Wednesday, May 3, 2023

I am not your enemy


There was a time when I thought that our country could get past all the hatred and fearmongering that has enveloped us in its deadly grip.  I say deadly because it unfortunately, has come to that.  Mass shootings are the norm, not the exception.  1 in 4 Jewish people have been the victims of hate crimes.  Young black men are still being executed by a police force that has taken an oath to protect and serve.  Women, who up to a little less than a year ago had reproductive rights and control over their own bodies are now in a situation where they don’t.  The LGBTQI+ communities are under siege because certain politicians believe that it is more expedient to persecute this group of people rather than create useful policies that will help the average American citizen.  Refugees that seek asylum in this country are demonized as people that are rife with diseases, are criminals, or are attempting to replace the average American.

We have forgotten what it is like to be American.  We look in all areas of life hoping to find an enemy where oftentimes, one doesn’t exist.  Political parties who don’t agree on their agendas have taken the extra step in hatred by creating a false narrative of accusations citing pedophilia when there is nothing to support their allegations.

Oftentimes, just being accused of such a heinous act is enough to warrant guilt and does not need to be substantiated.  Our once great nation has descended into chaos where gun violence is commonplace, and yet the answer to this national epidemic is to flood our streets with more weapons designed to kill people and not hunt.

We are a nation where a minority is so fearful of anyone or anything that doesn’t look like them that they feel the need to extend the barrel of a gun instead of a hand in friendship.

This is our norm.  This is our truth, as painful as it may seem.  We have forgotten how to love and feel empathy for our fellow man.  We revel in hatred and fear because this is our place of comfort.  And what is worse is that half of our elected officials have decided that it is more advantageous to stir the pot of fear, traffic in conspiracy theories and tell lies that a segment of our population wants to hear.

We want to believe what we hear, not because we understand it to be true…we just need to take in a viewpoint that supports our irrational belief that anyone that doesn’t look, love, worship or believe like us must be the enemy.

 I and many others that look like me have been demonized as being the enemy even though there is nothing to support that belief.  It is unfortunate that a small segment of our population needs to have someone to blame for their shortcomings.  Something must be someone else’s fault.

I am not your enemy.  I simply don’t believe what you believe.  And last that I heard, it is my constitutional right to believe what I believe to be right.  I don’t want to harm anyone, nor do I wish to replace you.  I don’t believe that black history should be eliminated, and neither should you…because at the end of the day, history does not know race or ethnicity.  It either is or it isn’t.  History is not something that should be whitewashed or altered to support a narrative that people of color have not endured hardships perpetuated by another race of people.  Facts are facts.  And simply because you don’t like those facts doesn’t make it any less true.

There was a time that I believed that we could come together as a nation and rejoice in the fact that we have the privilege of living in one of the wealthiest nations in the world.  I used to believe this even though the odds have always been stacked against people of color.

Those are the facts.

From the very inception of slavery to Jim Crow laws, to Mass Incarceration to Recidivism…these are the odds that people of color, especially black men, have faced from the very beginning.  We have always been deemed a threat in one way or another, whether it be in the form of the cause of perceived violence, theft, addiction, and abuse.  We have news reporting agencies pushing a perception that black men are a threat to society when the reality is that only a portion of men of color fall into that category.

The reality is that the power structure in this country is held predominately by white, Christian males and if you fall short of that, you are somehow the cause of everything that is wrong in this nation.

We have gone from being a country where immigrants are demonized by people who may themselves be only one or two generations away from being immigrants themselves.

Still, I am not your enemy.

I have no desire to take anything from you.  There is no reason to fear me.  I want to live my life in peace.

We all know that we have a high peak to climb if we are to become the land of diversity and inclusion.  

Maybe there is a fear that if you are not the majority, what was done to people of color will somehow be inflicted upon you.

That is not the case.

We simply want to live in peace and prosper.

And if that is too difficult to understand, we may be in for an even steeper mountain to climb.

~ J.L. Whitehead



Sunday, March 30, 2014

Two projects on the horizon

I've taken a breather from writing for a brief moment to regroup, re-plan, recharge and re-form.  I had to embrace writing once again, which you would think would be an easy thing to do.  It wasn' least at first.

Life has a tendency to get in the way from time to time.  So on this Sunday afternoon, I had to think about why I began writing in the first place.  It wasn't that I was just good at it.  After all, I've played the role of the team captain of my own cheer leading squad many times.  But with that being said, that wasn't the reason why I began writing.

There is a saying that I'm sure that you've heard me say from time to time; and that's "A writer, writes."  I think that that particular saying says it all.  In addition to that are the ideas that form in my mind.  My work has to have meaning.  "Bruthas" had meaning.  I was able to tell an interesting story through characters and address social issues that were and will probably always be dear to my heart.

This brings me to my current work which I want to release this year.  It is called "Forty-Five Years of Dark" and it is the true story of my life as a sexual abuse survivor.  Men don't normally talk about this much less write about it.

As a gay man, I think that we handle sexual abuse differently than our heterosexual counterparts.  I know that speaking for myself, it was hard to negotiate the waters of social interaction from time to time.  From an emotional perspective, something was thrown out of whack for me and continued to be until I realized what it was.  Abuse survivors deal with their own issues of molestation differently.

This next book will have meaning for me.  Writing it was theraputic.  It's creation involved some deep soul searching.  Here is an unedited excerpt:

45 Years of Dark

Men, as a rule don’t like classifying themselves as victims.  Boys are brought up to be strong.  We are reared to be protectors of our women, children and homes.  We are taught to be fearless in the face of adversity, and there is nothing wrong with that.  But being a victim is not a virtue.  We consider it a weakness, and because of that, we remain silent.  We talk about the occasions where we are victims; but just because we don’t talk about it doesn’t make us any less a victim.

Heterosexual men respond differently to molestation than gay men respectively.  But individually, each man reacts in a way that coincides with their nature as well as what was physically done to them.  I am not a licensed psychologist, but I believe that if a man who identifies himself as a heterosexual is violated by another man as a child, his response may be anger, first and foremost because engaging in sex with another man is not in his nature.  He is literally being forced to do something that he does not want to do and feels powerless to stop it.  This may create feelings of helplessness, followed by anger; but as a child, you may not know the reason why.  You may not necessarily be emotionally equipped to connect the dots.

A homosexual man may respond completely different to being molested by another man.  For gay men, sleeping with men is natural.  Having sex with an adult man may even be construed as a badge of honor.  It would be no different than a heterosexual man having sex with an adult woman.
But simply because a boy has sex with an adult, whether that adult be male or female; the fact remains that an adult is having sex with child, and it doesn’t matter if that child gives their consent or not.  The adult is in control.  They know better and should exercise restraint and self-control.
We know that children don’t look like children nowadays.  We know that children are physically maturing at a faster rate than just twenty-years ago.  But simply because a child physically looks like an adult doesn’t make them an adult.  That child isn’t capable of making a decision such as consenting to indulge in a sexual act with an adult.  They are not emotionally equipped do so.  They think they are, but they aren’t.  Anyone beneath the age of 14 doesn’t understand the ramifications of sex.  All they know is that it feels good.

And as for the adult, all they know is that it feels good to them even if it doesn’t to the child.  In their mind, they think that the child will ultimately forget what is being done to them.  They may convince themselves that the child is enjoying the act just as much as they are, and that the enjoyment translates to no emotional damage being done.  They couldn’t be more wrong.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What is holding you back from living your dream?

Fear is such a funny thing.  I never thought that I was particularly fearful of success and I was certain that I possessed a talent that could take me far.  I have had opportunities open before me...opportunities that I will always be grateful for.  So I ask myself from time to time, what is it that holds me back from really grasping the brass ring?

And then I began to think of something that used to cross my mind from time to time.  I wondered why some people that belonged to certain ethnicity's seem to target certain businesses and excel at them.  I wondered why African Americans don't do the same thing.  Why couldn't we own a franchise and turn it into our own empire the way that some other races of people seem to do?

We know that as a race , African Americans have been at the very top of the list of people that have experienced true disenfranchisement.  We know that we have been trying to survive the best way that we can, sometimes by any means necessary.  We also know that times have gotten better, but we still have to fight twice as hard to get ahead.

But with everything that I have done, all of the achievements that I have accomplished, I still think that what is hard-wired in my brain is to take the easy way out...not applying myself to the fullest extent.

I wonder what stops most of us from reaching out and grasping the brass ring.  Is it fear of failure?  Is it something more than than that?  Do we believe the inner voice that tells us that we cannot and should not reach out for financial success?  I'm not talking about the millions of authors out there who have already taken the leap of faith and wrote their books or started their business...I'm talking about the trillions of people who don't even bother.  What is holding you back?  What are you afraid of?  Do you think that you can't do it or that you will fail?

Do you think that people won't have your back or will only be there for you when the money comes rolling in?  I want you to think about this for a moment.  If you have a dream, what would be the very first thing that you would do to accomplish it?

Would you write down your plan?  Would you talk about it with friends and family?  Would you spend some quiet time telling yourself that you can do it?  What would you do?  After all, a journey begins with that first step.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Saturday, October 19, 2013

First review of "Bruthas - The Final Chapter" as posted on Amazon

 I received my first review of "Bruthas - The Final Chapter" since it was released a few weeks ago on Amazon.

5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional!! October 18, 2013
By Mikki
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase

I gave this book five stars, this second book had a few errors but not as many as the first book. I enjoyed how the author rounded out the plot with a diverse selection of character's. I'm a family person and its always good to read about other family's, whether they are everyday people with a few of life's struggles or all out dysfunctional. Can't wait to read more from this author.

This is one of the reasons why I write!!

~ J.L. Whitehead

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

After re-writes and publication error's, this part of the journey is complete!

It was challenging.  First, writing the original story and then going through the editing process.  Losing money, having friendships tainted and then doing more re-writes.

The process was maddening but now that it's over, I realized looking back over the few years it took me to get to this point that I wouldn't have changed it for the world.  It was worth it.

The next few months are going to be spent writing more books and meeting writers face to face.  Writing for CNN's iReport has been an amazing journey in and of itself, and it is the perfect platform to showcase my work as well as the works of other authors.  And let's not forget my column on "The Examiner."

I still believe in paying it forward.  That, perhaps is hardwired into my DNA.  But I cannot take the focus off of myself.  I have too many books to write and so many stories to tell.  There are messages of encouragement nestled within my story lines...messages that need to be spread.

As a Crime Drama author, I find that placing myself into this niche will ultimately work for me.  There's a big world out there and I want to experience as much of it as I can.

In the meantime, with "Bruthas - The Final Chapter" completed, I hope that you take a moment to download a copy and find out who the real killer is that is stalking "The Block."  I hope that you rejoice with The Whitfield's in all of their triumphs, remark on their faith and shed a tear in their times of sadness.

In the meantime, thank you all who have taken the time to stop here at The Writer's Megaphone and spent just a little bit of time with me!

~ J.L. Whitehead

Monday, August 12, 2013

Finding the time to write for yourself!

I've been working lately on a few projects...but admittedly, my heart hasn't been into them as much as I would like.  It's not that I don't like writing, reading or editing.  It's not that at all.  It's just that in this world, paying it forward is probably the hardest thing to do when you get nothing in return for it.  Most times, you won't even get a 'thank you.'  I think I wrote about that once.

That isn't what gets me down exclusively.  Like anything, when you give and people take, they will often take like dipping a bucket of water into a well...but like any well, if it isn't replenished, it runs dry.

Writing is my life.  It always has been, but finding the time to write for my own enjoyment has proven to be problematic.  So what do you do?  You try to find the time, but the when you work full time and try to keep your work/business life in proper balance with your home life, you wind up prioritizing and oftentimes, it's yourself that you may put on the backburner.

I'm still learning to adjust to what I want versus what I'm settling for.  Sometimes, I wonder how much I love writing for me.  I ask myself that question from time to time.  And the only answer I can give myself is "Yes, I do love writing for me.  I love it a great deal."

"But maybe...not enough."

~ J.L. Whitehead

Monday, June 24, 2013

Article written on The Examiner

How much do our emotions come into play with the Martin/Zimmerman Trial?

Do you believe this image?

Emotions don’t know logic.  It only knows feelings and at times those feelings can become so intense that it overwhelms all of the other senses combined.  As I read the article regarding the inadmissibility of the testimony given by experts that would conclude who was heard screaming on the 911 tapes in the Trayvon Martin murder trial, all I could do was sadly shake my head.  But it’s not for the reason that you think.
Or this one?
I knew that this was going to be a highly charged case when it came to trial.  I knew that the sensationalism surrounding this case would drive wedges between the races as cases like this has a tendency to do.  And as I read the comments of the people that were weighing in thus far, once again, I couldn’t help but shake my head in sadness.
Do you believe this image?
We would be having a completely different conversation if George Zimmerman had been black or Trayvon Martin had been white.  If this had been a black on black crime or a white on white crime, emotions wouldn’t be nearly as high.  Perhaps the comments that I had read wouldn’t have been as derogatory.
Or this one?
And as I read the comments, one thing became crystal clear.  It almost seemed as if people weren’t necessarily defending Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman as much as they were defending their own race.  At least it reads that way from where I am sitting.
I am sure that on some rudimentary level, black people are tired of having their men and boys portrayed as thugs just as much as white people are tired of hearing how much they have discriminated against the black race.

To read the article in its entirety, click on the link below:

~ J.L. Whitehead