The Story of Oscar Grant III and Fruitvale Station is a familiar one.
It’s a story all too easy to imagine happening, too easy to imagine similar stories happening at train stations, street corners & bus stations. In neighborhoods where people with brown skin occupy most homes and apartments there are common narratives that makes this story painfully relatable.
What struck me most about this story is the question: What’s to be done about a Black man and his two-ness?
What WEB Dubois called Double Consciousness some might refer to as duality in this case as the former originally referred to the psychological challenge of reconciling an African heritage with a European upbringing and education. What Oscar appeared to be struggling with was a clash between his identities as father and short-tempered drug dealer.
It is clear at a certain point in the film that a personal decision is made to abandon the act of selling drugs however, his loved ones and his community continued to receive him as a drug dealer rather than simply as a father. With that he continued to play a matching role. It’s not difficult to imagine someone who would abandon an act or behavior without abandoning the lifestyle that comes with it.
One of the most painful elements of this familiar story is the consequence of making a personal change that the world doesn’t seem ready to accept. We all have to deal with the consequence of our actions and behaviors even if we decide to disengage them. The people around you won’t forget what you did just because you stopped doing it. People make bad decisions. All that we can hope is that the consequences don’t catch up with us or at least that they match the severity of the transgressions we commit.
Black men cloak themselves in paranoia feeling the watchful and fearful eye of the world hovering above. We know that – like in the case of Fruitvale Station – bad choices we make may be followed by consequences far more severe than what’s truly deserved.
St. Paul, MN – (July 15, 2013) – Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated and the Minnesota Sigmas proudly introduce the fraternity’s third highest elected official serving in the office of International Second Vice President Brother Profit Idowu.
Brother Idowu is a student at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus where he studies Business and Marketing Education with an emphasis in Management. Some other fraternal offices held include: International Collegiate Member at Large, Great Lakes Region IT Committee Member, and Pi Eta Chapter President.
Originally from Woodbury, Minnesota, Brother Idowu is a Spring 2011 Great Lakes Region initiate of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and leaves his current position as International Collegiate Member at Large for his new position as International Second Vice President just in time as the fraternity prepares to celebrate the centennial anniversary of its founding on January 9th, 1914. Brother Idowu was elected to take on this position at the 2013 Biennial Conclave this past week in Philadelphia, PA.
Currently serving as a Community Advisor for the First Living and Learning Community for African American Males at the University of Minnesota, Brother Idowu works directly with Housing and Residential Life and also the Office of Equity and Diversity at the University. The “Huntley House” is now located at the newest residence hall on the university’s campus, 17th St SE Residence Hall. For the past two years he has served on the fraternity’s General Board with active and progressive presence alongside fellow collegiate board members – Past International 2nd Vice Christopher Cooper and Past International Collegiate Member at Large – Kolbey Gardner.
What uniquely qualifies Bro. Idowu to hold this office is the experience gained over the past two years on the General Board of the fraternity and growth as an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota. Dedication, work ethic, and passion for this great organization make Bro. Idowu an ideal candidate for this position. As a young man within Sigma, his aim is to take the collegiate body and representation into a new leadership that fosters innovation, initiative, and inertia.
“We will be using a specific leadership model to work through our problems and also focusing on three core values: Collegiate Leadership, Collegiate Accountability, and Collegiate Engagement. I aim to once again meet and champion the challenge of Sigma to encourage our collegiate members to be men of vision, men of culture, and men of service. I will inspire leaders, celebrate our collegians, and progress our young professionals into the future.” – Bro. Profit Idowu
As the International Second Vice President of the fraternity Bro. Idowu will take on various responsibilities including a new focus on fraternal membership and the centennial celebration to take place in 2014 in Washington, D.C. The Minnesota Sigmas recognize him as having the willingness and the capacity to work tirelessly in uplifting communities as well as the principles of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. A highly intelligent and perceptive young man; he has a strong business sense and an incredible passion for service. He is talented and ambitious; greatly interested in affecting society using the talents and skills that he has worked to develop. There is growing anticipation for great potential to be realized in this new role and the many benefits to come along for the fraternity, it’s membership and the communities being served.
For additional information contact Minnesota Sigmas online or visit the national website:
About Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated:
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C., January 9, 1914, by three young African-American male students. The Founders, Honorable A. Langston Taylor, Honorable Leonard F. Morse, and Honorable Charles I. Brown, sought to organize a Greek letter fraternity that would truly exemplify the ideals of brotherhood, scholarship, and service.
