounded in culture are more likely to buy into the medias depiction of what Black Is.

Black Is a site dedicated to the black experience. We are all black and our perspectives are unique to our experiences. We are from different generations, religions, genders and family backgrounds yet we also have similarities. No sole entity can define what Black Is; you decide what black is to you. Sources like BET, Bossip and other national publications do nothing more than brainwash people into believing what black is to them. My hope is to replace the medias depiction of what Black Is by showcasing the black experience is so much more than poppin’ bottles and booty. Black Is a devoted wife and mother. Black Is a struggling college student. Black Is a loving father. Black Is an aspiring musician. Black Is what I say it is.