What is Service?

Yesterday was the day that America honors the life and sacrifices made by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the world’s most impactful leaders. As opposed to being a day off, it is supposed to be a day of service. But that leads me to ask a question of us all: What are we doing to help humanity on a regular basis? Could you imagine what your relationship would be like if you only celebrated your significant other once or twice a year? How would you feel if your parents had only acknowledged you quarterly? They would just be meaningless displays from people looking to check off a box.

Just as people need to be loved every day, we should be doing something good for someone else on a daily basis. Maybe it’s letting the person at the stoplight know (s)he left the gas tank open. Maybe it’s stopping by your local co-op to grab a hot meal for the homeless person on the corner. Maybe it’s donating some money to keep Bennett College open. But we have to do something if we truly want to honor the legacy not only of Dr. King but the spirit of what America claims to be. And everyone shouldn’t know you did it. Just do it. If you are recognized for it, great. If you’re not, great. Either way, you did something beautiful for someone who can do nothing for you except pay it forward.

Oh, and, by the way, I found that cool graphic by following one of my favorite accounts on Instagram, The 9 to 5 Podcast. Check them out by clicking here.

 

Make embracing a spirit of service a priority.

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In The Mix

How often do you hear stories of black kids robbing stores? Or getting into trouble at school? Or participating in gang violence? For me, it’s too often, especially when there are more instances of black kids succeeding and working hard and dreaming the impossible.

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Desirée listening attentively as Michael and Madison explain why TheGifted Arts is such a necessity.

This weekend, I got to see the often overlooked personified by young people like Michael and Madison, pictured above advocating for the support of TheGifted Arts. The Mix, an event hosted at the Google Fiber location in Raleigh, NC, was a powerful display of discipline, dedication, and a genuine joy that many adults have to rediscover if we’re going to get back to loving life like we ought to.

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Brandon Foster sharing his gifted voice with us.

TheGifted Arts, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that aims to influence academic outcomes and help build confidence with our students, by utilizing character building techniques and arts access, such as through: dance, music, fashion and drama, as a means of both creative expression

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Michael letting the music move through him.

outlets and social personal development. Though it is not restricted to minority children, it was refreshing to see a group of kids who were undeniably of African descent expressing themselves freely through the arts, especially with so much negativity and desensitizing going on. When you see, without reservation, the bodies of black people, be they youth or adults being either placed in restraints like those from chattel slavery or, possibly worse, left to lie cold in the streets, you may become cold to the stories behind the negative pictures. These children and teenagers, through their various forms of art, brought back the positive warmth that I associate with my blackness. Their love and passion spoke to me like I didn’t know young people could.

On April 8th, TheGifted Arts is putting on “Anthem: Fashion with Purpose.” This is its fourth annual fashion show and is a major fundraiser for the participants of TheGifted Arts. We got a taste of these artists’ talent at The Mix and, if that’s any indication of how awesome Anthem will be, you are going to be in for a treat. So, if you’re in North Carolina on the second weekend

There’s very little that’s more important to a performer than an engaged crowd.

of April, I strongly suggest you invest your time (and dollars) in these kids. Make a night of it. Go to dinner before, catch the fashion show, and then catch some live music after. Support these young people and their intentional effort to use their energies to add hope and expression to a world and a media system that, more often than not, does not give us hope.

To buy Tickets to “Anthem: Fashion with Purpose,” click here.

Or, to learn more about TheGifted Arts, click here. And, whether you can make the fashion show or not, please donate. Even if it’s only $5, give to these students’ and their dreams.

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Make community engagement a priority.

The King in You

Today, I write in honor of Rev. Bro. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and I ask us all to look introspectively for the King in us. Search for the love, not the hate. Look for the integrity before the opportunity. Believe in the good in your fellow human being as opposed to pointing out the evil.

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”

Do you see the selflessness in that language? He is a human who, like all humans, would love comfortable immortality. But he put himself in a position to sacrifice his own life for the betterment of the oppressed. These words were not just empty rhetoric. The day after Bro. King delivered this speech, his life was taken by an assassin’s bullet. He truly lived (and, as a result, died from) his selflessness. That’s a great way to loose your life isn’t it? In a selfless fashion? For a just cause? What is important enough that you would go to jail, or even die, for? Are you passionate about anything greater than you? I’m not saying you have to go out and get locked up but know there are causes that you should, as a human being, care about. People are being poisoned by the water supply in Flint, MI. Under-trained law enforcement officers are killing innocent people because their fear leads them to make rash decisions. Property tax hikes are forcing people out of the neighborhoods they have lived in their entire lives so that more money can be made. The prison industrial complex is forcing minority and impoverished people back to the slave class every day, many even before they are being convicted. These are issues we don’t have to die for to change. Or maybe we do. The Sioux tribe was ready to die for their water supply at Standing Rock. Those in the Black Lives Matter movement are ready to endure the billy clubs once experienced by our ancestors for equality under the law.

An established system will push back against radical change. Don’t believe me? Look at these recent elections on every level. People don’t like uncondoned, unforeseen change.  In 1998, Tupac Shakur said that “we ain’t ready to see a black president,” but, a decade later, one was elected. Like Martin, Barack received numerous death threats. But, instead of assassinating him, his opposition is looking to undo much of the progress made during his presidency. Either way, Barack believes this nation is important enough to put his life on the line for. Figure out what cause is as important to you and fight for it.

Believe so beautifully in something that you are willing to give up your freedom (or even your life) so the next generation can have it better. That beautiful belief, my friends, is the King in you.

 

Make a love of all humankind a priority.

#TrendingThursday – Week 39

I hope everyone has had a good week thus far. It’s almost time to let your tie loose and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Have fun. But between now and then, check out this week’s top articles and blog posts relating to business and professionalism.