Why NFL Players Have Forced America To Show Its Hand – Justin Jamar

Its been a while for me. I’m not one of those bloggers or writers who posts everyday out of necessity. Something from within has to motivate me to sit in front of my computer and attempt to shed light on a subject, inspire people to be their best selves, or honestly just vent my frustrations. In this post, I will attempt to do all of the above.

Here, we find ourselves in the midst of what seems to be a perpetual shit storm, with two of the most polarizing presidential candidates about to banter back and forth on who can run the country into the ground quicker, an American city called Chicago that has seen more murder than the war in Iraq, two recent police shootings and killings of unarmed black men to add to the, at least 194 black people who have been killed by those supposedly sworn to protect and serve them in 2016 alone (According to the Huffington Post)!

huffingtonpost.com/…/black-people-killed-by-police-america_us_577da633e4b0c590f7e7fb17

Oh, and let us not forget, America’s new favorite pastime having the spot light stolen from it by some men who have decided to use their platforms for something in which they believe.

I woke up this morning to an article on yahoo sports sports.yahoo.com/…/yahoo-poll-half-of-americans-oppose-kaepernicks-protest-154103124 , stating that 44% of Americans would completely stop watching NFL Football if the protests continue; protests which, by the way, are peaceful and seem to exercise the very principals upon which this country was “supposedly” built. First, let me make this clear; I am not a huge fan of the NFL in general. This coming from a guy who started playing football at age 7 and played it on a fairly high level. I just do not believe that the rewards of playing the sport as it pertains to the players, outweigh the inherent risks associated with it. I also believe that the majority of the players in the NFL are only playing the game because they saw it and continue to see it as their ONLY way to lift their families out of poverty. I believe that had these young men been presented with a better alternative for getting their family above the poverty line, they would have chosen door number 2.

I digress. The NFL has long had a history of certain, shall we say, immoral behavior. This is a league that has had its players and owners under investigation for drugs, gambling, domestic violence, and murder. Meanwhile, in the midst of domestic violence cases like the ones we saw with former Baltimore Raven’s running back Ray Rice and former Carolina Panther and Dallas Cowboy Greg Hardy, fans continued to watch and support the sport. Not only, did they continue to watch but viewership and sponsorship actually grew. In-spite of the unhealthy behavior of these men and the negative impact that it had on their families and communities, people still showed up to the games in record numbers, patronized sports bars in droves, and upgraded their cable packages in order to not miss a second of the action. Now, that some of these men have decided to do something positive and bring awareness to an issue that is paramount to the existence of the black community (specifically black males), now all of the sudden these same people say that they will refuse to watch it because they don’t agree with these silent and peaceful protests. Really America?

Here is the issue I have. You can’t pick and choose which of these American principals you stand for. You can’t pick apart the constitution to fit into your neat little box. What we are confronted with is a situation where we are forced to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask, “Am I only interested in the things that affect me as a person and as an American citizen?” ,or “Am I interested in preserving the moral and social fabric of this country in a way that protects and respects all of its citizens?”; “Do I have the ability, to say, ‘Although, I am not directly being impacted by this particular situation, I can respect, pray for, and support those who are’?” ; “Would I rather that this community just suffer in silence so I can have my entertainment uninterrupted?”

Is it shame on them for “taking away” from the sporting event or is it shame on us for putting our entertainment above basic human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

When you force someone to look at themselves and they don’t like what they see, they are left with one of two options; lash out at you for showing them that image of themselves or change what they don’t like. The fans who say they will stop watching if the protests continue and who are sending death threats to these men, are choosing to exercise option number 1 because they don’t like what they see in the mirror. I believe that the goal of these NFL players and other movements is to get America to change what they see in that mirror. If invading your homes through the vehicle of the NFL is what it takes to do it, then I’m all for it!

Be Well Always, In ALL Ways

Justin Jamar

Instagram: @JustinJamar       Twitter: @OneJustinJamar

YouTube: youtube.com/…nel/UCRUUGcimvRZW49Q8l8Qz6Lw

wrappedinskin.com/shop

 

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The Courage To Be Transparent (Thank you!)

A few years back I wrote this quote, “There is a life in the crowd, and perhaps JUST one, who needs me. If my words find their way to them, then my life has indeed been worth the living”. It is a quote that I vowed to make my mantra. I said that I would allow it to make me get up everyday and continue to trust and believe in God’s plan for my life even when it isn’t the easiest thing to do. Well, I received a very courageous and heartfelt letter the other day from someone who made that quote clearer to me than it had ever been. The letter humbled me to tears but more than that, it re-energized and refocused me!

I am going to share the open letter with you (anonymously of course) so that you will be able to perhaps get a better handle on why it is that I do what I do and why I will continue to do it in whatever capacity I am able for the rest of my human existence. What this message has done is help to start a journey for me that I have been putting off for some time. It is a journey that I will share with you all in the upcoming days and weeks in hopes that you will be a part of it.

This is the letter that will continue to be a source of inspiration for me:

 

Hey Justin!

So this is going to appear completely random but that’s the beauty of it. This is meant to be a sincere thanks from one soul to another. Sending this has been on my mind the past couple days so I’m finally sending it out.

Hopefully you remember me. Lol! We met at a bar in Buckhead nearly a year ago. Well, that night changed my life and you played an integral part in the transformation. This serves as my thanks to you for the part you played in my life completely turning around. So I’ll get right into it…

About 2 hours after I met you I found myself sitting in jail after being arrested for DUI. Now I’ll tell you I’ve never had any major trouble with the law. First arrest. First time in jail. But I had had several ‘fortunate’ run-ins with the law as a result of my drinking….pulled over for driving the wrong way down a one way while drunk (and let go)…pulled over while drunk on 85 (and let go)…approached by the police the morning after blacking out behind the wheel and hitting 2 mailboxes in my neighborhood (ticketed for hitting an object). All of these incidents only fueled my ‘invisibility’…my thought that anything that happened as a result of my drinking wasn’t going to be that bad bc I didn’t have a problem. And of course anything bad that happened was not fully my fault. I never ever thought I would get a DUI bc I could control my drinking. I knew only alcoholics…people with real drinking problems got DUIs. I thought the fact that both of my parents are alcoholics played no real role in my drinking…because I could control it and stop if I wanted to.

Well after getting home from jail I was rocked. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t figure out how I had just been released from jail. JAIL. How the hell had I been arrested for DUI?? I wasn’t a problem drinker!! I was literally a zombie hoping and praying I would wake up…that it was all a bad, bad dream. I kept the television on and just laid back and forth from the couch to my bed for the rest of the weekend. It was only after being awake for nearly 72hrs filled with worry, guilt, and shame…then finally shutting off the tv and laying in silence with my spirit…with my thoughts…that was I enabled to have an awakening.

Something willed me out of bed to ‘write it’. I literally heard a voice inside me repeating over and over ‘write it. Write it. Write it.’  I had been journaling on and off for several months last year. But that willing was to write my thoughts…frustrations…and it was during these moments that my mind suddenly drifted to you and our encounter. You had told me there were no coincidences. And that message just kept repeating over and over again as I was writing. It was then…at 4:30 in the morning…I was willed to pull up your interview on YouTube for your book Wrapped In Skin. And in listening to your words…it was as if divinity was speaking DIRECTLY to me…through you. Here’s a few excerpts from my journal as I was experiencing this vivid spiritual experience..

“Utterly amazing. Amazing Grace. I just listened to Justin Jamar’s interview on his book and his thoughts about life, God, and Spirit and it was the exact message that I needed to hear right now. And I’m weeping thinking about how much love God must have for me to have put him in my life just before giving me this life lesson. Utterly amazing. It’s all true. It’s all real. And it’s all amazing.”

“…there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason and I’m sitting here feeling that overwhelming sense of reason.”

“Justin talked about living a righteous life.  How by living an unrighteous life you find it difficult to hear God….just take the root of that word. RIGHT. Live right. When you’re living right you feel it. You’re connected. Before now I believe I was aware but I clouded it. I numbed it.”

“God doesn’t, Justin says, place anything in your life He knows you can’t handle. That wonderful power.”

“Justin says recognize who you are and don’t be ashamed of it”

There’s so much more but I’ll spare you. Your message I embraced as a message from the Universe. The message of God…Energy…Divinity…Love…Universal Spirit…speaking through you.

It wasn’t completely that night that I embraced that I was an alcoholic but it was the spiritual awakening required to get there. I haven’t had a drink since the night I met you. Today I sit here writing to you as a very grateful recovering alcoholic. I now embrace my alcoholism as a part of who I am…and that it’s completely ok…and I can’t tell you the level of gratitude I have for knowing that fact.

These past months have been some of the absolute best of my life. My consciousness is no longer drowning…but thriving. I’ve met the love of my life who fully supports me in my journey and I’m so proud to say walks next to me. She’s everything I could have ever hoped for in a life partner and I feel she crossed my path exactly when she was meant to…with me in full clarity. It’s only in this full clarity that I understand why she had yet to cross my path (I just wasn’t ready). I’m writing more and more.  I am enabled to experience REAL connections with people and share them through my writing. I am living day-to-day, more and more in line with this life’s true purpose of bringing joy to all. My relationships are richer. I’m hurdling forward on my spiritual journey. I have clarity and awareness every single day. I actually experience and FEEL real joy every single day. I’m now enabled to experience that awesome Divine power that runs through me and all life in such an amazing way each and every day.

So…thank you Justin. Thank you for being such a willing vessel of the soul of the Universe. Thank you for being such a major part of this soul’s awakening. I beg of you to keep walking in your light. Keep listening to that God, energy, love, consciousness that guides you on your path. You’ve probably moved more waves of consciousness than you know. But I’ll tell you this wave is grateful.

I hope all is well with you and you’re achieving YOUR success…that is whatever success looks like to you.

No need to respond to this at all Justin. Seriously. I just felt that willing to send it out to you. Take care, be well, live peacefully, and consciously choose joy everyday!!”

So whatever is that you have been purposed and destined to do with your life, wherever it is that your gifts, your talents, and your passion resides; please do us all a favor and share it with the world willingly. Someone desperately needs it!!

 

Be Well Always, In ALL ways,

Justin Jamar – @OneJustinJamar – http://www.wrappedinskin.comjjamar24@yahoo.com

 

From The Whipping Stick to The Measuring Stick: Influence and Our Seat at The Table

From The Whipping Stick to The Measuring Stick: Influence and Our Seat at The Table

 

Ownership; this is what we are talking about. For so many years the black men who I know have associated more with being owned than owning anything; a deeply jaded self-actualization based on hundreds of years of mental and physical enslavement, followed by a just as hopeless and more organized incarnation of slavery cloaked by a name called the U.S. penal system; a system put in place to rip the fabric of our culture and keep us off-balance. “Take the mind and keep the body”, a writer once said about slavery.

This is stuff that we all know and I am not here to harp on things that we are already aware of. What I am talking about is ownership; our turn to own some things. We are often complaining about never having a “seat at the table”. We reflect on the things that I have mentioned in the above paragraph and use those facts as a crutch or a scapegoat as to why we do not succeed. My brothers, we do not succeed because we lack a true awareness of our power.

You see real leadership and real power is had by those who have this thing called, “Influence”. Let’s examine this word more closely

Influence: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.

Influence is being able to have an impact on not only the thoughts of others, but to then impact their behavior and to change their character if so inclined. My brothers, what is our influence on today’s society? The answer would be much less lengthy if I were to ask; what aspect of the society do we not influence? We absolutely dictate what popular culture finds “appealing”. We are the measuring stick for modern society. Businesses and trends are predicated on what the black man finds interesting, attractive, and exciting. We decide what’s fresh, what’s whack, what’s corny, what’s worth buying, and what needs more work to meet our standards. We push the culture forward.

We set the fashion trends by not only what we wear but by what we find appealing on a woman. This is influence on consumer behavior. We build businesses for fashion designers who could care less about us. We don’t own any of the brands that we see fit to co-sign for. Inasmuch, we lack a seat at the table.

We dictate what music is hot. Hip hop created more millionaire and billionaire record execs than almost all of the other genres combined. We build record labels, but we own very few of them. We create music and co-sign for others who create it. We influence people’s character through our music; but we still sit at the table begging for the crumbs. Inasmuch, we lack a seat at the table.

We’ll get a little deeper here for a moment. In the early post-civil rights era, it was still not appropriate or popular for a white woman to date a black man. What we saw then was a particular body type that the white segment of our society found attractive; skinny girls with large breasts. As it became increasingly more acceptable for women and men to date other races (in the late 80s into the 90s), we began to see that idea of the “perfect body” change. As more white women began to date black men, their bodies began to change based on the wants and desires of the black man. So what did we see? There was a huge boom in certain plastic surgery procedures (i.e, lip injections, butt shots, liposuction; creating the illusion of a smaller waist and wider hips). We fundamentally influenced the development of a certain segment of people Yet, we have very few black plastic surgeons and are struggling to find ways to capitalize off of a trend that we set. In addition, we fail to give credit to the black women for being naturally appealing to our appetites and helping to create this trend of a more voluptuous figure. Inasmuch, we lack a seat at the table.

What I am asking is that we pick ourselves up and get the hell off of our soap boxes and see ourselves for the influencers that we are. Its time for us to recognize the power that we have to drive popular thought and be ready to wield that power, accept the responsibility of what comes with it, and use it to create our own seats at the table. Either that, or build a new table altogether.

This is a letter of empowerment for my brothers, not a letter of denigration of any other segment of the population. This is about not accepting the role of the victim but embracing the role of the victor. It’s all love but we must first love ourselves and it starts by knowing our power and our worth.

My words, my thoughts, my actions.

Be well always, in ALL ways,

 

Justin Jamar

www.twitter.com/OneJustinJamar

IG @OneJustinJamar

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www.wrappedinskin.com

www.theelevationproject.wordpress.com