The Founders deeply wished to create an organization that viewed itself as "a part of" the general community rather than "apart from" the general community. They believed that each potential member should be judged by his own merits, rather than his family background or affluence...without regard to race, nationality, skin tone or texture of hair. They desired for their fraternity to exist as part of an even greater brotherhood which would be devoted to the "inclusive we" rather than the "exclusive we.”
From its inception, the Founders also conceived Phi Beta Sigma as a mechanism to deliver services to the general community. Rather than gaining skills to be utilized exclusively for themselves and their immediate families, they held a deep conviction that they should return their newly acquired skills to the communities from which they had come. This deep conviction was mirrored in the Fraternity's motto, "Culture For Service and Service For Humanity.”
Minnesota Sigmas have been instrumental in efforts to positively affect the state of Minnesota and Twin Cities community. Having been recognized for coordinating major events this fraternity prides itself in providing service. Well known projects include: “Hoops for Haiti” which raised hundreds of dollars and pounds of food to be donated to the disaster relief efforts in Haiti, and “Sleep Out for the Homeless” featured on WCCO Channel 4 News which collected dozens of blankets and food for homeless people in Minnesota. With projects such as these and an unyielding persistence our cause speeds on its way with the greatest expedience and efficiency.
In the documentary "Hoodwinked" Documentarian Janks Morton maintains that there are more Black men in postsecondary institutions than who are incarcerated.
Specifically, according to figures Morton said he retrieved from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, the number of Black men in college is more than 1.4 million versus the 824,340 who were incarcerated.
While this is true, the numbers are misleading. Here's the reality:
The National Center for Education Statistics reported: Actual numbers for enrollment in all postsecondary degree-granting institutions, by race/ethnicity showed Black students were over 2.9million (no gender specific demographics available)
Lauren E. Glaze, a Statistician from The US Dept. of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported: "Correctional authorities supervised 7,225,800 offenders at yearend 2009 ... The majority (70%) of offenders under correctional supervision at yearend 2009 were supervised in the community (5,018,900) either on probation or parole, remaining relatively unchanged since 2000 (71%)."
Additionally BJS reports: Estimated number of inmates held in state or federal prisons, or in local jails, by gender, race, Hispanic origin, and age, June 30, 2008 shows Black Males at 846,000 and Black Females at 67,800. The total population was approx 2,311,200. This translates to Black people making up 39.5%. If this translates to the total population of offenders under correctional supervision for 2009 then Black people made up 39.5% of that 7,225,800 or 2,854,191 people (The detailed race and Hispanic origin categories exclude estimates of persons identifying two or more races)
With all that being said; in 2008-09 Black people in America had approximately 2.9million in post-secondary education and approximately 2.85million under correctional supervision making up 39.5% of the population under correctional supervision and 14.29% of the population enrolled in post-secondary education (surprisingly a close representation of the actual US population).
So, are there more Black peolpe in in college than prison? Sadly, not by much even though the general college population sits at over 20million and the population of those under correctional supervision is just over 7million.
Just thought you should know..
High: Making lots of great interpersonal connections recently
Low: Missing my family during some work-related travel
***Keep It In The Family***
Allow me to begin this post with an apology as I see myself as one of the greatest transgressors for this familial malfeasance. With some critical reflection I've come to the understanding that it's hipocritical and irresponsible of me to engage the work that I do with knowledge and insight that I have gained throughout my career without offering those same resources to my own family. The passion and dedication that we bring to our careers should be reflected in the way we interact with and uplift our families and community. While my work is primarily in community engagement there is a portion of the community that I serve missing out on my presence and my intentional effort to build and strengthen. Far too often it requires a call or visit from a relative for me to even share a moment of time with them rather than me reaching out to better understand how I can be of service to the family that raised me.
O.W. Gurley & J.B. Stradford founded the Greenwood neighborhood in Tulsa, OK better known as Black Wallstreet with the purchase of over 120 acres of land and the notion that "people had a better chance of economic progress if they pooled their resources, worked together and supported each other's businesses". This concept of interdependence and mutual investment led to the development of a thriving and self-sustaining community. Why then have so few adopted or replicated this model especially in Black communities and Black families. I regularly come across examples of families who don't celebrate eachother with reunions and even more who intentionally choose not to invest in the businesses and professional endeavors of relatives. In fact, the expectation is often that goods and services provided by relatives should be distributed to family members for free upon any and every request.
Maybe, if we invest more in our families we can practice what it would look like to invest in our communities and we can all learn to see how we might together be able to develop thriving families and communities that are self-sustaining.
More info on Greenwood in Tulsa, OK: